Strategy in the individual and collective context – Part A’
At this point we will touch a matter of a rather unexpected contention both in theory and in the ordinary daily understanding. The issue rises from the question as to whether it benefits the individual to perceive the dealing with interpersonal relationships and personal goals in the same way they would, should they have been dealing with International Relations issues. The term International Relations encapsulates all political, diplomatic and military practices and theories that focus on the management of relations between international agents, that is, between and among States, between international organizations, between international organizations and States, even between large multinational corporations and international organizations or States.
Therefore, the puzzling point pertains to the simple question as to whether is eminently helpful or disorienting for the individual to draw and implement a personal plan having in mind the same methodology and terms used in the diplomatic and military strategic planning. This is an interesting question, a moderate answer to which we will attempt in the following paragraphs.
First of all, it should be clarified that either in the collective or the individual context, we cannot reasonably expect the successful outcome of a venture without the precedence of a plan, a step-by-step map (succeeding without a plan requires a considerable amount of luck and favor from an unforeseen power). Therefore, strategy is the common denominator at all levels. Whether we define it as a “strategy”, or as an “action layout” or as a “plan”, the desideratum remains unaltered: designing a sufficient number of appropriate steps that will increase the chances of getting closer to achieving the goal we have set.
Secondly, as we shall see in a future analysis, the principles and key parameters applicable to the negotiation process in the international diplomatic field present no substantial deviance from those used in the private field negotiations, either between representatives of companies or between individuals.
It is obvious that we have to be quite circumspect when aligning, when placing parallel to each other the cognitive processes involved in making a decision with the corresponding bureaucratic-organizational ones. Our attention should be drawn not so much to the varying degree of complexity (both processes share an increased number of steps, such that it would be quite challenging to match them one by one). Nor is there a substantial difference in the purpose intended to be accomplished (the action or reaction in reference to an environmental stimulus).
Many International Relations theorists are particularly negative against any parallelism in decision-making processes between contexts. However, it does not bring any critical cost to the effectiveness of the individual’s action plan, if, for instance, the person tends to liken the path of information assessment from the lower to the highest levels of the military (or foreign office) administration to the path of electrical signals from neuron to neuron through synaptic areas or from one organized brain region to another.
If strategy planning is based on a realistic assessment of available capacities, weaknesses and concurrent circumstances, then committing one’s self devotion to a mimicry perception does not in itself constitute a sufficient condition for failing the goal we have set. The reason we should avoid identifying the implementation of a personal strategy with the collective decision-making and execution process pertains to the way in which interpersonal relationships are managed.
With a closer look, though, a deeper dimension of the issue seems to emerge. The essence of the objection lies not from the interlinking the paths of strategic reasoning between the field of interpersonal relations and international relations, but rather at making use of the corresponding code and terminology in our daily communication. To put it plainly, it is not the way of thinking, but the way of communicating and talking in terms of strategy in our daily life and interactions.
And here lies a point worth noticing. Being methodical in our way of thinking but also in the way we do things could not be the key reason for instigating a reaction. We humans organize personal and group action plans alike, but we also try to shape a well-constructed way of acting. On the contrary, we find it unnecessary – and often annoying – to have to listen in every single subject someone analyzing the course of his conclusion in strategic terms and vernacular, or his attempt to interpret our position or someone else’s in the same pseudo-sophisticated and specialized fashion. And this, of course, becomes even more annoying when it comes to subjects of a personal and emotional content and color.