How to Make New Positions Pay

The need for making claims.

"Make victory in war pay for itself."
Sun Tzu's The Art of War 2:5:1

Too many of us think that effort and good work are automatically rewarded. They never are. Strategically, we work to establish new positions in the minds of others with the goal of winning rewards. But successful moves only position us so people can reward us more easily. We must use our new positions to make claims. Only successful claims prove the value of positions.

Advancing a strategic position" doesn't mean simply changing it or even improving it according to the judgments of others. In the end, the only judgments that matter are our own: does a new position make us more capable, more in control, with more options, happier, and more secure than an old position did? In other words, are people seeing us in a way that makes our value to them tangible and useful enough to be rewarded? Everyone has their own mission in life. We are only comfortable when we are advancing our position in the direction of our own mission.

We can easily confuse motion with progress. A sports team can move the ball down the field but unless they score, the exercise is worthless. The process of listening, aiming, and moving is only completed by claiming. Movement isn't progressing unless we can successfully claim rewards. We can place too much value on a new position simply because we work to get there. We can also defend, that is, continue to invest resources in non-rewarding positions simply because they are ours.

Practical strategy defines success as making victory pay. Moving to a new position alone is not a success. We win a position only when we reap its rewards.

The Discovery of Value 

Moving to a new position is an exploration. We describe all moves as experiments because we cannot know exactly either the cost or benefits of new positions before attaining them. In the aiming step, we select opportunities with the highest probability of generating rewards. When making a move, we keep our investments low because rewards are never certain. Only after claiming do we discover the value of a position in the minds of others.

Claiming is an activity. Most people do not even notice our moves until we make claims. When we make claims, we force people to take notice. We force them to judge, for better or worse. Making claims is not risk-free. When we make claims, we test our perception of reality. Only by making claims do we discover what people really think. Even failed claims are valuable because they put us in better touch with reality.

Claiming is never a matter of patience. The faster a new position produces tangible rewards, the less our risk and the greater that position’s long-term value is likely to be. The longer a position takes to produce rewards, the less valuable that position is likely to be. It is less costly to move to a new position than it is to continue to invest in a position that results in to many failed claims.

Measures of Value

  1. We must make claims on others in order to get rewards.

    Strategic positions are woven out of both facts and opinions, capable actions addressing real needs. But we cannot get rewarded for that work unless we ask others for those rewards. People take situations for granted. Unless we ask, people may not recognize our work no matter how obvious it seems to us. Even if they notice our accomplishments, they do not necessarily think about rewarding us. Only by asking can we start to change the subjective perception of our position.

  2. A new position isn't won until it gives us additional, tangible resources. 

    We need tangible validation from other people because we have the tendency to overvalue ourselves. Psychologically, we also have a tendency, called false consensus effect, to overestimate how much people agree with our assessments. We cannot look inside of people’s heads. They must demonstrate their judgment of our position’s value by doing something, giving us money or giving us a kiss.

  3. To assure action on our claims, we must leverage people's emotions.

    People only take action when they are emotionally motivated to do so. The less emotion our claims generate, the less likely we are to get rewarded. Unless we know how to use leverage the emotions of others in making claims, we will never get as much as our positions deserve. 

  4. All claims are built on a foundation of personal contact.

    Though claims can be made to larger groups, in the end, rewards are given only by individuals. Individual decisions affect the group; choices are made one person at a time. This means that we get rewarded by understanding and following the keys to successful individual contact. Mismanaging contact dramatically decreases our chances of making successful claims. Future article will discuss this process in more detail.

  5. To claim rewards, we must first know how to claim people's attention. 

    In today's increasingly crowded environment, more and more people are competing for attention. The chaos of crowded, dynamic environments creates the need for clarity and simplicity in making claims. We must know how to make our claims stand out from the claims of others in order to win attention.

The Process of Claiming

In the next few articles, we will be explaining the practical strategy of claiming in detail. These articles will be restricted to our paid subscribers. The goal of this process is to maximize our rewards, that is, increasing our position’s value as perceived by others.  This process can be thought of as a specialized version of the listen-aim-move-claim cycle. In practical strategy, we call claiming a matter of gauging, packaging, engaging, and managing.