Three-Dimensional Chess

Job cuts deepen across the USA. Retail outlook expected to worsen. We can’t seem to escape these headlines. And this week we’ve read about and heard our share of news about the economy that, for the most part, is pretty grim. Sigh. Huge corporations, including mine, are taking measures to reduce their risk and costs. I’m not a chess player, but picturing a three-dimensional chess game is the best way I can describe our current environment.


Just when you thought you’ve seen it all — something else happens. How do you react? For HR and Brand professionals like me, to business leaders to employees, we have to contemplate our next move, thinking about the various scenarios that could happen and how to respond. It can be a mind-bending experience. Strategy is key.


Here’s a glimpse into my personal experience. My teams of HR professionals, communicators, brand experts and corporate responsibility leaders have been extremely busy playing our position. We’re focused on providing value as trusted advisors, so that we can ensure the overall business strategy can be delivered. Examples of topics we’ve discussed that require a new strategy:

  • Do we tweak our brand message to ensure consumers know that ING gets it — that we’re protecting their investments wisely?
  • How do we introduce real-time internal communications vehicles for our employees?
  • How do we communicate the company’s strength externally in a transparent manner, yet remain modest during these unpredictable times?
  • How do we leverage the ING family of companies (e.g., ING DIRECT, ING Wholesale, ING Real Estate, etc.) in re-deploying talent and recruiting top talent who may approach ING during these challenging times?
  • How do we work extra hard to "retain our gems" in terms of talent whose positions may be eliminated due to resource restraints and has nothing to do with mediocre performance?
  • What are our employees’ needs for education about their own retirement and benefits?
  • How will our communities call on us for help in this environment?
  • Should we consider new corporate sponsorships that may become available if they position us better in the marketplace?

Yes, we had lots of questions, but in the end, we had answers for all of them. Perhaps this list is similar to yours or maybe there’s something on your list that we haven’t thought about. Let’s all continue to think about this three-dimensional chess game that’s become a way of life — how do I perform my job under different scenarios if situations create new opportunities in the next minute, and how do I keep my eye on the goal but simultaneously on the peripheral to ensure we don’t miss new dynamics which could change the plan?

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  • Richard Deverell

    In both business and chess the most important things are being able to read the other players, and the ability to understand oneself. Those are the two kinds of intelligence that you need to succeed at chess, in life and in business. I have always attempted to apply chess concepts and principles to various aspects of business and personal life. The ability to think ahead and to develop creative strategies is something (among many things) that is synonymous in both chess and in business. If you play by the rule book you are setting yourself up for a fall against competitors that have rethought those rules. The answer is that you play for what appears to be insignificant advantages - advantages that your opponent doesn't notice or that he dismisses. Every move must have a purpose.