History lessons: Look forward, not back - The maginot line

The Maginot line, a 25 km-wide belt of pillboxes, anti-tank traps and observation posts, was built by the French in the 1930s to keep their German neighbours at bay. Unfortunately, the brains behind the scheme were old-school generals whose idea of warfare hadn't advanced since 1918. Forward-thinkers like General de Gaulle suggested that the Ffr3bn would be better spent on the air force, but the marshals swept such radical ideas aside. They were soon proved wrong. In 1940, thousands of well-armed and highly mobile German troops rolled through a break in the defences around the supposedly 'impenetrable' Ardennes forest and the neutral Low Countries. They were in Dunkirk within a fortnight. The French had made a fatal assumption: that the next war would be fought in the same static manner as the last. Things move as quickly in business. In the battle for market share, the best line of defence against rivals comes from looking into the future, not at how things are now.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

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