Achilles heel strategy: Identifying and leveraging a competitors weakest point

Eldad Kollenscher, Boaz Ronen*, Alex Coman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Significant developments in military strategy over the past century have had little impact, if any, on business strategy. This article focuses on the military paradigm shift from brute-force frontal confrontation as practised in the First World War to shrewd identification of weaknesses in the adversarys rear. To apply this insight in the business world, we present a methodology focusing on the weakest link: the Achilles heel. We apply this methodology in identifying the adversarys Achilles heel and attacking it. We aim to avoid attacking the competitors front namely its products in the marketplace through painful head-to-head attrition price and advertising wars. Instead, we propose a new attack strategy-focusing on the adversarys weakest link. The study integrates a new military insight, specifically from an approach called operational theory, with an insight from the theory of constraints. The sophistication of the Achilles heel strategy makes it particularly effective for small players-David competing with large Goliaths. We present a methodology: identifying the Achilles heel; deciding whether or not to attack it; and tailoring an Achilles heel strategy. The theory is illustrated by numerous business and military applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-661
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2014


  • defence
  • offence
  • operational theory
  • strategy
  • theory of constra


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