As a graduate student in foreign affairs in the late 1970s, in the midst of the Cold War, I took a required course, The Balance of Strategic Forces. It was about the strength of the nuclear arsenal of the United States relative to that of the Soviet Union.
I haven't had much occasion to use nuclear-armament knowledge in my marketing career, and much of it is out-of-date... fortunately.
But at least one lesson (about the strategic "nuclear triad") applies to marketing as much as it does to nuclear defense:
Three legs are better than one
During the course, officers from each branch of the military lectured us on the virtues of their particular contribution to mutually assured destruction (MAD).
- The Navy explained that it protected us on the seven-eighth's of the world's surface covered by water.
- The Army, with responsibility for land forces, reminded us that all the earth's human population lived on land.
- And the Air Force's claim rested on the fact that 100% of the earth is surrounded by air.
The main takeaway for me was a good understanding of the "nuclear triad"—the combination of long-range bombers, land-based missiles, and submarines—that composed the US strategic defense arsenal.
Despite its terrifying capabilities, it was colloquially referred to as the "three-legged stool."
Don't build a one-legged stool