Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Profiting in the Competitive Economy: How to Become Strategically Two Moves Ahead of the Competition

Before contemplating on the next strategic move, the successful strategist always asks himself, "How do I know if I am one or two moves ahead or behind my competition?"

A: The answer is in the Sunzi's  Art of War
" ... If I know my team can attack, but do not know the competition cannot be attacked, it is only halfway to victory. If I know the competition can be attacked, but do not realize our team cannot attack, it is only halfway to victory. Knowing that the competition can be attacked, and knowing that our army can attack, but not knowing the terrain is not suitable for combat, is only halfway to victory. Thus one who truly knows the army will never be deluded when he moves, never be impoverished when initiating an action.

Thus it is said if you know them and know yourself, your victory will not be imperiled. If you know Heaven and Earth, your victory can be complete. ... " 
- Paraphrased from Sun Tzu's Art of War 10 (Sawyer's translation)

This is one' of many approaches to staying one to two steps ahead of the competition. 

Compass Principle
By anticipating two steps ahead of your customers and/or your competition and having the half step advantageous move, one is ahead of the strategy game

The Question of the Day:
  • Why would any successful strategist make a strategic move that offers the advantage of being an half step ahead?  

The Answer 
"One who excels at competition will await events in the situation without making any movementWhen he sees he can be victorious, he will arise; if he sees he cannot be victorious, he will desist. Thus it is said that he does not have any fear, he does not vacillate. Of the many harms that can beset an organization, indecision is the greatest. Of disasters that can befall an organization, none surpasses doubt."

"One who excels in competition will not lose an advantage when he perceives it or be doubtful when he meets the opportunity. One who loses an advantage or lags behind the time for action will, on the contrary, suffer from disaster. Thus the wise follow the time and do not lose an advantage; the skillful are decisive and have no doubts. He strikes like a sudden clap of thunder, which does not give time to cover ears; strike like a flash of lightning, which does not give time to close the eyes. Advance as is suddenly startled; employ your team as if deranged. Those who oppose you will be destroyed; those who come near will perish. Who can defend against such an attack?"

"Now when matters are not discussed and general preserves their secrecy, he is superior. When things are not manifest but he discerns them, he is wise. Thus if superior and wise, no enemies will act against him in the field, nor will any state stand against him."  

Tai Gong  ( Paraphrased from The Six Secret Teachings, 26)

Ask your local Art of War (AoW) strategy expert if he or she knows the answer.  By looking at a copy of the Seven Strategy Classics and some of the other arcane classics, you might find the right answer. 

What is the Way of Aggressive Competition? 
(from Jiang Tai Gong)
"The offensive disposition of any relevant competitor should change in accord with the movements of their opposition. And changes coming from the confrontation between the two parties. Unorthodox and orthodox tactics are produced from inexhaustible resources of the mind. Thus the greatest affairs are not discussed, and the employment of manpower is not spoken about. Moreover, words which discuss ultimate affairs are not not to be discussed openly. The employment of manpower is not so definitive as to be visible. They go suddenly, they come suddenly. Only when someone who can exercise sole control over the team, without being governed by other men, is a strategic weapon."

"If your plans are heard about, the competition will implement counter strategies. If you are perceived, they will plot against you. If your objectives are known, they will put you in difficulty. If you are fathomed, they will endanger you."

"Thus one who excels in competition has already won before the deployment of manpower. One who excels at eliminating the misfortunes of the people manages them before they appear. Conquering the competition, being victorious by being formless. The superior competitor has won before engaging in contest. Thus one who fights and attains victory in using extreme measures is not a good strategist. One who makes preparation after the contest is started, has been lost is not a superior sage. One whose skill is the same as the masses is not a superior artisan."

"In unique competitive matters, nothing is more important than certain victory. In employing one's manpower, nothing is more important than obscurity and silence. In movement, nothing is more important than the unexpected. In planning, nothing is more important than not being knowable. To be the first to gain victory, initially display some weakness to the enemy and only afterward do battle. Then your effort will be half, but the achievement will be doubled."

"The Sage observes signs from the movements of Heaven and Earth and knows its principles. He observes the movement of the sun and the moon and understand their seasonal activity. He follows the cycles of day and night, taken them as his constant. All things have life and death in accord with the principles of Heaven and Earth. Thus it is said that if one fights before understanding the situation, even if he is more numerous, he will certainly be defeated."

Another Question 

Why is Jiang Tai Gong's Six Secret Teachings important to the hardcore strategists?

The Answer (partial)

" ... Although the Art of War remains the only book known in the West, the Wu-tzu and Six Secret Teachings proved to be highly important sources for military wisdom over the centuries, and the latter continues to be held in higher esteem among contemporary PRC military professionals. .."  -  Ralph Sawyer

If the PRC military professionals are reading it, why are you not reading it?

Comments From The Compass Desk

The strategists who wants to stay ahead of the competition, must know what dots to connect and how to connect them.  

We will continue this topic on Wednesday. 

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