Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Succeeding in the Info Economy by Understanding the First Chapter of Sunzi's Art of War

Warfare is the greatest affair of state, the basis of life and death, the Way (Tao) to survival or extinction. It must be thoroughly pondered and analyzed.
Therefore, structure it according to [the following] five factors, evaluate it comparatively through estimations, and seek out its true nature. The first is termed the Tao, the second Heaven, the third Earth, the fourth generals, and the fifth the laws [for military organization and discipline].
The Tao causes the people to be fully in accord with the ruler. [Thus] they will die with him; they will live with him; they will live with him and not fear danger.
Heaven encompasses yin and yang, cold and heat, and the constraints of the seasons.
Earth encompasses far or near, difficult or easy, expansive or confined, fatal or tenable terrain.
The general encompasses wisdom, credibility, benevolence, courage, and strictness.
The laws [for military organization and discipline] encompass organization and regulations, the Tao of command, and the management of logistics.
There are no generals who have not heard of these five. Those who understand them will be victorious; those who do not understand them will not be victorious.
Thus when making a comparative evaluation through estimations, seeking out its true nature, ask:
Which ruler has the Tao?
Which general has greater ability?
Who has gained [the advantages of] Heaven and Earth?
Whose laws and orders are more thoroughly implemented?
Whose forces are stronger?
Whose officers and troops are better trained?
Whose rewards and punishments are clearer?
From these I will know victory and defeat!
If a general follows my [methods for] estimation and you employ him, he will certainly be victorious and should be retained. If a general does not follow my [method for] estimation and you employ him, he will certainly be defeated, so dismiss him.
After estimating the advantages in accord with what you have heard, put it into effect with strategic power (shin) supplemented by field tactics that respond to external factors. As for strategic power, [it is] controlling the tactical imbalance of power (ch'uan) in accord with the gains to be realized.
Warfare is the Way (Tao) of deception. Thus although [you are] capable, display incapability. When committed to employing your forces, feign inactivity. When [your objective] is nearby, make it appear as if distant; when far away, create the illusion of being nearby.
Display profits to entice them. Crate disorder [in their forces] and take them
If they are substantial, prepare for them; if they are strong, avoid them.
If they are angry, perturb them; be deferential to foster their arrogance.
If they are rested, force them to exert themselves.
If they are united, cause them to be separated.
Attack where they are unprepared.
Go forth where they will not expect it.
These are the ways military strategists are victorious. They cannot be spoken of in advance.
Before the engagement, one who determines in the ancestral temple that he will be victorious has found that the majority of factors are in his favor. Before the engagement on who determines in the ancestral temple that he will not be victorious has found few factors are in his favor.
If one who finds that the majority of factors favor him will be victorious while one who has found few factors favor him will be defeated, what about someone who finds no factors in his favor?

If I observe it from this perspective, victory and defeat will be apparent.
Art of War 1

In some extreme business situations, there are a few major wins.  The rest lose. Lives are interrupted. Time and resources are wasted. Dreams are smashed. Some relationships are broken. Reality permeate. But life goes on.

In some unique and rare cases, the situation is about life and death not about succeeding or failing. 

We do not think that anyone of us wanted the above scenario in our lives!? To succeed in a "ever-changing" economy, y
ou have to learn how to assess a situation.  

The Psychology of Strategy
The degree of one's goal or current objective is proportional to the degree of effort that one exert into the act of assessing.


By deciding to read this book, the usual reasons are: 
  • one is interested in the essence of competition from an ancient Chinese perspective; or 
  • one is in midst of a strategic situation and is in need of a new insight for understanding the competition.
The first chapter is about understanding the intensity of competition and the possibility of deception that are prevailing over our global economy. The chief decision makers must be able to survey, estimate, calculate, assess, plan, and lead while being wise, creditable, benevolent, courageous and disciplined. There is no other substitute for this level of leadership.    

Comments From The Compass Desk
Most people possessed the tendency of improvising.   Some believed in the notion that life is an adventure.   Improvise on near-everything is acceptable for those who have near limitless time and an abundance of resources. However, everyone is not that fortunate.

You don't know what you don't know

You can't do what you don't know
You don't know until you measure
You don't measure what you don't value
You don't value what you don't measure
---  Six Sigma

To properly assess things strategically, you must determine what is the necessary information and possessing the drive to collect it while not taking the significant matters for granted.

The constant practice of absolute efficiency is the standard of the information economy. Are you planning to "scrum" your project development?  

So, do you know how to assess a strategic situation?  Are you able to identify an extreme competitive scenario? Do you know what is your approach for that scenario?


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