Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Succeeding in the Information Economy by Understanding the Second Chapter of the Art of War

We have just finished chapter one. ...

2. Waging War
Sun-tzu said:

In general, the strategy for employing the military [is this]: If there are one thousand four-horse attack chariots, one thousand leather-armored support chariots, one hundred thousand mailed troops, and provisions are transported one thousand li, then the domestic and external campaign expenses, the expenditures for advisers and guests, materials such as glue and lacquer, and providing chariots and armor will be one thousand pieces of gold per day. Only then can an army of one hundred thousand be mobilized.
When employing them in battle, a victory that is long in coming will blunt their weapons and dampen their ardor. If you attack cities, their strength will be exhausted. If you expose the army to a prolonged campaign, the state's resources will be inadequate.

When the weapons have grown dull and spirits depressed, when our strength has been expended and resources consumed, then the feudal lords will take advantage of our exhaustion to arise. Even though you have wise generals, they will not be able to achieve a good result.

Thus in military campaigns I have heard of awkward speed but have never seen any skill in lengthy campaigns. No country has ever profited from protracted warfare. Those who do not thoroughly comprehend the dangers inherent in employing the army are incapable of truly knowing the potential advantages of military actions.
One who excels in employing the military does not conscript the people twice or transport provisions a third time. If you obtain your equipment from within the state and rely on seizing provisions from the enemy, then the army's foodstuffs will be sufficient.
The state is impoverished by the army when it transports provisions far off. When provisions are transported far off, the hundred surnames are impoverished.

Those in proximity to the army will sell their goods expensively. When goods are expensive, the hundred surnames' wealth will be exhausted. When their wealth is exhausted, they will be extremely hard-pressed [to supply] their village's military impositions.

When their strength has been expended and their wealth depleted, then the houses in the central plains will be empty. The expenses of the hundred surnames will be some seven-tenths of whatever they have. The ruler's irrecoverable expenditures-such as ruined chariots, exhausted horses, armor, helmets, arrows and crossbows, halberd-tipped and spear-tipped [large, movable] protective shields, strong oxen, and large wagons-will consume six-tenths of his resources.

Thus the wise general will concentrate on securing provisions from the enemy. One bushel of the enemy's foodstuffs is worth twenty of ours; one picul of fodder is worth twenty of ours.

Thus what [motivates men] to slay the enemy is anger; what [stimulates them] to seize profits from the enemy is material goods. Thus in chariot encounters, when ten or more chariots are captured, reward the firs to get one. Change their flags and pennants to ours; intermix and employ them with our own chariots. Treat the captured soldiers well in order to nurture them [for our use]. This is referred to as conquering the enemy and growing stronger.'

Thus the army values being victorious; it does not value prolonged warfare. Therefore, a general who understands warfare is Master of Fate for the people, ruler of the state's security or endangerment.                                                              - Art of War 2

Chapter Two is about understanding that the waging of any competitive conflict is expensive. 

To minimize the expenses, the successful strategists are patiently focused on knowing the tangible configuration of their Big Tangible Picture and used the soft points and the hard points of their situation to their advantage. 

Studying how the competitor implements their resources is one of the many keys to prevailing.

Other Notes 
The pragmatic strategists regularly believed in the executing of a good strategy than to wait for a perfect strategy regardless of the situation while the successful strategists who practice the art and science of assessing, positioning and influencing, is always leveraging and exploiting the situation before implementing their real strategy. 

Humorously, some of these pragmatic strategists possessed the tendency to be self destructive. 

In some situations against a larger competition, the successful strategist have always focused on implementing  a multi-sequence of small containable battles than to be involved in one macro conflict, for the purpose of conserving their resources and using the competition's resources for the next battle. 

At that point, he usually understands the "logistical" gist behind Sunzi's essay.

No comments: