“The Art of War” an oldie but a goodie.
No this is not a plug, nor is it something I written myself, this just my response to the myriad of books, courses, methodologies and 5 step plans that every college, business school and self proclaimed guru seem to offer. It’s over 2000 years old and was
commissioned by a Chinese Emperor to better understand the process on conducting military campaigns. The book is Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” and within that 80 pages you can judge the success or failure of almost venture. It is simple, concise and packed full of ancient wisdom. In everything that I have come across this tiny book seems to capture the essence of all that you need to watch out for in business, career and life in general.
Even if you don’t see your business as some high flying fintech disrupter model breaking new ground of discovery and laying waste to the competition, the concepts covered by Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” come in handy in almost any business no matter what the sector. These are just a couple of the one liners that could wipe out any MBA accreditation.
Sun Tzu advice which can be applied to business.
- “Strike where the enemy is not”. Doesn’t that sound like “Gap in the market”? providing a service or product that is in demand with no competition. In marketing this is an essential mantra for getting your message out there. A flash crowd dance routine at Liverpool street station made more of a splash than all the blogs on Linkedin.
- “Carefully compare the opposing army with your own, so that you may know where your strength is superabbundant and where it is deficient”. The cold hard fact of competitor analysis and admitting what they are good at and where you may be lacking. This requires an ability to remove your ego our of the equation and judge the facts as they come to hand. The attitude of th executive of Nokia to the advent of Apples Iphone is a sober reminder.
- “Do not repeat the tactics that gave you once victory, but let your methods be regulated by an infinite variety of circumstances”. The antithesis of the Hollywood sequel as you should never rest of your laurels but keep learning and searching for new ways of doing things.
- “Let your plans be as dark as the night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” Learning information security at the moment and this phrase seemed apt as it ever was in relation to keeping trade secrets and important information safe. Unfortunatley modern management has not caught on with realities of the digital world.
- “The natural cessation of the country side is the soldiers bet ally”. Adapt to your environment. If conditions change you need to move with it. When going into a recession hunker down and remind your client base you have always been there. When out the otherside launch new new products to capture a new audience.
Sun Tzu know your enemy, know thyself.
“If you know the enemy, and know yourself, you need not fear the result of 100 battles. If you know the enemy but not yourself, then for every victory gained you will suffer a defeat. If you neither know the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. ” Ever done a SWOT analysis or an exercise of forecasting resource to meet anticipated demand then this is it. Market research before anyone thought of the term. This leads on to the requirement of caution or due care in every business decision which is enlightened by:
“The general who advances without coveting fame, and retreats without fearing disgrace, is the jewel of the kingdom”. Being professional whilst in service to the business owner and don’t allow your own ego cloud your judgement on any given situation.
More to come.
Almost any venture can be analyzed and critiqued by these simple pithy sayings. All other modern books courses simply give these words an up to date context in which to operate.
If you can afford £2.00 and a few hour of your time its well worth the read and I have embedded a link below:
Next in the series: “What does Sun Tzu’s Art of War tell us about our current management style”.
About the author: Malcolm Ford has worked at IT Enterprise Business Solutions as a Business Systems Analyst for over 8 years. Specialising in implementing ERP software solutions he has seen his fair share of business cock ups in his time.