SUn Tzu and modern management.
To continue our series on looking at Sun Tzu’s art of war as it relates to business style. Last in
the series we learnt however equates with maintaining competitive advantage. Now we will compare what he has to say in relation to current management style (or lack of it).
Importance of vision and resources.
- “The enlightened ruler is heedful, and the good general full of caution. This is the way to keep a country at peace and an army intact.” This is a call for conservative approach to protect the assets you have with a minimum of risk without losing the momentum to move forward.
- “The art of war teaches us not on the likeliness of the enemy not coming, but on our readiness to receive him.” This capture the whole methodology of risk management. Find a company that has a qualified in-depth disaster recovery plan that all staff are made aware of and can be put into operation at a moment’s notice? There would be very few indeed that have anything more than the fire drill. There is a saying “the best way to management interested in redundancy planning is to burn down the office across the street.”
- “Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated.” Think of six sigma, Prince 2 and all the other methodologies that strive for perfection in every effort. There is a reason for having a high standard of work ethic is essential to keeping completive advantage. I remember going Ina course once that explained that if an electricity company had 99% operational level that meant 5 hours a month their consumers would not have access to power. Is 99% an acceptable level of excellence?
On the flip side what is bad managemement?
According to the “art of war” there are certain personality that are not desirable in any leader. I shall let these speak for themselves:
- Recklessness, that leads to destruction.
- Cowardice, that leads to capture.
- A hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults.
- A delicacy to honour which is sensitive to shame.
- Over solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.
You can compare this list to the current crop of political figures and see what sticks.
Sun Tzu insists on high standards.
How many managers now would admonish staff for making mistakes, or encourage them to do better by providing training so they become more proficient at the task? In most organizations I have worked for there is a tacit acceptance of people’s foibles which leads to a drop-in standard and for staff to keep their heads down rather than improve.
These leads nicely on to our next article entitled “Sun Tzu and HR”.
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About the Author:
Malcolm Ford has 25 years business experience advicing organisations on their software /It requirments. He has some experience of bad management in his time.