SUN TZU in 500BC was looking for a job as a General working for a War Lord to head up the army. In an interview with a War Lord, he was challenged to show his capabilities to lead by having to line-up and march 30 of the War Lord’s concubines in a military manner. SUN TZU accepted the challenge and asked the two ladies who headed up the group to get the ladies ready to march – they were laughing and carrying on knowing that the War Lord was in their corner as he had previously done. SUN TZU asked them to march and 30 ladies collided with each other reflecting on non-performance with a lot of laughing and chatting amongst each other. SUN TZU asked for a second time to repeat the same march and formation – the ladies failed as they had before. This time he called over one of the leaders and he gave her his sword. He ordered her to chop off the head of one of the concubines – she performed as ordered – and the turns and about faces WERE PERFECTLY DONE as ordered. SUN TZU got the job as the War Lord’s General and the management principle of accountability was introduced.

Until today Sun Tzu’s principles have been in use for 2500+ years and used by General’s ranging from Napoleon to Schwartzkopf who used Sun Tzu’s principles on surprise in Desert Shield and U.S. troops easily won that battle. Sun Tzu’s principles are taught at most Military Academies and business folks in Asia use his principles as a business bible and follow them to a tee as rapid progress is made by most Asian countries that face a new battle every time they enter another
country. We will cover Sun Tzu’s 13 Principles used 2500 + years ago, and identify the relationship of current business strategy to each of his principles. The following shows Sun Tzu’s principle followed by some of the current strategies that are available to management:

  1. Laying Plans
    1. Thoroughly asses conditions – SWOT
    2. Compare attributes – Benchmark
    3. Look for Strategic turns – External and Internal
    4. Must have Short Plan
  2. Waging War – Tactical Implementation of Plan
    1. Professional execution of Tactics
    2. Should not separate Plan from Execution
    3. Tactical Plans – Get started
    4. Martial adequate resources
    5. Speed wins – be ahead of your opponent
    6. Everyone must Profit from Victories
    7. Know your Craft – Leadership/Generalship
  3. Deception and Foreknowledge
    1. Maximize the power of Market information
    2. Know Your Customer – Demographic Data a must
    3. Know your Competition
    4. Know Yourself
    5. Utilize the latest in Technology – AI step ahead
    6. Deception is key – mask your intentions
  4. Disposition of Military Strength
    1. Strategy has to be right – you have to do right thing
    2. Be Invincible – have People look up to you
    3. Attain strategic superiority – focus on Customer
    4. Use information to focus resources
  5. Use of Energy – no one command system is the Best
    1. Two basic systems Centralized/Decentralized
    2. Build a strong organization
    3. Apply Extraordinary Force – Start using imagination
    4. Coordinate Momentum and Timing
  6. Weakness & Strength
    1. Flank
    2. Segment
    3. Overwhelm
    4. Reinforce
    5. Take the initiative – First
    6. Plan Surprise – Speed is Critical
    7. Gain Relative Superiority
    8. Seek Knowledge – Use data to Make Decisions
    9. Be Flexible
  7. Maneuvering – Put your opponent at a disadvantage
    1. Look for situations where you can attain superiority
    2. Maneuver to gain advantage
    3. Achieve critical mass
    4. Deceive your competitors
    5. Develop Internal Communications – Create Intranet
    6. Gain the mental advantage
  8. Variations of Tactics
    1. 300 military campaigns – only 6 were frontal attacks
    2. Consider Tactical Operations
    3. Prepare adequate defense
    4. Avoid the Faults of Leadership
  9. On the March
    1. In order for position to be secure, we must own it.
    2. Make Customers so happy – they will only buy from you
    3. Occupy strong natural positions
    4. To change Customer – you must change who you are
    5. Always seek High Ground
    6. Estimate the situation
    7. Disciplines can build Allegiance
  10. Terrains –Internal and External Areas of Operations
    1. Wander around essential
    2. What is Known, not Known and the Unknowable
    3. Expand knowledge base and horizons of possibilities
    4. Internally – employee is the Customer
    5. Silos – are competitors
    6. The enemy is “Us” until everyone focused on Customer
    7. Know Your battlefield
    8. Obey the Laws of Leadership
  11. The Nine Varieties of Ground
    1. Choose a favorable battleground
    2. Shape your opponents strategy
    3. Make Victory the Only Option
    4. Plan coordinated efforts
    5. Fight only the battles you can win
    6. Know yourself: Know your opponent
  12. Attack by Fire
    1. Battles won by proper balance of strategy and tactics
    2. Be Disruptive and Intrusive
    3. Consolidate your gains – sustain victory not just WIN
    4. Exercise restraint
    5. Press the attack
    6. Learn winning ways
  13. Employment of Secret Agents
    1. Invest in Intelligence
    2. Collect all available data
    3. Make information useful
    4. Practice Counter-Intelligence

We will spend more time on the Sun Tzu principles as we see a clear relationship to a “It Starts and Ends with Management” example and the analysis covered in our BLOG. However, it is amazing as to the application of Sun Tzu’s Principles that are 2500+ years old to today’s Management Issues.