Art of War in the Corporate World

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There are numerous books on warfare but not many that have been relevant for two and a half thousand years. Sun Tzu was a general in the Kingdom of Wu in China around 490BC. His text was translated from Chinese to French in 1782 and it has been suggested that it was the key to Napoleon's success. It was only when he failed to follow all of the rules set down by Sun Tzu that he was defeated.

Since then it has been translated into several languages and published widely. I have two different versions with very similar translations but one has an introduction by James Clavel. There are a variety of different versions with introductions by various people. It has even been adapted for business and relationships by some innovative authors.

"The art of war" has been required reading at many military academies around the world, and is surprisingly relevant even for today's conflicts.

It covers a variety of different aspects of warfare including laying plans, waging war, terrain, energy, maneuvering, and even the use of spies. Sun Tzu was very aware that war should be the last resort but if you were going to "do war" then you should do it properly and ruthlessly to ensure victory.

One of Sun Tzu's quotes which seems so clearly relevant even for today's uncertain times. "In peace prepare for war, in war prepare for peace. The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry, which can on no account be neglected by any one of us today … and tomorrow." “The Art of War”, was written in China 2,500 years ago, by the Chinese General SUN TZU. The book although written with warfare in mind, contains so much strategic and management common sense that it should be on the desk of every Chief Executive, Business Owner and Marketing Executive. The essence of SUN TZU’s book is explained in the following paragraph: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but know not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know not the enemy or yourself, you will succumb in every battle”. Business activities are a microcosm of warfare. Competitors are the opposing armies. The territory we fight for is the market segment of other businesses or consumers that are currently in use, or could be the potential product in the future. The weapons are the product mix, price, place (distribution) and promotion strategies. Victory goes to the business that can not only gain territory from their competitors, but also hold onto it and more important make it profitable. After all there is no point in fighting over something that proves ultimately worthless, or is destroyed in the fight. A typical “price war” often ends up with all parties losing. The perceived price / value of the product or service is driven down, with the winner inheriting a market with much lower margins and profits and price savvy customers. It is not easy to increase the price to recover war costs and lost margins later. In the book the strategies have been given in 13 chapters. Each chapter has many strategies on a particular topic. There are many strategies which have relevance not only in actual warfare but also in today’s business scenario. Few strategies have been discussed which have h huge relevance in the corporate world. According to Sun Tzu there are five important factors that determine the quality of an army in the field. They are Moral law, Heaven, Earth, The commander and Methods and discipline. According to the Moral law, the soldiers should have confidence in their rural no matter what the situation demands. Heven-An army should always take in consideration the weather, the time, the seasons and other phenomenon before waging a war. Earth-An army should also take into consideration the topography and the geographical terrains of a particular battle field. The...
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