Sun Tzu's The Art of War applied to business, personal interaction in particular.
|PART TWO: WAGING WAR
1. Sun Tzu said: In the operations of war, where there are in the field a thousand swift chariots, as many heavy chariots, and a hundred thousand mail-clad soldiers, with provisions enough to carry them a thousand LI, the expenditure at home and at the front, including entertainment of guests, small items such as glue and paint, and sums spent on chariots and armor, will reach the total of a thousand ounces of silver per day. Such is the cost of raising an army of 100,000 [one hundred thousand] men.
In War: Expenses are real in war, and these calculations represent expenses in Sun Tzu’s time. Now, with today’s technology, the invoice of war is far longer, more complicated and the sums outrageously higher.
In Business When Your Client/Customer is Your Enemy: Expenses are central to business, and in dealing with your clients and customers, you want to figure this into your approach. Whether you are sparing no expense to satisfy your customers or passing the savings along to them, expenses and their perception are vital to your relationship with your client or customer.
In Business When Your Competition is Your Enemy: Regarding your competition, the perception of your expenses isn’t as important as with your client. To spend less and make more is important, but if you are spending more in advertising, and spending it wisely, you’ll have the advantage; spending poorly on the crucial aspect of affordable and effective advertising may make the difference.
2. When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.
3. Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain.
4. Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.
5. Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.
6. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.
7. It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on.
In War: Given any country’s necessarily limited resources, and given the human being’s weaknesses in protracted combat, here Sun Tzu argues against overlong engagement, and the United States’ experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq and other arenas have demonstrated the futileness of a war that goes on too long.
In Business When Your Client/Customer is Your Enemy: When winning a new client, make that a swift campaign. Lock in their loyalty and progress beyond the courtship phase to a strong and substantial life-long business relationship. That’s one of the big differences between the relationship between the salesman/customer and the consultant/client; the salesman sells a product to a customer, maybe one or maybe a thousand times. But that customer can get the product from another salesman, and will; like a McDonald’s hamburger. But a client goes to a consultant and only that consultant, not on a case-by-case basis but usually for a professional lifetime. So move quickly into that territory, or you may never get there.
In Business When Your Competition is Your Enemy: Move quickly against your competition too. If there is a seasonal advantage to be had, grab it quickly. If there is information that can be to your advantage, use it quickly before it expires and automatically serves to your disadvantage.
8. The skillful soldier does not raise a second levy, neither are his supply wagons loaded more than twice.
In War: From Julius Caesar to Napoleon Bonaparte, the value of being a little ahead of your opponent has counted for more than either numerical superiority or the finest calculations.
In Business When Your Client/Customer is Your Enemy: You have to be way ahead of your clients or customers. You need to know what they don’t; know what they need before they know they need it.
In Business When Your Competition is Your Enemy: Likewise, you have to know your industry better than your competition does, you have to know your clients and customers better than your competition does. You must be first with the innovation when you can be. You must stay ahead of your competition to maintain the tactical advantage.
9. Bring war material with you from home, but forage on the enemy. Thus the army will have food enough for its needs.
10. Poverty of the State exchequer causes an army to be maintained by contributions from a distance. Contributing to maintain an army at a distance causes the people to be impoverished.
11. On the other hand, the proximity of an army causes prices to go up; and high prices cause the people's substance to be drained away.
12. When their substance is drained away, the peasantry will be afflicted by heavy exactions.
13, 14. With this loss of substance and exhaustion of strength, the homes of the people will be stripped bare, and three-tenths of their income will be dissipated; while government expenses for broken chariots, worn-out horses, breastplates and helmets, bows and arrows, spears and shields, protective mantles, draught-oxen and heavy wagons, will amount to four-tenths of its total revenue.
15. Hence a wise general makes a point of foraging on the enemy. One cartload of the enemy's provisions is equivalent to twenty of one's own, and likewise a single PICUL of his provender is equivalent to twenty from one's own store.
In War: In war, material is that which can be used; tools, weapons, gunpowder. Other things which can be foraged include food, drink, clothing and shelter. A soldier carries a gun because he cannot forage one, but can use one to hunt. With limited resources for travel and carriage, one must be economical and travel as light as possible.
In Business When Your Client/Customer is Your Enemy: This one is tricky. The days of the traveling salesman are through. You might be a sales rep doing some traveling, but you’ll be carrying what you need and little else. In this day and age, people already travel light. But maybe you can streamline your movements even more. Are your traveling reps all using smartphones and the latest technology? They should be. Know when to forage on your enemy; in other words, what elements of interaction you uncover only once you’re involved. These things include news items that influence your industry, personal chemistry you may have with your client, anything you discover as it happens. These are things you can’t bring with you anyway.
In Business When Your Competition is Your Enemy: There’s not a lot of difference between the customer and the competition here. You’re probably not traveling that much, and if you are then you’re well-advised to use the latest communication technology to streamline your movements and increase your flexibility.
16. Now in order to kill the enemy, our men must be roused to anger; that there may be advantage from defeating the enemy, they must have their rewards.
In War: Tu Mu says: "Rewards are necessary in order to make the soldiers see the advantage of beating the enemy; thus, when you capture spoils from the enemy, they must be used as rewards, so that all your men may have a keen desire to fight, each on his own account."
In Business When Your Client/Customer is Your Enemy: Reward your clients with savings and information, insight that increases their own power when dealing with others. Once they know how powerful industry data is, they’ll use you as a source of it and turn it to their own advantage. Reward your employees to keep them loyal and hardworking. Reward your superiors with increasing productivity. If you are a font of reward, people will flock to you.
In Business When Your Competition is Your Enemy: You won’t be rewarding your competition, but you can keep tabs on what kind of rewards they’re using to motivate their own forces. If they make more effective use of this tactic than you do, you will be at a disadvantage.
17. Therefore in chariot fighting, when ten or more chariots have been taken, those should be rewarded who took the first. Our own flags should be substituted for those of the enemy, and the chariots mingled and used in conjunction with ours. The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept.
18. This is called, using the conquered foe to augment one's own strength.
19. In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.
In War: The key here is to turn your conquered enemies to your favor. Although it will later be rigorously recommended that you extinguish your usurper to the utmost, you want to treat his or her minions differently. And even an usurper should be treated with some respect for his/her humanity, lest you seem cruel and miserable. After all, you may yet be vanquished, and if that happens you’ll not want to be mistreated in addition to being dethroned. Treat your prisoners well and your own prisoners will be treated the same way, as illustrated by the great Genova Convention of the 20th Century.
In Business When Your Client/Customer is Your Enemy: It’s basically a you-snooze-you-lose world when it comes to business. Linger on the fringes of your client/customer’s periphery and that’s where you’ll stay.
In Business When Your Competition is Your Enemy: The competition knows this too, and they’ll act fast if you won’t.
20. Thus it may be known that the leader of armies is the arbiter of the people’s fate, the man on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or in peril.