SUN ZI'S ART OF WAR:
DEADLY ORIENTAL STRATEGIES for SUCCESS, CAREER & BUSINESS

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Article
NATURE OF THE STRATEGY OF SUN ZI

Dr. Chong Kuang-Yin. 29th January 1999

Sun Zi Art of War,
the world oldest military strategy manual


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STRATEGY IS THE BLOSSOMING OF THOUGHT
AND THE MEANS TO SOVEREIGNITY




Introduction

Strategy is a needy element in modern management either within an organization or among the interacting organizations. In practice, strategy is an invisible plan to deal with the possible trend of development of the variables in a mission. It is the organization's overall plan for producing goods or services that meet the needs of the organization. Strategy varies in response to time and space.

From the perspective of military strategy, Sun Zi is the first person who put the thought of military strategy in sequence and order. The field commander must be very clear in mind with the purpose, mission, objectives, plan and policies of the organization.


Evolution of Strategy

For the past few thousand years, the thought of strategy is always in the human mind, either consciously or subconsciously. If not, human race will never be so colorful and thriving as shown today.

Every human group has his social structure and social system. Social structure means an orderly, fixed arrangement of parts making up an integral whole, which is called a society, a community or an institution. Social system refers to the dynamic efficiency of a structure in relation to concerted action by group members or to their enduring common purposes. A society is a complex and huge social system, which is a spin off from the system of the nature and live in nature.

Mankind starts to react instinctively to reality until they reach the stage of life after the emergence of memory in their mind. And, from this stage onwards an individual will start to react to his environmental, both biological and physical, stimuli. With the accumulation of his experiences during the period of his growth, subconsciously he picked up the value he appreciated and finally developed into his own value that created his strategic behavior in action.

In early days, employees in the eyes of the employers are the machines, the tools, and the slave. The employers tried every means to drive the employees in order to extract the highest output from them.

Gradually, due to the development of the knowledge in organizational behavior, the employers started to realize the significant effect of psychological contract between an employee and an organization. Legal contract alone is not enough. A psychological contract is a set of unwritten, reciprocal expectations between an employee and an organization. It is the exchange of contributions and inducements. This is also the expression of strategy. The managerial thought which developed from the early part of twenty century is slowly transforming its nature of materialism to the nature of humanism.


Goals

With the law of fittest and the law of natural selection, mankind has accumulated the strategic heritage to deal with the environment in order to survive. In the commercial world, money is the key factor to motivate participants in the tussle for economic gain; in the battlefield, bloodshed of the enemy is the intention of the participants for victory.

After reading the statements of Sun Zi in his military treatise, we can perceive not only the system thinking of an ancient strategist but also the love of life by a military strategist. Sun Zi says,"the best policy to overcome your enemy is to win a war without a battle". It is clear that no battle means no bloodshed and no bloodshed tells no kill of life. This philosophical advice implies to the modern management that the highest level of strategy is to overtake your competitors in market share and does not mean that you must demolish the establishment of your competitors. However, one should not forget that the thought of strategy is the product of the battlefield.


Characteristics

Strategy has certain principle featires, viz:

  • Possession of Adequate Knowledge

    One must acquire relevant knowledge to renovate his wisdom. Good wisdom can make the thought of strategy turns to be versatile in responding to situations. The wisdom of mankind creates the history and the history provides mankind an arena to demonstrate his talent.

  • Perception of Trends and Advantages

    Strategy includes the ability to perceive the invisible events, to avoid unnecessary miseries and to watch the trend of development. How to perceive? How to avoid? How to watch? The answers are the wisdom and knowledge of the strategists.

  • Maximisation of Resources

    Strategy is the way to minimize input and to maximize output in the pursuance of prosperity.

  • Manipulation of Motivational Values

    Ancient people are not so complicated and sophisticated as compared with the modern human races. The virtue and morale of the human races influenced the majority of the ancient people. Now, money motivates the majority of the modern people. As the slogan of "Time is money" prevails, money keeps people accelerating their activities in modern social system.


Military warfare is the visible and tangible business, but the warfare of politics, economy, faith, influences and commerce are invisible and intangible business. However, both businesses need strategic plan and operational tactics. The harmony among the heaven (timeliness), the people (strategy creators) and the earth (environmental factors) can lead endeavor to success without a war.

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