The Annotated Art of War (Parts 1.3-12: Five Constant Factors)
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Annotated Art of War > Parts 1.3-12: Five Constant Factors)
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I. Laying Plans
|Sun Tzu said:
|3. The art of war,
then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account
in one's deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions
obtaining in the field.
||Here are five things
to think about. Maybe not everything, but a very useful set.
|4. These are: (1) The
Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5) Method and
||...and here they are
(with descriptions below).
|5,6. The Moral Law
causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that
they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any
||When a ruler acts in
a moral way, showing fairness in all dealings and caring for the
subjects, then the subjects will
in return even to the point of death. Love begets love.
is also related to harmony
and ensuring alignment
in all things.
business, a perform-or-perish, hire-and-fire attitude may seem good
for business but does not lead to loyal employees. If you clearly
care about your people they will care about you and care about the
business. Leadership begets followership.
|7. Heaven signifies
night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.
||The world is made up
of opposing pairs, yin and yang. Seeing and understanding these can
give you advantage, for example understanding the real impact of
high and low ground, or fighting in summer or winter. This is
embedded in the contrast
Heaven is the opposite of the hard earth,
indicating light, rain, temperature and so on.
business, when you are doing well, know that doing badly is never
far away. If you have enemies then you may also have friends. Do not
be trapped by single-track thinking.
|8. Earth comprises
distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and
narrow passes; the chances of life and death.
||War is fought on the
surface of the earth, which has attributes such as height, hardness,
distance and so on. Factor geographic factors into your planning.
Even and especially with the global economy, geography is an
important business variable. Transport costs. Being near your
customers helps you be more responsive. And so on.
We think in three-dimensional metaphors which can also be useful.
We talk about taking the high ground, being in trouble, getting over
things and so on. Understand how 3D thinking helps and hinders you.
|9. The Commander
stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage
||As with the Moral
Law, how you lead dictates whether and how people follow.
you lead depends on who you are, inside. Your
models and so
on is how you win and lose wars.
Wisdom is knowing the right thing to do. Sincerity is believing
in what you do. Benevolence is helping those you could harm. Courage
is overcoming personal fears. Strictness is ensuring others do as
These may be combined as integrity. Leaders with integrity
create passionate, dedicated followers.
If you are in business, can you say these are true of you? If you
would manage others or lead the charge, consider how you can develop
|10. By method and
discipline are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its
proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among the officers, the
maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the
control of military expenditure.
||When you have a vast
swathe of troops, it is important that each knows where they should
be and what they should do. Strict hierarchical organization is a
powerful way of achieving this.
An army travels far, and roads are
important both for rapid movement and steady supplies. Wars are won
by far more than fighting.
In business, sloppy organization is often mistaken as a way of
motivating people. Clear roles and goals works wherever you are.
Armies and businesses spend money and both can run out if it is
not managed carefully. Whatever your raison d'etre, cash is still
|11. These five heads
should be familiar to every general: he who knows them will be
victorious; he who knows them not will fail.
||Armies and businesses
thrive and die based on what leaders truly understand or
|12. Therefore, in
your deliberations, when seeking to determine the military
conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in this
||Take time to
understand what you understand, and especially what the leaders
understand and how they will think and act based on this