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The Annotated Art of War (Parts 5.1-2: Large and Small)

 

Disciplines > Warfare > The Annotated Art of War > Parts 5.1-2: Large and Small

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V. Energy

 

Sun Tzu said: Commentary
1. Sun Tzu said: The control of a large force is the same principle as the control of a few men: it is merely a question of dividing up their numbers.

The principles of control and direction are the same, no matter how large the force. The way armies do this is through a strict hierarchy that divides and subdivides, such that the lowest level fighting teams are quite small.

The same problem faces businesses: to be able to manage size. Common problem include where the top becomes detached from the front line, and where high-level strategy gets corrupted by the time it reaches operational management. Perhaps industry could learn something here from the military.

2. Fighting with a large army under your command is nowise different from fighting with a small one: it is merely a question of instituting signs and signals. What is important is that instructions reach the front line quickly. Hierarchies help this as long as there are no blocks or distortion along the way.

Signs and signals are ways of communicating, including over distances. A well-managed communications network can get information in both directions, up and down the hierarchy, quickly and efficiently.

In business, communication up and down the hierarchy, let alone with peers, is often cited as a problem, including in times of change where misunderstanding of intent and realities can cause real problems.

 

 

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