|Sun Tzu said:
7. Hence the use of spies, of whom there are five classes: (1) Local spies;
(2) inward spies; (3) converted spies; (4) doomed spies; (5) surviving spies.
|There are five ways
to spy, as described in the paragraphs below.
Spying in business
can border on unethical and easily cross the line. It can also
become illegal. Having said this, gaining information on competitors
in legal ways that are within company rules can give a significant
|8. When these five kinds of spy are all at work, none can discover the secret
system. This is called "divine manipulation of the threads." It is the
sovereign's most precious faculty.
|One of the most
secret types of knowledge is about your spies. This should be known
only by a very few at the top.
If word leaks out, your enemy will
be extra cautious and may put out false information. If they catch
your spies then they may be tortured for information, may be turned
against your and will likely be killed.
|9. Having local spies means employing the services of the inhabitants of a
|Most people are just
trying to get on with their daily lives. Wars are troublesome for
them and can make life much harder.
If the people where the enemy
is residing do not like the enemy, then it should be easy to
persuade bold individuals, especially those who have been wronged,
to spy for you. This is the best type of local spy.
If the local people are suffering hardship, then rewards of money
or food may make it worth them taking risks for you.
Worst is to coerce them into spying for you, for example by
threatening to 'expose' them.
|10. Having inward spies, making use of officials of the enemy.
|A good spy, if you
can turn him or her, is one who is trusted and who works within the
enemy forces. Best of all is when they have access to plans and can
overhear important discussions.
Many people working in wars are
co-opted into their position. Administrators, especially are not
natural warriors and may resent being held under strict command.
Inward spies may be gained by simple payment or, better, their
simmering resentment may be amplified so they decide to side with
you. This can be especially powerful if they believe you will win
the war (so persuade them of such).
|11. Having converted spies, getting hold of the enemy's spies and using them
for our own purposes.
|If you can catch and
turn the enemies spies, you then have a double-agent who you can get
to send back false information and to tell you critical information,
in particular about other spies (although spy networks are often
organized to prevent such information being passed on).
You may be
able to persuade the spy to turn, or you may need to use a more
coercive approach. The threat of harsh punishment may be sufficient
Beware of enemy spies pretending to be double agents or acting as
triple agents. This is a murky world and you can never fully trust
|12. Having doomed spies, doing certain things openly for purposes of
deception, and allowing our spies to know of them and report them to the enemy.
|When one of your
spies is lost, for example when they are compromised, you can still
use this to your advantage, such as having deeper spies 'whisper'
information about them to the enemy. In this way you may lose one
spy but another gains greater confidence and access to better
|13. Surviving spies, finally, are those who bring back news from the enemy's
|Spying is not a game
for the faint of heart nor is it one where escaping detection and
survival is likely to be gained, especially over the longer term.
The only useful spies are those that provide information. The most
useful ones are those who help you win the war in a shorter period
and with less expenditure of resources.