|Sun Tzu said:
|11. Now the general is the bulwark of the State; if the bulwark is complete
at all points; the State will be strong; if the bulwark is defective, the State
will be weak.
armies. If they are weak then their decisions and orders will be
weak. Therefore it is contingent upon the state to appoint
consistently strong generals.
Likewise in business, the success
and failure of any organization hinges upon the competence of the
12. There are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army:
|Leaders are not
guaranteed success just because they are leaders.
|13. (1) By commanding the army to advance or to retreat, being ignorant of
the fact that it cannot obey. This is called hobbling the army.
|Commanders who issue
orders that cannot be obeyed, for example where the army is pinned
down by the enemy or where transportation is not available, only
creates angst and conflict in the lower-level leaders on the ground.
It also does little for the credibility of those commanders.
business, when the fine strategy hits the realities of the front
line, it is often translated into quite different tactics, simply
because front-line managers know that it will not work as is. This
is sometimes known as 'strategic disobedience'.
A common problem is where strategy assumes plentiful resources,
whilst the reality is that budgets are thin and people are busy.
|14. (2) By attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a
kingdom, being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army. This causes
restlessness in the soldier's minds.
|Citizens in the
country have rights and freedoms and so must be persuaded and
cajoled. Armies are regimented and commanded organizations for a
good reason. If you ask a soldier if he would like to advance, the
result is confusion. Orders to advance should be obeyed without
question or delay.
As Chang Yu noted, humanity and justice are the
principles on which to govern a state. For an army, opportunism and
flexibility are key virtues.
In business, sales people are often quite a
different breed to those back in headquarters. Tasked with selling
or being sacked, they easily see corporate politeness and politics
|15. (3) By employing the officers of his army without discrimination, through
ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to circumstances. This shakes
the confidence of the soldiers.
|When people at the
top order people way down the tree of command, it both undermines
more senior officers and creates conflicts of loyalty in the ordered
Such decisions may also be made with insufficient understanding
of local conditions.
Rigid and blind commands from senior officers have been the
downfall of many troops. The rules of war change and fighting by the
rules of the previous war brings doom. In the First World War, the
orders for steady advance with bayonets fixed met the new machine guns,
with ensuing carnage and waste.