|Sun Tzu said:
13. By discovering the enemy's dispositions and remaining invisible
ourselves, we can keep our forces concentrated, while the enemy's must be
||If you know them and
how they are likely to act, then you can make more reliable plans.
This includes only defending where they will very likely attack,
allowing you to make these forces stronger.
If you conceal your
thoughts from them, then they cannot do the same to you, so
increasing your advantage. They hence need to have defenses set up
in many places in case you attack there.
If they do not know where your troops are positioned, then they
may be paralyzed by indecision and risk.
It is often easier to get some information on a diffused force.
If your forces are in one position, but concealed, then this adds to
the confusion of the enemy. In this way, a concentrated force can
gain further advantage.
While industrial espionage is frowned
upon, it does happen. At the very least it makes sense to try to
work out what their strategies may be and to respond accordingly.
|14. We can form a single united body, while the enemy must split up into
fractions. Hence there will be a whole pitted against separate parts of a whole,
which means that we shall be many to the enemy's few.
||From your superior
knowledge of their methods and intent, you can throw your whole
force into the weakest area.
With their inferior knowledge about you, they will not know where
to strike and so hold back (also to cover their defenses).
In business you also have limited resources. If you can use these
to good effect you can win even if you have less than your
|15. And if we are able thus to attack an inferior force with a superior one,
our opponents will be in dire straits.
||If they have an
inferior force in the first place, then to defend against
possibilities, they will be spread exceedingly thin.
Even if they cluster together, your superior force will still
easily defeat them.
|16. The spot where we intend to fight must not be made known; for then the
enemy will have to prepare against a possible attack at several different
points; and his forces being thus distributed in many directions, the numbers we
shall have to face at any given point will be proportionately few.
||When you have
identified their weaker spots, even greater secrecy is needed, lest
they learn your plans and rush to shore up the defense at your point
Even if they have a superior overall force, you can make them
place an inferior force at each position by concealing your intent.
In this way, your inferior total force can defeat their superior
|17. For should the enemy strengthen his van, he will weaken his rear; should
he strengthen his rear, he will weaken his van; should he strengthen his left,
he will weaken his right; should he strengthen his right, he will weaken his
left. If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak.
||The 'van' is the
vanguard, the forces at the front.
To strengthen any one part requires taking troops from elsewhere,
so weakening that source.
When forces are spread evenly, each point is equally weak or
strong. If you have a force greater than this 'average' then you can
penetrate any defense they have.
There is skill in knowing how to spread the concentration of
troops, including allowing the enemy smaller wins in order that your
larger force can achieve a greater victory.
|18. Numerical weakness comes from having to prepare against possible attacks;
numerical strength, from compelling our adversary to make these preparations
||The number of troops
at any position is reduced by the need to spread defenses and
increased by a lack of need to defend in many positions.
|19. Knowing the place and the time of the coming battle, we may concentrate
from the greatest distances in order to fight.
||When you know when
and where a battle will be, then you have time to bring more troops
to the battlefield. The longer you have, the further the distance
you can move them and hence, even if your troops are dispersed, you
can assemble a powerful host.
Timing can be critical in battles,
including late but timely arrival of reinforcements that can turn
|20. But if neither time nor place be known, then the left wing will be
impotent to succor the right, the right equally impotent to succor the left, the
van unable to relieve the rear, or the rear to support the van. How much more so
if the furthest portions of the army are anything under a hundred LI apart, and
even the nearest are separated by several LI!
||If there is no time
to bring in reinforcements or rearrange troops, then your defenses
are as they are now, without chance of rearrangement or
In business there are many surprises and the action of
competitors may mean you have to react. Preparation is key here. If
you have seen the scenario and readied yourself then you may be able
to respond sufficiently.