|Sun Tzu said:
28. Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your
methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.
|When you are
successful in using one method it is very tempting to repeat this.
Yet military success often comes from the surprise created. Lightning is very
unlikely strike the same thing twice. It is similarly very unlikely that the
same tactic will create the same surprise twice (at least against
the same enemy).
Innovation is a critical part of business, and
not just in product design. Strategic innovation includes surprising
market moves and changes in direction that keeps competitors
|29. Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course
runs away from high places and hastens downwards.
||Water is moved by the
natural potential energy of gravity. It goes where it will go and
does not return.
There are many variables in war and what worked in one situation
is not guaranteed to work elsewhere. Design the tactics for the
situation rather than just 'using what worked last time'.
|30. So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is
||Fighting a strong
force is a good way of losing troops, yet many combatants have
thought the only way to win is through direct conflict.
There are many alternatives and only a fool dashes himself
against a rock.
|31. Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which
it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is
||Water flows around
things rather than trying to move them. In doing so it sustains its
momentum and reaches its destination.
In the end, success lies in
the hands of the individual soldier, who must respond to the
situation in front of him, right now. At the same time, commanders
must direct the flow of troops to best advantage.
|32. Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there
are no constant conditions.
||Water is fluid. It
does not have the fixed shape of rock. It cannot move a fixed rock,
but it can wear it down. It can roll stones out of the way and carry
sand along with it.
Success is gained not just by grand strategy
but also by adapting to the situation on the field of play.
|33. He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby
succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain.
||In Tai Chi, you seek
great sensitivity to feel the slightest movement of the other person
and respond simultaneously.
In war, the principle is the same: sense and respond, while also
seeking the higher goal.
Chess is a war game in which players spend much time thinking 'if
she does that, I will do this, then if she does this, I will respond
like that..' and so on. The players that win are those who can see
more moves ahead and cope with all possibilities.
Businesses sometimes focus so much on executing the defined
strategy they forget to see how it is working out in practice.
Having a closed loop of rapid learning and change can be very
|34. The five elements (water, fire, wood, metal, earth) are not always
equally predominant; the four seasons make way for each other in turn. There are
short days and long; the moon has its periods of waning and waxing.
||When you break things
down to the fundamental elements, you may find that those basic
patterns do not appear equally and have different impacts.
Nothing is constant and stable, not even atoms. All is in flux. A
pictures is a snapshot in time, yet life is a three-dimensional
Yet there are also predictable patterns amongst interactional
dynamics. The four seasons, for example, always follow each other in
a predictable sequence.
If you can understand the basic elements, how they work and
interact, and how they form predictable patterns, then you will be
able to create and predict many things.