Losing Track of Your Core Mission

In listing his five key elements to a strategy, Sun Tzu noted that "methods" must always conform to "the way," that is, your goals. or mission. Why was this warning necesssary? Because our methods, what we call systems, tend to take on a lfe of their own, expanding and growing well beyond their original purpose. This is famously true of government operations, but it is also true of most other organizations as well. They all lose their way. Not only that, but Sun Tzu's Principle of Reversal tells us that missions can reverse themselves: what was once the goal becomes the enemy. For example, at one time the environmental movement's purpose was to protect humanity from destroying the environment on which it depends. However, today, the environmental movement is largely hostile to human existence. Indeed, more and more environmental initiatives are likely to cost human life than save it. Click here for examples from the economist, Walter Williams. Can you think of other examples?