GaryGagliardi's blog

A Shift of Momentum: Palin Pick as Predicted

So, we get a real time example of how surprise changes momentum. As I predicted (here), the announcement of Palin changed the entire feeling of the race. The Democratic convention was completely unsurprising and (except for the level of disunity, which isn't good) had no affect on the momentum of the race. Obama didn't even recapture the lead that he has lost over the last few month. Until Obama can do something surprising, the momentum will stay with McCain. Can Obama do something surprising? Why not?

Campaign Positions: The Potential for a McCain Landslide

We wrote about Sun Tzu's The Art of War nine common strategic campaign positions here, but you should understand how Sun Tzu lays out these positions in a logical order where one connect logically to the next. Success is all about making the right choices given your positioning, getting to the best ground. For example, in McCain is on “intersecting” terrain, which means that he has the opportunity to solidify alliances. If he makes the right alliances, he can get to “open” terrain and win in a landslide.

Countermoves: A Female VP for McCain

The "first mover" has a strategic advantage as long as the move forces an opponent to do something in your advantage. When a first move is easily counter by a move that develops the opposition's position, it is wasted. For example, in the presidential election, Obama had one move that could not be countered: picking Hillary as VP. The choice of Biden, however, does little except for make up for Obama's lack of experience in foreign affairs.

Good Methods and Bad: The Announcement of Biden as VP

Adaptive strategy teaches that competition isn't predictable because every contest hinges on the decisions made along the way. The question is always who adapts to the imbalances of strengths and weakness the most quickly. Of all the five factors, the easiest place to correct a weakness is in methods. For example, at the beginning of the presidential race, Obama's biggest advantage was in the dimension of methods.

Adaptive Behavior: The McCain Campaign and Response Time

Sun Tzu's strategy teaches adaptive thinking: the ability to quickly learn from a situation, especially from your mistakes. The people and organizations that learn the fastest and repeat the fewest errors is always going to be the most successful. For example, one of my criticisms of the McCain campaign has been its poor response time, but that has apparently changed. No sooner did the Obama campaign start making an issue of McCain not knowing how many houses his family owned than McCain turn the issue around to bring up Obama's house and its connection to Rezco.

Signs in the Environment: Is Hillary the VP Choice?

As everyone knows, misleading opponents and keeping secrets is a big part of Sun Tzu's Sun Tzu's strategy. Since we cannot trust what opponents say or even do, we have to interpret signs. Chapter Nine of Sun Tzu's work examines this method in detail listing an observation followed by what it means. In section 5, line 37, its says:
"Your enemy offers too many incentives to his men. He is in trouble."

Stages of the Campaign: Where does the presidential race stand?

Sun Tzu's strategy defines nine common strategic situations to which we must respond. They are defined as types of terrain: scattering, easy, disputed, open, intersecting, dangerous, bad, confined, and deadly. Each requires a specific response. Right now, the two candidates are in very different stages in their campaigns. McCain is on an intersecting terrain, which means that he has the opportunity to solidify alliances. Obama is on bad terrain, which means there are a lot of pitfalls that he must avoid. Needless to say, you want to be on the former, rather than the later.

Managing Perspective: Maneuvers from Obama

Sun Tzu teaches that one of the most important aspects of positioning is managing information. The key is making the perspective we use seem reasonable. Language offers a lot of methods for doing this. In responding to McCain's criticism of Obama's position on withdrawing from Iraq as "being willing to lose a war to win an election," Obama's response is very clever. He says:

Instant Gut Decisions: Illustrated by McCain and Obama

We talk and write a lot about how the recognition-based adaptive decision-making taught by Sun Tzu helps people make the right decisions instantly (see articles here). At the recent Saddleback Presidential Forum last Saturday, we saw the difference in someone trained academically in critical thinking and someone trained in the Sun Tzu's strategy. While Obama's answers were all intelligent enough, they were unfocused and rambling as he tried to think his way through the issues.

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