GaryGagliardi's blog

Adapting to Change: Part 23,453

A student who is a union member wrote to describe how the management of his railroad is decommissioning new assets despite their efficiency. This is a good example of how organizations fail to understand how methods must adjust to climate. Railroads have a rare opportunity right now. Fuel price rises are hitting their main competitors, the truckers, hard. Asset utilization is not a bad focus for a capital intensive business like railroads, but to improve utilization, what is better: removing assets or increase sales?

Adjusting to Situations: Military versus Politicians

The more things change, the more they are the same. A recent ABC news poll of commanders on the ground in Iraq, the commanders echo Sun Tzu. Quoting Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond in Sadr City:
"Instead of any time-based approach to any decision for withdrawal, it's got to be conditions-based..."
How long have politicians been getting this idea wrong. 2,500 years ago, Sun Tzu said:
"The army's position is made more difficult by politicians in three different ways. Ignorant of the whole army’s inability to advance, they order an advance.

Independence and Dependence: You and Government

Sun Tzu's methods leverage forces in the environment to your advantage. We must use those forces but we are independent from them because we can choose our responses. Even if the winds are blowing against us, we can go where we want if we know how to tack correctly. During my appearance on a radio show (WSBA, York, PA) this morning, the host, Gary Sutton, pointed out that John McCain missed an teaching opportunity in commenting on Sen. Gramm's "nation of whiners" statement.

Speed and Direction: Advantage Obama

As Sun Tzu said, speed is often the essence of war. Short, quick movements are often the key to success. Even if they go in the wrong direction, they cannot go to far wrong if you quickly correct your course. One of the primary reasons I give Obama the advantage in the current presidential race is his methods are clearly superior, especially in the case of using speed. The disadvantage of speed is that hHe makes many more mistakes than McCain, but he also quickly corrects them.

Change, Adatability, and Flip-Flops

Sun Tzu's Sun Tzu's strategy is a philosophy of continually adapting to changing situations.However, Sun Tzu's strategy recognizes there are two types of changes in the environment: changes affecting the ground, which are objective, physical changes, and changes that are solely climatic, that is, subjective, emotional changes. Adaptation can also take two forms: objective changes to methods and psychological changes to character that affect how decisions are made. Such adaptations can be short-term adaptations or long-term reformations.

Leveraging Expectations: Bringing Down Oil Prices Immediately

Sun Tzu's Sun Tzu's strategy teaches that it is much easier to change people's subjective view of a position than the physical position itself, and that, by changing people's subjective views, you can leverage real physical changes very easily. This seems like magic, but let us use high oil prices as an example. Despite what the politicians says, they could bring down oil prices dramatically right away if they leveraged people's expectations about the future.

Attack Weak Points, Not Strong: Wesley Clark's Mistake

Sun Tzu's strategy teaches that you attack the weak points not the strong points of your opponent. Politicians (and business people) make this mistake constantly, but military people usually know better. Wesley's Clark's recent criticism of McCain's military service demonstrates that he is more of a politician than a strategist. What can be gain by attacking McCain on the basis of his resume? Such attacks only draw attention to Obama's much weaker resume, especially in regards to being commander-in-chief of the military.

New Business War College Site

We have just created a new site, called the Business War College, where we bring together a number of our materials under a little different label. Of the years of working in the book store market, I became shy about marketing "war" especially since Sun Tzu teaches winning while avoiding conflict. However, since the business world really is increasingly the focus of the world's competitive between ideas, which is a very good thing, it seems appropriate to acknowledge the fact, especially since business people are our main customers.

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