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Speedy Reactions Versus Preparing the Battleground

While I have been impressed with the Democratic speedy response (see previous post) to the Bush commercials, I am equally impressed with Bush's preparing the battleground before the fight. His initial attacks on Kerry's flip-flopping prepare the battlefield perfectly for more targeted attacks, such as the current ones on cutting intelligence funding, that Kerry must try to twist out of, putting him against the flip-flopping charge. See Dick Morris for more. Both show preparation before hand.

Bush's Use of 9/11 in Advertising: Preparing Instant Response

Sun Tzu teaches us to be prepared for an instant reaction to likely attacks. He compares this to striking back like a snake, explaining that it requires flexibility, preparation, and instant reflexes. Reaction speed requires both foreseeing likely attacks and preparing responses. This is especially true in politics with modern media who runs with a story until the story changes.
A good example was the

Answering a Gay Marriage Proponent's Answer to Bush's Speech

One of the biggest problems that people have thinking strategically is personal myopia. They cannot see their opportunities because they are so focused on defending what they perceive as their interests. They are so focused on attacking those they see as their enemies that they cannot understand the opposing position. The popular blogger, Andrew Sullivan, a vocal gay-marriage proponent, recommends a

The Winning Ground

This is the fourth in a series of posts about how the Democrats could create a winning strategy this year. We have covered three of the five critical components in a strategic position thus far: philosophy, trends, and the leader. Today, we look at the single most important and complicated components: the ground. In Sun Tzu's strategic system, the ground or terrain is both the location and the goal of the competition contest.

In America, the ground consists of voters. More

The Winning Trends

This is the third post on how the Democrats could create a winning strategy. Today's topic is Sun Tzu's concept of heaven-climate-weather (tian), which is the realm of uncontrollable events and trends over time. Sun Tzu teaches that there are many things that directly affect a contest that we cannot control. We can, however, foresee and prepare for these changes over time. We can position ourselves to take advantage of the trends rather than fight them. A winning Democratic position must leverage the major trends over the last eight month.

Action Not Words

On a radio interview today, I was discussing Sun Tzu's concept of using positioning, rather than conflict, to find success in competitive situations. After awhile the interviewer asked, "So what you are saying is that you have to sit down with people and negotiate with them, discuss your conflicts." "No," I responded. "Talk is useless. This is about action."

Winning Leadership

This is Super Tuesday. John Kerry has virtually cinched the Democratic nomination for president. So this is a good day to discuss leadership as the second post in our series about a winning strategy for Democrats this year. Sun Tzu teaches that a good leader is smart, trustworthy, caring, brave, and disciplined. Sun Tzu defines the two skills of a leader as knowledge and vision, knowing his situation and recognizing its opportunities. He must be intelligent to make good decisions, the key role of a leader. A leader must be trustworthy and caring to attract and hold followers.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Seeing situations as a dynamic of changing positions clarifies much of what is happens and allows us to better predict their future. Each change in position was made possible by past positions and foreshadows future positions. For example, the chances that Iraq turns into a dictatorship is less likely because they are coming from a dictatorship. Past positions educate people about what to avoid in the future. After Afghanistan, Islamic republics are much less appealing throughout the Middle East, at least among those that know what really happened there.

Reality TV: Survivor

Many reality televisions shows are wonderful examples of how little people know about strategy. Though it is always cool to claim you don’t watch TV, I readily admit being a lifelong television devotee. My wife, who watches less television than I do, is the true addict in the family when it comes to Survivor. When the show debuted several years ago, I immediately saw it as a great laboratory for strategic theory. In the first Survivor, Richard Hatch emerged as the only competitor who had an inkling of strategy.

A Winning Philosophy

This is the first in a series of posts about what a winning strategy for Democrats might look like in this election year. These posts are meant to demonstrate the concepts of strategy, not take a particular political view. This first post will deal with the core of a winning strategy: an winning philosophy. Philosophy unites the leader and the organization. It also focuses the organization on its goals. A strong philosophy is composed of two parts: a standard part and a surprising part. Sun Tzu calls this qi jang, surprise standards.


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