Action Decisions

The Future of Strategy: Creating a Home for Students of Sun Tzu

I personally try to contact all the people who download our free copy of Sun Tzu's work, but one of my frustrations in that most readers don't seem to realize that learning strategy isn't about simply reading a book but relearning how they think about success. Thanks to our recent trainers meeting, I realize what people studying Sun Tzu have been looking for home, a place where they can get together with other people who want to master those concepts. I was recently invited to be part of a group setting up a local Seattle chapter of the Association for Strategic Planners.

SOSI Expands Membership Options

The Science of Strategy Institute is opening membership to the general public who want to use the adaptive strategy of Sun Tzu to be more successful. We are offering a home for a growing number Sun Tzu devotees. Since we have grown to serve a diverse community of people including those interested using better strategy in business, military, martial arts, gaming, and as a life philosophy, we will be offering a number of new community features to help our members network and share experiences.

The Natural Balance of Fullness and Emptiness: How Government Bailouts Make Things Worse

As with all sciences, the study of strategy studies the operation of natural systems. All such systems exist as a balance of forces. Sun Tzu abstracted this balance as emptiness and fullness, basing his vision on the concept of complementary opposites that is known as the Chinese concept of yinyang. The dynamics of nature continually shift the balance of forces, but the universe doesn't fly off in chaos or freezing into stasis because of this mainspring built into nature. While we humans can leverage the forces of nature, we cannot control them.

The Limits of Control: Why Bailouts Don't Work

One of the foundations of Sun Tzu's system is that we have to adapt to environment because we cannot control it. I have written extensively about the illusion of control in many posts, especially the mistaken idea that the government is god and can rewrite the rules of nature at will. This has failed every time it has been attempted. As long as our political candidates feel they need to perpetuate the illusion of government control, we are the worse for it. While Wall Street rose briefly on the news of the government bailout, you cannot hold back the tide.

Two Ways to Win: The Presidential Debate

Sun Tzu teaches two key ways to win a battle, that is, a meeting of opponents, of two evenly matched opponents. The first is preparing a surprise beforehand. There is always a risk in this because battle is unpredictable, but the idea is that you will be better prepared than your opponent. If it works, the confusion of surprise creates an opening that you can use. If you aren't prepared to risk a surprise, you have to wait for your opponent to make a mistake and take advantage of it.

The Battle Looms: Upcoming Presidential Debates

Much of Sun Tzu's system is based on choosing the conditions under which we meet our opponents. The term that we translate as "battle" from Chinese means "a meeting." It is not the same concept as "conflict," which is another Chinese character (and the worst case outcome of any meeting). Too often, we prepare for meetings with opponents thinking only in terms of conflict and, since that is what both side prepare for, it is too often the result. We are about to see the first meeting of the presidential race.

Over-Reaction to Attack: the Obama Campaign

In Sun Tzu's adaptive response strategy, the one big no-no in the face of adversity is to over-react. The system is about knowing exactly how to respond. If you don't know how to respond, it is better to do as little as necessary. If you panic, you do the wrong things and leave more openings for your opponents. We can see how this works now in the Obama campaign where they are still reeling for the convention/Palin setbacks. Frantically looking for traction, their latest commercial attacks McCain for not using a computer for email.

Act While Others Are Planning: Preventing a Hillary Surprise

Sun Tzu teaches that the best time to move into new territory is while others are still thinking about it.  By seizing a position early, you control what others can and cannot do. The same is true when your "move" is simply suggesting what they should do.  Psychologically, opponents will usually refuse to do what you suggest because most would rather be wrong that prove you right.

Doers Versus Talkers: An Unexplored Obama Weakness

Sun Tzu's adaptive response strategy (STARS) has a built in prejudice toward action. Actions are used more than word to evaluate positions. The progress cycle for advancing a position cannot be completed with taking action. One of our continuing topics on this blogs is how American culture is too dominated by talkers in media and politics rather than doers in business and government. Never has this been more clear than in the current presidential race. Obama and Biden are talkers while McCain and especially Palin have been doers.

Claiming an Enemy Position: The McCain Change Message

A basic principle of strategy is that you cannot hope to win a strongly defended position from your opponent. However, this doesn't mean that you cannot win an opponent's position. People too often choose positions that cannot be defended, which is why "aiming" requires choosing positions that can be defended easily. The most dramatic example of this has been the ability of McCain to claim the "change" message from Obama. I was completely wrong a few days ago in criticizing his attempt to do this. Actions speak louder than words.


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