Action Decisions

Experience is the Great Teacher: Is Palin Experienced Enough?

Though we base our teaching on Sun Tzu's The Art of War, you don't gain skills in strategy (or any other valuable skill) from reading a book. Developing true skill requires experience, which is why our training focuses on exercises in decision-making. However, there is a BIG difference between ten years of experience and one year of experience repeated ten times. For example, take Gov. Palin's experience as governor. Is two years of experience enough? You all know from your own careers that it doesn't take four years to find out if someone can do a job.

Seeing the Opportunity: Gustav and the Republicans

One of our most basic lessons is that opportunities are hard to see because they usually look like problems. A perfect example is the hurricane Gustav coming during the Republican Convention. What an opportunity to make a statement against the overblown self-importance of politicians! Especially if the Republicans want to position themselves as doers rather than just talkers. The best idea I have heard is that the Republicans should use all the people gathered together as the basis of a telethon, to raise money for the storm's victims. Each state could compete for pledges and volunteers.

Redividing the Ground: Palin as VP Pick

Part of Sun Tzu's rules for picking the right battles is knowing how to "divide" the ground. ("You can divide the ground and yet defend it." AOW 6:3:15) We get locked into seeing the ground as fixed and limited, but new ground is constantly being created by the way we divide it. ("Surprise is as infinite as the weather and land." AOW 5:2:5) For example, listening to the Sunday talk shows, the pundits don't seem to realize that Palin redivides the ground in a new way. No, she doesn't get the hard-core Hillary feminist who is pissed at Obama.

Sharpening Positions: Sloppy Positioning By McCain

Positions are clarified or muddied by the words we choose to describe them. You should work on positioning statements over and over until they work effortlessly. The words used to describe values and philosophy are especially critical. For example, on one of Sunday morning new shows McCain said, in describing his reform positions that, "America needs to changing." This is terrible positioning because it feeds his opponent's values. What he should be saying is, "America doesn't need changing. Washington D.C.

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.

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.

Talk Versus Action: Did Tough Talk from Obama Stop Russia?

A reader Steve writes:
I'm a big fan of your books and blog and eager to learn your brilliant take on current events. I'm curious what you might think about "over" claiming as Gov. Tim Kaine appears to do in this video. Reminds me of your example of a rooster claiming credit for the sunrise. Ballsy or brilliant?
The quote to which Steve refers is from Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine who explained how Obama saved Georgia from the evil Russians:


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