Action Decisions

The Balance of Perspective: Chicken Little Media

One of the main benefits of learning Sun Tzu's system is that it forces you to think about the natural balance of reality. From Sun Tzu's perspective, nothing is good or bad in itself. Every development can be leveraged if you understand it. You can sail into the wind if you know how to tack. For example, the mainstream media has redefined its role in modern society as that of "Chicken Little," constantly running around claiming that the sky is falling.

The "Control" Mentality

This article about getting Russia's help as an "answer" for a nuclear Iran by Sen. Schumer (D-NY) illustrates a number of the classical strategic mistakes commonly made by politicians. Of course, his most consistent mistake is viewing the world to fit his politics rather than fitting his politics to the world.

Claiming Victory in Iraq: Five Steps to Success

According to Sun Tzu, you cannot advance a position without completing the four-step cycle of listen, aim, move, claim. The most difficult step is often the final one, making a claim. To be successful, a claim has to be limited, make value clear, and get acceptance from others. The last part is the trickiest because it depends so heavily on what the others are looking for.

New Research on Empowerment

The scientific name for training in Sun Tzu's strategy is "recognition-primed decision making." As Sun Tzu taught a sense of purpose and motivation is key to making better decisions every day. New cognitive research shows that training people to make decisions people who are simply "primed" with a sense of motivation have better concentration, memory, and are better at doing mental simulations than those who are primed to lack a sense of power and authority.

Change Is Balanced: Not Good or Evil

Strategic cognition requires seeing the environment from the Asian perspective of balancing forces. Most of us are exposed from childhood to the media that trains us, incorrectly, that all changes are bad. Is it bad if housing prices are falling? Not if you are buying your first house. Is it bad if the dollar is falling? Not if you are selling American products abroad because this makes them cheaper. Is it bad that oil prices are rising? Doesn't high prices discourage consumption and make other forms of energy more competitive? Is that bad?

Allowing Time for Change: Hillary's Best Strategy

As I have written a thousand times before, the most common strategic error is thinking of competitive environments as controlled and predictable. This mistake is most commonly made by those who are used to being in control within controlled environments. One of the basic result of strategic cognition is that competitive environments are not controlled environments. For example, the media, politicos, and pundits keeps saying asking what Hillary is fighting for, since Obama nearly has the nomination wrapped up.

Motivation and Reaction: The September 11 World

Sun Tzu's strategy says that you can only predict people's reactions if you understand their primary goals. It also says that you can only know people's true goals by judging their actions rather than their words. People have, or can claim to very different goals from those that truly motivate them. For example, this article by Senator Joe Lieberman discusses the fairly recent reversal in the traditional view of the Democratic Party regarding their view of national defense.

Strategy in a Blink!

Strategy means many different things to different people. For some, it is a plan. For others, it is a flash of inspiration. Sun Tzu's strategy is different, but it wasn't until I read Blink! by Malcolm Gladwell (the author of "The Tipping Point") that I saw that what Sun Tzu invented was really a "rapid cognition" system for competitive situations. It's main value isn't in providing deep, detailed analysis.

Every Meeting Changes Positions

The value of thinking in terms of advancing positions is that it allows you to easily clarify complicated question . For example, Sun Tzu taught that every meeting between opponents (even meetings that didn't result in conflict) changed their relative positions. So you avoid meetings that will damage your position and encourage meeting that will help your position. Simple. Right?

War, Diplomacy, Aggression, and Defense

There is a difference between the controlled spaces within organizations and the chaotic regions between them. For both businesses and states, systems that work within do not work without. Living within a society of laws, we mistakenly think that people can always come to agreements without the use of force. But Sun Tzu's strategy teaches that agreement is impossible outside of a framework of shared values and goals. At the very least, opponents must share our fear of loss. This is why Fredrick the Great said, "Diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments."


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