Internal Planning

First Mover Advantage: Another Lesson from 2008 Presidential Politics

Everyone knows about the strategic need for speed. 2,500 years ago, Sun Tzu wrote that the best time to move is while your opponent is still planning, perhaps the first statement about how strategy favors action over planning. IWe call this the first mover advantage, but the Internet has changed the rules of time and space even more fundamentally to an "any time/any place" mentality that makes the need for speed even more important.

Actions and Words: an Election Day Lesson

One of the most basic principle in strategy is that there is a critical difference between actions and words. Both words and actions can be misleading, but actions speak louder than words for a simple reason: all actions have costs. Words are cheap. Nothing is more dangerous than basing our actions on the words of others when others have an incentive to mislead us in order to get us to do what they want.

Seeing Patterns: Real or Imaginary?

Human beings are wired to find patters, but unfortunately, we can see patterns even where they do not exist. A recent study in Science magazine demonstrates the people imagine patterns even where there are none, especially in times of stress. Like all of science, Sun Tzu's strategy uses patterns, models, for making decisions about the chaotic information in the environment, but these models have been proven over 2,500 years in the most unforgiving environment of all: the life and death struggles of war.

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.

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.

Climate the Wildcard Element: Supreme Court Decisions

If Sun Tzu's strategy was a deck of cards (and we are working on that idea, by the way), the wild card in the deck would be a climate card. Certain trends in climate can be foreseen (the winter is cooler than the summer), but events that cannot be predicted can have a dramatic impact on strategic situations. This is why good strategy requires instant reflexes rather than sticking to plans.

Using Positioning Dynamics to Pick Better Political Candidates

Strategic positions exist both in space and time. Positions are not a point on the map but a path that evolves or degrades over time. The single most common strategic mistake is making judgments based on "snap shot" that doesn't show the relative changes and the speed of those changes. This brings me to a topic I lasted visited in this post, the problem that the Democratic Party has picking successful presidential candidates.


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