Unhappiness From the News and Getting a Perspective

I went for a haircut today and had an interesting discussion with the person cutting my hair. She was unhappy and frightened. Why? It came down to the fact that she watched CNN. She had a perfectly good life, a good husband, a job, no financial real worries, but she was certain she was worse off than any previous generation of human with global warming, the economy, the war in Iraq, and a million other things that were not a part of her life, but on television. I explained to her that the news media makes their money by scaring people and that she had to factor that in.

Recognizing Greatness Where We Find It

At the Science of Strategy Institute, we believe in recognizing greatness whereever it is found. We have been critical of the whole Global Warming hysteria for years because flies in the face of so many of the principles of good strategy: (adapting to outside change instead of try to fight it, not acting immediately on the basis of emotion, not filtering out evidence that runs counter to beliefs, trusting government instead of your own resources, and on and on). However, we must recognize greatness when we see it.

Control and the Illusion of Control

When I began building my software compani in the mid-eighties, I became very interested and involved in the Quality Movement, especially in the work of W. Edwards Deming in Japan (We went on to win various quality awards and Motorola, the leader of six sigma, became our biggest customer, but that is another story). As a student of Sun Tzu's competitive philosophy, I was struck by how Demings' and Sun Tzu's ideas were polar opposites.

Losing Track of Your Core Mission

In listing his five key elements to a strategy, Sun Tzu noted that "methods" must always conform to "the way," that is, your goals. or mission. Why was this warning necesssary? Because our methods, what we call systems, tend to take on a lfe of their own, expanding and growing well beyond their original purpose. This is famously true of government operations, but it is also true of most other organizations as well. They all lose their way. Not only that, but Sun Tzu's Principle of Reversal tells us that missions can reverse themselves: what was once the goal becomes the enemy.

Driving Forces in Darfur

Sun Tzu list the elements important to a strategic position in their order of priority: 1) philosophy, 2) climate, 3) ground, 4) leadership, and 5) methods. When it comes to conflict, philosophical battles trump climate/ground battles and climate/ground battles trump leadership/methods battles.

Climate in China

Sun Tzu was the first to articulate the idea that climate was one of the key factors in warfare. A recent scientific study not only verifies the role of climate, but with a formula that could have come straight from the The Art of War: cold climate = hot war. Question: Does this make the fight against "global warming" is a form of warmongering?

Talk, Action, and Position

Sun Tzu spends most of his ninth chapter, Field Position, explaining how to interpret the difference between people's words and their actions. When your actions contradict your words, you always betray your real position. This is especially a problem for elitist leaders, who often think that they can preach one set of rules while living by another. Europe with its long tradition of class distinctions often expects its leaders to act like elitists, but America has a very different tradition.

Anti-Growth is Anti-Life

Sun Tzu's Sun Tzu's strategy is not only a competitive philosophy, but it is inherently a growth philosophy. By definition, there is no such thing as "holding" a position because the ground on which all positions are based erodes over time.


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