Open Terrain and Moving Into Defensible Niches

Our trainer Allan Elder asks the following:
I am fan of the Linux operating system, one of the few competitors to Microsoft. It would interesting to know what Sun Tzu would do if he were made a General at RedHat (leading competitor offering Linux) or any other vendor in the war on Microsoft. Where might he begin? What would be the most powerful opening moves?

The Entangling Terrain: No Way Back

One of the advantages of learning Sun Tzu's strategy is that it allows you to see some situations with a certain clarity. For example, Sun Tzu maps the competitive terrain in a way that defines six different extemes of positions in a three dimensional matrix of ground characteristics or, in the case of business, market characteristics. One of the most interesting of these extremes is called Entangling Terrain. This is defined as a position which, once you move out of it, you cannot return.

Contested Ground: China

Sun Tzu defines nine types of competitive, which define the most common relationships among competitors. Each type of ground is best handled in one way. Contested ground is defined as rich ground, to which a number of competitors are attracted and over which they can easily get into battles.

The Search for Empty Ground

Sun Tzu's strategy is non-intuitive because it is a contrarian philosophy. It teaches people that they must avoid their natural instict to follow the crowd. You cannot be successful if you do what everyone else does. Good strategy rewards creativity. In this sense, it is a constant search for empty ground. The empty ground is the opportunity that everyone always overlooks. We can never know if the empty ground is fertile or not until we explore it. Many empty grounds prove to be empty for a good reason: they are barren.

Economic Balance versus the Myopia of the Enlighten Elites

One of the advantages in learning strategy is that it helps you parse situations more clearly. In economic situations, we must understand our dual roles as consumers and producers. These roles are two sides of the same coin, complementary opposites in the terms of Sun Tzu, which cannot be separated. Without understanding the necessary balance of these two roles, you cannot understand anything about wealth or poverty.

Take Back America!

I have been doing a little strategic work for a local conservative organization called Take Back America. In this work, I tried to come up with a comprehensive statement of principles opposed by conservatives. This statement brings together a lot of my work here. The result was the following: We live in a world where the MSM and too many of our politicians are telling us: - that the more government can save the world while our freedom is destroying it - that we need government as our nanny but not to defend us from evil; - that we need more sex and less religion in the public square,

The Elites and Global Warming

"Global warming" (the political movement, not the physical fact) is quickly becoming the best possible illustration of everything that is going wrong with modern society. In a single topic, it encapsulates:
  • 1. The "respect gap" between doers and talkers, best illustrated by the fact that the global warming talker-in-chief, Al Gore, is lionized in the media and Hollywood for his talk while in his personal life, he produces more carbon gas the a fire in a coal mine.

Move Your Men, but Not into Enemy Forces

The great competitive moves are not confrontations that result in expensive battles, but manuevers that go around the competition. One good example is the recent release of Nintendo's WII game console. While Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 go after the same customer, Nintendo is pioneering new niches such as the older people who don't normally play games. This is great example of a non-intuitive move using Sun Tzu's principle of reversal. Video games are for young people? Okay, sell to old people!

Observations from Asia

In collecting of information, Sun Tzu tells us that we must seek outside sources because every one of us is limited by our normal perspective, which is defined by our existing position. Having just returned from Asia where the perspective on events is very different, this warning seems very appropriate. I wish I had time right now to do a longer post on the Asian perspective on democracy and especially the War on Terror, but right now, I only have time to make a few notes.


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