Strategy Institute

First, Do No Harm: The Example of Global Warming

In Sun Tzu's strategy, the goal is always improving your position. A common strategic errors is thinking that, if there is a problem, action is ALWAYS necessary. However, action only makes sense if it makes the situation better. There are many situations that action makes work. For example, Freeman Dyson, one of the world leading mathematicians and physicists, discusses the problem of Global Warming in exactly the context.

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?

Destructive Collaboration: Why Newspapers are Dying

People commonly confuse competition with conflict. Conflict is expensive and often avoidable, but competition is necessary to identify what is better. People's opinions about what is better differ, and truth only comes out of the crucible of competition. In competition, the wrong approaches die. Without competition, entire industries die because there are more wrong approaches than the right ones. For example, look a how newspapers are dying today. This is because, as this article explains, the AP prevents competition.

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.

Being Outmaneuvered: McCain's Open Flank

Positioning is complicated. You have to take into consideration the shape of the ground and the positions of others: who is at your side, who is above you, behind you and so on. Without studying Sun Tzu's strategy, very few people have a sense for what is involved. As someone who should know Sun Tzu's strategy, McCain should be concerned about moving so far to the center that he leaves his flank to the right exposed. This problem is highlighted by Bob Barr joining the race on the Libertarian right.

Individualism and Positioning: The War Against Babies

Strategy starts with the idea that every single person on earth has a unique position and a unique set of goals. It teaches that we can work together when we share a mission, but it is our individual uniqueness and our individual human creativity that makes progress possible in an infinite number of predictable directions. This is the most magical aspect of Sun Tzu's Sun Tzu's strategy and the deep, vibrant heart of its power. It is also why those who believe in Sun Tzu's strategy must reject the idea that any elite can know what is best for other people.

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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