Art of War Quote:
"It starts with your philosophy."
Command your people in a way that gives them a higher shared purpose."
Sun Tzu's The Art of War 1:1:14-15
"The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get." Jim Rohn
We all have plenty of desires, but they change constantly and are often conflicting. Out of these conflicting desires comes our motivations, or what we call "mission" in Sun Tzu's strategy. An extremely common source of strategic mistakes is our failure to identify and clarify motivations. There are a whole list of problems associated with the lack of a clear mission. Without a clear mission, we drift with the situation at the mercy of our environment. We can react to events against our values and goals. Without understanding values and motivations, we will fail again and again in predicting people's behavior. Decisions and actions have no meaning outside of the context of goals and values that provide motivation. If we don't understand motivations, we will get into trouble time and again without understanding why.
The clearer our goals and priorities, the more likely we are to achieve them. If we don't know where we are going, any direction works as well. If we understand the motivations of others, we can work with them more effectively and predict their reactions (2.3.1 Action and Reaction). It is only our knowledge of goals and values that can change enemies into allies (1.5.1 Command Leadership). The better we understand values, our own and those of others, the easier it is for us to work together. Sun Tzu teaches that the best way to reach our own goals is to work with others in helping them reach theirs.
These are the eight most important rules that Sun Tzu offers regarding mission.
- Mission in the central element of strategic position, connecting the other four key elements. The other four elements are the climate, ground, leader, and methods. It the original diagramming system of Chinese science and philosophy, the other four elements were the points in a compass and our goals were the center. Our mission defines the motivations that connect these elements and give them meaning. Our current position only has meaning in terms of our goals and values. The difference between our current position and desired position is defined by our mission. It is what gives our strategic position its direction ([node:content/13-elemental-analysis link]).
- Our mission embodies our philosophy and our values in our goals. Sun Tzu defined mission as our shared, higher values. Mission is based on a belief system, that is, on a philosophy. Our goals encapsulate what we think is important. In an absolute sense, our mission captures both our purpose in life and the way that we think the world works. When Sun Tzu wrote about mission, he used the Chinese character tao, which is usually translated into English as "philosophy," but its literal meaning is "the path" ([node:content/163-shifting-priorities link]).
- Everyone has a slightly different belief system based on their training and experience. Belief systems are highly complex. We can agree on many beliefs and still disagree on many others. People's unique combination of beliefs are based on their unique life experiences. No two people can live the same exact life because every path is unique ([node:content/11-position-paths link]).
- All our individual goals and values are inherently self-centered. We can only see the world from our own, unique perspective. We only directly know our own thoughts and feelings. We value our beliefs because the are our own. Those who are willing to die for the one's they love are dying for their personal loves. Those who are willing to die for their beliefs are more dedicated to their personal vision than others. They believe that their physical life is less important than their ideal of self. Since everyone's beliefs are ultimately self-centered, disparaging anyone's goals as selfish is mere sophistry. The question is merely how many of our goals can we share with others ([node:content/12-subobjective-positions link]).
- Our success depends on sharing our values with others. People can have goals and values that are completely selfish, but those goals and values are useless in terms of positioning. The important goals that create strength are those that can be shared. Organizations are impossible without a shared mission. The idea of a shared path captures many critical elements in creating a shared, higher mission. People can be on similar paths with different goals, just like people can share the same street going to different destinations. Everyone within an organization can have their own personal goals, but the organization's shared mission, values, and philosophy are the glue that holds those people together in a common business. Understanding the elements that can create a shared mission is critical to successful strategy ([node:content/161-shared-mission link]).
- All shared missions are limited. Missions are always limited in scope of belief and often limited in time. We do not know or agree on the basis of a perfect Truth. We only agree on some limited aspects of our beliefs. If we think, "Everyone knows this is true," we are wrong. There is no such thing as a knowable and constant "common good." There are only temporary agreements about shared missions. At every point in human history, most things that everyone believed were eventually proven false. Much of what we believe today will be proven false eventually as well ([node:content/211-information-limits link]).
- Both creating allies and positioning against our rivals requires empathy. Empathy is our capacity to see other people's mission from their perspective. We must get out of our own heads and into the mindframes of others. Without empathy, we cannot create winning positions. Empathy is the foundation of the warrior's creative mindset. If we cannot put ourselves into other people's shoes, we can never develop positions that win supporters. We cannot position against rivals unless we can predict their behavior by imagining what we would do in their position We must imagine both the range of possible values and changing priorities of both our potential supporters and opponents ([node:content/163-shifting-priorities link]).
- Roles such as ally and enemy are defined solely by mission interactions. In its most abstract form, our "enemy" is any person whose mission compares with our own. An ally is someone with whom we share a mission. Positions that are complementary in one situation can compete in another situation ([node:content/131-competitive-comparison link]).
Let us illustrate these ideas discussing the general challenges of working in an organization with other co-workers.
- Mission in the central element of strategic position, connecting the other four key elements. Everyone in the organization has a position. Each has their own ground (area), climate (attitudes), commands (decision-making), and methods (skills). All of these are united by each person's goals.
- Our mission embodies our philosophy and our values in our goals. Everyone in an organization is working for their own individual goals
- Everyone has a slightly different belief system based on their training and experience. No matter how much we are like those with whom we work, it is our differences that create the strengths and weakness that make us better working together than apart.
- All our individual goals and values are inherently self-centered. Each of us has an inflated sense of our own worth because only we know everything that we do. It is a trick of perspective. Closer things appear to be larger than things far away. We are all closer to ourselves.
- Our success depends on sharing our values with others. We and our co-workers can share the "path" of making our company successful even though we may get different rewards from that success.
- All shared missions are limited. Some will work for money, others for social approval, others to satisfy their own egos and so on. We can disagree about the right path to take both because our goals are different and because we see a different route as best. Agreement on goals does not mean agreement on means. What we all share at work is the belief that our organization is the best vehicle we have to satisfy our needs.
- Both creating allies and positioning against our rivals requires empathy. We must understand what is important to those we work with. To motivate our co-workers more smoothly, we must put our needs in terms that address their missions.
- Roles such as ally and enemy are defined solely by mission interactions. Our coworkers are our competition for internal promotions.