Art of War Quote:
"Control dangerous terrain by plundering."
Sun Tzu's The Art of War 11:1:24-27
"The essential support and encouragement comes from within, arising out of the mad notion that your society needs to know what only you can tell it." John Updike
"Support from a lack of new supply will be short-lived." Makoto Yamashita
The Serious Situation arises when we lose our original source of support for a campaign or project. In a Serious Situation, we get further from our original sources of resources because we have gotten more deeply involved in the project. This positions us so that our support gets pinched off (6.4.6 Serious Situations).
In a serious situation, we must instantly move to get local resources in any way that we can. We respond to serious situations by:
- As with all middle-stage situation, we must act quickly. Middle-stage situation are all different types of races. In this case, the race is to find more resources before our current supplies run out. The faster we adapt to our situation, the further ahead we will be (6.3.2 Middle-Stage Situations).
- In a serious situation, we put our original targets on hold. If we are short on resources, we are no longer a serious competitor for the larger rewards of the opportunity. The first requirement for exploring an opportunity is the availability of resources (3.3 Opportunity Resources)
- In a serious situation, we keep our shortage of resources a secret if possible. Resource shortage is a vulnerability. If others in our competitive arena know about our weakness, it will invite attack (2.7 Information Secrecy).
- In a serious situation, we must identify any ways in which our current position can generate resources. This means looking for resources in the immediate vicinity, even if only for the short term. The resources must be strategically nearby because speed is critical here (4.4 Strategic Distance).
- In a serious situation, we must shift from longer-term exploration to short-term local exploitation. A serious situation demands that we shift our internal mindset from the adventure of adaptive exploration to the boring nuts and bolts of scrabbling for resources. This requires a shift in mindset. Sun Tzu describes this as plundering or pillaging, but in modern competition, this isn't stealing resources from the local area as much as providing value to the local area in exchange for resources (1.2.2 Exploiting Exploration).
- In a serious situation, we must often get creative. This is one of those situations where we must leverage adversity into creativity, doing something novel, new, and different (6.1.2 Prioritizing Conditions).
In our original explanation of how to recognize these situations, we used the most famous historical example of the serious situation, Hannibal's campaign against Rome. We will use this illustration to demonstrate both where he took the correct steps and why he failed to do so.
Hannibal's response to being cut-off from resources by Carthage was to rely more heavily upon his brother in Spain, develop alliances with local Italian tribes who were unhappy with Roman domination and with Philip V of Macedon. None of the sources provided enough resources to succeed in his campaign, especially after his brother, Margo, was defeated in Liguria and the breakdown of his alliance with Phillip. This returned him to Carthage in 203 BC.
In a serious situation, we must instantly move to get local resources in any way that we can. We respond to intersecting situations by:
- As with all middle-stage situations, we must act quickly. Originally, Hannibal did act quickly to raise local resources which was why his campaign in Italy lasted for years. However, his biggest mistake was developing new channels of supply that were still too distant, in Spain and Greece.
- In a serious situation, we put our original targets on hold. He failed here as. Psychologically, he was still dependent on support from Carthage. He did not secure his new channels of supply.
- In a serious situation, we keep our shortage of resources a secret. This was difficult because his two main supply channels were too distant.
- In a serious situation, we must identify any ways in which our current position can generate resources. Again, Hannibal was too dependent on his past position, as the leader of Carthage, rather than his new position and the occupier of Italy. He never really transitioned to a local ruler from an external conqueror.
- In a serious situation, we must shift from longer-term exploration to short-term local exploitation. When he developed his local alliances, he should have worked more methodically at politically balancing his Italian allies against each other than relying on his own military control. He needed to use the politics of Italy in his favor rather than simply making alliances that could be easily betrayed, positioning himself as a necessary component in that balance. He should have promised the various city-states the extension of their local dominion at the expense of Rome while protecting them against each other. He had demonstrated his ability to defeat the Roman armies. He needed to position himself as the military champion of the local city-states. Instead, he presented himself as an alternative external ruler instead of simply a liberator and peace keeper.
- In a serious situation, we must often get creative. The raw materials for victory were all there, but as a general rather than a politician, Hannibal couldn't put them together. He was unable to switch his competitive skills from the battlefield to the realm of politics.