Article PDF: 2.1.4 Surprise

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Five rules about how we must create unexpected situations in competition.

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This article explores the role of surprise in Sun Tzu's strategy. We are continuously bathed in a flood of new information. New information is constantly generated by people's decisions, natural changes (climate) and new discoveries (ground) in the environment. And yet, very few things that we hear amid all this new information really surprise us.

The problem is that we expect situations to unfold in a certain way because we get locked into our daily experiences. Many people's lives are controlled to such a degree that events proceed as expected for a long time. This consistency over time creates realistic expectations and much of their value. Entire businesses and a part of the quality movement are based on delivering consistency with no surprises. We expect things to continue when they have continued.