How radical is this view of competition? Sun Tzu saw competition as productive rather than destructive. He doesn't mention "enemies" until the second chapter of his book and there he defines an "enemy" as a great source of resources, not an opponent to be destroyed. Understanding this point of view demands a reorientation.
Sun Tzu's Warrior Playbook teaches us to advance our position by avoiding our destructive flight or fight reflex. By learning these rules, we reprogram our thinking to create a powerful mindset for understanding our competitive position and advancing that position.
At the heart of Sun Tzu's strategic system are two powerful ideas: 1) that strategic positions are created from a natural balance of forces and 2) that we can leverage those forces to "win without conflict."
A Universal Language for Competitive Success
Sun Tzu's Plays can be applied to all types of competitive situations. In writing these rules, SOSI has converted Sun Tzu's military language to a more universal vocabulary.
Sun Tzu's system sees all competition in terms of strategic positions. Success is defined in terms of advancing positions and making those advances pay.
No matter what the specific nature of a competitive challenge, our goal is to improve our individual or our group's position. We improve our position by making the right decisions about pursuing opportunities, minimizing our mistakes and maximizing our gains.
"The laboratory (Ferminlab) employs over 2,200 physicists, engineers, and administrative professionals...These Art of War principles allowed me to see the key actions required to keep my department viable."
Fred W. Ullrich, Jr., Fermilab
In using these rules, good decisions are based on pattern recognition. Most people have only a vague idea of how conditions affect their positions. Sun Tzu's Sun Tzu's Plays use common patterns in situations that guide us on what to do.
All decisions have costs. Not all decisions produce rewards. Our Sun Tzu's Rules work to minimize our losses while maximizing our gains.
There are a number of rules for seeing these hidden opportunities. People like you become warriors to minimize the costs of the mistakes they make.
Cost of Conflict
Conflict is always costly. Too many people can only see opportunity in terms of taking what others have. This, of course, creates conflict and the costs of conflict lower the likelihood of making decisions pay.
"Winning without conflict" is not an altruistic goal but the logical necessity of Sun Tzu's rules. People like you become warriors to decrease the conflict in their lives.
Better Mental Models
Sun Tzu's rules leverage general areas of pattern recognition called the Nine Formulas. These formulas consist of our Sun Tzu's Rules (see the detailed list here) that make up our Sun Tzu's Play Book.
All success systems that have ever been created are based upon one or more of these formulas. People like you become warriors to understand the most basic form of these ideas.