Like all sciences, Sun Tzu's strategy for comparing positions simplifies the natural world with a set of principles. Even mastering a few of these principles makes it easier for us to understand how to improve our strategic position.
Throughout history, people have rediscovered these principles through trial and error. These principles have been documented in various ways in different competitive arenas. Many are familiar from military history; others from sports; and still others from business.
Is Success Luck?
Luck and skill play a part in success, but consistent progress requires more than luck or skill alone. The race does not always go to the swift or the fight to the strong, but, over the long run, the contest always goes to those with the best strategy, that is, the best response to their current conditions.
The Science of Strategy Institute has organized Sun Tzu's principles into a comprehensive Play Book based on situational needs. It is organized according to a process: information about situations is gathered, situations are analyzed, opportunities identified, decisions executed, and rewards gained. Each day, an article from this Play Book is offered for free to the general public on our front page. However, since the relative value of each article depends on your current situation, all articles are available at all times to SOSI members.
The Real Limits of Knowledge
In Game Theory, a strategy is defined as the rules of response to specific conditions. While game theory is a useful tool for learning about strategy, the simplicity that allows situations to be well-modeled mathematically almost never occur in real life competition. Unlike game theory, Sun Tzu's strategy assumes we cannotknow the "payoffs" available in a given situation before we must act. So instead of complex calculations based on unknowable payoffs, Sun Tzu offers simple comparisons to respond to knowable competitive conditions. Sun Tzu's methods are based on how people usually react in common situations. It is called the science of positioning because it reduces strategic decisions to the relative improvement of the comparable aspects of positions.
An Step-By-Step Methodology
Sun Tzu's strategy takes an incremental approach to success. We develop stronger positions not all at once, but gradually over time by making better choices. We cannot leap into a powerful position any more than we can leap to the top of a building. We build a dominating position over time by making good decisions about the conditions that we face every day. We climb a ladder toward our goals, one rung at a time.
You will find the principles of Sun Tzu's strategy appealing because they make sense. The require no real mathematics or abstract conceptualizations. Though we write about positioning generically, it provides a simple yet valuable perspective from which we can understand competitive situations more easily. This book of knowledge gives you a detailed list of the principles by which situation trained adaptive response strategy works.