Today's Need for Skills in Competitive Strategy

Why learn Sun Tzu's Golden Key Strategy? To take advantage how our world is changing. Even though these principles go back 2,500 years, they are increasingly important in the increasingly competitive world of in which we now live. Competition is a comparison. The way businesses and workers have been compared in the past is not the same as they will be compared in the future. 

The Diminishing Returns of Better Management Planning

The industrial age was created by hierarchical organizations and preplanned processes. Both minimized individual decision-making by workers. Decisions were top-down, with most of us simply following orders. From the invention of the corporation with the railroads in the nineteenth century to the quality movement in the 1980's, the focus was on improving one-to-many processes--mass production, mass communication, etc.--and internal organization. Planning and organization created a tremendous competitive advantage over competitors who were less productive. Industrial competition was dominated by the productivity side of the equation.

This power of increased management planning and internal organization has reached a point of diminishing returns. Its methods have spread all over the world. China's, Brazil's, India's, and Indonesia's organizations are quickly catching up to those Europe and North America. These new economies, with their less expensive workforces, get much more leverage from training workers simply to follow orders. The playing field of productivity is being leveled rapidly.

A Networked World Requires More Decisions

The advantage is now shifting from the skills of mass production to the skills of targeted competition. According to Sun Tzu's strategy, these two skills sets, those of production management and competitive strategy are complementary opposites. As one area advances past a balancing point, the opposing set of skills grow more powerful. This power shift explains why networks are now more valuable than hierarchies and why individual decisions are more valuable than organization plans. Good hierarchies and plans are increasingly commonplace. Good networks and decisions are relatively rare.

Our information age is created by interconnected organizations and adaptive processes that demand constant decision-making. We live a world where one-to-many mass production systems are replaced by many-to-many networks of individuals whose focus is more on individual situations and specific conditions in the external environment. Productive competition is increasingly dominated by making good competitive decisions about conditions. These decisions create positions that dominate competitors with similar productive skills.

This change has three important shifts in value: 1) from top-down command to bottom-up or, more precisely, outside-in adaptability, 2) from following orders to making decisions, 3) from long-term planning to instant responses. Read what the research into decision-making says about the challenges of our more dynamic competitive world here.

Trapped In Linear Thinking

This is not the world for which we were trained. Our education system was designed to teach us a deterministic world view. The success of determinism in the industrial age made this training important. However, both as a philosophy and as a training model, linear thinking does not address the decision-rich world we live in.

More Information: More Problems or Opportunities?

Time flows in a line in one direction, but information flows in many dimensions. A linear worldview cannot cope with the flood of networked information in today's world. Using Sun Tzu's methods, we learn to use this information: 1) to better predict the future, 2) to create a more complete picture, 3) to expand our viewpoint, and 4) to systematically make better choices.

The Benefits and Skills of Adaptive Thinking

We must learn to act as decision-makers, taking command of our lives. We must make good choices every day. Sun Tzu's The Art of War teaches the adaptive methods that a commander needs. Our Sun Tzu's Play Book provides and easy, systematic way to learn these strategies. The skills improve our ability to 1) understand our strategic position, 2) see our opportunities, 3) respond appropriately to situations, and 4) make more creative decisions.

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