Since the early 1990s, scientists have realized that people make decisions differently in the real world than they do in the classroom or in the laboratory. This lead to a field of study called naturalistic decision making and a new field of science called cognitive engineering. What the research actually tells us, however, it how people make comparisons and the mistakes they make.
Read more about the latest research here.
Should you be training your gut or your brain? Our sense of having gut reactions is true. The latest research into how people make decisions demonstrates that our emotions are essential to making good decisions. Read more about gut decisions.
Mental models and mental simulations: how important are they to good strategy? The evidence from history and modern science indicates that they are indispensable. Sun Tzu's system for quickly comparing positions depends on mental simulations. Modern research into what types of mental simulations work describe the kind of system he developed. Read more about strategic mental models here.
The secret to success is using productive comparisons. Most people are confused about competition because of two false dichotomies. The first is between competition and cooperation, thinking if cooperation means working together, competition must mean working against others. The second is between competition and production, thinking that because production is productive, competition must be destructive. What people fail to see is that competition is essential to both cooperation and production.
Competition exists everywhere there are comparisons among alternative choices. All alternatives choices are in competition with each other. Cooperation requires competition because we must choose our partners: until we do, potential partners are in competition. Production requires competition because we must choose what to produce and how to produce it. Competition, cooperation, and production all work together to produce value, but they demand different skill sets and methods.
It is remarkable how the same lessons need to be rediscovered again and again. Sun Tzu dealt with the confusion between a warrior's adaptive strategy in dealing with competing people and long-term planning in dealing with objects. We are still dealing with it today.
In this 1973 book, Management Tasks and Responsibilities, Peter Drucker found the same problem in the confusion that management had about planning for objects and planning for people. Read more about Drucker's view of strategy here.
Sun Tzu's strategy deals with competition among people, and people cannot be controlled and predicted as if they were objects. Since our education teaches us to work with objects, not people, we want to believe that people can or should be controlled as though they were objects. Read more about the realms of front-line strategy here.
Planning works best when we are transforming inanimate objects. We can predict how objects will respond to a series of preplanned actions. Planning is based the deterministic view of linear thinking. Read more about the realm of planning here.
The world is being transformed from a blue-collar world of order-followers into a white-collar world of decision-makers, but the needs of these new information workers are generally overlooked. Are you one of the new forgotten men and women of the working world? Read more about how work and workers are changing here.
Harvard professors Joseph Bower and Clark Gilbert make a surprising discovery about the shifting power in organizational strategy. It is not the top-down decisions that matters, but those that are bottom up. Read more about bottom-up, front-line strategy here.
More planning leads to less execution. When organizations have steadily declining results, research showl that the the reason is almost always the growth of an internal bureaucracy. Read more about the execution of strategy on the front-lines here.
Today's new media brings us a flood of information, but the problem is that this information makes decision-making more difficult. Without the tools of front-line strategy that Sun Tzu provides, identifying what is important is like finding a needle in a haystack. Read more about decision-making in the information age here.
Over time, even small advantages in probability add up. It is the small statistical advantage of the casinos that make success certain. This is the methodology of Sun Tzu, avoiding the big bets on an uncertain outcome. Read more about Sun Tzu's use of probability here.
Sun Tzu's system of making better choices is based on one area where we have no choice. We cannot choose between objective reality and subjective perception. We must deal with both at once, learning to make good decisions on the basis of "subobjective information." Read more about subobjective information here.
In competitive environments, we operate with incomplete information as a matter of course. The question that Sun Tzu asks is a profound one. How can a competitor take advantage of incomplete information? Read more about the use of incomplete information here.
Like an iceberg, the reality supporting our decisions is hidden below the surface. How can we make good strategic decisions in an instant with limited information? Sun Tzu's Rules teach a number of sophisticated and yet practical models for decision making. Read more about a different decision-making strategy here.
Most people are confused about the differences between production and competition. They see them as opposites, which means that, since production is productive, competition must be destructive. What people fail to see is that competition and production are the opposite in methods but not in their goals. Properly understood, both must be productive while working in very different realms. Read more about the methods of competition and production here.
Modern education was exclusively designed to focused on working with objects, that is, to train people in the skills of production. It was never designed to teach us the skills of competition, that is, working with other people to win their support and avoid their opposition. Read more about why "modern" education does't prepare us for today's world.
Are you confined to thinking inside the lines? It is not your fault. This was how you were trained to think. While we talk about the value of thinking "outside the box," the fact is that we have never been trained how to do it. What does non-linear thinking look like? Read more about the limits of linear thinking here.