Date Added: September 2004Having a successful business takes a great deal of hard work, courage and determination. Success comes at a price as each day can be a battle. A battle with customers, employees, suppliers, distributors, etc. Several factors are required to win these battles, and many are similar to those used to achieve victory in war more than 2300 years ago.
The classic book, The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, contains many key "rules" to be successful in war. These "rules" closely relate to being successful in business. Let's review:
|The Art of War*||The Art of Business||Weapons to Win|
|If orders are not understood and clearly explained, or there is a lack of harmony, it is the leader's fault and battle should be avoided.||Communicate the organizational vision and strategy so employees clearly understand it.||
|Select people and let them exploit situations through their own skills.||Select and hire the right people with the right skills for the right roles.||
|Understand the strategy and tactics of war.||Understand the organizational strategy and priorities, and the needs of customers.||
|Know the enemy, know thyself... and you will achieve victory.||Conduct a detailed strategic planning process and plan.||
|Employ secret agents because an army without them is like a person without eyes and ears.||Employ internal and external experts to conduct competitive analysis and understand the market.||
|Speed is the essence of war.||Create a sense of urgency and be proactive with customers' needs.||
|Bestow rewards.||Develop an employee incentive plan.||
All of these concepts flow from Sun Tzu's core principle, which is that the intellectual and moral elements of war are more important than the physical elements, and that sheer power and number of people do not necessarily offer an advantage.
Translation to business? Organizations able to ask, listen and understand the "voices" of employees and customers through items listed in the "Weapons to Win" column above will have a competitive advantage. This involves:
Regardless of the number of employees or amount of revenues, organizations that have the "weapons" to do these things well - and know how to use them - will win. Sun Tzu knew this more than 2300 years ago, and it applies to business today.
*Tzu, Sun. The Art of War. Translated by Samuel B. Griffith. Oxford University Press. London: 1963. Please note that information has been paraphrased for current grammar guidelines.