05 April 2011

12 Success Principles from Chinese 36-Strategies


The Chinese 36-Strategies, some called it, 36-Tactics are well known and gainfully employed in military, business and politics. They usually have a bad connotation associated with it – dirty tricks. But if we examine them carefully, they are powerful strategies that can be used for good or evil.  Good as building a successful businesses and bad as destroying the competitions or enemies through deception and lies.  In a just and legal society, lies are bad and could be liable and criminal acts are not be done. In other words, we can use the 36 Strategies in a right, truthful and legal ways.

The 36-Strategies have the following interesting points (Please refer to the mind map attached):
  1. The Name of the Strategy is just 3-4 Chinese Words that gives a vivid picture of what to do for that strategy.
  2. There is a commentary on what the strategy means. The 2nd part of the commentary is a quote from a hexagram in  i-Ching.  This shows that the authorship comes after i-Ching and it is an extension of i-Ching teaching.
  3. From Form to Concept. The picture while vivid, may actually trapped our thinking. Hence, we need to abstract the form to the original concept of the strategy. The picture is just one form, an implementation of the concept. There could be other forms that we should adapt to our present situation.
36 Strategies are too many to grasp and apply. The original text divided into 6 segments with 6 strategies for each segment. I find them not too clear, may be can be divided into winning, confusing and lost 3 main segments. I prefer to regroup them into 12 principles and place them in order of starting a new business. It begins with probing (situation analysis), watch for the opportunities, exploiting the opportunities and so forth as shown in the mind map below. I will explain the individual strategies clearer in future. But I think the mind map speaks volume already. Hope you can benefit from it.



Lim Liat copyrighted April 2011

Next: The Patterns of Chinese 36-Strategies
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