17 October 2016

The Invert Strategy - DaoDeJing 36

DaoDeJing contains teachings for innovation and design of winning strategies as well. Giving in maybe better than just opposing. Here is the common one, invert, from DaoDeJing 36.
DaoDeJing 36 Original Text & Translation

将欲歙之,必固张之;
If you want to shrink it you must first stretch it.

将欲弱之,必固强之;
If you want to weaken it you must first strengthen it.

将欲废之,必固举之;
If you want to discard it you must first recommend it.

将欲夺之,必固与之;是谓微明。
If you want to take it you must first give in. This is called the little-known wisdom

柔胜刚,弱胜强。
The flexible wins against the hard and brittle. The weak wins against the strong.

鱼不可脱于渊,国之利器,不可以示人!
Just like the fish cannot live without the deep water, the powerful weapons of a country cannot be shown to people.

Invert is the Most Powerful Innovative Operator
The easiest way to innovate, or to surprise, is to do the opposite of what is commonly expected. In the 36 Stratagems of the Chinese, there is a stratagem #16.     To Catch Something, First Let It Go, that is similar to the teaching here. This is also commonly described as "giving you enough rope to hang yourself". A typical war strategy is to pretend to lose and then led the chasing enemy into an ambush. 

Hence, we must be careful when people praised us. We must make sure whether it was sincere or just a flattery to get us to be proud so that we become less careful. When the going is too easy, we must understand the reasons why.  

When someone criticizes you, the best way to respond is not to defend nor deny but to say, "Thank you for your feedback. I will take  note of it." It will immediately stop further criticisms and others will think highly of your humility.

The Indirect Soft Strategy 
There are two ways to prevent the flooding water. One way is the hard way, and that is to raise the band to block the water. It will work when the tide is relatively low. If the tide is too high, it is not easy to build higher and higher dam. The better way is to dig canals to lead the water away.  That is the indirect and soft approach. You can see it is a better way. It was how King Yu 禹治水 of ancient China successful resolved the floods from the Yellow River.

Instead of taking the direct and opposing approach, try this indirect and soft approach. Give in for the time being and let him suffers the consequences of his actions or wait till the opportune time to take action.

Invert is just one of the operators that can be used in coming with new ideas and solutions. For another 9 operators, see http://www.bvotech.com/BVITS.htm.

See also Self Management Comes from Non-Interference - DaoDeJing 57 for strategies to rule a country or fight a war.

Lim Liat (c) 17 Oct 2016


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