We know about Sun Zi. But who is Gui Gu Zi? Is he better than Sun Zi that I want to write about him? This is the first in a series to introduce the wisdom of Gui Gu Zi to you.
Most people know about Sun Zi and think highly of him, especially when you want to fight or compete. However, there is one guy that is better than Sun Zi. He is an unknown in the West. A search on Amazon on Sun Zi gives you 625. On Gui Gu Zi is 145 but almost all are in Chinese!
That does not mean GuiGuZi is less useful. It is just that the West does not know how smart he was. His writing needs some higher intelligence to decipher it. But look at the result of his work. Sun Zi was just a good general in Wu. The students of GuiGuZi were generals and prime ministers that shaped the history of China. Without lifting a finger, his students could get kings to return 10 cities, withdrawal from attacking etc.
Sun Zi's wisdom is about warfare, or competition in business terms. Gui Gu Zi's wisdom is about partnerships, or strategic alliances in business terms.
If you pick either one of them to be better, then you have fallen into the trap of Western either or mindset. It is like choosing a hammer vs a screwdriver. Which is better? Common wisdom will tell you it all depends --- depends on the task you want to accomplish, or depends on the environment whether you find a screw or a nail. Depending on the external environment, if you find a screw, you will pick a screw driver to do the job, whether you want to tighten it or loosen it. If you find a nail, then you will pick a hammer for the task. It is so obvious but then we tend to come across motivational talks about "Should we work hard or work smart?". Some will go for work hard. Some will go for work smart.
What should your answer be?
If you say it all depends. Then your score will be 50%.
You will get 100% is you know when to work hard and when to work smart.
See Work Hard or Work Smart to be Successful? Let Sun Zi tell you
It is the same endless arguments about innovations vs efficiency or innovations vs quality or project vs production.
It all depends.
In a growing or stable market, you will want to increase efficiencies and quality. In a saturated and declining market, you will want innovations to bring in the next growth. Even for innovations, you would still want quality. Once you have ironed out the problems in any innovation, you will then want to scale it up while keeping the quality intact.
So back to SunZi and GuiGuZi, you need to learn both. One for competitions and one for alliances. The business world is so networked that it is no longer a competition of products vs products but supply-chain vs supply-chain. Even Apple switch CPU from Motorola to Intel and is slowly adopting USB Type-C connectors to make sure its proprietary OS and its products won't be obsoleted by inefficient supply chains.
Since Sun Zi is more well-known and GuiGuZi is less, I will share on GuiGuZi's wisdom in forth coming posts.
Remember, it is seldom Ethier-Or, it is "It all depends" and a key factor is, it all depends on the situation/task.
Adopt the Chinese Mindset for a start will open up your mind and enable you to make better decisions. Decisions that take into considerations the elements in the environment such as different types of people being involved and affected, the timing and trends, the locations and positioning you should choose etc. Life is about others and not just about you alone.
Lim Liat (c) 13 Sep 2017
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