28 December 2010

Sun Zi Art of War-2: How to Manage the Five Factors Well

Continuing with  Sun Zi Art of War (Sun Tzu) in One Minute the details for the 5 factors are shown in the mind map below:
You can see that Sun Zi explained its terms well.

The first factor is Dao 道 which stands for the The Right Way literally. But from his explanation, I feel the use of the word mission, the cause, and the values one belief in are more appropriate translation. The mind-map note without the orange box reference is my added commentary its application in business and management. All organization must begins and exist with a meaningful mission - the reason for its existence and the value that it brings to the society.

Second is Tian 天  Heaven or Sky + Timing, Seasons or Dimension of Time
Sun Zi explained that the SKY means weather, day or night, cold or hot, seasonal changes. From other parts of his book, I find using trends and timing are appropriate. Chinese traditional teaching on warfare uses 天时地利人和, literally means Heaven-Time, Terrain-Advantages and People's harmonious support.

Third is 地 Terrain or Position or Dimension of Space
The terrain, the shape, size, depth etc has great effect on the strategies to be chosen. Sun Zi in fact spent a few more chapters to describe the different types and how to exploit them such as in Chapter 10 Terrain and Chapter 11 Nine Terrains.
For modern day business, terrain could refers to where the market is. It could be better to use it as the positioning of our offering, with respect to our target market and competitors' offering.

Fourth is 将 Commanders or Managers or Leaders
Sun Zi tells us the specific qualities to look for in our commanders - wisdom, integrity, compassion, bravery and discipline. Values are to be balanced - we need compassion and compassion must be balanced with disciplined. Intelligence is needed but it must be balanced with integrity. There is nothing more dangerous than talents without integrity.

Sun Zi also gives us the hiring and firing principle - hire those who share the company' 道 Dao, cultures and values (implied by your order and plan) and fire those who do not match the company's culture and values.

Decisions making are to be based on facts and evaluated objectively. Follow those that bring benefits, increase our posture, gain public support. Sun Zi is against using the company resources to advance one's personal goals and gains. Look for leaders than can put company's and others' interest above their own selfish gains.

Sun Zi also tells us how to allocate authorities according to the strategic contribution of the positions. Giving the right power to the key positions creates strength. We are then left with finding the right people to fill the key positions. How to do that is given on the next factor.

Fifth is 法 Laws + Order
The organization must have openly stated and understood laws and policies on telling people
  1. what are the right and wrong things to do. 
  2. What is the promotion system and how does one get promoted. 
  3. What are the strategic jobs.
I added a reference from 10:4 to give a balance (Sun Zi, or Classical Chinese Thinking, is always about balanced). It is not Laws without compassion. 10:4 exhort the leaders to treat their men as their own children; to love them but not to spoil them.

Application To Your Business - 10 Questions for Your Review
With these five factors in mind, can you review your company situation?
  1. Consider your company mission, are they meaningful and motivating? 
  2. What values are key to accomplishing your mission? 
  3. Are those values institutionalized into policies? 
  4. Do you have corresponding incentives and discipline systems to enforce those key values? 
  5. Are your offering leading, riding, following, or outdated by the market trends?
  6. Is your offering position well? 
  7. How are you organized ? 
  8. Can you tell which are the strategic jobs? 
  9. Do you have the right people in those key jobs? 
  10. Are those key jobs given the right authorities to make those key decisions? 
This is a first cut for your organizational health review.

Sun Zi tells us more in the next post Sun Zi Art of War-3: Health Check with 7 Measures.

BVOTECH copyrighted 2010

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