Sun Tzu’s Advice to Strategy Makers


More than 2300 years ago, Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War, an amazing book on the principles of military strategy. Herebelow are some idea extracts:

  1. Adopt SOSTAC. He believed that it is essential first to carry out a complete analysis of the situation. The strengths and weaknesses of one’s position, the relationship between one’s goals and the goals of society at large, the intensity of one’s courage and determination, and the worthiness and integrity of one’s objective must all be carefully evaluated. Even then, it seems, SOSTAC (Situation Analysis, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Action, and Control) was emerging—situation analysis, objectives and strategy.
  2. Do your Homework. Those who triumph, compute at their headquarters, a great number of factors, prior to a challenge. Those who are defeated, compute at their headquarters, a small number of factors, prior to a challenge. Much computation brings triumph, little computation brings defeat. How much more so with no computation at all. By observing only this, I can see triumph or defeat.
  3. Develop some options. Therefore those who are not entirely aware of strategies that are disadvantageous, cannot be entirely aware of strategies that are advantageous.
  4. Know your Resources. You must be certain that your resources have been carefully evaluated before engaging in this challenge.
  5. Why senior management Support: before engaging in a challenge, a leader must be certain that the organization is prepared to support the expense of a confrontation.
  6. Do you hurt your market or environment? Brilliant leaders are always aware of the entire system, both inside and outside of their organizations. They know that to harm or destroy what is outside will hurt their own growth, while employing their rivals and incorporating their resources will enhance their strategy.
  7. Put everything in place before making a move. Sun Tzu believed that a true victory can be won only with a strategy of tactical positioning, so that the moment of triumph is effortless and destructive conflict is avoided even before considering a confrontation – for whatever purpose.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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Quality: A Prelude


Even the best marketing in the world won’t motivate a customer to purchase a poor product or service more than once. In fact, brilliant marketing can speed the demise of an inferior offering, since people will learn of the shoddiness that much quicker. So do everything in your power to ensure the quality of whatever it is you’ll be selling. And you’ve got that quality, you’ll be ready for marketing. It is also mandatory for success that you have adequate capitalization – that is, money. You will need enough cash or cash reserves to promote your business aggressively, for at least three months, and ideally for a full year.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Managing Cultural Change


When management acts to focus explicit structures, work design, staffing and development, and performance system/rewards on desired changes, the combined impact can be tremendous. Through management action, the culture can be changed to support the business strategy. Management communication of the company mission, vision, values, and strategic objectives is only the first step in the process.

Top executives must promulgate a vision; however, a brilliant vision statement won’t budge a culture unless it is backed up by action. The management system has to be put in place, and then management has to live by it. Culture is not something managers set out to change directly; rather, it is an outcome of consistent, positive management action, every day and in every way. Too often good strategic ideas and directions are translated too narrowly into plans. There are many examples, including quality of work life, participative management, quality circles, and service excellence. Even broadly conceived total quality management efforts risk faltering because they are being implemented as programs, rather than as broad, deep, multi-faceted activities.

The problem is not the association of an idea, with a program, but rather the existence of too few programs expressing the idea. Changes take hold when they are reflected in multiple concrete manifestations throughout the organization. It is when the structures surrounding a change also change to support it that we say a change is institutionalized—that it is now part of legitimate and ongoing practice, infused with value and supported by other aspects of the system.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Flexibility


Perhaps the biggest difference between an individual businessperson and a large corporation is in the degree of flexibility each possesses. Here the balance tips in favor of the small business. Because it hasn’t indoctrinated numerous level of management and a gigantic sales organization in the tactics and strategies of its marketing plan, it can make changes on the spot. It can be fast on its feet and can react to make changes, competitive ploys, economic realities, new media, newsworthy events, and last minute offers.

Like the furry quick mammal, you’ve got the flexibility, the speed, the disregard of image, that enables you to use radio commercials and also hire high school students to hand out printed circulars on street corners. You don’t have a body of rules to follow, a committee to answer to, a set structure to follow. You are the organization. You answer to yourself. You make the rules and you break the rules. And that means you get to be amazing, outrageous, surprising, unpredictable, brilliant, and quick.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Managers are not just Leaders in Waiting


Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things.” Conventional wisdom is proud of maxims like this. It uses them to encourage managers to label themselves “leaders.” It casts the manager as the dependable plodder, while the leader is the sophisticated executive, scanning the horizon, strategizing. Since most people would rather be a sophisticated exective than a dependable plodder, this advice seems positive and developmental. It isn’t: it demeans the manager role but doesn’t succeed in doing much else. The difference between a manager and a leader is much more profound than most people think. The company that overlooks this difference will suffer for it.

 The most important difference between a great manager and a great leader is one of focus. Great managers look inward. They look inside the company, into each individual, into the differences in style, goals, needs, and motivation of each person. These differences are small, subtle, but great managers need to pay attention to them. These subtle differences guide them toward the right way to release each person’s unique talents into performance.

 Great leaders, by contrast, look outward. They look out at the competition, out at the future, out at alternative routes forward. They focus on broad patterns, finding connections, cracks, and then press home their advantage where the resistance is weakest. They must be visionaries, strategic thinkers, and activators. When played well, this is, without doubt, a critical role. But it doesn’t have much to do with the challenge of turning one individual’s talents into performance.

 Great managers are not mini-executives waiting for leadership to be thurst upon them. Great leaders are not simply managers who have developed sophistication. The core activities of a manager and a leader are simply different. It is entirely possible for a person to be a brilliant manager and a terrible leader. But it is just as possible for a person to excel as a leader and fail as manager. And, of course, a few exceptionally ralented individuals excel at both.

 If companies confuse the two roles by expecting every manager to be a leader, or if they define “leader” as simply a more advanced form of “manager,” then the all-important “catalyst” role will soon be undervalued, poorly understood, and poorly played. Gradually the company will fall apart.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight