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Sun Tzu and Wutzu – the first recorded referral?

April 10, 2012

Some light reading of The Art of War  led to some (in my mind) interesting correlations and comparisons.

Part of The Art of War – not the version I read!

Sun Tzu – lived 2,500 years ago in Northern china.  A brilliant military strategist in the warring times – he recorded his ideas on military strategy, tactics and winning battles.

Wutzu – a top general born in the Northern state of Wei, he recommended Sun Tzu to his patron the King of Wu.  If that is not the power of a referral what is?  Could this be the first recorded example of referring someone you know, like and trust?  I would assume that the repercussions of not getting this right then were a bit more severe than a potential loss of business!

By means of drum bell and flag, the direction of large forces in battle is possible and like unto the direction of small forces

The drum and bell are used because the voice does not carry; the flag is used to assist the sight.  The use of bell, drum, banner and flag is to attract the united attention of eye and ear

Wutzu  further illustrates this

 To attract the ear the sound must be clear, to strike the eye colours must be bright

An adage for the many ways in which we can communicate with out customers, prospects and contacts.  The use of different methods gives people the opportunity to engage – visually, audibly – the choice is yours. The fact that we can now use the tools available to us to search for the smaller groups gives us even greater opportunity to communicate.  A message coming in different forms has a greater impact than in just one – I think it’s called a marketing campaign, a brand awareness strategy and straightforward advertising.  Was the bell, drum, flag and banner an early form of social media?  

As a log or rock which, motionless on flat ground, yet moves with ever increasing force when set on an incline, so await the opportunity, and so act when the opportunity arrives

How often that we hear of businesses and people waiting for things to happen – motionless yet expecting great things.  It is the people and businesses who get out there – meeting people, trying new things, developing new products and services that have the momentum and an ever increasing array of opportunities that propel them forwards.

There are five notes; but by combinations, innumerable harmonies are produced.

There are but 5 colours, but if we mix them, the shades are infinite.

There are five tastes but if we mix them there are more flavours than the palate can distinguish.

Combinations and mixes – another take on collaborations.  You don’t know the result of a conversation, a meeting, an interaction and the most unlikely of these can produce something unexpected.  Never rule out anything – opportunities can even come from those that may seem to be competition.

A quick insight into the chapters in the book

Chapter summary

  1. Laying Plans/The Calculations explores the five fundamental factors (the Way, seasons, terrain, leadership, and management) and seven elements that determine the outcomes of military engagements. By thinking, assessing and comparing these points, a commander can calculate his chances of victory. Habitual deviation from these calculations will ensure failure via improper action. The text stresses that war is a very grave matter for the state, and must not be commenced without due consideration.
  2. Waging War/The Challenge explains how to understand the economy of warfare, and how success requires winning decisive engagements quickly. This section advises that successful military campaigns require limiting the cost of competition and conflict.
  3. Attack by Stratagem/The Plan of Attack defines the source of strength as unity, not size, and discusses the five factors that are needed to succeed in any war. In order of importance, these critical factors are: Attack, Strategy, Alliances, Army, and Cities.
  4. Tactical Dispositions/Positioning explains the importance of defending existing positions until a commander is capable of advancing from those positions in safety. It teaches commanders the importance of recognizing strategic opportunities, and teaches not to create opportunities for the enemy.
  5. Energy/Directing explains the use of creativity and timing in building an army’s momentum.
  6. Weak Points & Strong/Illusion and Reality explains how an army’s opportunities come from the openings in the environment caused by the relative weakness of the enemy in a given area.
  7. Maneuvering/Engaging The Force explains the dangers of direct conflict and how to win those confrontations when they are forced upon the commander.
  8. Variation in Tactics/The Nine Variations focuses on the need for flexibility in an army’s responses. It explains how to respond to shifting circumstances successfully.
  9. The Army on the March/Moving The Force describes the different situations in which an army finds itself as it moves through new enemy territories, and how to respond to these situations. Much of this section focuses on evaluating the intentions of others.
  10. Terrain/Situational Positioning looks at the three general areas of resistance (distance, dangers, and barriers) and the six types of ground positions that arise from them. Each of these six field positions offer certain advantages and disadvantages.
  11. The Nine Situations/Nine Terrains describes the nine common situations (or stages) in a campaign, from scattering to deadly, and the specific focus that a commander will need in order to successfully navigate them.
  12. The Attack by Fire/Fiery Attack explains the general use of weapons and the specific use of the environment as a weapon. This section examines the five targets for attack, the five types of environmental attack, and the appropriate responses to such attacks.
  13. The Use of Spies/The Use of Intelligence focuses on the importance of developing good information sources, and specifies the five types of intelligence sources and how to best manage each of them.

Tangut Script

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