Five Elements of Sun Tzu’s Strategy

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 | comments

Strategy is: "a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.”

Sun Tzu said:
Strategy is the great work of the organization. In situations of life or death; it is survival or extinction. Therefore, it needs careful study.

1) Sun Tzu’s Five Elements of Strategy

In Sun Tzu's system, the five traditional elements are replaced by the five elements that define the competitive world:
  • Mission: Inspire people to share the same visions, ideas and expectations
  • Ground: to be able to master mountains, valleys, rivers, plains, etc. it’s about situation,  distant or immediate, difficult or easy, opportunities and risks
  • Climate: it’s nature, changes in climatic conditions
  • Command: Leadership, such as wisdom, humanity, credibility, courage, intelligence and firmness. 
  • Method: the discipline, the moral cause, reward, punishment, logistics and metrics.

2) Five Key Take Away:       

·  Winning without Conflict: Sun Tzu's book teaches winning without conflict. “A great general finds a way to win without fighting a single battle".  Sun Tzu says, “preserving the state best, destroying state second best." "Diplomatic resolution should be done first"

·      "First Mover Advantage" (FMA) Sun Tzu cited in Mintzberg et al., (1998) “Generally, he who occupies the field of battle first and awaits his enemy is at ease”. Innovation is not just new products but also about different processes

·         Leverage is Strategy: Sun Tzu cited in Grundy (2004) “When the front is prepared the rear is unprepared and when the rear is prepared then the front is unprepared. But preparedness everywhere means a lack everywhere”.

  • Human Mind is the Best Weapon: Sun Tzu teaches the use of only one weapon: the human mind:  The Art of War starts with, “Warfare is a great matter to a nation; it is the ground of death and of life; it is the way of survival and of destruction, and must be examined.”
  •  Five Essentials for victory:
(1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. 
(2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. 
(3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.
(4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.
      (5) He will win who has capability & capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign. 

Sun Tzu’s theory is more focus on the principles, the art and science of strategy, the harmony of nature elements with human's wisdom, we may just need understand it philosophically, psychologically, ecologically,  artistically, and scientifically.


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