Chapter: Laying of Plans



Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.


Battles are won or lost before they are started. There is much in the way of planning and preparation that is required.

If you are prepared for the many possible actions of the enemy and the fickle hands of fate, then you may take advantage of opportunity and avoid the horrible surprise of being outplayed by the leader on the other side.

In planning, knowledge of the other side is critical. Knowing their strength, their position and intent helps you make better calculations, although you must always be ready for surprise.

Of course the main plan never survives the battle. When the enemy acts, you have to respond. Yet even plans that are never implemented have their value in readying you.

As Eisenhower said, ‘Plans are nothing, but planning is everything.’

In business, managers often make plans as if the future is pre-ordained to happen as they believe it should. If they do not consider alternative scenarios they may be surprised. If they do not build resilience and readiness, they may be defeated by more agile competitors.