3.13

Chapter: Attack by Stratagem 3.13
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Translation:

(1) By commanding the army to advance or to retreat, being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey. This is called hobbling the army.

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Commentary

Commanders who issue orders that cannot be obeyed, for example where the army is pinned down by the enemy or where transportation is not available, only creates angst and conflict in the lower-level leaders on the ground. It also does little for the credibility of those commanders.

In business, when the fine strategy hits the realities of the front line, it is often translated into quite different tactics, simply because front-line managers know that it will not work as is. This is sometimes known as ‘strategic disobedience’.

A common problem is where strategy assumes plentiful resources, whilst the reality is that budgets are thin and people are busy.