3.17

Chapter: Attack by Stratagem 3.17
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Translation:

Thus we may know that there are 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 military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.

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Commentary

Do not just charge in. Pick your fights.

(1) Pick the right time. For example in the early morning when they are still asleep. Or in the Summer, when you will not be bogged down in the snow.

(2) You will not always have the greatest force. Yet you can win. Knowing the right fighting strategy is important here.

(3) Constancy of purpose and knowing the commander’s intent keeps an army together and with a clear, cohesive focus.

(4) An army actually spends very little time fighting. When it is not fighting, it should be preparing. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. So if the enemy is not prepared and you are, then you have huge advantage.

(5) Rulers know how to rule civilians. Generals know how to fight. Whilst the ruler’s intent is important, strategy and tactics should be left to those who understand it best.

These rules are easy to translate into the business context.