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The Annotated Art of War (Parts 5.12-15: Decision)


Disciplines > Warfare > The Annotated Art of War > Parts 5.12-15: Decision

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V. Energy


Sun Tzu said: Commentary
12. The onset of troops is like the rush of a torrent which will even roll stones along in its course.

When water flows, it flows fast over, around and under stones, rolling them onwards. When troops flow fast and furious, they will bowl over anything in their path. If you stand before them, then if the first soldier does not knock you down then the next will, or the one after that, each flowing in rapid sequence.

Flow happens as a rapid sequence of blows such that the enemy has no time to recover or resist before the next arrives.

An example of this happening in business is where a company releases a superb new product then, even before competitors bring out a response, they leapfrog again with another, even better replacement.

13. The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim. Timing is critical in many situations and none more so than war. The same thrust will have a very different effect at different times, depending on such factors as weather conditions or the readiness of the enemy.

A well-timed attack is efficient and effective, taking advantage of all conditions, including the readiness of your troops and the unreadiness of the enemy.

Timing in business is likewise critical. There are often 'market windows' in which you can 'make a killing' or otherwise gain advantage. Outside the window, competitors have established their brand and are much harder to defeat.

14. Therefore the good fighter will be terrible in his onset, and prompt in his decision. The above lessons are clear. Get your timing right and, once you start, keep the momentum and flow going.
15. Energy may be likened to the bending of a crossbow; decision, to the releasing of a trigger. Energy is both potential and kinetic. If you bend a bow, it has static but potential energy. When you release the bow, it has dynamic, kinetic energy. Your decision as to when you release the arrow will determine whether it hits its target or misses.

The bent bow is the readiness of your troops. The release bow leads quickly to them flowing in a rapid torrent over the enemy.



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