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The Annotated Art of War Parts 7.1-4: From Command to Maneuver


Disciplines > Warfare > The Annotated Art of War > Parts 7.1-4: From Command to Maneuver

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VII. Maneuvering


Sun Tzu said: Commentary
1. Sun Tzu said: In war, the general receives his commands from the sovereign.

The ultimate command comes from the ruler of the country. The general's purpose is to achieve the intent and goals set by this ruler.

As with any goal-setting, it is important for the ruler to have achievable aspirations. A wise rules discusses possibilities with the general before settling on the final command.

It is then important for the ruler to allow the general to use his skills to develop the strategy to achieve the intended ends.

In business, the CEO and board set the objectives that are executed further down the organization. This says much about the importance of selection and of trust.

2. Having collected an army and concentrated his forces, he must blend and harmonize the different elements thereof before pitching his camp. Putting together a fighting force has many options, for example creating an elite brigade or spreading the best men to create a wider capability. The way the troops and weapons are organized depends on the strategic intent and planned maneuvers.

In business as in war, a difficult question is where to put your best people. There is no magic formula for this but your choice can be critical.

3. After that, comes tactical maneuvering, than which there is nothing more difficult. The difficulty of tactical maneuvering consists in turning the devious into the direct, and misfortune into gain. With a clear intent and organized force, the next step is to get them into motion.

Maneuvering involves moving. Good maneuvering is like playing chess, where much of the game is about positioning in order to secure effective attacks that lead inexorably to victory.

In business, strong execution is very important. You can strategize all you like, but if you can't do what you planned, you are likely in deep trouble.

4. Thus, to take a long and circuitous route, after enticing the enemy out of the way, and though starting after him, to contrive to reach the goal before him, shows knowledge of the artifice of deviation.

In planning maneuvers, it should be remembered that the other army will also be maneuvering, leading to a form of 'dance'. The general who understands the other side's maneuvers will most likely win.

Good maneuvers include surprise, for example where the enemy thinks you are behind them, then finds you have slipped past them and are in front.

This is the skill of the general.

In business, manuvering is also important, and a surprised competitor is one who is put off their footing. For example when they are enticed to great expenditure for no real gain.



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