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15 May 2014

Deception and Foreknowledge as taught by Sun Tzu

In his military classic "Art of War" written 2,500 years ago, Sun Tzu taught us that to defeat the competition and achieve your goals, you must have foreknowledge.  Foreknowledge is not about the following:
  • Prediction based on the past
  • Unsubstantiated Hearsay
  • Analogy with past events
  • Derived from calculations
Foreknowledge is about 4 things:
  1. Detailed research and analysis from people who know the competition situation in details
  2. Knowledge of the personality and behaviour profile of people
  3. Psychology of things, why people do things in certain way
  4. Knowledge about the environment, including business climate
Foreknowledge does not stop at knowing your competitors.  The most important knowledge is to know yourself.  You must know where you are strong and where you are weak so that your weakness will not be exposed and instead positioned as strengths.  

Having foreknowledge will also help us to exercise Deception, which is simply not letting the enemy know your true situation as follows:
  1. When strong, appear weak; when weak appear strong.  
  2. To beat your competitor, you must first deceive them about the true nature of your plans.  If they do not know where you will attack next, they will be confused and unable to respond effectively
  3. When capable, feign incapacity; when incapable, pretend strong
  4. When active, feign inactivity; when inactive, act busy
  5. When near, appear far; when far, look near
  6. Offer a bait to lure your enemy, feign disorder and strike while he is weak
Other purposes of deception:
  1. Waste your competitor's resources
  2. Buy you time
  3. Gives your team members confidence about your strength
In summary, foreknowledge and deception give you the advantage in war.  Business is war.  Our goal is to defeat the enemy with dignity and integrity.  We never cheat or go low in our morals, instead of lying, we use deception as stated above.  Happy deceiving!

By Andy Ng of Asia Trainers, whose course Sun Tzu Art of War is coming back on 5 Feb 2015 Thursday 2 to 6 pm.   Click here for other courses.  Related articles on Sun Tzu:

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