Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The 36 Strategies: #8 Cross the pass in the dark

The 36 Strategies is second only to the Art of War by Sun Tzu (or Sun Zi). The strategies are important to understand if only as a matter of defense when someone is trying to manipulate you, or situations which may not be to your benefit.

#8. Cross the pass in the dark

You set up a false front, then penetrate the opponent's territory on other fronts while they are distracted by your false front.

I have a little story that comes from work for this one.

The company that was my main competitor had a monopoly at Customer A (and charged them outrageously high prices), and was the major player at Customer B.

We won some business at Customer B, and were making proposals for more. What my competitor saw of us, was that we were making a major play for business at Customer B, and we were both fully engaged there.

What they didn't see was that we found some sympathetic engineers and buyers at Customer A, who realized that they weren't being served well by my competitor.We quietly worked on a major proposal, under the radar screen, without the competitor knowing what was going on.

We won a major program. We won it with a product comparable to what our competitor was selling for 1/2 the price. Overnight, to try and keep us out, they tried dropping their price to meet us.

Purchasing wanted to know how they could drop the price. Were they being over charged on all the products (they were). Prices were being slashed left and right. Revenue from this account took a nose dive. Forecasts had to be changed.

We caused years of trouble for that competitor. It was a body blow from which it took years to recover.

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