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 ~

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The 36 Strategies: #25 Steal a Beam to Replace a Pillar

Before getting to #25, Let's review where we are so far. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to a website which lists all 36 strategies and gives examples from ancient times.

ONE: Stratagems When Commanding Superiority

Strategy 1 - Cross the sea by fooling the sky (Man tian guo hai)

A familiar sight provokes no attention - Chinese Proverb

Secrets Often hide in the open. In fact, the more obvious a situation seems, the more profound the secrets it may hide.

People tend to ignore the familiar. This is the principle behind the stratagem of crossing the sea by fooling the sky.

Strategy 2 -Besiege the kingdom of Wei to save the kingdom of Zhao (Wei wei jiu zhao)

He who knows the art of the direct and indirect approach will b victorious. Such is the art of maneuvering.

- Sun Tzu, The Art of War

To assault a strong and cohesive enemy head-on is to invite disaster. The stratagem of besieging the kingdom of Wei to save the kingdom of Zhao advocates indirect confrontation

Strategy 3 -Kill with a borrowed Knife (Jie dao sha ren)

If you want to do something, make your opponent do it for you. - Chinese Military Principle

Strategy 4 -Relax while the enemy exhausts himself (Yiyi dai lao)

The female overcomes the male with stillness. - Lao Zi, The Way of Power

Strategy 5 -Loot a burning house (Chen huo da jie)

An enemy with troubles at home is ripe for the conquest - Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Strategy 6 -Make a feint to the east while attacking in the west (Sheng dong ji xi)

The commander who knows how to attack makes his enemy not know where to defend

- Sun Tzu, The Art of War

TWO: Stratagems For Confrontation

Strategy 7 -Create something out of nothing (Wu zhong sheng you)

Everything in the universe is created from something, which in turn is created from nothing

- Lao Zi, The Way of Power

Strategy 8 -Pretend to take one path while sneaking down another (An du chen cang)

Attack succeeds where the enemy neglects defense - Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Strategy 9 -Watch the fires burning across the river (Gean guan huo)

A clam was sunbathing with its shell open when a crane came along and pecked at its flesh. The clam snapped shut, catching the crane's long beak. Niether would yeild to the other. Finally a fisherman came by and caught both of them - Chinese Fable

Strategy 10 -Conceal a dagger in a smile (Xiao lo cang dao)

The man with honey on his lips hides murder in his heart - Chinese Saying

Strategy 11 -Sacrifice the plum tree for the peach tree (Li dai tao jiang)

A Peach tree grows beside the well; A plum tree takes root by it side. When worms invade the peach tree's base, The plum tree is sacrificed - Chinese Folk Song

Strategy 12 -Take the opportunity to pilfer a goat (Shun shou qian yang)

Many grains of sand piled up a pagoda makes - Chinese Saying

THREE: Stratagems For Attack

Strategy 13 - Beat the grass to startle the snake (Da cao jing she)

One can win without a fight - Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Strategy 14 -Raise a corpse from the dead (Jei shi huan hun)

If you lack the proper title, people won't listen to you; and if they don't listen, your orders won't be carried out - Confucius

Strategy 15 -Lure the tiger out of the mountain (Diao hu li shan)

Good opportunities are not as important as favorable terrain - Mencius

Strategy 16 -Snag the enemy by letting him off the hook (Yu qin gu zong)

To seize something, one must first thoroughly endow it - Lao Zi, The Way of Power

Strategy 17 -Cast a brick to attract jade (Pao zhuan yin yu)

he kingdom of Jin wanted to attack the kingdom of Chouyou, but there was no direct route. So Jin cast a great bronze bel as a gift for Chouyou. Chouyou biult a road to transport the gift from Jin, and then Jin troops came down the road and conquered Chouyou. - Chinese Tale

Strategy 18 -Catch the ringleader to nab the bandits (Qin Zei qin wang)

Choose a strong one when using bows, Take the long ones when choosing arrows; To shoot people, first fell their steeds, To nab bandits, catch the one who leads - Tang dynasty poet Du Fu

FOUR: Stratagems For Confused Situations

Strategy 19 -Steal the firewood from under the cualdron (Fu di chou xin)

To get rid of weeds, dig up the roots; To stop a pot from boiling, withdraw the fuel - Chinese Proverb

Strategy 20 -Fish in troubled waters (Hun shui mo yu)

Wild times create heroes - Chinese Proverb

Strategy 21 -Slough off the cicada's shell (Jin chan tuo qiao)

Misleading the enemy be false appaerance - this is what strategy is all about - 100 Ways of Warring (Baizhan Qilue)

Strategy 22 -Shut the door to catch the thief (Guan men zhuo zei)

One desperado on the run can scare off one thousand men - Warring States Strategist Wu Qi

Strategy 23 -Befriend a distant state while attacking a neighbor(Yuan jiao jin gong)

People with different dreams can share the same bed - Chinese Saying

Strategy 24 -Obtain safe passage to conquer the Kingdom of Guo (Jia dao fa guo)

Without the lips, the teeth will be cold - Chinese Idiom

Which brings us to Stratagems for Gaining Ground. The first of these is #25:

Steal a Beam to Replace a Pillar.

One interpretation is:

You try to recruit top talent, inducing them to join your concern. This both strengthens your side, and denies the talent to others.This has to do with strengthening your own position at the cost of your rivals.

In my business, we frequently employ this strategy in the form of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD). If a competitor has a press release pertaining to a different market segment, I might play this up to a buyer we are both trying to sell to as having grave consequences in our segment. If I can get him sufficiently agitated, he's going to call my competitor on the carpet, and ask him to explain himself. My competitor is therefore stuck trying to explain his company's position, which may well be benign, while I can go ahead and promote my own goods and services.

Years ago, I won a nice piece of business with a customer, offering a product they wanted at a very competitive price for the general market. They had an incumbent supplier who had a monopoly position there, and taken advantage of it. The prices they were giving this customer was no where near as low as the market priced.

By my just showing up and winning this one program, the incumbent literally spent years having to reduce prices everywhere within this customer, redrawing forecasts for their internal planning, etc. It caused them a great deal of trouble, where in the mean time, my company was able to advance our agenda.

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