Sun Tzu and the Essential Components of Victory

Sun Tzu is one of the most renowned strategists in history.  Although his strategy was about warfare, the principles are still used today in Asia.  Sun Tzu said these are the considerations to obtain victory:

1.         Know when to fight and when not to fight.

There is a time for everything.  Act with forethought and dispassion instead of succumbing to emotion.  Superiority of numbers or position is not always necessary for victory.  The one who understands the rhythm of the battle and is able to freely utilise other natural advantages can realise victory with a smaller force or inferior position.

2.         Obtain the wholehearted support of your troops.

The one who understands how to obtain the unconditional support of his troops by creating a common objective will have a great advantage over his opponent.

3.         Be well prepared to seize favourable opportunities.

One must sharpen his intuition in order to recognise favourable opportunities and be prepared to seize them.

4.         Free yourself from interference.

If a superior is constantly giving orders to his general (manager), the general cannot fight an effective battle.  Freedom from such interference is essential.  If a general has been chosen well, he will insist on being given the freedom to win the battle.

5.         When the time is right, act swiftly and decisively.

Do not act precipitously, but do not hesitate when the conditions for victory are present.

The highest form of victory is to conquer by strategy

To win a battle by actually fighting is not the most desirable way.  To conquer the enemy without resorting to war, conquering the enemy by strategy is the highest, most desirable form of generalship.  The next best form of generalship is to conquer the enemy by alliance.  The next is to conquer the enemy by battle on open ground, The worst form of generalship is to conquer the enemy by besieging walled cities … those most skilled in warfare are those who conquer the enemy without fighting battles, who capture cities without laying siege to them, and who annex states without prolonged warfare.  They can preserve their forces whole and intact while struggling for the mastery of their opponent.  They can win a complete victory without as much as wearying their men. -All this is due to the use of strategy.

The Opportunity for Victory is Provided by the Enemy

Sun Tzu says that an army can only make itself secure against defeat; the opportunity for victory must be provided by the enemy.  The wise commander cannot achieve victory unless his enemy presents him with an opportunity.


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