Sun Tzu’s “Out Of War”



Sun Tzu - Out Of War


Killing the competition is actually suicidal!

Many traditional management models and strategic thinking find their origin in ancient military practices. In particular, Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” stands out as the poster child for how to ensure business success and has over the past 50 years developed a cadre of devotees. Simply put, the approach advocates 36 effective ways to destroy your competitors before they destroy you!

Yet, in our rapidly evolving business world, where Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA) dominate, the speed and scale of change requires business leaders to innovate quickly while minimizing risk. Driven by rapid advancement of technology, shorter product life cycles and rising customer expectations, businesses are being forced to revamp and adapt to new business models. This need is driving partnerships with suppliers, customers and yes, even competitors.




Make Collaboration not War!

Collaborative economy pushes businesses to connect with employees, partners, customers and even competitors to focus on solving business issues. This approach to “team work” can uncannily drive massive innovation, surprising new products, stronger business growth, greater loyalty and improved social welfare. As a result, companies that used to compete with each other, are breaking down barriers, abandoning their territorial silos and starting to work hand in hand as partners.

This is not simply talk. A 2014 HBR article by Barry Libert, Yoram Wind and Megan Beck Finley looked at four business models namely Asset Builders, Service Providers, Technology Creators and Network Orchestrators. Their analysis shows that as of 2013, Network Orchestrators – those that focus on building partnerships – outperformed other business models on growth rate and revenues and are being rewarded with valuations 2 to 4 times higher than the other business models.

The writing is on the wall for every business wishing to thrive in a VUCA world:  “Stop Warring, Start Collaborating”. It is high time business leaders learn the Art of Making Friends and Collaboration. Not the Art of War.


doug dean

Doug Dean is the COO of Human Capital Group Asia



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