The Art of War

Sun Tzu: The Art of WarFørste gang jeg hørte om bogen “The Art of War”, var da jeg første gang så filmen Wall Street omkring 1990 (filmen er en klassiker, som alle burde se mindst en gang). I filmen bliver der refereret til bogen, som en manual til, hvordan man håndterer konkurrenter. Siden den gang har jeg opdaget at bogen bruges en hel masse steder, enten direkte eller indirekte. Et af de steder hvor bogen direkte bliver brugt, er i Star Trek TNG afsnittet The Last Outpost.

De forskellige omtaler af bogen førte til, at jeg købte den, mens jeg stadig gik i folkeskole. Desværre er bogen forsvundet i løbet af de sidste par år, så til min barsel købte jeg en ny udgave af bogen, som lige er blevet genlæst.

Bogen var endnu engang en fantastisk oplevelse. Bogen består af en række vers, der er delt i en række kapitler. Det tager maksimalt et par timer at læse selve indholdet, men hvis man tænker lidt over de enkelte vers, så tager det nærmest uendeligt med tid at læse bogen. Selve bogen menes at være skrevet af Sun Tzu ca. 500 år f.Kr. På trods af at bogen således er over 2.600 år gammel er den stadig lige relevant i dag, som den var dengang.

Egentligt handler bogen om hvordan man skal føre krig, men indholdet i bogen er meget bredere end det. Tolkes der lidt på indholdet kan det siges at dække over alle former for konfrontationer generelt og konkurrence i erhvervslivet mere specifikt. Ved at læse bogen og reflektere lidt over indholdet har jeg konstant fundet indsigt i konkurrenceadfærd. Nedenfor er de citater, som jeg ved denne gennemlæsning fandt gav mest mening for mig.

Bogen er lige så relevant i dag, som den dag den blev skrevet. Det kan derfor varmt anbefales at læse bogen. Hvis man kan undvære at have den stående i reolen (det kan jeg ikke), så kan bogen læses gratis på nettet da den jo er “lidt” ældre end værker, der er beskyttet af ophavsret.

Jeg er dybt fasineret af, at en bog der blev skrevet for så længe siden stadig kan være relevant i dag. Klart en af de bedste bøger i min bogreol.


Udvalgte citater fra The Art of War:

II-3: Victory is the main object in war. If this is long delayed, weapons are blunted and morale depressed. When troops attack cities, their strength will be exhausted.

II-4: When the army engages in protracted campaigns the resources of the state will not suffice.

II-7: For there has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited.

III-1: Generally in war the best policy is to take a state intact; to ruin it is inferior to this.

III-4: Thus, what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy’s strategy

III-5: Next best is to disrupt his alliances.

III-10: Thus, those skilled in war subdue the enemy’s army without battle. They capture his cities without assaulting them and overthrow his state without protracted operations.

III-12…17: Consequently, the art of using troops is these: When ten to the enemy’s one, surround him; When five times his strength, attack him; If double his strength, divide him. If equally matched you may engage him. If weaker numerically, be capable of withdrawing. And if in all respects unequal, be capable of eluding him, for a small force is but booty for one more powerful.

III-24…33: Now there are five circumstances in which victory may be predicted: He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious. He who understands how to use both large and small forces will be victorious. He whose ranks are united in purpose will be victorious. He who is prudent all lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious. He whose generals are able and not interfered with by the sovereign will be victorious. It is in these five matters that the way to victory is know. Therefore I say: ‘Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril’

IV-1…5: Anciently the skillful warriors first made themselves invincible and awaited the enemy’s moment of vulnerability. Invincibility depends on one’s self: the enemy’s vulnerability on him. It follows that those skilled in war can make themselves invincible but cannot cause an enemy to be certainly vulnerable. Therefore it is said that one may know how to win, but cannot necessarily do so. Invincibility lies in the defense; the possibility of victory in the attack.

IV-11: And therefore the victories won by a master of war gain him neither reputation for wisdom nor merit for valor.

V-21…22: Therefore a skilled commander seeks victory from the situation and does not demand it of his subordinates. He selects his men and they exploit the situation.

VI-1…2: Generally, he who occupies the field of battle first and awaits his enemy is at ease; he who comes later to the scene and rushes into the fight is weary. And therefore those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him.

VI-4…5: When the enemy is at ease, be able to weary him; when well fed, to starve him; when at rest, to make him move. Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.

VI-13: When I wish to avoid battle I may defend myself simply by drawing a line on the ground; the enemy will be unable to attack me because I divert him from going where he wishes.

VII-32: Do not press an enemy at bay.

X-18…20: If the situation is one of victory but the sovereign has issued orders not to engage, the general may decide to fight. If the situation is such that he cannot win, but the sovereign has issued orders to engage, he need not to do so. And therefore the general who in advancing does not seek personal fame, and in withdrawing is not concerned with avoiding punishment, but whose only purpose is to protect the people and promote the best interests of his sovereign, is the precious jewel of the state. Because such a general regards his men as infants they will march with him into the deepest valleys. He treats them as his own beloved sons and  they will die with him.

X-21: If a general indulges his troops but is unable to employ them; if he loves them but cannot enforce his commands; if the troops are disorderly and he is unable to control them, they may be compared to spoiled children, and are useless.

X-26: And therefore I say: ‘Know the enemy, know yourself; your victory will never be endangered. Know the ground, know the weather; your victory will then be total.’

XI-29: Seed is the essence of war. Take advantage of the enemy’s unpreparedness; travel by unexpected routes and strike him where he has taken no precautions.

XI-33: Throw the troops into a position from which there is no escape and even when faced with death they will not flee. For if prepared to die, what can they not achieve? Then officers and men together put forth their utmost efforts. In a desperate situation they fear nothing; when there is no way out they stand firm. Deep in a hostile land they are bound together, and there, where there is no alternative, they will engage the enemy in hand to hand combat.

XI-54: Bestow rewards without respect to customary practice; publish orders without respect to precedent. Thou you may employ the entire army as you would one man.

XI-60…61: The doctrine of war is to follow the enemy situation in order to decide on battle. Therefore at first be shy as a maiden. When the enemy gives you an opening be swift as a hare and he will be unable to withstand you.

XII-15…16: Now to win battles and take your objectives, but to fail to exploit these achievements is ominous and may be described as ‘wasteful delay’. And therefore it is said that enlightened rules deliberated upon the plans, and good generals execute them.

XIII-3: Now the reason the enlightened prince and the wise general conquer the enemy whenever they move and their achievements surpass those of ordinary men is foreknowledge. What is called ‘foreknowledge’ cannot be elicited from spirits, nor from gods, nor by analogy with past events, nor from calculations. It must be obtained from men who know the enemy situation.