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New Art Of War: Three Aspects of Waging War

New Art Of War: Three Aspects of Waging War

PARK Jae-Hee

Aug. 8, 2008


Hello, I am Jae-Hee Park on The New Art of War.

One of our biggest social concerns is how to control your emotions. By failing to manage your emotions you can leave a scar on the minds of your customers or find your organization in dire straits after a bad business decision.

Keeping tabs on your emotions in management is not easy. On many occasions, the Art of War stresses that “a war should not be waged out of rage.”

“The general, unable to control his irritation, will launch his men to the assault like swarming ants, with the result that one-third of his men are slain, while the town still remains untaken. Such are the disastrous effects of a siege.”

During the Three Kingdom period, the Duke of Wei Cao Cao launched a rash and futile attack on Liu Bei and Sun Quan’s coalition forces at the Red Cliffs. Although he knew his troops were only trained on dry land, he thought his overpowering numbers would win the war for him. Nevertheless, Cao Cao and his 800,000 troops suffered one of the most catastrophic defeats in history.

Sun Tzu wrote of three principles in maneuvering the military: “li,” “de,” and “wei.”

First is “li,” or advantage.

“Move not unless you see an advantage.” To put it another way, only move when you see favorable circumstances. Business decisions should not depend on relationships or reputation. When irrational and foolish decisions are made in business, the consequences may be catastrophic. Make sure you see some benefit before making any move.

Second is “de,” or gain.

“Use not your troops unless there is something to be gained.” Make a careful evaluation of what you will lose or gain. Start a war if there is something to gain. What is the difference between “li” and “de”? “Li’ refers to the positive aspects you can see right in front of you. “De” means long term gains after the war.

The third is “wei,” or danger.

“Fight not unless the position is critical.” When you find your organization in trouble, you must wage war. If you do not want to wage war, then you need to make your enemy lose the will to fight. Holding back to regain composure in this situation would not be the smartest move than to fight.

“No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique. If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are.”

Sun Tzu wrote that waging war for petty personal causes is the downfall of states. Likewise, the survival of an organization and its members can be threatened by such petty concerns. Don’t make rash decisions solely relying on personal interests, but seek out advantages by looking at the big picture.

Sun Tzu concluded his thoughts on emotion with the following words.

“Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by contentment. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.”

“Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful, and the good general full of caution. This is the way to keep a country at peace and an army intact.”

Rulers and generals are the equivalent of CEOs and managers of today. Always remember that your petty satisfaction is not as important as the survival of your organization.

This has been a lecture on The New Art of War by Jae-Hee Park.

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