Thirteenth of #ThirtySixStratagems: Beat the grass and frighten away the snake. 打草惊蛇 (打草驚蛇) – Dǎcǎojīngshé.

Mini strategy series @soerenbax: The #ThirtySixStratagems, a collection of ancient Chinese military thought and experience.
Characters of the Thirteenth of Thirty-Six Stratagems: 打草惊蛇(打草驚蛇) – Dǎcǎojīngshé.  打, dǎ: beat, fight. 草, cǎo: grass. 惊, jīng: shock, surprise, be frightened. 蛇, shé: snake.
Meaning: Test the opponents reaction with smaller strikes and attacks. Provoke the enemy to reveal his strength and intentions.
Business example: Sometimes it is necessary to take an incremental approach to strategic change, in order to test the grounds and gather more competitive intelligence. Thus beating the grass to scare the snake. Simply put: Test the situation and find out how all the other players may behave, without the risk of large scale confrontation or damage to the own strategic position.
This is a very common approach to change management and development in China. It is often preferred to take action, make smaller steps and then see how it goes. Or as I always used to tell my employees in China: 计划还不如变化 (Jìhuà hái bùrú biànhuà) Change supersedes planning.

Share Button

Twelfth of #ThirtySixStratagems: Lead away a sheep in passing. 顺手牵羊 (順手牽羊) – Shùnshǒuqiānyáng.

Mini strategy series @soerenbax: The #ThirtySixStratagems, a collection of ancient Chinese military thought and experience.
Characters of the Twelfth of Thirty-Six Stratagems: 顺手牵羊 (順手牽羊) – Shùnshǒuqiānyáng. 顺, shùn: along, smooth. 手, shǒu: hand. 牵, qiān: pull, lead along. 羊, yáng: sheep.
Meaning: Hide the attack in an unthreatening motion.
Business example: This stratagem is about seizing opportunities when the competitor is not paying attention to the threat. One cooperation may be focussing in one direction and the competitor is stealing something, they are not paying attention to.

Share Button

Eleventh of #ThirtySixStratagems: The plum tree dies for the peach tree. 李代桃僵 (李代桃僵) – Lǐdàitáojiāng.

Eleventh of #ThirtySixStratagems: The plum tree dies for the peach tree. 李代桃僵 (李代桃僵) – Lǐdàitáojiāng.

Mini strategy series @soerenbax: The #ThirtySixStratagems, a collection of ancient Chinese military thought and experience.

Characters of the eleventh of Thirty-Six Stratagems: 李代桃僵 (李代桃僵) – Lǐdàitáojiāng. , : plum. , dài: replace. , táo: peach. , jiāng: stiff, remain stiff.

Meaning: The plum gets the insects while the peach remains stiff and strong. The plum dies to save the peach. When loss can not be avoided, sacrifice may be necessary for the benefit of whole.

Business example: See the big picture and long term trends. In order to stay in business in the long run, it may be necessary to sacrifice a successful business unit now, in order to promote a new business unit for long term success.

This is what is currently happening at SAP. The cloud business is growing, while the traditional software license business is under thread. SAP is sacrificing the plum, to harvest the peach.

Share Button

Tenth of #ThirtySixStratagems: Hide the dagger behind a smile. 笑里藏刀 (笑裡藏刀) – Xiàolǐcángdāo.

Mini strategy series @soerenbax: The #ThirtySixStratagems, a collection of ancient Chinese military thought and experience.

Characters of the tenth of Thirty-Six Stratagems: 笑里藏刀 (笑裡藏刀) – Xiàolǐcángdāo. , xiào: smile. , : inside, behind. , cáng: hide, conceal. , dāo: knive.

Meaning: Pretend to be friendly and peacefully, but secretly preparing and waiting for an opportunities to strike at the opponent.

Share Button

Ninth of #ThirtySixStratagems: Watch the fire on the other side of the river. 隔岸观火 (隔岸觀火) – Gé’ànguānhuǒ.

Mini strategy series @soerenbax: The #ThirtySixStratagems, a collection of ancient Chinese military thought and experience.

Characters of the ninth of Thirty-Six Stratagems: 隔岸观火 (隔岸觀火) – Gé’ànguānhuǒ. 隔, gé: Partition, apart. 岸, àn: shore. 观, guān: look, observe. 火, huǒ: fire.

Meaning: Watch the fire on the other side of the river. Watch the internal or external conflicts of the opponent from the sidelines and refrain from interfering. Let the trouble continue until your opponent is weakened and you have a better opportunity to gain the upper hand.

Business example: In business and war it can be advisable to wait an see, it is a powerful choice to be patient and wait for a better opportunity to act.

Share Button

Eighth of #ThirtySixStratagems: Crossing in the dark to get to Chencang. 暗渡陈仓 (暗渡陳倉) – Àndùchéncāng.

Mini strategy series @soerenbax: The #ThirtySixStratagems, a collection of ancient Chinese military thought and experience.

Characters of the Eighth of Thirty-Six Stratagems: 暗渡陈仓 (暗渡陳倉) – Àndùchéncāng. 暗, Àn: dark. 渡, dù: cross. 陈, chén. 仓, cāng. 陈仓, chéncāng: Chencang, today it would be in Shaanxi province, Baoji City

Meaning: Crossing in the dark to get to Chencang.

Business example: Openly prepare to take a certain path while secretly advancing along an other. Fake left, move right. Attack from an unexpected place or direction.

A successful application of this stratagem could be to start negotiating to cooperate with a competitor while preparing to replace their product with a new innovation.

Share Button

Seventh of #ThirtySixStratagems: Create something out of nothing. 无中生有 (無中生有) – Wúzhōngshēngyǒu.

Mini strategy series @soerenbax: The #ThirtySixStratagems, a collection of ancient Chinese military thought and experience.

Characters of the seventh of Thirty-Six Stratagems: 无中生有 (無中生有) – Wúzhōngshēngyǒu. 无, wú: noting, naught. 中, zhōng: middle, center. 生, shēng: life. 有, yǒu: to be, exist.

Meaning: Create something out of nothing.

Business example: One application of this tactic could be to create new suppliers to your portfolio. If negotiations with existing suppliers are difficult but quality and cooperation is good, then it may be advisable to find trusted companies that also could enter the bidding and supply goods.This new competition would help with price negotiation and will be a good source of information about the existing supplier.

Share Button

Sixth of #ThirtySixStratagems: Making noise in the east and attack from west. 声东击西 (聲東擊西) – Shēngdōngjīxī.

Mini strategy series @soerenbax: The #ThirtySixStratagems, a collection of ancient Chinese military thought and experience.

Characters of the sixth of Thirty-Six Stratagems: 声东击西 (聲東擊西) – Shēngdōngjīxī. 声, shēn: sound. 东, dōng: East. 击, jī: strike, attack. 西, xī: West.

Meaning: Making noise in the east and attack from west. Create Diversions.

Business example: Create an distraction or false attack. The opponent will concentrate its defences accordingly on one front, making him vulnerable for your attack where he least anticipates an attack.

For example in sales for insurance policies, the sales person would emphasize the high (predicted, not guaranteed) yield, but not mention the ruinous upfront fees and hidden costs.

Share Button

Doing business in China may sometimes mean to go with the flow. As #LaoTzu puts it:

老子,道德经。 Lao Tzu in Tao Te Ching:
Stiff and unbending is the principle of death.
Gentle and yielding is the principle of life.
Thus an Army without flexibility never wins a battle.
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.
The hard and strong will fall.
The soft and weak will overcome.

Share Button

Fifth of #ThirtySixStratagems: Loot the burning house. 趁火打劫 (趁火打劫) – Chènhuǒdǎjié.

 

Mini strategy series @soerenbax: The #ThirtySixStratagems, a collection of ancient Chinese military thought and experience.

Characters of the Fifth of Thirty-Six Stratagems: 趁火打劫(趁火打劫) – Chènhuǒdǎjié. , Chèn: take advantage of. , huǒ: fire. , dǎ: fight. , jié: rob. 打劫, dǎjié: plunder.

Meaning: A clever fighter wins with ease by exploiting the weakness of the enemy.

Business example: Be ready to act on your opponent weakness or inaction. In this example a large manufacturer and supplier of ball bearings had a long and close cooperation with a Global manufacturer of forklifts. This supplier started to have quality problems due to poor management that did not recognize weaknesses in some of its raw material.

Only the factory manager of that ball bearing supplier recognized the problem, but decided not to solve or mention it. Instead he told his uncle about these weaknesses who was already copying the manufacturing process. Together they seized the opportunity to offer superior bearings and start a successful relationship with the the large forklift customer. Take advantage of problems to plunder.

Share Button