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Sun Tzu's Art of War and I.T. (Part One)

Many years ago, I recommended Sun Tzu's Art of War ()to one of my friends. He is very resistive towards it. The reason is that he believes it is a book that teaches people how to fight a war. He claims that he doesn't like war, and therefore would not read and study such books.

I think it is such a regret. People usually just look at the appearance and packaging of objects. Take Sun Tzu's Art of War as an example. Surely, there is no doubt that it is a military treatise. However, according to my knowledge, Sun Tze is a pacifist (at least in his late years), and the first chapter tells people to be careful in a war. It says, "Warfare is the greatest affair of state, the basis of life and death, the way to survival or extinction. It must be thoroughly pondered and analysed." It means that as a commander of an army, every battle must carefully planned, as it can determine the life and death of the country.

Being in the I.T. industry for many years, I fully understand that many of my clients' business strategies could be greatly improved. The most serious problems are usually underrated. If the I.T world is looked as a battlefield, then a lot of people are making mistakes of 'careless', something that can never be done on a battlefield. Many people will say, "How can it be so serious? My company is just using a few computers to basic things such as using Word, Excel and for going to the Internet to receive e-mails. Where is the plan? And War???"

This is disobeying the law stated in Sun Tzu's Art of War, "Those who thinks, wins. Those who don't, lose". Sun Tzu emphasis the fact that victory depends on planning and strategy. Before every battle, intelligence must be collected and every possibility must be thought of. Not only you have to know 'thy opponent', you have to know 'thyself'. You do not have to look at I.T. as a war and carefully plan every action, but if your opponent do, you will have a great disadvantage. There are many occasions in the history, where the few defeat the many, the small conquer the large. None of those are coincidence, and definitely not luck, but the result of careful planning, superb strategy and great knowledge of a wise leader.

Every advice I gave to my clients follows the rule of 'carefulness'. It will even lead to misunderstanding when not thoroughly explained. Often after I study and research the current situation of my client, I will suggest them to decrease the size of their I.T. service instead of expanding it. Clients often find this difficult to accept. But I deeply believe, as a professional consultant company, emphasizing on promoting a product and neglect the true need of the customer is a serious mistake. However, do not mistake reducing service area means to do nothing. Most of the time when I made such suggestion is due to the weak 'foundation' of the company like employees lacking skills and experience. Then I will recommend them to strengthen the foundation before developing I.T. Automatically, an advantage over the opponent will be obtained.

(To Be Continue)

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