Where Science Meets Muse

An Innovation Checklist Based Upon Sun Tzu’s, “Art of War”

Posted by Plish on April 10, 2009


“…A skilled Commander seeks victory from the situation and does not demand it of his subordinates.”-Sun Tzu, The Art of War

This wisdom is brilliant. 

Success isn’t about demands placed on your people, it’s about creating the circumstances and environment in which it is the natural result of the fullness of your work.

OK, what does that mean?

When you demand success from people, in general there is a linear thinking: do x, y, and z and whatever it takes, make it happen.

The difference with this approach is that there is a holistic view of the entire situation – a view that honestly accounts for modes of possible failure, but more importantly frames and drives execution of the campaign such that the end result is success.

How do you implement this approach?

Run through the following checklist:

  1. Are you commited towards a bias of maximum success – Or are projects “do or die?” (This translates to, “Do you really, REALLY, have every person’s back or do you need to make points at others’ expense?”) Does your team trust you? Is there a common vision?
  2. Look at the lay of the land; what obstacles (physical, mental, procedural, organizational, etc.) stand in the way of an idea and its commercialization? Can you move quickly or do you have to move slowly? Are you better off developing this product here or in the barn down the street?
  3. What is the mood of the market like?  Is it easy to entice? Excitable? Cautious? Cheap?
  4. What is the competition up to? Are they doing what you’re doing?  Do they know what you’re up to?

If the four points above are examined at the start of (and throughout the execution of!) any endeavor, and all questions answered honestly and frankly along the way, success will be built into your process!

Success is there for the taking because every aspect of your endeavor is biased towards and, in fact, contains, the potential (and forming) successful outcome. 

All that is needed then is execution, not victory per se.


Victory will be yours!!

One Response to “An Innovation Checklist Based Upon Sun Tzu’s, “Art of War””

  1. The Art Of War…

    …A post I read a while ago over at…

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