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The Art of War

CEO recommends reading The Art of War to help business owners understand the nature of competition.
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SEPTEMBER 1990

by Sun Tzu, translated by Thomas Cleary, Shambhala Publications Inc., 1988

"The Art of War, written more than 2,000 years ago by a Chinese warrior, is highly militaristic, and its examples are often uncivilized, but it is one of those 200 or so books every business executive should read.

"I have used this and other books to arm my managers for the competitive situations business presents. One lesson: avoid confrontation with a stronger opponent. Digital made this mistake when it tried to take on an IBM stronghold by marketing PC clones. Our company suggested to Digital that it instead fight the battle where it is strong and IBM weak -- networks. We developed PC network servers for Digital that are cheaper, faster, and more powerful than IBM PCs.

"My favorite quote from the book is 'Victory can never be won on the battlefield until it is won in the mind of the enemy.' This leads to the book's ultimate lesson -- what Sun Tzu calls the 'sheathed sword.' The greatest generals are those who achieve their objectives without fighting.

"Sun Tzu's philosophy should be balanced with more moderate ones. Anyone who totally subscribes to The Art of War will frequently win but ultimately may be locked up."

-- James Bender,

Logicraft Inc.,

Nashua, N.H.

Last updated: Sep 1, 1990




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