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10 things Sun Tzu can Teach You about Creative Strategy

Sun Tzu was a Chinese military general and is foremost known as a strategist who authored “The Art of War” (around 500 BC), an ancient book on military strategy. His principles have been used for war by many legendary warriors, including Japanese Samurai Oda Nobunaga and French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Today, his principles are used by many creative strategists who wish to get a lead in their industry.

1. “Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.”

When you know your opponent's position and your own it’s easy to figure out their tactics and how to overthrow them with your own. When researching your fellow competitors’ goals and aims, you can strengthen your own strategy. This is best done by looking at their actions in relation to the market. Reading their vision and mission statements will not help you with this.

So, know your competition's strategy once, and beat them a thousand times.

2. “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

You simply cannot trust luck. It is better if we work with the perception that luck will never be by our side. This will force you to stand on your own feet. You will feel more unstable, which is a good thing, now you need to depend on your strategy of attack.

Getting into a competition without really knowing what is going on; will result in a most definite lose on your behalf. Thus, do your research well before acting, this is how you win.

3. ”All war is deception”

You should constantly use deception on your competition. This does not mean that you should play a deceiving role in the eyes of your clients. It simply means that when you are weak you should show your competition a façade that implies that you are strong. When strong you should ease your competition by seeming weak so that when they will be defeated by a strong force in which was hidden by your part. When competing within the design industry you cannot be too predictable, the competition is far too vast and if you are not ready to work hard you will be brought down.

4. “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”

When you have found a great opportunity you should implement it, put it to action directly. If it is a success, you will find tons of other creative ideas and opportunities turning up because of it. You have to start by pushing the wheel, before it rolls on by itself.

5. “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

You need to know your strategy before you act. A strategy sets out your vision and goals. Strategy is the foundation in which the tactics are born. It is after you have set out a strategy that the “how tos” will become clear.

6. “All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.”

Many people are interested in asking how something has been made, so if you have a successful business, people will try to copy your work by looking at actions, but they will not be successful if they do not understand your strategy. Therefore, it is very important that you stay distinctive in your style and elaborately set out your goals so that you can offer designs that are difficult to duplicate.

7. “Hence that general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.”

You can't be too predictable. Have the same strategy, but differ your tactics. Avoid what is in your opponent's eyes expected from you.

8. “If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight, even though the ruler forbids it; if fighting will not result in victory, then you must not fight, even at the ruler's bidding.”

Do not bend for authority but do what the situation requires from you. Listen to the problem; don't just do what you are told, that is hardly the way of a creative person.

9. “In peace prepare for war, in war prepare for peace. The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence under no circumstances can it be neglected.”

Always be aware of your surrounding and the people that want to take your place. At times like these it is rather typical to forget the underdogs that are dissecting every movement you make.

10. “You have to believe in yourself.”

If you do not believe in what you do and your own abilities then do not you expect others to trust you. Everything begins with you, first you believe in yourself, take responsibility for yourself and then you can start taking responsibility for others as a designer.


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4 Comments


  1. Jack Horner says:

    I find Sun Tzu teachings masterful.

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