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Sun Tzu The Art of War for Executives [Paperback]

Donald G. Krause
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Jan 1996
This interpretation of "The Art of War" incorporates modern business lessons to make this relevant and accessible to today's executive facing strategic and competitive challenges.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 116 pages
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing; New edition edition (30 Jan 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857881303
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857881301
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 383,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
Competition is a matter of vital importance to the executive. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Not a very useful book. Krause simply rewords the original (substituting "Executive" for "General", or "competition" for "war", etc), without grasping the *meaning* behind Sun Tzu's words. For instance, the section on gathering information - surely the modern executive's equivalent of battlefield espionage is market research? Not to Krause, who regurgitates Sun Tzu's advice on employing secret agents (and there are many other examples of such lazy interpretations in this book).
...My humble advice to you is to pick up Sun Tzu's original work and make your own interpretations of it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Art of War for Executives 6 Aug 2010
Excellent book & easy to read & apply. If you want to win the war, then add this to your battle chest.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT BUSINESS STRATERGY BOOK 8 Aug 1999
By A Customer
The best book on business stratergy you will ever read. It is one of those books that you have to keep as a constant companion. Not only is it a excellent beginers book, but I would recommend this book to the experienced business person.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A marvellous feast for the mind. 6 Dec 2012
By anna
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wish I had known about Sun Tzu when I was at the beginning of my career. However, it's never too late to improve one's mental skills.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Too Simplistic 26 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on
The book is too simplistic and lacks the spirit of an ancient general, there are no real world examples in this book. My recommendation is to read "Sun Tze The Art of Business"
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strategies of Competition Based on the Writings of Sun Tzu 8 July 2007
By Mark B. Cohen - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
One of the growing methodologies of business books is to take the writings of some long-ago sage, and to apply the wisdom shown to modern conditions. This is one of the more useful examples of such a book.

Sun Tzu, a Chinese general of 2500 years ago, was able to unify China by skillful use of limited power. The author takes the writings themselves, and then applied the ideas of modern business thinkers (Tom Peters, Peter Drucker, Warren Bennis, and others) and military strategists (Helmuth von Moltke, George S. Patton, J.F.C. Fuller) to them. The result is an interesting mixture of a translated Sun Tzu with provocative aphorisms and analysis.

Aimed at business readers, this book is also valuable in wider contexts such as volunteer organizations, non-profits, sports, government, competitive activities of all kinds--and of course modern day military ventures. No one has unlimited resources to pursue all desirable objectives, and the advice of this book, while unlikely to be startingly new to most readers, is fresh and well stated. The basic analogy here is between war as practiced by Sun Tzu and every day competive activities for rewards large and small, individual, organizational, and societal.

"Sun Tzu's central idea is that battles or competition are won by the organization or person who, first, has the greatest competitive advantage and who, second, makes the fewest mistakes. Competitive advantage can be provided by many factors including superior manpower, superior position, superior execution, and innovation....But competitive advantage is not the determining factor in success. It is people who fight and win battles. And the most important person in the battle is the general.

"According to Sun Tzu, the ideal general wins the war before the fighting begins. He does this in two ways: first, he develops his character over time; second, he creates a critical strategic advantage....A general gains a critical strategic advantage by placing his organization in a position where it cannot be defeated and waiting for the enemy to give him an opportunity to win....

"Sun Tzu's army is modeled on what can be termed a "natural organization" model. Natural organizations have three characteristics. First, they exist to serve a defined purpose....Second, they are information centered....They avoid unwarranted opinion and conjecture, choosing to deal with uncertainty by estimating reasonable probabilities. Third, natural organizations are completely flexible and totally adaptable. They respond quickly and effectively to changes in their environment that affect their ability to serve their defined purpose."

The author defines Sun Tzu's principles in modern jargon as (1) Learn to fight; (2) show the way; (3) do it right; (4) know the facts; (5) expect the worst; (6) sieze the day; (7) burn the bridges; (8) do it better;
(9) pull together; (10) keep them guessing.

"Competition should occur when we have something important to gain or when we are in danger. In competitive situations, we should not allow our emotions to govern our actions....Sun Tzu also mentions five character flaws that can lead to failure. These are recklessness, timidity, emotionalism, egoism, and overconcern for popularity....

"Sun Tzu states that competitive advantage arises from creating favorable opportunities and then acting on these opportunities at the appropriate time. In other words, winners do the right thing at the right moment.

"But Sun Tzu also reminds us to govern the desire to act with the need for patience. He teaches us that we can be held responsible for putting ourselves in a position where we cannot be defeated, but others must create the opportunity to win. Hence, we must be willing to wait. Just because we know how to win does not mean that we can win. Move when it is profitable and stop when it is not...

"Sun Tzu says that in war there are only two types of tactics: expected and unexpected. Effective commanders combine expected and unexpected tactics according to the requirements of the situation. But it is unexpected tactics that create the opportunity for victory. Unexpected, or innovative, tactics cannot be defended against in advance. Innovation is the one weapon that makes you invincible. The power of innovation makes victory certain."

The author has created a very wise and very thought-provoking book. Those who read it and ponder its deeper meaning will greatly benefit from it.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The foundation of good business thought 4 May 1997
By A Customer - Published on
This book has earned my highest offer, I often cart it around my house and I always know where it is. It serves me as being a "Owner's Manual" for every aspect of business. The author does an excellent job in applying the words of an ancient warrior to today's business operations. I have never found any other book that simply spells out success in competition like this does. This book has become the basis of the way that I think about my business transactions. Don't let the name fool you, one of the primary points of this book is if a battle is fought and won correctly, you will never have to shed any blood on the battle field. It teaches you that skill, not size, is the most important factor in doing business
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good for executives with limited exposure to Sun Tzu 24 Jun 2002
By Reviewer X - Published on
This book is excellent for businessmen who have had little or no exposure to Sun Tzu or the Art of War. In very plain, simple and easy to read language it makes a clear bridge between the art of business and the art of warfare.
Some will say that this book is too simplistic, but the real question is why would this book have to be difficult or too involved? The Art of War is a simply written book, but it is the lessons that are hard to grasp and understand. Plain language does not automatically denote simple thoughts. The best authors and teachers in the world are the ones who can simplify the most difficult theories and make them accessible to everyone.
I think this book does just that and is an excellent beginning point for businessmen and their introduction to The Art of War and Chinese philosophy.
5.0 out of 5 stars Ancient Chinese Wisdom For Business Success 22 May 2014
By Dr. Peter Fritz Walter - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
All our attitudes have to do with relationship, the way we relate to ourselves and to others; since relationship is an art, building an attitude is an art. The wisdom that attitude is an expression of character is age-old and part of the unique teaching of Sun Tzu, the author of the famous book The Art of War.

Already 2500 years ago, Sun-Tzu (544-496 BC) developed a philosophy based on attitude rather than belief. Sun-Tzu was primarily thinking of warfare, and he observed that the great general Pan Lo followed principles for mastering what he called The Art of War. Sun-Tzu, inspired by Pan Lo’s ideas, wrote a book with the same title, and this book, that was long overlooked, is today considered as a foremost leadership manual.

In fact, the principles Sun-Tzu presented and elaborated have found to be universal; and quite surprisingly, they also have been seen to cover the art of peace, or the art of relationship. It can be said that business is an art, too, and this art is akin to the art of relationship. Business is relationship. When we are in business, we are in relationship with each other.
In the introduction to his book, Donald Krause first outlines Sun Tzu’s principles of warfare. They are:

—Learn to fight
—Show the way
—Do it right
—Know the facts
—Expect the worst
—Seize the day
—Burn the bridges
—Do it better
—Pull together
—Keep them guessing

The author discusses these principles more in detail in the annex of the book. The book itself, its main part, however consists of the adaptation the author made of the book for the world of business. This become clear when you skim over the contents, for they have pretty little to do with war. This is the unique transposition, as it were, of Sun Tzu’s book for business; it must be seen that it’s a metaphor and doesn’t imply that the world of business is ‘eternal war.’

To assume what would be a misunderstanding not only of Krause’s book but also of Sun Tzu’s original: when Sun Tzu made his famous dictum that ‘to maintain peace is to be prepared for war’, he did not mean to run through life with a basically aggressive attitude. He meant that preparedness is what makes the Warrior and a warrior is a person who is basically at peace with himself and the world, and who has developed self-discipline and masters his emotional nature. This is not something unique in Sun Tzu’s teaching, by the way. It is the profound message of the I Ching as well, especially in hexagram 63 (After Completion) where the old wisdom book advises to safeguard and protect what has been achieved instead of being careless and wasteful at the end of one’s victory.

Thus, in the time of success and accomplishment, when one has finally reached one’s goals, one must be especially watchful so that decay and decline not will set in.

This is a basic principle in the systemic and holistic view of life that the I Ching fosters. It is also expressed in part in other hexagrams. Thus, when we situate Sun Tzu’s teachings on war in the right cultural context, we see that they are not as unusual and ‘paradoxical’ as they may sound to modern readers. From that point of departure, the author’s idea to extrapolate these principles to the world and strategic environment of business appears to be sound and organic.

Strangely, the book does not contain a Table of Contents, so I will outline the structure here. The author explains he wanted to replicate the 13-Chapters Structure of the original Art of War by Sun Tzu which is a good idea:

Competitive Action
Competitive Strategy
Opportunity and Timing
Managing Direct Conflict
Types of Competitive Situations and Causes of Failure
Competitive Conditions and Offensive Strategy
Destroying Reputation
Gathering Intelligence

This is a highly readable book on principles that are age-old and have proven their value uncountable times in both the war and the business setting. The book is well written and to the point, and the extrapolation of those ancient principles to the modern business setting is a unique accomplishment of the author. During my years of work as a corporate trainer in South-East Asia I have found many similar books on those same principles—as that’s one of the most fashionable topics in the Asian business culture (which after all is based on age-old Chinese business principles)—but I found that none of them was written in the same vein of accuracy and welcome puritanism (to keep out the many superstitious beliefs that were rampant in the ancient popular Chinese Taoist culture).

I do agree with any objection that it’s far-fetched to apply business principles from the Far East to modern technological societies, but that’s a trend you need to watch and follow—if you agree with this tendency or not, for it’s a fact, and the trend will strengthen and the principles adapted from Eastern culture will influence as more in the future, not less.
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