孫子兵法 (作戰篇第二) (Chapter 2 - 6) (Part 16)
Let's continue ...
Some translation suggested:
Sun Tzu said: In the practical art of war, the best
thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact;
to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is
better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it,
to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire
than to destroy them.
Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles
is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists
in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
Moran: Master Sun said: In all cases, the principles for the use of
warfare are as follows: Maintaining the integrity of the [target] nation
is more valuable than destroying it.
Maintaining [a target] army whole is more
valuable than destroying it.
Preserving an entire battalion is of greater
importance than destroying it.
Maintaining a company is of greater
importance than destroying it.
The standard strength of a company was 100
soldiers.】 Maintaining the existence of a squad is more
important than destroying it.
【The standard strength of a squad was 5
For the above reasons, to achieve one hundred
victories in one hundred engagements is not
the highest good.
To not engage and yet to subjugate the other
side's soldiers is the highest good.
This chapter is about planning offensives.
孫子曰：凡用兵之法，全國為上，破國次之﹔ Sun Tzu said: In all cases when employing warfare, the principle must be to capture the target nation whole than to destroy it.
Capture a target army whole than to destroy it.
Capture a target battalion whole than to destroy it.
Capture a target company whole than to destroy it.
Capture a target squad whole than to destroy it.
So although you managed a hundred victories in one hundred engagements, it is not
the most suitable outcome.不戰而屈人之兵，善之善者也。:
Therefore, to not engage and yet subjugate the target army is the most suitable outcome.
This chapter deals with Attack by Stratagems. This chapter is the most quoted for SunTzu.
This idea of capturing the target army or nation whole is an idyllic notion. In business, this is not easy. When you fight in business, it is usually very bloody. This concept of trying to capture the target whole is truly enlightening.
Let's try to use this principle in corporate mergers / acquisitions. This is almost true that the dominant player will try to exert its influence on the weaker player, change its culture. This is a hard dilemma. The reason why the weaker player is acquired or merged is due to its poor business idea or culture. If its culture is destroyed in the process of take-over, very likely its employees would feel intimidated and work poorly thereafter. It would be almost like buying a bad apple, one would rather build the entity from scratch. Hence, historically, many corporate mergers / acquisitions seldom end well.
There is no quick methodology to capturing targets whole, but, if one is mindful about its potential benefits, one should rise up strong.
A business leader is strong when he is magnanimous. Never treat an enemy as an enemy but treat him as a friend. During my younger days, I treated some of the competitions as enemies, but, it was not useful. By treating them as friends, you are laying a path for him to come to you without feeling small and weak. Once that is done, you will not only win his respect but his resources at your peck-and-call. Do think about it. It is good notion.
Another thought process is if you have captured the target by force and deny him totally of his food and resources thereafter, the target would put up the bravest defence. But, if you are shown to be magnanimous and that even after capture, you will leave his assets as still under his command, but, only collect your basic food and taxes. Thus, once the target leader fronts a great invading army, I am sure the target leader would think twice about fighting but consider surrender as the notion of surrender is nothing more than paying taxes to the conqueror. In exchange for the taxes, the target would feel safe as he would not be invaded again as the target is now under the official "honourable protection" of the conqueror.
Invasion by destruction, according to SunTzu, is a weak answer to conquest.