Sun Tzu and the Art of Business | Mark McNeilly

Summary of: Sun Tzu and the Art of Business: Six Strategic Principles for Managers (Revised)
By: Mark McNeilly


Are you ready to explore an ancient philosophy that holds the key to building a successful business? Say hello to ‘Sun Tzu and the Art of Business: Six Strategic Principles for Managers (Revised)’ by Mark McNeilly. This insightful book combines Sun Tzu’s strategic principles of warfare with the world of business to help leaders achieve their primary goals – survival and prosperity. Our summary digs deep into these principles, illustrating how they apply to market dominance, exploiting competitor weaknesses, in-depth research, the importance of speed, surprise tactics, and effective leadership qualities. Get ready for a thought-provoking journey into the world of business strategy inspired by principles thousands of years old.

Sun Tzu’s Lesson on Dominating the Market

Sun Tzu’s principle of “taking All-under-heaven intact” can be applied to business to achieve market dominance without destroying it. Market dominance, in turn, leads to improved economies of scale, increased customer loyalty, and higher revenues, resulting in a bigger bottom line. Philip Morris ignored this advice and suffered the consequences.

Exploit the Weaknesses

Instead of targeting your competitor’s strengths, aim for their weaknesses to gain domination in the market. Sun Tzu conveys that the force of a river lies in its ability to flow easily downhill. Many businesses make the mistake of imitating their competition’s successes, which may lead to their downfall, as evidenced by AT&T’s failed attempt to enter the computer market. By identifying and exploiting your competitor’s weakest links, you can gain an edge in the market, as demonstrated by the success of Japanese companies such as Toyota, Sony, and Honda, who targeted manufacturing quality, a weakness of their American competitors.

Strategic Competitive Research

The key to defeating your enemies is to know them well. Sun Tzu’s teachings reveal that the best way to gain an advantage over your competition lies in researching their plans, capabilities, and culture. To truly understand your enemy, you need to conduct in-depth research by taking a closer look at their products, reading industry trade journals, and studying their executives’ backgrounds. This information can help you predict your competition’s next move so you can respond accordingly and stay ahead of the game. An example of this in action is McDonald’s defending their reputation by taking action to protect their fries when they learned that Burger King was planning an attack. By taking the time to conduct strategic competitive research, you can gain a clear advantage over your competition.

The Power of Speed

Sun Tzu believed that the key to winning a war was speed. A fast-moving army can defeat a larger, slower enemy piece by piece, targeting individual units before they can respond. This concept also applies to business, where speed compensates for a lack of resources. IBM used speed to increase its return on investment by splitting up production and drastically improving profitability. The fastest companies see a two to five times higher return on investment and tend to grow faster. Walmart grew at triple the speed of its competition by making lightning-fast moves. The lesson? Being fast makes up for being small.

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