2 October 2018

Book Review: Sun Tzu ~ The Art of War for Executives

The original Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise dating from the spring and autumn period (roughly 771 to 476 BC). Donald Krause has transcribed the original military text into contemporary wisdom for executives.

by John Royden

Head of Research


But the text is equally appropriate for any form of conflict. Interesting points worth noting are the idea that winning a war by destruction is not as good as winning a war where the assets are left intact.

If you can force surrender without actually fighting, this is a cleverer way to do things; use diplomacy before threat and then war last of all. Waiting is part of the game; build your strength whilst you wait until your opponent has a moment of weakness. Controlling the agenda is important, as is surprise and cunning. It all keeps the opponent guessing what is going to come next whilst you retain your own complete freedom. Controlling the flow of information to and from the enemy’s camp will help in this respect.

My own previous conflicts included my time as a shareholder activist when I used the book to plan and energise the implementation of my campaigns to seek shareholder value creating corporate reform. And, in a similar situation, I would turn once again to the wise words of this book.

The JM Finn  Investment Book Club was convened in the hope that, month by month, some of the wisdom of investing gurus such as Warren Buffet, Charlie Munger, and Mohnish Pabrai might rub off on the participants eager selves.


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