Sun Tzu, the legendary Chinese general, lived and fought his wars around 500 BC. He is believed to have been highly successful, and luckily for us, he shared his wisdom in his famous book ‘The Art of War’. Long after he died, many battles were won by implementing his ideas on organization of armies and warfare.
Although his book may not be as popular these days, most people are aware of quotes excerpted from it. I personally think this is because of many of these one-liners possess the rare quality of combining a high level of both simplicity and depth. While his ideas are easy to comprehend and remember, they also have the capacity to keep you busy for years and fuel your actions towards success. One of my favorite quotes is:
“To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.” -Sun Tzu, Art of War
What he meant is clear: in order to win a battle, one should understand the enemy’s plot, predict his next move and always stay one step ahead of him. This is logically only possible if you know the enemy, and there is no better way to truly understand the enemy than by trying to be like him-- to think, talk and move like him.
It’s no longer in vogue to view other businesses as enemies in the networked economy we thrive in today. Companies that play the pre-emptive defense strategy and try to win at the cost of others have often ironically failed. What really works, however, is being offensive in their approach-- by being disruptive in a unique way through constant innovation. Although redefining yourself over and over again is not an easy task, it is indispensable that this process be an ongoing endeavor in today’s business world. Success is not achieved through identifying enemies or being on the defense anymore, but by trying to find people and companies to unite with to meet their needs. A winning strategy would be to combine strengths and look for mutually beneficial ways to complement each other and conceive new ideas, products and innovations.
In other words, creating an environment conducive to success means creating partnerships.
This brings me back to Sun Tzu and his take on enemies. As mentioned earlier, in today’s economy we need to look at each other as partners rather than as enemies. Despite this, a lot can be gleaned from Sun Tzu’s quote. If companies want to realize maximum benefit from the partnership, it is highly imperative that they understand each other, complement each other based on their individual strengths and equally importantly, trust each other. Anticipating situations ahead of time would give them an added advantage of being able to convert them into opportunities. And just like Sun Tzu said, in order to do this efficiently, you have to know and understand your partner- to think, talk and move like he would.
coMakeIT is driven by people that have close to 20 years of experience in building commercial software products and managing multinational organizations that have their development centers in India. We know how to do these things, because we have done it ourselves. We know what it takes to be a partner. I don’t think Sun Tzu would mind that we twisted his words a little to make it our own:
“To know your Client, you must have been your Client” - coMakeIT, The Art of Partnerships
You might also like to read this post on why focusing on a few, pertinent details is crucial for success in software offshoring (with yet another take on Sun Tzu's wisdom).
Feel free to talk to us in the comments section. We'd love to hear what you think!
Steven ten Napel has close to 20 years of experience in setting up and managing offshore software development centers in India for global customers. In his last assignment, he has successfully established and led the offshore R&D division for a major European software development company with more than 300 people.