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Sun Tzu And The Art Of Business

Business books worth a look.

If you've everfelt that business is like war (and who hasn't pondered the similarities?), a new business book based on the teachings of an ancient Chinese warrior has much to offer. Businesspeople have studied Sun Tzu's centuries-old military classic The Art of War for years. Now, in Sun Tzu and the Art of Business: Six Strategic Principles for Managers (Oxford University Press, $25 cloth), author Mark McNeilly offers a business translation of Sun Tzu's ideas.

"Because business by definition deals with competition, Sun Tzu's principles are ideally suited to competitive business situations," McNeilly observes.

Don't get the wrong idea: This isn't a crush-your-competitors-into-the-ground strategy. To the contrary, one of Sun Tzu's dictates is to "win all without fighting." As McNeilly describes it, this means capturing your market without destroying it.

In the final analysis, much of Sun Tzu's wisdom seems to be grounded in good old-fashioned common sense--you'd obviously want to go after a competitor's weaknesses instead of their strengths, right? But, as McNeilly illustrates, companies repeatedly fail to employ smart tactics when doing battle with each other. No victorious warriors, they.

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This article was originally published in the January 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Sun Tzu And The Art Of Business.

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