A Stream That Flows Into A River Is Called Sun Tzu Art of War – Using Direct and Indirect Forces to Achieve Competitive Advantage

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Sun Tzu Art of War – Using Direct and Indirect Forces to Achieve Competitive Advantage

In war, use direct forces to match the enemy and use indirect forces to defeat the enemy. Thus, a person adept at using indirect forces can harness the ever-changing forces and elements of nature and the unceasing flow of water in rivers and streams in infinite ways. Chapter Five, Sun Tzu’s Art of War

In the first sentence, Sun Tzu mentions the use of direct force to confront the enemy and the use of indirect force to conquer the enemy. And in the next few sentences he mentions that the combinations of these two types of forces are infinite and their interaction and can produce amazing results. So how do we apply this wisdom in business?

Business applications

The direct forces at war will be the same as the quality (or price) of your services or products in your business. Indirect forces at war will be analogous to intangibles such as branding (the emotions associated with your customer when they use your product or service.) or service levels in a business. Now, quality and price can be easily imitated but they are intangibles that are difficult to replicate, this usually gives a business a sustainable competitive edge over its competitors and allows for easy differentiation between products and services so I call this indirect power. .

For example, if you want a nice meal in a romantic setting, would you go to Burger King or McDonald’s? If you want a cheap meal, do you want to go to a high-end restaurant with dedicated waiters? What makes you prefer a certain restaurant over others when all they serve you is basically steak?

Let us take the example of a restaurant. Imagine two restaurants there, serving good sirloin steaks, Kobe beef, very good gravy, and the same price. But one is dirty and the other is extremely clean, almost dust free. What restaurant would you go to? Note here that it doesn’t cost much to have a clean toilet in your restaurant, but think of the huge appeal you will have to the cleanliness conscious customers? So it is a way of using indirect power to win over your competitors in business.

With this in mind, you can see that there are endless areas to apply direct and indirect power to your business. Use direct strengths to replicate what your competitors have and indirect strengths to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

By using different combinations of direct and indirect power, you can have infinite strategies for your business.

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