The Art of Strategy

Chapter 13: Intelligence

Erik Schön
May 4 · 3 min read

What is strategy? Why do you need it? How do you do it? The Art Of Strategy provides timeless answers to these eternal questions. It is a modern reading of Sun Tzu’s Art of War using the lenses of strategists John Boyd and Simon Wardley (swardley). Chapter 13: Importance of intelligence operations. Success depends on foreknowledge based on five types of intelligence. The most important intelligence is double intelligence. Employ intelligence operations in predetermined directions. (All chapters).

Sun Tzu

Engagements and entering new areas are very expensive for the organization — psychologically, socially and financially.

With existing areas and new areas in turmoil;
with exhausted people on the move;
with stakeholders unable to handle their business;
an engagement lasting several years can be decided in a single day.

And yet, there are miserly people unwilling to fund intelligence operations.

This is complete lack of compassion;
this is not leadership;
this is not supporting stakeholders,
this is not the path to success.

Skilled leadership move towards success and achievements more valuable than all others thanks to foreknowledge of competition’s intentions and actions.

Foreknowledge cannot be found in rumors or stories,
nor from analogy with past events,
nor from assessments only.

It is obtained from people who know competition’s setup first hand.

There are five types of intelligence: local, inside, double, live and expendable.

Local intelligence from competitors’ people.
Inside intelligence from competitors’ leadership.
Double intelligence from competitors’ intelligence operations.
Live intelligence from people who return with first hand reports.
Expendable intelligence is spreading misinformation.

Using all five together leads to foreknowledge and unknowable courses of action from information gathered like fish in a net by pulling a single cord. This is invaluable for stakeholders.

For the organization,
nothing is more valuable than intelligence operations;
nothing is more generously rewarded;
nothing is more secret.

Only skilled leadership value intelligence operations;
only compassionate and fair leadership can use intelligence operations;
only the most subtle and sensitive gets the truth from intelligence operations.

Subtle beyond subtleties, intelligence operations can be used everywhere.

If confidential information leaks, people who know are to be removed from the operation.

The more extreme the action, the more detailed the foreknowledge;
seek it from people inside competition’s intelligence operations:
pay, turn and employ them for double intelligence.

From double intelligence we find local and inside intelligence;
from double intelligence we know how and when to use live intelligence;
from double intelligence we learn how to use expendable intelligence.

Skilled leadership know all five types of intelligence operations.
This knowledge comes from double intelligence.
Therefore, treat those who provide it with utmost generosity.

There are examples of organizations using double intelligence to succeed.

Only skilled leadership using skilled people in intelligence operations are certain to succeed.

Intelligence operations are essential for strategy;
the organization trusts them for every move.


From A Discourse on Winning and Losing.

Napoleon: Evolve plan with appropriate variations each of which correspond to probable or possible actions. Employ Intelligence/recce units (spies, agents, cavalry, etc.) in predetermined directions to eliminate or confirm hypotheses concerning enemy actions thereby reduce uncertainty and simplify own plans as well as uncover adversary plans and intentions.

Blitzkrieg: Intelligence (signal, photo, agent . . . ), reconnaissance (air and ground), and patrol actions probe and test adversary before and during combat operations to uncover as well as shape changing patterns of strengths, weaknesses, moves, and intentions.


I cannot emphasise [more] the importance of situational awareness before using … these plays.

All Chapters

Chapter 1 — Assessments
Chapter 2 — Challenges
Chapter 3 — Success
Chapter 4 — Setup
Chapter 5 — Momentum
Chapter 6 — Deployment
Chapter 7 — Engagement
Chapter 8 — Adaptations
Chapter 9 — Movements
Chapter 10 — Landscape
Chapter 11 — Situations
Chapter 12 — Disruption
Chapter 13 — Intelligence
Annex — Wardley Mapping Examples

This is provided as Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International by the author, Erik Schön.

Erik Schön

Written by

Hacker turned software researcher turned system engineer turned manager, leader & navigator; developing people, teams & organizations in complex, multi-site R&D

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade