Day 285: The Art of (Startup) War — Chapter 9: Movement and Development of Troops

All right, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

In this chapter (also titled ‘Army on the March’), Sun Tzu explores several specific scenarios that ask people to pay attention to the environment. Everything from the sun, nearby waterways, and even the humidity of the ground make an impact on the overall success of the troops.

Much of the chapter focuses on interpreting the enemy’s strength based on nearby environmental and organizational indicators. There are too many to repeat here and admittedly not useful in a contemporary context.

Near the end of the chapter, however, Sun Tzu said:

“If soldiers are punished before they have grown attached to you, they will not prove submissive; and, unless submissive, then will be practically useless. If, when the soldiers have become attached to you, punishments are not enforced, they will still be useless.
Therefore soldiers must be treated in the first instance with humanity, but kept under control by means of iron discipline.”

How does this apply?

Good leadership is vital at any point of an organization, and there will be a time when tough decisions must be made. This may be a challenge for many personalities who want to befriend their co-founders and staff. To close the chapter, Sun Tzu explains that there must be a balance between support and authority:

“If a general shows confidence in his men but always insists on his orders being obeyed, the gain will be mutual.”

Find and insist on that balance, and gains will be made.

— Lee

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