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An informal, stream-of-consciousness reflection on business ideas, events and issues in modern business, modern life and with some specifics to the web-software industry by Paul Tomori, Internet Entrepreneur

The Art of Business
By Paul Tomori
Friday, November 27, 2009 at 16:38:03 (EST)

What businessperson worth their salt hasn't read the Art of War by Sun Tzu, that famous centuries-old treatise on how to battle for dominance? There are many books about business that draw on these notions and I have concluded something. They are all wrong.

Let me qualify that. If you are in business to grow, just for growth's sake or if you have some sort of perverted need to dominate other human beings or to somehow assert your superiority through your bigness (i.e. if you have inferiority issues), then sure, read and follow the Art of War closely. Outwit your enemy (i.e. your competitor). Dominate and control all resources (i.e. your trembling staff). Assert your righteous attainment of all the fruits of war (i.e. a customer base).

But, if you wish to operate in business in a manner that is more forward-thinking... in a way that is more civilized and true to a healthy self-concept, then abolish all inferences that business is like war.

The essence of war is destruction (i.e. of your enemy, of his resources, of his people). War also involves a huge amount of destruction of one's own resources too. Think of all the machinery built for war, mostly designed to blow up and self-destruct at a carefully planned moment and in a carefully planned location. By contrast, business is about productivity and constructiveness. Business enterprise is the exact opposite of destruction.

The consequence and/or the provocation of war generally involves a total breakdown of talks and negotiations. War is what happens when communication ends. By contrast, in business, negotiations are everything. Communication between staff members and clients, and suppliers is crucial to one's success. War, not business, is what happens when the lines of communications are lost or discarded.

This is not to say that reading Sun Tzu isn't valuable. It helps to know what tactics others might be trying to use to undermine your efforts. As well, the underlying premise of Sun Tzu is actually the avoidance of war through strategic pre-emptiveness and such. But, do not be seduced by such politicking and manipulation. Settle on some service or product that you wish to provide. Excel wholeheartedly at providing that service or product. And, build extraordinary lines of communication between everyone involved. Produce. Do not destroy. Then, enjoy the fruits of your efforts as others you have served enjoy the products or services you have provided... quid pro quo.

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