This useful dot-point summary of The Art of War covers off on the thirteen chapters of the text (Strategic Assessments, Doing Battle; Planning A Siege, Formation, Force, Emptiness and Fullness, Armed Struggle , Adaptations, Manoeuvering Armies, Terrain, Nine Grounds, Fire Attack, Use of Spies).
Although change can often feel like ‘war’ at times, and it may be amusing to characterise it as such, it is not helpful or wise to approach change from a combative mindset (see: success rates of Daffy Duck, Sylvester, Yosemite Sam).
However although some elements of The Art of War relating to physical acts of war are not relevant, and it is counterproductive to see forces opposing your efforts as ‘enemies’ or that your situation will result in ‘winners’ and ‘losers’, there is wisdom that can be distilled from this classic text that is useful for contemporary change strategists and tacticians.
For example, The Business Insider recast ‘Use of Spies’ (‘what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge’) in contemporary terms as ‘Information Is King’ (ie. don’t go into battle without knowing what you’re up against). This could be cultivating a network of contacts who trust you and give you honest intelligence that keeps you up to speed on the cultural pulse of your organisation, so you know where people are at, and what their tolerance level for change is. ‘Terrain’ could be viewed as the power structures of an organisation rather than valleys, rivers or deserts.
Ironically, one of the main messages of this text on warfare is how to avoid battle through meticulous preparation, planning – these quotes from The Art of War are powerful: