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Sun Tzu’s 10 principles applied to business law – Part 1

Sun Tzu’s 10 principles applied to business law – Part 1

In this article I will talk about something VERY different. I will show you something with 2000 year old guidelines, created by the most famous Chinese General: SUN TZU.

This General wrote a book named “The Art of War” where he describes a set of rules to win battles and with those exact rules he achieved one of the best periods in China’s History.

This book has become a best-seller after its translation to several western languages. Since then it has been applied in several activities and the law is no exception.

So let’s see Sun Tzu’s 10 principles:

1.     “Learn to fight”. Competition is unavoidable in our lives. Meanwhile, competition can only happen when there is something important to win or when you are in danger. In situations of competition you should never allow your emotions to rule your actions. Emotions overshadow reason and destroy objectivity. This principle is deeply applied when the lawyer is in court, dealing negotiations or involved in a case where there is emotional attachments;

2.     “Be a good leader”. Sun Tzu considered leadership as something very important to reach success and Confucius, his contemporary, believed that there were seven fundamental features for an effective leadership: self-discipline, objective, responsibility, knowledge, led by example, team spirit and mutual help (Cesar, Jesus Christ, Roosevelt and Marsall revealed these features). To these seven, Sun Tzu added five more: shyness, ambition, emotionality, audacity and popularity. Leadership is, undoubtedly, one of the weak points in teams of lawyers. This is one of the skills that must be developed intensively;

3.     “Timing”. All competitive advantages are good if you practice them. Planning is important, but actions are the source of success. Without action, planning is a sterile exercise. Sun Tzu claims that competitive advantages come from favorable opportunities and action upon them in the right moment. But he advises to control the action desire! Know how to win doesn’t mean victory. Act in the right time and stop when is not opportune. How many times have you said or did something at the wrong time? Think about it…

4.     “Gather all the information”. To Sun Tzu, information, or the lack of it, determine the success. In his opinion, with the right information available, victory is certain. It’s fundamental to gather information and share it. Collecting information allows you to make good decisions. This principle applies to Knowledge Management. This is a concept increasingly spoken in law that seeks to implement the knowledge sharing of legislation, precedents, reasoning, etc. through tools that help to get that knowledge and therefore help the decision making process;

5.     “Expect the worst”.  An adequate preparation is fundamental to avoid defeat. The important thing is not having a large number of men but to know how to use them when attacking the enemy’s weak points. Nevertheless, expect the worst and be prepared for that scenario. As a lawyer it’s important to manage the client’s expectations (and yours), think about all the possible scenarios and how to act before them. The famous “plan B” is always a possibility that we can never neglect…

What are you waiting for to apply these principles? Think about it in 2 minutes and see what you can change right now!!!

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