The Art of War – 4. Water Alike

The Art of War

Series 4 – Water Alike


“Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards. So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak. Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing. Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions. He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain.” (The Art of War, Section 6 – Weak points and strong, Sun Tzu 5th Century BC)


Sun Tzu suggested that operating an army should be like the running of water.

Water flows downwards avoiding high places taking the easiest course, settling for the low ground; as an army should avoid the strong and strike the weak.

Water change its flow depending on the natural course; as the army should change its tactics depending on its opponent.

Therefore, there is no certain shape of water; nor are there certain tactics that an army should follow. The one who can change best, depending on the present situation and their opponents’ disposition, will obtain victory.


Application to business:

This treatise is all about “Flexibility & Adaptability”. The business environment today is more complex than it has ever been, due to some major factors such as: technology, politics and more direct and frequent international communications.

Adaptability has become a “must have strategy” for modern businesses. The ability to adjust and react according to market changes, competitors’ actions, innovation implications, regulation of industry changes etc., will help businesses travel through unexpected emergencies and changes.

A great example is Honda. Between the two world wars Japan received sanctions on the development and trading of industrial techniques from other nations. The Japanese government encouraged local businesses to develop their own vehicle and airplane designs. Soichiro Honda (founder of Honda Motor Co.) started his business by manufacturing automobile piston rings.   

When World War 2 started, the government forced Honda Motors to merge with Toyota. After World War 2, Soichiro started a new business by designing and building motorcycles thereby avoiding immediate competition with other strong competitors such as Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, Mazda. By 1961, Soichiro had earned enough capital and became a master of the design and manufacture of small high revving engines.  However, he still wanted to return to his passion making automobiles. After the second world war, many foreign brands gained access to the Japanese market.  The Japanese government came up with a new policy forcing automobile companies to merge and there would only be 3 companies left by 1963. Soichiro realized it would be almost impossible to start making automobiles competitively and become one of the top 3 companies with market share in 2 years. (from 1961~1963)  

Soichiro took an unexpected approach.  He was determined to participate in the Formula 1 competition.  His aim was to prove Honda was within the top 3 automobile brands in Japan by winning races.  Due to years of experience developing engines and incredible determination, Honda finally won a championship on his second year. Through effective advertising and promotion, Honda survived the governmental merger policies. Even so, there were so many changes and difficulties to be overcome.  Soichiro and Honda were able to adapt and react to many of these problems with the flexibility and endurance that is essential to Sun Tzu 6th treatise of finding a new course like water running down the hill.  And so, the kingdom of Honda began.


Written by Conrad (Kang-Wei) Lin | 林剛維, 30/11/2018



Small Business Entrepreneur Grants Program from Queensland Government

The Small Business Entrepreneur Grants Program from Queensland Government

Is now open for applications.


What is the program?

The Grants help small businesses to get off to a better start with access to planning, coaching and training.

The advice must fall under 1 or more of the following areas:

  1. mentoring/coaching
  2. business and strategic planning
  3. professional business advice (i.e. information technology (IT), legal or financial)
  4. marketing strategy development (i.e. branding strategies, social media/digital strategies, market research).

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible, the business must:

  • have a business name registered within the last 4 years
  • have fewer than 20 employees at the time of applying for the grant
  • have an Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • have Queensland headquarters
  • not be insolvent or have owners/directors that are an undischarged bankrupt.

The participating business must provide a project report on completion of the project detailing how the funds were spent and the impact it has had on the business.

Only 1 application will be accepted from an individual ABN or a financial beneficiary of a business.

Successful applicants cannot reapply for this grant in future rounds.

Your business must also be in a financial position to pay up front for the approved training or service(s) in full. If successful, approved applicants will then be reimbursed after submitting supplier invoices and proof of purchase.

How to apply?

It is the perfect time to start getting professional assistance for your business and receive grants from Queensland government.

Thexton Dodd Consulting provides comprehensive business diagnosis, strategic business planning, sales and marketing strategy and implementation etc.


If you are interested, contact us for more details and helps, click the button below:

Also check the government website for more details: QLD GOV Grants


The Art of War – 3. Essentials for Victory

The Art of War

Series 3 – Essentials for Victory


“Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: (1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. (2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. (3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. (4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. (5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign. (The Art of War, Section 3 – Attack by Stratagem, Sun Tzu 5th Century BC)


  1. He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.

Commanders have to be able to tell if it is a good time to fight. In other words, the skill set to evaluate the battle and gain an estimation of the odds of winning, before they fight.


  1. He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.

Represents commanders who have to be able to effectively lead either smaller amounts of an army or a larger amount of an army. It means to master military management, capable of organising and operating forces of different scales.

  1. He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.

It means from top to bottom; the whole army has common goals and shared value. It can also be explained as the ability to think for others as if you are in their positions, so people take care of each other for a common benefit.


  1. He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.

This means the commander must always be prepared for any possible situation. When incidents occur, the one who is prepared will defeat the one who is not.

“The opportunity is for the one who is prepared”


  1. He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.

This means when commanders are capable and talented, they can operate the army without too much interference from the lords and will win.


Applications to business:

  • Change the payment structure – shared value

Sun Tzu believes common goals and shared value among all ranks will lead to victory. As people start their business and develop and grow it over time, they would often find the productivity has plunged at some point. The business leaders should try to bind the staffs’ interests with the company. Start with an attractive payment structure, change the fixed payment model to partial commission and add a bonus based (note: make sure you budget for the higher salaries these incentives will encourage), the potential extra pay will stimulate the employee’s performance further.

There are plenty of other ways to achieve similar productivity, but keep in mind, the purpose is to create shared value, not to cut the base payment. This structure should be used to stimulate employees to perform better, for their interests as well as companies’.

  • Authorise capable people

In many cases, when a business grows to a certain point, the management hierarchy becomes an issue that may hinder further growth. Some competent staff members often find themselves tied up with the politics of the management system. Sun Tzu indicates that one of the essential elements for victory is to let capable people do their work without interference by the sovereign. Find capable and trust worthy employees, give them the authority and let them take charge with their area of work which will fully utilise their specialist skills.


Written by Conrad (Kang-Wei) Lin | 林剛維, 16/11/2018

The Art of War – 2. Combined energy

The Art of War

Series 2 – Combined Energy


The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy and does not require too much from individuals. Hence his ability to pick out the right men and utilize combined energy.” (The Art of War, Section 5 – Energy, Sun Tzu 5th Century BC)

People often see modern business like the ancient field of war. Rapid change happens constantly all over the battlefield.  War is a life and death matter and is cruel.

The Business world and the ancient field of war have a lot in common. In Sun Tzu’s theory, “to obtain an advantageous situation is crucial”, he believes, good leaders devote themselves into creating advantageous situations with talented commanders. They know how to pick the right people for the right job instead of blaming individuals for not accomplishing task.

Thus, it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat, first fights and afterwards looks for victory. (The Art of War, Section 4 – Tactical Disposition, Sun Tzu 5th Century BC)

Hence, great leaders always put themselves in an undefeatable situation in advance and then start the fight. Poor leaders who initiate the fight first, then seek to win afterwards are more likely to lose. This is coherent with the previous mentioned necessity of obtaining an advantageous situation. 

Application to Business:

In the modern business world “combined energy” can be seen as situation development or momentum. Leaders should learn how to obtain advantageous situation for their companies, either through research and development, marketing activities or sales channel management etc.  They should ensure the right people are picked for the tasks to be accomplished.  

*The word “Combined Energy” in Chinese could have multiple meanings. It is associate with the situation, momentum, appearance, rules and patterns of the universe, territory dominated. Due to the abstract nature of classical Chinese writing, there is always something lost during translation.


Written by Conrad (Kang-Wei) Lin | 林剛維, 8/11/2018