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



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