Summary of Sun Tzu and the Art of Business

Six Strategic Principles for Managers

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Sun Tzu and the Art of Business book summary
What can a sage who lived 1,600 years ago tell you about the battlefield that is your business? Only how to minimize casualties, exploit your opponents’ weaknesses and strengthen your own character in the process.


6 Overall

7 Applicability

6 Innovation

6 Style


This book takes the metaphor, "business is war" as far is it can possibly go - and then pushes it a little bit farther. The writer, an amateur military historian, draws many examples of strategy and tactics from battlefield applications - none of them Chinese, interestingly enough, considering the inspiration for the book. He establishes indisputably that Sun Tzu’s observations in China, circa 400 BC, would have been equally valid in Imperial Rome or World War II. He falters somewhat when he attempts to apply these principles to business. The author struggles to make the connection and occasionally succeeds, most effectively when discussing price wars and hostile takeovers. If the premise that business is like war is questionable, the idea of using a Chinese military handbook as a business text is unusual enough to be stimulating. recommends this intriguing book to business strategists and managers.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What Sun Tzu’s six main strategic war principles are; and
  • How you can apply them to business.


The Principles of Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu, a general whose battlefield exploits won him fame during China’s Warring States Period (approximately 400 B.C.), wrote the military classic The Art of War. The first emperor of China used Sun Tzu’s principles and, twenty-one centuries later, so did Mao...
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About the Author

Mark R. McNeilly is a strategist for IBM, an amateur military historian, and a former officer in the infantry and artillery.

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    Sun Tzu
    Get some strategic advice from the ancient Chinese military general and philosopher.

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