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Book Review: Winning without waging War By S. Sridhar

Winning War without Waging war is a book that can help any leader in his/her beautiful journey towards empathetic leadership using the art of war principles. Tsu Zar's “ Art of War” has been researched for many many years now — we have read a lot of interpretations. But WWWW is totally different. It gives us a roadmap of how to implement the war tactics for both business and career leadership. S Sridhar has used beautiful examples, either from the well-known epic stories or from his real-life incidents to explain every philosophy. The way the book blends spirituality and winning strategies is simply marvelous.

The book has 7 parts — I would rather call it 7 beads of a beautiful necklace called Leadership. The book begins by setting the context for a learner — in this case, the reader. It says to learn the techniques one first needs to be coachable, open-minded, not critical of the ‘gurus’, and ready to unlearn. The author then moves into highlighting that leadership is an obsession. And in a war, if you decide to fight it, “Winning” is the only option. And to win we need the correct gut/instincts along with strategies. There are only 2 strategies — offense and defense — offense is when you attack while the defense is preparing for the attack.

3 pillars: Then comes the definition of stratagem — which is outwitting your enemy. As Tsu Zar said, people can copy your strategy but not the stratagem — hence mastering the mind game is of utmost importance. Positioning using differentiation, using extreme or a polar opposite of popular offering, repositioning the competitor, masking your weakness, and maximising your strength, all of this at the right time is what makes a perfect winning strategy as per Bing Fa. Japanese way of operational excellence includes Kaizen, 5S(sort, set in order, shine, standardize and self — discipline) for workplace productivity, RCA, First Time Right, Planning for 80% of the time, PDCA, etc. For these tactics to be successful local/field intelligence( Gemba) is critical. The 3rd pillar is Energy and there are 2 sides to it — The leadership energy and the team energy.

4 Values: Different arts flow from different centers of human beings. Operational excellence is centered around the body to take action, strategic excellence is centered around mind/ thinking differently, energy comes from gut/intuition, and spirituality is centered around oneness. Values of Operational excellence include diligence, discipline, and deployment. Diligence is the willingness to work diligently and all other virtues are built on it. The deployment includes the 4 T — Bing Fa way of target settings, using the right themes(activities) to reach that target, building the correct team with wise men, brave men, diplomats, and comandos, and finally deciding on the right time to attack is the mantra for success.

Failure is not our fault — someone has outsmarted us. Hence we need to start thinking outside-in for all our solutions.

4 virtues — Deception, Surprise, Speed, and Attack enhance each other and finally ensures stunning Victory.

The book guides us on how to use various tools and techniques to implement the “know yourself, your enemy, know your terrain, know your season” philosophy of the art of war. The customer’s insight for relevance, involvement, and scale to build a base of loyal customers is a great strategy. The book ends with details and examples on how to use Bing Fa signaling techniques, work through corporate politics and use them to your advantage. The Final moksh for any leader is to win the war without waging war and that’s where the author takes us to the last section — Spiritual Leadership.

My final remarks -

This book is a great reference guide for all business and corporate professionals in India. I say in India because the examples, case studies, and stories are specific to our country. I feel that to understand this book one needs to have some level of work experience and it is not for freshers. The book beautifully articulates the success mantra of winning. It is a guide for any professional who wants to stop playing the victim card and has the right attitude to accomplish their dream. I admire the extreme language the author has used and the way he has set the context. I think a person needs to read the book at least 3–5 times to understand most of it if you are really keen on getting victory using “ Art-of-War”. All-in-all S Sridhar has really proven through this book that he indeed is a Guru of strategies and his triumph in the business world is not by fluke.

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