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The Art of ‘Ware (V 2.0, maxim 2:6): managing resources and talent

April 4, 2008 0 Comments

[From The Art of ‘Ware (Version 2.0) by Bruce F. Webster (forthcoming), Chapter 2, “Supporting Development”]

When funds are exhausted, then money is raised under pressure. Control is lost and equity surrendered to supply the needed resources.

One of life’s great ironies is that the worst time to raise money is when you really need it, because that’s when you agree to the most unfavorable terms. The logical conclusion, then, is to start working raising money well before you need it. If you end up not needing it, so be it; but if you do, you will have done the work in advance. That’s also important, because it takes time to raise money.

Try to gain resources from the competition. Each dollar gained from or spent by the competition is worth two dollars raised and spent by yourself.

You can leverage off your competition by learning from their market research, analyzing their plans and products, and buying their technology. Chapter 13 (”Gathering Intelligence”) will have more details and ideas.

Reward employees who recruit from competitors. Merge those recruits with your own and win their loyalty. This is called weakening the competition while increasing your own strength.

If your developers had wanted to work long hours just for lots of money, they would have become lawyers. They do it for bragging rights — for the right to say, “Yeah, I helped create that product” — and for a chance to change the industry and maybe the world. It may be hubris, but then again, the world really has changed because of products created by technology developers over the last fifty years — and the most dramatic changes are yet to come.

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Compare suntzu pingfa (Chapter 2: “Doing Battle”):

Take equipment from home but take provisions from the enemy.

Then the army will be sufficient in both equipment and provisions.

When all strength has been exhausted and resources depleted, all houses in the central plains utterly impoverished, seven-tenths of the citizens’ wealth dissipated, the government’s expenses from damaged chariots, worn-out horses, armor, helmets, arrows and crossbows, halberds and shields, draft oxen, and heavy supply wagons, will be six-tenths of its reserves.

Therefore, a wise general will strive to feed off the enemy.

One bushel of the enemy’s provisions is worth twenty of our own, one picul of fodder is worth twenty of our own.

Killing the enemy is a matter of arousing anger in men; taking the enemy’s wealth is a matter of reward.

Therefore, in chariot battles, reward the first to capture at least ten chariots.
Replace the enemy’s flags and standards with our own.
Mix the captured chariots with our own, treat the captured soldiers well.

This is called defeating the enemy and increasing our strength. (Sonshi translation)

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About the Author:

Webster is Principal and Founder at at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor for the BYU Computer Science Department. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at 303.502.4141 or at bwebster@bfwa.com.

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