The Wild Western Art of War

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You can't visit the Far East without contemplating the contrast between Eastern strategies of negotiation, and the less colourful philosophies of the Wild West.

The Thirty-Six Chinese Strategies, for example, are a wonderfully rich collection of tactics derived from military strategy that are claimed to shape the Chinese approach to business, especially business with foreigners. 

Examples include "Kill with a borrowed knife", "Conceal a dagger in a smile" and the delightfully pragmatic "If all else fails, run away".

To the Westerner these principles might appear a mite aggressive or even a slight underhand. But to the Chinese, business is no different to warfare. And this of course gives them a positive advantage in cyber warfare, which I've long pointed out is really the "art of illusion" than the "science of sabotage".

Perhaps we should adopt a similar set of principles for the Wild West. What might they be? Tossing a few ideas around with the delightful Melanie McFarland, a US business strategist based in Hong Kong, we came up with a few ideas.

Here are my Ten Western principles (of business, war or security):

  • "Circle the wagons" - Retreat to a classic perimeter defence.
  • "Hang 'em high" - Find a scapegoat rather than the true root cause of a problem.
  • "The only good user is a dead user" - Forget the enemy it's users we really hate.
  • "If you haven't fallen off a horse, you haven't been riding long enough" - Don't worry about breaches, they're just inevitable.
  • "If you're not making dust, you're eating it" - It's much better to lead blindly than to follow.
  • "Don't squat with your spurs on" - Never turn your weapons on yourself by mistake.
  • "Don't mention the elephant in the room" - Ignore any problems that are too big to fix. SCADA systems come to mind.
  • "Why do today what can be put off to tomorrow"- Procrastination makes life easier. Just ignore those uncomfortable audit actions. You know they won't bite you for a while. 
  • "When you're in a hole, stop digging" - The classic No 2 rule of holes. (Don't ask what the No 1 rule was.)
  • "Just tick the box" - Never mind the quality, just follow the process. 

All further suggestions are most welcome of course.

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Don't forget the 'outsource it to the Chinese'

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This page contains a single entry by David Lacey published on June 17, 2012 9:32 PM.

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