Most of these factors involve Social and Structural aspects, so I will only touch on them briefly here. In this module, we will look at the factors of Generalship / Command in greater detail.
- Moral Influence
Moral influence is symbolic of the external factor of the “ruler” in the environment. For example, in business the political leadership of the country affects the entire context for business in that country.
- Generalship / Command
There are 5 important attributes of the general.
The Sage takes his signs from the movements of Heaven and Earth. He accords with the way of yin and yang, and follows their seasonal activity. He follows the cycles of fullness and emptiness of Heaven and Earth, taking them as his constant. All things have life and death and in accord with the form of Heaven and Earth.
–The Six Secret Teachings
Wisdom is the ability to recognize changing circumstances and act accordingly. Sincerity means the ability to gain trust from your working group.
Benevolence means the ability to empathize and sympathize with others–be able to see and feel the world from other people’s perspectives. Courage suggests the ability to be decisive and
capitalize on opportunities without hesitation. Strictness is the ability to have self-discipline and instill discipline in others.
The Six Secret Teachings refer to a very similar list of positive traits.
If he is courageous he cannot be overwhelmed. If he is wise he cannot be forced into turmoil. If he is benevolent he will love his men. If he is trustworthy he will not be deceitful. If he is loyal he won’t be of two minds.
In addition, Sima Fa has this to add: The mind must embody benevolence and actions should incorporate righteousness. Relying on the nature of things is wisdom; relying on the great is courage; relying on longstanding relations leads to good faith. Yielding results in harmony.
Aside from these positive qualities that a general needs to foster, there are some common weaknesses which can afflict a general. Below is a list of weaknesses and how to capitalize on them. You would first want to use this knowledge to protect yourself. If necessary, you could use these points to leverage your enemy.
If reckless, he can be killed.
If cowardly, he can be captured.
If easily angered, he is easily provoked.
If sensitive to honor, he can easily be insulted.
If overly compassionate, he can easily be
–The Art of War
One who is courageous and treats death lightly can be destroyed by violence.
One who is hasty and impatient can be destroyed by persistence.
One who is greedy and loves profit can be bribed.
One who is benevolent but unable to inflict suffering can be worn down.
One who is wise but fearful can be distressed.
One who is trustworthy and likes to trust others can be deceived.
One who is scrupulous and incorruptible but doesn’t love men can be insulted.
One who is wise but indecisive can be suddenly attacked.
One who is resolute and self-reliant can be confounded by events.
One who is fearful and likes to entrust responsibility to others can be tricked.
–The Six Secret Teachings
Climate is the varying weather conditions, seasons, temperatures, and cycles of day and night. These climatic conditions refer to externals that are out of your control.
Terrain refers to fixed external factors. Terrain will determine the type of strategies that can be employed. To give a military example, in a conflict in the Middle-East, the openness of the terrain dictates which types of military strategies can be used, the types of weaponry and the ways in which troops can be employed.
Terrain is not the same as Ground. Battlegrounds are not necessarily fixed. The general can decide on what type of battleground he wishes to engage the enemy. The Ground or
battlefield is a variable factor and more or less controllable.
- Doctrine or Law
This factor suggests the overall organization and structure of a group. In military terms, this would mean the designation of ranks, allocation of responsibilities, management of supply routes and provisions of the army. In a business context, this would be the different departments and the specific roles each of those departments play in the overall organization.
- Troop Strength
This refers to numerical aspects of the group and their equipment or resources. In business, this can refer to relative strengths and weaknesses in terms of human resources, management, capital reserves, technology, markets and so on.
This refers to the training or education of the group.
While overall numbers can be an important factor, training can also be vital in determining outcomes.
For example, smaller, expertly trained fighting units, like the U.S. Navy SEALs can have as much impact as an entire army, if deployed in a strategic way. And in business, many stock investors will do a thorough examination of a company’s top personnel before buying the stock. The few people in leadership positions, and their level of training and expertise, impact
the organization significantly.
While the general must exhibit self-discipline and lead by example, discipline here refers to the system of punishment and reward used to motivate and regulate members of the group.
By John Hester