The 36 Ancient Chinese Strategies for Modern Business. Lan Bercu. LAC International Press, 2014. 228 pp.

Review from January 30, 2015

@LanBercu has taken the old tried and true principals of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, and broken down the 36 Stratagems and applied them to modern global economy.

Lan has put years of research into this book and it shows.  I am immensely amazed at her knowledge of both Chinese historical warring states facts and more modern-times corporate worlds here in the US and worldwide.

Lan inter-weaved Chinese historical facts with business applications by corporate America to detail how one failed while the other would succeed.

Lan has broken the 36 Stratagems into 6 categories:

  1. Superior Stratagems
    1. Deceive Heaven to Cross the Sea
    2. Besiege Wei to Rescue Zhao
    3. Kill with a Borrowed Knife
    4. Conserve Energy While the Enemy Exhausts Himself
    5. Loot a Burning House
    6. Clamor in the East, Strike in the West
  2. Opportunistic Stratagems
    1. Create Something from Nothing
    2. Sneak Through the Secret Passage of Chen Cang
    3. Observe the Fire on the Opposite Shore
    4. Hide a Dagger Behind a Smile
    5. Sacrifice the Plum Tree to Preserve the Peach Tree
    6. Steal a Goat Along the Way
  3. Attacking Stratagems
    1. Hit the Grass to Startle the Snake
    2. Borrow a Corpse to Resurrect a Soul
    3. Lure the Tiger from its Mountain Lair
    4. Release the Enemy to Recapture Him
    5. Toss Out a Brick to Get a Jade
    6. Disband the Enemy by Neutralizing its Leader
  4. Confusion Stratagems
    1. Remove the Firewood from Under the Pot
    2. Muddy the Water to Catch the Fish
    3. Slough Off the Cicada’s Golden Shell
    4. Shut the Doors to Trap the Thief
    5. Befriend the Far and Attach the Near
    6. Borrow a Road to Conquer Guo
  5. Deceptions Stratagems
    1. Replace the Beams with Rotten Timbers
    2. Point at the Mulberry Tree While Scolding the Locus Tree
    3. Feign Madness While Remaining Smart
    4. Entice the Enemy onto the Roof, and Then Remove the Ladder
    5. Deck the Tree with False Blossoms
    6. Make the Guest Become the Host
  6. Desperate Stratagems
    1. Use a Woman to Ensnare a Man (the Beauty Trap)
    2. The Open-City Scheme
    3. The Double-Agent Ploy
    4. The Self-Injury Scheme
    5. Linking Stratagem
    6. The Escape Ploy

She takes examples from the past to paint the picture to illustrate the quoted stratagem.  Then explains the significance of the stratagem in layman’s terms.  And connects the reader with examples how a more modern corporate entity(ies) acted or failed to act in order to drive the point home.

Once you have had an opportunity to read through the book, you will understand just how clever and wise Lan is and would find the need to re-read the book to be able to truly grasp her sage interpretation and application of the 36 Stratagems.

Even though I have read the book, I am now incorporating it into my Business Books Club in order to get an engaging and insightful discussion with other business-like-minded individuals in my area.

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