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真正的商战宝典不是《孙子兵法》,而是《道德经》!

2016-04-20    来源:fortunechina    【      美国外教 在线口语培训
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 When disruption became the rallying cry for innovators a decade ago, they seized on ancient work of Chinese philosophy to prove their point. In Sun-Tzu’s Art of War, a new class of business disrupters claimed to have found the original manual.

 
They were right about ancient Chinese philosophy, but wrong about the manual.
 
As it turns out, another text from China, the Laozi, actually offers a much more expansive—and revolutionary—vision of innovation. Like the Art of War, the Laozi is a 2000-year-old text full of inscrutable and aphoristic sound bites. It too teaches how the seemingly weaker can defeat the more powerful. But that is where the similarities end.
 
The Art of War says that victory comes to a general—read, a business leader—who avoids following conventional strategies and instead uses surprising tactics to unsettle a seemingly dominant opponent: David wielding his humble slingshot against a clueless, stodgy Goliath. But it assumes that the disrupter has to take into account things like the actual terrain on which he is fighting and that he must treat his adversary as stable and unchanging.
 
The Laozi, by contrast, questions the very idea that we should try to come up with innovative strategies within a defined, predictable arena, whether that is the battlefield or dinner table, the boardroom or the steel industry. Instead, the Laozi assumes a world in constant flux and motion.
 
In most situations, including the most mundane daily interactions, we tend to assume stability. Our pugnacious and abrasive coworker is, by and large, always pugnacious and abrasive. We might change how we approach him at times—trying out a more assertive demeanor to see if that works against him. Or we might try the approach the Art of Waradvocates, and act in a softer way to try to neutralize him.
 
But the Laozi diverges from both of these approaches completely. It doesn’t focus on the relationship between two potential opponents. It focuses instead on the big picture—on what it would take to change the situation altogether so that the result would be that we wouldn’t have to deal with a pugnacious colleague at all. The key lies in understanding one basic idea: although we tend to think of things as stable because that makes them easier to grasp, every situation that ever arises actually results from interactions between sets of constantly shifting, interweaving worlds.
 
We mostly react to other people, and they to us: we get dispirited by someone’s unexpected frown or we feel energy from sharing a laugh. We also react to things that we assume are stable—like, say, an airless room with no window. Is it any surprise that we emerge from it feeling cranky, a mood that becomes the undercurrent to a disastrous phone call later that day with an important client?
 
That’s why innovation in Laozian terms doesn’t come from seeing a given situation—a landscape, a relationship, an industry—as unchanging, and then coming up with a fresh tactic within that stable situation to neutralize an opponent.
 
Instead, Laozian innovation comes from an awareness that if everything is composed of moving parts, subtle actions allow one to alter or even make the world into something new. And Laozian innovators see this happening so seamlessly that the new order quickly becomes taken for granted.
 
This kind of innovator acts according to wu-wei, or the principle of non-action: seeming not to act while actually directing everything. These innovators may be active and even overtly powerful. They can even be in positions of considerable power. But what makes them Laozian is that while they look as though they are directing something, it’s not what we think they are directing.
 
No one today questions the right to news information 24 hours a day. But a few short decades ago this was, of course, unimaginable. Ted Turner changed all that. He didn’t just use developing technologies to challenge the networks and their hold on the news. He changed the world they were operating in, by changing the assumptions behind it. He created a new one that crushed the idea that the news belonged to a few TV channels and a few hours of the day, and thus helped pave the way for the day when everyone can assume news is delivered instantly and around the clock.
 
Amazon, too, began with a classic disruption move: using new technology (the internet and a website) to disrupt a book industry based upon physical bookstores. But instead of enjoying the profitability that could result from such a classic strategy, Bezos kept moving into industry after industry, often at great and seemingly foolish financial cost.
 
Though it may have appeared that he was simply disrupting more industries, his real subversive move was to create a new world altogether, where Amazon would simply become the first place anyone would ever go for anything. Bezos did not disrupt the book industry or even several industries. He created a new world where those industries became less relevant because a large amount of shopping would now be done through this one website.
 
It’s that we don’t realize that we are entering these new worlds created by others that makes them so powerful. Think of one well-known example—the introduction of the iPhone, which brought down the Palm Pilot, practically annihilated the Blackberry, and went on to become the go-to product in the smartphone industry. Even though Clayton Christensen, the creator of disruption theory, incorrectly predicted that the iPhone would be a failure, he argued later that his mistake had not been due to a flaw in the theory itself, but to his having failed to recognize that the iPhone was disrupting the laptop industry, not the smartphone industry as he’d originally assumed.
 
As it turns out, the iPhone did not disrupt the laptop industry. Most of us happily use both a laptop and an iPhone. It did not really disrupt the smartphone industry either. What it really did, in Laozian terms, was generate an entirely new world, one in which we now take for granted that personal computers should always be by our side. In fact, when touchscreen technologies were being developed in Silicon Valley, Jobs could have gone the tablet route. Indeed, a touchscreen tablet would have disrupted a laptop industry constrained by the burdensome shape required to accommodate a keyboard.
 
But Jobs decided to use the new technology on a phone, which from the perspective of disruption theory looked unwise, since everyone already owned one. In Laozian terms, Jobs created a new world simply through completely reinventing a daily object we already used and carried around all the time. As we used this “phone,” we slowly began to take it for granted that we would always have a personal computer within our palm at any given moment. This didn’t disrupt Nokia or Blackberry; it simply rendered their products irrelevant. Thereafter, competition with an iPhone wouldn’t come from a Palm Pilot; it would come from an Android, which was operating within this new world; a world we now take as natural.
 
That’s why those who aspire to innovate are better off seeing the world through a Laozian, not Sunzian, lens. If life is like a game of chess, Sunzians concentrate all their effort towards winning in a situation in which the board, the pieces, and the opponent are immutable. Laozian innovators know the chessboard can be tipped over at any moment. So they shift to another game entirely without anyone even realizing what is being changed.
 
Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh are the authors of The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us about the Good Life (Simon & Schuster, 2016)

10年前,创新者开始把颠覆作为前进口号,并引用《孙子兵法》中的观点加以佐证。这批刚刚出现的颠覆者把这本中国古典哲学著作奉为起步指南。
 
借鉴中国古典哲学是对的,但他们找错了书。
 
其实,另一部中国古典著作《道德经》提出的创新模式远比《孙子兵法》宽泛,也更具革命性。和《孙子兵法》一样,《道德经》也有2000多年的历史,其内容神妙莫测,发人深省。它同样告诉人们看似弱小的一方如何以弱胜强。不过,二者相似之处也只有这一点。
 
《孙子兵法》认为,不循规蹈矩,采取出人意料的策略,军事将领就可以战胜看似处于优势地位的对手——商业领袖也是如此,就像大卫用不起眼的弹弓来对付笨重呆滞的歌利亚。不过,《孙子兵法》认为,颠覆者必须考虑战场实际地形等因素,而且要采取稳定且一致的招数对付敌人。
 
与之相反,《道德经》认为我们不应该在既定、可预测的领域实施创新策略,无论是战场、餐桌、董事会会议室还是钢铁行业。《道德经》提出,世界一直处于变化和运动之中。
 
在大多数情况下,包括最普通的日常活动中,我们都倾向于接受一个稳定的世界。然而,总会有一些爱抬杠的尖刻同事喜欢跟人较真儿,伤人感情。有时候,我们可能会用不同的方式来跟这种人打交道。比如,态度更坚决,看看能不能镇住;或者,我们可能会按照《孙子兵法》所说,用“以柔克刚”的手段搞定他。
 
《道德经》的观点则和上述两种方法截然不同。它的重点不是对立双方的关系,而是从大局出发,寻找改变整体局势的方法。结果是,我们根本没必要跟爱抬杠的同事较劲。关键在于理解一条基本原则,就是尽管我们倾向于认为事物都很稳定,因为这样更容易把握,但实际上,任何情况都源于很多不断变化、关系相互交织的人群之间相互作用。
 
我们通常都会对他人的行为做出反应,对方也是如此。比如,别人突然皱一下眉,就会让我们心情变差,和别人分享欢乐则让我们感觉充满活力。我们也会对看起来很稳定的事物做出反应,比如,在一个没有窗户的封闭房间里呆一会就会燥热难耐,后来跟一个重要客户打电话结果完全没法沟通,觉得烦躁不已,两种感觉如此一致不是很正常吗?
 
正是出于这个原因,《道德经》式的创新不会基于一成不变的情况,无论是格局、关系,还是某个行业,也不会建议在稳定的环境下采取新策略来搞定对手。
 
《道德经》式创新的基础是认识如果所有事物都由不断变化的部分组成,细微的举动就足以改变世界,甚至彻底颠覆。《道德经》式创新者认为,改变可以在不知不觉中完成,新秩序会迅速成为常态。
 
《道德经》式创新者把无为作为准则:看似无所作为,实则顺势而动达到无不为之境。他们可能相当积极主动,没准相当有势力,甚至可能位高权重。但他们之所以是《道德经》式创新者,原因在于他们看似在管理,但管的并非如我们所见。
 
现如今,人人会对全天候接触新闻资讯习以为常。但这在几十年前还无法想象。CNN创始人泰德•特纳改变了这一切。他所做的不只是通过开发技术挑战当时的媒体网络及其对信息的把控,更重要的是通过改变潜在的认识,让媒体网络的运营环境发生变化。在他创造的新世界中,新闻不再属于几家电视台,每天也不会只能看几个小时,人们意识到每时每刻都应该能看到实时新闻。
 
亚马逊也是起步于经典的颠覆性举动,就是用新技术(互联网和网站)改革以实体书店为基础的图书销售行业。贝索斯没有沉浸于一次策略成功带来的盈利,他不断地进入一个又一个行业,经常代价惨重,有时甚至看起来很愚蠢。
 
虽然表面上看,贝索斯也许只是想颠覆更多的行业,但他真正的颠覆行为是创造了一个全新的世界。在这个世界里,所有人做任何事都要先去亚马逊。贝索斯并不是在颠覆图书销售行业,也没有颠覆其他行业。在他创造的新世界中,行业已经没那么重要,因为通过亚马逊的网站可以满足大量购物需求。
 
而让创新者异常强大的一点是,我们进入由他人开创的新世界时都毫无意识。想想一个众所周知的案例,就是iPhone的问世。iPhone击败了Palm Pilot,基本上消灭了黑莓手机,摇身变成智能手机领域的霸主。尽管提出颠覆理论的克莱顿•克里斯坦森错误地预计iPhone将遭遇失败,但他后来辩解说,错误的原因并不是理论存在缺陷,而是他没意识到iPhone颠覆的是笔记本电脑行业,而非他当初认为的智能手机行业。
 
实际情况表明,iPhone并没有颠覆笔记本电脑行业。大多数人仍然在愉快地同时使用两种设备。iPhone也没有真正颠覆智能手机行业。从《道德经》的角度来看,iPhone最大的意义在于开创了一个全新的世界,人们都习惯了身边要有个人电脑。实际上,当初硅谷开发触屏技术时,乔布斯可以选择走平板电脑路线。毕竟,配备实体键盘的笔记本电脑总是有些累赘,而使用触屏的平板电脑应该能颠覆笔记本电脑行业。
 
然而,乔布斯决定把这项新技术用于手机。在颠覆理论看来,这样做并不明智,原因是大家都已经有手机了。按照《道德经》的观点,乔布斯创造新世界的方法就是把我们已经在用而且随时都带在身边的日常用品彻底改造。随着人们用上这款新手机,就慢慢开始习惯手上随时有个电脑。这种改变并未颠覆诺基亚或者黑莓,只是让那些产品变得很落伍。在此之后,和iPhone抗衡的不再是Palm Pilot,而是安卓,一种同样适用新世界法则的手机系统,一个如今我们觉得很自然的世界。
 
所以,想创新的人看待世界时最好还是根据《道德经》而不是《孙子兵法》。如果把人生比作一盘棋,践行《孙子兵法》的人会竭尽全力取胜,前提是棋盘、棋子和对手都不变;而《道德经》式创新者则清楚地知道,棋盘随时都可以打翻,所以,他们会完全转向另一种游戏,而且没人会意识到出现变化。(财富中文网)
 
迈克尔•普伊特和克莉丝汀•格罗斯-罗共同撰写了《道路:中国哲学能教给我们的幸福生活》( The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us about the Good Life)一书(Simon & Schuster出版社,2016年)
 
译者:Charlie
 
审校:夏林


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