Eric Basu, Contributor
I offer a military perspective on entrepreneurship & govt contractingFULL BIO
ENTREPRENEURS 5/05/2013 @ 9:03AM |2,843 views
Musashi-Style Negotiations In Business - Set The Game Board Before The Battle Begins
There are many analogies that have been made between business and combat, particularly in the area of negotiations. Unfortunately, many of these analogies focus on how one must be as ruthless in business as they would in a life or death situation on the battlefield, with no thought given to honor, morals, or quarter given in pursuit of business goals. This results often in an amoral approach to business which is both unnecessary and unproductive, both from a monetary and a personal growth standpoint.
One analogy between combat and business that is very applicable is setting the stage for negotiations. One skill that most entrepreneurs will need to have to some degree is the ability to negotiate. Whether negotiating with potential employees, investors, business partners or customers, negotiation is an inescapable part of running one’s own business. A negotiation, much like a battle, when played well will begin to be executed long before the battle or negotiation actually begins. To use boardgames as a metaphor, the setup of the game board is key. Unlike a game specifically designed to start with a sense of balance, such as chess, where the game board is forced to effectively be the same for both parties at the beginning, negotiation or battle generally consists of so many variables that the game board can be set up to favor one side by manipulation of those variables. Effective combatants and negotiators know this instinctively.
Sun Tzu discussed the idea of setting up the battlefield throughout many of his writings. At Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL school (BUDS), there is a saying engraved over the doors, “The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war”, from Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit (1900-1990), an Indian diplomat. I read this as the more we prepare for battle, not just by training but by setting up the game board, the less we will bleed in combat.
My Muay Thai instructor, Boungnaphon Makthepharaks, or Kru Mark as we know him, is a war-seasoned combat veteran and Muay Thai master. While instructing my youngest son, Zachary, the other day he told him that whenever facing an opponent, whether on the street or in the gym, to always make note of where the light is coming from and have your back towards it so that you will have a slight advantage over your opponent as he has to squint against the light. Kru Mark, a true warrior, understands instinctively about “setting up the game board” before combat begins.