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Sun Tzu states that "the reason the enlightened prince and the wise general conquer the enemy whenever they move and their achievements surpass those of ordinary men is foreknowledge." What Sun Tzu means by "foreknowledge" is information about the marketplace, your competitors and your own company.
A good idea is to periodically review the sources from which you get your "foreknowledge", then eliminating those sources of information that are redundant or no longer useful and replacing them with new sources of intelligence and wisdom. You can do this by simply making a list of your personal information sources (TV news, magazines, websites, newspapers, business reports, people) and then asking yourself the following questions:
* Are these the right sources of information to keep me up-to-date with what's happening?
* Am I getting exposed to new and fresh ideas?
* What other sources of information from outside my industry or field would be provide me with new insights?
* What people should I be getting to know who can either provide me with news and information, or with wisdom.
For example, a person I know used to get just Business Week and the Wall Street Journal, but this felt this limited him to a corporate-centric view. So he started getting Inc. Magazine and Fast Company, two very different types of business periodicals. Personally, I also look for information from areas outside the business realm, such as science, history and politics. These broaden one's view and provide new sets of analogies and models to use in the business world.
In summary, getting both the latest news to act upon AND access to wisdom to provide a context for action are critical to success. Take some time to review your sources of both---it will make you more productive and also, more interesting!
Mark McNeilly brings Sun Tzu's strategic principles to life as the author of Sun Tzu and the Art of Business; with TV and radio interviews and with seminar presentations. For more information visit www.suntzu1.com
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