Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Miyamoto Musashi, “The Book of Five Rings”

There are several revered authorities whose management principles result in businesses becoming and continuing to be successful. Two of the most famous: Peter Drucker and the legendary Sun Tzu.

Peter Drucker is the eminent author of 39 management books and is considered the “father of modern management”. Sun Tzu is the author of “The Art of War”. He was China’s first professional General. Prior to Sun Tzu's leadership, armies in China were largely disorganized, impotent, failures.

Surprisingly Peter Drucker’s and Sun Tzu’s advice is quite similar. Both list almost identical characteristics needed for effective leadership. Each focus on developing and executing strategic and operating plans. They also stress the importance of innovation to achieve success, or in Sun Tzu’s words, “do the unexpected”.

Another source frequently referenced when effective management and leadership is discussed is the famed Miyamoto Musashi, the author of “The Book of Five Rings”. This work is described as a classic guide to strategy. He was one of the most accomplished Japanese Samurai warriors of the 17th century.

While Miyamoto Musashi’s book is a worthy and interesting read, it is not truly a guide for effective management and strategy development. It is a manual more specifically focused on the Samurai, especially offering proven tactics for prevailing in battle. Topics include insight on combat expertise needed to excel, such as swordsmanship, weapons, technique, intimidation, etc. There is even teachings on Machiavellian concepts designed to distract and demoralize an opponent.

The value of his book is the healthy guidance it gives for leadership. There are very interesting portions of the book, which include a sound philosophy of life helpful for anyone seeking a successful leadership role. Here are a few quotations to be remembered:

“A truly confident person never loses self-control in whatever situation he is forced into.”

"One’s state of mind must be like a shiny blue sky without clouds – free from doubt and confusion."

“If a person is determined to accomplish something without fear of the outcome, nothing is impossible.”

Miyamoto Musashi, “The Book of Five Rings”.

Click on the following links for the earlier Peter Drucker and Sun Tzu posts:

Peter Drucker

Sun Tzu