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Acting crazy: your best competitive strategy yet?

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This article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 28-March 2013 issue

The 36 Chinese Stratagems are an essay of powerful tricks personifying the ancient Chinese art of being cunning. Not only are these stratagems potent tactics in times of war and politics, but they can also be effective in today’s business world.

First revealed in history roughly 1 500 years ago and written up almost 500 years ago, since the Nineties the stratagems have become increasingly popular in the Chinese world of business. However, they are still relatively unknown in Western countries.

One of the stratagems gives the following advice:

Feign madness but keep your balance: Hide behind the mask of a fool, a drunk, or a madman to create confusion about your intentions and motivations. Lure your opponent into underestimating your ability until, overconfident, he drops his guard. Then you may attack.

In laymen’s terms, if your adversary thinks you are crazy, he won’t feel threatened by you and so will not take you seriously or put up a fight against you. Continue reading

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