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Strategic Intuition and Eastern Philosophy

Good strategies emerge from creative intellectual insight, and while such tools as the Five Forces and growth/share matrices can be powerful guides, they rarely produce unique strategies on their own. Austrian military strategist Carl von Clausewitz pointed out how “presence of mind” was necessary for a strategist to experience the “aha” of strategic discovery. As we will see, eastern philosophies such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism focus on how to clear one’s mind, allowing those “ahas” to manifest.

This course evolved from my experience as a strategist, in which I started with rational-linear western economics and ended with an appreciation for the role of intuition and insight in the creation and development of strategy. This led me to create this course, where we will read English translations of source materials from several significant eastern philosophers. We will also study such Asian military books as The Art of War (Sun Tzu) and the Book of Five Rings (Samurai method and philosophy) and learn the game of GO (eastern counterpart to chess) to investigate further the alternative ways of framing strategy. We will end with the classic text the Tao Te Ching and a familiar strategy case to bring the various philosophies together.