Sun Tzu: Enumeration and Concepts

Enumeration improves decision making.  It provides a menu of activities that can occur.  We learn from how the options are framed.  In listing a finite set of options, other ideas are often uncovered.  Anytime an author or thought leader enumerates the options in a scenario it leads to better thinking and better outcomes.

“How do we fix this?” If you’ve got a smart group of people around the table it can be easy to run to problem solving.  It’s a trap!  Instead get every possible idea down in writing somewhere.  Then talk about those options.  Before deciding on how to fix a problem, develop a set of options before anyone gets too focused on a single approach.

Annotation 2019-07-29 144535

Sun Tzu 01: Laying of Plans


“10. These five heads should be familiar to every general: he who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will fail.”

  • Which leader has the moral advantage?
  • Which general has the most ability?
  • Who has the advantages of Heaven and Earth?  (Tactical ground?)
  • Which side has the most discipline?
  • Which side has the most trained men and officers?
  • Which army is most consistent in punishment and reward?


“13. By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat.”

Sun Tzu 02: Waging War

 “6. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.” Loc 122

Even if we conclude there are no options – zero is a number and we have enumeration.

Chapter 4: Tactical Dispositions


“17. In respect of military method, we have, firstly, Measurement; secondly, Estimation of quantity; thirdly, Calculation; fourthly, Balancing of chances; fifthly, Victory.”

  • Measurement
  • Estimation of quantity
  • Calculation
  • Balancing of chances (Probability?)
  • Victory

Chapter 8: Variation in Tactics


“12 There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general:
(1) Recklessness, which leads to destruction;
(2) cowardice, which leads to capture;
(3) a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults;
(4) a delicacy of honour which is sensitive to shame;
(5) over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.”

Sun Tzu 10: Terrain

Types of Ground

“1 Sun Tzu said: We may distinguish six kinds of terrain, to wit:

(1) Accessible ground;

(2) entangling ground;

(3) temporising ground;

(4) narrow passes;

(5) precipitous heights;

(6) positions at a great distance from the enemy.”

Sun Tzu 11: The 9 Situations

“The art of war recognises nine varieties of ground:

(1) Dispersive ground;
(2) facile ground;
(3) contentious ground;
(4) open ground;
(5) ground of intersecting highways;
(6) serious ground;
(7) difficult ground;
(8) hemmed-in ground;
(9) desperate ground.”

Sun Tzu 13: Types of Spies

“7 Hence the use of spies, of whom there are five classes:

(1) Local spies;
(2) inward spies;
(3) converted spies;
(4) doomed spies;
(5) surviving spies.”

Chapters 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12

All have no enumeration.


Entangling Ground: “4 Ground which can be abandoned but is hard to re-occupy is called entangling.”

Temporising Ground: “6 When the position is such that neither side will gain by making the first move, it is called temporising ground.”


About flybrand1976

Find me on twitter @flybrand.
This entry was posted in Sun Tzu. Bookmark the permalink.