Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

Don't Follow the script

You can almost never go wrong by reading Sun Tzu's the Art of War. This is particularly true if you are in an adversarial situation and you catch a glimpse of the dog-eared book lying on the other side of the table. It's a book that focuses not on tactics or even really strategy. It's far too enigmatic to contain lessons that can be directly applied. No, Sun-Tzu's aim is to educate you in ways of thinking about conflict.

The maxim from Sun Tzu I thought about this morning is this:

"All can see the tactics I use to win, but none can see the strategy that brings victory"

That brought to mind an observation that is common currency in some quarters of labor, namely that it is in general extremely easy to make a management team follow the script that the union wants it to follow. Here's the idea: if the union can make the management team exhibit authoritarian behavior it will be much, much easier to move the membership to action. For the union that goal suggests a strategy that is so effective you can go a long way without ever needing another:

Conduct yourself in such a way that management lashes out with sweeping directives, collective punishment, or some other action that indicates rage.

Now the job of the union is nearly done. It has merely to spread the word and homo sapiens's natural attraction to authority can easily become agitated aversion, which the union can point in an effective direction. If you know your adversary wants you to take a certain action, that in itself is reason enough not to do so. Don't follow someone else's script.

Have a Lollipop, too