Monday, August 22


I just finished reading this book by Bruno Colson called as Napoleon: On War.. Quite an interesting book, son. It reviews prior work on Napoleon as a military commander and compares his work with Clausewitz. you may think this is a bit of a chimney thing which Baba does. :) I have included the review below.

But I see this as a different matter, son. Deals are like battles. winning large number of deals is like a war. And then you have an overarching grand strategy of the sector and overall business. So learning from war, for me, is vital. Yes, there are significant differences between war and banking but its not that much of a difference in so far as there are limited resources, there are competitors, there is a political and economic element, there are winners and losers, and so on and so forth. Let me quote a bit from the conclusion of the book

> In an army, unified command is essential. Supplies are an important task and local resources are there to contribute. If troops are not battle-hardened, it is better to entrust them with a defensive mission, which is accomplished better by men used to staying in the same sector, where they will have acquired habits. They must not be arranged in a cordon: that is equivalent to being strong absolutely nowhere. When you do not know where the enemy will attack, it is better for troops to be positioned in close echelons, so that they can be concentrated rapidly at the point under attack. If you attack, you will seek to outflank or envelop the enemy, but out of his view. It is always difficult to combine different forms of attack simultaneously. The simplest moves are the best. They are accompanied by concentrated fire. In moun- tainous terrain above all, you must not attack an enemy position head on. The enemy must be flushed out by making for his flank or rear. If you attack a town, it is better not to commit your infantrymen in the streets. An occu- pation is always difficult. In any event, forces must remain concentrated and be mobile. The main towns, where the important people whose collabor- ation is essential reside, must be held. Mobile columns will pursue insurgents, but without committing blunders. It is necessary to make examples, but also to issue pardons. Finally, all possibilities must be envisaged when one engages in war. It is necessary to reckon on the worst. Plans must be carefully prepared, but remain open to adaptation depending on circumstances. You must always ask yourself how the enemy will react. When it comes to the enemy, it is necessary to target the essentials—the main front—and direct your efforts there. If a breach is made, the secondary fronts will fall of their own accord. A conquest must always be accompanied by political gestures. Any military objective is subordinate to a political objective and every general must possess civil qualities. This does not preclude the supreme commander having to enjoy a certain freedom of action in the theatre where he is in charge. These observations can be applied to all wars, including those of the early twenty-first century.

If nothing else, you can see how these basic rules will help you to think about where to place your relationship managers, your capital, your attention, your pitching, and so on and so forth. each of these rules are golden rules for warfare and will be similar to business as well. Very interesting indeed. If you look at the business leaders, they are all having history or military history book.

But one thing you have to remember about Napoleon. He was tactically brilliant, won so many wars, was very focussed on the human element, but he was not a strategist and its that inability to bring in the political, economic, and other elements made him lose in the end. At end of the day, he left France smaller than what he took. So despite his great reputation, he lost in the end. You learn more from failures, son.

Best of luck with your presentation, I am very proud of you, that is good work, really good work on the presentation.

Your proud father.



In the more than two centuries since his rise to power during the French Revolution, the world at large has been fascinated with Napoleon Bonaparte, justly considering him as one of the great geniuses of all time. In particular, his military successes have led numerous authors, after his defeat and fall from power in 1815, to attempt to distill his writings into a series of maxims that could be studied and applied to current events. This concept has proven difficult. While exiled on Saint Helena, Napoleon himself considered writing about the art of war, but before his death in 1821 he ordered his efforts to be destroyed. Since the third decade of the nineteenth century, a number of scholars have sought to synthesize and recreate this material, with varying degrees of detail and accuracy, using the emperor's correspondence, official records, observations by his associates, and other sources.

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