If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected. These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand." (Tzu)
But the true wisdom in this book is that it suggests constant preparation for all situations. "Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose." (Tzu)
There is a great deal known about Machiavelli and his famous work the Prince. The book was actually an attempt by Machiavelli to ingratiate him self with the royal family after he was fired after fourteen years as the Secretary to the Second Chancery of the Signoria. The book, once received by the royal family was, was instantly thought of as a great work of political strategy and it altered many royal and political lives into a state of punditry in order for them to fully grasp the inherent knowledge offered. "Such dominions thus acquired are either accustomed to live under a prince, or to live in freedom; and are acquired either by the arms of the prince himself, or of others, or else by fortune or by ability." (Machiavelli)
The Prince indirectly altered the state of all political movements once the work was distributed to other royal leaders. Machiavelli basically asserted that politics and the political arena should be separated from the theological and moral imperatives of leadership. Although this is a very accepted philosophy today, it was a radically new idea during his time. "It must be understood that a prince... cannot observe all of those virtues for which men are reputed good, because it is often necessary to act against mercy, against faith, against humanity, against frankness, against religion, in order to preserve the state." (Machiavelli) Consider that the United States would never have had a president if it were not for Machiavelli and his unique concepts of politics. There are many similarities between the sixteenth century principality and our twentieth century presidents.
The prince has many applications to modern day business philosophies. The book offers a message of moral relativism and political expediency. This expediency can lead one to become a leader in a business organization. But the Prince goes one step further and also explains the acquired skill of staying in power. The basic thinking behind the work was that a knowledgeable prince or leader could better maintain and stabilize one's nation. Machiavelli was not shy about suggesting that a good leader had to apply certain tactics albeit cruel tactics to enforce his will on the masses, opponents and subordinates.
There are many similarities in the two works. Both are geared to successful leadership and can be applied to management and self-improvement objectives in the modern world. The differences between the two works are the target audience. The Art of War was an effective training manual for generals and other leaders and the Prince was a training manual for a specific Royal family. The use of these two manuals can offer a very thorough approach when both philosophies are used together. Both have a similar message: "A Prince ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his study, than war and its rules and discipline; for this is the sole art that belongs to him who rules, and it is of such force that it not only upholds those who are born princes, but it often enables men to rise from a private station to that rank." (Machiavelli) and "Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected." (Tzu)
Machiavelli, Niccolo. (1984). The Prince. Bantam Books.