Advantage in the realm of competition

They had secrets. And they would die for them. In Musashi, we learn how samurai schools passed on the secrets of their art.

After long study and tutelage, the masters would hand the student a scroll, which contained the highest form of their art. They would share their secrets. Such informational advantages, which meant life or death in the age of the sword, no longer exist. They are relics of the past.

Globalisation, the diffusion of ideas, practises, technologies and resources across borders, boundaries and cultures, is the outcome of our capacity for curiosity, exploration and wonderment. First initiated by our forefathers, who sought strange and unique commodities from lands far away, it has been brought to it’s highest pitch by developments over the last few decades. Dramatic developments in worldwide communication, connection and knowledge.

Globalisation has made the world small.

Consider how easy it is for ideas to spread. How advanced technologies eventually end up in the hands of the public. How cutting edge practice becomes common method. Ideas and information transition across the globe at unprecedented speeds.

And think about the decreasing disparity between huge organisations and small groups of individuals.

It used to be that the hottest techniques, the bleeding edge innovations and practises, were collected and protected in the walls of institutions with the capital and clout to prevent them from becoming widely available. The playing field is different.

No longer is it one game for the behemoth, and a separate game for the small guy.

The forces that are propelling this shift are the very same forces which drive the connection economy; worldwide connectedness, easily accessible information and an increased ability to fore-go basic needs in pursuit of higher ambitions.

Why does this matter?

Because informational advantages are now irrelevant. You can no longer survive because you know more than the other guy. Everyone has access to the same tools. The same knowledge.

In martial arts, there is no secret move. No special technique or style that can be masked and used to dominate. As soon as it is demonstrated, it circulates around the world.

Through this greater availability of information, the worst in the world can study the best. And endeavour to surpass them. So how do you find and maintain your advantage?

As access to information and knowledge increases, you have two options. Increasingly try to maintain an informational advantage. This is a red queen race. Or you can use what everybody else knows in a way that is not expected. Now we enter the realm of strategy. Whether you do it through use of the indirect approach, or systems disruption, or with the OODA loop matters not.

The question is no longer, “what do you know that the other guy does not?” It becomes, “what can you do that the other guy can’t predict? Can you transform standard knowledge into unique and original form?”

When everyone has access to equal information, it is not what you know that matters, but how you act in relation to what you know.

There is no secret. There is only the unexpected, the unorthodox, the unpredictable.