Baselines for the would-be strategist

There’s a set of strategy maxims that get passed around Pentagon powerpoints, Greek history textbooks, and business school seminars which can be considered platitudes of the field. I think they probably boil down to about a dozen guidelines—I’ve gotten them down to fifteen here, but think good synthetic work could manage single digits.

  1. Don’t tilt (keep emotions under control).
  2. Stay legible to allies.
  3. Stay illegible to enemies.
  4. Pay attention.
  5. Model other players.
  6. Keep a step ahead.
  7. Evaluate outcomes honestly.
  8. Learn from errors.
  9. Watch for patterns.
  10. Resist social pressure.
  11. Keep the big picture in mind.
  12. Triage.
  13. Do not constrain yourself by trying to simultaneously solve side problems.
  14. Don’t confuse means and ends.
  15. Ends justify means (be pragmatic).

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