In this quote, Sun Tzu is expressing the idea that in order to defeat an enemy, one must take advantage of any opportunities to disrupt or undermine their ability to function effectively. This could mean harassing or attacking an enemy who is at rest or relaxed, in order to disrupt their peace and keep them off balance. It could also mean finding ways to divide an enemy’s forces, such as by sowing discord among them or by attacking them from multiple directions, in order to prevent them from working together effectively. Overall, Sun Tzu’s philosophy emphasizes the importance of actively seeking out ways to weaken and defeat an enemy, rather than simply reacting to their actions.
This could be interpreted as not letting your competitors get comfortable or complacent. If they are not expecting a challenge from you, you should take the opportunity to disrupt their operations and prevent them from gaining an advantage in the market. This could be done through aggressive marketing campaigns, innovative products or services, or other tactics that catch your competitors off guard and keep them on the defensive. By keeping them on their toes and constantly pressuring them, you can maintain your competitive edge and prevent them from gaining a foothold in the market. In other words, Sun Tzu’s advice is to always keep your competitors guessing and never let them get too comfortable.
Similarly, if a competitor is successful because they have a strong, united team, a company could try to find ways to divide and weaken that team, such as by offering tempting job opportunities to key employees or by launching a marketing campaign that targets the team’s vulnerabilities. By finding ways to disrupt or divide the unity of an opponent’s forces, a business may be able to gain an advantage and potentially even surpass the competition.