Beat The Grass To Startle The Snake

Strategy 13

When you cannot detect the opponent's plans launch a direct, but brief, attack and observe your opponent's reactions. His behavior will reveal his strategy.

Modern Example

Several companies ago, I had the opportunity to work with a department other than my own, in kind of a matrixed situation. They were trying to hire for a particular position, but despite the amount of people on the market, they'd had no luck. They'd been looking for a help desk manager, but had only been receiving resumes of help desk operators. Now, it was nowhere close to my job description (since I was working as a systems administrator myself at that point), but I offered to rewrite their job ad in a way that was much more attractive and was more likely to get them the kind of resumes they were after. My colleague in this other department was initially quite skeptical that I could create such an ad for them. (However, since a Fairy like me knows all about how to respond to ads, why shouldn't I have been able to put my money where my wand was and written one?) Therefore, I did. I made sure to list everything they should have been looking for, as well as things that they did not want in a candidate at all. I sent it to my colleague, who was thrilled. He said he would pass it on to his boss. Now, this supervisor of his had a lot of input towards my job - in the way of when my department would be bringing up new systems, developing, or re-engineering others - so I was in the market for intelligence about the way he operated. I was curious to see how he would respond. When my colleague passed the edited version back to me, showing me how the ad would look on the job board posting, the results bore little reflection to my actual work. Unnecessary words had been added for the sake of making change. Whole sections had been removed, making nonsense out of previously coherently phrased statements. Best of all, the section telling applicants what they were not looking for in a candidate was excised in its entirety. When I asked my colleague about the changes, he mumbled something about "Well, Mike didn't want anything negative in the ad that might offend a candidate". I made like I bought the excuse, but I knew the real reason. And ultimately, I didn't care, because the human resources person would be the one with the job of wading through the future hundreds of resumes that weren't even in the ballpark. Moreover, I didn't like him to begin with, so from that standpoint I found it fairly amusing. However, I'd learned what I needed to, and that was enough. He was more into control than quality. He needed to make changes to things just for the sake of having had the last word. I found knowledge of this weakness useful in all my future dealings with this person. Later, when it suited me, I passed this information on to a couple of trusted colleagues, and a well-connected head of another department (who'd always hated dealing with this pesky and unpleasant colleague of his, and welcomed the advice), who eventually engineered my way to a promotion within his department - because I always had good business intelligence about the other divisions.