“Kill the chicken to scare the monkey” is an old Chinese proverb that has been used in both military and business contexts. It is a strategy that involves punishing a small or weaker entity as a way to intimidate or warn a larger or stronger entity. This approach can be highly effective when used correctly, especially in the cutthroat world of modern business. In this article, we will explore how this proverb can be applied to three different scenarios in the modern corporate and business world: market dominance, advertising campaigns, and the relationship between the United States and China.

Market Dominance: Microsoft and Netscape

One of the most famous examples of the “kill the chicken to scare the monkey” strategy was the battle for dominance in the web browser market between Microsoft and Netscape. In the 1990s, Netscape was the leading web browser provider, with its Navigator browser holding over 80% of the market share. However, Microsoft saw the potential of the internet and decided to develop its own browser, Internet Explorer, to compete with Netscape.

Rather than attempting to compete on a level playing field, Microsoft used its dominance in the operating system market to gain an unfair advantage. By bundling Internet Explorer with its Windows operating system, Microsoft made it the default browser for millions of users. This move effectively killed Netscape’s chances of maintaining its market dominance, and it was eventually acquired by AOL.

The lesson here is that, in business, it’s often better to target a smaller, weaker competitor than to try and take on a larger, more established one. By using its dominance in one market to gain an unfair advantage in another, Microsoft was able to destroy a smaller competitor and position itself as the dominant force in the web browser market.

Advertising Campaign: “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” by Apple

Another example of the “kill the chicken to scare the monkey” strategy is Apple’s famous “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” advertising campaign. The campaign, which aired from 2006 to 2009, featured a series of ads in which a cool, hip Mac (played by Justin Long) and a nerdy, uncool PC (played by John Hodgman) talked about their respective strengths and weaknesses.

By portraying the Mac as young, stylish, and innovative, and the PC as old-fashioned and stodgy, Apple was able to create a powerful brand image that appealed to a younger, more tech-savvy audience. In effect, Apple was using the “kill the chicken to scare the monkey” strategy to take on Microsoft, the dominant player in the PC market.

The success of the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” campaign shows that sometimes, the best way to take on a larger rival is to attack its weaknesses and create a strong brand identity that resonates with consumers. By positioning itself as the hip, innovative alternative to Microsoft, Apple was able to win over a new generation of customers and establish itself as a major player in the technology industry.

USA and China

The “kill the chicken to scare the monkey” strategy can also be applied to the complex relationship between the United States and China. In recent years, China has become an increasingly powerful economic and political force, challenging the United States’ position as the world’s dominant superpower.

One way China has used this strategy is through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI is a massive infrastructure project that involves building roads, railways, ports, and other infrastructure across Asia, Europe, and Africa. By investing heavily in these projects, China is able to exert influence over the countries involved and establish itself as a major player in global trade and diplomacy. At the same time, China has also taken steps to punish smaller countries that have spoken out against its policies.

@Leaderfinity. The Art of War Game Changers.

Research by: Robren
Published on: 11 April 2023.

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“Kill the chicken to scare the monkey.” 3 Modern Business Lessons in Sun Tzu’s The Art Of War