I have never read The Art of War, but I've seen this quote enough times mentioned elsewhere (other books, games and of course the Internet) to know that it comes from Sun Tzu's book on military strategy and tactics.
Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.
— Sun Tzu, The Art of War
I recently spotted this quote during a gaming session on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered. In between scenes a quote from history appears on the screen.
It got me thinking about the trend towards crowdfunding for products and how transparency is often thought of as a good thing when it comes to building products.
With the recent surge of crowdfunding, you might think that you have to have an idea to tell the world first before it can be successful. It's not always been this way though.
Before Kickstarter, before crowdfunding, before the Internet successful products were built without customers knowing too much about the products until after there were launched.
I wonder if in the light of all this crowdfunding that it's time to consider working on products in a new way? Building the product under the cover of darkness, without the world knowing. Then when it's ready, deliver it to the world. Letting it fall like a thunderbolt.
We live in an age where everything we do is shareable and only a click of way from others knowing what we're doing. It not only applies to what we do in our own time, but also what we do when we're working and that include what we work on.
In some cases it's a good idea to get crowdfunding for a product. You can test the market and get the financial backing before the big push.
Perhaps we might want to consider the opposite as well. If we spent our time working on something without anyone knowing about it, could we capitalise on it and thereby surprise people's expectations?