Shed Your Skin Like the Golden Cicada

Strategy 21

When you are in danger of being defeated, and your only chance is to escape and regroup, then create an illusion. While the enemy's attention is focused on this artifice, secretly remove your men leaving behind only the facade of your presence.

Modern Example

I had a colleague once who was quite successful at this. He was a programmer who had developed a customized software application for the company we both worked for. However, due to political considerations, his design fell out of favor. Once his boss was fired, he saw the handwriting on the wall. He resigned within several weeks, but came back as a contractor to do occasional maintenance work. He told them that he was leaving to "form his own company", and that he would be glad to pick up a couple bucks here and there doing maintenance on some of the systems he'd designed and worked on that were still in place. He made a great show of hanging out at the company, befriending even the new programmers that were hired to replace him. He came up with all sorts of designs for future iterations of the application, towards which he gave every appearance of promotion. Despite consistent rebuffs from management towards his proposals, he continued to make them. Then, all of a sudden, he fell silent. No one could get him to come in for maintenance work or get in touch with him at all. Turns out he'd found a job at a hot new start up. And he managed to persuade the god-like young code jockey our old company had hired as his replacement to jump ship with him too. Ouch. Nice.