Asked to give a demonstration of his theories, Sun-Tzu created two company formations out of 300 of the king's concubines, appointing two of the king's favourites as company commanders. He equipped them with weapons and armour, explained and demonstrated a set of drill movements, and ordered them to perform the drill. The concubines laughed at the order. Patiently, Sun-Tzu repeated his explanation and demonstration, and again gave the order. Again, the concubines laughed.
Sun-Tzu remarked:If the instructions are not clear, if the orders are not obeyed, it is the fault of the general. But if the instructions are clear and the soldiers still do not obey, it is the fault of their officers.
He then summoned the king's executioner and, despite the king's protests, had the two concubine commanders beheaded. New commanders were appointed from the ranks, and this time when Sun-Tzu gave the order, the concubines performed the required drill movements perfectly. (When asked why he did not heed the king's request to spare his favourites, Sun-Tzu replied, 'Once a general is directing his troops, he should reject further interference from his sovereign.') While shocked by the loss of his favourites, the king was nonetheless impressed by Sun-Tzu's character and understanding of warfare, and appointed him as a general.
The instructions were clear but the soldiers did not obey. This was the fault of the officer. And they are certainly not the King's favourite.