Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wall Street's Limited View of Competition

Weiqi is to Curling what theoretical physics is to janitorial work.

February 26, 2010
On Wall Street, a Romance With Curling

Wall Street trading is often described as a blood sport. But inside the great investment houses, the sport of the moment is, of all things, curling — that oddball of the Olympics that is sort of like shuffleboard on ice.

This slow-poke game, which originated in 16th-century Scotland, has captivated the Type-A world of Wall Street almost by accident. CNBC, whose market chatter is the background music on trading floors, switches to curling from Vancouver shortly after the closing bell.

And so, after a day of braying for money in the markets, traders are winding down with curling. It is, fans say, a bit of after-market therapy. Curling is so slow and drawn out that it becomes mesmerizing.

“It is like drinking merlot,” said Douglas A. Kass, the president of Seabreeze Partners, who got hooked on Olympic curling a few years ago via CNBC.

People at Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and even the Treasury Department have gone a bit curling crazy. Terms like “kizzle kazzle” — a curling stone that is wobbled to compensate for slush on the ice — have suddenly entered the Wall Street lexicon. CNBC’s ratings have gotten a boost, too.

But, really: curling? To the uninitiated, the game seems like horseshoes combined with housekeeping. One team member slides a 42-pound stone toward the target zone, or “house,” while two “sweepers” guide it along by frantically sweeping the ice with brooms. Not exactly super-G.

But aficionados say it isn’t about thrills (or the lack thereof). It is about strategy and precision. Curling is like chess on ice, and that, Wall Streeters say, it part of its quiet appeal.

Jake Siewert, a counselor to the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, said curling provided a welcome respite from the usual shout-’em-down-style of business TV. “It’s better than that thing where they have eight people in a box screaming at each other,” he said.

Raj Atri, a research analyst at Bank of America, said the game’s plodding pace was a plus. Curling is so leisurely that he can easily multitask, with one eye on his Bloomberg terminal that provides financial data and another on a game.

It never would’ve happened without CNBC — or, in all likelihood, at any other time of year.

“Let’s face it: if baseball and football were in the winter, nobody would be watching,” said Robert P. Kelly, the chief executive of Bank of New York Mellon, who took up curling when he was growing up in Canada. He is a former “skip” — the player who usually directs the strategy during a game —and dispenses curling tips to employees.

Like what? “What’s important,” Mr. Kelly deadpanned. “To win — just like on Wall Street.”

For Olympic curlers — and Wall Street — it is almost over. The women’s gold-medal match is Friday at 6 p.m. on CNBC. The men’s final is on Saturday.

Sometimes, I preferred to use the pragmatic analogy of Weiqi (The Japanese term for this game is Go) to describe basic strategic actions. It is a simple board game that takes eight to ten minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. Depending on the agreed criteria and the competitive game play, the pace can be fast or slow. The premise of this game is to encircle your opposition by controlling the board territory while maintaining an influence of surprise, momentum and timing.

The Weiqi game is the presumed analogy that the Chinese and Japanese businessmen have used for their global success.

In conclusion, weiqi represents the essence of classical Chinese military and strategic thinking.

Pragmatic Practices (1): Operating on a Day To Day Base

q: What is the best way to manage multiple projects?

a: Start with a simple checklist.
  • Establish a listing of projects
  • Delineate each project in terms of its connection to the current and future settings
  • Prioritize it in terms of A,B, and C.
  • Outline the objectives for each project.
  • Focus on the top 10-20% of the objectives list per day.
List A: (Priority A objectives) Must be done today
List B: (Priority B objectives): Must be done tomorrow or anytime in the next seven days
List C: (Priority C objectives): Must be completed anytime in the next 30-90 days

When devising the plan for completing that objective, ensure that there is a contingency.

Attach your one to three pages of checklists to a regular clipboard or a leather folio w/ a clipboard. Nothing else should be on there. Keep it sweet and simple.

Give yourself a positive reward at the end of the day whenever a minimum of five objectives is finished.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail

Minimal or zero planning usually creates the following possibilities:

  • Maximum costs;
  • Minimal profits;
  • Missed delivery time;
  • Amplified quantity of risks; and
  • Uninsured quality.

Compass Rule: Always choose a strategic planner who carries enough lead for his pencil.


Why Teams Won’t Plan
William Duncan
December 10, 2009

You’ve heard it before: “failing to plan is planning to fail.” And still countless projects suffer from inadequate planning. But the most common justifications (there isn’t enough time; the project isn’t that complex) tend to obscure deeper problems.

Here are three major causes of lackluster planning and some straightforward (suggestions)

It is an article of faith within the discipline of project management that good planning is important to success. We constantly quote pithy aphorisms such as “failing to plan is planning to fail” and “proper project planning prevents pathetically poor performance.”

Yet the fact remains that many projects still suffer from inadequate planning. When I ask experienced project managers to tell me why they hadn’t developed an adequate plan, they invariably mention one of the following reasons:

~ “There wasn’t enough time.” This idea is sometimes expressed as “there was pressure to get started on “real work.”
~ “This project was almost identical to an earlier project. We thought we knew what had to be done.”
~ “It was a small project so there seemed to be little risk in not planning.”

I am confident that all of these project managers are telling the truth in the sense that one or more of the above reasons contributed to their poor planning. But these three reasons aren’t the main causes of poor planning. In fact, they obscure the real problems.

Problem 1: Trying to plan too much too early
Can you imagine trying to plan how to build a house before you knew where it would be built and whether it was to have two bedrooms or four? Yet many project teams attempt to develop detailed plans before requirements have been agreed or before any real design work has been done. Planning in the absence of information is an exercise in futility, so teams often find it easier to just skip planning altogether.

The culprit here is typically an ill-formed project lifecycle. If the phases of your project lifecycle describe management activities (e.g., initiating, executing, closing) rather than the stages of product refinement (e.g., feasibility, requirements, design) you will seldom be able to develop a good plan because you will seldom have the information you need.

The solution to this problem is twofold. First and foremost, your organization needs to understand that projects must be planned phase-by-phase. If management requires an early commitment to budget and schedule numbers (and this is a perfectly reasonable request), a key feature of your phase-by-phase planning will be figuring out the best way to adjust scope to these constraints.
Second, choose a project lifecycle that reflects the level of difficulty involved in defining the product of your project. Three or four phases will be fine for most projects, but some projects may require the indeterminate number of phases provided by an agile development approach.

Problem 2: Team members don’t understand planning
I often ask participants in my courses “why plan?” My all-time favorite reply: “because now you know one way the project won’t happen.” This project manager saw value in eliminating even one of an infinite number of possibilities! He understood that planning provides enormous value even as the plan itself changes. He understood what Eisenhower meant when he said, “I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

Too often, team members unconsciously feel that they did a bad job of planning if the plan changes. We refer to changes to the plan as corrective action, implying that an error was made and it needs to be corrected. Overcoming this psychological hurdle is difficult, but not impossible. Using range estimates to develop budgets can help. Small gestures like putting the plan under version control can send an important message. At a minimum, every project manager needs to learn to smile when informed of the need to make a change to the plan.

Problem 3: Team members don’t enjoy planning
This problem is the biggest problem, and it is a natural outgrowth of #2. Because many team members view changes as a sign that they did something wrong, and because changes are inevitable, they often look at the plan as a massive collection of their mistakes. No plan = no mistakes. Look at it this way: if you are good at bridge and bad at chess, which will you play? Your team members will do everything they can to get to the fun stuff.

Here again, you have a psychological barrier to overcome. Addressing the first two problems helps. After that, the key is to help your team get some joy from planning. Here are some simple ideas:
  • Give them exposure to senior management by including the team in project definition activities.
  • Have a pool to predict how many activities will actually start or finish on time.
  • Make planning hands-on by using Post-Its to develop your Work Breakdown Structure and risk lists.
  • Have lunch brought in during the planning session.
  • Have bottled water and a mixture of healthy and not-so-healthy snacks available at all times even if you have to pay for it yourself.
If your team won’t plan, don’t let the three obvious reasons distract you. Attack the real causes:
__ Make sure that your sponsors understand the implications of planning too early. Tell them how you are planning. Tell them why the incremental approach is best. Tell them how accurate (or inaccurate) your current predictions are. And update them frequently as your predictions become more reliable and more accurate.
__ Help your team understand the value of good planning. I often use a reverse-psychology approach where I ask them to describe how they personally suffered on a previous project when the planning was poorly done.
__ Make it fun! You can find thousands of icebreakers online, or you can invest in one of the many books on the subject. Pick something that works for you and that is appropriate for the project.

And remember ... proper project planning prevents pathetically poor performance while pacifying problematic patrons and partners!

Previously by the author: “Do You Know Where Your Scope Is?” and “Fixing the Triple Constraint”
William R. Duncan is a principal of Project Management Partners, a project management consulting and training firm. He was the primary author of the original version of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, and his "process model" of project management was used to organize ISO 10006, Guidelines for Quality in Project Management. He currently heads the certification program for the American Society for the Advancement of Project Management.

Copyright © 2009 projects@work All rights reserved.

The URL for this article is:


The key to those three points is having a well-assessed grand picture. We will touch on the development of a well-assessed grand picture on a later post.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Staying Focused (1)

Avoiding contentment while staying focused on a targeted objective is considered to be one of the most difficult daily challenges for most strategists to do.

If the leaders and the strategic implementers can't stay focused during the planning and implementation stages, what are the odds that the strategy will be executed properly?

In the future, our associates will be contributing posts on the different ways of staying focused..


January 17, 2010
Driven to Distraction
Forget Gum. Walking and Using Phone Is Risky.

SAN FRANCISCO — On the day of the collision last month, visibility was good. The sidewalk was not under repair. As she walked, Tiffany Briggs, 25, was talking to her grandmother on her cellphone, lost in conversation.

Very lost.

“I ran into a truck,” Ms. Briggs said.

It was parked in a driveway.

Distracted driving has gained much attention lately because of the inflated crash risk posed by drivers using cellphones to talk and text.

But there is another growing problem caused by lower-stakes multitasking — distracted walking — which combines a pedestrian, an electronic device and an unseen crack in the sidewalk, the pole of a stop sign, a toy left on the living room floor or a parked (or sometimes moving) car.

The era of the mobile gadget is making mobility that much more perilous, particularly on crowded streets and in downtown areas where multiple multitaskers veer and swerve and walk to the beat of their own devices.

Most times, the mishaps for a distracted walker are minor, like the lightly dinged head and broken fingernail that Ms. Briggs suffered, a jammed digit or a sprained ankle, and, the befallen say, a nasty case of hurt pride. Of course, the injuries can sometimes be serious — and they are on the rise.

Slightly more than 1,000 pedestrians visited emergency rooms in 2008 because they got distracted and tripped, fell or ran into something while using a cellphone to talk or text. That was twice the number from 2007, which had nearly doubled from 2006, according to a study conducted by Ohio State University, which says it is the first to estimate such accidents.

“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” said Jack L. Nasar, a professor of city and regional planning at Ohio State, noting that the number of mishaps is probably much higher considering that most of the injuries are not severe enough to require a hospital visit. What is more, he said, texting is rising sharply and devices like the iPhone have thousands of new, engaging applications to preoccupy phone users.

Mr. Nasar supervised the statistical analysis, which was done by Derek Troyer, one of his graduate students. He looked at records of emergency room visits compiled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Examples of such visits include a 16-year-old boy who walked into a telephone pole while texting and suffered a concussion; a 28-year-old man who tripped and fractured a finger on the hand gripping his cellphone; and a 68-year-old man who fell off the porch while talking on a cellphone, spraining a thumb and an ankle and causing dizziness.

Young people injured themselves more often. About half the visits Mr. Troyer studied were by people under 30, and a quarter were 16 to 20 years old. But more than a quarter of those injured were 41 to 60 years old.

Pedestrians, like drivers, have long been distracted by myriad tasks, like snacking or reading on the go. But the constant interaction with electronic devices has made single-tasking seem boring or even unproductive.

Cognitive psychologists, neurologists and other researchers are beginning to study the impact of constant multitasking, whether behind a desk or the wheel or on foot. It might stand to reason that someone looking at a phone to read a message would misstep, but the researchers are finding that just talking on a phone takes its own considerable toll on cognition and awareness.

Sometimes, pedestrians using their phones do not notice objects or people that are right in front of them — even a clown riding a unicycle. That was the finding of a recent study at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., by a psychology professor, Ira Hyman, and his students.

One of the students dressed as a clown and unicycled around a central square on campus. About half the people walking past by themselves said they had seen the clown, and the number was slightly higher for people walking in pairs. But only 25 percent of people talking on a cellphone said they had, Mr. Hyman said.

He said the term commonly applied to such preoccupation is “inattention blindness,” meaning a person can be looking at an object but fail to register it or process what it is.

Particularly fascinating, Mr. Hyman said, is that people walking in pairs were more than twice as likely to see the clown as were people talking on a cellphone, suggesting that the act of simply having a conversation is not the cause of inattention blindness.

One possible explanation is that a cellphone conversation taxes not just auditory resources in the brain but also visual functions, said Adam Gazzaley, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco. That combination, he said, prompts the listener to, for example, create visual imagery related to the conversation in a way that overrides or obscures the processing of real images.

By comparison, walking and chewing gum (that age-old measure of pedestrian skill at multitasking) is a snap.

“Walking and chewing are repetitive, well-practiced tasks that become automatic,” Dr. Gazzaley said. “They don’t compete for resources like texting and walking.”

Further, he said, the cellphone gives people a constant opportunity to pursue goals that feel more important than walking down the street.

“An animal would never walk into a pole,” he said, noting survival instincts would trump other priorities.

For Shalamar Jones, 19, the priority was keeping in touch with her boyfriend. Last month while she was Christmas shopping in a mall near San Francisco, she was texting him when — bam! — she walked into the window of a New York & Company store, thinking it was a door.

“I thought it was open,” she said, noting that no harm was done. “I just started laughing at myself.”

The worst part is the humiliation, said Christopher Black, 20, an art student at San Francisco State University who 18 months ago had his own pratfall.

At the time, Mr. Black said, the sidewalks were packed with pedestrians. So he decided he could move faster if he walked in the street, keeping close to the parked cars. The trouble is he was also texting — with a woman he was flirting with.

He unwittingly started to veer into the road, prompting an oncoming car to honk. He said he instinctively jumped toward the sidewalk but, in the process, forgot about the line of parked cars.

“I splayed against the side of the car, and the phone hit the ground,” he said. He and his phone were uninjured, except for his pride. “It was pretty significantly embarrassing.”

Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Strategic Assessment #5: Assess, Position and Implement

Everyone's assess the grand picture in their own way. The key is to understand the context by analyzing the right category of specifics and making sure everything connects.

TV actor now a star at making money
Kathleen Pender
Sunday, December 6, 2009

Many celebrities have an easier time making money than managing it, Nicolas Cage being the latest in a long string of examples. That makes Wayne Rogers a bit of an oddity in Hollywood.

Rogers has been acting since the late 1950s, but is best known for his role as Trapper John on the hit TV series "MASH" from 1972 to 1975.

In real life, Rogers plays a successful investor and businessman. He has helped start up or turn around banks, a vineyard, a convenience-store chain and a barge company. He is active in real estate and is a director of public company Vishay Intertechnology.

He owns a tiny piece of the Oakland Athletics and is chairman of Kleinfeld Bridal, the New York shop featured on the reality show "Say Yes to the Dress." He is a regular panelist on "Cashin' In," a weekly business show on Fox News.

Rogers, 76, was in San Francisco last week to speak to a National Investor Relationship Institute conference. He said some celebrities run into financial troubles because "they make too much money too quickly and feel entitled."

Others "rely on a friend of a friend who made a lot of money with someone. They let somebody else do their due diligence," Rogers said in an interview.

Rogers says he "does not use advisers per se. I do a lot of my own due diligence. If someone else does it, I ask a lot of questions: Where did you get this information? Who gave it to you? What were the circumstances? Have you verified it?"

Rogers lives in Destin, Fla., and has an office in Los Angeles, where he has people who help him crunch the numbers.

One key to his success is picking the right partners. "I was involved with bright people, innovative people, honest people, people who weren't looking for an edge," he says.

the home run
One of those people is Lew Wolff, a prominent real estate developer, hotel owner and managing partner of the Oakland A's. The two became friends when Wolff was head of real estate for 20th Century Fox and had a bungalow on the lot where Rogers was taping "MASH."

Wolff says Rogers, who majored in history at Princeton, "could memorize his lines in about 10 minutes" and during his ample free time would visit Wolff.

"We would talk about movies, business, everything," Wolff says.

Rogers and Wolff were part of a group that co-founded Plaza Bank of Commerce in San Jose, which they sold to Comerica in 1991. "That was a major home run," Rogers says.

Wolff says when he and a group of investors bought the A's, he gave Rogers "a very small piece," mostly for fun.

He calls Rogers a "very high-energy person" and "an astute businessman. If you have a project in trouble, he'll do whatever it takes to correct the situation. He doesn't run and hide or point the finger."

Thanks to his acting, "about 100 million people know who he is. That helps sometimes in his business dealings. He has access," Wolff says.

say yes to distress
Although he has started some companies, Rogers likes to invest in distressed situations on the cheap. "I'm a thief," he says.

"When we bought Kleinfeld's in 1999, there was a brand but there wasn't a business," he says.

Rogers got into Kleinfeld's through another partner, Ronnie Rothstein, and his partner Mara Urshel, a former senior vice president at Saks.

The company that owned Kleinfeld's debt hired Urshel as a consultant. "After a month, she said, 'Get hold of Wayne and let's buy this business,' " he says. "I looked at the numbers. It was a disaster from that point of view. But she knew the name was valuable."

The new owners assumed some of Kleinfeld's liabilities and put in a small amount of cash, which they recouped when they discovered credit card charges that had never been submitted for payment.

Another valuable asset "was the demographic information we get when a bride makes an appointment. We said, 'How can we monetize that?' " Rogers says.

One way was getting into the honeymoon business. Later this month, the store will begin selling men's formal wear and suits.

The new owners moved the flagship store from Brooklyn to New York and opened boutiques in leading bridal shops in four other cities.

Rogers won't say what the company is worth, but a year and a half ago, someone offered to buy it for seven times their investment to date.

/// The key for any good intelligence assessment process is knowing what to gather, the approach for gathering the intelligence, assessing it and knowing what to do with it.

reality spin-off
Rogers says they are also considering spin-offs of their reality show, which runs on cable network TLC. It features brides-to-be shopping for a gown at Kleinfeld with friends and family.

One spin-off would follow the future bride as she plans the reception menu and gets to know her mother-in-law. Another would feature brides trying to lose weight before the big day.

"Why is any of this of interest?" Rogers asks. "I don't know. It's not the dress. It's the people. It's a soap opera."

Even though he's an actor, Rogers says he's "not opposed to reality TV. It's all about making money. If it enhances our brand," he's for it.

Urshel says Rogers helps out on the operational side of things and Kleinfeld benefits from his diverse business experience. "Without him we could not go as far as we have," she says.

banks and real estate
Looking ahead, Rogers says he sees opportunities in failed banks and real estate.

His bio says he has invested in real estate in California, Arizona and Florida - the triumvirate of property disasters.

Asked if he had lost money on these deals, he said, "Not yet. We own a shopping center in Temecula that is occupied and making money. In Florida I am doing a 500-home subdivision, just north of Eglin Air Force Base." He says the property is worth more than he paid three or four years ago.

In New Mexico and Arizona, he invested in raw land, developed homes, sold them and still owns some of the property.

From the 36 Strategems essay

"Looting a house on fire" (趁火打劫 or "Chen Huo Da Jie")
When a company is beset by internal conflicts, they are not able to deal with an outside threat. This is the time for the superior company to attack.

When one's has the advantage of time and resources, the successful strategist does not rush into the situation. He builds a detailed plan and uses the approach of "Advantageous Strategems".

Side note: 36 Stratagems is one of the most popular Chinese Strategic essays. It focuses on six categories of strategies that are based on the competitive positions of all competitors

Politically, Rogers considers himself a "Jeffersonian democrat. The best government is the least government," he says. "In some areas, I'm libertarian. I don't subscribe to any one party, they are all bad."

Although he's staunchly against regulation, Rogers testified in Congress against the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the law passed in 1933 that kept banks out of the securities business.

Because bank deposits are insured "it's a proper area to be regulated," he says. Rogers blames the recent financial crisis largely on the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999.

Net Worth runs Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

E-mail Kathleen Pender at

This article appeared on page F - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Strategic Assessment #4: How the Big Boys Play the Game.

We were talking to a C level officer of a startup who told us that he did not believe in the reason of having competitive intelligence gathering. He felt that his view of the marketplace is good enough and that constant intelligence updates would distract him and his team from implementing their initial plan. ... He believed that the 100% effort toward execution was the way to go.

My response was "Not knowing the mindset of the competition and the configuration of your business terrain is like traveling into a dark forest without knowing where is the path of minimum resistance and not having a compass and a flashlight to get you there. ..."

The following news item depicts how the political big boys in California play the "election" game. They gathered intelligence on their opposition. They know their strategic priorities and find the obvious weaknesses in the opposition's position and exploit it to the maximum.

Pete Wilson to Jerry Brown: GAME ON!

Team Whitman just rolled out its campaign chair -- ex-Guv Pete Wilson -- and The Marine had a message for Jerry Brown and his union pals ready to sling $40 million worth of oppo research at Meg: Game on!

Or, as Wilson put it: "Jerry Brown and his allies are beginning the General Election today. We must respond."

"Meg and our campaign team are beginning the General Election today," Wilson wrote, "and we are not wasting time."

That means no more sunshine and rainbows TV ads from Meg. (Somewhere Angelyne is weeping.)

Instead, as Wilson said, "we will expand our ad campaign as needed to take on Jerry Brown and his allies before the conclusion of the primary season."

And, Pete sez that Team Meg will be stepping out its grassroots support (asking local supporters to reach out to the media), fundraising outreach (yes, silly, to people OTHER than the candidate) and voter outreach. Meg's "already busy campaign schedule will ramp up quickly" with a Bay Area stop next week.

Now, let us pick up our Irony Meters for this line from Wilson:

"They will use any means possible, including this multi-million dollar negative assault, to try to stop Meg's message of reform."

Takes a multi-million dollar assault to know a multi-million dollar assault.


Brown's allies fund effort targeting Whitman
Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Democrats and unions, fearful that Meg Whitman's early radio and TV blitz will leave Jerry Brown in the dust, are setting up a $20 million "independent expenditure" effort aimed at cutting the billionaire Republican gubernatorial candidate down to size.

It's called "Level the Playing Field 2010," and it's being put together by progressive unions and wealthy donors worried that Brown's $12 million war chest is spare change next to Whitman's mega-millions.

The idea is to allow Democrats to take on the largely self-funded Whitman without having to worry about the gubernatorial campaign contribution limits that are certain to put a lid on Brown's own spending.

Leading the effort: former Brown campaign manager and opposition research specialist Ace Smith, former Clinton White House spokesman Chris Lehane and fundraiser Michelle Maravich, who has also worked for Brown.

The goal is to be on the air with their first TV ad in a couple of weeks.

The consultants are mum on the details, but we hear the first target will be the layoffs and executive pay perks that Whitman presided over during her tenure as CEO of eBay.


In summary, they (the strategists) assessed the big grand picture in terms of politics, economic matters, social matters and technology. They positioned themselves with a good strategic plan. Then they will influence the California masses with their view of the opposition.

As smart California voters, we preferred to be influenced by pragmatic solutions.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Year of The Tiger!

Those who are interested in unique Chinese New Year gifts. Please check out

Happy Year of The Tiger!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday Morning Quarterbacking

Without dwelling into the game stats, lets focus on one of the main causes behind the Colts loss. Manning's habit of doing certain things repeatedly,was one of the reasons why the Colts were defeated.

In most professional sports, the tendencies of every star player are usually known after a year or so..

"What is called 'foreknowledge' cannot be elicited from spirits, nor from gods, nor by analogy with past events, nor from calculations. It must be obtained from men who know the enemy situation."

- Art of War 13

Monday, February 8, 2010 (SF Chronicle)
COLTS/Defining drive fails to break Manning's way
David White, Chronicle Staff Writer

(02-08) 04:00 PST Miami Gardens, Fla. --
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning looked all-time greatness in the eyes. He should have known better than to stare down a target in the open field like that.

Manning reached for a second Lombardi Trophy, which was so right there to hug between the numbers - but the Saints stepped between the arranged marriage and objected with all their might.

All Manning could do was stand there, jilted and helpless, as Saints cornerback Tracy Porter returned the worst decision of Manning's career 74yards for a dynasty-stopping touchdown. The Colts lost 31-17, and Super Bowl XLIV will be remembered as the game Manning threw away.

"He made a good break on the ball and just made a heck of a play," Manning said on the losers' side of Sun Life Stadium.

Sure, Porter made a great play, but come on: We're talking about Tracy Porter. Who Dat? Precisely.

Since when did a no-name from New Orleans have any business out-shining Manning on football's most Super stage?

Manning is the one who is supposed to play the hero. He's the unquestioned leader of the winningest team this century. He's the golden arm with all the MVP awards on the wall.

Manning is the star with 43 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in his esteemed NFL lifetime. Sunday was supposed to be No. XLIV(that's 44, for those who don't speak Roman).

"It's certainly disappointing," Manning said of his interception. "Very disappointed."

He should be. Everyone else on offense did all he could to put Manning in his customary position to save the day.

The offensive line did not give up a sack, no matter how often Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams dialed blitz. Tight end Dallas Clark ran down every- thing Manning threw his way, catching seven passes for 86 yards to become the most prolific tight end in postseason history.

Running back Joseph Addai rushed 13 times for 77 yards. His spinning 4-yard touchdown run gave the Colts a 17-13 lead in the third quarter. Not bad, for the 32nd-ranked rushing offense in a 32-team pool.

Addai threw in 58 screen-pass reception yards. Rookie receivers Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon each tossed 66 receiving yards into the hat and passed it to Manning.

Everyone led Manning's horseshoe to the water, but he's the one who had to take a swig from the grail.

Instead, Manning passed the cup right into Porter's hands. It was 3rd-and-5 at the Saints' 31. Manning was one touchdown throw away from making this a 24-24 game, and he had more than three minutes of game clock left.

Here's the real indictment of it all: Manning is reputed as the Study Hall King. No one studies more video than Manning, the legend goes. He takes the knowledge of other team's tendencies and uses it to his advantage. Repeatedly.

Well, guess what: The Saints just beat Manning at his own mind game. Porter and the Saints, too, crammed for the Super Bowl. They knew the Colts liked to stack the receivers on 3rd-and-short. Porter knew Colts receiver Reggie Wayne would release outside on a slant, and that Manning would throw to him.

Imagine that.

"It's kind of a play we've run a lot," Manning said.

/// The Compass View: If you are scouting for your competitor's tendencies, then there is a good possibility that they are also scouting for yours.

Now look at Manning. His 333 passing yards? Minimized. The 10-0 lead he forged in the first quarter? Kissed away. While Saints quarterback Drew Brees was winning the Super Bowl MVP, Manning was going 13 game minutes between complete passes in the second and third quarters.

/// ***
The Compass View: No matter how great an competitor is, he or she is predictable. By using our Assess, Position and Influence (API) process, anyone can be defeated.

Assess him/her in terms of the AoW principles. The initial step is to gather intelligence on the target.

Position him and yourself with a good plan and solid preparation.

Influence the competition toward a limited number of situations that prevents him to implement his or her strengths. Concentrate on reducing their opportunity of gaining advantages to zero. Do not let him/her gain any momentum.

Focus point #1: Nullify the advantage by zeroing out the probable momentum.
Focus point #2: When one concentrates too much on their strengths, the tendencies become obvious to the "strategic smart" opposition. It is important to change one's operational habits occasionally.

*** ///

So what if Manning joined Montana and Brett Favre as the only postseason passers with 5,000 yards? With only one Super Bowl ring, the Colts are getting pretty lousy mileage out of all those stats.
Copyright 2010 SF Chronicle
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Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Art of Controlling One's Trade Secrets.

From an Amazon ad,

Developed by a former San Francisco 49er, this complete "training camp" playbook includes every feature of football's most successful offense ever! Over 400 pages of actual X & O diagrams, detail of techniques, terminology, and offensive philosophy. Assembled in a 3-ring binder for your convenience, this playbook is essentially the same as the ones used by NFL coaches for teams such as the San Francisco 49er's, Green Bay Packers, and Denver Broncos. Exactly like the real thing!

It does not matter if someone secured your playbook. Every technology and tactical manual has a cycle. Smart organizations always improve their technology and update their play books.

A good grand and operational strategist always thinks ahead in terms of the following: their strategic platform; their standard of performance and their contingencies.

He or she might explain to the outsiders their philosophy. Rarely do they ever reveal their operational and tactical management details. The outsiders seldom know the reasoning behind their actions.

Compass Rule: The man who knows why will always prevail over the men who knows how.

Friday, February 5, 2010

What is the Foundation of Your Strategic Process?

Every system has their origin. ... What is the foundation of your strategic process?

As Walsh did, Payton does
David White, Chronicle Staff Writer Wednesday, February 3, 2010 (02-03) 04:00

Saints coach Sean Payton never did work for Bill Walsh, but consider him an honorary member of the Walsh coaching tree.
Payton ripped entire chapters out of Walsh's playoff book, starting with the old bellhop routine.

Payton and his Pro Bowlers welcomed the rest of the team to the Super Bowl this week dressed in authentic luggage-carrier garb, just as Walsh did with his 49ers before Super Bowl XVI.
"I mean, we flat-out plagiarized it," Payton said Tuesday at Super Bowl XLIV Media Day at Sun Life Stadium. That's not all Payton has lifted from Walsh. West Coast offense plays, practice routines, schedule details. You name it, Payton is borrowing it without promising to put it back when he's done. "

A guy like Bill Walsh is someone who has his hands all over this league offensively, and practice-schedule-wise and installation-wise," Payton said. "He was very successful in the postseason. If we can take a simple play that we like that he had success with, then why wouldn't we apply (Walsh's methods) to another aspect of what we're doing?"

The Saints' playbook has dustings of Walsh's fingerprints all over it. For that, Payton can thank two former Raiders coaches: Jon Gruden and Bill Callahan (maybe their experience is why Payton turned down a chance to coach the Raiders in 2004).

They're the ones who brought Payton to Philadelphia as quarterbacks coach in 1997. They're the ones who introduced Payton to the Walsh Way, or at least their personalized brand of it. Payton hadn't coached in the NFL before. Gruden, who was the Eagles' offensive coordinator, enrolled him in both morning and nighttime sessions.

"When I got hired there, they were looking for me to really be a blank tape, for me to study and learn," Payton said. "I learned a lot in a short period of time working with Jon and that offense. It was a little bit like law school. They were a lot of late nights and a lot of early mornings. "You realize there's a lot of football that you don't know." That's OK. When in doubt, just steal a good idea from a genius.

E-mail David White at

This article appeared on page B - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle