Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Our Recommendation of a Military Warfare Book

If you are interested in understanding the foundation of the Chinese strategic culture, we recommended Dr. Ralph D. Sawyer latest book, Ancient Chinese Warfare. It will be published on March 2011.

Notes from Sawyer's web site
Our Ancient Chinese Warfare, the first of two projected volumes on the history of Chinese warfare from antiquity through the rise of the Han, is nearing completion. Covering the evolution and practice of warfare in China from the Neolithic through the end of the Spring and Autumn period, it is necessarily based upon archaeological evidence and oracle and bronze inscriptions. However, some experiments with reconstructed chariots and weapons and a re-examination of the traditional historical accounts found in the Tso Chuan for the last three centuries has caused us to significantly revise the usual understanding and depiction of this much idealized period.

The second volume will be devoted to the Warring States, a period that saw warfare escalate dramatically in both lethality and numbers, entailing massive devastation and horrendous casualties. Apart from depicting the key conflicts, the book will outline the key developments in military technology and battlefield practices; examine the evolution of tactical doctrine; chart the appearance of military writings; and discuss the martial factors behind Ch'in's rise.

You can pre-order this book from Amazon.

Sidebar: Some of our associates get some of their unique "strategic" ideas from reading many of Sawyer's classics. If you are a "strategy and tactics" aficionado, we highly recommend all of his books.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Art of the Focus (8): Stop and Become Aware.

A strategy usually would not work if you and/or your team is not focused on the big picture and the components within it. One cannot just think about being focused. (Just like one cannot think that he becomes a leader and therefore he/she becomes a leader. That "new age" type of thinking does not work with us.) Pragmatically, it is a repeated practice of centering, focusing, experiencing, reflecting and reviewing. .

One learns how to become focused by understanding how to center him or herself through the feel of wholeness. It is important to slow down and stop. Stand and slowly observe one's surroundings. After awhile, one begins to become aware of oneself, one's own surroundings and the terrain. Many hours of this unique practice allows one to operate steady and instinctively. Instead of concentrating oneself on a target like a light from flashlight, he/she starts to focus like a laser beam pinpointed on a target.

There is no real magic ritual to this unique practice. It is the practice that requires many hrs of practice. Ancient daoists believed that it is what propels the other practices..

The Origin of the Way
The way begets one;
One begets two;
Two begets three;
Three begets the myriad creatures.

The myriad creatures carry on their backs the yin and embrace in their arms the yang and are the blending of the generative forces of the two.

There are no words which men detest more than 'solitary', 'desolate', and 'hapless', yet lords and princes use these to refer to themselves.

Thus a thing is sometimes added to by being diminished and diminished by being added to.

What others teach I also teach.
'The violent shall not come to a natural end.'
I shall take this as my precept.

- Dao De Jing, 42 (D.C. Lau translation)

Our hardcore martial art associates believed in this category of practice and performs it daily. For more information, you can learn more about this unique practice from the following sites: Cook Ding's Kitchen, Smiling Tiger.net, ChinafromInside.com, The Wushucentre.net and Emptyflower.net

“In order to await the disordered; in tranquility awaits the clamorous. This is the way to control the mind.” -AoW 7

It does not matter if the strategic players are Sunzi enthusiasts, John Boyd's OODA fanatics, Clausewitz's zealots, Game Theory's practitioners or Blue Ocean's extremists. A team can only build, connect and lead with almost any strategic approach if they are focused from the start. ... Whether they can prevail with it, that is a different story.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pragmatic Practices (5): Understanding the Importance of Time

The successful strategist always acknowledge the importance of time. ...

While the upper crust wear the watch (or the chronograph) as a status symbol, the successful strategists wear it as a reminder of whether they are in control of our time-lined ventures. They have realized all of their relevant objectives are time-driven.

Hearsay tells us that a person without a chronograph is a person with no acknowledgement of time or anything relevant, just themselves. ... Do you want that person in your alpha team? ... Be aware of those people who do not observe the importance of time. ...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Competing in the Global Economy: Are You Driven?

Old money is comfortable. ... Some are soft as tofu and lazy as a summer breeze. Some are trust fund babies. Others got lucky through various positions and connections. Some creates the opportunities. Other find the opportunities. Most just wait for it. Generally, they barely understand the game of global evolution.

Interestingly, there are people who do not have the old money, but act like them. They are always dreaming that they will be a success because they feel that they put in the huge amount of time with their perception of "above average" amount of targeted effort. (When comparing their perception of "above average" amount of targeted effort to that of the the successful, the reality is that the effort is a minuscule of what is really required.)

We have always admire those who possessed this drive to make it happen.

Focusing on one's objective while minding one's big picture is one skill that many people do not have. Ensuring that the big picture connects to the big picture of the real world's is the another.

Regardless of those skills, how driven are you? ... What is your definition of the big picture? ... Is your big picture tangible? ... Does it connects with the global picture? What is your definition of the global picture?

If you can't honestly answer any of those five questions, you need to deliberate whether your strategy and your strategic decision model is quite working. If you are competing in a terrain of chaos and uncertainty, do you really know if you are ahead or behind the competition?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Brief Update on Our "Strategic Assessment" Book

Someone recently asked us about our book's launch date. We are currently adding more interesting case studies and more test cases.

For the newbies, our book is focused on our interpretation of the various strategic principles from the Art of War and other Chinese strategy classics. It will show the connection between those principles with another popular set of western business principles.

We will also discuss the unique concepts of our Strategic Assessment process and show a comparison of our strategic assessment process to the popular (but partially-efficient) SWOT approach.

It also encompasses the rules of strategic assessment from various viewpoints. We will post more information on our book endeavor as it reaches the completion stage.

If you have any questions and comments, please contact us at http://www.formspring.me/Compass360CG

Thanks for your patience and support.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Failure to Plan is to Plan For Failure (2)

This past weekend, I watched the San Francisco Forty Niners played the Seattle Seashawks. It totally amazed me to see that the San Francisco's offensive coordinator had a difficult time, relaying a play to their quarterback.

There were other operational snafus that are too embarrassing to talk about. I usually expect most professional strategists to plan and prepare themselves with extreme precision.

You can read more about this situation, here and here

When the news media offered various strategic and tactical suggestions to the professional coach It is time for someone to commit professional seppuku.

Here are some of their tips:
  • Take offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye out of the booth and put him on the sidelines where he can transmit the play directly in to the Smith's helmet. Plays must come in from the sidelines and not the booth, so Raye relays the call to quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson who then sends it to Smith. Should Raye take to the sidelines, the middle man is eliminated.
  • Put the numbered plays on a wrist band and instead of communicating a long play such as "X call, hustle 2, I right slot, two man counter easy," three times, Raye simply calls out a number that Smith cross checks on his wrist band with the play that's being called. So then Smith is the only one communicating the entire play, which saves time and confusion.
  • Make a set time when Smith eschews the call coming in and simply calls his own play. "We've talked about that," Smith said. For example, if Smith doesn't get the play with 24 seconds left on the clock, he then calls the play himself.
  • Putting the play-calling, at times, completely into Smith's hands. That's not something Smith would like to do all the time. "I have to do a lot already," he said. "That's why we have an offensive coordinator."

Post Updated: More on poor logistics

49ers coach Mike Singletary said "I smell a rat" as he stood by his offensive coordinator, Jimmy Raye. He just doesn't have time to weed out the unnamed sources of a Yahoo! Sports story that said Raye struggles to get plays called in and sometimes garbles it all up. ... Raye said this about the miscommunication that led to three burned timeouts and a delay of game Sunday:

"It's my responsibility. I bear all the responsibility for the way we operate on offense. I'm the leader. It's my watch. I have the responsibility for the things that occur where it concerns the offense."

"I think it's important that all of you understand that this game has a human element to it. Of the games that were played last week, I would dare say that there was anyone in the position I'm in that was flawless. So, what could I have done better? I could have maybe had a better plan. I could maybe have made some better decisions. Hopefully the ones that I made were the correct ones. You hope they play out that way. Because of that there are any number of things that you always think back on when you lose that you could have done better. And if you don't, then you probably shouldn't be in the game."

Post Updated: More on poor logistics (09/27/2010)

In any economy, inadequate performance mean immediate execution.

49ers Fired Raye


All championship bounded teams are usually properly organized and prepared to perform all of those above points with their eyes closed. ... Should the San Francisco Forty Niners have perfected that practice before the season began? ... Can anyone tell the Forty Niners fans what is wrong with this picture?

Compass Rule: Trust a strategist who carries more than enough lead in his pencil.

Compass Analysis: Returning to the drawing board means the strategic designer does not understand the big tangible picture from a top down view.

Any organization who thrives in this global economy, usually have a team of professional (process-driven) strategists who can stay focused on the current objective while understanding the state of the big picture.

Now, observe your team and identify who are the focused team team members. Ask yourself, are they getting the job done?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Strategic Decisions Without Borders (3)

Traveling costs are going up.

Video conferencing is on the rise

Your virtual team of project implementers are located at
different remotes. How do you get them to made decisions as a team?

If some teams cannot make decisions in close quarters,
what are the chances that they will make decisions
efficiently well at remote locales?

How do you get them to collaboratively operate as a team?
While technology connects people,
a good strategic decision-making process
is the key to a strategic success.
Do you have a process that can get people to
operate effectively as a team?

Since 2006, everyone are still focused on the matters of different locations, time zones, and culture. They do not know how to build a big picture as a team. They do not have a process to make decisions. Nothing has changed. Technology evolves. Jobs are continually being outsourced. Salary and bonuses for the worker-bees declines. Attention span decreases.

Most people continually think tactically. They do not assess the big picture and do not try to understand the premise of the "big picture" strategy. ... When people does not connect with the big picture strategy, one can expect bad things. ... Life goes on. ...

Where In the World?
James Bain
September 1, 2010

More and more projects span different locations, time zones, even cultures. It only makes the project manager’s job more challenging. To succeed on such projects, you must learn how to improve your interactions with remote team members. Here are six suggestions.

Managing people and projects from across the hall is tough enough. Managing people and projects from different cities, states, time zones, or countries is infinitely more difficult. You might as well be on different planets. And, as the world economy changes, this remote sort of management is becoming more and more common. Whether your organization has a sales force spread around the country, an engineering group located across the state, or projects you might be building across town, the lack of opportunity to “run into” the other members of your team can be devastating to the team’s performance. While there are certainly some advantages to a remote workforce, its downsides must be recognized and either minimized or avoided completely.

The goal of most organizations and sub-organizations is to deliver something of value to their external customers, their internal customers, or both. As such, the difficulty of managing people remotely has a direct impact on both the productivity of the workforce and the quality and quantity of the end product or service. To operate at peak performance today, project managers must learn how to improve their interactions with remote team members.

Studies over the last five decades have held that motivational triggers exist at differing levels for each individual. The most basic of these needs, such as food, water and shelter are satisfied by means of a salary or wage and are not affected by the location of the worker. Middle level needs such as relationships, work conditions, and a sense of belonging are easier to satisfy when people work in direct contact with each other. In other words, remote employees are inclined to be dissatisfied with their work because it is more difficult to develop the necessary relationships.

There is limited “face time.” Fortunately, if those management hurdles are cleared, the highest level needs such as achievement, the work itself, recognition, responsibility and advancement, are not only possible, but often enhanced by remote working arrangements.

The key, then, is to take creative measures to ensure that remote relationships are built and nurtured. Many people have experienced that feeling that they think, act and speak in different languages than their spouse, children, or boss. They might as well be from different planets.

How can project managers make sure that they are on the same planet as their remote team members?
1. Start by agreeing on the outcomes you seek. Engage in true two-way communication. Be specific about the desired results of the work. Confirm that all parties understand the details of the desired results. Agree on a “get well” date. When will the project be finished? Remotely located employees have more flexibility in the “how,” but need to have fairly specific goals and objectives on the “what” and the “when.”

2. Get out of your office and go see your remotely located people. Whether you schedule your trips to your remote locations on a regular basis or a more haphazard basis is not critical. Visiting their turf, their offices, their project sites is! Back in the 1970’s this was called MBWA — Management by Walking Around. People want to see you so that they feel as if they have access to you and so they know that you care.

3. Institute a daily or weekly “How can I help you?” call. At an agreed upon time, if you and your remotely located people have not yet talked, part of your responsibility as a manager is to find out how you can help. This regular call will go a long way to building the trust that occurs more readily when they are just across the hall. Make this call one of your good habits.

4. Use technology to its fullest potential. Nearly, everyone is aware of e-mail. Videoconferences, on-line virtual meeting sites such as Second Life, and social networks like Facebook and Twitter, are excellent examples. While there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction, current technology can get you pretty darn close. This is also an excellent way to bridge the generation gaps that are developing in today’s workforce. If you are a baby boomer, learn to e-mail, text and maybe even Tweet your gen-X and gen-Y employees. They will appreciate the effort just as inhabitants of a different planet would appreciate you learning their language.

5. Walk a mile in their shoes. The construction business is a great example. The office personnel find it hard to understand the difficulty of working out of a hot dusty pick-up truck with paper spread everywhere, no place to fill out all of the necessary forms, and Burger King bags on the passenger seat floor. Develop a “day in the life” program. Set up opportunities for staff from different groups in your organization to spend a half or whole day job shadowing each other. The experience will help different functions understand the difficulties each group faces when working away from the “head shed.”

6. Care. Take the time to communicate with your people in any form available. It will help to build those relationships so necessary for job satisfaction. Start by asking your people about their lives, their work, their needs. Then shut up and listen. You’ll be surprised what you learn.
The rapidly increasing incidence of remote management can directly and severely impact the job satisfaction for your remote employees. Decreased job satisfaction has a negative impact on productivity and performance. The reality is that special measures must be taken to alleviate those issues. Using these tips will help you practice the first three rules of effective employee management: communicate, communicate, communicate!

James S. Bain, MBA, is an author, speaker, consultant, and coach. He is the founder of Focus on the 5, a division of Falcon Performance Institute, a consulting and corporate training firm focused on productive performance. Look for Jim’s soon to be published book, “Never Pass on a Chance to P- A Roadmap to Peace in Your Life.” For more information: www.falconadv.com.

Copyright © 2010 projects@work All rights reserved.



A properly-built team strategic decision process enables the project implementors to effectively utilize their technology in specific situations. Without a process, technology is only effective in limited situations.

Our Compass AE methodology is a strategic decision approach that emphasizes on advanced planning. It enables the project team to use our Tangible Vision module to plan their goal and their strategic overview. They are always collaboratively prepared for all situations. The team understands what are the specific priorities, the particular approaches and the contingencies for the different circumstances that could occur.

This process also allows them to make decisions regardless of the distance, the technology and the project culture.

In future posts, we will explain the beneficial values of Compass AE.

If you are interested in knowing more about Compass 360 Consulting services, please contact us at http://www.formspring.me/Compass360CG

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Dao of Strategy: Making Decisions

In our world of multi-synchronous ebb and flow, some of us are operating in a grand setting that is
embedded with a balance of simplicity and complexity and aligned with multiple cycles of order and disorder.

How does one decide on the various situations that allows him or her to capitalizes on opportunities while mitigating risks.?

Instead of asking about what should a good decision be about, lets ask some unique questions regarding to the skills of making a decision:
  • Is your decision based on connecting the current objective to the big tangible picture?
  • What is in your big tangible picture?
  • How many variables can you hold in your head?
  • Do you have the process that enables you to make decisions?
  • Do you have the will to work through the process of making a decision?
  • Are you able to see the outcome of a decision in term of risk/rewards and risk/consequences?
  • Can you make decisions under extreme pressure?
  • Can you implement your decision effectively?
Retrospectively, how many of those skills do you possess?

Are those skills embedded in your conscious?

Remember that each implemented decision does not build your character. It reveals it.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Compass Situation: Stay on Course or Look ahead and Maximize on New Opportunities

The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China tells us that the successful strategic implementers usually prevail by knowing their settings in terms of their competitive terrain, its cyclical influences and the involving contenders. The dilemma occurs when most of the competitors do not know how to stay on course and/or when to adjust.

Compass360 Consulting believes in the principle of focusing on finishing the objective efficiently while knowing the big picture. However knowing the Compass situation rules and the approaches for stepping off the game board are the keys to success. Retrospectively, do you know when to stay focused on the target and when to capitalize on new opportunities without losing your momentum?

It begins by understanding the "Big Tangible Picture (btp)!?" ... So, what attributes are in your "Big Tangible Picture?" Are you able to focus on your objective while mindfully aware of the ."Big Tangible Picture?"
"It ain't what you do it's the way that you do it, that's what gets results" - Jazz musicians Melvin "Sy" Oliver and James "Trummy" Young
June 20, 2010
A Player Steps Up His Game and Wins the National Open
Chess players often talk of the creative aspect of chess — the role of imagination in conceiving strategies. Sometimes the desire to execute an original plan can overwhelm even the desire to win.
Mikhail Tal, a former world champion, wrote in his autobiography that he had lost more than a few games because he had chosen a “beautiful” combination, only to discover that he had miscalculated.
To borrow a baseball metaphor, a grand slam for a chess player would be to play brilliantly, win the game and defeat a strong opponent when there is a lot riding on the outcome.
# Side note: In competitive baseball, most championship-contending teams usually win on early, middle and late inning's rallies of singles and doubles, not on infrequent streaks of home runs. #
That is what Timur Gareev of Uzbekistan did in the final round of the National Open in Las Vegas last Sunday. He trailed Varuzhan Akobian, a grandmaster who lives in California, by half a point, so he needed to beat Akobian to capture the title. After he did, he said the game wasone of his “sexiest ever,” according to the United States Chess Federation’s Web site.
Akobian chose the Tarrasch Variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. It was an aggressive and risky choice, particularly given the stakes, but perhaps he thought that his opponent would be unprepared.