Saturday, January 30, 2010

Strategic Assessment #3: Sample Case Study

(In our future book) One of our case studies will be focused on the potential of the IPTV marketplace. Using our strategic assessment process, we will examine the marketing terrain from various viewpoints while filtering the contenders from the vast field of pretenders The analysis will be focused on predictability, leaders/followers and the decision of advance, wait or retreat.

More information on the iptv marketplace can be found at


Yahoo: After years of struggling, IPTV is becoming a reality
By Tim Conneally| Published January 8, 2010, 5:03 PM

For five years, Yahoo has been eying the TV screen as a potential platform. Now, after securing partnerships with all of the top TV makers and IP-based content providers, Yahoo has made its Widget Developer Kit publicly available.

The app store gold rush can now be extended to the TV, and fully IP-based television doesn't look that far away.

Anyone can download Yahoo's Widget development kit and make tools for their connected TVs that fetch content from the Internet, and these devices can simply be made to enhance your own television experience, shared with friends, or marketed to the world at large through Yahoo's Widget Gallery.

With the Widget Gallery functionality built into 2010-model TVs from Samsung, LG, Vizio, and HiSense, users will find a whole library of Internet content already in front of them. With widgets from Netflix, Blockbuster, Showtime, Pandora, Amazon On Demand, Roxio CinemaNow, Vudu, CBS, CNBC,, and Sky News, an appealing degree of customization will be right at the consumers' fingertips.

A TV fully stocked with Yahoo-powered widgets has so much on-demand content available, it's starting to rival anything the cable or satellite company could offer.

"Personally, I've been working in interactive television services for over twenty years now, and this is it, it's happening!" Yahoo Connected TV's senior director and chief architect Ronald Jacoby told Betanews this morning.

Thanks to the widespread familiarity of app stores, Yahoo finally stands before a public that understands the value of software customization on our most commonly used devices.

"CBS, NBC, and such are on the platform, they're not doing a lot of video today because they're still trying to figure out what all of this means in their head," Jacoby said. "But the video we're using is MPEG4, it's not like we're inventing something new in terms of video format that requires a new codec or anything like that. We're just using h.264 which is the direction all this streaming stuff is going."

It's still a few years away, but It looks the age of fully IP-based TV will be ushered in with the help of Widgets.

The Yahoo Connected TV Widget Developer kit is available now on

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Dao of API: Connect the Dots (Pt. 3)

Whenever one is flooded with data, their analysis is usually paralysed. Where one is not getting enough proper data, their view has no relevant insight.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Dao of API: Connect the Dots (Pt. 2)

Regardless of the venture, some people are not willing to gather intelligence and perform the competitive analysis first . They would rather plan and implement, without ever having an understanding of their grand settings.

Our research tells us that there are some people who preferred to do things from the seat of their pants. They disliked the idea of laboring over the mundane and the boring task of gathering intelligence, assessing it and building a plan from it. Sometimes, they consciously believed that the risk factor does not exist and that there is no penalty for failing. Instinctively, these same people also want the excitement of improvising and succeeding without the risk. We referred to them as "minor league thrill seekers."

Most of the time, they are just too lazy to perform the act of gathering tangible intelligence. This is the practice of some companies.

In conclusion, one cannot connect the dots without the proper dataset and not having the attitude of being thorough.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Dao of API: Connect the Dots (Pt. 1)

One can only assess the terrain, the intent and the use of intelligence properly when one knows the framework of the grand picture. The question is ... do you trust the people claimed that they know the grand tangible picture, when they do not have the process to do so?

A little knowledge is deadly dangerous
Web posted at: 1/13/2010 9:0:42
By Stefan Stern

It is the “unknown knowns” that can kill you. But this was the category of information which Donald Rumsfeld, the former US defence secretary, left off his famous list (“known knowns”, “known unknowns”) a few years ago. A pity. One of the lessons of the September 11 2001 hijackings, as well as the recent attempt to blow up an aircraft on Christmas day, is that organisations may already possess the information they need to avoid disaster. It is just that they do not know that they know.

In criticising his security services last week, Barack Obama summed up this management dilemma well. “This was not a failure to collect intelligence,” he said. “It was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had.” His colleagues had neglected to “connect the dots”, he observed. This is a familiar story to business leaders. “If only Unilever knew what Unilever knows,” went the old lament. And you can substitute the name of almost any other company into that last sentence.

It was this lingering sense of unconnectedness, of dots not being joined up, that led to the emergence of “knowledge management” as a business discipline two decades ago. It was based on the idea that all sorts of valuable information - about customers’ preferences or what employees knew - was simply disappearing into the cracks that separated teams and business units. People within their silos could not or would not share knowledge. Tom Stewart, chief marketing and knowledge officer for consultants Booz, moved the debate on with his 1997 book Intellectual Capital - the New Wealth of Organisations, which described what properly managed knowledge could do for businesses. Surely things were about to change? Maybe knowledge management was too drab a label to hold people’s attention. Perhaps it all sounded too much like hard work. But “KM” soon fell prey to the curse of the management fad. It was talked about, popularised, then - too often - forgotten. Today too few companies can be confident that their employees share the knowledge and information that they need. Do their people know what they know?

The events over Detroit this Christmas confirmed the danger of ignoring the information that circulates, whether unprocessed or imperfectly understood, within organisations. In a blog post last week, Harvard Business School’s Rosabeth Moss Kanter said that dispatching e-mails or entering comments into databases is not enough. Only “relentless follow-up” would hold colleagues accountable for what they were supposed to be doing.

Smart knowledge management involves spotting useful patterns in the data that you have. Leaders should reward “pattern recognisers”, she said. They should also “stress the importance of passing on items of value to others”. But while Prof Kanter is hopeful that social networking technology will lead to a greater sharing of information, others are not so sure. Morten Hansen, professor at Berkeley and Insead and author of last year’s well-regarded book, sees other factors at play. The failure of colleagues to communicate effectively “requires a change in culture and incentive systems, not an IT fix”, he says.

It is not always easy to recognise the value of the information you have. The father of the alleged Detroit bomber, a former banker from Nigeria, warned US officials about his concerns over his son. For whatever reason - fatigue, overwork - the crucial tip-off was ignored. Too casual by half. The son’s name was even mis-spelled by one official, confusing his identity.

But information must be taken seriously. Managers need more than gut instinct and past experience to help them make good decisions. This means that knowledge has to be seen as an asset, something to be both respected and exploited. This is why the collective corporate memory is so important. People forget - or just never get to learn - crucial details about the markets they are operating in. Veteran CIA officers understand this. As one former field operative, Bob Baer, told the BBC last week, it is no wonder his former colleagues seem “clueless” about where the next threat is coming from. “You’re seeing the price the CIA is paying for getting rid of so many people in the 1990s,” he said. “We fired people or let them retire.” If we didn’t know then how unwise that approach was, we know now.

"There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know." - Donald Rumsfeld

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Dao of Strategic Assessment #4: Transforming the Assessed Data to a Strategic Plan.

One assesses the opposition and the grand terrain in order to gain strategic insights about the grand picture. Without a strategic framework of general and specific guidelines, project professionals become overwhelmed and overloaded by a mountain of data. The decision analysis process immediately becomes a liability ...

The key is to transform the volume of data into simple points that everyone can understand.

Son Learns From His Father, but Puts Trust in Himself

... Even if their studio-size quarterback quarters were cramped. Brees remembered the way Schottenheimer packed the place with grease boards that he filled with an opponent’s base fronts and pressure schemes, with tendencies and percentages.

It is always significant to inform your team about the routines of your opposition's many days before the game.


January 18, 2010
Jets Advance to A.F.C. Title Game
The Jets, underdogs for certain, are not content with just making the A.F.C. championship game. To a man, they want to win it, to fulfill the goal Ryan laid out the first time he addressed his team, Super Bowl or bust.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Compass Rule of Planning and Preparation

In a chaotic setting, how many of you are quite prepared for a worst case scenario?

'The Hurt Locker' sniper scene: a delicate mission
Michael Ordoña, Special to The Chronicle
Sunday, January 3, 2010

Shot with a gritty, documentary-like approach in Jordan, director Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" is now a top awards contender. One of the film's most memorable sequences comes when its three-man Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit (Jeremy Renner as James, Anthony Mackie as Sanborn and Brian Geraghty as Eldridge) is ambushed in the Iraqi desert by an insurgent sniper team, leading to a harrowing all-day duel. Some of the movie's craftspeople spoke with The Chronicle by phone and e-mail to explain how they worked with Bigelow to make essentially 15 minutes of cinematic waiting a riveting experience.


Find the humvee driving across the desert void. ... Outside, horizon of sand and sun. Inside, shell-shocked men.

Jeremy Renner, actor: It was a really important scene for all three of our characters. It was the hinging point to where they all become cohesive. Before that it was always very tense, "Is he trying to kill us, this guy (James)?" It was intense shooting that, for sure.

Barry Ackroyd, cinematographer: One of the most important things is to find the right location. It had a dry riverbed for them to get stuck in, the bridge in the distance, and a real building.


We've got a flat tire. Can you help us?

Mark Boal, writer (and former embedded journalist): The flat tire being the beginning of the ambush came out of a conversation I once had with a military contractor who told me one of the scariest things that ever happened to him in Iraq was getting stranded with a flat tire and not having the right wrench.

Compass Rule of Planning and Preparation: Anticipate the projected state of your grand settings in terms of normality and extremity. Plan and prepare your tool set in order to adapt to the extreme elements. Be aware of the spacing of your gear pac and the total weight of the tools that you are carrying. Always Assess. Position and Influence (API).

Amateurs guess. Professionals know.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Dao of Strategic Assessment #3: Setting the Criteria for Strategic Assessment

A compass is worthless if one does not know their destination and the direction toward it. By knowing the the framework of their grand "tangible" picture, the objective of assessing the grand settings becomes easy.

Our comment on the U.S. military's data challenge is listed right after the following article.


January 11, 2010
Military Is Awash in Data From Drones

HAMPTON, Va. — As the military rushes to place more spy drones over Afghanistan, the remote-controlled planes are producing so much video intelligence that analysts are finding it more and more difficult to keep up.

Air Force drones collected nearly three times as much video over Afghanistan and Iraq last year as in 2007 — about 24 years’ worth if watched continuously. That volume is expected to multiply in the coming years as drones are added to the fleet and as some start using multiple cameras to shoot in many directions.

A group of young analysts already watches every second of the footage live as it is streamed to Langley Air Force Base here and to other intelligence centers, and they quickly pass warnings about insurgents and roadside bombs to troops in the field.

But military officials also see much potential in using the archives of video collected by the drones for later analysis, like searching for patterns of insurgent activity over time. To date, only a small fraction of the stored video has been retrieved for such intelligence purposes.

Government agencies are still having trouble making sense of the flood of data they collect for intelligence purposes, a point underscored by the 9/11 Commission and, more recently, by President Obama after the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound passenger flight on Christmas Day.

Mindful of those lapses, the Air Force and other military units are trying to prevent an overload of video collected by the drones, and they are turning to the television industry to learn how to quickly share video clips and display a mix of data in ways that make analysis faster and easier.

They are even testing some of the splashier techniques used by broadcasters, like the telestrator that John Madden popularized for scrawling football plays. It could be used to warn troops about a threatening vehicle or to circle a compound that a drone should attack.

“Imagine you are tuning in to a football game without all the graphics,” said Lucius Stone, an executive at Harris Broadcast Communications, a provider of commercial technology that is working with the military. “You don’t know what the score is. You don’t know what the down is. It’s just raw video. And that’s how the guys in the military have been using it.”

The demand for the Predator and Reaper drones has surged since the terror attacks in 2001, and they have become among the most critical weapons for hunting insurgent leaders and protecting allied forces.

The military relies on the video feeds to catch insurgents burying roadside bombs and to find their houses or weapons caches. Most commanders are now reluctant to send a convoy down a road without an armed drone watching over it.

The Army, the Marines and the special forces are also deploying hundreds of smaller surveillance drones. And the C.I.A. uses drones to mount missile strikes against Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan.

Air Force officials, who take the lead in analyzing the video from Iraq and Afghanistan, say they have managed to keep up with the most urgent assignments. And it was clear, on a visit to the analysis center in an old hangar here, that they were often able to correlate the video data with clues in still images and intercepted phone conversations to build a fuller picture of the biggest threats.

But as the Obama administration sends more troops to Afghanistan, the task of monitoring the video will become more challenging.

Instead of carrying just one camera, the Reaper drones, which are newer and larger than the Predators, will soon be able to record video in 10 directions at once. By 2011, that will increase to 30 directions with plans for as many as 65 after that. Even the Air Force’s top intelligence official, Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, says it could soon be “swimming in sensors and drowning in data.”

He said the Air Force would have to funnel many of those feeds directly to ground troops to keep from overwhelming its intelligence centers. He said the Air Force was working more closely with field commanders to identify the most important targets, and it was adding 2,500 analysts to help handle the growing volume of data.

With a new $500 million computer system that is being installed now, the Air Force will be able to start using some of the television techniques and to send out automatic alerts when important information comes in, complete with highlight clips and even text and graphics.

“If automation can provide a cue for our people that would make better use of their time, that would help us significantly,” said Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the Air Force’s chief of staff.

Officials acknowledge that in many ways, the military is just catching up to features that have long been familiar to users of YouTube andGoogle.

John R. Peele, a chief in the counterterrorism office at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which helps the Air Force analyze videos, said the drones “proliferated so quickly, and we didn’t have very much experience using them.

“So we’re kind of learning as we go along which tools would be helpful,” he said.

But Mark A. Bigham, an executive at Raytheon, which designed the new computer system, said the Air Force had actually moved more quickly than most intelligence agencies to create Weblike networks where data could be shared easily among analysts.

In fact, it has relayed drone video to the United States and Europe for analysis for more than a decade. The operations, which now include 4,000 airmen, are headquartered at the base here, where three analysts watch the live feed from a drone.

One never takes his eyes off the monitor, calling out possible threats to his partners, who immediately pass alerts to the field via computer chat rooms and snap screenshots of the most valuable images.

“It’s mostly through the chat rooms — that’s how we’re fighting these days,” said Col. Daniel R. Johnson, who runs the intelligence centers.

He said other analysts, mostly enlisted men and women in their early 20s, studied the hundreds of still images and phone calls captured each day by U-2s and other planes and sent out follow-up reports melding all the data.

Mr. Bigham, the Raytheon executive, said the new system would help speed that process. He said it would also tag basic data, like the geographic coordinates and the chat room discussions, and alert officials throughout the military who might want to call up the videos for further study.

But while the biggest timesaver would be to automatically scan the video for trucks and armed men, that software is not yet reliable. And the military has run into the same problem that the broadcast industry has in trying to pick out football players swarming on a tackle.

So Cmdr. Joseph A. Smith, a Navy officer assigned to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which sets standards for video intelligence, said he and other officials had climbed into broadcast trucks outside football stadiums to learn how the networks tagged and retrieved highlight film.

“There are these three guys who sit in the back of an ESPN or Fox Sports van, and every time Tom Brady comes on the screen, they tap a button so that Tom Brady is marked,” Commander Smith said, referring to the New England Patriots quarterback. Then, to call up the highlights later, he said, “they just type in: ‘Tom Brady, touchdown pass.’ ”

Lt. Col. Brendan M. Harris, who is in charge of an intelligence squadron here, said his analysts could do that. He said the Air Force had just installed telestrators on its latest hand-held video receiver, and harried officers in the field would soon be able to simply circle the images of trucks or individuals they wanted the drones to follow.

But Colonel Harris also said that the drones often shot gray-toned video with infrared cameras that was harder to decipher than color shots. And when force is potentially involved, he said, there will be limits on what automated systems are allowed to do.

“You need somebody who’s trained and is accountable in recognizing that that is a woman, that is a child and that is someone who’s carrying a weapon,” he said. “And the best tools for that are still the eyeball and the human brain.”

Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company


One cannot prioritizes their objectives and chooses their approach if they do not know what is the grand "tangible" picture. The consequence for those who act before ever understanding the grand picture is usually negative.

While an overload of data usually creates paralysis for the strategic analyst, a minimization of data creates no insight.

Understanding the objectives, the tactics, the means and the modes of the involving principals enables one to to know the grand "tangible" picture".

Concurrently, the opposition is experienced enough to know the limitation of the technology and the operating process of the strategic analysts. That they are smart enough not to duplicate their strategic actions twice. If they duplicated a previous strategic move, the analyst must evaluate whether this replication is tangible or a deceived trap.

... It is only a matter of time, that the opposition finds a technological counter to disrupt the "drones" advantage. No technology advantage last forever. Every technology has a technical limitation and an operational cycle. Once the constraints are known, any tool can be exploited.

The strategic lesson for the global competitor is: evolve or perish.

Overall, it is an interesting strategic scenario.

Compass View
Does Compass360 Consulting Group have a strategic solution? Nope. ... We don't have a solution. Why? We do not have enough information to present a grand "tangible" picture.

Compass Rule: The Compass Strategist can only assess and concludes properly when he or she has enough relevant and important information relating to the grand situation.

Compass Rule: Good intelligence always enables one to connect the dots and reap the rewards.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Successful Implementer of the AoW Principles

Cao Cao was a general and a ruler during the Three Kingdoms era, who utilized a blitz-like assault that devastated and demoralized his opposition. One of his favorite modus operandi was to create technical mismatches by targeting his lightning-fast vanguard cavalry at the opposition's weak points.

Biographically, Cao Cao was also proficient in the military and literary studies. He was also famous for his commentary in the the Art of War. .

Cao Cao's Commentary on Maneuver Warfare


"Appear at voids (undefended areas) and assault at the opposition's weakness, evade all of their defensive points and assault him where he does not expect you. ... " --- Cao Cao

More information on Cao Cao's life can be found at Wikipedia.

China finds likely tomb of 3rd century general

BEIJING – Chinese archaeologists have found what could be the tomb of Cao Cao, a skillful general and ruler in the 3rd century who was later depicted in popular folklore as the archetypal cunning politician.

Archaeological officials say Cao's 8,000-square feet (740-square meter) tomb complex, with a 130-feet (40-meter) passage leading to an underground chamber, was found in Xigaoxue, a village near the ancient capital of Anyang in central Henan province, according to the official China Daily newspaper.

Historians say Cao Cao's outstanding military and political talents enabled him to build the strongest and most prosperous state in northern China during the Three Kingdoms period in 208 to 280 A.D., when China had three separate rulers.

Characters based on Cao are depicted as shrewd and unscrupulous villains in traditional Chinese operas and in one of China's best-loved historical novels, "Romance of The Three Kingdoms." In the fictionalized account, Cao says, "Better for me to wrong the world than for the world to wrong me."

The common saying in Chinese "speak of Cao Cao and Cao Cao arrives" is the equivalent of the English expression "speak of the devil." Cao was also a prolific poet.

From the tomb complex, the bones of three people and more than 250 relics have been unearthed in nearly one year of excavation work, Chinese archaeological officials were quoted as saying. The bones were identified as the remains of a man aged about 60 and two women, one in her 50s and the other between 20 and 25 years.

Experts say the male was Cao, who died at age 65 in 220 A.D., the elder woman his empress, and the younger woman her servant. The report said among the relics found were stone paintings featuring the social life of Cao's time, stone tablets bearing inscriptions of sacrificial objects, and Cao's personal belongings.

Tablets carrying the inscription "King Wu of Wei," Cao's posthumous title, were seized from people who had apparently stolen them from the tomb, the report said.

"The stone tablets bearing inscriptions of Cao's posthumous reference are the strongest evidence," archaeologist Liu Qingzhu, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted as saying. "No one would or could have so many relics inscribed with Cao's posthumous reference in the tomb unless it was Cao's."


Sifting fact from fiction in Cao Cao's mausoleum
2010-01-07 09:10:53

BEIJING, Jan. 7 -- Excavation of Three Kingdoms ruler Cao Cao's tomb is posing as many questions as it answers.

When archaeologists revealed last month the discovery of Cao Cao's tomb it aroused a lot of interest in the legendary ruler, but also doubts.

Cao is a historical character who played an important role during the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220-280) and was also known as "King Wu of Wei (Kingdom)".

Soon after confirmation of the discovery of Cao's mausoleum in Xigaoxue, a village in Anyang county, Henan province, on Dec 27, the skeptics started raising questions.

They said the austere burial site did not tally with the legend of him building up to 72 tombs to thwart tomb raiders.

"We did expect doubt and controversy," says archaeologist Liu Qingzhu of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), one of the leaders of the excavation team. "We've been thinking about revealing our findings to the public for six months. But we thought it would be better to come up with solid evidence first."

By solid evidence, Liu means sound archaeological reasoning about the tomb's location, layout, and sacrificial offerings bearing the inscription: "Personal belongings frequently used by King Wu of Wei."

While this evidence has convinced some people, others remain skeptical. They point to the six-year difference between Cao's recorded age upon death, 66, and the male figure unearthed from the tomb, whose age is estimated to be at most 60, derived from analyzing his skull and teeth.

Netizens began calling for a DNA test and someone who declared himself Cao's descendant said he would be prepared to take such a test.

Experts retorted no one can be sure they are Cao's descendant after 1,800 years.

Li Meitian, deputy professor of history from Beijing Normal University, says if the skeleton of Cao Zhi, one of Cao's sons, can be found then comparison of their DNA would suffice as evidence that Cao Cao is the real deal.

Cao Zhi's tomb was discovered and unearthed in 1951, yielding 28 bones, but these were misplaced.

"Unfortunately we have no idea of the whereabouts of Cao Zhi's bones," says Liu Yuxin, director of the Cultural Relics Administration of Dong'e County, Shandong province.

"Even if we had Cao Zhi's bones, I don't think a DNA test would be a good idea," says archaeologist Wang Minghui from CASS, a human bone identification expert, who identified the skeleton unearthed from Cao Cao's tomb. He says a DNA test would damage the bones.

Then, after tourists and journalists visited the excavation site during the New Year holiday they found there are actually two tombs being excavated.

Alongside the mausoleum believed to be Cao Cao's is another tomb built with a similar layout, just 70 m away.

"We didn't mention the other tomb (at the press conference) because the excavation of that tomb had just started," says Hao Benxing, a researcher from the Henan Provincial Cultural Relics Administration. "We haven't recovered any relics worth mentioning."

Even so, it is thought the smaller tomb might contain confirmation of Cao's ownership of the bigger tomb.

In the bigger tomb, there were also remains of two females, one estimated to be 50, the other between 20 and 25. Experts thought the older female was Cao's wife, buried 10 years later, in accordance with historical records.

But there is a disparity between Cao's wife's recorded age upon death, 60, and that identified by skull and teeth identification of the older female.

So, if the smaller tomb contains remains of a female aged 60, Cao's wife, ownership of the bigger tomb would be much less controversial because it would prove that she was indeed "buried alongside" with him as historical record puts it, says professor Liu Xinchang from Handan Research Institute of History and Culture, Hebei province.

He says the archaeologists could have waited three months to find this out.

Archaeologist Liu Qingzhu responds they "waited long enough".

"After one year of excavation and research, we've secured enough evidence to make our conclusion. Secondly, news of the excavation reached some of the media," Liu says.

"It is Cao Cao who we are talking about here. If speculation began he would appear to be more a legend rather than a character. We want our findings to reveal historical truth, not to start or repeat a legend."

(Source: China Daily)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year. New Options. Possible Ventures

Happy New Year! We wish you success in your various ventures.

One of our associates is considering the pursuit of writing a comprehensive book on The Art of War.

We reviewed his preliminary outline and a chapter. It is a modernized version of the Giles translation. He asked us to write a chapter for the book. If we decide to collaborate with him, our contribution will be focused on how one prominent professional organization is indirectly applying the Art of War principles in their overall organizational operation.