Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Art of Strategic Power

Regardless of the competitive settings, the strategic principle for applying strategic power (advantage) is the same.

In warfare, "strategic power" refers to the exploitation of strategic advantage through power. Whenever the enemies are in a situation where they can be vanquished and destroyed, you should follow it up and press and attack on them, for then their army will certainly crumble. A tactical principle from the Three Strategies states: "Rely on strategic power to destroy them."

"Instead of “the hammer,” in the words of John O. Brennan, President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, America will rely on the “scalpel.”

When the favored (with the strategical lead within a predictable setting), has the option to use a precision tool to extract the opposition. ... In chaotic settings, one usually use the blunt instrument in order to catch up.

Following are three general questions that successful strategists have always asked:
  • Are my settings are predictable or unpredictable?
  • Who is ahead and who is behind?
  • Should I advance or retreat?

Those who are positionally competing in an intensive competition, should remember the following quote from Questions and Replies between T'ang T'ai-tsung and Li Wei-kung.

"According to Fan Li's book, 'If you're last use yin tactics, if you're first then use yang tactics. When you have exhausted the enemy's yang tactics. When you have exhausted the enemy's tactics. When you have exhausted the enemy measures, then expand your yin to the full and seize them.' This then is the subtle mysteriousness of yin and yang according to the strategists."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Making Strategic Decisions Without Borders (2)

As a principal decision maker for your company, you want to see the big picture (your competitive terrain and beyond) in terms of risk, uncertainty and volatility. You also want to see if your objective connects to the current state of the marketplace.

Can you consistently make the right strategic "valued" decision with the fearlessness of taking the pain and absorbing the loss while facing the impact of ferocity from one's grand settings?

How can good decisions be properly made when you cannot see the big picture?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Sign of the Times: The Upswing of IPTV

We previously mentioned that IPTV is the future technology that people should be embracing. ...
Click here for an interesting article on the changing of the cable industry.

The reduction of cable from 63% to a falling 61 sets the tempo of where the IPTV market is heading and the direction of the cable market.

You can find more IPTV information at IPTV

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Sign of the Times: The Robots Trend is Here

In a past post, we spotted the vending machines trend as one of many "hot" trends. What we forgot to tell you is that the real money is in the area of robotics. ... Various Global 1000 companies have already positioned themselves to control this niche. The key for the up and coming entrepreneurs is to search deep into the configuration of their terrain and find the various micro terrains that might provide a strategic benefit to a mass of future clients who have cold, hard cash.

Our Compass Assessment of the Robot Trends(abridgment):

Alpha Moment: The implementation of robotics is here.

  • A faster and efficient service that provides low operational costs and a fast delivery cycle while ensuring quality
  • The option of charging a nominal fee for those who require the "human touch" service.
  • Customers who prefer the "human touch" .
  • Customers who can't afford the "human touch" services might take their business to somewhere else. The question is whether the number of consumer options for that specific group of clientele are limited to a few companies?
  • The possibility of more unemployed people.

  • The trend of robotic customer service will be utilized all over the globe and will be quite efficient on the long run.
  • With good artificial intelligence constructs, we expected the robotic technology to be quite solid.


What if there's no fix for high unemployment?
By Martin Ford, contributor June 10, 2010: 12:08 PM ET

FORTUNE -- There seems to be little doubt that unemployment is going to remain stubbornly high -- quite possibly for years to come. There's also mounting evidence that a good part of that unemployment is really structural in nature: The skills and capabilities of many experienced workers are simply no longer demanded by the market.

In manufacturing and in many clerical and administrative occupations, computerization and automation have left many formerly middle-class workers with few viable career options. Is it possible that we're creating a future in which jobs are going to be harder and harder to create?

While most economists would probably acknowledge the role that advancing technology has played in the elimination of many middle-skill jobs, few, if any, seem prepared to give any serious thought to where that trend is likely to lead in the future. History shows clearly that the overall capability of information technology accelerates over time -- roughly doubling every two years according to the widely-accepted "Moore's Law." If that trend continues through the next decade -- and there is every reason to expect that it will -- we can anticipate that the computational power available to be focused on automating jobs of all types will increase by a factor of approximately 32. A change of that magnitude isn't something to take lightly. Imagine that your monthly mortgage payment increased by 32 times -- say from $2,000 to $64,000.

As technology continues to accelerate, the number and types of jobs that can be automated is certain to expand dramatically. It's not just factory workers that can be replaced by robots and machines: Rapidly improving software automation and specialized artificial intelligence applications will make knowledge worker and professional occupations requiring college educations and advanced skills increasingly vulnerable.

Consider that this month HP (HPQ, Fortune 500) announced thousands of layoffs while also touting that it's making investments in technology and automation to increase "efficiencies" in the years to come. It is far from the only company to have made such a pronouncement in recent years.

The unemployment pendulum could stop swinging

Yet even economists who think unemployment will be high for five or more years hold onto principled but ill-defended beliefs that unemployment will eventually return to normal levels, just because it always has. But what if this time, something's really different? Technology isn't going to stand still while we wait for the job market to recover. As jobs of all kinds get automated at an increasing pace, it may turn out to be extraordinarily difficult to find our way back to an acceptable unemployment rate.

0:00 /4:02Romer: 'We are adding jobs'
Skeptics will rush to point out that while advancing technology eliminates jobs, it also creates new opportunities and new employment sectors -- so there should be plenty of new jobs to pick up the slack. This process of "creative destruction" is indeed inevitable, but the reality is that innovation often wipes out jobs in more traditional, labor-intensive industries, while creating new ventures that rely heavily on advanced technology and employ only a few people.

Consider Blockbuster (BBI, Fortune 500), which employs a large workforce at thousands of retail stores. Compare it with Netflix (NFLX), with a much smaller number of employees in a just a few highly automated distribution centers where DVDs get sent out and received. That's not all though: The trend is relentless. Netflix customers are already able to stream video directly to their computers or televisions, and there can be little doubt that the Internet is going to be the way movies get delivered in the future. Guess what that means for the workers who are now shipping DVDs through the mail?

Automation is going to hit every industry

As both hardware and software evolve, virtually every employment sector will be increasingly -- and simultaneously -- susceptible to automation. That's a very different story from past technological advances. In the last century, mechanization destroyed millions of jobs in agriculture, and that resulted in a transition to factory-based employment.

More recently, manufacturing automation and globalization were the forces behind our shift to a service-based economy. This time around, we're unlikely to have the luxury of such a sector-by-sector impact on employment: Automation is going to hit hard nearly everywhere.

If structural unemployment increases, there will be very few safe harbors. Today, workers whose skills become obsolete often end up in the jobs of last resort: low-wage service positions at employers like Wal-Mart. The problem is that those jobs won't be there forever -- and certainly not in the numbers required to sustain us.

Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) for example, is one of the biggest proponents of RFID, an inventory tracking technology which reduces the need for human supply-chain management. (It was also once reported to be considering using robots to perform nightly store inventory, a claim the company has denied.) As automation technology becomes more capable and more cost-effective, its eventual introduction into the retail stores, warehouses and offices that now employ tens of millions of workers is inevitable.

Increasing unemployment and falling consumer confidence would very likely result in stagnant or even falling aggregate demand, raising the risk of a deflationary spiral that might be very difficult to reverse. Social safety nets like unemployment insurance would come under unprecedented pressure, and governments would see dramatically increased demand for services even as tax revenues plummeted. Governments would have little choice except to borrow even more -- making the sovereign debt problems that are already tormenting the developed world just the tip of the iceberg.

The solutions to this mess are politically unthinkable by today's standards. Think about it: Jobs are the primary way that purchasing power gets delivered into the hands of consumers. Consumers without incomes can't drive the economy. If jobs at all levels are destined to evaporate in the face of broad-based automation, radical intervention -- and perhaps even a fundamental rewiring of the way the economy works -- may ultimately be our only alternative.

Mainstream economists are, of course, completely oblivious to such a potential scenario. They remain confident in elaborate mathematical models and assumptions that were put together in the last century -- often on the basis of economic data collected decades ago, when information technology was still in its infancy. What if those assumptions turn out to be just plain wrong?

--Martin Ford is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and author of The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future.


Our research tells us that robotics will play a relevant role in our global settings. We expected more bottom to lower-middle tier retail businesses to utilize robotics-like devices for various types of customer service.

Side note: In the information technology profession, virtualization software, outsourced labor and a improved project process has currently taken away many middle-tier professional positions from the U.S. job market. We believed that most of those jobs are not returning to the United States

To some people, life can be considered as a zero sum game. While someone wins, another person or a group of people loses.. However, every crisis creates another opportunity. The key is to assess the grand tangible picture with the purpose of identifying opportunities. Then, position oneself by basing their planning and preparation to the strategic assessed situation. Finally, implement the tangible gameplan with the competitive intelligence-driven influence.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Making Strategic Decisions Without Borders (1)

Some of the current trends are the white collar professionals telecommuting and video conferencing from their home and various public locales. They are also having group meetings at coffee shops. Seriously, it is nothing new. The hot trend is the increase of empty office buildings in the metropolitan cities and more free lancers. Due to the current recession, we expect this development of I/T automation and off-shored labors to continue.

With the increase of free lancers and outsourcing, what are the chances of a project finishing on time, on budget and according to specifications?

We expected the rate of more project teams being unable to hit this macro goal. It will incrementally increase. In a future post, I will discuss why that point will be a trend.

We will also outline the pitfalls of remote project teams members who are collaborating at different time zones and what is our strategic solution.


Many Workers Travel To Manhattan, But More Stay in Their Boroughs
By Sam Levin
July 30, 2010 | 5:21 p.m
Take that, Manhattan!

The Department of City Planning published on its Web site today its 182-page Peripheral Travel Study—in an extensive effort to identify opportunities for short and long term strategic plans to address transportation needs in the boroughs outside of Manhattan.

What the report finds is that, while a lot of New Yorkers commute from outside the island to Manhattan jobs, more stay in their outer boroughs. More than 880,000 city residents do commute from the four boroughs into Manhattan, but more than 1 million workers live and work in the same borough in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. (Borough commuters into Manhattan join 628,000 workers who reside in Manhattan and another 540,000 from outside the city).

Despite the "common perception that most workers are concentrated in the Manhattan Central Business District (CBD), the opposite is true," the report says.

Manhattan does have the greatest density of employment, and it does draw more workers from throughout the region than any other area. But more people live and work in the same borough than commute to any other. And excluding journeys to Manhattan, there were more than 323,000 interborough journeys-to-work, 44 percent of which where between Brooklyn and Queens.

Guess Manhattan isn't as popular as people thought?

Though The Observer did not read the entire report, it seems that an important finding is that in the outer boroughs, people tend to work relatively close to their residence, and among those that work close to home in the same study area, non-automotive travelling is most popular. Future public policy, the report recommends, should explore ways to encourage workers living and working in the same area to avoid using their cars.

Another interesting factoid, among those working and living in the same borough, the predominant transportation mode in trendy Brooklyn is "Other" (which includes walking, biking, taxi, motorcycle, and work at home).

In the same category in Queens and the Bronx, the primary mode is, unsurprisingly, auto.

What neighborhood wins for highest mean travel time (still excluding Manhattan residents)? Sorry, Southeast Queens (48 minutes!), but that's what you get for being so far away from major subway lines!

Fort Greene and Bay Ridge have the shortest mean travel times for work commutes—38.8 minutes—the study says.

What do these findings actually mean? The study says, "More than 300,000 people travel daily between the boroughs (other than Manhattan) to work. The automobile dominates this travel. Nevertheless, there may be opportunities to expand the use of alternative modes."

Travel between Brooklyn and Queens has potential for growth, the study says. "These boroughs are adjacent and both bus service and bicycle improvements should be explored."

Automobiles, though aren't going anywhere soon. The study says in its conclusion, "Workers are coming from diverse locations which, at least to date, have made the automobile the most attractive means of commuting for many people."

Monday, August 9, 2010

Compass Rule: Protect the Competitive Advantage (2)

“Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” - Benjamin Franklin (American Statesman, Scientist, Philosopher, Printer, Writer and Inventor. 1706-1790)

When assessing the state of your organization, one should always ask whether their trade secrets are properly secured.

Click here for an interesting read on the risk-consequences of protecting one's trade secret.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Future Trend: Rising Electric Prices

Current and Future Trends:
  • An incremental slew of empty commercial buildings in the metro. cities in California
  • More home offices and informal business meetings are done at coffee shops (since 1999)
  • Sales of hybrid cars are slowly rising
  • The government subsidizing the building of a smart energy grid
  • Charging the battery of hybrid cars and electric vehicles(ev) at home and at various battery recharging stations
  • PG&E is currently installing Smart Meter electric meters at residence areas.
  • The coming of cars and other energy devices being fueled by natural gas.

News item
  • Nissan and GMC will be launching their electric cars (the Leaf) later this year. Therefore charging the electric battery at home will become a necessity.

Turning Point for the EV
  • Gas prices will need to rise to $4 - $5/gallon before another surge in hybrid car sales occurs

Our Strategic Assessment:
  • High residence's electric bill in California
  • The possible rise of natural gas price

There are more micro trends behind this possibility. With the above list of trends, what type of strategic decisions will you make from this strategic assessment?

We will cover more on this on-coming phenomena in a later post.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Compass Rule: Protect the Competitive Advantage.

One can only thrive in this global economy by incrementally enhancing their "competitive advantage"

The two most relevant points that some people missed are:
  • Identifying what is the advantage
  • Determining the protection of the advantage.

Jiang Tai Gong book "Six Secret Teachings" emphasizes "the importance of protecting one's advantage" regardless of the situation.

King Wen asked Tai Gong:"How does one preserve the state's territory?"

Tai Gong said: "Do not estrange your relatives. Do not neglect the masses. Be concillatory and solicitous towards nearby states and control all that is under you. Do not loan the authority of state to other men. If you loan the authority of state to other men, then you will lose your authority. Do not hurt those of lower position to benefit those of higher position. Do not abandon the fundamental to save those that are inconsequential.

When the sun is at midday, you should dry things. If you grasp a knife, you must cut. If you hold an axe, you must attack."

"If at the height of the day, you do not dry things in the sun, this is termed losing the opportunity.

If you grasp a knife but do not cut anything, you will lose the moment for profits. If you hold an axe and do not attack, enemies will attack instead."

"If trickling streams are not blocked, they will become great rivers. If you do not extinguish the smallest flames, there is nothing much you can do when it turns into great flames.

If you do not eliminate the two-leaf sapling, you might have to use the axe to remove it in future." "For this reason, the ruler must focus on developing wealth within his state. Without material wealth, he has nothing with which to spread beneficence or to bring his relatives together.

If he estranges his relatives it will be harmful. If he loses the common people, he will be defeated. "

"Do not loan sharp weapons to other men. If you loan sharp weapons to other men, you will be hurt by them and will not live out your allotted span of years."
King Wen said:"What do you mean by benevolence and righteousness?"

Tai Gong replied: "Respect the common people, unite your relatives. If you respect the common people, they will be in harmony. And if you unite your relatives, they will be happy. This is the way to implement the essential cords of benevolence and righteousness."

"Do not allow other men to snatch away your awesomeness. Rely on your wisdom, follow the norm. Those that submit and accord with you, treat them generously and virtuously. Those that oppose you, break with force. If you respect the people and trust, the state will be peaceful and populace submissive." - T’ai Kung Liu-t’ao (Six Secret Teachings)

More on this topic can be found in the Seven Military Classics of Ancient China.


Here is a situation where the possible leaking of a trade secret can determine the fortune of a famous food company.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Endorsement from Liang Jie Ming, a Chinese Siege Warfare Expert

An endorsement from a Chinese scholar who specializes in the history of Chinese Siege Warfare.

"It is obvious that Mr. Hom (of Compass360 Consulting) understands, at a very fundamental level, the basic principles of Sunzi's Art of War. However, what makes this truly remarkable is that Hom takes this knowledge one step further. The fundamentals of warfare set out in Sunzi's Art of War are as applicable on the battlefield as they are in the cutthroat business environment of today.

Mr. Hom's ability to translate the Art of War principles into a strategic business assessment methodology is quite innovative. It is easy to understand and simple to apply. I believe that his process will be a positive boon to the business professionals who seek a more holistic and comprehensive approach to running, managing and expanding their ventures."
- Liang Jieming, Author of Chinese Siege Warfare: Mechanical Artillery & Siege Weapons of Antiquity

More information on Mr. Liang's book can be found at