Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thoughts on Creating a New Course for 2012

Thriving in the information economy means having the right set of ideas that motivate its followers to a high goal. Finding them require some thinking time.

The Schema
Decide on a timeline between now and the next three days. Choose a quiet setting. Reflect on the compass of your settings. Assess your Big Tangible Picture in terms of your competitive terrain. Identify the competitive influences that connects to the grand terrain.

Write down your resolutions. Build your Tangible Vision. Delineate each particular point in terms of priorities, approaches and changes. Script the steps for each resolutions. At that point, analyze whether each resolution is based on your experience, your beliefs, your faith, your observation, assessed intelligence or a combination of the previously mentioned points. Review and re-edit again.

The Implementation
Throughout the year, there will be a time to re-edit and update one's own Tangible Vision. The best part of the process is the action of crossing out the completed objectives.

While the goal-driven strategists write their resolutions in ink, the process-minded strategists usually scripted their resolutions in pencil and slowly update it in ink. (That is a Compass rule.)

Good luck!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Competing in the Info Economy: Understanding the Seasonal Cycle

To properly compete in the information economy, one should always consider the cyclical stage of the targeted terrain as a decision point.

Assess the Big Tangible Picture of your competitive terrain.
Position yourself toward the opportunity before the market cycle rises
Influence the opportunity before the cycle declines and the configuration of the terrain changes.

Q: Do you know how to assess your competitive terrain?

Sunday, December 18, 2011


For those who are interested in unique holiday gifts:

We suggested the following items:
Side note:
Mark McNeilly has just updated his Art of Business book. His pragmatic view on how to build a plan with his version of Sunzi strategic principles, is quite good.

We also highly recommended Dr. Sawyer's latest book on Ancient Chinese Warfare .

[DISCLAIMER] We were not compensated for our suggestions.

For those who are in a charitable mood, please donate your spare books to BookMooch. Please respond kindly to those who are in need of various reading resources.

We wish Happy Holidays to our readers
--- Compass360 Consulting Group

Monday, December 12, 2011

Crisis and Opportunity

"... Every crisis carries two elements, danger and opportunity. No matter the difficulty of the circumstances, no matter how dangerous the the heart of each crisis lies a tremendous opportunity. Great blessings lie ahead for the one who knows the secret of finding the opportunity within each crisis. ... " -Chinese Proverb

Mozilla is one of those companies who thrives on the web user's need for a better browser. As a pony with a few tricks, they can only go so far.

Mozilla's Strategic Position
Following is a listing of Mozilla's current (and possible) dilemmas:
How can Mozilla improve their situation especially when they are caught between a rock (the partnership with Google) and a hard place (the decline of Firefox users)?

By recognizing the significance of the CarrierIQ fiasco, Mozilla should focus on the paramount need for browser's safety and security. ... They are now centering their attention on the mobile phone industry.

Mozilla should disregard their current position and focus on developing quality features.

Our Compass Forecast
In the information economy, transparency and safety are never guaranteed. The company who maintains the social-economic attention of those who desired attention and digital security, will always have a market.

Regardless how technology evolves, the offering of quality products and/or quality services is essential. Focusing on the basic users needs is paramount to one's success.

Developing digital security for all significant high-tech. devices is an unique niche that usually goes on a infinite mode. The evolutionary contest between the "black hat" hackers and the computer security developers (aka. the gatekeepers) is continuous. The gate keepers are focused on building a better wall. Occasionally, they might upgrade it by adding a few unique counter-offensive measures. ... Where the other side concentrates on the identification of the various weak points within the wall. Sometimes, the hackers win. For the time being, the developers are winning while the users are just surviving.

History shows that the most sophisticated defense are for those who can afford to have it regardless of the medium.

Side note
One exception to this scenario is the Blackberry phone . This device has great security features for those who can afford it. ... It seems that President Obama used to be a big user of this phone. ... Marketwise, it also does not appeal to the consumers for a myriad of reasons. ... Do not be surprised if a relevant party will buy RIM within the next 12 -18 months.

Rimunatons from the Compass Desk 
In unsettling times, the successful strategists usually look past their own marketplace and focus on the various niches within the global digital marketing terrain, where one has a strong expertise and the competition is quite weak. Whatever specific area that they are weak at, the company will recruit the best.

When one becomes successful, he/she should be aware of the increased probability of newer competitors sprinting into their niche.

When assessing one's own competitive position in their specific market terrain, the chief decision makers must consider the connectivity of the following points: the configuration of their marketplace and beyond, the state of their organizational leadership, the logistics of building and maintaining their operation, the state of resources, the technology and the strategic gameplan.

By connecting the dots before the competition does, one can position themselves into a superior state of strategic effectiveness.

The question is, are you in that position (of strategic effectiveness) yet?

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Reality of Playing the Strategy Game (4)

{ We offer a thank you to Mr. TrhSkr of Tx. for the suggestion of this article. }

In the pro sport business, each previous game is studied repeatedly. Each side idealistically knows the tendencies of the other. How does one surprises their competition during the game?

The Concept
1. Understand the tendencies of of both sides.

The design of the surprise plays is to be conceptually opposite of the implementer's tendencies while connecting toward the anticipated tendencies of the competitors.

Beside deceiving and manipulating the competitor's mindset, this tactical mean could also invigorates the implementer's team.

Implementation During the Confrontation
Influencing the competition toward one's psychological direction by targeting on their tendencies. Soon, they will believe that they really know their counterpart's decision management process. The occurrence of an anticipated situation allows the chief decision maker(s) to implement the deception.

The success usually energizes the implementer's team while demoralizing the competition. Idealistically, the outcome must be a momentum changer. They rarely lead to an immediate win.

You can find more information on this topic by reading the following Chinese strategy classics (i.e., Dr. Sawyer's Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, 100 Unorthodox Strategies, Sun Bin's Military Methods, Dr. Ames's translation of Sun Bin, etc.)

Reality Check
Do you know if your competitors are gaining market share by deceiving the customer base?

If so, how are you countering it?

Always assess the Big Tangible Picture before deciding on anything relevant.

Stay focused to one's grand objective by avoiding the feeling of fear and panic. Remember to ensure that the attributes of one's grand objective connects to the Big Tangible Picture.

Then, ask yourself the following question- who is ahead of the curve and the competition? If you want to know what are the rest of the questions, send us a note. Or ask your "loco" Sunzi reader/expert if he or she knows those questions.

Through the comprehension of the Big Tangible Picture, one feels no fear, no uncertainty, and no doubt.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Reality of Playing the Strategy Game (3)

What is your plan when you know the moves of your opposition and vice-versa?

Many weeks ago, UCLA's played against the University of Utah's in a game of football. The Utah's team current offensive coordinator Norm Chow worked under Rick Neuheisel, UCLA head coach for the last three football seasons. Both people knew how each other thinks.

Said Neuheisel: "It's the ultimate game of rock, paper, scissors. I know what he does in situations, but he knows I know and may do something different."

So, who had the advantage?

The person who understands the Big Tangible Picture and have the grander strategic experience to make the good decisions. He would understand the impact of the weather in the terrain and utilizes that factor into the strategy.

Click here for the aftermath of not achieving the given goal.

Notes from the Compass Desk
In the sport competition business, almost everyone in the sport play-calling business knows what their counterpart is going to decide in certain situations. They have near to full access to video data and numeric data. After hours of compiling and reviewing the data, they are focused on determining their counterpart's situational tendencies.

It is rare that one changes their decision approach in midstream. They regularly focused on their strengths while concealing their obvious weaknesses. Then, there are those who who can change their decision approach. They usually have a very strong strategic foundation that enables them to be efficient and be flexible.

It is almost the same way in real life. Most people regularly ramrodded their approach to their opposition without ever assessing the Big Tangible Picture of their settings (and beyond). Sometimes, they encountered the risk-consequences that could change their grand objective and their tactical approach. ...

In your marketplace, do your competitors know your objectives and your tactics? Better yet, do you know your competitors objectives and tactics?

Focusing on achieving peak efficiency is what most companies do. ... After awhile, achieving efficiency could only go so far. The smart companies usually focus on beating their competitors while achieving the optimal position within their marketplace. ... Knowing the plans of your competitor and beating them to the punch lowers the long term costs and the timeline. Thawing the opposition's plans is the essence of strategic effectiveness.

Do you know how to achieve this unique objective?

{updated on 12.08.2011}

Friday, December 2, 2011

Assessing the Big Tangible Picture: Connecting the Dots from the Geographic Terrain to the Marketplace

from Stratfor

The following example focuses on where the actual physical terrain becomes a macro variable in the enhancement of one's strategic position within the regional marketplace.

The dense river network in northwestern Europe (not to mention more roads and railways) affords that region much lower transportation costs. Thus, Northern nations have a significant competitive advantage in exporting. The one trick that the Southern nations (Greece, Italy, Spain, etc.) had up their sleeves—devaluing their currencies to make their exports cheaper—ended with the adoption of the euro. - Stratfor

Germany gained a trade surplus while Italy became stuck with a national debt at 120% of GDP.

In summary, those who have seized the advantages of their location, will usually prevail on the long term.  

Following are some of the questions that we have used to analyze our client's competition:

  • What are the current state and the future state of each competitor?
  • Which competitor has the superior accessibility of the market terrain?
  • Which competitor has the easiest market terrain for reaching their goal?
  • Which competitor has the best approximation to completing their goal?
  • Which competitor has the "greater" strategic vantage of the terrain?
* These general questions are based on the various Art of War principles. It has been rewritten for this post.

Click here, here and here for the latest Euro update.

In summary, how do you and your strategy team viewed the Big Tangible Picture of your marketplace?

Focus on identifying the current state of your terrain. Determine the configuration of your terrain. Then, connect the relevant dots before the competition does. Then reap the rewards.

{The post was updated on 12.05.11 .}

Monday, November 28, 2011

More Comments from Our Audience

“…I think your process is unique—it will be an advantage. Certainly no one else is approaching competitive analysis and project planning in the way that your group is presenting it…” – Confidential source

“Your group has built a unique and efficient strategic solution for complex situations.” – Anonymous

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Big Tangible Picture: The State of the Information Economy

In summary, some of these larger companies became fatter and complacent by centering their attention on efficiency and quality. When the timing is right, they acquired their innovative competitors with an optimal-exploitative approach.

In the era of the information economy, some of the younger companies are "aggressively" innovating. Some of these CEO's do not even cared about being absorbed by larger companies. They wanted to build something that would last a great deal of time.

These fat dinosaurs will disappear at some point of time. No dynasty lasts forever.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Connect the Dots and Reap the Rewards

Whenever there is a political-economic-social correction, one should expect the people on the top of the value chain to change their operational focus. On the long term, these type of jobs will continually be exported to offshore regions. The U.S. workers will be hurt. The effect will then trickle down through the social-economicl value chain. The history of the U.S. manufacturing economy tells us that the grand objective of achieving cost efficiency and operational effectiveness is the name of the game.

The way of the information economy is that the technology enables the various business organizations to create jobs at other locations. It also increases the productivity while decreasing certain low tier jobs that requires redundancy and massive paper work. It is only a matter of time, that the certain niches with the U.S. service industry will be reduced to a minimum.

In a virtual information economy, a macro correction in one region could later create another opportunity for another region. The "Yin and Yang effect" is what one would see if he or she pays attention to the Big Tangible Picture (BTP).

Connect the dots before the competition does and one will prevail.

[ Updated on 11.25.2011 ]

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Finding the Path of Least Resistance

Before coming to that conclusion, can you see the Big Tangible Picture of this situation? ...

Compass Rule
The level of complexity is sometimes proportional to the level of reward.

One former mentor used to remind us that one's choice of a strategic solution is usually based on their belief in getting things done and their strategic experience. It is also greatly determines one's view of life and their level of efficiency.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Dao of Strategic Assessment #7: Assessing the AoW's Audience

“These are the ways that successful strategists are victorious. They cannot be spoken or transmitted in advance. ... Before the confrontation, they resolve in their conference room that that they will be victorious, have found that the majority of factors are in his favor. Before the confrontation they resolve in their conference room that they will not be victorious have found few factors are in their favor.

If those who find that the majority of factors favor them, will be victorious while those who have found few factors favor them will be defeated, what about someone who finds no factors in their favor?

When observing from this viewpoint, victory and defeat will be apparent.”

- Art of War 1 (Paraphrased from the Sawyer's translation)

Someone recently asked us the following five questions?
  • What are those factors that the ancient Chinese Generals used for strategic assessment?
  • Can you use those factors for modern business?
  • Why are those factors not taught out in the open?
  • What is the difference between assessing strategically and estimating?
  • Why is strategic assessment important to strategic planning?
  • Why do good plans fail?

We will reveal the answers in the future. However, you can ask your local Sunzi reader or expert and see if he/she knows the answers.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Questioning the Process Behind an Assessment

Below is an except from an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal The full article may be read here.

"Shortly after the end of the Cold War, an American defense official named Phillip Karber traveled to Russia as an advance man for a visit by former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci. "We were meeting with Russian generals," Mr. Karber recalls, "and we met a three-star who told us they had 40,000 warheads, not the 20,000 we thought they had." It was a stunning disclosure. At a time when legions of CIA analysts, Pentagon war-gamers and arms-control specialists devoted entire careers to estimating the size of the Soviet arsenal, the U.S. had missed the real figure by a factor of two. ..." WSJ 10.24.11

Whenever the expectations preclude the assessment, it is time to question the process that was being used.

Following is a listing of critical strategic factors of what an ideal strategic assessment process must emphasize on:
  • the macro and micro configuration of the grand setting and the many situations that lie within it;
  • the psychological configuration behind the chief decision markers and their various teams; and
  • the logistics behind the process.
Is your project team doing it? ...

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Connect the Dots and Reap the Rewards

    Comprehending the tangible state of the information economy begins by understanding how things are connected.

    For today's challenge, connect the dots between Greece, Wall Street and Main Street.

    Basic Compass Schema
    • Identify the political-economic and social connections from Greece through Wall Street and then to Main Street
    • Determine their impact by recognizing the momentum and its connection to the Big Tangible Picture (BTP)
    • Examine the risk attributes. of the impact
    • Analyze the quality of the collected market intelligence
    • Lead with the decision.
    Compass Rule: When one connects the dots, he or she reaps the rewards.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    The Reality of Playing the Strategy Game

    An associate (Mr. Dragon) who is a fan of the iptv technology, sent us this article that gave an interesting fact- 88% of all IPTV marketers don't have an strategy.

    After a moment of message swapping, we all concluded that operating without a strategy is a habit of many people. Some of these people are in love with the notion of doing stuff from the seat of their pants. They loved to be inspired and having the feeling of grinding, grounding and pounding their way through the numerous obstacles. Finding the path of least resistance is not in their agenda. {There is a grand exception to this idealistic setting. Do you know what it is? ...}

    In some cases, they over-exceed the expected timeline and the budget. Do you think that is the best way to succeed in one's goal?

    A few years ago, we performed an inpromptu survey on how many organizations were operating without a real tangible strategic plan. Without getting into the deep specifics, the count was over 50%.

    In most cases, some of these companies were operating on a quarterly basis. The life cycle of their projects usually averaged about three months. Most of their chief decision makers never took the time to think past the three to six months timeline. Their quarterly strategic plans resembled to the particulars of a "Things to Do" list.

    Due to the current political-economic uncertainty, this tradition of "playing the quarterly game without a long term strategy" will still continue.

    Our immediate solution for this type of short term strategic activity is the Compass script.

    Failure to Plan is to Plan to Failure
    Those who possessed the strong "political, economic and social" influences, are usually able to endure the err of not building a good long term strategy. It is one of the few exceptions to the "Failure to Plan is to Plan to Failure" rule.

    Side Notes
    In our strategy book project, we have modernized our listing of strategic and tactical principles. It is based on the Art of War (AoW) and the other components from the Seven Military Classics of Ancient China (Seven Strategy Classics). We are still debating on including a list of exceptions where certain tactical principles should not be in play regarding to specific situations.

    Ask your local Sunzi reader/expert if he or she knows the exceptions to certain principles from the Art of War and other Chinese strategy classics.

    Our current set of priorities does not include the publishing of this book for the next three to six months. We are currently too involved with our macro objectives.

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Compass Trend (7): More Notes on Robotic Trends

    We have not talked about robotic trends in a long time. Click here and here on the direction of our information society.

    In this economy, achieving peak (operational) efficiency is the name of the game for those who could not innovate. They focused on cost-based efficiency. Depending on the industry, some of the solutions are robots and inexpensive labor. One should expect to see a gradual labor squeeze in certain service-based areas as technology slowly replaces human labor while health costs rise.

    "Lean and mean" is the operational motto of the information economy.

    To thrive in these times, one needs to focus on a relevant solution without getting overwhelmed by the irrelevant hypes of easy solutions.

    The Compass Solution
    Assessing the state of the Big Tangible Picture (BTP) and finding the un-mined mines that are not touched by automation sounds easy. Collecting the data takes a great deal of time and effort. Knowing how to do it is the challenge.

    The successful participants of this hyper-motion information economy usually thrive by their ability to pre-positioning themselves ahead of their competition. The experience of comprehending the Big Tangible Picture enables them to decide on their objective, their approach, their means and their modes.

    Our research tells us that " ... one's current understanding of the macro and micro details of their Big Tangible Picture usually leads to one's view of what the plan is. ..."

    Poor understanding of the Big Tangible Picture sometimes leads to poor planning. Poor planning leads to many negative effects. The lesson is that one who fails to plan usually plan for failure.

    So, do you plan by understanding the Big Tangible Picture?

    Better yet, do you know how to build your plan?

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Jiang Tai Gong: The Supreme Strategist

    An associate of ours wrote the following essay on Jiang Tai Gong for Jade (With his permission, we took the liberty of optimizing some parts of it .)
    Updated on 11.08.13

    In our global society, Sunzi’s (Sun Tzu) Art of War is known as the most well-written and popular strategy classic from China. Some of the other popular Chinese military classics are Sun Bin’s The Art of War, Huang Shek Gong’s Three Strategies and Wuzi’s Art of War. Before Sunzi’s Art of War was written, there was Jiang Taigong’s (JTG) Six Secret Strategic Teachings (also known as The Six Strategies of War).

    Jiang Taigong was a real historical character named Lu Shang (also known as Jiang Ziya) who, in the 11th century BC, became advisor to King Wen and his son King Wu, founders of the Zhou dynasty (1122-771 BC). He was supposedly instrumental in aiding the fall of the Shang Dynasty (approximately 1700 BCE - 1045 BCE) and in establishing the Zhou (1045 BCE – 221 BCE). He was the prime minister for the first Zhou emperor and his loyalty and farsightedness in governing spread his fame throughout China.

    The legend of Jiang Taigong captured popular imagination. Jiang Taigong is honored throughout Chinese history as the first great military advisor and the father of strategic studies.
    He was credited with the feat of writing the first military strategic book Liutao (Six Secret Strategic Teachings). Liutao has been considered a highly important and proven source for military wisdom over the centuries, where it continues to be held in high esteem among contemporary Chinese strategy professionals.


    Note: The many interpretations of Jiang Tai Gong’s biography propelled this writer to focus on the apparent.

    Jiang Taigong (first known as Lü Shang of Lù-shi clan) was later known as Jiang Shang, then Jiang Ziya and Jiang Taigongwang).

    As Lu Shang, he served King Zhouwang, the last ruler of the Shang dynasty (16th to 11th century BC) as an expert in military strategic affairs. The Shang ruler was a tyrannical and corrupted ruler who spent his days carousing with his favorite concubine Daji and mercilessly executing or punishing honorable officials and all others who objected to his ways.

    After many years of working for the Shang ruler, Lu Shang detested him so much that he hoped that some day someone would call on him to help overthrow this evil tyrant. One day the Shang ruler came up with the extravagant goal of building 'Lu Tai' (deer platform) palace that would glorify him as a deity. This task became such a burden to the people that the hungry and sick were dying in the countryside.

    Lü Shang abandoned his post and left with his wife Ma-shi to go to the west. They suffered many years in poverty and his wife later left him. During that period, Lu Shang knew that he would have another opportunity that would utilize his talent. All he needed to do was to be patient. Lu Shang waited till he was 72 years old for the next opportunity to come along.

    Meeting King Wen
    After his wife left him, Lu Shang went to Wei-shui River (near today’s Xi'an) to fish, knowing that the future Zhou ruler Wenwang (located in central Shaanxi) would come along one day and meet him. The opportunity occurred one day, when King Wen decided to go hunting in the area near the river, where he saw Lu Shang sitting on the grass, fishing with a bamboo pole that had a barbless hook attached to it. (Some claimed that there was no hook on the line.) The hook was then positioned a few feet above the surface of the water.

    This unique act of fishing is based on Jiang’s theory that the fish would come to him of their own volition when they were ready. This action requires the fisherman to be patient and devise the philosophy of "if one waits long enough, things will come their way."

    As King Wen of the Zhou state (central Shaanxi), saw Lu Shang fishing, he was reminded of the advice of his father and grandfather before him, which was to search for talented people. In fact, he had been told by his grandfather (the Grand Duke of Zhou), "… that one day a sage would come and help him to rule the Zhou state."

    When King Wen saw Lu Shang, he immediately felt that this was an unusual old man and began to converse with him. He discovered that this white-haired fisherman was actually an astute political thinker and military strategist. This, he felt, must be the man his grandfather had mentioned. He took Lu Shang as his coach to the court, appointed him the role of prime minister, and then gave him the title Jiang Taigongwang (Hope of the Duke of Zhou). This was later shortened to Jiang Taigong.

    The Lesson
    One account of Jiang Taigong's life, written long after his time, said he believed that " … a country could become powerful only when the people prospered. If the officials enriched themselves while the people remained poor, the ruler would not last long. The major principle in ruling a country is loving the people through the reduction of taxes and slave labor. … " By following those ideas, King Wen immediately and rapidly strengthened the prowess and power of Zhou state.

    After King Wen died, his son King Wu, who inherited the throne, decided to send troops to overthrow the King of Shang. But Jiang Taigong stopped him, saying: "While I was fishing at Panxi, I realized one truth—if you want to succeed you need to be patient. We must wait for the appropriate opportunity to eliminate the King of Shang."

    Soon it was reported that the people of Shang were so oppressed that no one dared to speak. King Wu and Jiang Taigong decided this was the time to attack, for the people had lost faith in the ruler. ( You can find  that  specific point listed in Jiang's book)  A bloody battle was fought at Muye (35 kilometers from the Shang capital Yin, now Anyang in the Henan province).

    Graphic illustration of King Wu
    With battle drums beating in the background, Jiang Taigong charged at the chief of the troops, with 100 of his men and drew the Shang troops to the southwest. King Wu's troops then moved quickly and surrounded the capital. Many of the Shang troops defending the capital were untrained slaves. They immediately surrendered, enabling Zhou army to capture the capital.

    The Shang king set fire to his palace and perished in it. As for Daji, one version has it that she was captured and executed; another version was that she took her own life. At that moment, King Wu and his successors established the rule of the Zhou dynasty all over China.

    Jiang Taigong was made the duke of the State of Qi (today’s Shandong province), which thrived with effective communications between the king and the people. He also assisted in building the economic state of Zhou dynasty.

    After some time, Jiang Taigong retired from his post before King Wu became wary of him.

    The Other Lesson
    There are many variations related to the biography of Jiang Taigong. The two situations "Meet the King Wen" and "Advising King Wu" has been used on many levels to explain the significance of patience and control. The story also presents a sophisticated message that is applicable in any strategic scenario: "Wait until circumstances favor you."

    Trivia (mainly rumors) related to Jiang Taigong:

    • It has been said that Fan Li, Zhang Liang, and Zhuge Liang were also readers of the Jiang Taigong’s book for the ideas on the myriad approaches of prevailing over their rivals with great resources
    • Wang Xu (also known as the Master of Ghost Valley) who started the first academy of military studies during the Warring states, taught the concepts of Jiang Taigong writings to his students. His top students were Sun Bin, Sui Chang and Zhang Yi
    • Sun Bin also received this book first and later received the Sunzi text from his teacher Wang Xu
    • In the river near Xi'an there is a big stone with an indentation that said this was the spot that Jiang Taigong resided in his act of fishing
    • Rumors have stated that the following strategic classics were also attributed to Tai Gong: Huang Shi Gong Ji (Huang Shi Gong's Records) [later Sui Dynasty]; Huang Shi Gong San Lüe (Huang Shi Gong's Three Schemes); and Yin Fu (Concealed Symbols)
    • Many legends on Jiang Taigong were collected in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and can be found in a fictional work Fengshen Yanyi (Tales of Gods and Heroes)
    • There are various parts of China and Asia that honor the achievements of Jiang Tai Gong

    Other Matters

    During his retirement, Jiang Taigong took time to write a manuscript on how to effectively lead an empire based on his conversations with King Wen and later King Wu (who succeeded to the throne on Wen's death). This manuscript was Tai Gong Liu Tao (translated as “Tai Gong's Six Secret Strategic Teachings”). It is consisted of advices on how to organize a potential empire, military advice describing methods of insurrection and revolution that were instrumental in the overthrow of Shang dynastic rule, and a wide range of strategic insights and tactical instructions in every arena of human activity.

    Six Secret Strategic Teachings (Six Secret Strategies of Conflict)

    The Six Secret Strategic Teachings is a good book for "newbies" who are interested in strategic consulting and advising or understanding how the world works. 

    These six chapters guided the readers in the art and science of effective strategy and leadership from a top to bottom mode.

    The first two "chapters" deal with the duties of the organization and the natural transition of power to the principal rival if the organization fails. This scenario can be described as a "respective" interplay of "yin and yang."
    1. The Civil Strategic Secret: The first chapter stresses the importance of recruiting talent, managing the organization, and valuing developing a proper relationship within your client and your own organization. Once the bond of absolute trust is established, they will do almost anything for you.

    2. The Military Strategic Secret: The second chapter accentuates the importance of how to prevail over the opposition and how to build a territorial domain by the following actions: Cultivating yourself and organizing your own group in order to govern your external settings and pacify the world. The concept of "conquering without a single tactical battle" is also greatly emphasized. (It is similar to Sunzi's concept of "winning a war without a battle.")

    3. The Dragon Strategic Secret: The emphasis is on how to lead wisely through various situations by understanding the developmental stage of the operational command, the organizational order, and the liaison.

    4. The Tiger Strategic Secret: The emphasis is on the tactical essentials, including matters related to proper logistics.  
       #  Side note: Logistics is the prevailing factor that wins the grand war not the tactics.

    5. The Leopard Strategic Secret: This chapter focuses on the tactical specifics for identifying the critical path toward the completion of one's objective

    6. The Dog Strategic Secret: This final chapter focuses on the tactical specifics for trapping the target (i.e., encircling and intercepting). There are also good pointers on selecting and training the desired professionals for a team and coordinating the personnel's and resources toward the target.
    This book was compiled into a single body of strategic work known as Wujing Qishu (also known as The Seven Martial Classics) during the Sung dynasty. It was designated as an essential material for the imperial military examinations and thus came to inexplicably affect subsequent military thought. Separately each of these seven classics complements each other in terms of strategic leadership.

    This set of classics was read by military officials and high government officials for many hundreds of years. It also played a great role in the socialization of scholars, officials, and military officers.


    The thoughts of Jiang Taigong have been known for 3000 years ago and we believed that it remains relevant for today's CEOs, managers, and leaders.

    His concepts of effective strategy and leadership have been widely reinterpreted and applied in the corporate world today. A sound appreciation of Jiang's concepts is a requirement for both sophisticated and budding strategic leaders.

    As mentioned before, reading this essay is a good fundamental start for those who wanted to start an uprising in their strategic setting.

    Side Notes
    Two of the most important contents of this book can be found in Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 (civil secret teachings and martial secret teachings). 

    It delineates the art of "suggesting ideas and perspectives" to people.  These two chapters also outline what unique points to observe for.  Those who are in the consulting business, might find these points to be quite useful. 

    One significant lesson that can be learned from reading Jiang's essay was the importance of "thinking grand " in one's own aspiration.

    The other lesson is knowing the position where one stands in the political-economic-social value chain. By carefully reading this essay with a critical eye, one learns the reason behind that point. ....

    The Three Categories of Strategists
    Inspirational leaders have a tendency of emphasizing on bold and empty messages. The messages do not mean much to their flock after the broadcasting is over.

    The next category is that small group of professionals are those who are obsessively focused on understanding the target, their logistics and the communications channels within the organization.   Their grand objective is to prevail with the maximum strategic effectiveness.

    The last category are the massive group of strategists, which is usually consisted of amateurs.  They loved to discuss their favorite tactical measures. Some of them are just operating from a handful of tricks while the rest are "one trick ponies."  

    So, which of the three categories are you positioned at?

    Ruminations From the Compass Desk
    We have noticed that the many so-called Sunzi experts have a tendency of telling their followers that all they needed to know about strategy was to follow the principles from the Art of War. Most of them do not know how to assess an opportunity with the Art of War principles.  Interestingly, most of them do not know much about the various operational measures and the unique particulars that are concealed within the Seven Military Classics of Ancient China. 

    One reader of their view found this "pseudo expert" from the Sunzi's Art of War Cult to be quite amusing and shallow. His view is an extension of his "know how."

    To prevail in any competitive situation, one must comprehend the specifics for mastering the means and modes.  Spending some time collecting the data, can be a challenge.

    Side Note  (New  update:  10.26.14)
    Click here on a modern day version of Jiang Tai Gong with a different twist.