Friday, April 29, 2011

One Version of the Big Tangible Picture

(Click on image for an enlarged view)

Study, reflect and comment.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Assess, Position and Influence (7): Understanding the connections

(from Facebook)
In the information economy, one usually realized that almost everything economically around him or her is somehow connected to the web.

Last month, there was an interesting article in the NY Times about how global companies responded to a black swan event within their supply chain.

# From our experience, the black swan usually originated from within one's settings.Occasionally, the long-term rewards for "just-in-case" situation exceed the short-term rewards for "just-in-time" situation. In various cases, many companies do not like to prepare for the long term. ... Adding inventories and backup suppliers reduces risk by increasing the redundancy in a supply system. It also enhances resilience. The trade off is the increase of operating costs. If you were the chief decision maker, would you choose the Just-in-time model or the Just-in-case model? ... When deciding, what strategic and operational factors would you focused on?

Compass View
Under the settings of the information economy, our world is considered to be strategically flat.

Successful business strategists understand the grand connection from the basic ingredients through the suppliers to the manufacturers and finally to the marketplace. The connective understanding of the economics, the logistics and the other tangible influences enabled them to prepare for the best case scenarios and the worst case scenarios. Anticipating possible scenarios is how they have always stayed ahead of the curve.

The key to succeeding is having the time, the resources and the skills to properly connect the dots.

Based on your various projects, do you know the tangible specifics and the connections from the initial stage to the final stage?

Do you know the connections of the influences that control your settings?

When the strategists see the tangible causes of the connections, they would have a better chance of enhancing their settings. Whether they have the wisdom and the courage to pursue the opportunity is a different tale.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Assessing, Positioning and Deciding

Click on this link for an interesting article on how people analyzed complex business problems with the attitude of overconfidence and over-simplified solutions.

Compass Rule:
  • Assess the Big Tangible Picture before deciding.

There is always a trade-off and sometimes an unseen blow back for some major decisions. Some-one (or some group) usually gets penalized.

Talk show hosts, lawyers and politicians usually enjoyed the act of selling the message of "a Win and Win situation" or "We will all live happily ever after, because of that decision. ..." 

The masses buy it because they want a simple outcome and do not want to think more about it. It is always easy to sell the obvious message of "easy" risk benefit while hiding the truth of risk consequences.

Some of these people prefer to be focused on the positives, without ever focusing on the tradeoffs and the negative consequences. In public, their idea of deep thinking is contemplating on which of the three choices would be benefit them now.

The professionals focus on those points and then re-assesses which of the three choices are for real and what are the possible risk consequences.

Base Approach

  1. Collect relevant data relating to to your Big Tangible Picture.
  2. Pinpoint the positive points and the negative points from various different angles.
  3. Identify the risk benefits and and the risk consequences of each point
  4. Determine whether the settings behind the goal is predictable or unpredictable.
  5. Adjust your goal accordingly.
Proper assessment of the targeted settings usually enables one to determine the comprehension of the advantages and disadvantages.

Playing the Cyclical game
Some decision making process is similar to the game of dices. Everyone who plays the game, know that the current shooter will "crap" out (hit the seven) before making their mark sooner or later. When one has properly assessed that the possibility of crapping out becomes obvious. Then, it is time to bet against the shooter. ...

Did you know the smart and experienced players usually generate more cash, betting against the shooter than for the shooter? (It is quite similar to various future speculation schemes That is another subject matter).

In any economic situation, the smart strategic thinkers know that nothing stays the same. For every peak, there is a valley. They know when to exit before the game is over.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Reader's comment

" ... This is really good stuff. I remember reading about Mongol strategies years ago when it was just becoming in vogue. I should have kept up with the globalization aspects of Sun Tzu's genre. ... It's a very confusing environment. There is cooperation, but also a lot of nationalism mixed in.

I work closely (weekly) with a very large U.S. business research team in Asia. I've had some very interesting discussions with many of my counterparts. We're somewhat alike, low in the political structure, but very important from the technical side. It is really a new world. ...

Your site (as well as your concept) is excellent. Where I failed miserably was in assessing and strategy. I've been out-positioned too many times in the past though the odds were a bit formidible. I am today what my conquerors planned all along, just a tool to help them with their overall strategy. I feel I have been duped by some of the best.

Assessing means taking the time to regroup and rethink my position. ... "

- Anonymous Reader

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Sign of the Times: The Robotic Game

In previous posts, we discussed the on-coming trend of the robotic game. Robotic surgery has been here for awhile Another note on robotic surgery can be found here. Da Vinci Surgery is one of the top experts in this area.

No one can predict everything. However it is important to occasionally assess the Big Tangible Picture

Friday, April 15, 2011

Assess the Big Picture, Position and Decide


These days, the masses do not want a methodology (or a process). They just want a web application program with a simple user interface and easy choices. It must present a comprehensive outcome-driven strategic solution that encompassed colorful charts and a message path of go, stop or wait . Without any deep thinking, these people are only concerned about the benefits not the long term drawbacks and consequences. There is no contemplation on what the other people are doing. (What is wrong with this picture?)

In some cases, their decision making process takes about five minutes.

To maneuver effectively in our information economy, he or she needs to take some time and properly assess the special circumstances that are hidden within the Big Tangible Picture. before deploying any special planning.

Compass Rule:
In special times, the successful  strategic thinker (strategist) understands the importance of assessing special circumstances before deploying any special planning. It is one of many keys to strategic effectiveness.  ... Make a habit of taking time in the morning to reflect on the past actions before looking ahead.

The quality of the rewards sometimes determines the quantity and the quality of rewards.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Assess, Position and Influence (6)

The Chinese have always said that "the marketplace is the battlefield." In the information economy, the order of the marketplace begins with the rule of law. Some battles are fought in Washington DC and other capital cities before it is ever fought in the marketplace. When money is the milk of politics, the state of politics sometimes change. It is the sign of the times.

Here is an example of how the political and economic game is played in Silicon Valley. If one does not have any relevant strategic leverage, the competition will use it against them. As mentioned before, the game begins with the rule of law.

Click this link on a very good NYT article on Google bidding for Nortel Patent Assets :

Google assessed their Big Tangible Picture (BTP) and understood the connectivity of the various influences that encompassed the information economy. That they immediately decided to build a defensive front in order to prevent a potential strategic loss.

To gain "adequate" strategic positioning in ther global marketplace, Google believed that the Nortel telecommunication patents might be the key to dominating the information economy. After all, most of us are connected through our laptops and our smart phones.

It is a better idea to be a patent troll and not to pay a patent troll.

Update: Comprehending the Big Tangible Picture means understanding the PESTO factors of the game. To play the patent game, it starts with a strong base of economics and logistics

The Compass Rules:
  • The Big Tangible Picture is based on the connections of relevant points
  • Assess the Big Tangible Picture. Build the position. Influence with one's position.
  • If one wants to seriously play in any game, he or she must know the game in terms of the rules of the game, the exceptions to the rules, the players, the history, and the current state of the terrain.
By properly assessing the Big Tangible Picture, Google built their strategic power from a top down view of the terrain. Knowing the connections between their evolving informational economic terrain and their opposition (i.e., their tendencies, their state of performance, etc.) enabled them to quietly sit in their corner and wait for the right moment to strike. There is nothing wrong with patent trolling as long as one is the troll.

Building strategic power begins by understanding the compass process of assessing, positioning and influencing.

A Video Example of Strategic Power

The effectiveness of strategic power becomes relevant when the successful strategist has the competitive disposition to strike at the opposition's
weaknesses at the right opportunistic point with surprise, momentum and timing.

Click on this link for another conceptual example of what strategic power is.

Most people like to talk about obeying the rule of law and order in public. However, some of them live by the rule of the jungle.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Notes from the Virtual Desktop

In the past six months, a Northern California's town disbanded their police force and outsourced their work to the local sheriff department. Half Moon Bay, another Northern California's town is on the verge of doing the same thing.

It is only a matter of time, that the privatization of law enforcement becomes a reality.


On the 23rd of March, Dr. Sawyer was recently interviewed on the John Batchelor show.

Wednesday 1020P Eastern (720P Pacific Time): Ralph Sawyer, Ancient Chinese Warfare, in re: Immediately after the chairman of CNOOC announced offshore gas field development in disputed waters, the Chinese chairman of CNOOC blamed Japanese media for not being amiable enough toward China. Huge interest in Chinese strategy among university students and elites. Sun-tze: Chinese have long been conversant with these principles, not from having read the book but from cultural familiarity. China abstained from UN vote on Libya, then today condemned h violence. "Terrified of unrest in their own country - suppose India decided that China was cruel to its citizen and that was inimical to India's interests." Ancient motto: "If you're planning to seize something, first feign giving it away"

Download the interview audio from John Batchelor's web site.   
 Click on the Podcast menu heading.

Update: The April 2nd interview was focused on Dr. Sawyer's latest book, Ancient Chinese Warfare.


Friday, April 1, 2011

The Dao of Strategic Assessment #5: Assessing the Opposition Via the Art of War

“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 they will be victorious, have determined that the majority of factors are in their favor. Before the confrontation they resolve in their conference room that they will not be victorious, have determined a 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)

We have various ways of assessing the macro situation (the grand terrain) and the competition that resides within it. One of our alternate processes is based on those mentioned factors from the Art of War. (Our macro model is based on the principles of the Seven Chinese Military Classics, Sun Bin's Military Methods and other strategic essays.)

After many thousands of hours of researching and experimenting, we were able to identify those factors and concluded with the correct sequence of those factors.

Our professional expertise and our strategic experience have enabled us to transform it into a hierarchical-based strategic decision management model. ... With the proper collection of quality intelligence, the successful strategists can complete their goal by finding the path of least resistance through the conceptual use of Assessing, Positioning and Influencing.

Our process also allows the implementers to identify the current and the possible future situations of the competitive terrain and the competitors who resided within it.

The amateurs are in love with the concept of imposing their will into the opposition by planning and implementing their plan. (They can't help it. It is in their DNA. Their expediters regularly expired while they might secure a victory.) Depending on the configuration of the situation, success is not always guaranteed.

Our research shows that the successful strategists usually followed the paradigm of assessing the Big Tangible Picture before deciding on any strategic move.  They are also focused on finding and utilizing the path of least resistance to their advantage.

Macro Compass Rules
  • Assess the Big Tangible Picture before deciding on any strategic move.
  • Identify the vital objectives, the urgent objectives and the grand objectives
  • Determine the advantages and the disadvantages behind the approaches for each objective  
  • Connect each strategic (or tactical) move into one "active" thread and focus it toward your goal.
  • Anticipate two moves ahead while implementing half a step forward.
  • Plan purposeful move. Operate with a focus on 100% efficiency. 
  • Operate efficiently.  Do not waste a move. 

Minor Jottings
We will discussed more about our Compass strategic process model in a future post.

Through the proper assessment of the Big Tangible Picture, the successful strategists always achieved their strategic power within their competing arena. Understand the specifics behind it is the first step. This is the Dao of the Successful Strategist (or the Compass Strategist).

If you are interested in knowing more about it, please drop us a note.

{ Minor update to this post. 08/18/13 }