Monday, January 30, 2012

The Question of the Day

Do you know how to connect the 36 Stratagems to the principles of the Seven Chinese Strategy Classics (aka. Seven Military Classics of Ancient China)?

If not, ask your "loco" strategy expert (esp. if he/she is a Sunzi's AoW believer) to explain it to you. The serious readers and the prolific experts of the Seven Chinese Strategy Classics should know the answer.

Those who do not know, should spend some time studying the Li Quan commentary on Sunzi. It is all there. (We only took eight hours to solve the essence behind that essay.)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Dao of Strategic Assessment #8: The Process

A: Assess, Position and Influence

Q: How does one assess?
A: Know the end in mind. Define the specific type of intelligence that one is going to collect before the act of assessing begins.
  • Collect the necessary but relevant data.
  • Compare the categorized data.
  • Contrast the differences by focusing on the relevant indicators.
  • Count the numbers within the subcategories that are hidden behind the performance metrics. (It is important to verify the authenticity of the data.)
  • Calculate the probabilities of winning.
It is that simple. ... Or is it? ...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Year of the Dragon

Compass360 Consulting

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Dao of Executing an Unorthodox (Surprise) Play (4)

Another way to implement an unorthodox attack is to have a multi-option offense. One of those options is to influence the competition to play the reactive game. Forcing them to spend their time guessing on what is the offense's next move, especially in a near-predictable setting.

The New England Patriots usually influence their competition with a no-huddle attack.

This mode of offense focuses on maintaining pressure by not taking a break between plays. It is equivalent to basketball's "fast break" tactic.

"Score first. Score fast. Score again." This is the mantra of a no-huddle attack.

The Pats usually score first in a short time. In some cases, they either were able to score or pushed the competition into a difficult field position.

During the second half of the season, some of their competitors were forced to catch up and usually were unable to maintain that pace.

One of their favorite formations is the dual tight end (TE) attack.

The uniqueness of this attack mode is that the Patroits TE's are quite multi-functionally talented. Beside running the basic TE receiving routines (i.e., post patterns, vertical streaks, 10-15 yrs hook patterns) and blocking like regular offensive linemen, they could also flawlessly run WR's routes with effectiveness.

Because of their size and their unique speed, there are technical and physical mismatches between the New England TE's and their competitor's linebackers and defensive backs.

Whenever their competitor's defense is able to contain them, the Pats QB then focused on their reliable wide receiver on the outside route.

The variational uses of the five eligible receivers within their pass/run game are endless.

Taking What the Defense Gives
In this situation, the QB recognizes the situational intent of the defense and decides on an opposite approach.

Whenever their offense sees a pass defending situation, the double TE(s) sometimes remain in the line formation and block for the run. In a run defending situation, one or both TE(s) occasionally run out for the pass.

Seizing What One Wants
Occasionally, the Patriots completely comprehends their competitor's tendencies and the weaknesses. Then, they would begin to dominate by running on their competitor's run defense and passing on their passing defense.

At that level of extreme competition, one targets the jugular.

Extending the Model to Business
So, how does this viewpoint applies to business?

In the information economy, the grand marketplace is presumed to be near-predictable. To dominate one's own niche, he/she must have the available options before ever implementing the offensive mode. Having multi-functional talent usually enables the chief planners to plan a diversity of efficient tactics.

Influencing their competitor to react out of their norm is the name of the game. The extreme competitor usually forces their rivals to spend much of their time thinking instead of responding strategically.

Knowing the tendencies and the weaknesses of the competitor and integrating the different options into one framework are two of the many steps to building one's strategic power.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Dao of Executing an Unorthodox (Surprise) Play (3)

Notes from the Compass Desk
The professionals always surprised their targets
while the amateurs tricked their victims....
Tricks are for kids. - A Nameless Strategist

The objective of a surprise play is to influence the competitor to focus on an irrelevant terrain (situation) while implementing one's intent toward an relevant terrain unexpectedly.

Knowing their tendencies is essential. The next step is to create the proper illusion that baits and lures them into the wrong terrain. Idealistically, the final step is to implement the technical mismatches while attacking the non-obvious gap within the terrain. ... You can find more examples about this stratagem in any essays relating to the 36 Stratagems.

Depending on the situation, a surprise play could be consisted of many levels of steps (minutes, details, and ultra specifics). Many pseudo experts usually do not like to involve themselves in the planning stage of a uncertain situation.

The counter to any surprise play is to have quality manpower who could adjust their Big Tangible Picture (from the field level) and implement their operational tactics on the fly.

Side note: Click here for a previous post on strategizing in a near-predictable setting.

Final Thoughts
In any venture, the possibility of high reward usually means high risk. To compete in this unique economy, one has to be able to make that challenging decision to pursue that risk. It begins by having a Big Tangible Picture and being able to assess it properly. One cannot just plan without knowing their settings. (We see this behavior repeatedly. Willing and implementing a poorly-developed plan will have negative consequences.) ... While one is thinking of a surprise attack, what are the chances of their competition is thinking of the same option?

Understanding the true settings of their competition is necessary especially when one wants to prevent an unethical surprise assault. It is one of those keys that one needs to identify before finding the path of least resistance in the business world. There is no tangible reward for preventing that action. But it does reduce the stress of fixing the on-coming problem.

... Understanding the element of surprise (bilaterally) is one of the many keys to mastering the art and science of creating strategic power.

We will touch on the topic of 36 Stratagems in our future posts.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Dao of Executing an Unorthodox (Surprise) Play (2)

"Victory has a thousand fathers; but defeat is an orphan." - JFK

In a near-predictable competitive terrain, surprising the competitor can be a challenging task.

Objective: Subjugate the Competition's Intention

Situation: 4th Quarter, Saints 24 Niners 23. 2:18 left , 3rd down and seven yards, the Niners had the ball on the Saints 28 yard line

Step1: Assess the Big Tangible Picture by focusing on knowing the competitor's tendencies

Based on the tendencies of previous games and the current game observations, Greg Roman, the S.F Niners offensive coordinator called a play (“QB Whack.”) from the Shotgun formation. It was designed to beat a defense that overloads on one side of the defensive formation. To most amateurs, they believed that Roman's job was to pick the right side.

What Coach Roman did not disclose to the news media was that he saw many tendencies within the defense at a certain situation. By looking at the videos and the stats, Roman knew that Gregg Williams, the defensive play caller had a tendency of calling a blitz play during an absolute pass situation. Coach Williams also had a tendency of targeting the competitor's key strength and then forcing the QB to do things that he is not proficient at.

Step 2a: Position the competition toward a grand illusion by creating a bait and lure situation
By looking at the above video, the Niners offense presented the disposition of passing. The QB was five yards back from the line of scrimmage and no one was positioned in the backfield. Everyone on the defensive side were thinking "the pass" play was on.
Step 2b: Deceive the competitor from the trenches
Goodwin's instructed to the offensive line that suggested a passing play. The Saints countered by blitzing from the right side of the offensive line and Smith ran to the left side of the field.
Step 3: Influence the competition by implementing mismatching secondary situations
When the ball was hiked, Smith took the ball and ran to the non-blitzing side of the field. Kyle Williams, the wide receiver who was in motion, delivered the first key block – crashing down from the slot position on the left side to level Saints defensive end Will Smith. Then Joe Staley, the left tackle pulled from his position, sprinted downfield and neutralized Isa Abdul-Quddus, the Saints safety with a textbook cut block at the 10-yard line to ensure the touchdown.

Step 4: Know the score and the situation
After the Niners scored, there was 2 min and 11 sec left to the game. The Saints quickly scored and took the lead.

Step 5: Return to step 1 to step 4 until the game is over
The Niners adjusted to the situation and re-scored again with fourteen seconds left in the game.

The Saints defense went with a zone coverage, thinking that the next play was a run or the possibility of a short and outside pass. The Niners braintrust called a pass play that gave the image of a run. The key intent of this specific play was targeted on the tendency of the Saints safety. One should not be surprised that the Niners knew that he had an ankle injury from the week before.

The Final Score: San Francisco Niners 36 New Orleans Saints 32

One should always remember that the configuration of a successful situation is a composite of many elements, especially if the situation can be quite complex.

Compass Rule: Always assess, position and influence.

(More to come)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Compass Trend (8): The Automated Trend Continues

As mentioned in previous posts, low-level human labor in the U.S. is on a decline. There is a moderately-high supply of human labor and a slow low market demand for that niche.

Automation is slowly lurking forward toward the many areas of business, esp in the restaurant business.

Do not be surprised to see that there are more vending machines that are being utilized at certain social economic niches within our information society. Self-help service is the current trend.

In summary, manual labor has become minimized especially when automation is being used. Anytime, outsourced industrial jobs are coming to the U.S . It means that the company has figured out how to automate it.

Notes from the Compass Desk
Our suggestion to those who have high aspirations and want to stay ahead of the curve. Be the top 10% who are innovative and inventive. Create the unique value proposition for those who have the ambition and the capital. Do not be expendable.

Notes from the Compass Desk
When the criteria of the grand situation is near-symmetrical, transitive and reflexive, the successful strategists are focused on comprehending the configuration of the Big Tangible Picture and identifying the exceptional point.

It is quite simple when one knows what to look for and have the process to do it.

/// Updated on 01/19/12

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Gaining the Informational Advantage by Knowing the Big Tangible Picture (2)

New England Patriots 45 Denver Broncos 10

When one competitor easily scores five touchdowns in the first half of the game, the serious and insightful spectator could have presumed that they have already identified the absolute weaknesses of their opposition and decided on capitalized on those opportunities.

Look at the stats and see if you have the same conclusion.

When certain strategic and tactical factors between the competition evens out, quality intelligence becomes relevant to those who want the advantage.

Compass Rule: The quantity of quality information is proportional to the quantity of strategic advantage (strategic power) that one might have.

note: There is an exception to this rule.

Additional note:
Most football fanatics knew that the Patriots were going to win. The question was: are the Patriots able to play dominance football against the Broncos? ... I presumed that the "inside knowledge" positioned the staff's preparation into a state of readiness and the team into a state of dominance.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Gaining the Informational Advantage by Knowing the Big Tangible Picture

Fwiw, the New England Patriots are playing Mr. Tebow and the Denver Broncos this coming weekend.

Bill Belichick, the head coach of the New England Patriots recently made a masterful move by immediately hiring Josh McDaniels his former offensive coordinator as his new offensive coordinator for the next season, since his current coordinator Bill O'Brien will be leaving for Penn State after the Patriots football season is over.

One can only expected that the Patriots defense will gain a slight informational edge from the presence of Josh McDaniels. He was the former coach of Tim Tebow, the quarterback of the Denver Broncos team and some of the other Denver players who played in the previous season.

What is the chance that Coach McDaniels has an understanding of the habits and the situational tendencies of certain players? ... The Patriots now had one extra week of preparation and the insider information on how to prepare against the Broncos. ... So, which team has the advantage now?

Compass Analysis
  • Terrain Factor: Patriots (Home Territory)
  • Offense vs. Defense: Patriots
  • Strategic Playoff Experience: Patriots
  • Informational Advantage: Patriots
  • Divine Intervention: Irrelevant
  • The Wild Card Factor: Broncos
{There are more factors.}

Prediction: Pick the Patriots to defeat the Broncos.

The Information Advantage
When the categories of various critical strategic and tactical factors are evened out between the competitors, the possession of quality intelligence becomes quite relevant. ...

Compass Rule: The quantity of quality information is proportional to the quantity of strategic advantage that one might have.

The Sunzi's Advantage
... Did the reading of Sunzi's The Art of War presented Coach Belichick the true insight to make this move? (In the AoW world, the diehards know that he is supposed to be one of the many enthusiasts of the Sunzi classic.) ... I doubted it. ... It was his ability to see the connections within his version of the Big Tangible Picture and having the mindful awareness to make the right decisions. ...

From our experience, reading any book on strategy and tactics could guide someone so far. ... (However the AoW and the rest of the Seven Strategy Classics are quite good at giving good pointers. By carefully reading those books, one can indirectly find the connections between the exploitation of intelligence to the "terrain" level of the competition. ... Ask your local Sunzi reader/expert if he or she knows that connection?) ... Integrating the principles and the protocols into a d0-able process that would enabled him or her to operate efficiently, is the challenge. If it is done properly, the performance of its users would be elevated toward a higher plane of competition.

The Dao of the Successful Strategist
... The successful strategist begins his endeavor of achieving the state of strategic effectiveness when he sees the Big Tangible Picture by knowing how things are connected. Then he assesses it in terms of advantages and disadvantages. The next step is to position himself with a sound and solid plan and proper preparation. The final step is the influencing of the target with a myriad of orthodox and unorthodox strategies.

Do you know how everything connects in your competitive terrain and beyond? ... Do you have the intelligence advantage?

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Art of the Focus (9): The Practice of Becoming Focused

Our friend at Cook Ding's Kitchen occasionally gives us pointers on how to stay focused while avoiding contentment.

Some members of our C360 group have practiced various internal martial art systems for the purpose of improving their physical being while building their sense of concentration. Others preferred the practice of drinking their favorite beverage while listening to Bach and Mozart. One associate usually hum along to various Bach's piano pieces during the process of reading, writing and executing code.

Fwiw, Bach musical pieces (i.e., The Art of Fugue, Two Piece of Invention, etc.) presented to its listeners a sense of poise and perspective.  ... If you are strategizing, I recommended the practice of standing alone while listening to the low-pitched tone of Bach or Handel.

Some pieces of Mozart are great for the purpose of brainstorming. My favorites are usually the Two Pianos pieces.

In summary, one can only strategize and implement when he/she is focused. One cannot be focused by reading a strategy classic or thinking about it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Dao of Implementing an Unorthodox (Surprise) Play

"In the field of observation, chance (fortune)
favored the prepared mind." - Louis Pasteur

Our associates are always asked this question, "how does one surprises their target?"

The answer is: understanding the tendencies of the competition. Click here, here and here (the video) for an unique example.

The Niners Implementation
One wonders how did Brad Seely, the Niners coach find this operational inefficiency within the St. Louis Rams special team?

One presumption is that the coach could have noticed that opposing special team signal caller does NOT always perform the due diligence of counting number of opposing players before the play, during the game review video session.

It is one of the many basic signals that some football fans missed. They become so involved in the action and rarely see the other parts of the bigger picture. (Fwiw, the game video for the coaches is quite different than the TV version of the game. It offers a broader scope of the game. The coaches usually have more tangible information to be processed.)

The Niners kicker was quite observant and fully prepared, that he quickly read and scan the full field for situational mismatches before executing it. This "read and respond" approach only works if the play caller's team have prepared themselves by mastering all of relevant scenario adjustment plays.

There are some other presumptions. Drop us a message and we will tell you.

Side note: Regardless of the predictability state of the situation, the successful strategist always ensures that the expediters are prepared for all tangible situations. If the execution errs in any way, then the root cause would be focused toward their execution. ... Do you plan and prepare your team to do that? ... In your settings, what is the probability of your competition surprising you with a new marketing tactic.

In summary, how do you assessed your competition? Better yet, how does your competition assessed you?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 Predictions and Prognostications

In the information economy, zero sum gain is the ideal outcome for those who are interested in capitalizing the given opportunities. ... Regardless of the pseudo-positive news, most of the low to middle tier jobs are not returning to the U.S. For the time being, the opportunities are fewer in number and the pay is certainly much more modest than before.

The Ala Carte Model
Those who are on top of their "information media" mountain, do not always have to innovate. They just have to find new ways to generate new streams of revenue with their content. Building different subscriptions models and producing new content could only go so far.

The Rise of IPTV Technology
We think that the latest iptv technology will overcome cable tv in the future. The latest updates on IPTV can be found at iptvdigest.

The Continuous Rise of Automation
Any jobs that are returning to United States are being automated.

Other Predictions
  • Click here for IBM's view of the future.
  • Here is another view relating the possible changes for 2012.
  • The name of this game is to maintain the approach of cost and operational efficiency. We expected certain U.S. cities to continually slash their budgets. It is only a matter of time that police work will be outsourced to private companies.
  • Do not be surprised if on-line gaming sites becomes legalized in the U.S. and more gambling casinos are opened at various cities and towns.

Thoughts from the Compass Desk
Those who innovate, usually have a challenging time of surviving. If the innovation becomes relevant, their chances of thriving increases. Those who can't innovate, will imitate while waiting for a new opportunity.

If the imitators are able to maintain their peak performance, then they will have a fighting chance to survive.

Thriving in the information economy is about transferring innovative ideas to something that people can connect to. Are you doing it?