Saturday, March 31, 2012

Compass360 Consulting's Endorsement

In our efficient economy, there are more warriors than there are strategists. Visit Cook Ding's Kitchen. It is the cyber hub where

the martial arts philosopher-warriors read and reflect.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Question of the Day

“If tomorrow wasn’t promised, what would you give for today?”

Being X's and O's professionals, most of us do not need an inspirational speech to be focused.

However, here is a great pep speech from Baltimore Ravens linebacker extraordinaire Ray Lewis. He was invited to speak by the Stanford coaching staff before the Stanford Cardinal - U. Mass Huskies game in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

“If tomorrow wasn’t promised, what would you give for today?” he asked the players. “Forget everything else … We get one opportunity at life, one chance at life to do whatever you’re going to do. So lay your foundation. Make whatever mark you’re going to make. Whatever legacy you’re going to leave, leave your legacy.

After the speech, the Cardinal team left the locker room with a focus. ... They jumped to a big early lead, then held off UMass for a 74-64 win as Ray Lewis observed the game from behind their bench.

An Oblique View From the Compass Desk
In an extreme competitive situation, a man without hope is a man without fear. Only fools and amateurs would tell you that there is always a tomorrow.

Time moves forward and it waits for no one. The opportunity is usually now.

How do you assess your competitive situation? Is your opportunity now or later?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Question of the Day

Regardless of the state of the terrain, do you know how to use your playbook of tactical plays to shape your competitor's view and settings?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Question of the Day

“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 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

If you are a serious implementer of the Art of War (AoW) view, do you know what those factors are?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sun Bin: The Art of Warfare (Military Methods) (7)

Reducing (the number of) Stoves to Deceive the Opposition (Jian Zao Huo Di 减灶惑敌)
After the victory at Guiling, Sun Bin was now one level ahead of Pang Juan in terms of one-upmanship. Pang Juan lost his political ranking within the Wei's court and needed to avenge his loss and regain some "face."

When the opportunity to eradicate his previous loss, Pang Juan was emotionally ready. He pursued his rival with a vengeance .

Disguised as the disordered prey, Sun Bin gave the image of non-unified chaos by reducing the numbers of stoves at each daily turn.

Sun Bin assessed a succession of variables from their past situations in order to lure Pang Juan into a grand situation of coup de grace. At the end, he positioned his opportunity from the positive side of the eight and the ninth terrain (situation).

The outcome was obvious. Sun Bin prevailed and Pang Juan became an anecdote of what happens to an over-emotional rival who possessed superficial strategic skills.

Additional historical information can be found at this link.

The Art of the Strategic Power
Good strategic power is about creating a strategic situation that favors the implementer. It is usually consisted of many specific tactical situations. Positioning one's own situation while diminishing the potency of the competitor's strategic power is the process of implementing one's strategic power. The zero sum gain concept kicks in . We will touch on "the matrix of connectivity" concept that is behind the art of applying strategic power in the future.

After reading this series on Sun Bin. do you think he utilized his "strategic power" quite effectively?

So, how do you assess the strategic situation of your competition?

If so, do you know how to shape their view?

Those who are able to recognize the configurations of the various strategic situations that are ahead of them, have an slightly advantage. Historically, it has been proven that they can overcome their adversarial situations.

Thoughts From the Compass Desk
Knowing the emotional state of Pang Juan especially after his victory at Guiling, enabled Sun Bin to use a "baiting and luring" tactic to influence his arch-rival to shrink their force (reliquishing their "sixth situational factor") while positioning them into a "heavenly trap" (You can cross reference it to "the seventh situation.")

In summary, knowing the connectivity of the various situations, does matter.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Comments from the Compass Desk

When this endeavor of building a strategic assessment process began, we encountered many unique ideas. Many of these ideas originated from the different translations of the Art of War, the various commentaries and the numerous essays on strategy and tactics, board games and strategy books on western sports.

During the research and development stage, we also talked to some real hardcore strategic thinkers and many pseudo strategic evangelists (especially the members of the AoW's cult).

While the hardcore strategists had a specific-driven process to operate from, most of the amateurs had a tendency of operating from a page of quotes and a few checklists. I think that one of these amateurs carries a Bible for good luck. Another one carries a deck of cards.

The Compass Process
Our strategic process focuses on understanding the configuration of a competitor's strategic power from the interiors of their organization. It also centers on the importance of identifying the qualities of the risk and the uncertainty that could be in play.

We also believed that pure planning does not always enables one to find the path of least resistance. There are the exceptions.

Do you know the exceptions?

Before competing against a competitor with vast resources and strong strategic positioning, one must have the capability to assess their competitor in terms of specifics.

Other Features of the Process
Our process has a module that enables the implementers to "wargame" the situation. The conceptual framework of our "wargame" module is based on the concepts of the various strategic classics and modern brainstorming processes.

One of its key objectives is to determine the possibility of the "unorthodox."

In summary, our process is designed for serious competitive situations.

Side Note
Our book is nearly completed. Our current set of priorities and the state of the information economy have propelled us to postponed our decision to publish it. If you are interested in talking to us about our strategic and tactical ideas, contact us at this link.

Pragmatic Practices (6): The Dao of the Strategists

They know when to go fishing.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pragmatic Practices (5): The Dao of the Strategists

“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 determine 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 determine 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 believed that the ancient Sunzi strategists used a net assessment process that was based on these factors. If used correctly, this process could quantify the possibility of victory.

When Sunzi left the Wu State, he took his trade secrets with him. He did not believed in giving it away to the people who were not appreciative of his strategic skills. Many years later, the Yueh state annexed the Wu State.

Notes From the Compass Desk

One can only achieve that viewpoint of "planning one's way to victory" if they are able to find the path of least resistance through the practice of sound and solid assessment.

Most amateurs believed that they can plan themselves to victory with simple quotes and minimal answers. If they do not understanding the settings of their days, there is a possibility of being involved in long and tiresome struggles. It usually costs them a great amount of resources. In summary, the amateurish approach demoralizes the team.

We at Compass360 Consulting have been experimenting with this concept for many months. If you are interested in learning about it, please contact us.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Question of the Day

Q: For the serious hardcore strategists, do you know the connecting point between the essence of Jiang Tai Gong's Six Secret Teachings and the arcane message of the Three Strategies of Huang Shek Gong?

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Question of the Day

When assessing a competitive situation, do you comprehend the importance of understanding the entire configuration of the data (the terrain, the leadership and the logistics) in order to determine the competitor's objective, their approach and their means?

This is how Sun Bin out-strategized Pang Juan.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Question of the Day

When assessing a problem solving situation, do you understand the importance of comprehending the full scope of the projected goal before ever focusing on its configuration?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Dao of Competitive Darwinism

In the world of business, competitive darwinism is frowned upon. Today, the NFL decided to punish those who break the rules .

What does a business do when their competition plays hardball and severely encompasses them through extreme means? Will the system be able to protect them? Will it be too late for them?

Do most businesses have the Big Tangible Picture to see if that is happening to them?

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Question of the Day

For the hardcore strategists, are you able to connect the AoW principles to the conceptual framework of Weiqi and the situational framework of the 36 stratagems?

When one can do that, he/she can see the possibility of utilizing their Big Tangible Picture (BTP) in an effective mode.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sun Bin: The Art of Warfare (Military Methods) (6)

Wei Wei Jiu Zhao (Besiege Wei to Rescue Zhao 围魏救赵)
The state of Wei, which was seeking total control of China, sent an army to attack the state of Zhao under the leadership of Pang Juan. The ruler of Zhao immediately asked the ruler of the Qi state for military assistance. Sun Bin was assigned the task of saving the Zhao state. He then devised a scheme of relieving the besieged by besieging the base of the besiegers.

After a long battle, the Wei army relinquished their offensive siege against Zhao as expected, and rushed toward their home state. The army of "Qi" then maneuvered ahead of them and laid an ambush on the way, inflicting a crushing defeat on the army of Wei.

Business Example
In 1982, Bendix corporation attempted to takeover Martin Marietta. Martin Marietta returns the favor by attempting the Pac-Man Defense.

Martin Marietta targeted United Technologies toward the heart of Bendix Corporation. Bendix immediately asked Allied Corporation to absorbed them. Martin Marietta retains their independence.

Three Questions from the Compass Desk
What was going though Sun Bin mind's when he was thinking about this situation of Wei and Zhao?

What was in his Big Tangible Picture when Sun Bin was thinking about the sieging of Zhao?

Why is this stratagem categorized in the 36 Stratagems category of "Advantageous Stratagems?"

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Preparation Precedes Performance (3)

If the infrastructure of our information society gets a glitch or if a worst case scenario occurs, what tools (not toys) reside in your "everyday carry" bag? Does each and every item serves a minimum of two purposes?

The answer is not in your copy of the Art of War or your playbook of algorithms.

Compass Rules
  • Assess, Position and Influence
  • Always focus on necessities not accessories.
  • Proper Prior Planning (and Preparation) Prevents Poor Performance. (The 7 P's)

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Two Questions of the Day

For the hardcore strategist, why are the final six stratagems of the 36 Stratagems being used in "desperate situations?"

What are the risk consequences for using this set of stratagems?

The answers are not directly in your copy of the Art of War. Of course, you do have to play with the principles in an indirect way in order to get the answer.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Compass Trend (15): The Automation of Cities

IBM's "Smarter Cities" concept might create the possibility of eroding the municipal labor unions.

Compass Trend (14): An Unorganized Aspect of the Information Economy

One aspect of the information economy's future could be Netflix and cable operators working together. The evolution stage of technology prevents it from being fully organized.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Competing in the Info Economy: Understanding the Game

In the information economy, many things are built for short term gains and long term ridicules. It is quite rare to see someone to strategize past the usual 3 to 6 months timeline.

Click on this link on how one successful thinker plays the long term strategy game.

In chaotic times, the smart has emphasized the practice of "long term" thinking for the purpose of thriving while the rest of the masses usually apply "short term" thinking in order to survive.

"Those who are ahead, think in terms of yang. Those who are behind, think in terms of yin. ..." - Paraphrased from a Tang dynasty strategist.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Comprehend the Big Tangible Picture

In order to thrive in our efficient economy, one must recognize the macro rules that prevailed in the grand scheme of things.

Some of the Basic Rules:
Beside recognizing the rules that are in play, one must comprehend the state of the economy and the state of one's situation in order to get ahead of the curve.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Compass Trend (13): Understanding the PESTO Influences Behind the Big Tangible Picture

It has been said that Noah's built his ark many days before the rain came. He saw the possibility of the on-coming chaos and prepared for it. The result was that Noah and his family, animals and birds survived.

How Some Decisions are Made 
In the information economy, good salary jobs are usually rewarded to those who create value by taking high risks and cut the costs. ... They are focused on the risk benefits while ignoring the risk consequences.

Some people manage their decisions, based on the quote of " ... nothing ventured nothing gained. ... ", without fully understanding the scope of the macro PESTO influences during their assessment of the Big Tangible Picture (BTP). They are usually willing to do that, with other people's money.

Another Day in California
The politicians of Stockton, California, took a macro risk and lost. What do you think the possibility of this city going Chapter 11? ...

What city is next? Detroit!? ... Again, the possibilities are quite unique.

Most visionaries are focused on big ideas, not on details. They rarely think about the after-effects of their ideas or the prevention of disasters.

Side note: In life, most of the smart professionals who specialized in disaster prevention,
are usually ignored and rarely compensated in a fair way.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Quote of the Day

"Learning strategy is like going to church. Many attend, few understand. ... "- Anonymous

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Two Questions of the Day

You are in your office, contemplating over the circumstances behind your latest high risk/high reward strategic situation. After a sip of your favorite beverage and a bite of your favorite muffin, you have finally identified who is your competition. You quietly looked at your competitive intelligence report. It offered an abstract on what are their weaknesses and what are their strengths.

How do you know if their weaknesses are tangible and if their strengths are just a cluster of illusions, concealed by a few layers of obvious points?

While the information economy offers a glimmer of immediate transparency, are you wondering whether that the notion of fair play resides in your business terrain?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Question of the Day

Since you are a strategic thinker, how do you use the eight strategic classics (Seven Strategic Classics and Sun Bin {or Sun Pin's} Military Methods) to advise your friends in the area of strategic competition?
While the "Cult of the Art of War" uses the AoW principles for "quick fix" challenges, the professionals emphasize on the utilization of the Eight Strategic Classics principles for a myriad of high- reward competitive situations.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Two Questions of the Day

What tactical approach have you used to reveal your competitor's concealed weaknesses?

If so, has it helped you in overcoming those who possessed greater resources and a larger group of manpower?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Competing in the Global Economy: Understanding the Game

Competitive sports is just an extension of a segment of what life is really about. ...

It has always been considered to be "uncool" to discussed the matter of dirty play in the game of capitalism.

Whenever there is money on the table, all direct and indirect participants of the situation, could become fair game. ...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sun Bin: The Art of Warfare (Military Methods) (5)

Horse Racing for Tianji
(田忌赛马 Tian Ji Sai Ma)

This storyline is about the macro factor that propelled Sun Bin to the attention of the Emperor of the Qi State.

After his escape to Qi State, Sun Bin became a guest of Tianji, the military general of the Qi emperor.

His host Tianji had a gambling habit where his skill was below the satisfactory level. Tian and the King always gambled through a series of three horse races. Each principal had three horses. From a descending order, the horse with the fastest time raced first. The winner was one with the most winning races.

It usually started like this: Tian's horse#1 vs the King's horse #1, and so on. Each and every time, Tian lost by split seconds.

Sun Bin analyzed the situation and offered Tianji's the simple solution of racing his third horse against the King's first horse. then racing his 1st horse against the King's second horse and his second horse against the King's third horse.

Tanji took the suggestion and secured a victorious outcome of 2 to 1.

After the race, the king was impressed and wanted to appoint Sun Bin as his military general-field commander. Sun Bin graciously declined the offer with the explanation that the solders would not respect a handicapped person. Instead, he suggested the King to appoint Tianji and make a commitment that he will be an adviser to Tian

Lessons from Sun Bin
Due to the various critical strategic factors, one cannot prevail on all strategic situations. He/she could only risk enough where the results of the quality wins exceeds the quality of the losses.

A baseball batter hits the ball three out of nine attempts, is usually considered to be a superstar. Certain strategic situations require one to know the standard and the scope of the situation before making a relevant decision.

In summation, Sun Bin solved a problem 2000 years plus before the subject of operation research was ever conceived...

Thoughts from the Compass Desk
Sun Bin assessed the Big Tangible Picture and made the right decision by identifying the relevant attributes in terms of the precedence, the connectivity and the cyclical process before devising the plan of creating "the mismatch."

So how do you assess your Big Tangible Picture?

The answer could be in your copy of the Sun Bin's Art of Warfare (or Sun Pin's Military Methods). .. Both versions are great reading for the hardcore strategists. ... 


Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Cult of the Art of War

Whenever the neo-amateurs decided to capitalize a specific topic and connected it to pop culture, the outcome becomes obvious. ... The exploitation of the topic does not have to be correct as long it generates some cash.

Comedy does create cash. Today's fad is tomorrow's digital waste.

Will the constant reciting of the book makes the reader a better basketball player? What do you think?

We will touch more on the Art of War Cult" topic in the future. ...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Competing in the Info Economy: Understanding the Deception Game (2)

In the information economy, the masses are indirectly influenced by visual and audio means. How do you prevent it from influencing your terrain?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sun Bin: The Art of Warfare (Military Methods) (4)

Another Story:
" ...Once upon a time, there was a small sparrow who was flying south for the winter. He became frozen solid during the flight and fell to the ground. To make matters worse, the cow crapped on him. But the manure was all warm and it defrosted him. He felt warm and was quite happy to be alive. Soon, the bird started to sing. A hungry cat strolled along, cleared off the manure, looked at the little bird and ate him.

The moral of the story is that everyone who craps on you is not necessarily your enemy, and everyone who gets you out of the crap, is not necessarily your friend. If you're warm and happy wherever you are, you should maintain a sense of quietude. "

Compass Thought
Sun Bin should have been mindfully aware of the full configuration of their situation before making a relevant strategic decision . . . Knowing the full scope of one's current situation, does matter . . .  Knowing the process model and implementing it properly is what counts.

Thoughts from the Compass Desk
Self Pity
"I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A bird will fall frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.  ..."  - D.H. Lawrence

During the book burning sessionSun Bin also realized that the impact of the deception that was implemented by Pang Juan. Focusing in self survival while showing the guise of zero-threat was his goal.He had to mindfully eradicate any trace of self pity before proceeding forward. 

Self pity was gone. Whatever pain that was felt, reminded Sun Bin that it kept him awake, angry and focused.  

In summary, the pain reminded him that he was still alive and self preservation was significant to his grand objective.

# updated on 3.12.13

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sun Bin: The Art of Warfare (Military Methods) (3)

Sun Bin was famous for the Shedding Shell Like a Cicada tactic (金蝉脱壳 Jin Chan Tuo Ke). It is best used when one is in a disadvantageous position.

Sun Bin possessed exceptional talent in the area of strategy and tactics even in his early years. As a reward, he was given a copy of the Art of War by Wang Xu, his military studies professor.

There were stories of Sun Bin having the ability to recite Sun Tzu (Sunzi): The Art of War and other Chinese classics by verbatim. His genius was envied by a classmate, Pang Juan, who later became a strategic general in the state of Wei. Afterward, Pang Juan deceived Sun Bin into going to Wei country and then framed him for being a traitor. Sun Bin suffered the corporal punishment of having his kneecap chopped off and the Chinese character "Traitor" stamped on the side of his head.

Pang Juan later convinced Sun Bin that he saved him from the death penalty. In return, Sun Bin decided to reproduce the entire Art of War (AoW) manual for him.

As the Art of War manual was being jotted, Pang's servant informed Sun Bin on the true intent behind Pang Juan's sincerity.

Sun Bin became furious, burned his copy of the Art of War and pretended to be insane. Pang Juan was surprised about this occurrence and angrily sent him to the private prison of Wei's state's . During that period, he consistently portrayed the disposition of insanity while waiting for the right opportunity to escape. Years later, he was rescued by a Qi's state representative and became their chief strategist and served as a deputy to Tian ji, the military general.

Thoughts from the Compass Desk
We contemplated that Sun Bin analyzed the configurations of his situation during the book burning process and consciously realized that he must not be a threat to Pang Juan in order to survive. We realized that it took a high state of conscious awareness for him to be so methodical especially during a highly stressful situation. ...

So, what is the "connective" lesson behind Sun Bin's displaying of intelligence and then Pang Juan's deceiving him?

A reader asked us this question, "How does one get this high state of conscious awareness? ..."

Hint: One does not get it from reading the Art of War, 24/7. 

Updated note
Click here for a more thorough reading on Sun Bin.