Monday, April 30, 2012

The Reality of Competition

The lack of a Big Tangible Picture usually transformed the naive competitors into a fair game that the larger predators have always enjoy to prey on.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Dao of Strategic Assessment

Planning good strategy begins by knowing what is the Big Tangible Picture (BTP). Then knowing what set of principles and rules are in play.

Here are three of our favorite rules that we have always used for assessing the Big Tangible Picture:
  • Identify the constructive moves that could make an immediate impact or a possible future gain;
  • Determine whether the moves could be connected to each other; and
  • Always know the score for each decided move.
Click here for an abstract example of how the S.F. Forty Niners did it with the annual NFL draft.  They were focused on fulfilling their wants not on their needs.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Dao of the Strategist

Having a very good intelligence collection network and exceptional talent evaluation skills usually mean that one should rarely ever care about what the news media experts say. ...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Competing in the Info Economy

The level of the stakes and the rewards sometimes determine how the game is played. ...

In life, there is no such thing as a do-over. Time moves forward. Having second chances are quite rare. Capitalizing on the right opportunity is paramount.

"In planning, never a useless move. In strategy no step is in vain."
 -Chen Hao

Are you able to assess your competition and your alliances without being noticed?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Compass Objective: Challenging the Hype

The small business with the best technology rules. " - a Verizon 2011-2012 sales message

The Question of the Day
Do you know of an unique situation where an average leadership culture with Class A technology prevailed over exemplary leadership with Class C technology on the long run?

In a competitive situation, the successful strategists understand that the cornerstone of any true blue strategic foundation is the leadership culture. Due to the attributes of trust, credibility, benevolence and unity, the organization with exemplary leadership and Class C technology usually prevails over those with flawed leadership and Class A technology.

Technology evolves.  But exemplary leadership culture prevails by knowing when to adjust their settings.

Question of the Day
What could be the prevailing factor what happens when both sides have a similar leadership culture and the similar technology?  

The answer might not be in your copy of the Art of War.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Understanding the Competition Game in the Info Economy

One's Team Crisis is Another Team's Opportunity
Many weeks before the playoffs, injuries began to dismantle the core structure of the Detroit Red Wings team. Nashville immediately capitalized on this opportunity.

At the end, the Red Wings lost to Nashville.  Their management must decide on staying on course with their system or adjust it? ... If you were their general manager, what would you do?

Competing in the Information Economy
In the competitive side of our information economy, the best competitors always know what is the state of their competition. They know their objectives, their approach, their means, etc.

Those who claimed that they are not doing it, are playing the "smiling tiger" game.

Most organizations usually do not have the contingency plans and the resources to maintain especially when chaos have permeated through their grand setting. Once their strengths have diminished and the weaknesses become pertinent.  The outcome is usually obvious.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Compass Trend (21): The Information Economy is Mobile

  • In 2015, mobile local search volume will surpass desktop search for the first time.
  • By 2016 we expect mobile to exceed desktop by 27.8 billion queries.
  • U.S. mobile ad revenue predicted to be $7.7 billion by 2016.
  • 65% of that revenue ($5.0 billion) will come from local.
  • 40% of Google Mobile searches are local.
(Source: BIA/Kelsey, 2012)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Compass Trend (20): The Efficient Economy

In the information economy, some trade secrets are now sellable. If a corporate culture does not appreciate it, the formerly prized employee becomes a free agent. He or she goes to an employer who appreciated their skill set. ... In some cases, the corporate culture who failed to maintain this talented individual, will pay the price.

Aida says the Japanese culture of wanting perfection from its products has left many engineers exhausted.
"Japanese demand for quality is excessive," he said. "It makes one not want to work there."
In the efficient economy, some of the masses have operated on the notion of "good enough" for a long time. They usually are the one who rarely think long term. There is a risk consequence for that view. There is no right or wrong. It is the mindset of the influenced masses.

In summary, it all depends on where one is positioned and what is their situation. Situation matters.

* Side topic: The naive has a tendency of ignoring the importance of security.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sun Bin: The Art of Warfare (Military Methods) (9)

The two "Questions of the Day" are:
  • Do you know how to connect the tactical-based principles of Sun Bin to the Art of War?
  • Do you know how to utilize the Sun Bin's concept of ruthless efficiency to your advantage?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sun Bin: The Art of Warfare (Military Methods) (8)

Do you know who taught Sun Bin- the essence of Jiang Tai Gong's The Six Secret Teachings and Sunzi's The Art of War?

If so,  what was so unique about his strategic approach?

What was the name of his book and what was so extraordinary about it?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Reflections from the Compass Desk

"Here is my 0.00000008 million dollars worth of wisdom, strategy is as much about organization and communication as it is about planning and implementation. ... The size of the goal sometimes determines the intensity of the risk. In most cases, the quantity of quality assessing and planning increases. ..." - Anonymous

" ... Regardless of what the pseudo experts say, simple solutions do not always work with complex problems. If they believed that their view of simple solution works, the you should ask them to cure cancer and their stupidity. ..."

It is all about assessing the Big Tangible Picture before one can come to a conclusive solution.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Compass Trend (19): Thriving in the Efficient Economy

Self-responsibility is the essence of the efficient economy. To be efficient, one must be consciously balanced.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Two Questions of the Day

What specific strategic situation enables one to predict a minimum of two moves ahead of their competition?

What specific strategic situation enables one to implement a strategic move that offers a "half step" advantage?

Hint: The answer could be in your copy of the Seven Military Classics of Ancient China.

By recognizing the patterns within the situation and the connecting of the dots, one has a better chance to secure the strategic power.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Compass Tradition: Scripting with a Purpose

While most people used a strategic process to framework their scheme and their contingency plan, a few have applied a script (of objectives/approaches) to stay on course. Then there are those who have used a script to stay on course while not having a strategic foundation to determine when and how to adjust their approach.

Are you one of those rare professionals who have managed their project with a strategic process while utilizing a script?.

We found the following note from the S.F. 49ers web site in 2002. Read and reflect.

Follow The Leader
Thursday, November 07, 2002
By: Ira Miller, NFL Insider
Bill Walsh might have been the only coach with the self-assurance to attempt it, much less pull it off. Who else could have conceived a plan, now routine in the NFL, to "script" in advance the offensive plays he would call early in a game?

Walsh still remembers the skepticism that greeted him in the 1970s when, as a top offensive assistant to Paul Brown with the Cincinnati Bengals, he started doing it.

General reasoning at the time was that it simply couldn't be done. After all, some teams still allowed their quarterbacks to call plays on the field. Plus, there was no way to know game situations, field position, down-and-distance, and so on ahead of time. So how in the name of George Halas could you decide in advance which plays to call?

Actually, it's a pretty simple process, according to Walsh, now a consultant to the 49ers. Scripting, to his way of thinking, offered a wealth of benefits, including:
  • Seeing defensive adjustments to particular formations
  • Making sure there was a pass-run balance
  • Calling particular runs designed to set up play-action passes
  • Running trick plays
  • Designing plays to move the ball in small chunks and set up a deep throw
And all the planning could be done in the office during the week instead of on the sidelines during the frenzy of a game.

One more advantage: With a script, the offensive players could devote more study time to plays that definitely would be used in the game, as opposed to studying an entire game plan that invariably included a bunch of plays that would not be called.

"It got to the point where our offensive team really wanted to know those plays," Walsh recalled. "The players really appreciate the idea that you're giving them a (head) start on the game. You can sleep easier, you have more confidence going into the game, and you're more at ease.
"For the coaches, you can feel comfortable that the game is almost on automatic pilot when it starts."

When Walsh coached the 49ers to their first three Super Bowl championships during the 1980s, his offense was ahead of its time, and his scripted plays helped give them their edge. His first championship team, in 1981, outscored its three postseason opponents 58-27 during the first half. His second championship team piled up almost identical first-half numbers (55-26) during the 1984 postseason.

Sense a trend?

"You know what's going to be called and there's no reason to make a mistake," veteran tight end Shannon Sharpe says of the system inDenver, where coach Mike Shanahan scripts the first 15 offensive plays every week. "You already know the hot pickups. You already know if (the defense does) this, who we're going to. So that makes your job a lot easier."

Just about every team in the NFL now uses some form of scripting. Walsh used to do 25 plays, but current 49ers coach Steve Mariucci made 19 the magic number this year -- in tribute, he said, to the late Johnny Unitas, who wore that number.

Most teams script about 15 plays. Shanahan and Cleveland coach Butch Davis take it a step further with a short script of six to eight plays to open the second half. Arizona limits its opening script to 12 plays. Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and the New York Giants script 10 each.

One possible downside with scripting is that the game can take on a different feel after the initial burst. Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre used to complain that play caller Tom Rossley was too slow to get plays in once the script ran out. That forced Favre, who likes to keep a fast pace on the field, to begin ad-libbing.

"That had frustrated him," Rossley said. "He needs time to get up there and see. I hadn't been good at it. I've made a conscious effort to get him the play earlier."

There are, of course, some misconceptions about scripting.

49ers coach Steve Mariucci looks to Bill Walsh's expertise in scripting plays. While there might be a long script of plays, they are not called blindly in order. If teams are facing third-and-20 or short-yardage situations, a goal-line play or something other than normal down-and-distance and field position, coaches will go to the plays they have categorized for those situations.

"Would you run 25 in order? No," Walsh said. "Let's say, of the 25, you'd run 18 or 19 sort of in order. If something really worked or you saw something in the defense, you'd go back to (a play). To me, it was just sort of a safety net because there's so much emotion to start the game, you want to think clearly, and this, in a sense, forces you to stay with a regimen that you clinically planned prior to the game."

Walsh can recall games in which the script worked to perfection. So can Shanahan, who was pulling the strings as offensive coordinator when the 49ers scored touchdowns on their first three possessions of Super Bowl XXIX against San Diego, and Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, the play caller when they scored 55 points against Denver in Super Bowl XXIV.

There were other days when Walsh was forced to adapt on the fly because the Giants switched linebacker Lawrence Taylor to the other side of the formation or the weather was lousy. There also was one time when the 49ers were playing the Rams and the late Fritz Shurmur changed up his defense, going from a 3-4 to an even front.

"It really caught me personally off guard," Walsh recalled. "It took me a dozen plays to get going on it."

Of course, that didn't happen very often, and Walsh credits the script with making possible his last championship team, in 1988, when the 49ers had to go to Chicago to play the NFC Championship Game in frigid conditions.

"The scripting saved us because I couldn't think," he said. "It was minus-35 wind chill, and there was no way I could look at a game plan or pull something out of my head. All I wanted to do was run for cover, go in where it was warm, for survival. So in that case, the plan was what saved us."

Years later, the plan still works. In racing to a 6-2 start this season, the 49ers have outscored their opponents 125-66 during the first two periods, the biggest first-half margin of any team in the league at the midseason point.

Apparently, even after three decades, nothing beats a good script.

Side note: Since this article is 9+ yrs old, the above link is no longer functional.
Click here for a updated post on the opening plays script. This new post delineates more specifics about that topic.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Compass Trend (18): Competing in the Efficient Economy

Risk and uncertainty create a setting  of no security, no transparency and non-compliance. ...

Always assess your grand terrain with caution before deciding.

Examine the advantages and disadvantages by comparing and contrasting the specific factors.

Be aware of all bright shining objects. There is the possibility of deception.

Remember all that glitter is not gold. ... Nothing is free.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Compass Practice: Reading What the Professionals are Reading

" ... Six Warring States texts supplemented by the Questions and Replies -- a late T’ang dynasty work that essentially constitutes a reflective overview -- preserving their concepts, tactical principles, operational guidelines, and world view comprise the Seven Military Classics: T’ai Kung Liu-t’ao (Six Secret Teachings), Ssu-ma Fa, Sun-tzu Ping-fa (Art of War), Wu-tzu, Wei Liao-tzu, and Huang Shih-kung San-lueh (Three Strategies).

(Although the Art of War remains the only book known in the West, the Wu-tzu and Six Secret Teachings proved to be highly important sources for military wisdom over the centuries, and the latter continues to be held in higher esteem among contemporary PRC military professionals.)

The Question of the Day
Do you know why those two specific classics are still relevant in the area of strategic development and analysis?

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Three Questions of the Day

So how do you assess your competitive terrain and your competition?

Do you think that everything will stay static while you are plan your way to victory?

Do you ever just flip a coin and take a chance on your projected approach?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Three Questions of the Day

Is your competitive gameboard, clean and clear of chaos?

In a predictable setting, are you one step ahead of the curve or one step behind?

How do you know when you are ahead and when are you behind?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Compass Trend (17): The Dao of Efficient Economy

In the information economy, certain rules prevail. For every positive action, a negative action occurs. In the efficient economy, zero sum gain becomes the norm

Zynga is one of the successful companies that demands 100% efficiency.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Compass Trend (16): The Dao of Efficient Economy

When there is economic uncertainty, competitiveness increases.

On the 2nd day of April, do you know the answers for these three questions
  • In your terrain of competition, what is your current move?
  • What advantage have you gotten from it?
  • Do you know how long will it last?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Cult of the Art of War (2)

The "Art of War" cult has a tendency of preaching and teaching the Art of War principles through an abyss of myths.

Following is an abridged list of this cult's special activities:
  • Following the exploits of the many irrelevant celebrities and the various Machiavellian business leaders who claimed that they have read the Art of War;
  • Believing that they will understand the Art of War principles because their in-laws are Chinese and that they get a chance to eat tons of free Chinese food;
  • Believing that they will understand the Art of War principles by watching a selective set of movies (i.e., Red Cliff, Seven Samurai, Wall Street, The Art of War, etc.);
  • Believing that collecting many of the various interpretations of the Art of War, would gain them the "vision" of Sunzi; and
  • Believing that some of their competition would drop dead because of the sighting that they are being seen with a copy of the Art of War.
On the 1st of April, the only fools are those who followed the novices who are incorrectly preaching and teaching the principles from the Art of the War.

Side note: We will add more humorous points about the "Art of War" cult in our future posts.