Sunday, July 29, 2012

Achieving The Competitive Edge

To plan strategically, one must effectively collect intelligence  and assess it properly.   

In the information economy, some people do whatever it takes to win.  ... When they prevail, do you think that their victory is acceptable to all?  

Is there an ethical way to prevail in this global economy? It all begins by understanding the configuration of one's Big Tangible Picture (BTP).

The Compass View 
Be aware of the possibility of surrendering your competitive advantage to the wolves. ...  

In summary, what are you willing to do to be the best in your niche?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What is Your Everyday Strategic Approach?

In life, some people carry their mono-colored rabbit feet or their green tiger jade in their jacket and go with the flow.  ...  Each day, they might look at the news medium of their choice and decided on their objectives.  ... In terms of lucky objects, some of them preferred to wear one of their favorite-colored dressed shirts or carrying their lucky charm as a part of their day to day modus operandi.

The Compass Way
The Compass360 Consulting Group believed in the constant practice of assessing, positioning and influencing (API). We followed our script of objectives and approaches while being mindfully aware of our settings by scripting or re-scripting our daily plan the week before and/or the night before.  

The scripts and the plans are cautiously adjusted according to the prioritized urgencies of the situation.

Humorously, some of our other associates utilized the Taijiquan process of "Ting Jing, Dong Jing and Fa Jing" as their general strategic approach.

Q: What is your everyday strategic approach?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Pragmatic Practices (7): The Dao of the Strategists

Every successful sport organization has their set of secret and non-secret strategic and tactical practices. Lets start with the near-secret stuff.

For the San Francisco Forty Niners, it is the videos of Bill Walsh teaching the fundamentals of West Coast Offense to his players.  The Bob McKittrick's videos on blocking schemes  are also quite interesting and valuable. 

Bill Walsh, the late head coach of the San Francisco Forty Niners, ran a starter list of 25 plays that served various purposes during the game time. It has been rumored that his "game changing" play was nicknamed "Play 9." With most pro football teams, their "Play 9" is to assign the flanker to run  a specific "deep go" route in an advantageous one on one situation.

New England Patriots
Bill Belichek, the current head coach of the New England Patriots manages a defensive list of 50+ different alignments. He never calls the same defensive play twice during the game. His common practice is to utilize many situational defensive formations for the purpose of confusing their opposing offensive playcallers.  In terms of command and control, Belichek leads a discipline-driven team.   We will touch more on this topic later.

Boston Celtics and Boston Red Sox
It has been rumored that the Boston Celtics and the Boston Red Sox are obsessed with their "Moneyball" approach. Much of their strategic moves are influenced by the numbers that are derived from their computerized database.

Green Bay Packers
The success of the Packers can be attributed is their evaluation of talent and their own version of the West Coast Offense.

Every successful organizations and teams exploited their own well-tested and full-weathered process to the fullest.  Within each process, there is a weakness.   Do you know what is it? ...

Food for Thought
So, what are the arcane trade secrets of the Art of War (AoW) strategists? Ask the Art of War cult if they know it. ... There is more to this classic than the process of espousing a few quotes for each situation.

Through the comprehension of the strategic classics, one understands the approach of  reading one's own grand situation and while having the mastery of the required basics.  In summary of the situation, the score will take care of itself. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Dao of the Unorthodox Play (5)

The following article is something that most businesses can learn from the "Russian Blitz" that occurred in the 17th of August 2008. ... The outcome can be described as the immediate effect of properly implemented strategic power

Military Analysis
Russian Blitz Meld Old-School Onslaught With Modern Military Tactics
By Thom Shanker
WASHINGTON — Russia’s victorious military blitz into the former Soviet republic of Georgia brought something old and something new — but none of it was impromptu, despite appearances that a long-frozen conflict had suddenly turned hot.

The Russian military borrowed a page from classic Soviet-era doctrine: Moscow’s commanders sent an absolutely overwhelming force into Georgia. It was never going to be an even fight, and the outcome was predictable, if not preordained.

/// Finding even parity in any "real" competition, is quite rare. The 2 on 1 is the minimum standard in most extreme street fights. ///

At the same time, the Russian military picked up what is new from the latest in military thinking, including American military writings about the art of war, replete with the hard-learned lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan.

/// The emphasis of most strategic classics is to provide the direction and the tactical view for  completing one's own objective.  ...  Most strategic readers (chief decision makers) faltered on their reading of the situations.   They usually become too entrenched with their obsolete belief. ///

So along with the old-school onslaught of infantry, armor and artillery, Russia mounted joint air and naval operations, appeared to launch simultaneous cyberattacks on Georgian government Web sites and had its best English speakers at the ready to make Moscow’s case in television appearances.

If the rapidly unfolding events caught much of the world off guard, that kind of coordination of the old and the new did not look accidental to military professionals.

“They seem to have harnessed all their instruments of national power — military, diplomatic, information — in a very disciplined way,” said one Pentagon official, who like others interviewed for this article disclosed details of the operation under ground rules that called for anonymity. “It appears this was well thought out and planned in advance, and suggests a level of coordination in the Russian government between the military and the other civilian agencies and departments that we are striving for today.”

/// In our modern society,  securing the political-social support of spectators has been a high priority for any relevant competitors.  ///

In fact, Pentagon and military officials say Russia held a major ground exercise in July just north of Georgia’s border, called Caucasus 2008, that played out a chain of events like the one carried out over recent days.

“This exercise was exactly what they executed in Georgia just a few weeks later,” said Dale Herspring, an expert on Russian military affairs at Kansas State University. “This exercise was a complete dress rehearsal.”

///  We presumed that the Russians spent much of their time preparing and rehearsing their implementation. They knew their Big Tangible Picture and were able to perform well-devised scenario modeling sessions.   In summary,  these activities increased their strategic effectiveness.

Russian special ops are famous for their synchronized offensive tactics. ///

Q:  Do you know how to perform scenario modeling?

Compass Rule of Preparation
The time that it takes to deploy one's plan is inversely proportional to the time that is spent planning your plan and preparing your team.

Our Compass AE process requires the project implementers to review and rehearse their recently-built Tangible Vision process before connecting to it. ///

Russian commentators have countered that more than 1,000 American military personnel were in Georgia for an exercise last month. But that exercise focused on counterinsurgency operations to prepare a Georgian brigade for duty in Iraq, a different mission than the seizing of territory or denying an aggressor a new stake on the land.

Even as the Russian military succeeded at its most obvious objectives — taking control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, humiliating the Georgian government and crippling the republic’s army and police units — serious shortcomings on the Russian side were revealed during the brief fighting, Pentagon and military officials said.

To the surprise of American military officers, an impaired Georgian air-defense system was able to down at least six Russian jets. The Sukhoi-25, an aging ground attack plane, appeared to be the most vulnerable.

Georgia never has fielded an integrated, nationwide air defense system, and those ground-to-air weapons that survived early Russian shelling operated without any central control — and some without battle-command radars, as they were destroyed by Russian strikes.

That they bloodied the Russian air wing was taken as a clear sign of poor Russian aircraft maintenance, poor Russian piloting skills — or, most likely, years of insufficient funds for adequate flight training.

Russian-language media and unofficial national security Web sites in Moscow, which since the days of the disastrous Soviet foray into Afghanistan have developed a skeptical independent streak, also noted other shortcomings.

A Russian general in command of the 58th Army was wounded in the leg when he led a column of 30 armored vehicles toward the capital of South Ossetia, apparently without sufficient intelligence from scouts on the ground or surveillance aircraft overhead to know a Georgian ambush was awaiting.

The Russians also suffered losses as they came through the Roki Tunnel, which connects South Ossetia to the neighboring region of North Ossetia in Russia proper. Russian national security analysts said there was no air cover to protect Moscow’s forces in their first minutes on Georgian soil outside the safety of the mountain tunnel.

Despite these failings, the Russian military was able to coordinate infantry advances with movement of airborne troops, simultaneously with the deployment of armor and artillery. To be sure, they only had to travel short distances, but Russia was able to inject 9,000 to 10,000 troops, 150 tanks and 700 other armored vehicles onto Georgian territory in the first weekend of fighting, officials said.

Russian warships moved off the coast of Georgia, and Russian special operations forces infiltrated into Georgia through Abkhazia, according to Pentagon and military officials.

“This was not the Russian Army from the humiliation of Afghanistan, and it’s not the Russian military that had to flatten Chechnya to save it,” said one Pentagon official knowledgeable of how the fighting unfolded. Another said: “The Russian military is back. They are to be contended with.”

Despite a recent increase in Russian long-range bomber flights along old, cold war routes near United States airspace, the offensive into Georgia gave little indication of a renewed capacity or renewed interest in global projection of power by the Russians.

But Moscow’s military is wholly capable of pressing the Kremlin’s designs on hegemony over the formerly Communist states along the border that Russian leaders call “the near abroad.”

Russia prepared the battlefield in the months leading up to the outbreak of fighting.

In April, Russia reinforced its peacekeeping force in Abkhazia with advanced artillery, and in May it sent construction troops to fix a railroad line linking that area with Russia.

Georgia’s overmatched army of about 30,000 was able to field four combat brigades of about 3,300 soldiers each.

At the start of the fighting, the Georgian Army’s First Brigade was in Iraq, and subsequently was airlifted home aboard American aircraft — but without their war-fighting gear. The Fourth Brigade was in training for the next rotation to Iraq. The Second and Third Brigades were in western Georgia, closer to Abkhazia than to South Ossetia, where the fighting started.

The American military training for the Georgian troops has been described as involving counterterrorism for domestic security and counterinsurgency for the Iraq mission, with little emphasis on taking ground, holding ground or defending against invasion.

The influx of American training and American support might have left the Georgians feeling that their far smaller military could stand up to Russia in asserting sovereignty over South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

But Georgian command and control withered quickly under the Russian attack, and army and police units were operating on their own, often at cross purposes or overlapping missions.

/// Opposing operational responsibilities usually create internal conflicts. It also wastes time and resources. Poor leadership culture is the usual cause.

With our Compass AE strategic process, the implementers always know their operational objectives and how each objective is connected to each other in a sequentially mode.   ///

Although the Georgian units had been taught that speed of operations brings a mass all its own to the battlefield, and that improving accuracy in firepower brings a mass all its own, the lesson of the conflict is that, in some cases, mass has a mass all its own.

Russia easily smothered the smaller Georgian force.

The Importance of Momentum:
"When torrential water tosses boulders, it is because of momentum; ... When the strike of a hawk breaks the body of its prey, it is because of timing. ... Thus the momentum of one skilled in war is overwhelming, and his attack precisely regulated. His potential is that of a fully drawn crossbow; his timing, the release of the trigger. ... " - Art of War, 5

Source: NYT

The Compass View 
Successful professionals of this caliber are usually capable of coordinating and implementing multiple processes in a parallel order.

With a Big Tangible Picture, one can coordinate multiple processes sequentially while anticipating the next step. This reduces the competitor to the stage of grinding one objective at a time. This standard of performance does not always happen when competing against a competitor with greater resources and manpower.

Any project team can achieve this level of performance. They must build a strategic overview  that allows their implementers to view the "multiple process" in a geometric order. By understanding how everything is connected strategically, the team knows how to respond in certain circumstances. 

A project team that connects to their Big Tangible Picture, increases their efficiency while eliminating their redundancy. They are usually pre-positioned to move with momentum. 

In summary, this "automatic blitz" is the way of usurping the competitor's position. One will see more of this approach in business and some sports.

If you are interested in knowing more about our Compass AE process, please contact us at this link.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Speed of the Over-Achievers

There is no stop in the information economy.  For the ambitious, there is only pause.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Metaphor of the Day

There are those who described their role in life with the metaphor of western chess. 

The Roles 
The pawns and the knights are those who preferred to be involved in the action of the situation.   While the pawns are usually mono-focused in their specialty, the knights are just pawns who possessed more skills and a larger range of influence.   The professional life cycles of the pawns are quite limited.

...  Then, there are those who have the proclivity to advise and suggested ideas and plans without getting their hands dirty.  They specialized in their process of the grand overview and overseeing their terrain within their limited sphere of influence.  This group of specialists can be categorized as bishops.

The rooks possessed the arcane knowledge and quitely observed the field view from the corner. Besides protecting the king's blindspot, he or she usually enters into the competitive field, during the middle of the game.  Their range of influence is usually greater than the other pieces. 

In life, the bishops sometimes managed the tactical roles and the operational responsibilities of the rooks, the  knights and the pawns.

The king and the queen are usually those who belong to the upper tier and possessed the greatest range of "strategic" influence.

The Shakespeare's View
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
-  William Shakespeare's As You Like It

Most people possessed portions of the required aptitude and the behavior of each chess piece.  Occasionally, there are some who have the integrated prowess and the behavior of the other pieces. 

In the field of extreme competition, what role do you play?
                                                             The Compass View
Those who cannot see the Big Tangible Picture, are usually pawned.  ... 

In summary, this is the outcome of extreme competition.

Compass View
In a predictable setting, this metaphor usually appears quite subtle.

Regardless of the situation and the values, the product of the pieces is greater than the sum of the pieces.  To understand that point, one must focusing on understanding how to assess their Big Tangible Picture (BTP).

Friday, July 20, 2012

Compass Trend #26: The Efficiency of Space

The N.Y. Mayor has an unique idea of getting more people to reside in the city.  ...  Of course, a San Francisco activist and a politician read about it and decided to copy it.   (Read between the lines and one might realized what is the political-economic intent behind this unique idea.)

Interestingly, one Japanese businessman has already taken this idea to the extreme. More information on these small living quarters can be found here and here.

Densely populated coastal cities will be the on-going trend in the United States.

Compass View
In an non-innovative setting, achieving the efficiency of everything is the name of the game.  By seeing the connectivity behind the Big Tangible Picture (BTP), the successful strategist can properly adjust to the situation with minimal resistance.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Side Notes

Scene from White Vengeance
Applying the essence of the strategy classics to real life is the "grand" holy grail of the strategy game.  Combining it with the metaphor of Weiqi (Go) is one of the many goals of some competitively-driven strategists    ...  (There is a psychological flaw to this perspective.  Do you know what it is?) Those who have seen the White Vengeance movie and are quite detail-driven, can identify certain strategic and tactical concepts that were being tactfully applied throughout the story.   

A Side Project Postponed
Many years ago, a project team member wrote an essay that depicts the parallels and the non-parallels between weiqi and the Art of War.  ... Due to the constant piracy of researched material, he decided not to publish it.  ...  When there is time, we might post various bits and pieces of this essay on our blog.   ...  

Fwiw, the weiqi metaphor is constantly used by the various Asian companies. 

The Jiang Tai Gong's View
In China, Jiang Tai Gong book "Six Secret Teachings" is considered to be the "go-to" book for the Big Picture strategic thinkers and operational implementers.

This manuscript emphasizes "the importance of protecting one's advantage" regardless of the situation.

King Wen asked Tai Gong:"How does one preserve the state's territory?"

Tai Gong said: "Do not estrange your relatives. Do not neglect the masses. Be concillatory and solicitous towards nearby states and control all that is under you. Do not loan the authority of state to other men. If you loan the authority of state to other men, then you will lose your authority. Do not hurt those of lower position to benefit those of higher position. Do not abandon the fundamental to save those that are inconsequential.

When the sun is at midday, you should dry things. If you grasp a knife, you must cut. If you hold an axe, you must attack."

"If at the height of the day, you do not dry things in the sun, this is termed losing the opportunity.

If you grasp a knife but do not cut anything, you will lose the moment for profits. If you hold an axe and do not attack, enemies will attack instead."

"If trickling streams are not blocked, they will become great rivers. If you do not extinguish the smallest flames, there is nothing much you can do when it turns into great flames.

If you do not eliminate the two-leaf sapling, you might have to use the axe to remove it in future." "For this reason, the ruler must focus on developing wealth within his state. Without material wealth, he has nothing with which to spread beneficence or to bring his relatives together.

If he estranges his relatives it will be harmful. If he loses the common people, he will be defeated. "

"Do not loan sharp weapons to other men. If you loan sharp weapons to other men, you will be hurt by them and will not live out your allotted span of years."
King Wen said:"What do you mean by benevolence and righteousness?"

Tai Gong replied: "Respect the common people, unite your relatives. If you respect the common people, they will be in harmony. And if you unite your relatives, they will be happy. This is the way to implement the essential cords of benevolence and righteousness."

"Do not allow other men to snatch away your awesomeness.Rely on your wisdom, follow the norm. Those that submit and accord with you, treat them generously and virtuously. Those that oppose you, break with force. If you respect the people and trust, the state will be peaceful and populace submissive." - T’ai Kung Liu-t’ao (Six Secret Teachings)

More on this topic can be found in the Seven Military Classics of Ancient China.

Compass View
  • Never allow your competition to use your strategic advantage against you.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Movie Suggestion for the Desktop Strategist

If you are searching for a movie where the strategic concepts and tactical principles of Sunzi, Jiang Tai Gong and Wuzi are featured in an understated way, check out White Vengeance .  

The historical role of Zhang Liang  was also featured in this movie. 

Some of the script's historical content were slightly incorrect.  The English subtitles could have been better.  But, who cares?  ...  It was produced to entertain the mind.  ... If you are a hard core strategist who enjoys the process of subtle mindgaming (that is between the two chief strategists of the two protagonists),  we believed that this movie will meet your standard.

Side note 
Some of our project team members reminded us that the metaphor of weiqi (Go) was also featured throughout the storyline. 

Those who are proficient in the understanding of the Art of War (AoW) and the game of Weiqi, will see the obvious connectivity between those two metaphors. They will understand some of the basics for reading the Big Tangible Picture (BTP).

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

Compass Trend #25: Inefficient Cities Going Chapter 11

A few months ago, we posted an item on the possible causes behind the various cities going bankrupt.  ...  Stockton,  Mammoth Lakes, and San Bernardino have recently joined this unique group of  bankrupted cities.

In your view, what are the possibilities that Scranton, Pennsylvania  and a few other U.S. cities will become members of this list soon? 

Positive News
In less than five years, the city of Vallejo has strategically emerged from this state of financial calamity.  ...  

Compass View
Due to certain micro trends and specific data, we have seriously expected that more cities will be following this route quite soon.  ... We and many other sideline strategists have speculated that a European country might go bankrupt quite soon.   ...   Humorously, Germany could only save so many countries.     ... By being the Alpha in Europe, how long will Germany hold its advantage?  

Follow the ideas, the events and the people.  ... You can connect the dots.   

To live effectively in the information economy, one must be strategically efficient in their connection of their intent and their settings to the Big Tangible Picture of the information  economy.  Depending on the level of one's own settings, the political-economical-social factors can be quite relevant to that implementer.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Questions of the Day

In the Art of War, why is the first chapter is on the topic of strategic assessment (estimates)?
Hint: Estimating the operational specifics and assessing the macro values of the grand situation establishes the criteria of what is the objective and the grand tactic of each competitor.

Why is the topic of the exploitation of intelligence is the last chapter?
Hint:  Learning the fundamentals of efficient strategy (leadership, strategic assessment, strategic planning,  etc.)  is more important than the process of learn the specifics of exploiting intelligence.
Why do some people build their strategic plan before they ever assess the situation?

Hint:  They believed that their situation is obviously predictable and safe. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Compass Trend #24: Evolve or Perish

Companies come.  Companies go.  The majority will disappear while the rest will be absorbed.  

Renesa's Dilemma
Resensa's view of the Big Tangible Picture did not match the circumstances of the marketplace.  Since the assessment was incorrect, their planning and implementation was flawed. The outcome became obvious.

At the end, Taiwan Semiconductor absorbed Renesas's fabrication group.  14,000 people were dismissed.  ... Contemplate on that number.  We are talking about 30% of the company that is subtracted from the Big Picture.

The Compass Points
When deciding on any relevant issues, do you know the non-obvious after-effects of the causation?

Do you know how to simulate these strategical situations?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Compass Rule of API (2)

Compass Rule
The time that it takes to assess and position is inversely proportional to the time that it takes to influence. ...

The Compass Cycle emphasizes the constant practice of  assessing, positioning and influencing the situation in terms of the three views.  This enables the implementer to operate in an connective mode.

Assessing the Big Picture 
One starts by understanding the configuration of the entire situation in terms of the prevailing cycles, the command and control, the coverages, the connectivity and other unique points.

Position Oneself Within the Big Picture
The next step is to position oneself in a stature of strategic influence with proper planning  and sound preparation.  

Influence the Big Tangible Picture
Influence the objective with the assessed intelligence and the positioning of one's strategic power.

(More to come.)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Question of the Day

How do successful strategists use the Seven Military Classics of Ancient China as a guide for their assorted ventures?

Clue:  It starts with the comprehension of JTG's Six Secret Teachings. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Strategizing in an Extreme Setting

For every move, there is a counter move.  

In the case of this Oakland neighborhood, a positional defense sometimes act as a static defense.  Most static defenses can be manipulated by an active mind. 

In an extreme setting, one must never underestimate their malicious counterpart.  It is presumed that both sides are thinking about the most efficient means of securing the advantage.  ... 

Staying ahead of the competition begins by controlling the compass of one's own settings.  ... Comprehending the tendencies of the other side enables one to gain a slight advantage.   Those who have encounter this situation before,  understand this point. 

To compete in an efficient economy, those who thrive, usually improve continuously. 

The Compass Process
  • Assessing one’s setting by  understanding the PESTO influences within it.
  • Positioning oneself by planning and preparing.
  • Influencing their settings by following the rules of one's own strategy.
One should not depend on other people for immediate assistance, especially in an extreme situation. Remember that the price for a misjudged error is usually quite fatal.  The best defense is a good and well-prepared counter offense.

In our efficient economy,  the speed of technological evolution and emerging social behavior are two of the many prevailing factors that the successful strategists are also  focused on.   (These points are not in your copy of the Art of War.)

At the conclusion of the day, it is important to reflect on one's status. The successful strategists usually focus on the challenge of the constant improvement.  ....  {*}

Monday, July 2, 2012

Gone Fishing

Leave your desk.  Go and visit a fishing hole.  Relax and center yourself.   ... 

Secondary Thoughts
Some have preferred to go to an inclusive fishing terrain and seek a better game of fishes.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pragmatic Practice: Leave the Desk

All successful strategists usually leave their desk and practice their trade in the field.