Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Psychology of Competition

In some terrain of competition, there is always a sense of hatred between the competitors. It really means that there is a denial of deep respect and envy. In some situations, they wished that they can behave like them.

The best approach is to focus on your objective while being mindfully aware of what your competition is doing.  This would enable you to see the Big Tangible Picture of one's endeavor. 

The Process of Building a Big Tangible Picture 
Script your objective, the approach, the tactical specifics from start to finish, and every significant intelligence about your competition.  Build a mind map  of your Big Tangible Picture. Then, focus on connecting every relevant point. 

Once the completeness of the Big Tangible Picture is assessed, the successful strategists usually understand their possibility of succeeding.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Preparation Precedes Performance (4): Strategizing a Worst Case Scenaro

In an extreme setting, the successful strategist usually have a "Go" bag that is "steady and ready." We presumed that you have prepared your EDC bag or your Go bag for this type of scenario.

Other than the usual laptop, the safety cable, the memory sticks, the ethernet cable, the external hard drive, and the head set, what other items are sitting in your Go Bag?

Do you have the proper gear for this scenario?  ... The answer is not in your copy of the Art of War!

Following is an abridged list of gear that sits in our Go Bag: 
  • a LED flashight;
  • a long sleeve t-shirt shirt; 
  • a full water bottle; 
  • a swiss army knife;
  • a Gerber's all-purpose gear tool;
  • some food bars; and
  • a portable radio.
In a chaotic setting, it is important to know when to be strategically mobile and when to be strategically fixed.  Being mentally and strategically prepared before the chaos become pertinent. To stay ahead of the chaos, becoming light, aware, agile and mobile is the most relevant step.

Side note
In a future post, we will talk about the principles of strategic and tactical planning and the principles of preparation.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Compass Rule of API (3)

Assess, Position Influence.  That is what most people instinctively do.  They really do not observe, orient, decide and act.  It is an intellectual myth. Those who do, are dreamers or armchair intellectuals who have no sense of mindful awareness. 

Assess, Position and Influence

After observing their strategic situation and its connection to the Big Tangible Picture, most relevant field strategists assessed their chances  of prevailing before making a decision to commit their time and resources.  This stage also determines where they must positioned themselves before the act of influencing. 

The Position stage is based on the Big Tangible Picture (BTP), their orientation, their disposition and their decision.  The Compass strategists now plan and prepare for the influence.

The Influence stage concentrates on the conceptual output from the positioning.  [ ...]

If the influence does not work, the strategists return to the assess stage.  Does it sound easy and obvious?  

There are more steps and detailed specifics to our Assess, Position and Influence process.  We will cover that and how it connects to the Grand View, Strategic View and the Tactical View in our future book.

Side note
Those wanna-be "Art of War" cult armchair strategists and weekend warriors should spend some serious time re-reading the classics and mindfully  experience what some of those  strategic classics were striving to say.  Reading the right translations is the first step.   Seeing how it works in real time is the challenge. Embodying the principles requires a certain process model and a unique sense of perception.  

Fwiw, visiting Asian restaurants and learning bad martial arts are not going to improve their strategic skills.

Defining the objective of the situation and the tactical approach to match it is quite difficult.  Building the means to connect the modes to the tactical approach is the grander challenge.

So, is the answer in your copy of the Art of War or PMI's Book of Knowledge?  

Be the professional that you aspired to be, read the Seven Strategic Classics.  Understand the schema of the Big Tangible Picture is the first step.


"Psychology is Strategy."  - Wang Xu (a paraphrase)

Successful strategists are focused on seeing the Big Picture and not losing the war while the experienced tacticians directed their time, their attention and their resources on winning the significant battles.  Those who properly performed the steps of Assessing, Positioning and Influencing, are strategically efficient.  

One of the Compass keys is to understanding the behavior psychology behind the chief decision makers.

If you are interested in our unique process, please contact us. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Metaphors of the Day (2)

In the modern world, some people used professional sports (i.e., football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, etc.) to  represent their current ventures.   

                                              The Weiqi (G0) Metaphor
In Asia, there are some strategists who occasionally used the metaphor of weiqi. Conceptually, the successful strategists who properly prevails when he/she  effectively surrounds their target.  We will touch more on this metaphor later.

The Chinese Chess Metaphor
Some of our associates preferred to use the Chinese chess metaphor (xiang qi) to describe the action in certain situations.  They have told us that this game is more closer to what competition is really about.  

The Specifics
In this game, there is a river between each side.  The solders, the cavalry, the cannons and the chariots do the field work.  The implemented solders can only advance. Retreating is not a option.

The Generals are usually involved in the conflicts, not the Kings and the Queens. They usually stay in their space (the city) and operate remotely. The Generals can only leave their eight-pointed space when there is an opportunity to capture the opposing General from their remote position.

Unlike its western cousin (the Knight), the Horses cannot jump over any pieces that is positioned in front of it. The Cannons can only capture a opposing piece remotely by having one piece in front of it.  

The Elephants are always protecting the General from within their side of the domain while the Advisers are always protecting the Generals from within the city.  Both pieces are not allowed to leave their assigned territory. 

In this game,  the solders that reached the last rank, does not get promoted. 

Interestingly, there are more specialized defensive roles in this game than western Chess.

The Reality of the Strategy Game
In life, the chief decision makers stay in their ivory tower (the city) while the field operators are on the ground, doing the grunt work.  Some senior managers and middle managers are always protecting the chief decision makers from the harsh reality of their decision.

Many offensive moves are done remotely (the cannons) before the on-field confrontation begins.  Look at the political game.  It begins by the implementation of indirect shots within the news media.

A foot solder is only promoted after the battle is over.

In the field level of life, the continuous achievement of momentum is important.  Choosing the right metaphor and having a good strategic process model are also important.  The right metaphor enables one to effectively communicate the state of the situation to the team while the process model gives the chief decision model an integrated view of the objective, the situation and the operational  specifics.

One's own philosophy concluded the psychology of the situation. The psychology determines  the mathemathics and the physics of the strategy.

Much of strategy is about psychology. Do you know the general psychology of the strategy game?

The Question of the Day
How does the the Art of War metaphor fit into this strategic game of the information economy?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Identifying Deception in the Information Economy

In the information economy, some of the masses have a tendency of trusting the over-hyped pseudo experts. These gurus of the "pseudo truth"  are always talking in generalities.  Some of them are: politicians, news experts, sport insiders, etc.  They are the masters of the obvious. 

On a weekly base, they repeated the same quotes without including the relevant performance numbers and the reasons behind it. 

You see it on the different mediums (i..e, TV. radio, newspaper, etc.).

Compass Solution So, what is the base solution?   ...  You should always ask questions before coming to a conclusion.  

Following is an abridged listing of our favorite questions:

  • Should I trust this expert?
  • What is the risk consequence of their perspective? . 
  • Who is their source?
  • Why should I trust their source?
  • What are the subtle benefits that this expert have derived from revealing his/her view?
  • What are the benefits that the audience can derived from it?
Here is a good example where an actual insider takes on the know-nothing news media.

During their discussion, Mark Cuban disrupts and devastates the perspective of the talking heads by bringing up examples where specific details are required.  After comparing his view with their perspective, one can only conclude that some of the news media do not know their subject matter. 

To thrive in the information economy, one must recognize the ice cream cone of reality from the mountains of illusions.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Scripts, Lists and Other Miscellaneous Matters

Beside being the proponents of scripting , we like to look at our strategic processes. 

The Matrix
To gain a grand overview of a strategic situation, we preferred to use this 2x2 matrix.. ...  

During our off-hours, we started to play with it.  

After consuming two cups of Pu-Erh tea, we were able to delineate the technicalities behind Mr. Hurd's (the current President of Oracle and the former CEO of HP) unique grand strategic viewing process  and discovered the process on how everything connects. The key is to find the MCD and the relevant Compass Rules that are in play.

This model can be used to see the specifics behind the Big Tangible Picture (BTP).  It has  the potential to be a very good brainstorming tool.  Of course, we also added a Compass scripting module to this model.   
Mark Hurd's Matrix  is more technically superior to the basic SWOT diagram. Its focus is on the connection of the many dots of relevant information while the latter is centered on the projected results of each of the four categories.  

This lattice of intelligence enables the strategist to understand the "hows" and the "whys."  With the SWOT diagram, one only focuses on the projected "whats" (as in outcomes).

Fwiw, we have transformed the Hurd's matrix into a more pragmatic brainstorming tool where we are focused on the objectives, the tactics, the competition, etc.

Side note:  The strategists who know the hows and the whys, will always prevail over the strategists who know the whats.

Other Notes 
Click here and here for some good advice on managing lists.  

Reminder:  It is important to know the differences between a script and a list

Another Tool for the Mobile Strategist
One of our favorite tools for organizing notes, lists and scripts is Evernote.   It is a great tool for those who are active participants in the mobile economy.  We highly recommended to everyone to use Evernote as  their prime information organizing tool. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Pragmatic Practices (7): A Good Pointer for The Desktop Strategist.

Stand up while you read this. For health reasons, you need to stand, not sit.  Click herehere,  here and here for more information on this unique practice.  

Standing Tables
There are standing tables of all types.  Some of those tables are uniquely interesting but slightly overpriced. ... 

While the hipsters usually preferred the overpriced, uniquely styled tablesthe smart strategists preferred a table that is clean, solid and tangible. Click here on the basics of a standing desk.

For the financial challenged,  he or she can build their  own desk by placing a flat wooden door (from home depot) on top of two mini-sized file cabinets. However, my preference is to get a real standing desk from or from This is where some of the serious professionals are buying their tables from.  

Some members of the Compass360 Consulting group are practitioners of various internal martial arts (i.e, Taijiquan, Yiquan, etc.)  Most of them are implementers of various standup desk exercises


One cannot strategize well if he/she is sitting on their tail bone and the blood is not flowing from the legs to the head..  Visit Cook Ding Kitchen if you want to learn more about using martial art stances to energize one's body.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day!

Returning  Some of the Manufacturing Activities to the USA
In our ever-expanding information society,  some of their U.S. manufacturing companies are contemplating on returning their activities to their shores. ...  Google is currently building their Nexus product in California.

Due to the advancement of robotics, there will be less need for manual labor. 

Side note: Due to the accelerating push for automation, we do not expect the employment growth to exceed past the 2 percent number.

For those who are interested in purchasing various U.S. manufactured quality products, please review this abridged listing of our favorite companies:
Click here for other U.S. manufactured products.   23% of the Germany job economy are based on manufacturing while the number in the U.S. is nine percent.Support the 9%.

Happy Labor Day!  ...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Dao of Strategy: The Script

Football season is here. Armchair quarterbacks and sideline spectators rejoice.

Notes on the Script Beside the utilization of Chinese strategy principles as a process, "The Script" is one of our favorite tools.

"The Script" is a game preparation and implementation tool that was invented by Bill Walsh, an American head football coach of the San Francisco 49ers and Stanford University, during which time he popularized the West Coast offense. 

Walsh went 102–63–1 with the 49ers, winning ten of his fourteen postseason games along with six division titles, three NFC Championship titles, and three Super Bowls. He was named the NFL's Coach of the Year in 1981 and 1984.   


The purpose of The Script is to evaluate how the other team reacts to each offensive play at the opening stage of the game. The strategist uses this intelligence to plan his  offensive strategy for the remainder of the game.

Regardless of the game situation, the disciples of the West Coast Offense are trained to stick to The Script regardless of the down, the distance and the defensive alignment, except for the fourth down.  However, circumstances have changed the practice of this rule.  It is up to the practitioner to decide on the approach.

Applying the Script Before the Game

Idealistically, the offensive coordinator informs the players "The Script" one or two practices before game day. On the last practice, the team rehearses "The Script."

Beside eliminating anxiety (rather than creating anxiety) among the players. the offense coordinator discovers whether the players are able to master those plays and then decides whether to adjust the technicalities of the play.

Overall, it requires a great deal of experience, discipline and emotional intelligence to run "The Script" tool.
The Master of the Game Plan
Preparation and Execution Perfected

Bill Walsh, ever the innovator, 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 criticism and skepticism from the NFL coaching establishment that greeted him in the 1970s when, as an offensive assistant with the Cincinnati Bengals, he started scripting plays. All the planning could be done in the office during the week instead of on the sidelines during the frenzy of a game.

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."
"You know what's going to be called and there's no reason to make a mistake," veteran tight end Shannon Sharpe said of the system in Denver, where coach Mike Shanahan scripts the first 15 offensive plays every week. "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 most teams now script about 15 plays.
There are, of course, some misconceptions about scripting. While there might be a long script of plays, they are not called blindly in order. "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."
"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."

Excerpts are from NFL Insider/ article from 2002 by Ira Miller.

The Compass View
Q: Most coaches run a 15 play script. Why did Walsh utilized a 25 play script?
The aim of the 15 play script is to immediately attack the tendencies and the physical weaknesses of the opposition's defense. In the case of the 25 play script, the intent was to reveal the entire opposition's defensive arsenal in certain situations while pinpointing their true weaknesses. 

Q: What was in Walsh's script?
A: An assortment of pass plays and run plays that has never appeared in previous games. Walsh would o
ccasionally throw in a few gadget plays that the opposition has never seen before.

Many years ago, we have heard that one former Niners player referred "The 25 Plays" as "The 25 Lies." The story behind that statement is based on that the opposition would become so focused on stopping Walsh's 25 play script that they forgot to focus on the rest of the game. 
Retrospectively, it is also a psychological gaming tool and an "informational feedback strategy" tool.

The implementation of a 25 play starter script requires a person with great patience, control and strategic insight.Rarely does anyone ever talk about the keys for the following:
  • when to stay with the script;
  • when to leave the script; and
  • when to return to it.
The amateurs believed that they know what "The Script" is about. However there are a few who understand its true range and the reason why it works.

Regardless that The Script is now being used by many football coaches, our research tells us that many of them do not possess the mindfulness and the strategic training to use it properly. Concurrently, some of their  quarterbacks are not properly instructed to run "The Script" during a no-huddle situation.

Their foremost objective is to score first and often.  Revealing the opposition's tendencies have become a lower priority.

The most difficult challenge for most football teams is to run "The Script" from a no-huddle mode. We will touch on that topic in a future post.

An Update to the Script
The San Francisco Forty Niners team has updated the # of plays in their "starting plays" script somewhere between 30 to 38 plays.

Retrospectively, Coach Walsh was literally running a real time experiment for the purpose of identifying their tendencies in certain situations. At a later stage of the game, he would then exploit them with various deceptive plays.

Learning the Script is not that difficult. It just requires someone with a basic understanding of the scientific method of trial and error.  He or she must have the fortitude to stay with the approach.

If a new approach to gain a competitive lead is needed, you should try assessing your competition before scripting your tactical plays.

Other Thoughts
In our information economy, the key to developing The Script is to properly assess one's  competition and the grand situation. 

Most people do not like to spend anytime, assessing their competition.  Some of them feel that they are men of action.  With the urgency of "making something happen now", these leaders believed that "the will to make the event happen" will give them the victory.
... In some rare situations, these bold thinkers would get "lucky" and prevail.  As long as a very good operational team is available to help him, the probability of surviving is good. 

The Will to Prepare is Usually Greater than the Will to Win  
Successful competitors understand this specific principle. Through the practice of the script, one focuses on the process of preparing.  

To those who are interested in achieving best performance, we recommended the practice of scripting one's operational activities as a daily task.

The Question of The Day
How do you apply this protocol to modern day business?  (We will touch on this topic in our future book project.) 

Side note
We at Compass360 Consulting usually apply our own version of the script in the operational side of our projects. If you are interested in securing an abridged version of our Compass Script, please send us a request at  

We are still contemplating on publishing a book on how to script and stage a situation.

/// Click here for a updated post on the script.