Friday, November 30, 2012

Learning About Leadership From The Amateurs

There is nothing like the non-professionals who have never done any dirty work from the field level, telling the other amateur professionals how to be a leader.

If those five virtues ("wise (zhi), trustworthy (xin), humane (ren), courageous (yong) and strict discipline (yan)") of leadership are not embedded in the conscious of the readers, the possibility of understanding it thoroughly is a long shot.

One cannot read something and understand it immediately. It has been suggested that one have to undergo each of the five virtues from a deep "field" experience before studying it from a content perspective. 

To get the tangible view of the Bigger picture, it is important to understand it from a context view. Learning, experiencing and finally leading through example is a difficult process for most amateurs.

Those who lead from the front, are usually the first targets.  Then there are those who lead from the rear, are sometimes the manipulators.  From what position does one begins the act of leadership?

It depends on the Big Tangible Picture (BTP).  Always read the entirety of the BTP before making a decision.  It is that easy.  ... Of course, you have to know how to assess it.  Do you?

If the entirety of the BTP cannot be secured, a process model is needed for the purpose of understanding the risk specifics of their position.

# # #
December 16, 2007
The Newest Mandarins

Lei Bo is a philosophy graduate student in China whose faith is in history, and by habit he considers the world using the thousands of classical passages that live in his head. Three years ago he was studying in an empty room in the School of Management at his university in Beijing when students began to amble in for their class on Sun Tzu's "Art of War," a work from either the fifth or the fourth century B.C. Lei Bo decided to stay. He had taken two courses on "The Art of War" in the philosophy and the literature departments, and was curious to see how students in business and management might approach the same subject. The discussion that day was on the five attributes of a military commander. Sun Tzu said in the first chapter of the book, "An able commander is wise (zhi), trustworthy (xin), humane (ren), courageous (yong) and believes in strict discipline (yan)." 

The students thought that a chief executive today should possess the same strengths in order to lead. But how did the five attributes apply to business? Here they were stuck, unable to move beyond what the words suggest in everyday speech. Even their teacher could not find anything new to add. At this point, Lei Bo raised his hand and began to take each word back to its home, to the sixth century B.C., when Sun Tzu lived, and to the two subsequent centuries when the work Sun Tzu inspired was actually written down.

On the word yong (courage), Lei Bo cited chapter seven of The Analects, where Confucius told a disciple that if he "were to lead the Three Armies of his state," he "would not take anyone who would try to wrestle a tiger with his bare hands and walk across a river [because there is not a boat]. If I take anyone, it would have to be someone who is wary when faced with a task and who is good at planning and capable of successful execution." No one ever put Confucius in charge of an army, said Lei Bo, and Confucius never thought that he would be asked, but being a professional, he could expect a career either in the military or in government. And his insight about courage in battle and in all matters of life and death pertains to a man's interior: his judgment and awareness, his skills and integrity. This was how Lei Bo explored the word "courage": he located it in its early life before it was set apart from ideas like wisdom, humaneness and trust. He tried to describe the whole sense of the word. The business students and their teacher were hooked. They wanted Lei Bo back every week for as long as they were reading "The Art of War."

Scores of men and women in China's business world today are studying their country's classical texts, not just "The Art of War," but also early works from the Confucian and the Daoist canon. On weekends, they gather at major universities, paying tens of thousands of yuan each, to learn from prominent professors of philosophy and literature, to read and think in ways they could not when they were students and the classics were the objects of Maoist harangue . Those inside and outside China say that these businessmen and -women, like most Chinese right now, have caught the "fever of national learning."

Scholars, however, are cautious. They revel in the possibility of being able to study the classical texts without an ideological tether. But they warn that this kind of learning cannot be rushed and does not lend itself to easy adaptation. The classics are not simply primers on how to succeed or lessons in the glory of the Chinese nation. Having survived the ravages of the Maoist era, when Confucius' call to "revive the spirit and the practice of the earlier rites" was derided as "an attempt to reverse the course of history," the classics must not lose their distinction in the hullabaloo of the market economy or under the pressure of globalization.

These scholars are also doubtful that the "fever of national learning" will last. They see it as a political event, staged by party leaders to celebrate national pride. But students like Lei Bo and many of his classmates and friends discovered the joy of reading classical texts long before the political rally began. One friend became enamored with books when he was a toddler, and by the time he was in junior high, he was poring over intellectual and political history from the 11th and 12th centuries. Another was drawn to the sound and beat of classical poems ever since he could remember, and so now he is studying Tang poetry in graduate school. Lei Bo's journey was more tortuous. (Unlike his two friends, whose parents are factory workers and farmers, his father is an environmental scientist and his mother, a librarian.) After being steeped in Marxist education, Lei Bo took a sharp turn in college while he was pursuing a degree in chemistry. He became disenchanted with communism and was deeply suspicious of any political philosophy that encouraged fixation on a single goal without any regard for the grim consequences this could have. He aired his displeasure on a Web site, which led to a brush with the public-security police.

It was readings in Western philosophy that saved him from more serious trouble. Translated works were widely accessible in China when Lei Bo was an undergraduate. Habermas, Heidegger, Arendt, Popper, Foucault and Derrida were all popular then, and now Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss have been added to the list. Chinese men and women, especially the educated young, are book-hungry, and writings in Western political philosophy offer them several ways out of the firm grip that Marxism has had on their reasoning and their judgment. Lei Bo latched on to Heidegger, who alerted him to the importance of historical thinking and historical imagination; his writings convinced Lei Bo that any experience is inseparable from its past and future.

This, however, does not mean that Lei Bo avoids the more pressing subjects of the day. Now in China, he says, it is the students in law and the social sciences who call for more personal freedom, and it is also this group that sees great promise in the concept of democratic government.

But students studying history and philosophy seem to ask more questions. They want to know whether there is an appropriate way to pursue the idea of freedom; whether this chase, which is often complicated by the tangles of human relationships and life's unwanted circumstances, can become a test of one's interior strength. Learning the texts, for them, is learning to think. Lei Bo and his friends, for instance, found resonance in Confucius' description of freedom at the age of 70: "I was able to follow what my heart desired without overstepping the moral bounds." They thought that this was perhaps the most perfect freedom one could experience.

In speaking with Lei Bo and other students, I've been struck by the clarity of their convictions about China's past and future. They understand why Confucius described himself as a transmitter and not a creator and why he said that he "had faith in antiquity." History does not just provide actual lessons from the past, but, more important for the students, history gives them the chance to consider the right and wrong of human judgment even though the deeds were done long ago. And for this reason, they are taking the long view of their country's future and are reluctant to put their hope in any sort of quick fix or in any ideal, even one that is as appealing as democracy. They want change but are not ready to consider drastic corrections, not until they have absorbed what is stored in their history and cultural tradition. They are not utopians. They want reforms but, for now, only as measures to check the totalizing tendencies of their state. And, some of them ask, was this not the intent of the founding fathers when they wrote the American Constitution?

Annping Chin teaches in the history department at Yale University. Her most recent book, "The Authentic Confucius: A Life of Thought and Politics," has just been published.
Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Achieving Strategic Effectiveness

Strategic Effectiveness occurs: 
(a) when a competitor  implements a play successfully whether their opposition knows about it or not.
(b) when a competitor  implements an unorthodox play successfully especially when their opposition do not know that it is coming.

Q: How does one implements an unorthodox play?
A: It begins by assessing one's situation- the order of the situation, the projected time line of the situation, the configuration of the terrain, the proclivity of the leadership and the standards of the logistics.    .

By weighing the prevailing order of a situation, the successful strategist knows the fundamental  objective and the general tactical approach.  It is that simple.  

The answer is not in your copy of the Art of War.  Ask your local Art of War (AoW) expert if he/she knows how to do it.  ((They could be too busy drinking their diet drink, to know how to do that.) If not, it is time for you to remove their name from your address book. 

Side note
The key to becoming a good decision maker/playcaller is knowing when to stay on course with a certain set of plays or when to exit from it while managing the pressure all within five seconds after the previous play is over.  ...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Compass Trend #26: The Continuous Demand For IPTV and Satellite Technology

Previously we predicted the rise of IPTV.  IPTV  technology is still running hot especially in other regions of our ever-evolving world. While satellite technology is hot, the cable industry is in trouble.  Click here and here for the latest news on the slow demise of cable. 

We also agreed with the experts on OTT.

In summary, IPTV is here to stay.

Side Note
Those who are living and connecting in our ever-expanding mobile economy, will be receiving instant data almost anywhere.  Whether they would be getting valid information is another story.

We believed that the constant demand of instant news, could create deception

When assessing the news, one must think how it connects to the terrain that is beyond one's own settings.  If the information does not connect with the relevant facts, then it is a deception.

Knowing the relevant facts is the challenge for the "low attention-span" crowd. 

A Compass Reminder
Understanding the Big Tangible Picture requires solid information collecting and good strategic assessment skills.  Collecting sound, solid and relevant information is step one. The capital cost would be moderately high.

The next step is transforming well-assessed information into exploitable intelligence. It is a  challenge that most amateurs do not understand.  In most cases, they think that it is so easy.
Minimum risk consequences enables them to say stuff that are totally irrelevant. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Compass View of Some Unique Information Economy Rules

Following are a list of pretty good rules for Information Age Innovation
  • The blue colored text is from
  • The black-colored text are our comments 
The things that surprise you are good indicators of how innovative you are.
Seeing how unrelated things are connected together in an effective way is a better indicator of how insightful that a person is  Being mindfully insightful is the step before innovation.

Amateurs discuss principles and technology, professionals emphasize  process.
In any strategic-driven venture, the amateurs are always talking about the principles of general leadership and the tactical abstract. Talk is their specialty.  (The Cult of the Art of War is famous for that.)

The professionals are centered on utilizing their principles-supported (and rules-based) process models while mastering their logistics. The procedures supported the specific rules.  The specific rules supported the principles.  It is that simple.  

In order to succeed in a chaotic setting, they also built various contingencies strategies to their process model for pursuing opportunities.

"Innovations" that do not improve your process model (or product) more than 3- to 10- fold are mere improvements and not likely worth upsetting the status quo to implement.

A characteristic of Industrial Age processes is that information and decision making are captives of the physical structure.
The successful strategists are usually focused on making decisions that go beyond the physical structure.

Information-rich processes are characterized by and sustained with diversity.
A well-tailored information-rich system that is constantly updated with a diversity of relevant information, will benefits its implementers. 

Successful strategists are constantly assessing the state of their terrain (and beyond) while positioning themselves toward an effective state of influencing.

When diversity is lost, processes typically fail.
All good process models usually possess well-strategized contingency rules. They only fail when people failed to implement the "adjust to evolve" rule.

The criteria of a good process model must be generalized  enough to cover the requirements of the settings. The process model must have the rules that enable the implementers to adjust its scope. 

A brute-force solution wastes money and effort while remaining inferior to more clever solutions.
A solution with a limited scope, usually have negative impact when . Building and implementing a clever solution begins by seeing the big tangible picture of one's grand settings and beyond.

All the information about a system is contained within the system. Extracting the information properly and acting on it, is the most difficult task facing the chief decision makers.

The most trivial type of information in an information-rich process is the location of the physical elements.
The other trivia are people's opinions and gossips.

Prediction and causality have useful meanings in Industrial Age processes but are problematic for information-rich processes.
Sometimes, people make predictions without any sheer evidence. Their claims are worthless. The Dao De Jing declared that those who know how, do not say.

Simultaneously, we are overwhelmed with mountains of "high noise and low signal" information that possessed the value of near-zero.

The keys to prevailing over this situation are:
  • Know the approach for collecting the right data; 
  • Know the approach for assessing the data strategically; and 
  • Know the approach for staying focused while avoiding contentment.
Information Technology has about as much to do with Information Age processes as the internal combustion engine has to do with Industrial Age processes (See Rule #2).
It should be obvious.

The Laws of Physics still hold. Particularly for information.
The physical laws of one's settings (and one's own technology) should always prevail over the scope of any information.

If you want a new idea, read an old book
To discover a new idea, read a classic that well-respected experts have considered as a super text. (Make sure it is a relevant translation.)

During your reading, focus on how things work and how things are connected.  It is that simple. The other alternative is to walk around and be aware of one's own settings.  

Food For Thought
Q: If your competition has a similar toolbox (resources, process, etc.) like yours, what would you do to gain a strategic advantage? 

Side notes

When efficiency hits its limitation, innovation becomes the immediate goal. The chief decision makers must now focus on the building of  a special tool that provides a higher performance standard to the users. When a high quality tool can be configured to many unique situations, the user now has a grand advantage against their competition.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Aftermath of Poor Strategic Assessment

From SF
" ... Among the most bitter disputes between the two cities is over library services. Piedmont pays Oakland $350,000 annually for the use of its libraries. In 2011, Oakland, facing severe budget cuts, slashed library services and asked Piedmont to increase its share to $395,000 annually. After all, Oakland taxpayers pay $20 million a year, or about $50 for every resident, to support the libraries. Piedmont residents, by comparison, pay just $35 annually.
Piedmont said no, on the grounds that any California resident can obtain a free Oakland library card, and theoretically Piedmont isn't required to pay anything at all. After months of negotiations, Piedmont still pays just $350,000.  ..."

A Deal is a Deal
The well-to-do citizens of Piedmont always had very experienced lawyers who could out-strategized  Oakland's under-experienced lawyers with minimum effort. 

By assessing the data in terms of the Five Critical Factors, the Oakland lawyers would not have made the blunder of agreeing to a static number.   (Somewhere deep in our blogs, one might find the specifics behind our interpretation of the Five Critical Strategic Factors.  ... The basics can be found in the first chapter of the Art of War. Knowing how to use it for assessing the Big Tangible Picture is a special arcane skill that most members from the Cult of the Art of War do not possess. They are too busy memorizing all 300+ principles.)

Those who cannot think and strategize ahead regarding to connecting the specifics to the Big Tangible Picture, usually falter in their implementation.
Establishing a self-serving deal is 9/10th of the game.  ... Escaping with it is the other 10th.  ... 

In summary, "the letter of the lawful deal" overrides "the spirit of the deal."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

There is a time and a place for being perfect. While most people are focused on being good. Their definition of good can be a bit pathetic.   Especially, when some of them are trust fund babies. 

When the competition is very good, one must be  focused on being better.

Follow this Compass rule for staying ahead of the competition, will increase the scope of one's strategic position.

In a complex competitive setting, the amateurs sometimes know their objective and their approach. The fools are usually good at that.  Knowing how to adjusting those points to a larger situation with extreme strong competition is the challenge. 

It all begins by assessing the Big Tangible Picture.  Know the specifics of the situation and beyond before making a strategic decision.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Art of War's Chapter 13: Gathering Intelligence

Intelligence gathering is always in motion. One can see it from one professional sport to another.   It also happens in politics and business.

This is how the game is being played in a competitive economy.  

Is it ethical?  This depends on how one practices the art and the science of gathering intelligence. 

Exploiting the intelligence in a productive mode is another story.

Gathering Intelligence in the Information Economy
On the web, elite class business rivals usually visited each other and see nothing.  The context is generalized. The numbers could be deceptively published. How do they get the strategic advantage?

Start from ground zero and begin your journey by reading Chapter 1 and Chapter 13 of the Art of War. Connect the content between those two chapters and the other chapters through the use of the various strategic factors and you might reap the rewards.  You might also understand the framework of our process model.  Some parts of it could be found here.

The Fallacy of The "Planning to Win" Approach
The planning stage of any strategy is worthless if the researched information has minimal value. One can only adjust so far especially when the timeline factor and the resources factor become prevalent.

Eighteen months ago, we met amateurs who claimed that they can plan their way to a victory. Their concept of scheming and planning was near-perfect. They believed that their plans will prevail repeatedly. 

It helped that these  "wonder kids"had the advantage of a rich uncle.  They  sometime practiced the  micro approach of "one shot one win" or  the approach of "adjusting to the situation until it is right."  Both approaches become worthless if the tactician does not comprehend the rate of change and the possible adjustment strategies of the opposing  tactician.  

In rare situations, they were defeated by another competitor, with less resources. Their usual reasoning was that it was an incident of bad mojo or poor mindful awareness.  

Grinding, grounding and pounding was their usual style.  They definitely did not practice the Li Quan view of contesting.

Sooner or later, these amateurs will meet a strong competitor who has greater resources and smart strategic thinkers.  Then they will realize that their "kitchen sink" approaches do not always work.  There is a small possibility that their stronger competitor will not be gracious.

Thoughts From The Compass Desk
The Art of War essay or any of the popular strategy classics do not really explain how to operate in this situation.   So, what is the  answer?  

Do you think that the so-called strategy experts possessed the answer?

Send us a message and we might tell you.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Zhuge Liang (Kong Ming): The Hidden Dragon of The Three Kingdoms.

Here is an interesting article from one of our various associates:

# # #

Zhuge Liang (Kong Ming)

The Original "Hidden Dragon"

...  This article focuses on Zhuge Liang (Pinyin spelling, spelled Chu-ko Liang), a famous military advisor to Liu Bei, the founder of the Shu Han Dynasty (221-263/264 AD). Zhuge Liang (ZGL) was considered by historians to be the most accomplished (and feared) strategist in China's turbulent era of Three Kingdoms. He was also known as a contemporary of Guan Yu, the patron saint of martial arts.

Historically, Zhuge Liang was also known as Zhuge Kong Ming (ZKM). He was nicknamed "The Hidden Dragon" due to the fact that people around him underestimated his capacity to achieve great things. Other translations of his nickname were "Crouching Dragon" and "Sleeping Dragon."

In modern China, Zhuge Liang is considered to be the most popular statesman and strategic general in Chinese history. (His ranking is similar to having a master in public administration.) Most people learned of the historical achievements of Zhuge Liang through the many stories and plays written about him.

From Sun Tzu's classic The Art of War, leadership is one of five major attributes that determine the strategic success of a nation. Due to Zhuge Liang's emphasis on strategic leadership, Liu Bei's "Shu Han" state became one of the last three surviving kingdoms during that chronological period of the Three Kingdoms.

Zhuge Liang was born in 181 AD (the last years of East Han Dynasty), in the Yang-tu, Shantung province, China. Historically, he was known as a great statesman, an engineer, and a military strategist in the Three Kingdoms period (220-280 AD). As mentioned earlier, he was also the hero of the novel San Guo Yan Yi (Popular Accounts of the Three Kingdoms, also commonly known as The Romance of the Three Kingdoms).

Stories say that Zhuge Liang's forefathers were prominent servants of the state, but he was orphaned early in his youth. As a child, he was forced to flee his home province of Shantung during the slaughter of 400,000 civilians by Cao Cao, the powerful warlord of the Wei state.

The origin of his knowledgebase in "science, statecraft, and art" is unknown to many. It has been said that much of his learning was through his own process of researching and self-teaching. Other stories have Zhuge Liang learning from Pang De Gong (a famous educator-thinker of that era).

For a while, he dwelled in a thatched cottage in Longzhong (a district in the Wo Long Gung ridge near a town called Xiang Yang), quietly choosing to farm his land in obscurity and making friends extensively with celebrities, while preparing for the time for displaying his strategic knowledge. Legend states that Liu Bei, then a distant descendent of a royal Han house of minor military distinction, heard of Zhuge Liang's great wisdom and came three times to his home, requesting that he become his military advisor.

After a long discussion, Zhuge Liang was touched by Liu Bei's sincerity as well as Liu Bei's adoption of his plan for setting up a kingdom in the west and allying with the state of East Wu at the same time. He immediately pledged his service to Liu Bei and left his home to join Liu Bei's army. This became a major turning point for Liu Bei. At that time, Zhuge Liang was 26 and Liu Bei was 47 years old. Together they later established the Shu Han kingdom in the province of Sichuan.

Throughout his life, Zhuge Liang vowed to resist the Wei (the kingdom founded by his antagonist Cao Cao) and maintain the independence of the Shu, though the state of Wei had several times more land and people than that of the Shu. He later served as prime minister of Shu Han for Emperor Liu Bei (161-230 AD) and his son Liu Chan (207-271 AD).

Zhuge Liang (also known as Kong Ming) wearing his trademark "Taoist Priest" outfit and carrying his trademark "White Fan" (He was also known as a renaissance man who enjoyed the playing of the lute and the building of various mechanical devices).

Military Achievements
One of his famous exploits was advising Liu Bei to ally himself with Sun Quan, allowing him to win the principal battle of Chibi (Red Cliff). Together the armies of Liu Bei and Sun Quan dealt a lethal blow to Cao Cao's plan to conquer China. As part of the spoils of war, Liu Bei captured the territories of Jingzhou.

His military victories were vast and ingenious. Like all geniuses, Zhuge Liang faced a major setback at the hand of his arch nemesis, Sima Yi (senior military leader of the Wei state), when Sima Yi prevented Zhuge Liang from capturing Luoyang (an important area in China). This would have assisted Liu Bei's goal of restoring the Han Dynasty.

At his deathbed, Liu urged his son Liu Chan to depend on Zhuge Liang's advice and also urged his prime minister to ascend the throne himself if the prince was unable to rule.

After Liu Bei's death, Zhuge Liang assisted his successor in governing the country for the next four years. He roused himself for vigorous efforts to make the country prosperous and was strict and fair in meting out rewards and punishments. Under Zhuge Liang, the Shu Kingdom became more prosperous and militarily stronger. This was due to Zhuge Liang's defeat of the attacks of the seven armies that were initiated by Cao Pi. He also subdued the southern barbarian king Meng Huo and then led six expeditions against the state of Wei in an attempt to fulfill Liu Bei's wish of restoring the Han Dynasty.

At the age of 54, Zhuge Liang passed away on the plains of Wuzhangyuan during a military campaign (234 AD), while attempting to re-conquer the land that was occupied by the kingdom of Wei. Before he even began this northern expedition, Zhuge Liang was sick and exhausted from the stress and the overwork created by his rival, General Sima Yi, and the ineffective leadership of Liu Chan. By the time Zhuge Liang reached the battlefield he was dead. His death immediately marked the downfall of the Shu Kingdom.

He once remarked himself as "to bend myself to a task and exert the life to the utmost." Even his rivals could not help admiring his great talent and his devotion to the country.

Zhuge Liang's Achievements
Upon his death, much of his writings on building military organizations and strategies were supposedly stolen or destroyed. The Way of the General is one of the few writings survived to be read today.

It has been rumored that that Zhuge Liang created Eight Dispositions (Ba Xing), battle tactics for military strategic and tactical deployment. The Eight Dispositions battle tactics are army formations that are said to be based on his reading of the I-Ching (Book of Changes).

The technical attribute of the Ba Gua (eight trigrams) is supposed to be the essence behind Zhuge Liang's Eight Dispositions (Ba Xing) Battle Tactics.

Other stories described him as a mechanical engineering genius, credited with the invention of a multi-firing crossbow and a mechanical wooden ox (a four-legged wheel barrow with a shell of an ox) for transporting grain.

Much of his exploits can be found in the San Kuo Chih Yen-i (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), the great 14th century historical novel, where Zhuge Liang is one of the principal characters. As mentioned earlier, some of those events can be found in popular Chinese operas and plays where he is usually described as a favored character that fought against evil.

Those same plays also portrayed him as a Daoist magician who possessed many supernatural powers, from controlling the wind to foretelling the future. 

Much of his ability was based on his vast but confidential knowledge of military strategy, mechanical engineering, mathematics, geology, meteorology, and behavior psychology.  He understood the key to connecting the non-obvious dots of information into one Big Tangible Picture. 

After Zhuge Liang passed on, stories about his wisdom (for example, Review in Longzhong, Borrowing the Eastern Wind, and Strategy of the Vacant City) were played out as Chinese opera stories. These have also been used as a learning guide for budding professional strategists. To many past and present scholars of China's history, he is considered to be the quintessence of embodied wisdom and intelligence.

Zhuge Liang Non-military Achievements
Besides his military and engineering achievements, as the Prime Minister of the Shu Han kingdom Zhuge Liang rigorously pushed for law enforcement, adopted strict disciplinary measures, and meted out impartial rewards and punishments. This effected new development of its agriculture and handicraft industries, thus increasing the strength of the kingdom.

Another engaging quality of Zhuge Liang was his sincere belief in having a quality relationship with the people around him.

    "Opportunistic relationship can hardly be kept constant. The acquaintance of honorable people, even at a distance, does not add flowers in times of warmth and does not change its leaves in times of cold: it continues unfading through the four seasons, becoming increasingly stable as it passes through ease and danger."

My favorite quality of Zhuge Liang was his constant emphasis on the importance of self-cultivation of the people around him. Also his devotion to his duty endeared him to Liu Bei and people around.

Those qualities and his numerous achievements made Zhuge Liang the embodiment of wisdom and intelligence to Lui Bei, his countrymen, and many generations of Chinese scholars.

Other Zhuge Liang Trivia
    Zhuge Liang was also known as Marquis Wu or Zhuge Wu Hou

    Before a battle was fought, Zhuge Liang would visit the proposed area of combat years before any battle had even transpired

    During the visit, he would investigate the physical features and the natural timing for that terrain and the disposition and the power of both sides at that terrain. If a battle was fought, understanding the way to advance and withdraw from that terrain, determining what are the resources of both sides at that time.

    When leading a field army to the battle site, he would always ride in a four-wheeled carriage

    Stories tell of Zhuge Liang viewing a battle and calling out the tactical movements of his army from the top plateau of a very high mountain

   Zhuge Liang was said to always dress as a Daoist hermit, carrying a white feathered fan.  It has been said that there were old Chinese benevolent associations that would honor the memory of Zhuge Liang by nicknaming their advisor the "White Fan"

    The area where Zhuge Liang trained his army can still be found in the Chongqing region of Fengjie County.

    In the Strategy of the Vacant City story, Zhuge Liang, dressed in his Taoist outfit, played the lute and burned incense while waiting for the army of General Sima Yi to attack them from the open gates

    In the end Simi Yi backed out from the attack, thinking that Zhuge Liang concealed an army somewhere in the Vacant City and was waiting for him to make the mistake of attacking them through the open gates. Realistically, Zhuge Liang did not have an army large enough to defend against Sima Yi. This deception won the respect of Zhuge Liang's men and his peers, but embarrassed his rival General Sima Yi.

Honoring Zhuge Liang Through the Chengdu Temple

At the end of the Western Jin Dynasty (265-316 AD) a temple honoring Zhuge Liang was built by Li Xiong, king of the Zhen (Han) kingdom in Shaocheng of the Chengdu city.

During the Ming Dynasty (1368), the prime minister of Shu Han moved the Zhuge Liang temple to another part of the city and combined it with the temple to Liu Bei (Emperor of Shu Han), where Liu Bei was buried.

In 1672, an additional hall of Zhuge Liang was built along with it. This site contains the statues of Zhuge Liang, as well as his sons Zhuge Zhan and Zhuge Shang.

In 1984, the Chengdu Wuhou Temple Museum was founded as a historical research center to collect the materials about Zhuge Liang and the Three Kingdoms. Here a budding scholar can find many tablets containing quotations, poems, and accounts of the life of Zhuge Liang.

The following is a poem from Du Fu, the great poet of the Tang Dynasty, praising Zhuge Liang:

    His Excellency's shrine, where would it be found?
    Past Damask Town, where cypresses grow dense.
    Its sunlit court, gem-bright greens—a spring unto themselves.
    Leaf-veiled, the orioles' sweet notes to empty air.
    Thrice to him Liu Bei sued, keen to rule the realm:
    Two reigns Kong Ming served—steady old heart
    To die, his host afield, the victory herald yet to come
    Weep, oh heroes! Drench your fronts, now and evermore.
    --translated by Moss Roberts

Yet another Du Fu poem eulogizes Zhuge:
    Zhuge's mighty name hangs proudly on the upper sphere;
    Stern and grand, the royal liege man's likeness claims respect.
    In the tri-part world below he spun deep schemes.
    In the age-old realm of cloud, one single plume unites our gaze.
    Who rank his peers? Yi Yin and Jiang Ziya;
    In command he was more sure than Xiao or Cao.
    But the stars had turned; he could not save Han's reign,
    Toiling to the end, body broken, will unbroken.
    --translated by Moss Roberts

With so many accolades, Zhuge Liang was made a Confucian saint by the government of the Ching Dynasty in 1724.

Zhuge Liang's Writings
A translation of Zhuge Liang's The Way of General can be found in the Thomas Cleary book Mastering the Art of War. This book clearly delineated Zhuge Liang's thoughts on strategy, organization, and leadership. Some of the topics range from how to successfully develop an organization to running a state. Cleary's book also includes Liu Ji's (another famous Chinese statesman-general) serious commentary on the original framework of Sun Tzu principles, then extends the parameters. His explanations include stories from various historical periods, showing how they were wisely used by ancient martial strategists. Basically this book is an in-depth study of The Art of War, detailing the practical applications of waging war both materially and mentally, with a focus toward leadership and strategic thinking.

Those readers who enjoy books on strategy, organization, and leadership, will find that Zhuge Liang did a superb job of explaining the technical specifics of Sun zi's military principles.

Zhuge Liang's "The Way of the General"

The following are some quotes from of Zhuge Liang's book The Way of the General:

    "To overcome the intelligent by folly is contrary to the natural order of things; to overcome the foolish by intelligence is in accord with the natural order. To overcome the intelligent by intelligence, however, is a matter of opportunity. There are three avenues of opportunity: events, trends, and conditions. When opportunities occur through events but you are unable to respond, you are not smart. When opportunities become active through a trend and yet you cannot make plans, you are not wise. When opportunities emerge through conditions but you cannot act on them, you are not bold. Those skilled in generalship always achieve their victories by taking advantage of opportunities."

    "... an enlightened ruler does not worry about people not knowing him; he worries about not knowing people. He worries not about outsiders not knowing insiders, but about insiders not knowing outsiders. He worries not about subordinates not knowing superiors, but about superiors not knowing subordinates. He worries not about the lower classes not knowing the upper classes, but about the upper classes not knowing the lower classes."

    "Those who are skilled in combat do not become angered; those who are skilled at winning do not become afraid. Thus the wise win before they fight, while the ignorant fight to win."
(Zhuge Liang, circa 200 AD, The Way of the General)

Sixteen Strategies of Zhuge Liang

This book discusses the concepts of how a king should govern a country, how to establish a harmonious relationship between the king and subjects, how to discern good advice, how to deploy troops, and the importance of using reward and punishment to win the trust of people.

I recommend this book to those in business management who would like to possess the understanding of both the importance of leadership and human resource management in running any strategic organization. I believe any of Zhuge Liang's writings is still applicable to our current society.

The following is an abstract outline of his Sixteen Strategies:

Governing a country
  •     Be as "unerring as the North Star"
Ties between the ruler and subjects
  •     Let respect and loyalty become the only set of links between the ruler and his subjects.
Observing and listening
  •     Be a leader with a good strategic understanding of the situation at hand. Keep your mind on the game and your eye on the target.
Acceptance of advice
  •     Be receptive and kind to other people's ideas.
Being perceptive
  •     Be perceptive of all details (large and small) and make a clear distinction between the attribute of right and wrong.
Managing people
  •     In order to win people over to your side, educate them.
Selection of people
  •     Seek the worthy and employ the talented.
Performance evaluation
  •     Promote the praiseworthy and dismiss the average performers and producers.
Military administration
  •     Play the game effectively and win by sound strategy development.
Rewards and punishments
  •     While you reward those who deliver a clean, efficient administration, you should punish those who do not.
On emotion
  •     Do not make decisions via emotion.
Controlling chaos
  •     Be careful when handling a chaotic situation.
Education and orders
  •     Rectify oneself first when issuing orders.
Dealing with difficulties
  •     Act decisively to eliminate the cause of chaos.
Looking ahead
  •     Be farsighted and cautious when planning.
  •     Commit one's self to strive only for success.
I have recommended both books for budding, new strategists who are looking for "timeless leadership and strategic thinking" principles that can be utilized in any strategic situations.

Quotes from Zhuge Liang
The following are some of more of my favorite Zhuge Liang quotes:

    "Nothing is harder to see into than people's nature.
    The sage looks at subtle phenomena
    and listens to small voices.
    This harmonizes the outside with the inside
    and the inside with the outside."
    (from the Records of the Loyal Lord of Warriors)

    "Detach from emotions and desires; get rid of any fixations."

    "The loss of any army is always caused by underestimating the enemy. Therefore gather information and watch the enemy carefully."

    "Good generals select intelligent officers, thoughtful advisors, and brave subordinates. They oversee their troops like a fierce tiger with wings."

    "You are harmed by decadence when judgment is based on private views, when forces are mobilized for personal reasons. These generals are treacherous and immoral."

# I believed that the essence that made Zhuge Liang the consummate strategist can be found in his quote on the "five skills and four desires:"

    "The five skills are skill in knowing the disposition and power of enemies, skill in knowing the ways to advance and withdraw, skill in knowing how empty or how full countries are, skill in knowing nature's timing and human affairs, and skill in knowing the features of terrain.

    The four desires are desire for the extraordinary and unexpected in strategy, desire for thoroughness in security, desire for calm among the masses, and desire for unity of hearts and minds."

    - Zhuge Liang in The Way of the General

Those who want to be great strategists, should heed to the meanings behind the "five skills and four desires."

For most insights on Zhuge Liang exploits, read The Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel and other Zhuge Liang related strategic titles.

Zhuge Liang is still loved by the people of modern-day China for his intelligence, loyalty, wisdom as a military mind and statesman and his emphasis on self-cultivation that has enlightened and encouraged people long after his death.

This item was originally published at Jade Dragon  in 2001.  It has been mildly revised for this post.    

Side notes 
Click here for our Feb 2014 post on a superb translation of Zhuge Liang's essay- The General's Garden (aka. Way of General) and an in-depth analysis of Zhuge Liang's history by Dr. Ralph Sawyer. We highly recommend it.

Click here for a 2013 post on Zhuge Liang's Way of General (Cleary's translation).

 Many hardcore strategists have always admired Zhuge Liang for his various skills.   The commonality between Zhuge Liang and other elite strategists (Jiang Tai Gong, Zhang Liang, etc.) was having a concealed arcade of unique strategic and tactical skills and reliable resources that enabled them to see the Big Tangible Picture. It also allowed them to complete their objectives with ease.

Besides the occasional posting of a serious strategic topic. we have already staged 28+ various posts on a myriad of strategic topics on the blog's queue.  ... 

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Today, Victory Wears a Blue Shirt

"Victory has hundreds of fathers. But defeat is an orphan. "  - JFK

The Compass View 
In some situations, victory has hundreds of origins while a defeat could create thousands of "disconnective" orphans for a sole cyber moment. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

World Series Analysis (Part 3)

Classic Baseball Adages 
  • Good pitching and defense usually beats good hitting.
  • Offense thrills. But defense wins championships
The SF Giants won Game #3 and Game #4 through solid pitching, good defense and small ball offense.

The Plight of the Pseudo Experts
Following is an abridged listing of the many pseudo experts who picked the Tigers to win:
Click here and here for local non-expert's views. The majority of the Yahoo experts  picked the SF Giants to win. 

Click here for a summarization from Huffington Post. 

Click here on how one expert assessed the two teams.  Can you see what is wrong with this assessment?

Next to Final Analysis
Some of their analysis were pathetic and illogical.  They have a habit of telling us the obvious.  Good analysis are usually based on the possible "connective" factors. 

So do you know how to assess a competitive situation?  ... 

The Possible Causes for the SF Giants Victory
Luck is the residue of design. - Branch  Rickey

Preparation creates opportunity.  The prepared usually capitalizing on the opportunity.  They are always one to two steps ahead of their competition.

Click hereherehere, here and here for the different views of the SF Giants success.

The After-Effects from the World Series
The real winner was Stubhub.  The losers were the TV channel that produced the World Series and the Tiger Fans.

Final Comments from the Compass Desk
In our message-driven society, the amateur experts always have a message. But there are no risk consequences for their err(s). They make predictions just like some politicians who make big promises.  

Our point is that you should decide on your political candidates carefully. It is not a beauty contest. Vote on Tuesday.  Choose them on the criteria of the Bigger Picture.  Good luck.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Compass360 Consulting's Endorsement

For the hardcore strategists, we recommended Dr. Sawyer's latest translation- Strategies for the Human Realm.

This book was composed by Li Ch’√ľan (Li Quan), a provincial military official who served in the middle T’ang dynasty, the T’ai-pai Yin-ching revitalized the theoretical study of warfare in China. Remarkably comprehensive, it first focuses upon the human realm, devoting a quarter of its hundred chapters to the grand issues of government, warfare, human society, ethical values, and man’s orientation within the universe while pondering the more concrete problems of the nature of command, methods for evaluating men, the role of rewards and punishments, and the implementation of subversive measures. Instead of conquering through combat or achieving the fabled hundred victories in a hundred clashes, Li’s aim was victory without combat so as to preserve the state rather than debilitate it in warfare. The remaining seventy-five chapters, not translated here, briefly discuss important battle equipment and techniques before unfolding extensive material on sacrifices and arcane prognosticatory methods. Highly regarded thereafter, the T’ai-pai Yin-ching stands at the beginning of the later military tradition in China and numerous chapters appear in the military compendia produced over the next thousand years. It also continues to be the subject of conscious study as the PRC strives to develop “military science with unique Chinese characteristics.”

You can get a copy of this classic at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
It is also available for the Kindle.

We will post more information about Li Quan and this unique book at a later time. 

Side note
"Li’s aim was victory without combat so as to preserve the state rather than debilitate it in warfare.  ... "

In order to achieve this monumental step, one must be able to assess the tangible state of their  competition's strategic power.   Do you know how to achieve this first step?