Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Compass Rules For Competitive Play

Following is an abridged listing of our compass rules for competitive strategic play:
  • Never play a game if one does not know the rules (and the various situations).  
  • Never play a game that favors the competition
  • Never play a game when one cannot afford the outcome of the risk consequence.  ...     
The Question of the Day
  • What are the exceptions to these rules?
Hint: The answer is not directly in your copy of the Art of War. To find the answer, read the Seven Strategy Classics (aka. The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China) and the Dao De Jing.  The clues are in there.  

Whenever one is able to find the dots, he/she can reap the rewards.

You should always know your terrain before you decide to play.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The First Challenge for Most Strategists (2)

In a previous post, we talked about the subject of staying focused.

So, how does one stays focused on their objective?  It depends on their experience, their category of work and their settings.

In the area of innovation, the thinker-doers find a temperature-controlled place with many meters of empty space and near-zero decibels.    Why is this necessary?  Do it and find out.

The Process
Following is a list of steps that we have always followed on a daily basis:
  1. Be center.  Focus on being in a state of absolute, centered awareness.
  2. Operate from the script . 
  3. If it does not work,  return to step #1
These three steps enabled us to know when to stay on course and when to adjust from it.   It is quite important that the goal and the specifics are clearly stated.

Our research tells us that the implementers of these three steps can stay focused for a longer timeline.

Reminder Remember that, proper (and prior) planning and preparation prevents pissed, poor performance. Scripting that plan is an important habit for every strategist to maintain. 

Fwiw, it is rare that one finds inspiration or build anything innovative in a noisy and cluttered place.  It is quite more majestic to operate efficiently in an isolated empty space. Things get done in a more efficient mode

In the future, we will touch more on the different types of settings.

By becoming mindfully focused, one becomes efficient in their movement.

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

Concurrently, one cannot talk about the essence of strategy if he/she cannot see "how the grand action of the Five Critical Strategic Factors i(CSF) is functioning around their settings."  Ask your local Sunzi expert if he or she knows what does that point means.

Our associates at Cook Ding's Kitchen have always reminded the novices and the neophytes that one cannot successfully strategize if he/she is not able to stay focused on their objective. They also reminded their friends that the reading of the Art of War does not help either.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Dao of Strategic Assessment

During the process of assessing. remember these following rules:

  • Know the competitive state of your setting
  • Know the Five Critical Strategic Factors 
  • Know the tangibility and the deception within your setting
  • Compare and contrast the grand factors
  • Know the myriad of approaches behind the subjugation of the targeted competitor's strategic foundation and 
  • Assess the strategic and the tactical factor of each competitor. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Question of the Day

Q: For the hardcore strategic thinkers, do you know why the principles of Wu-tzu (Wuzi) the Art of War and the Six Secret Teachings are still relevant in the business of strategic analysis and planning?

Hints from the Compass Desk
From the Wuzi book, one learns the following:
  • how to resolve complex tactical circumstances;
  • how to evaluate the grand situation and the competition;
  • how to achieve the goal with minimum amount of resources;
  • how to implement grand organizational planning;
  • how to manage the organization; 
  • how to adjust to change;
  • how to choose strategies;
  • how to nurture one's leadership culture and virtue;
  • how to establish one's leadership credibility; and 
  • how to motivate "the ranks and files." 
From the Jiang Tai Gong's book, one learns how to view the Big Picture in terms of the civil fundamentals,  the competitive fundamentals, the leadership fundamentals, the tactical essentials and tactical specifics.

Compass View
Those who know, are able to process those concepts-related data into a grand view of tangible points.  

Regardless of the irrelevant message of the Art of War cult, there is more to the Chinese strategy game than The Art of War essay.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Quote of the Day

"Comprehending the essence of strategy is like drinking Dragon Well tea. Many have consumed it to appear sophisticated, a few do appreciate the heart of the taste. ... "  - Anonymous

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pragmatic Practices (8): The Dao of the Strategists

New England Patriots is one of the most successful professional football teams in the NFL.  For the last five seasons (2007), they have  won 64 regular games out of 78 games. Since 2000, the Patriots have won 139 games out of 192 games.

Some parts of the Pats success can be contributed to their scouting activities.  No one outside of the Patriots organization, knows the true size of their intelligence collection team. 

In summary,  their success was due to their drafts and a few good free agent signings.

The Dao of Strategy: Collecting Data
Fwiw, true blue strategists do not always use search engines to collect data. They understand that the truth is usually not displayed for public viewing.  Their operations team is always on the field, collecting relevant intelligence and probing for the next gold mine.

  • So what is your process for collecting data?  
  • Do you ask your inner circle or your favorite social networks for their opinions? 
  • Do you prefer to go to your favorite search engine for their  "fixed" viewpoint?
  • What is the side effect of each approach?
In summary, it is prevalent to get the best quality intelligence before assessing.

Assessing Before Planning
  • Do you ever plan without assessing the situation?   
  • Do you ever assess your data without verifying the quality of the information? 
  • Do you ever assess the criterion of your information collection process?
The Compass View
Regardless of your answers, many people preferred to operate from the seat of their pants.  Due to their love to improvise and invent, they usually go with their gut instinct.  This specific feeling enthralls them.    

Depending on the situation, the side effect of this marginally-efficient practice is a prolonged time line and a protracted budget.   

In an extreme uncertain situation,  the amateurs regularly lose their motivation and quit.  We have seen it repeatedly. Those who persist and persevere, usually have the experience and the resources to continue.

In complex times, one cannot properly assess and plan without collecting the right amount of tangible data.

Those who constantly prevail in many of their endeavors, usually have the superior skills  in the areas of strategic assessment, operational planning and tactical adaptation.  Sometimes, they just succeed because of the predictability of their situation.  Occasionally, chance plays a  role.

If one wants to succeed in their endeavor, it helps to know how to collect information.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Assessing The Big Tangible Picture

Q: What does the successful strategist do when he has assessed the Big Tangible Picture?
The successful strategist recognizes the possible change and and understands the general approach to taking advantage of it.

"Deal with the small before it becomes large." - Dao De Jing

By being mindful to one's surroundings, he looks at things in terms of processes. When the  things are out of synchronization, he capitalizes on it. 

Achieving the Big Tangible Picture
"Detachment, Forgetfulness of results, and Abandonment of all hope of profit."  - Zhuang Zi

Once the hyper state of awareness is achieved, he centers his full attention to his current objective while be mindful of one's surroundings.  While being detached to one's past results, the current goal and the urgency of getting the job done, the successful strategist focuses on one thing and finishes it well.  Then, he goes on. 

By comprehending the Big Tangible Picture (BTP), the successful strategist knows how to properly experience changes and profits on it while maintaining one's virtue.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Assessing the Competition (3)

(from Focus Features)
In a grand setting of political and economic uncertainty, how do the chief decision makers assessed their competitive situation?

Some preferred to assess their competition by labeling their pictures to certain chess pieces  ...

or placing unique figures in a dollhouse.

Others have assessed their situation by viewing the participants as stones.

Q: What is the weakness of each strategic assessment approach?

To meet the criteria of the situation, one must choose the right metaphor correctly. It begins by understanding the Big Tangible Picture of one's setting.

The Compass Process
In a complex situation where a revolving turret of participants can be distracting. Knowing the players and the pawns is quite significant. Labeling people as chess pieces or using a dollhouse to visualize one's own Big Tangible Picture is sometimes insufficient especially in a broad and unpredictable setting.

Comprehending the configuration of the terrain while learning the profiles of the relevant players is the first step to achieving the path of least resistance. 

The next step is transforming the specific intelligence into a tangible plan. ...

(We will continue this topic in a future post)