Thursday, January 31, 2013

Some of the Best Stuff to Read Online!

The standards for succeeding at some levels of our information society have changed. Being efficient is no longer enough. To thrive under these uncertain political-economic settings, one must focus on being strategically effective.

Collecting the right information is the first step.

Following is an abridged list of our favorite sites:

More to come

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Food For Thought: Strategic Pointers

Quick Pointers from the Compass Desk
  • The collection of quality intelligence sometimes determines the state of the assessment.
  • The assessment of certain situations determines the criteria of the goals.
  • The goals and the approaches dictate the processes.
  • The processes govern the resources.
  • The performance of the implementers usually concludes the success of the goals. 
It begins by knowing the Big Tangible Picture. Then, pinpointing which of the nine strategic situations are in play, is the next step. 

With a tangible plan (or a Tangible Vision), one knows when to stay on course and when to adjust while executing the strategy. 

By following the mentioned pointers, one could succeed at some point of time.

* In a future post, we will touch on the tactical specifics behind those strategic pointers.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Playing the Moneyball Game

Click here for a non-tangible version of Moneyball.

I saw the movie and thought that it was ok. I know people who are A's fans. Some of them were just bandwagon jumpers until the A's went through a dry spell of losing seasons. Then, they left and pretended to be Giants fans. Most of them do not even live in Oakland. 

Moneyball is a nice approach and it works until the big guys (esp. The Red Sox, The Devil Rays and others) learned the specifics of their approach and used it against the originator.

Protecting the Advantage
Here is a reminder from Jiang Tai Gong's Six Secret Teachings.

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.

The Chinese strategy essays have always emphasized the importance of maintaining one's advantage as long as possible. This could only occur when the strategist has mastered the art of quietude. ... It also works when one also has the means to connect the modes to it.

The Flaw of Data Reading
Correct data tells the readers the status of the situation. Sometimes, it does not tell them what might happen next.

Ruminations From The Compass Desk
As a reminder to the amateur strategists, principles and data reading do not win contests.  ...  A process model that is supported by the connectivity of the right principles, the practices, the protocols and the procedures, will offer the implementers a competitive chance to survive.  One has to be able to survive before he/she can thrive. 

Most people should be asking what was the specifics (include the minutes of details) that are behind the process model instead of the conceptual framework.

The key is to know the exceptions to every situation. ...  Do you ever look at the configuration of the Big Tangible Picture from that perspective?  ... While looking at it, do you ever look at the prevailing factors and focus on whether it can be adjusted with minimal effort?  (This is how one plays the Moneyball game.)   

In summary, blood, sweat and tears is what a hardcore realist sees on the gameboard of competitive darwinism.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

How Things Work in the Information Economy (2)

Regardless of the flaw behind the current browser technologythe successful strategists evolve by maintaining a large toolbox.   They always stay ahead of the curve by connecting the ideas, the principals and the events in terms of the relativity while working on their contingency options.  Relying on one type of technology tool is not in their playbook. 

In summary,  the successful strategists always implemented the following strategic moves:
  • Assessed the Big Tangible Picture; 
  • Positioned themselves with good planning and preparation; and   
  • Influence their settings by promptly deciding on the right option.   
Assess.  ... Position. ... Influence.  ... API.  ... It is that simple.   The OODA process does not always work in the field especially when the even parity between the two competitors becomes tangible.

Whenever the API process is consistently in a positive motion, the successful strategists will evolve forward.  ... 

Compass Rule 
Evolve. Don't dissolve.

Compass Trend #31: The Efficient Economy

This is the slow end for the low level jobs.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Compass Trend: Poor Assessment of Intelligence

Gartner is reporting that 7 out 10 BI project are FAILURES!?  That number is scheduled to grow in 2013!

Assessing the wrong intelligence could be a major reason for 
the poor development of a BI system    Sometimes, it begins by changing how one thinks. Knowing and accepting that there is an error in the process of assessing the intelligence.  The approach of collecting information could also be the root cause of error.

Assessing complex situations by exploiting "The Occam's Factor" (aka The Occam's Razor) is not the way to go.  There are risk consequences for utilizing that mode.

Instead of thinking and operating in an "absolute" mode, view things in terms of "situational relativity" would be beneficial on the long run. It would enable you to secure the path of least resistance. Knowing what particular variables are in play for that specific situation is what counts. This is the "Dao of Strategic Assessment."

As a note to our Sunzi readers, re-reading Chapter One of the Art of War is not going to help you.  One needs to rebuild their sense of awareness by re-strategizing their means and their modes.  This practice enables you to reconfigure your "experience" level.   

Visit Cook Ding Kitchen, there is a mountain of content that could enlighten you.

In our future book project, we will focus on the process hierarchy behind the art and the science of strategic assessment.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Answer (3)

Lets begin this post with the question. It is an interesting question for those who are competitive.  Now, click here for part one of the answer (This post offers the perspective from the Art of War).  If it does not make sense, then click here for part two of the answer (This post offers another viewpoint from the game of Go (Weiqi).)

The Next to the Final Stage of the Answer
This is not a game theory situation, where there is a direct contest between two principals and everything is near-obvious.  In a competitive situation where there are many involving strategic factors.  Depending on the quality of information,  the situation could be quite complex.

The clues to this approach can be found in the first two sections of Jiang Tai Gong (JTG's) Six Secret Teachings and chapter one of the Art of War.

Step One: Understand the scope of the situation.  

By being two steps ahead of the game,  the successful strategists can play the Jiang Tai Gong approach of pre-positioning and luring.  You can find a good example in the 2010's Samurai movie classic "The 13 Assassins" where the protagonists knew the route, the strategic power and the tendencies of their target. Then, they altered their target's grand setting for the purpose of influencing him toward their lethal trap while transforming other portions of their own setting for the purpose of gaining a higher state of strategic power.

Sun Bin at Mai Ling is a good historical example.  ...  We will post the additional steps in the future.

Minor Jottings
Unlike what the Cult of the Art of War tells their followers, one cannot learn this skill from reading the Art of War.  It offers to the novices a mere glimmer of hope.   As many of us know, that hope is not a strategy or a destination.  Good strategic assessment begins by knowing the Big Tangible Picture of each principal in terms of their objectives, their approaches, the means and the modes.  ... Understanding the complexity, the connectivity, the consistency and the continuity of a Big Tangible Picture are some of the key points to a good strategic assessment.  

Those who are competitively ambitious, could build this exotic skill through the game of Go (weiqi) where misdirecting and luring are the norms.   He or she might get lucky in understanding the mechanics of these grand concepts after playing a minimum of 10 thousand games.  

So, how did we learned it?  We spent time talking to the various no-name experts who indirectly revealed the clues to us.   ...  Humorously, those who know, don't really say. They only offered their hints to us through their actions.

If your in-house strategists do not possess this unique skill, they will fail you in a chaotic competitive situation.

Sun Bin was a student of Wang Xu. In his school, he and his classmates were first instructed to the concepts of Jiang Tai Gong's Six Secret Teachings .  Sun Bin was later given a copy of Sunzi by his instructor. We wagered that he re-learned the approach of "baiting and luring" from reading chapter one and two of that essay and practiced it a few times before ever implementing it in a macro situation. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

How Things Work in the Information Economy

This past Thursday,  a U.S. government agency  discovered  that an important portion of the pervasive web browser was compromised.  The basic solution was to disconnect the Java component from the browser.  On Sunday, the initial solution was provided by Oracle's Java division.

It is not over yet. The long term solution is still two years away.  Be cautious of your various interactions on the web.


Getting off the information grid would be quite challenging  for those who felt that they were being hoodwinked by the techie gods and the pseudo visionaries..

Bugs will constantly occur in technology. They do get fixed.   Those who were affected by it, learn this important lesson- life goes on.   

Perfection is an illusion.  ... Do not be overly depended on technology. This is the red pill of the information economy.  

This post has been updated.  #

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Three Pragmatic Questions for Our Hardcore Strategic Audience

Anytime, there are associates (or pseudo experts) who tell us at that they really understand the essence behind the Chinese strategies. We would usually asked them a minimum of 36 questions. 

So far, no one have gotten past the 70% mark. The passing grade is 88%. ... 

Following are three of those 36+ questions:
  1. What is the grand distinction between Jiang Tai Gong's Six Secret Teachings, Sunzi (Sun Tzu) the Art of War?
  2. What are the applicational differences between Jiang Tai Gong's Six Secret Teachings, Sunzi (Sun Tzu) the Art of War?
  3. How does one uses the concepts and principles from Jiang Tai Gong's Six Secret Teachings and the Huang Shek Gong's Three Strategies in a strategic assessment scenario?

If you get the right answers for those three questions, we will send you a free copy of Dr. Sawyer's The Essential Art of War. 

More to come.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Proper Planing and Preparation Prevents Pissed Poor Performance #3

(Five staccato syllables to live by)
Organization leads to preparation
Preparation eliminates the unexpected. 
Be ready for everything. . . . 
Overlook nothing. ... 
"A team that is unable to discern good fortune and misfortune in the as-yet-uninformed does not understand preparations." 
- Military Methods, 22 (A minor revision on a concept from Sun Bin)

In the strategy game, the well-prepared and successful strategists are always focused on securing the last base camp before assaulting the summit.

In summary, preparation is the key. Knowing when and how to prepare for a planning and preparation situation is the first stage of preparation. ... Knowing what to plan for and how to plan is the next stage. ... It all begins by assessing the situation and following your script.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Compass Trend #30: The Efficient Economy Sometimes Means Even Parity

When every competitor in your terrain, has a similar vantage point, what is your counter point?  ... Regardless of the criteria,  what set of specific points do you use to assess the competitive position of your marketplace?

What would you do, when each and every principal competitor has the same vantage point?  The emphasis on efficiency and quality could only go far.  At some point, the society only evolve forward when the new emphasis is on real scientific innovation.  ...  Technology could only go so far.

Innovation requires someone who is willing to take risk. In a society of rules and regulations, risk and freedom become a memory. 

Side note
Currently, most high-tech. innovations are based on achieving short-term gratification of minimizing time and reducing minor costs.  In most cases, these gratifications have become an afterthought.  

...  By being aware of their settings, one noticed that these acts of short term gratification usually breed attention deficit disorder and this dilemma has becomes the norm.  (In a future post, we will  talk about this topic.)

In summary, our cyber-driven setting has created a grand situation of near-equal level of efficiency and quality between the competitors.    

Proper Planning (and Preparation) Prevents Pissed, Poor Performance #2b

Another Thought on Proper Planning and Preparation
  • In the field of observation, chance favor the prepared. - Louis Pasteur
Regardless of the situation, the successful strategist is always prepared. His assessment could be off.  But he knows when to stay in course and when to adjust.  

It all begins by having the proper Big Tangible Picture.

[ revised ]

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Proper Planning (and Preparation) Prevents Pissed, Poor Performance #2

Some of our readers loved their quotes. They live their way of life through their quotes.  Sometimes, their flock follows them. 

To appease this section of our readers, here is an abridged list of quotes that the Compass team has collected:
  • "Preparation Precedes Performance"
  • "Proper Planning  and Preparation Prevents Pissed, Poor Performance"
  • "The Will To Prepare" is more important than "The Will to Win".
  • "Know when and how to prepare for planning is the first stage of preparation. ... Knowing what and how to plan is the next stage. ..."
  • "Preparation Pays Profits when Preparation meets Opportunity...."
  • "Preparation + Opportunity = Success. ..."
# # #
  • "The plan is nothing; . . . the planning is everything." - Dwight Eishenhower, the Grand Thinker of the "1944 D-day invasion of Normandy, France
  • "Failure to Prepare is to Prepare to Failure." - Bill Walsh, the Architect of the West Coast Offense. Former Coach of San Francisco Forty Niners (Super Bowl Champions 1981-82, 1984-85, and 1988-89).
  • " ... Organization leads to preparation. . . . Preparation eliminates the unexpected. Be ready for everything. . . . Overlook nothing. ... " - Brian Billick, Former Head Coach of Baltimore Ravens (Super Bowl Champions 2000-2001) .
  • "If you have a plan, and if you have your direction laid out, you can chart your progress to your dreams at each stop along the way. ... And just as important, all along the way you can see how far you've come." - Michael Shanahan, Current Head Coach of the Washington Redskins, (Former coach of Denver Broncos, Super Bowl Champions 1997-1998, 1998-1999) 
  • Organizing, leading, enduring setbacks and ultimately succeeding lies at the heart of every profession, be it business, the military or football. -Walsh ( Forbes | December 7, 1992 |)

Interestingly, the preachers and teachers from the Cult of the Art of War also employed this approach.  If you asked them how do they integrate the principles into one solid entity. they have no answers.  They just don't know.  Principles and quotes could only go so far. 

If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, 
you don't know what you're doing.  - W. Edward Deming

Philosophy does not win battles. Understanding the psychology, the mathemathics and the physics of the situation are the key factors behind the building of a plan. The next step is the processing of the intelligence into a process model. 

So, do you have a process model that allows you to see the tangible specifics?  ...  Do you?

Side note 
You can find interesting and unique views on planning and preparation in the Seven Strategic Classics and Sun Bin's classic.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Latest Challenge!!!

A few months ago, we were presented the challenge of transforming some portions of our strategic process model of Chinese strategic principles and our "rules as strategy" approach toward an Agile/Lean setting?  ... We will find out soon!?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Monday, January 7, 2013

Our Compass Toolbox (2): Seven Military Classics of China

Seven  Military Classics of Ancient China?  ...  Are we sure? ... Yes, we are sure.  Now that we have your attention.  ....  Seriously, we are big fans of the principles that are behind the Eight Military Classics of China (Seven Military Classics  of Ancient China and Sun Bin's Military Methods) regarding to using it as a foundation for any strategic endeavor.

With this compendium of knowledge, one could view their targeted terrain (marketplace) from a downward vertical viewpoint.  He or she could also see the non-obvious connections from the essence of leadership culture to the tactical essentials and the tactical specifics.  ... Does the Cult of the Art Of War knows the intricacies behind this unique approach?

Here is the 411 on this super text of strategic concepts and principles:

The Seven Military Classics (武经七书) of China were seven important military texts of ancient China which included Sun-tzu's The Art of War. The texts were canonized under this name during the 11th century AD, and from the Song Dynasty onwards were included in most military encyclopedias. For imperial officers, either some or all of the works were required reading to merit promotion like the requirement for all bureaucrats to learn and know Confucius' work. There were many anthologies with different notations and analyses by scholars throughout the centuries leading up to the present versions in Western publishing. Qing emperor Kangxi, however, considered them to be "full of nonsense." Members of the Communist Party of China also studied the texts during the Chinese Civil War as well as many European and American military minds.
According to Ralph D. Sawyer and Mei-chün Sawyer, who created one of the latest translations, the Seven Military Classics include the following texts:
There are no other known variations of the Seven Military Classics anthology with alternating members but the constituent works themselves have had multiple versions, especially the Art of War, which has had at least a dozen different translations to English in the 20th Century alone.
[  ]
More information on this book can be found at Dr. Sawyer's site
Notes on the Sun Bin's Military Methods  can be found here and hereClick here for our views on Sun Bin (Sun Pin).

More to come. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Executing the Right Stuff

"90% of strategies fail due to poor execution." -  Harvard Business School

Some believed that execution begins by planning and preparation.  ... Read the previous post for a higher idea.   In an efficient economy, staying focused while avoiding contentment is one of the greatest challenge for most individuals.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Art of the Focus #11

Unless one is purposefully researching for a project, surfing on the web (especially aimlessly and watching people make money is a waste of their time and their  attention. 

Focusing on one objective while being mindfully aware of one's settings, is one of the most difficult skills to attain.   This practice is quite difficult to master  especially to those who demand immediate gratification. 

Proper execution of a strategy is impossible if he or she cannot stay focused on the  target.

The key steps to staying focused are: 
  • Breathing; 
  • Balancing oneself; and 
  • Finding the rhythm of one's own settings.
Scripting the particulars of one's strategy does help.  Other metaphysical specifics for this answer could be found in the archives of Cook Ding's Kitchen.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Pragmatic Practice # 10: Personal Focus Session

Whenever you are overwhelmed with many specifics in your head. 

Do the following:
  1. Go to bed early.
  2. Wake up early.   (Update: The Great Matz of Cook DIng's Kitchen recommended the importance of working out before the sun rises. This practice is quite popular with Taiji players)
  3. Pack a pencil, some paper and a set of colored pens into your backpack.
  4. Find a quiet setting with minimum distractions.  Try a library.
  5. Avoid carrying your mobile devices.
  6. CENTER yourself to the ground.  Stand quietly for a long moment before scripting.
  7. SCRIPT all of your priorities in terms of positives and negatives. 
  8. PRIORITIZES it accordingly.
  9. CONNECT an approach to each priority
  10. CONNECT an contingency plan to each approach
  11. Assess your situation in terms of the Five Critical Strategic Factors (Dao, Tien, Dian, Jiang and Fa).
  12. RE-SCRIPT your points (implement step #7-#10) until you do believe that it is correct.
When done properly, this tactile practice presents a meta-feel between you and your goal and your objectives.