Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Proper Assessment Prevents Poor Planning and Preparation


Failure to plan is to plan for failure. 

To properly compete in a complex setting, the possession of a plan does not always guarantee a win or a strategic advantage.  


Sunzi's Art of War (AoW) essay states that the successful strategist is usually victorious when he/she knows the configuration of their grand settings.  Some of our other non-strategy associates felt that the act of assessing strategically is too much work and is totally overrated. They preferred to participate in the "fun and exciting" activities from the seat of their pants. This perceived gamble reinvigorates the thrill of operating under a risk. 

As long as their own trust fund is never touched, they will pursue it.  =)) 

Assess 
The first step is knowing the approach for assessing their situation and the approach for building a plan that is based on their assessment. 

Having that key information about one's own grand settings, occasionally enables the successful strategists to pinpoint that rare path of least resistance. Portion of that key information is a cyclical pattern of motives and methods. Understanding these habits and these tendencies is one of the many steps of how they amplify their strategic power (strategic advantage). 

The standard of assessment enhances one's planning and preparation. The quality of assessment usually determines the quality of plan.

In a past post, we have discussed about our process of assessing a situation through the utilization of those strategic and tactical factors. The pseudo AoW experts do not know what are those factors.  They are usually too busy preaching to their followers to focus their time and their effort on getting to their destination without ever understanding the configuration of their terrain. ...  In a highly competitive terrain, what is the probability of these lemmings  surviving?

The Sunzi Perspective
“These are the ways that the successful strategists are victorious. They cannot be spoken or transmitted in advance. ... Before the confrontation, they resolve in their conference room that they will be victorious, have determined that the majority of factors are in their favor. Before the confrontation they resolve in their conference room that they will not be victorious, have determined a few factors are in their favor.

If those who find that the majority of factors favor them, will be victorious while those who have found few factors favor them will be defeated, what about someone who finds no factors in their favor?


When observing from this viewpoint, victory and defeat will be apparent.”

- Art of War 1 (Paraphrased from the Sawyer's translation)

Following is the Sunzi's tactical approach for strategic assessment:
1. Measuring the dimensional factors of their situation; 
2. Estimating the potency of their measures; 
3. Calculating the efficacy in terms of the positives and the negatives; 
4. Balancing the order of the measured factors through the use of the "Victory Temple Protocol"; and
5. Predicting the probability and the possibility of victory.
-  Art of War 4

The Li Quan Perspective
"Those who excel in warfare contend for advantage with others only after determining through temple calculations that they will be successful. Attacking the rebellious and embracing the distant, toppling the lost and solidifying the extant and uniting the weak and attacking the benighted are all manifestations.  The interior and exterior becoming estranged, as in the case of the Shang and Chou armies, is what is referred to as having determined victory through temple calculations before engaging  in combat.  According to T'ai-yi Tun-chia assessment method, anything above sixty a majority, anything below sixty is  a minority.  ... In all these  cases, victory and defeat are easily seen. "
- Li Quan's  T"ai-pai Yin-ching

Based on the "completeness" of one's assessment, the successful strategist determines the strategic efficiency of their situation. it indirectly enables one to understand whether it is possible to prevail over their competitor.

The Reality

One cannot arrive to a viable strategic position in a chaotic setting if their assessment and their scheme are invalid. The result consequence is usually a combination of exceeding the timeline and the operating budget. One should not be surprised if their end result does not meet the expected performance standard.

To prevail in your competitive terrain, our recommendation is that the budding strategist should learn how to assess their situation before choosing a possible high-risk move. 


In a high risk, unpredictable terrain, the risk consequence for not assessing is   grinding and grounding oneself toward a state of zero gain.



Position 
The capable and experience strategists who always assessed their grand setting, know how to construct a force multiplier within their terrain.  (Some people referred it as "strategic power" or "strategic advantage.")  ... This  specific process can be defined as a strategic version of bricolage. ... The challenge is always having the courage and the drive to implement it.

The Clue to Constructing a Force Multiplier
When you hear the hoof beats, do not look for the horses. 
Focus on the zebras. 

The quantity of the quality components within one's terrain and the connectivity between them are what determines the possibility of constructing the force multiplier.

While another portion of this base concept can be found in the first set of quotes in chapter five of the Art of War, you can also find the macro clue from reading the Master Ghost Valley (MGV) essay, Jiang Tai Gong Six Secret Teachings and Huang Shek Gong's Three Strategies

A conceptual portion of the MGV book can be found in the Li Quan's translation
We will talk about more about this specific topic in a future post.

Side Note
For what it is worth, the opportunity to build a force multiplier is not guaranteed for each and every time. It is depended on the deep configuration of that opportunity.  One needs to be capable of connecting the dots.  Click here for one good example.

Comments from The Compass Desk

If you are participating in a highly competitive terrain, follow these three simple steps: 


  • Assess the grand setting; 
  • Position oneself by planning and preparation; and 
  • Influence the settings with the implementation of the scheme while being mindfully aware of the target's strategic state.
If the influence loses its potency, restart the Compass Cycle. Repeat your assessment of your grand terrain carefully.  Be aware of the possible deception.

Assess. ... Position.  ... Influence.  ... 


Follow those steps.  ... You will not regret it.  Good luck!

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