Monday, April 8, 2013

How to Assess Your Competitor in the Information Economy

In our information economy, transparency and accountability are two of the near-myths that the amateurs are preaching to the masses. 

Competing on the obvious strategic factors usually means that an act of attrition and that futility is guaranteed especially if one is competing against a well-resourced challenger.   

The negatives for that decision are: the loss of time, the high expenditures and the  possible loss of the target.

Identifying the finesse move that leads to the path of least resistance is always the challenge. Having that approach that will enable one to understand the reality of their Big Tangible Picture in a New York hour, is considered to be one of the unique skills of skills. 

If you are searching for another approach on how to prevail over your competition, please read the "Strategies for the Human Realm." It might enlighten you in your comprehension of the competition. ...  

This book subtly focuses on understanding the strategic foundation of any competitor, instead of the obvious tendency to confront directly.



A  Book Review on "Strategies for the Human Realm."
This 221+ page book is for serious desktop strategists who must contend strategically in an extreme terrain.  It is not for the superficial thinkers who have believed that victory originates  from the magical thinking of showing up early with nothing but a Monteblanc pen, a cache of powerpoint slides and a can of diet soft drink.


This classic is an integration of concepts and principles from the Seven Military Classics of Ancient China. Some of the material are from Jiang Tai Gong's Six Secret Teachings, the Sun Bin’s essay (Military Methods or Sun Bin’s Art of Warfare, the Master Ghost Valley essay and other esoteric strategic books.)  

Side note: 
Our research tells us that the serious desktop strategists annually reread those books for new ideas.


Abstract
This book was composed by Li Ch’üan (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.”   - Amazon

To prevent the erosion of one’s own foundation, Li Quan subtly recommended the understanding of one's competition from a top to bottom approach before deciding on the next move.

The Li Quan Approach
This 25 chapter translation starts by covering the generalities of one’s grand settings, the inclinations of human behavior, the foundation of strategic power, etc.  After reading it, one would realize that each set of factors indirectly leads to another.  The abundance of information can be overwhelming. Some people identify that this task to be another act of futility.  The identification of the reality from illusion can be easy once one understands what dots are on the white board. If done correctly, the risk rewards could be greater than the arduous process of assessing.

This approach quietly centers on understanding of one's challenger’s by viewing their foundation and their grand settings in terms of the Five Critical Strategic Factors (CSF) (It is subtly introduced into the context. You can find more information on this specific topic by reading the first chapter of the Art of War). By viewing the Five Critical Strategic Factors of a situation, one comprehends a grand situation in terms of the grand order of factors for every situation and whether the competitor  are capable to adjust to a situation.  

Finding the path of least destruction while understanding if one has the strategic power to capitalize on it is the first step to competitive success. 


Remember that the quality of the collected information is occasionally proportional to the possible focus of the plan.  Good assessment works when the information collection process is efficient and the skill to assess is above norm.

With the proper assessment of the Big Tangible Picture, one learns some of the following points of their competition: 
  • the belief and the judgement of the chief decision maker;
  • the management of decisions;
  • the planning of the strategy;
  • their judgment of the factors;
  • the possible tactics for approaching their goal with direct and indirect influences; 
  • the comprehension of the grand terrain by utilizing time, space, the Dao and levels;
  • the opposition and the converging of the strategic factors;
  • the particular gaps within the small terrains that are hidden in the grand terrain;
  • the identification of the "Wild Card" factor;
  • the constraints; 
  • the possible response or reaction; and 
  • the opening and the sealing of the gaps and the opportunities within the confines of one's own grand terrain.
The quality of those points enables the strategist to triangulate the path of least resistance before capitalizing on the essence of the opportunity.

This essay emphasized the concept of “proper assessment prevents poor planning and preparation.”  Regardless of the myriad of competitive realms, this skill is considered to be the Holy Grail in the strategy game.  

With complete understanding and strategic experience, the smart strategist can connect the civic fundamentals and the competitive fundamentals of a chief decision maker, the way of the operational leadership, the tactical essentials, the tactical specifics and the various situational responses.  Careful connection of those dots will evidently lead to a full comprehension of their competition. 

Having this macro set of quality information prevents the strategist from being deceived into believing the obvious.

Applying  the Li Quan Approach to the 21st Century
It also continues to be the subject of conscious study  as the PRC strives to develop “military science with unique Chinese characteristics.”   - Dr. Sawyer

Read the various news items on the various organizations and the assortment of groups who have spent a great deal of time collecting an abyss of information on a daily basis and think about the possible impact that have originated from the prior action of data collecting. Once those dots are connected, do you think that you can see the possible truth!?

Thoughts From The Compass Desk
Much kudos to Dr. Sawyer in his translation of this classic.  It is a significant book that summarizes the relevant strategic and tactical points from the many Chinese strategy classics. Reading this book confirms everything that we have learned from our other resources.  If you are operating in an extreme competitive situation that is embedded with a high degree of complexity, we highly recommend you to get this "must-read" book.  It is a fast read for those who understands the complexity of strategic subjugation. 

This grand approach of Li Quan is an integration of  a “psychology is strategy” approach and a “understanding the operational game” approach. Connecting those two dots will guarantee a 33 to 50% chance of prevailing.  We will touch on that specific topic in a future post.


Side Note
Assessing the information is one challenge.  Being able to manage a grand abundance of information is the other challenge.

People have asked us about what does it take to comprehending a large capacity of information!?     

Our basic response is, "How focused are you?  ... Are you capable of staying focused on the target while being mindful of the Big Tangible Picture despite the extremity of the external influences that could be affecting you?"  It is a  complex topic.  We will discussed the particulars of this challenge later.

The few serious strategists who could achieve this feat, usually have embedded the Li Quan concepts into their consciousness. They will have the strategic advantage of viewing their Big Tangible Picture in terms of the Five Critical Strategic Factors (CSF).  ... At this moment, does your company have anyone who could do that?  (Fwiw, you cannot get this skill from reading the Art of War. That is magical thinking.)

Think about this point- would the mastery of this rare skill makes a person interesting?


Our goal was to publish a book on the Dao of Strategic Assessment this past year. Due to the devaluation of published books, the irrelevant view on strategic thinking and the on-going trend of IP thievery, we decided not to publish it at this moment.

We will discuss the approach of applying these concepts and these principles from this great strategy classic in a future post.  Some of those are already sitting in the ever-timed queue of this blog.


There is a future post that delineates the possible life of Li Quan and why his approach was never taken seriously in the Tang Dynasty and after. 


/// This post was updated on 04.09.2013

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