Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How to Assess Your Strategic Situation (via a Classic Samurai Movie)

Kurosawa's Sanjuro is a very good movie for those who are interested in learning how to assess (or read) a situation in terms of its specifics. 

Toshiro Mifune plays Sanjuro, a ronin who saves a group of young samurai from being slaughtered by a high political official and then began to mentor them on having the right set of information before any decision is consummated.     (The story is slightly more complex than what is being described here.)

Throughout the movie,  he indirectly advised them to patiently assess their situation on the tangible truth and sort through the information. Do not act on emotional impulse. This act of mentoring was repeated many times.

At the near conclusion of this movie, this group of novice samurai learned the lesson of being self-patient. 

Sanjuro almost always made good decisions- except for the choice of the Komyo Temple for his story and the picking of the flowers at the wrong time (for the purpose of signaling his group of samurai to raid the targeted house).  

Compass Rule
Whenever, one is not focused  on their objective while not being mindful of their setting and beyond, the probability of errors will definitely rise.

The Dao of Decision Management 

From this movie, the best lesson for budding chief decision makers comes from these two quotes 

Mutsuta's wife: You're too sharp. That's your trouble. You're like a drawn sword. Sharp, naked without a sheath. You cut well. But good swords are kept in their sheaths. 

Sanjûrô Tsubaki: He was exactly like me. A naked sword. He didn't stay in his sheath.

The Analysis of the Above Video
Before the first move, Sanjuro mindfully assessed that the drawing the second move (his first move)  of the match would be more effective than his opponent's capability was too slow and the execution of the opponent's second move would not work. He mindfully positioned ahead with a tactical move that was a hybrid of two intents:  1.  The execution of his first move with his left hand as soon as the opponent began his first move.  2.  The continuation of that draw by leading with his body while cutting deeply into the opponent's body while avoiding the opposing strike.  (Our martial arts associates at Cook Ding's Kitchen referred this movement as intercepting.) 

Click here to watch the entire movie and you will understand the events that lead to those quotes. 

Food For Thought
In practice, never a useless move. 
In operation, no motion is wasted.  
- The Compass Strategist

Comments from the Compass Desk
How does the decision management process of this movie reflected to our 21st century information economy?

Because of the pseudo transparency and the moderate levels of deception,  some people usually glossed over the configuration of their Big Tangible Picture and occasionally misunderstand the risk consequences of their own situation.  
Another words, they do not connect the dots.

This decision management action originates from their urge for immediate gratification.  Look around you. People do this all the time.  They erred. Somehow they get away with it with some level of damage. (We know the reason behind their action.)

To prevail, the successful strategists always calmly assessed the configuration of their situation and the quality of intelligence before deciding on anything. They rarely operates on his impulsiveness.

Note on the Compass Process Model
Fwiw, our process model is so scaleable that it enables the strategist to adjust to the tangibility of the situation.   This model success is based on the implementer's capability to properly execute it. We will talk more about it in a future post.

Q: Do you know how to increase your level of assessment when the complexity of the situation grows?  Without a process model, are you willing to grind it out?

Side note
"Intercepting" is a mindful strategic action that requires its implementer to assess the configuration of the Big Tangible Picture (BTP) and to capitalizes on the on-coming opportunity with the right efficient moves.  Fwiw, this concept is indirectly emphasized in the Art of War, the Jiang Tai Gong's Six Secret Teachings and the Li Quan's book.

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