Thursday, August 8, 2013

How to Profit in the Information Economy: Achieving the Strategic Power (or the Strategic Advantage)

(updated on 08.08.13 18:00 hr)

After a few boring but unique posts on applying martial arts concepts and tactics from the field level, we are now returning to the topic of the art and science of competitive strategy and tactics. 

Side note 
For what it is worth, some martial artists do not understand what is strategy or cannot stay focused past the two projected moves while drinking too much liquor. In a cerebral situation, they have behaved strangely. 

In the case of some desktop strategists, most of them can't even combat their way out of a paper bag. ... They occasionally spent too much time talking about irrelevant matters, presenting idealistic solutions without ever assessing their settings, gulping diet drinks and rarely ever completing any tangible objective.  On the field, some might begin to sweat profusely while whistling a song from their book of hymns.  They just can't stay centered.

Whether one is a spirited martial artist or a competitive strategist,  he or she must understand what is Shi. It is pronounced as "Zhi".  Some people referred to it as strategic power. Others have referred it as strategic advantage.

Strategic Power (Strategic Power)
Shi has no single, comprehensible translation. Some has described it as strategic- or positional-advantage, or potential energy. Others have referred to it as "cultivating the influence of the present on the future".  The conceptual origin of Shi has been traced back to the fourth century BC political-social/quasi-religious classic- Dao De Jing.  This essay emphasizes on an indirect approach to confronting conflicting changes by the means of understanding the state of change while maintaining one's virtue.  It later gained a more military-specific development starting with Sunzi and Jiang Tai Gong.

The consummate metaphor for shi is water that flows downward. Through the laws of physics, it 
gains momentum and ultimately overcomes everything in its path. This action becomes one of the softest and yet powerful forces in nature.  (It is impossible to defeat gravity. ...)

The antithesis of Shi is Li. This approach is based on matching one's strength to their competition.  To most people, "Li" is  typically a more obvious, simplified  and coherent approach than the greater subtleties of the shi approach. 

Those who demand immediate gratification preferred the "Li" approach. 

Compared to Shi, Li is a vertical-focused strategic-advantage  that is the fundamental to the advancement of western civilization itself—from capital investment and production to the endless pursuit of innovation and freedom. While pursuing these advantages, the "idealistic" chief decision makers barely understand the initial costs and the after-effects of their decisions.

Grinding toward a goal without ever recognizing the details behind the configuration is not a promising approach for the underdog.

Applying Shi (Go) to the Gameboard
The most clearest example of shi at work is the ancient Chinese board game weiqi (pronounced “wai-chee”). The Japanese calls it Go.  This simple yet most complex and methodical of all board games, where each competitor (one with black stones and the other with white) strive to surround the most territory on a square grid. The obvious initial strategy of most novice players is to pursue the corner areas for the purpose of gaining immediate points through the act of surrounding.  

The below example in this picture depicts a typical "Li" approach that situates the player of the white stones in a great disadvantage.

Based on the positional score, white is currently quite ahead in terms of tangible territory. But black has already established a strategic advantage and the intangible edge by directing into the center to control the rest of the gameboard. Black is employing the indirect and circuitous "shi" strategic approach, seeks future opportunistic potential, rather than applying direct force like the chess player who is gamed on total annihilation. Although white has the immediate advantage of 13 points and black has zero score. But black is strategically positioned for an eventual victory because it has an one stone lead on the eight other tactical locations on the board.  

The future-based shi usually triumph over the present-oriented li unless their components within their foundation are somehow dismantled.

The strategic priorities for black are: 

  • becoming patient while avoiding contentment and 
  • staying focused on gaining more territorial points while encircling the competition.

The implementation of this meticulous approach requires a profound understanding of the Daoist concept of how a current loss ultimately leads to a future win.  

A View From The Dao De Jing
If you want to shrink something, you must first allow it to expand.
If you want to get rid of something, you must first allow it to flourish.
If you want to take something, you must first allow it to be given.
This is called the subtle perception of the way things are.

The soft overcomes the hard. The slow overcomes the fast.
Let your workings remain a mystery. Just show people the results.

- Dao De Jing  36

Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water.

Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it.

The soft overcomes the hard; the gentle overcomes the rigid.

Everyone knows this is true, but few can put it into practice.

Therefore the Master remains serene in the midst of sorrow.

Evil cannot enter his heart.
Because he has given up helping, he is people's greatest help.

True words seem paradoxical.

- Dao De Jing 78

Remember that the tortoise sometimes defeats the rabbit in a marathon.

The Compass A/E Solution

copyright 2009-2013: Compass360 ConsultingGroup

Strategic power can be achieved if he/she knows how to assess the competition. Then positioning of oneself to capitalize on the positive opportunities through planning and preparation begins. Influencing starts by seizing those big opportunities with a mindful understanding of the possible on-coming changes.

The ambitious novices believed that Shi is a long-range strategic approach. It could be adjusted toward a certain short term strategic situation by comprehending the configuration of their Big Tangible Picture (BTP) in terms of the myriad of probabilities and the various possibilities.  Possessing the time and the proper resources to capitalizes on the given opportunity is the challenging step for most chief decision makers. 

Our future white paper focuses on the pragmatic approach of achieving immediate strategic power in a competitive setting through the application of Assessing, Positioning and Influencing .

If you are interested in knowing more about this topic, please contact us. 

Side note 
Idealistically, the conceptual approach of "shi" makes sense. Having the self leadership, the tactics, the resources, the technology and the strategy to make it happen, is quite difficult.  

No comments: