Thursday, October 31, 2013

An Unique Suggestion on How to Succeed in the Info. Economy (The Adviser's View)

Updated on 10.31.2013 @ 13:31.31 hrs

In terms of tactics, Miyamoto Musashi's The Book of Five Rings  is one of our associates favorite books.   Some of the explained tactics in this book are great for close quarter conflict especially from the field.  ... It is perfect for those who have operated in various  chaotic situations.

We noticed that some of the devotees of The Five Rings essay, are usually superb tacticians with a minimum regard for long term thinking.  Because of the commitment to their cause and their tendency to "will themselves to win", they frequently live for the moment of the action.  ... 

The Dao of the Strategic Adviser
During the Tokugawa dynasty Yagyu Munenori was considered to be the technical equal of Miyamoto Musashi. While being great swordsmen and forerunners of their school of sword play, they have never fought against each other.

Yagyu Munenori became the advisor to the Shogun while Musashi was just a ronin- a samurai with no tangible employer.  He finally secured tangible employment with Lord Hosokawa Tadatoshi at the age of 46.

History has shown that the achievers with extraordinary field-level skill typically get the limited fortune and finite glory.  The grander honor usually goes to those few people who could convince others to act. Some experienced field expediters might find that viewpoint to be insulting.  ... After a few moments of deep contemplation about how our global society operate, they would then realized that it is the consummate truth.  ... 

Other Notes on the Strategic Advisor
In terms of Chinese military history, some of our favorite strategic advisers are: Jiang Tai GongSun BinZhuge LiangZhang Liang and Li Jing.  

The origin of their grand achievements begins from the convincing of people to commit to the proposed mission.

In the game of western chess, the bishop pieces  have always stood next to the king and the queen.  Interestingly, the adviser pieces are also positioned next to the general in the Chinese chessboard.  The symbolic meaning behind this positioning should be obvious

Within the grand scheme of our complex setting,  the smart backroom strategic advisers and the field operators who could motivate the masses, are always relevant to those who are in power.  

To thrive in our clan-driven society, the strategic adviser must contemplate on the following points: 
  • the importance of joining the right clan; 
  • the possibility of joining the right clan; 
  • the risk benefits of being a member of that clan; 
  • the risk challenges of being a member of that clan; and 
  • the risk drawbacks of being a member of that clan. 
The answers is not found in your copy of the Art of  War,

Comments From The Compass Desk
In the information economy, a professional is usually viewed as a specialist or a  jack of all trades. 

To advise people, one must have more than the knowledge of a specific domain. Recognizing the motive and the method of the targeted person or group of people requires a certain mindset of patience and control.  ... The first step is the mastering of the art of centering oneself.  This act enables one to practice the art and the science of listening.  

/* note: Sometime in the future, we will post our view on why the advice of the over-hyped self help gurus does not always work. */

For those who are interested in the strategic consulting business, we highly recommended the reading of "Jiang Tai Gong's Six Secret Teachings" and "The Conversations Between the Tang's Emperor and Li Jing."  (You can find those essays in the Seven Military Classics of Ancient China.)  ...  Study the approach of how the writer (the chief strategists) suggested their perspectives to their employers.  ... Always remember that the message is the medium.

Minor Jottings
To competitively climb the food chain of the information economy, the western mind have always believed that "the pen is mightier than the sword.  ... "  There are some amateur desktop strategic advisers who regularly implement "the pen is mightier than the sword" concept in all of their strategic situations, without ever understanding the possible chaotic state that lies in the field level.  They also do not possess any understanding of the negative after-effect if or when their plan does or does not work. 

History has repeatedly shown that the practice of the pen is quite applicable in convincing the masses of people to join a specific cause.  But the practice of the sword works quite well in those special close quarters situations that are occasionally laced with a singular flavor of chaos. 

In our virtual operations room, some of our group preferred to follow the following Japanese Bushido saying- "the pen and sword in accord."  Conceptually, it is similar to the Chinese concept of Wen Wu. (We will elucidate more on this concept in a later post.)  

With the pen, one could always brainstorm and script their scheme of plays through the process of visual, audio and tactile means before ever implementing the intent.

As mentioned in previous posts, we have always consistently practiced the principle of assessing any strategic situation before ever deciding on the objective and the approach (the pen or the sword). ... While it prevents us from operating from the seat of our pants, this pragmatic practice focuses us to complete our objective with emotional detachment.   ... Could you calmly do that in a Silicon Valley minute?

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

More on How to Become Strategically Two Moves Ahead of the Competition

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 (It offered the perspective from the Art of War and 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 pertinent strategic and tactical factors.  
Finding what relevant factors is in play is the challenge. 

Depending on the quality of information and the number of participating competitors,  the situation could become 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 espouses to 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 the attribute of hope is not a strategy or a destination.  

Retrospectively one needs a methodology that offers an overview that depicts the connectivity and the tangibility of their situation.  ... A good methodology emphasizes on the practice of assessing, positioning and influencing.

The Practice of Strategic Assessment
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 this unique concept?  We spent numerous hours talking to the various "no-name" experts who indirectly revealed their views on strategy to us.   ... Humorously, those who know, don't really say.  ... They have only offered their hints to us through their stories and their actions.  After awhile, we built the skillset of knowing what are the factors behind any strategic situation and how they all connect in certain situations. 

Q: So, do you know how to be strategically two steps ahead of your competition?


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Profiting in the Competitive Economy: How to Become Strategically Two Moves Ahead of the Competition

Before contemplating on the next strategic move, the successful strategist always asks himself, "How do I know if I am one or two moves ahead or behind my competition?"

A: The answer is in the Sunzi's  Art of War
" ... If I know my team can attack, but do not know the competition cannot be attacked, it is only halfway to victory. If I know the competition can be attacked, but do not realize our team cannot attack, it is only halfway to victory. Knowing that the competition can be attacked, and knowing that our army can attack, but not knowing the terrain is not suitable for combat, is only halfway to victory. Thus one who truly knows the army will never be deluded when he moves, never be impoverished when initiating an action.

Thus it is said if you know them and know yourself, your victory will not be imperiled. If you know Heaven and Earth, your victory can be complete. ... " 
- Paraphrased from Sun Tzu's Art of War 10 (Sawyer's translation)

This is one' of many approaches to staying one to two steps ahead of the competition. 

Compass Principle
By anticipating two steps ahead of your customers and/or your competition and having the half step advantageous move, one is ahead of the strategy game

The Question of the Day:
  • Why would any successful strategist make a strategic move that offers the advantage of being an half step ahead?  

The Answer 
"One who excels at competition will await events in the situation without making any movementWhen he sees he can be victorious, he will arise; if he sees he cannot be victorious, he will desist. Thus it is said that he does not have any fear, he does not vacillate. Of the many harms that can beset an organization, indecision is the greatest. Of disasters that can befall an organization, none surpasses doubt."

"One who excels in competition will not lose an advantage when he perceives it or be doubtful when he meets the opportunity. One who loses an advantage or lags behind the time for action will, on the contrary, suffer from disaster. Thus the wise follow the time and do not lose an advantage; the skillful are decisive and have no doubts. He strikes like a sudden clap of thunder, which does not give time to cover ears; strike like a flash of lightning, which does not give time to close the eyes. Advance as is suddenly startled; employ your team as if deranged. Those who oppose you will be destroyed; those who come near will perish. Who can defend against such an attack?"

"Now when matters are not discussed and general preserves their secrecy, he is superior. When things are not manifest but he discerns them, he is wise. Thus if superior and wise, no enemies will act against him in the field, nor will any state stand against him."  

Tai Gong  ( Paraphrased from The Six Secret Teachings, 26)

Ask your local Art of War (AoW) strategy expert if he or she knows the answer.  By looking at a copy of the Seven Strategy Classics and some of the other arcane classics, you might find the right answer. 

What is the Way of Aggressive Competition? 
(from Jiang Tai Gong)
"The offensive disposition of any relevant competitor should change in accord with the movements of their opposition. And changes coming from the confrontation between the two parties. Unorthodox and orthodox tactics are produced from inexhaustible resources of the mind. Thus the greatest affairs are not discussed, and the employment of manpower is not spoken about. Moreover, words which discuss ultimate affairs are not not to be discussed openly. The employment of manpower is not so definitive as to be visible. They go suddenly, they come suddenly. Only when someone who can exercise sole control over the team, without being governed by other men, is a strategic weapon."

"If your plans are heard about, the competition will implement counter strategies. If you are perceived, they will plot against you. If your objectives are known, they will put you in difficulty. If you are fathomed, they will endanger you."

"Thus one who excels in competition has already won before the deployment of manpower. One who excels at eliminating the misfortunes of the people manages them before they appear. Conquering the competition, being victorious by being formless. The superior competitor has won before engaging in contest. Thus one who fights and attains victory in using extreme measures is not a good strategist. One who makes preparation after the contest is started, has been lost is not a superior sage. One whose skill is the same as the masses is not a superior artisan."

"In unique competitive matters, nothing is more important than certain victory. In employing one's manpower, nothing is more important than obscurity and silence. In movement, nothing is more important than the unexpected. In planning, nothing is more important than not being knowable. To be the first to gain victory, initially display some weakness to the enemy and only afterward do battle. Then your effort will be half, but the achievement will be doubled."

"The Sage observes signs from the movements of Heaven and Earth and knows its principles. He observes the movement of the sun and the moon and understand their seasonal activity. He follows the cycles of day and night, taken them as his constant. All things have life and death in accord with the principles of Heaven and Earth. Thus it is said that if one fights before understanding the situation, even if he is more numerous, he will certainly be defeated."

Another Question 

Why is Jiang Tai Gong's Six Secret Teachings important to the hardcore strategists?

The Answer (partial)

" ... Although the Art of War remains the only book known in the West, the Wu-tzu and Six Secret Teachings proved to be highly important sources for military wisdom over the centuries, and the latter continues to be held in higher esteem among contemporary PRC military professionals. .."  -  Ralph Sawyer

If the PRC military professionals are reading it, why are you not reading it?

Comments From The Compass Desk

The strategists who wants to stay ahead of the competition, must know what dots to connect and how to connect them.  

We will continue this topic on Wednesday. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Competing and Succeeding by Understanding Sun Bin's Military Methods (The Art of Warfare)

(This post was accidentally published earlier and has been updated at 16:28 hr.)

As previously mentioned in other posts, the historical biography of Sun Bin is a superb example of how one surpasses adversities through Sun's methodicalness and mindful awareness.

Regardless that this post is a compendium of our many past  posts on Sun Bin,  It also expands on some portions of those previous posts. In  the At some point, we will include the projected Sun Bin's assessment session of his opponent. 

If you are an underdog contesting in a competitive situation and searching for some tactical ideas while staying focused on your target. That is one heck of  a challenge. Please read the biography of Sun Bin

Following is a listing of tactics that Sun Bin was famous for:
Shedding the Shell Like a Cicada (金蝉脱壳 Jin Chan Tuo Ke )

The first tactic that Sun Bin was famous for the Shedding Shell Like a Cicada tactic (金蝉脱壳 Jin Chan Tuo Ke). It is best used when one is in a disadvantageous position.

Sun Bin possessed exceptional talent in the area of strategy and tactics even in his early years. As a reward, he was given a copy of the Art of War by Wang Xu, his military studies professor.

There were stories of Sun Bin having the ability to recite Sun Tzu (Sunzi): The Art of War and other Chinese classics by verbatim. His genius was envied by a classmate, Pang Juan, who later became a strategic general in the state of Wei. Afterward, Pang Juan deceived Sun Bin into going to Wei country and then framed him for being a traitor. Sun Bin suffered the corporal punishment of having his kneecap chopped off and the Chinese character "Traitor" stamped on the side of his head.

Pang Juan later convinced Sun Bin that he saved him from the death penalty. In return, Sun Bin decided to reproduce the entire Art of War (AoW) manual to show his appreciation 

As the Art of War manual was being jotted, Pang's servant informed Sun Bin on the true intent behind Pang Juan's sincerity.

Sun Bin became furious, burned his copy of the Art of War and pretended to be insane. Pang Juan was surprised about this occurrence and angrily sent him to the private prison of the Wei's state's . During that period, he consistently portrayed the disposition of insanity while waiting for the right opportunity to escape. Years later, he was rescued by a Qi's state representative and became their chief strategist and served as a deputy to Tian ji, the military general.

First Thoughts from the Compass Desk
We contemplated that Sun Bin reflected on his life while analyzing the complex configurations of his situation during the book burning process and consciously realized that he must not be a threat to Pang Juan for the purpose of self-survival. We realized that it took a high state of conscious awareness for him to be so methodical especially during a highly stressful situation. ...

So, what is the "connective" lesson behind Sun Bin's displaying of intelligence and then Pang Juan's deceiving him?

" ...Once upon a time, there was a small sparrow who was flying south for the winter. He became frozen solid during the flight and fell to the ground. To make matters worse, the cow crapped on him. But the manure was all warm and it defrosted him. He felt warm and was quite happy to be alive. Soon, the bird started to sing. A hungry cat strolled along, cleared off the manure, looked at the little bird and ate him.

The moral of the story is that everyone who craps on you is not necessarily your enemy, and everyone who gets you out of the crap, is not necessarily your friend. If you're warm and happy wherever you are, you should maintain a sense of quietude. "

Sun Bin should have been mindfully aware of the full configuration of their situation before making a relevant strategic decision . . . Knowing the full scope of one's current situation, does matter . . .  Knowing the right process model and implementing it properly is what counts.

Self Pity
"I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A bird will fall frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.  ..."  - D.H. Lawrence

During the book burning session, Sun Bin also realized that the impact of the Pang Juan's deception.  

Focusing on self survival while showing the guise of zero-threat became his immediate goal. He had to mindfully eradicate any trace of self pity before proceeding forward.

As his own self pity dissipated, whatever pain that Sun Bin felt, kept him awake, angry and focused  while reminding him that his survival was his principal focus.  The pain reminded him that he was still alive and that continual of his self-survival was pertinent.

Horse Racing for Tanji (田忌赛马 Tian Ji Sai Ma)

After escaping to Qi State, Sun Bin became a guest of Tianji, the military general of the Qi emperor.

Tianji was a gambler whose betting skill was quite questionable. He and the Qi emperor have always gambled through a series of three horse races. Each principal had three horses. From a descending order, the horse with the fastest time raced first. The winner was one with the most winning races.

Each race usually started like this: Tian matched his first horse against the King's first horse, and so on. Each and every time, Tian lost by split seconds.

Sun Bin assessed the criteria of the situation and offered to Tianji's the simple solution of racing his third horse against the emperor's first horse. then racing his 1st horse against the emperor's second horse and his second horse against the emperor's third horse.

Tanji took the suggestion and secured a victorious outcome of 2 to 1.

The Qi ruler was so impressed with the outcome and wanted to appoint Sun Bin as his military general-field commander. Sun Bin graciously declined the offer with the explanation that the solders would not respect a handicapped person. Instead, he suggested to the King to appoint Tianji and committed that he will be a strategic adviser to Tian

Lessons from Sun Bin
Due to the scope of the various critical strategic factors, the successful strategist cannot prevail successfully on all strategic situations. He/she would only risk in certain strategic situations where the results of a quality win exceeds the quality of the loss.  

The key steps to Sun Bin's approach are:

  • Collecting the specific data and assessing it; 
  • Choosing the proper matchups; and  
  • Creating the particular schemes for the matchups. 
Mixing and Matching 
A baseball batter who hits the ball three out of nine attempts, or a basketball's point guard who scores 50% of his three point shots are usually considered to be superstars. 

Certain strategic situations require one to know the standard and the scope of the situation before making a relevant decision.

Retrospectively, Sun Bin strategically solved a problem 2000 years plus before the subject of operation research was ever conceived...

Some More Thoughts from the Compass Desk
Sun Bin assessed the Big Tangible Picture and made the right decision by identifying the relevant attributes in terms of the precedence, the connectivity and the cyclical process before devising the plan of creating "the mismatch."

So how do you assess your Big Tangible Picture?

The answer could be in your copy of the Sun Bin's Art of Warfare (or Sun Pin's Military Methods). .. Both versions are great reading for the hardcore competitive strategists. ... 

"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's essay)

Wei Wei Jiu Zhao (Besiege Wei to Rescue Zhao 围魏救赵)
The state of Wei was seeking total control of China, sent an army to attack the state of Zhao under the leadership of Pang Juan. The ruler of Zhao immediately asked the ruler of the Qi state for military assistance. Sun Bin was assigned the task of saving the Zhao state. He then devised a scheme of relieving the besieged by besieging the base of the besiegers.

After a long battle, the Wei army relinquished their offensive siege against Zhao as expected, and rushed toward their home state.The army of "Qi" then maneuvered ahead of them and laid an ambush on the way, inflicting a crushing defeat on the army of Wei.

Business Example
In 1982, Bendix corporation attempted to takeover Martin Marietta, a military defense companyMartin Marietta returned the favor by attempting the Pac-Man Defense.  Later they targeted United Technologies against Bendix Corporation.  At that moment, Bendix did not have the strategic resources to counter that move and immediately asked Allied Corporation to absorbed them. Conclusively, Martin Marietta retained their independence.

Three Questions From The Compass Desk
  • What was Sun Bin thinking about when strategizing on the "Wei and Zhao" situation?
  • What was in his Big Tangible Picture when Sun Bin was thinking about the sieging of Zhao state?
  • Why is this stratagem categorized in the 36 Stratagems category of "Advantageous Stratagems?"
Click here for an animated version of the Battle of Maling

Reducing (the number of) Stoves to Deceive the Opposition  
( Jian Zao Huo Di 减 灶 惑  敌 )
After the victory at Guiling, Sun Bin was now one point ahead of Pang Juan in terms of one-upmanship. Pang Juan lost his political ranking within the Wei's court and needed to avenge his loss and regain some "face."

When the opportunity to eradicate his previous loss, Pang Juan believed that he was emotionally ready to pursue his rival with vengeance .

Sun Bin assessed a succession of variables from their past situations in order to lure Pang Juan into a grand situation of coup de grace.  Disguised as the disordered prey, he presented the image of non-unified chaos by reducing the numbers of stoves at each daily turn.

Conclusively,  he capitalized on his opportunity from the positive side of the seventh, the eight and the ninth terrain (situation).  

The outcome became obvious. Sun Bin prevailed and Pang Juan became an anecdote of what happens to an over-emotional rival who possessed superficial strategic skills.

Additional historical information can be found at this link.

The Art of the Strategic Power
Good strategic power is about creating a strategic situation that favors the implementer. It is usually consisted of many specific tactical factors. Positioning one's own situation while diminishing the potency of the competitor's strategic power is the process of implementing one's strategic power. The zero sum gain concept immediately kicks in . We will touch on "the matrix of connectivity" concept that is behind the art of applying strategic power in the future.

After reading this post on Sun Bin. do you think that he utilized his "strategic power" quite effectively?

Do you know what was the commonality that connected to all four tactics?

The connecting point was that Sun Bin understood his opposing counterpart's psychological tendencies and deficiencies.

Those who are able to recognize the configurations of the various strategic situations that are ahead of them, usually possess an slightly advantage. Historically, it has been proven that they can overcome their adversarial situations.

Thoughts From the Compass Desk
Knowing the emotional state of Pang Juan especially after his victory at Guiling, enabled Sun Bin to use a "baiting and luring" tactic to influence his arch-rival to shrink their force (reliquishing their "sixth situational factor") while positioning them into a "heavenly trap" (You can cross reference it to "the seventh situation.")

In summary, knowing the relevant components within the current situation and the 
connectivity to othersituations does matter.

To thrive in the current world of uncertain shifts and changes, the successful strategists pragmatically create their own opportunity by understanding of how the world operates instead of searching and waiting for a certain scenario to occur.
"He who has mastered this method knows the way of heaven and earth, has the support of the populace, and is fully aware of the opposing situation. … When he needs to determine his battle array, he knows how to prepare the formations. He combats when there is assurance of victory. He stops fighting when there isn't. … For one who has really mastered the method, his opposition can do nothing to escape their defeat."
--- An updated paraphrase from Sun Bin (famous strategist from the Warring States era and the great grandson of Sunzi)
Regardless of your settings and your pursuits, always align with the Dao.

Sun Bin's Lesson
Due to the various critical strategic factors, one cannot prevail on all strategic situations. He/she could only risk enough where the quality of the wins exceeds the quality of the losses.

A baseball batter who hits a ball three out of nine attempts, is usually considered to be a superstar.

The Distinction between Sunzi and Sun Bin
Look at those well-known ploys. Ask yourself this question- What was the common connection between all of the ploys? He understood the psychological tendencies of his opposing counterpart.

One great distinction between Sunzi's and Sun Bin's view of strategy is that Sun Bin focused on understanding the intricate mindset of the targeted opposition before deciding on any act of influencing it.  Therefore each implemented move would have some significance and would not be wasted.  

Two more points. Unlike his ancestor, Sun Bin was content to win effectively by prevailing in two out of the three races. He pragmatically knew that winning a complete war is near-impossible. While everyone reads Sunzi, how many of them really understand the black art of strategic assessment?

Sun Bin's was the first to formulate the game theory approach of utilizing a mix and match approach. It worked as long as the ruler of Qi State was staying on course with a predictable strategic approach of directly matching their strength to the opposition's weaknesses. . His approach was quite innovative since it happened 2500 years ago. 

One great distinction between Sunzi's and Sun Bin's view of strategy is that Sun Bin focused on comprehending the mindset of the targeted opposition before deciding on any act of influencing it. Study those well-know ploys and one could see the common connection between all of the ploys.

Unlike his ancestor, Sun Bin was content to win effectively by methodically transforming the "underdog" situation into his advantageous move.

By prevailing successfully in two out of the three races, Sun Bin pragmatically knew that winning a conflict with no damage is near impossible, especially if there is a timeline and a economic cost factor behind it . There are other reasons behind it. Do you know what they are?

In summary, Sunzi essay focuses on a generic (high level) strategy approach and an assortment of strategic and tactical principles for the reader to follow. What differs Sun Bin's from his great grandfather is his emphasis on tactically attacking the competitor's mind's by knowing their motive and methods. It reminded me of certain particulars of game theory and game psychology.

Side Note
To those  who have read the Sunzi essay, do you think any of you really understand the black art of strategic assessment from a panorama view (or from a "open field awareness" perspective)?  

Do you think you or others can integrate the comprehension of each competitor's objective and the many degrees of specifics behind their tactical approach into your Big Tangible Picture?

Assess.  ... Position.  ... Influence. ... 
"Concentrate every effort on subduing its heart and mind." - Sun Bin Chapter 33  (Ames translation)

"The expert in using the military has three basic strategies which he applies: the best strategy is to attack the enemy's reliance upon acuteness of mind; the second is to attack the enemy's claim that he is waging a just war; and the last is to attack the enemy's battle position (shi).   
- Sun Bin , Chapter 34 (Ames translation)    

As mentioned earlier, the goal of Sun Bin's essay is focused on understanding the targeted opposition's mindset before the decision of influencing the target is ever concluded.  This type of thinking is pre-OODA where one assesses by observing, positioning by one's decision to orientate and choosing the goal and the specifics, and influences the targeted area by one's actions

Final Thought
When competing in a strategic situation, are you able to mindfully assess  the Big Tangible Picture and then ask the following question, " ...Could I succeed?"

# # #  (*)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Persistence is the Name of the Game

What usually enables the successful strategist to prevail over the daily challenge of their endeavor?

"It is persistence which wins many challenges. And persistence is strictly a matter of force of will. ... Sometimes, the outcome of a competition is not decided by the first strategic move or even the third. ... Rather, fortitude is involved. Force of will is persistence. If one does not lose their sense of self, he or she will persist and their strategic power will not diminish. ... On the contrary, it will endure after their body has wasted away." - A Nameless Strategist

Understanding the configuration of one's Big Tangible Picture (BTP) and beyond, is the starting step. .We presumed that you know how to do that!?  ... Do you? 

Comments From The Compass Desk
From our experience, the will to prepare is greater than the will to win.  Do you know why?

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Compass Script Prevails Over The List

updated 10.18.13, at 13:18 hr 

Ms. Mc O'Donnell  and many people have always favored the utilization of the “list” concept in organizing their day to day operations.  From our experience and our research, it only works well in a predictable setting with minimum consequences.   Whenever they encountered an unforeseen glitch in their planning,  their simple list of objectives and approach would crumble and fall apart.  If they only did a good job in projecting ahead, this common act of inefficiency would not have happened.

Being efficient can only go so far especially if one is operating in a chaotic competitive setting.

We all know that there is usually disorder in that setting.  In most cases, the unorganized list usually winds up in the trash can.

Scripting For A Chaotic Situation 
In our case, we preferred to take the extra step of scripting our list of objectives and approaches by focusing our time on being effective not efficient.

Before proceeding into an uncertain setting, one assesses their situation before scripting the their priority objective, their approach and their contingency options.  Then he/she build their operational steps around those three points.

If one is involved in the “product development” game or in a “chaotic” logistics setting, the list concept is not always operable. With a script, one becomes cognitive on when to stay on course and when to adjust from it.     

Before the scripting of the game plan for the day or the week,  possessing the understanding of the configuration of one's own setting and the current situation, does matter.   It begins by identifying the cyclical stage of relevant strategic and tactical factors.  Then determining the coverage and the conditions of those factors.  

One should consistently assess their situation before positioning and implementing.

While our hybrid strategic approach combines the best of the "rules for strategy" mean and our tactical contingencies mean, it offers the implementer a strategic direction.  Once the configuration of the Big Tangible Picture is understood, the chief decision maker must then decide on “matching” the tactics to the situation before implementing.  

Regardless of the assessing, positioning and influencing, the results from the execution of the tactical details prevail.

For those who operate in a highly-pressured product development setting where the state of predictability is quite questionable, they should think about their approach and their operational means.

Efficiency has a way of obstructing creativity and vice-versa.  Knowing the configuration of one's setting enables one to know when to be efficient and when to be creative. 

The "Rules for Strategy" portion of our scripting process assists the implementers in strategic project situations where they must decide on whether to pursue the efficiency route or to pursue the innovation route. Our experience with our Compass Script process, gives us the feeling that this interesting modus is the key to seamless productivity.

In our settings, we have used "The Compass Script" approach for our “unique” and complex projects. The process worked quite well as long as we were mindfully aware of our settings.  

The “list” concept  is a great reminder for most novice strategic implementers. When chaos strikes, the list becomes worthless. 

In a future post, we will discuss more about the Compass Script.

Click here on the origin of the Compass Script. 

Click here,  here, and here  for some good strategic ideas and pointers.

( * ) !!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

/* Two Years Later: Thoughts on Dennis Ritchie */

Dennis Ritchie receives 2011 Japan Prize from 
Japan Prize Foundation Chairman Hiroyuki Yoshikawa during May 
19 ceremony at Bell Labs headquarters in Murray Hill, N.J. 
Photo by Victoria Will/AP Images for Japan Prize Foundation
(updated on 10.13.13 at 10:13 am)

Two years ago, Dennis Ritchie, one of the greatest computer geniuses passed away on this day. Some of us who were C programmers, always felt much of the current technical state of the information economy was due to his work from developing the C language and Unix operating system.

“Pretty much everything on the web uses those two things: C and UNIX,” Pike tells Wired. “The browsers are written in C. The UNIX kernel — that pretty much the entire Internet runs on — is written in C. Web servers are written in C, and if they’re not, they’re written in Java or C++, which are C derivatives, or Python or Ruby, which are implemented in C. And all of the network hardware running these programs I can  almost guarantee were written in C.    ---

In our bookshelf sits many books on various strategies and tactics, Kernighan and Ritchie's C Programming book  and the solution book  still sit on the first middle shelf. 

The Intent of Dennis Ritchie 

Ritchie said he was hoping make the work of he and his fellow computer scientists easier. “It was an attempt to improve our environment,” Ritchie said. “Fortunately, we improved things in way that turned out to be useful to others.”  

Click on this link for more on this view. 


Dennis Ritchie: The Shoulders Steve Jobs Stood On

  • By Cade Metz

Dennis Ritchie (standing) and Ken Thompson at a PDP-11 in 1972.
 (Photo: Courtesy of Bell Labs)
The tributes to Dennis Ritchie won’t match the river of praise that spilled out over the web after the death of Steve Jobs. But they should.

And then some.

“When Steve Jobs died last week, there was a huge outcry, and that was very moving and justified. But Dennis had a bigger effect, and the public doesn’t even know who he is,” says Rob Pike, the programming legend and current Googler who spent 20 years working across the hall from Ritchie at the famed Bell Labs.
On Wednesday evening, with a post to Google+, Pike announced that Ritchie had died at his home in New Jersey over the weekend after a long illness, and though the response from hardcore techies was immense, the collective eulogy from the web at large doesn’t quite do justice to Ritchie’s sweeping influence on the modern world. Dennis Ritchie is the father of the C programming language, and with fellow Bell Labs researcher Ken Thompson, he used C to build UNIX, the operating system that so much of the world is built on — including the Apple empire overseen by Steve Jobs.

“Pretty much everything on the web uses those two things: C and UNIX,” Pike tells Wired. “The browsers are written in C. The UNIX kernel — that pretty much the entire Internet runs on — is written in C. Web servers are written in C, and if they’re not, they’re written in Java or C++, which are C derivatives, or Python or Ruby, which are implemented in C. And all of the network hardware running these programs I can almost guarantee were written in C.

“It’s really hard to overstate how much of the modern information economy is built on the work Dennis did.”
Even Windows was once written in C, he adds, and UNIX underpins both Mac OS X, Apple’s desktop operating system, and iOS, which runs the iPhone and the iPad. “Jobs was the king of the visible, and Ritchie is the king of what is largely invisible,” says Martin Rinard, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

“Jobs’ genius is that he builds these products that people really like to use because he has taste and can build things that people really find compelling. Ritchie built things that technologists were able to use to build core infrastructure that people don’t necessarily see much anymore, but they use everyday.”

From B to C
Dennis Ritchie built C because he and Ken Thompson needed a better way to build UNIX. The original UNIX kernel was written in assembly language, but they soon decided they needed a “higher level” language, something that would give them more control over all the data that spanned the OS. Around 1970, they tried building a second version with Fortran, but this didn’t quite cut it, and Ritchie proposed a new language based on a Thompson creation known as B.

Depending on which legend you believe, B was named either for Thompson’s wife Bonnie or BCPL, a language developed at Cambridge in the mid-60s. Whatever the case, B begat C.

B was an interpreted language — meaning it was executed by an intermediate piece of software running atop a CPU — but C was a compiled language. It was translated into machine code, and then directly executed on the CPU. But in those days, C was considered a high-level language. It would give Ritchie and Thompson the flexibility they needed, but at the same time, it would be fast.

That first version of the language wasn’t all that different from C as we know it today — though it was a tad simpler. It offered full data structures and “types” for defining variables, and this is what Richie and Thompson used to build their new UNIX kernel. “They built C to write a program,” says Pike, who would join Bell Labs 10 years later. “And the program they wanted to write was the UNIX kernel.”

Ritchie’s running joke was that C had “the power of assembly language and the convenience of … assembly language.” In other words, he acknowledged that C was a less-than-gorgeous creation that still ran very close to the hardware. Today, it’s considered a low-level language, not high. But Ritchie’s joke didn’t quite do justice to the new language. In offering true data structures, it operated at a level that was just high enough.

“When you’re writing a large program — and that’s what UNIX was — you have to manage the interactions between all sorts of different components: all the users, the file system, the disks, the program execution, and in order to manage that effectively, you need to have a good representation of the information you’re working with. That’s what we call data structures,” Pike says.

“To write a kernel without a data structure and have it be as consist and graceful as UNIX would have been a much, much harder challenge. They needed a way to group all that data together, and they didn’t have that with Fortran.”

At the time, it was an unusual way to write an operating system, and this is what allowed Ritchie and Thompson to eventually imagine porting the OS to other platforms, which they did in the late 70s. “That opened the floodgates for UNIX running everywhere,” Pike says. “It was all made possible by C.”

Apple, Microsoft, and Beyond
At the same time, C forged its own way in the world, moving from Bell Labs to the world’s universities and to Microsoft, the breakout software company of the 1980s. “The development of the C programming language was a huge step forward and was the right middle ground … C struck exactly the right balance, to let you write at a high level and be much more productive, but when you needed to, you could control exactly what happened,” says Bill Dally, chief scientist of NVIDIA and Bell Professor of Engineering at Stanford. “[It] set the tone for the way that programming was done for several decades.”

As Pike points out, the data structures that Richie built into C eventually gave rise to the object-oriented paradigm used by modern languages such as C++ and Java.

The revolution began in 1973, when Ritchie published his research paper on the language, and five years later, he and colleague Brian Kernighan released the definitive C book: The C Programming Language. Kernighan had written the early tutorials for the language, and at some point, he “twisted Dennis’ arm” into writing a book with him.

Pike read the book while still an undergraduate at the University of Toronto, picking it up one afternoon while heading home for a sick day. “That reference manual is a model of clarity and readability compared to latter manuals. It is justifiably a classic,” he says. “I read it while sick in bed, and it made me forget that I was sick.”

Like many university students, Pike had already started using the language. It had spread across college campuses because Bell Labs started giving away the UNIX source code. Among so many other things, the operating system gave rise to the modern open source movement. Pike isn’t overstating it when says the influence of Ritchie’s work can’t be overstated, and though Ritchie received the Turing Award in 1983 and the National Medal of Technology in 1998, he still hasn’t gotten his due.

As Kernighan and Pike describe him, Ritchie was an unusually private person. “I worked across the hall from him for more than 20 years, and yet I feel like a don’t knew him all that well,” Pike says. But this doesn’t quite explain his low profile. Steve Jobs was a private person, but his insistence on privacy only fueled the cult of personality that surrounded him.

Ritchie lived in a very different time and worked in a very different environment than someone like Jobs. It only makes sense that he wouldn’t get his due. But those who matter understand the mark he left. “There’s that line from Newton about standing on the shoulders of giants,” says Kernighan. “We’re all standing on Dennis’ shoulders.”

Additional reporting by Jon Stokes.

New York Times view of Dennis Ritchie's life
October 13, 2011

Dennis Ritchie, Trailblazer in Digital Era, Dies at 70

Dennis M. Ritchie, who helped shape the modern digital era by creating software tools that power things as diverse as search engines like Google and smartphones, was found dead on Wednesday at his home in Berkeley Heights, N.J. He was 70.

Mr. Ritchie, who lived alone, was in frail health in recent years after treatment for prostate cancer and heart disease, said his brother Bill.

In the late 1960s and early ’70s, working at Bell Labs, Mr. Ritchie made a pair of lasting contributions to computer science. He was the principal designer of the C programming language and co-developer of the Unix operating system, working closely with Ken Thompson, his longtime Bell Labs collaborator.

The C programming language, a shorthand of words, numbers and punctuation, is still widely used today, and successors like C++ and Java build on the ideas, rules and grammar that Mr. Ritchie designed. The Unix operating system has similarly had a rich and enduring impact. Its free, open-source variant, Linux, powers many of the world’s data centers, like those at Google and Amazon, and its technology serves as the foundation of operating systems, like Apple’s iOS, in consumer computing devices.

“The tools that Dennis built — and their direct descendants — run pretty much everything today,” said Brian Kernighan, a computer scientist at Princeton University who worked with Mr. Ritchie at Bell Labs.
Those tools were more than inventive bundles of computer code. The C language and Unix reflected a point of view, a different philosophy of computing than what had come before. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, minicomputers were moving into companies and universities — smaller and at a fraction of the price of hulking mainframes.

Minicomputers represented a step in the democratization of computing, and Unix and C were designed to open up computing to more people and collaborative working styles. Mr. Ritchie, Mr. Thompson and their Bell Labs colleagues were making not merely software but, as Mr. Ritchie once put it, “a system around which fellowship can form.”

C was designed for systems programmers who wanted to get the fastest performance from operating systems, compilers and other programs. “C is not a big language — it’s clean, simple, elegant,” Mr. Kernighan said. “It lets you get close to the machine, without getting tied up in the machine.”
Such higher-level languages had earlier been intended mainly to let people without a lot of programming skill write programs that could run on mainframes. Fortran was for scientists and engineers, while Cobol was for business managers.

C, like Unix, was designed mainly to let the growing ranks of professional programmers work more productively. And it steadily gained popularity. With Mr. Kernighan, Mr. Ritchie wrote a classic text, “The C Programming Language,” also known as “K. & R.” after the authors’ initials, whose two editions, in 1978 and 1988, have sold millions of copies and been translated into 25 languages.

Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie was born on Sept. 9, 1941, in Bronxville, N.Y. His father, Alistair, was an engineer at Bell Labs, and his mother, Jean McGee Ritchie, was a homemaker. When he was a child, the family moved to Summit, N.J., where Mr. Ritchie grew up and attended high school. He then went to Harvard, where he majored in applied mathematics.

While a graduate student at Harvard, Mr. Ritchie worked at the computer center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and became more interested in computing than math. He was recruited by the Sandia National Laboratories, which conducted weapons research and testing. “But it was nearly 1968,” Mr. Ritchie recalled in an interview in 2001, “and somehow making A-bombs for the government didn’t seem in tune with the times.”

Mr. Ritchie joined Bell Labs in 1967, and soon began his fruitful collaboration with Mr. Thompson on both Unix and the C programming language. The pair represented the two different strands of the nascent discipline of computer science. Mr. Ritchie came to computing from math, while Mr. Thompson came from electrical engineering.

“We were very complementary,” said Mr. Thompson, who is now an engineer at Google. “Sometimes personalities clash, and sometimes they meld. It was just good with Dennis.”

Besides his brother Bill, of Alexandria, Va., Mr. Ritchie is survived by another brother, John, of Newton, Mass., and a sister, Lynn Ritchie of Hexham, England.

Mr. Ritchie traveled widely and read voraciously, but friends and family members say his main passion was his work. He remained at Bell Labs, working on various research projects, until he retired in 2007.

Colleagues who worked with Mr. Ritchie were struck by his code — meticulous, clean and concise. His writing, according to Mr. Kernighan, was similar. “There was a remarkable precision to his writing,” Mr. Kernighan said, “no extra words, elegant and spare, much like his code.”

The Legacy of Dennis Ritchie
From our view, the foundation of the information economy originated from the mind and the effect of Dennis Ritchie and his many colleagues from Bell labs. His contribution of C programming and the Unix operating system is the cornerstone of the current Internet.

Most modern day mobile phones and embedded devices usually contained some lines of C programming code.  

Regardless of your location, whenever the web is accessed and whenever  an embedded device is used,  you should know that Dennis Ritchie have played a macro role in making it operable.

The Importance of Learning a System Language

Whether you are a strategist or not,  C programming emphasizes the practice of viewing and transforming data in its rawest form to an well-developed object that is complete, concise, fast, efficient and tangible.   

Because of the amount of detail management, writing a C program is like building a car from the level of "nuts and bolts".  It does take awhile. However, the operating speed is usually quite fast.

Compass Rule: The time that it takes to build "a car" with this exotic tool is inversely proportionally to the speed of the manufactured car.

To be a C programmer, one needs to be patient and disciplined.  There is no immediate gratification from writing in this language.   But this practice will teach anyone the skill of looking at data from a "ground up" viewpoint while being mindful of the system.

Click here  and here if you want to learn why you should learn C.  

If the intricacies of C programming language is too challenging for you, try Perl. This language is easy to learn and is quite efficient in terms of system performance.  Perl's cpan library is multi-facet and quite large.  This language is similar to the C language, that it is available for all cyber platforms.

Click on this link if you want to look an online version of Dennis Richie's classic book on C Programming Language. ... Regardless of its antiquity, this book still sells quite well after so many years. This book is a super text for those who are interested in the fundamentals of functional programming.

/* Comments From The Compass Desk */

Knowing how things work and why it works are some of the keys to being a good strategist regardless of the type of terrain.

Having the skill of  seeing objects, methods and events from a geometric perspective (the top down view,. the ground up view, etc.)  is the holy grail of the strategy business.   It takes many years of sound and solid experience to build this unique skill set. Processing it into a macro model is the real challenge.

At some point, we will discuss about those very fundamentals and how it could be used in the game of staying ahead of the competitive curve.

/* eof */