Saturday, November 30, 2013

Comments on WSJ's Article on "Football's Secret Strategies" (How to Shape the Competition)

(updated on 12.03.13)

Presuming that you are a gridiron fan, do you know the strategic process that some football coaches have used to designed their football game strategies?

Click here for an interesting read from this past Friday's Wall Street Journal on this unique topic.

What fascinates most readers is the extensiveness of planning and preparation that arises from this high level of competition. In some cases, the possible consequences that arise from a potential team loss quietly hover on the mind of the coaches and the players.  The solution to that dilemma is that they must believed that their scheme is built correctly and that they are capable to execute it. The 

The Compass View on Gameplanning
The objective of any "tangible" gameplan is to "subjugate" the competition by whatever legal means necessary.

Following is our abridged listing of the basic objectives that should be in all competitive gameplans:
  • Capitalizing on the competitor's weaknesses while avoiding their strengths;
  • Focusing on utilizing one's strengths while concealing one's own weaknesses;
  • Initiating our momentum from the inception of the game (i.e., scoring first  or creating a defensive turnover) while diminishing their momentum and 
  • Shaping the mindset of the competition before they "shape" us.
The universal traits of all successful strategists is knowing how to do the following:
  • Gameplanning a situation; 
  • Assessing the competition;
  • Scripting an field plan;
  • Preparing the team properly and 
  • Completing the objective regardless of the inertia and the entropy.
The Art and Science of Assessing the Competition
Click here and here on the rudiments for assessing the competition In terms of football.  

Understanding how the competition would respond to certain events as a team is the key to good assessing.  We will touch more on this topic in a future post or in our future book.

After properly assessing the competition, successful strategists started the process of scripting their starting plays.  ... Do you script your tactical moves?

The Art and Science of Scripting
Good gameplan begins by centering oneself  while scripting their starter moves.  This step usually enables the implementers to shape their perspective about their goal.

Click here if you are interested in the basics of scripting one's starter's moves.  It is based on our research on how Bill Walsh  the former SF Forty-Niners coach (Three time Super Bowl Champions) and the late architect of the West Coast Offense system utilized it. 

Some of us are currently working on a book on how to shape the competition through a "starter script (Bill Walsh's 25 Plays Script).".   ... We believed that we will finish it sometime next year (depending on our priorities). 

Beside the introduction of the initial objectives of the script, we will cover the art of shaping the competition and the basics of organizing the starter script.  .. An associate who formerly worked with Coach Walsh, thought that the specifics behind our research were "on target."  

We wanted our first book to be interesting.  Concurrently, we postponed our Sunzi's Strategic Assessment book project because of other priorities and the current mis-conceptualization of Sunzi essay by an assortment of amateur strategists.

Side Notes on Deception and Unethical Subversion
"Win if you could. Lose if you must. But don't get caught cheating."

Click here on how the NBA caught Coach Jason Kidd cheating. Then click here and here on how Coach Tomlin's interfered with the game with a certain gamesmanship maneuver. 

Even some great coaches like Bill Belichick have been known for implementing an unorthodox tactic or two.  In 2007, he was accused of "cheating."

Click here on some of the irregular and slightly underhanded tactics recommended by the late and great Red Auerbach.

Comments From The Compass Desk
The extreme competitive strategists believed that 90% of the "competition" game is succeeding by whatever means necessary.  The other 10% is performing those means under "the radar."

Regardless how the competition is shaped, the essence of their true character will occasionally appear.

# # # 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Regardless of our settings,  it is important to stay centered and be thankful for the many simple things.   ...  Have a good holiday.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Red Auerbach's 57 Strategies ( A Note for the Basketball Fanatics {Especially the Boston Celtics Fans} )

Many years ago, an associate who is a Boston Celtics basketball fanatic, gave us  this interesting book from the great Arnold "Red" Auerbach.  It is titled "Basketball for the Player, the Fan and the Coach." 

On page 189,  the book lists  "57 Strategic Moves," which Auerbach prefaces with this disclaimer: "How many of these you consider ethical or unethical depends entirely on your organization. I am merely listing them as things that can happen." Among the possible moves are:
  • When a player notices an official's indecision as to an out-of-bounds ball, he should run over and pick it up with the full confidence that it is his.
  • If the opposing team has a high scorer, keep reminding the other players of their uselessness because the scorer takes all the shots.
  • Grabbing or pulling the pants or shirt of the opponent can be very aggravating.
  • When the other team is given possession of the ball from an official's decision, don't throw the ball directly to an opponent. The ball should be thrown rather slowly to the official. This will give your men time to get set on defense.
  • Place the scorer's and timer's table near your bench.
  • Wait until the other team has started warming up and then request their basket. This request must be honored away from home.
  • Faking injuries is used for many reasons . . . 
  • Some players may agitate their opponents by incessant chatter, refusing to talk to them at all, or even ridicule
From our experience, gaining the subtle advantage of creating strategic momentum is the essence of these tactics.. Maintaining the strategic momentum throughout the game is the tangible key to a imtegral victory.

Scripting this category of plays in your gameplan is easy. Preparing the principals to implement it, is the challenge.

 "Whenever there is pressure to win on any coach or team you will find men deviating from what is considered the way of good sportsmanship. It is up to the player himself to decide what is 'dirty' and what is 'tricky.' " - Red Auerbach

Comments From The Compass Desk
Some of our associates who have coached competitive basketball and other sports, explained to us on the variations of these deceits and tricks of one-upmanship and how they are implemented in certain situations.  It is up to the coach and the enlightened referees to prevent these tactics from being a distraction

Becoming prepared and being  aware of these possibilities from the practice  session to the end of the game are the keys to preventing your competitor from implementing this unethical approach..

Click here for other unique strategic rules that you could use for certain competitive situations.. 

In summary, the grand objective of the mentioned tactics is to gain any tactical advantage from the "warming up" session of the game to the final seconds of the game by misdirecting the competitor's attention from the actual game.   ...  Conceptually, successful strategists have always try to prevail over their competition with the least amount of effort while flying under the competition's radar. ... Realistically, someone usually have suffered some level of abrasion.  ... Achieving this plateau of minimum effort, means that one must learn how to assess their competition strategically. 

Win if you canlose if you must, but never let your competition prevail over you through unethical subversion.

Compass Rule
Where the attention goes, the energy flows.   Always protect your energy.

Side note 
This book sold over 600,000 copies, not counting the Russian, Polish and Italian editions.


Monday, November 18, 2013

The Art of the Focus: Achieving Centerness and Staying Focused

(update at 13:18:18)

Most of us are surrounded by near-bearable noise regardless of our locale. Occasionally, it interrupts our ability to think strategically.  When the volume of the noise is greater than the bio-signal that is flowing through our brains,  the progress for completing the objective becomes nil.  

Using noise-cancelling headsets  and turning off our mobile devices could only go so far. 

Pragmatic Solution #1
Finding silence and solitude is the name of the game.

Going to coffee shops is not a good idea.  Most of the time, the noise is barely tolerable. It is rare to find a place with zero noise setting.   If you are into the hustle and bustle of a noisy surrounding, go to the coffee shop or your favorite fast food chain. 

Fwiw, most successful strategic thinkers do not strategize at that setting.  It is a productivity killer.

The near-perfect sanctuary is usually that one library and finding that quiet, clean and well-lighted room while avoiding the crowdedness is always a challenge.  An associate who lives in Michigan, recommended a few  interesting "quiet" places located in the University of Michigan.

Pragmatic Solution #2
Our previous posts introduced the importance of staying centered.  Some does it through the practice of Taijiquan, Baguazhang, Xingyiquan, Yi Quan, Liu Hop Ba Fa Quan and Yoga.
To build this state of focused centerness (zhong zheng), one must do the following:
  • Relax while centering your attention to your breathing.
  • Connect to the ground by relaxing the weight of your body downward while centering your attention to the movement
  • Center your breathing to the ground while centering your relaxation and your connection to the ground
  • Calm yourself by minimal movement while centering your attention to your entire being
  • Feel the wholeness of your being while performing the four mentioned "centering" points.  
One knows when he/she has achieved the fundamental stage of this practice by being able to hear their thoughts while working. 

Side Notes
  • Our Cook Ding Kitchen associates ( principals of a martial arts blog)  usually practice a daily 60-70 minutes session of yi quan-based standing exercises.
  • Spending hours on replying to irrelevant emails and texts is also a productivity killer.  It usually disrupt the ebb and flow of the workflow.  
  • If you think that there is a power to becoming quiet, read this book.
We will elaborate more on our unique set of pragmatic practices.

Comments From The Compass Desk

To strategize properly, one must remember that silence is golden. ...  A successful strategist is usually centered and focused.  These attributes enable him to devise a well-planned and prepared strategy while being mindful that proper preparation propels profits. 

Whether you are in a library or out in the streets of New York, stay centered and focused on your objective while being mindful of your settings and beyond. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Profiteering by Assessing the Big Tangible Picture

(updated at 23:33 hr)

If one wants to profit in any of their competitive endeavors, he/she must assess the configuration within the Big Tangible Picture (BTP) and the quality of intelligence that is behind it. 

Understanding this perspective enables one to anticipate future opportunities. It also increase one's chances to  capitalizes on the possible opportunities. 

Introduction to Strategic Assessment
Good strategy assessment begins with good strategic intelligence gathering (through the various means). The amateurs espoused the belief that one can search for tangible and relevant information through the web with a few key words is good enough. They do not realized that the placement of various data on the web can be fixed.

How does one maneuvers through the information society when some aspects of the economy are driven by fabrication and temporary reality?

With so much data, most decision makers (esp. the news media) are usually confused.

Regardless of one's position within the terrain, the successful strategists are usually focused on understanding the certainty of the grand terrain and their positions within it.

The key to good strategic assessment is to match the numeric fundamentals of the terrain to the performance metrics of the targeted competitors.

The successful strategists are usually able to recognize those match ups and conclude what is the tangible truth.  Depending on the situation, they would then utilize it to enhanced their level of strategic power.

One Tangible View on How to 
Assessing Intelligence From Sunzi's Art of War
In a complexity-driven competitive setting, the successful strategist thinks and operates with a strategy. He uses every factors relating to the competitor and the settings to assess his probability of securing a victory.

The first step begins by assessing specific data by the measurements of space, the estimations of influences, the calculations of the numbers within the influences, the weighing of the strength of the numbers and the probability of success.  (This concept is from reading chapter four.)

“These are the ways that 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

After assessing the quality of the factors and the quality connectivity within the multiple dots of information, he assesses the quality of information sources behind each decision (concepts from Chapter 13). 

The concluding stage begins when one determines the possibility of success by comparing the data from a results-based perspective. 

The predictability of the situation determine the complexity. The degree of complexity determines the # of steps needed to assess the situation.  When some things look too simple and obvious, deception could be concealed within it.

Another Tangible View of The Art of Assessing Intelligence 
Bob Barnes: Intelligence work isn't training seminars and gold stars for attendance.
Fred Franks: What do you think intelligence work is Bob?
Bob Barnes: I think it's two people in a room and one of them's asking a favor that is a capital crime in every country on earth, a hanging crime.
Fred Franks: No Bob, it's assessing the information gathered from that favor and then balancing it against all the other information gathered from all the other favors. 
- Syriana

The above dialogue was from a deleted scene in this movie "Syriana."

Regardless of the reason, I believe that it was important in terms of understanding how decisions were made at the top level of the echelon. This scene succinctly contrasts the perspective of "the field operator in the trenches" with that of management - a kind of "one man's ceiling is another man's floor" observation.

It also served to reveal that Bob Barnes didn't really have the Big Tangible Picture - indicating that his employer's would be pawning him to their liking. 

People who could view data in terms of levels, attributes, gains and loss, are occasionally able to anticipate certain situations while the field operators could only function limitedly due to their finite perspective of the Big Tangible Picture. 

The Compass View
Good strategic assessment begins with superior strategic intelligence gathering (from the field). It usually take a great deal of time and effort. 

Interestingly, there are not many companies who are willing to do that. Their chief decision makers always preferred to build a presumption-based situation. Then they would create a plan for it. If failure occurs, their corporate assets and their human efforts are wasted. Other people would be blamed for their poor decisions.  Life goes on.

In planning, never a useless move.
In strategy, no step is in vain. - Chen Hao

In the real world, the successful strategists regularly weighted the relevancy of each intelligence item and the credibility of its source. Then, they balanced it to the principal points within the Big Tangible Picture. These steps always enable them to make a relevant strategic decision.

Successful strategists who believed in the importance of assessing and positioning, followed this Compass rule:

"The time needed to influence your target is inversely proportional to the time that you have spent assessing and positioning."

Side note: There is an exception to that rule. We will elaborate more on that topic in a future post.

To mine the gold or to avoid negative circumstances, one connects the dots. 

To connect the dots, mastering the art and science of assessing strategically is essential.  ... So, how do you assess your Big Tangible Picture?

/* * */

Saturday, November 9, 2013

How to Build a Unified Team (From the View of the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers)

(updated on 11.09.13 @ 5:55 pm)

We presumed that you have heard about the rookie hazing incident in the Miami Dolphins locker room.  However, It is not an isolated incident especially in the camps of the New Orleans Saints and the Oakland Raiders.  While some players referred to it as a bonding process, one NY Giants player indirectly described it as a part of the maturing process to becoming a professional football player. 

There are always a few minor pranks and rituals, but the players in professional football teams like the Philadelphia Eagles,  the New England Patriots and the San Francisco Forty Niners do not pursue the avenue of the extreme. 

In the NFL, the playoff contending teams are always focused on winning not waste their time on unproductive practices.

The Bill Walsh's Solution
Bill Walsh. the late architect of the West Coast Offense system, has always believed that it is important to focus the rookies on learning and mastering the specifics of "the pro game".

" ... The late Bill Walsh banished rookie hazing when he first started coaching the team in 1979. He wanted rookies contributing right away and didn’t want them bogged down with thinking about anything more than football.
It was just one of many innovations emanating from Walsh. Over the last 25 years, I never heard of any rookie hazing, which, of course, doesn’t mean there wasn’t any. But from afar, it just never seemed to be a part of the culture. There have been pranksters like former guard Kevin Gogan, who used to disrupt the offensive line meetings constantly.
Gogan’s aimed many of his pranks at Tim Hanshaw, who got his share of ribbing and an old-fashioned spit wad to the back of the head from Gogan, who once graced the cover of Sports Illustrated as the NFL’s dirtiest player. But Gogan was not a racist, and when his former offensive line coach Bobb McKittrick was dying of cancer, Gogan made amends to him.
Ask around the 49ers’ locker room and the only requirement for rookies seems to be to provide cans of chew and to bring Jamba juice on Friday’s.
Tackle Joe Staley said rookies used to pay for some dinners, but the tab was never ridiculous. Over the years, rookies would lug the pads and helmets of veterans.
“We don’t even do that any more,” Staley said. “Players should never embarrass people for their own bravado.”
At least from the outside looking in, the spirit of Bill Walsh on hazing seems to live on within the 49ers’ locker room.  ... "  - 
The Sun Bin's View on 
Organizational Unification
"An army that is able to overcome great adversity  is able to unite the people's minds. - paraphrased from  Sun Bin's Military Methods, 22 

Whenever a team or an organization is able to overcome obstacles, the principals begin to understand that there is a grander cause that is greater then themselves.

Final Thoughts
Regardless of some people's view, we believed that that practice of hazing is not good for any organization. History has shown that a consistency of team victories is the most effective approach to unify a team,

We will talk more about the other approaches to unifying a team in a future post.

Side notes

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The First Step to Succeeding in the Info. Economy: Staying Focused

(updated on 11/3/13 at 23:33 hr.)

We are living in a society where many of the technology-dependent people possessed an attention span of one minute and have the immediate need for automatic gratification. They have a tendency of  trying to find different stimuli that would enable him or her to stay focused on that one task.

Currently, staying focused on one task is the most difficult thing to accomplish. To some people, this pseudo-easy task  could be the only thing. 

As many great masters recommended their readers with this following key phrase, "Practice. ... Practice... Practice"

Some preferred to follow this phrase, "Practice. Reflect. Optimize. Improve. Evolve. .."

The Psychology of Mono-Tasking
One usually focuses on a task when it is a tangible priority. Psychologically, this behavior centers the person on the given task.   

Understanding of the configuration behind the given task gives the chief decision maker the options on knowing where to focus their time and their energy. By knowing the given constraints behind the task, one knows what to focus on and what to neglect for a certain time.

Not every task is the same. It is all about how the chief decision makers make their decisions. Successful strategists usually decide on their tasks that are  based on these five points:
  • the risk of completing the task;
  • the constraints for completing the task; 
  • the complexity of completing the task, 
  • the length of completing the task; and 
  • the precedence of the task  to the precedence of the Big Tangible Picture
Knowing those points allows them to stay focused on the task with ease.

The Compass Exercise of Mindfulness
How does one build a consistent state of mindfulness?

He/she isolates him or herself in a solitary room and focuses on the act of centered relaxation by standing.  The next step is to focus on one's task while being mindful of one's setting.

This feedback-based approach requires a certain level of methodicalness from start to finish. It starts with a mindful focus of self-centerness

Notes From The Compass Desk
By cultivating this skill of mindfully focused on a daily basis, one has just accumulate a small but significant strategic advantage against those who cannot stay focused on one target for a long chronological-driven interval. From our experience, this skill is also useful when strolling through an extreme chaotic and complex setting. 

Those who do know, will not say.  However you can learn more about this unique practice at Cook Ding's Kitchen.

Remember to be patient and build the experience of strategic fortitude. Use your awareness of your actions at different situations .  

We will discuss more on the psychology of strategy in future posts.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Profiting in the Competitive Economy by Utilizing The Secret Behind Sunzi's Art of War Principles

(updated on 11.01.13, at 1118 hr)

The key to successfully defeating any competitor with minimum damage is knowing how to thaw their plans. Collecting information is the first step.

The Art of War readers (aka. The Cult of the Art of War) usually like to talk about the content from Chapter Four (Strategic Disposition) Chapter Five (Strategic Power) and Chapter 6 (Weak Points and Strong Points) of the Art of War essay. This is due to their inclination to act on instinct.  Their belief is that they can plan their way to win regardless what the odds are. This approach only works if the competition is weak and that the risk consequence of failing is not lethal.

However, the real secret is knowing how to specifically assess one's competition in the context of the 13 Chapters.  ... You do know how to do that. Do you? 

The Solution: The Sunzi's Strategic Approach 
To fulfill the mentioned goal, one must know how to properly gather relevant intelligence without being noticed and the approach for assessing it promptly.

The successful strategists only plan when he/she knows their goals and the configuration of their strategic foundation.

The successful strategists only know whether their goal is possible when he/she understands the configuration of their terrain and their situation

The successful strategists understand the configuration of their terrain when he/she knows what are the influences that affects it.  

The successful strategists understand the way of the influences when he/she knows the matrix of connectivity.

Those mentioned steps are all do-able when one knows the approaches for collecting those specific intelligence and assessing it promptly.

The Basics of the Compass Process Model
When you are able to complete the first step, you are one step closer to becoming two steps ahead of the competition. Click here and here for more information on the "two steps ahead" strategic approach.

Comments From the Compass Desk
Those with an interest in the historical practice of spycraft might find Dr. Ralph Sawyer's discussion with Dr. Mark Stout, Historian at the International Spy Museum, of some great interest. It has recently become freely available as a "spycast" at, date of August 5th. (Time constraints precluded pursuing the numerous contemporary implications but Qin's historical employment of subversion to conquer the realm is discussed in Sawyer's classic Tao of Spycraft.) 

Click here for more information. 

Reading Chapter 13 of the Art of War could only go so far.  The ultra class professionals usually read this classic whenever they need a new idea.

We highly recommend to our serious strategic readers to listen to the Sawyer's discussion before  to focus their time and their effort on reading  Dr. Sawyer's The Tao of Spycraft. They will learn the true essence behind the origin of a non-stopping strategic exploitation.

The reading is quite dry. However, many of our associates of all sorts also highly recommended this book.  If you want to profit in our "extremely" competitive economy, focus on securing the path of least resistance by centering yourself first.  Then, proceed toward reading this classic book.