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?

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