Thursday, February 28, 2013

You Are Only as Good as Your Last Performance

The Rise of Lou Gehrig 
"It was a long time between headaches. Wally Pipp had the first one. His head was buzzing when he reported to the Yankee Stadium on June 2, 1925.

"I can't play today, Hug," the big first baseman told Miller Huggins, the manager.

"Take an aspirin, Wally," Hug said. "I'll let that kid Gehrig fill in for you while you rest."

It was quite a rest. Not until May 2, 1939, was the name of Lou Gehrig ever out of a Yankee line-up"

The Rise of Colin Kaepernick
In November 2012, Alex Smith, the starting quarterback was replaced by Colin Kaepernick, a physically-gifted quarterback.  After nine games, he took them to the Super Bowl.  

Like all inexperienced quarterbacks,  Kaepernick's weaknesses were exposed during the game and the Niners lost.

During the transition, Alex Smith's response was quite understanding. 

After the Super Bowl game, Alex asked for his release and was traded to a struggling team. ... Life is never fair.  ... There is no sympathy in any extreme competitive terrain especially in the NFL. Mr. Smith will either evolve or fade into the NFL history books.  

Retrospectively, the Niners braintrust believed that this strategic change of quarterbacks will lead to a long term solution of being lethal and unpredictable.

Commenting from the Compass Desk
When competing in the efficient economy, remember that it is your job until you lose it. Then, it is the other guy's job.  ...  You are only as good as your last performance. 

This is the efficient economy where short term profits and losses are being graded during each and every strategic moment.  ...  Meeting the ever- evolving standards is the norm.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pragmatic Practice: Reading The Competition

To properly compete in the information economyreading and understanding the behavior of people is considered to be an unique skill.  In most instances, one does not learn it from reading a book.  

Reading a manual repeatedly, does not always mean that the reader will master the principles and the protocols  

There are those who have visited Las Vegas or other gambling towns, usually spend a great deal of time observing the routines of their favorite elite poker game professionals. They carefully studied their game actions from the start to the finish.

So, what is the key practice of some of these elite professionals?

The Practice
" I found out the way your mind works and the kind of man you are. I know your plans and expectations - you've burbled every bit of strategy you've got. I know exactly what you will do, and exactly what you won't, and I've told you exactly nothing. To these aged eyes, boy, that's what winning looks like!  ..." - Henry II   [ The Lion in the Winter  ]

Beside knowing the strategy and the tactics of their competition, the successful strategists  know their habits and their tendencies.

During gametime, the practice of reading the actions of their counterparts while playing the cards, is the standard play.  Plausible deniability of that practice is also the norm for some players.  ...  Those who know, will not say.  Successful strategists always play that game quite well. ...

The Process
Developing the state of quietude is the initial step. One learns what elements to observe after many sessions of proper practice.

Notes from the Compass Desk
Getting these points from a book will not help most of the readers. Those who possessed high mindful awareness skill, will know what attributes are influencing around their settings, will succeed.

You can find more information on this unique topic by visiting Cook Ding's Kitchen.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Dao of Strategy: Gathering Intelligence

Before a plan can be developed and implemented , one must assess the tangibility of their situation. Proper assessment requires proper collection of data. Unless one is a psychic, he or she cannot have one without the other.

Knowing  how to properly gather intelligence is one thing.  Having the intent to implement the process is the real challenge.

Failure to Plan is to Plan for Failure 
A few people from the Taiwan's baseball team recently failed in their attempt to gain an informational advantage and got caught.  Even the idol of the Art of the War Cult got caught in 2007.   ... They should have reading this book , this book, and this book for some ideas.

In the 1960's the Oakland Raiders organization has been known to do unique activities to gain the upper hand.

Side note: After the "Spygate"incident, Coach Belichick was able to achieve a perfect 16-0 season.  He is going to Hall of Fame regardless of this minor oversight. His dad wrote a super book on scouting. If you are a football enthusiast, we highly recommend this book. ) 

The Challenge of the Process
Pinpointing the objective and deciding on the right approach is the semi-difficult job.  Choosing the means and executing it properly is another story.  Our research tells us that most people are quite bad in building and implementing contingency plans.  In most cases, they will have problems when worst case scenarios become real.

The Other Alternative
The stealth choice of some strategic players is the satellite.  However, that option has its limitations.  We presumed that you know why.  

Click here and here for more interesting information on how high-tech intelligence gathering is being used.  

Side note: While high-tech intelligence gathering is used for narrowing the scope of a target, human intelligence gathering is still viable.  It is usually utilized for an unique target especially when "big data" becomes irrelevant.  ... Choosing the right target promptly can be problematic in a non-transparent situation.

Reflections from the Compass Desk
It is up to the reader to decide whether gathering intelligence is unethical? Our role is to delineate the fundamentals of strategy, not to judge people's decisions.

# updated 02.26.13

Friday, February 22, 2013

Compass Trend #32: The Rise of Robotics and Automaton Continues (Especially in the Efficient Society)

Robots Rule
Since the costs of health care and employees benefit are rising, the smart employers are beginning to think about the different ways to reduce costs. Implementing robotics and data automation are some of their current choices. Idealistically, it could begin by having a robot who can do the work of 10-20 employees, one employee to check on the performance of the robot's and a part time employee to maintain the operating standard of the robot.  

To be efficient, the smart employers are focused on being operationally efficient.

Automation Rules
According to, going into 2013 78% of the 600 U.S. small business owners surveyed plan to automate to cut costs and streamline operations, 49% plan to create a new e-commerce website and 87% do not plan to hire additional employees. This tends to show that small business owners are seeking ways to operate within the difficult economic climate.

63% Expect the Economy to Remain Unchanged or Weaken Further
It would seem that with the majority of small business owners that were surveyed by stating that they expect the economy to stay the same (33%) or worsen (30%) in 2013, that their optimism about their own business revenue for 2013 would suffer. But, that was not the case. Of the 600 small business owners that were surveyed, only 21% expect lower revenue, while 46% actually expect an increase in revenue (the remaining 33% are uncertain). This supports the reputation of small business owners and entrepreneurs being eternally optimistic and always looking for ways to make lemonade when given lemons.

Click here for more stats,  As mentioned before, this is the beginning of the end for the low end jobs

Before you decide to automate your business, spend some time assessing the configuration of your situation.  Identify the possible problems and the obstacles. Next, determine whether you have the resources to adjust to that specific situation. It would be a smart move on your part.

Side Note
We predicted this trend of fast food eateries replacing their human workers with robots  in 2010.  ... It is only a matter of time that this will be a reality.   ...

Think about it, when the utilization of machines becomes the operational norm of the working world, where would the "real" blue collar jobs be? ...

Connect this dot of information with this dotThen continue the connection  process with this dot, this dot and this dotNow, look at the Big Tangible Picture.

Identify the specifics of your position. Connect it to all of the above-mentioned dots. Ask yourself, are you currently ahead or behind the "social-economic" curve?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Compass Toolbox: Evernote

Are you using the web for research- and worried about losing it? 

Do you ever find yourself wishing you did not have to print every web page or article in order to save it?  

It is comforting to know that there is a software, backed up in the cyber cloud, that is easily accessible from any computer that will allow you to efficiently manage all the components of information that you are collecting.

That software is Evernote – an user friendly and powerful app that will assist you in remembering and retrieving your digital content, whether it's a note that you have written to yourself, an e-mail that you have received that you want to retain or a section of a web page that you would like to save.

It is one of our favorite cyber tools.

With Evernote, using any web-linked device, you can capture, browse, save, retrieve, share, search and edit notes, pdfs, web content, or other types of documents.

Being satisfied users of Evernote,  we recommended you, our readers to consider this tool as their app.

Fwiw, we have never been compensated for any endorsement. 

Side notes
In our evolving technological-driven information economy, no cyber system is perfect.   There is a price to pay for storing private data in the cloud. ...  Think about it.  ...  It is better for all to spend some time to assess their Big Tangible Picture in terms of relativity and prepare some contingency plans.  

It is that simple.  

Some of us still jot some of their unique notes through the use of the pencil and the paper. This old-fashioned approach still works especially in the area of retaining important data. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Dao of Strategic Assessment: The Will to Perform is Greater than The Will to Talk About It!

 Source: Geek and Poke

It always amazes us that many people have assessed the disposition of their situation with the Occam effect.  They liked their decisions to be easy and have constantly viewed things in terms of "the absolute." Their analysis are usually based on some "irrelevant golden fundamentals rules."  Interestingly, some of these chief decision makers are the politicians and the CEOs of relevant companies. They are known to their followers as visionaries. 

The Strategic Assessment Process
Instead of properly assessing, these visionaries are guessing. They rarely implemented the following five steps: 
1. Measuring the dimensional factors of their situation; 
2. Estimating the potency of their measures; 
3. Calculating the efficacy in terms of the positives and the negatives; 
4. Balancing its order through the "Victory Temple Protocol"; and 
5. Predicting the probability and the possibility of victory.

Some of them believed that doing those five steps is equivalent to a combinational state of psychological pain, emotional torture and egotistical agony. 

Side Note
Whenever step #2 is performed, the task of estimation is usually poorly done.   This is due to their tendency to confuse the estimates with their targets. 

This specifics of estimation will be discussed at a later time.
Source: geek and poke
Once step one to three are completed, the successful strategists regularly performed an intense session of scenario modeling (strategic simulation).

Source: geek and poke
Regardless of the strategic endeavor, the successful strategist knows that repeating success is the concrete gauge of real success.

Reflections From the Compass Desk
Performing step one to three are quite difficult for most people. Their instinctive preference is to "operate from the seat of their pants." 

Fwiw, the amateurs (aka. the pseudo strategists) have always discussed the conceptual scheme of the plan and the general approach to build it. Whether the mean of their process does connects their array of modes to the approach,  that is a different story. ... They also advocated the practice of grinding through a situation without ever performing the hardship of assessing their target strategically.  Would you really care what their excuse is?  (In the high technology industry, they referred this approach as being agile.)

While not having the will to do the right thing (We will also discuss more about this particular topic in a future post.), they rarely completed their goal, using the approach of pursuing of the path of minimal resistance.

The Final Thoughts
Those who succeeded in their endeavor, are usually focused on finishing their project immediately.  They know the tactical specifics for the following three steps:
  • Assessing the Big Tangible Picture;
  • Positioning oneself toward a vantage point that is closest to the endpoint of the project, through planning and preparation; and 
  • Influencing the grand settings to one's advantage.
It is that simple.  ... 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Pragmatic Practice of Standing While Working

Our colleagues at Cook Ding's Kitchen are doing their traditional Lenten challenge of including the practice of martial arts as a part of their daily routine. 

On our corner of the gameboard, we are the practitioners of the standing desk exercise.  Our readers who practiced the martial arts, should do the Lenten challenge.  We highly recommended it to all.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy Year of the Serpent

Sincerely Yours

Compass360 Consulting Group

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Dao of the Unorthodox Approach #7

"Hit them where they ain't" - Anonymous 

There is more to the concept of unorthodox strategies than espousing irrelevant quotes.

To successfully implement an unorthodox tactic in a competitive situation, the smart strategist employs the tendencies of every relevant participants as a starting point.  Click here for a good example.

By reading Bill Walsh's autobiography and the other strategy classics (i.e, the Seven Strategy Classics, 100 Unorthodox Strategies, etc.)  one could conclude the following points for implementing an unorthodox tactic in a competitive situation:
  • Utilizing the flow of the script to stage the competitor toward a disadvantageous situation;
  • Implementing it early in the situation while being positioned at a safe location
  • Implementing the same play once per season;  
  • Utilizing it to influence your competitor's choice of tactical play while maintaining the initial scheme; and 
  • Utilizing it to demoralize the fighting spirit of your competition.
There are more points to implementing an unorthodox tactic.  By reading the right strategy books and properly practicing it (within the right setting), your odds of prevailing slightly increases.   

The Question of the Day
Do you know how to successfully implement an unorthodox strategy?

Next to Final Point
The particulars of any situation usually decide whether this approach can be used for unique competitive situations. The chief decision makers have the responsibilities to analyzing those particulars before ever deciding whether it can be properly executed.

Those who believed that reading the Art of War, OODA and/or B.H. Liddell Hart's view of strategy will provide the proper foundation, are spending too much time preaching their inspirational quotes while sipping on their numerous cans of diet drink. Quotes do not really espouse the specifics for  playing the strategy game  Knowing the tangible specifics of the approach does help a lot.

It all begins by assessing the big picture. Then, positioning oneself through planning and preparation. Finally, influencing one's target through the use of their grand settings  It is that simple from a conceptual viewpoint.

Life is complex for those who strive for higher goals. They must understand that assessing the order of the complexity within their terrain is the first step toward strategic success. This exercise is simple to a few.  To the rest of the masses, it is an exercise of futility.

We will talk about the topic of transforming the complexity to a simple and predictable setting in a future post.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Food For Thought

A good strategy usually presents the implementer the following points: the state of their competitive disposition;  the state of their opponent's competitive disposition; a set of expectations; an anticipation of possible situations; situational tactics and other unique strategic matters. But, it is the effective execution of tactics that wins the game.

Another words, good strategy enables a team to adjust from an immediate losing disposition. But. well-executed tactics will enable one to prevail at the conclusion of the game.

The Whys of the Baltimore Ravens Victory 
Regardless of the "unusual" playcalling in the first quarter and non-referee calls throughout the game, the Niners did a very good job in the "chalkboarding" their opponent during the second half of the game.  But the Ravens played a better game of four quarters.  The game experience of Ray Lewis (MLB) and Ed Reed (FS) prevailed over the inexperienced Niners QB. 

Also, some people claimed that no one could have predict Jacoby Jones 108-yard kickoff return. If one looked at this past season's stats, the Ravens were ranked  #1 in special teams while the Niners were ranked #20.  

Congratulations to the Ravens and their fan base.

Side note: Whenever a political strategist predicts good fortune about one's favorite team,  there is a possibility that a glimmer of bad luck could be hiding behind it.  ...  Who believes in bad luck?

Understanding the Competition #3

Some of our readers will be predicting the victor of today's Super Bowl game. The assortment of factors that they will be employing to conclude their prediction are quite interesting.

Here is an abridged list of those factors:
  • the outcome of the last few games;
  • the team colors;
  • their favorite uniform numbers;
  • the number of All- Pros in each team
  • the sentimental reasons;
  • the performance quality of the quarterbacks;
  • the wins and losses record for each team;
  • the current streak of wins;
  • the recent two minute scoring drives;
  • the number of sacks per game; and
  • the number of interceptions per game.
A View From The Compass Desk
The amateurs preferred to look at the big data behind the game. Our preference is to focus on the long data regarding to each team and then summarize some of those data in reference to a set of relevant strategic factors. 

Here is our abridged listing of general strategic factors that we are using to predict the possible winner:
  • the injury factor;
  • the better defense;
  • the balance of the offensive game;
  • the quality of competition;
  • the balance factor;
  • the giveaway and takeaway factor;  (our favorite statistic.)
  • the terrain factor;
  • the ability to score fast;
  • the team's speed to adjust;
  • the red zone efficiency factor;
  • the momentum of winning over superior competition; and 
  • the quarterback ability to adjust to an extreme pass rush.
Do your homework! 

Focus your attention on understanding who has the better strategic power in terms of their competitive disposition, their capitalization of opportunities, their effectiveness of timed execution, their display of illusions and reality. Identify the various categories of mismatches (i.e, offense vs. defense, QB vs. MLB and FS, the offensive line vs. the defensive line, etc.) and you might discover who could be the winner before the game begins.

By analyzing the connectivity behind the various specific match-ups in certain situations and the possibilities in reference to the rate of change, the cause and effect and the probable momentum, one can predict the possible outcome.

Analyzing the ranking of key performance metrics of each team is the first step. Identifying the configuration of their strengths and weaknesses and what are their tendencies in certain tactical situations are what counts

Following is an abridged listing of those situations: 
  • The Niners could start their offensive game by employing various run plays against the Ravens "questionable" run defense while the Ravens will begin their attack by going long and deep with a two-three receivers alignment against the Niners "Bend Don't Break" Defense.   We expected the Niners to counter their nickel and dime defense.
  • The Ravens attempting an up-tempo no huddle approach against the Niners 
  • The Niners spreading the Ravens defense and then run short range pass plays and trap plays with the quick-footed LaMichael James and the speedy Vernon Davis against the slower Ray Lewis and non-agile Bernard Pollard.
  • The Ravens countering with pass plays with Ray Rice against the Niner's "Bend and Don't Break" defense
  • The Niners will successfully running an assortment of new plays (variations from their previous plays).  
  • The Ravens running an assortment of disguised blitzes and man to man coverage  against the Niner's offense.
  • The Niners running a series of flood plays that deceptively manipulates a targeted player into making a bad decision. 
  • The Ravens attempting the "Alley Opps" pass plays with Anquan Bolden  and the deep pass plays with Torrey Smith against the Niner's cornerbacks especially early in the game.
  • The Niners defense forcing the Ravens QB to run out of pocket with a four to five man rush, causing his passes to be intercepted.
Subjugating the Competitor's Foundation
In the college and professional sports, almost each everyone know the basic tendencies of their future competitors

To prevent the competitors from knowing one's habits, the Niners possesses one of the largest offensive playbook in the NFL. The late Bill Walsh and his many prodigies are known to possess a very large playbook.  The current Niners braintrust have learned from the Virtual Walsh.

Beside running their myriad of jumbo packages and their wham plays, we expected the Niners to isolate the TE on an one on one isolation against the slow linebackers in some pass situations.  the Niners could also run the pitch option and the pass action pass from their pistol formation against the older and slower Ravens defense. 

Targeting the Weak Points
Good competitive strategists usually target some of their "wear and tear" plays on the inspirational leader/chief decision makers.  The psychological reasoning is quite obvious. We expected the Niners to target some "spread (zone) and isolate" a fast  player onto Ray Lewis while the Ravens will go deep and long against the Niners "Bend Don't Break" Defense.

Food for Thought 
  • The turf of the dome usually favors the faster team. Based on the assessed data, which team is favored?
  • What is the possibility of the Niners defense knocking out the Ravens receivers?
  • Based on the last seven games, how effective is the Raven's run defense?
  • The team that takes the lead into the fourth quarter, will they effectively be able to "ground and pound" their opponent to a state of "tap or snap"?
  • The team that is running behind, will they be able to effectively "spread and shred" their competitor's prevent defense?
Big Tangible Picture
We believed that both coaches have a deep understanding of the tendencies of each other so well that they might play it conservatively in the beginning of the game. 

During the game, many of the armchair quarterbacks will be expecting Coach Jim Harbaugh (the Niners head coach) and Coach Greg Roman  (the Niners offensive coordinatorwill be looking for poor defensive responses on certain plays while creating new opportunities through the various schemes of mismatching.  Vic Fangio (the Niners defensive coordinator) will attempt to identifying the offensive play-calling tendencies of Coach Caldwell (the Ravens offensive coordinator)

We expected that Coach John Harbaugh (the Ravens head coach) to strategically change the tempo of their game whenever the Ravens are in trouble.

Based on history, we also expected that Coach Roman  is going to implement his arsenal of unorthodox plays to unnerve the competition during the early stage of the game. 

Side note:  Unorthodox stratagems (trick plays) sometimes do not matter in a near-predictable setting if one's team has the superior (and experienced) manpower who could adjust to any unique changes.  The Niners has a tactical tendency of using unique formations, multi-personnel packages, shifts and motions to deceive their competition while the Ravens has the habit of executing play action passes.  ... We will discuss the rules of implementing unorthodox stratagems and the approach for playing the contrarian card in a future post.

Point, Counterpoint and Counter, Counterpoint
Regardless that the Niners having more offensive weapons and more speed, the Ravens team has the emotional reason and the spiritual leader.  How would each team subvert the emotional foundation of the other?

Here are the clues:
"Concentrate every effort on subduing its heart and mind." -Military Methods 33

"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's The Art of Warfare , Chapter 34 (Fragments),  

Due to the settings of the competitive terrain and the comprehension of both teams tendencies by both coaches, some of us are thinking that the total score of this game is going to be one or three points within the over/under number of 47 points.

Offense thrills the masses.  But it is the defense that wins the championship.

The Questions of the Day
So, what strategic and tactical factors have you been using to assess your company and your competition?
# # # 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Proper Preparation Prevents Pissed Poor Performance #4

"The will to prepare is usually greater than the will to win." 

Being technically prepared is easy is for the amateurs.   They are usually psychologically unprepared for most uncertain situations.

Building the skill of being psychologically prepared is a balance of art and science.

Good psychological preparation and some unique experience usually minimizes the fear of pain, the fear of loss and the feat of uncertain extremity. 

Unlike what the Cult of the Art of War preaches, one cannot gain this unique state of awareness from reading the Art of War or any books. It is another  fallacy by those amateurs. Those who claimed that point, never competed in an extreme setting.

Our friends at Cook Ding Kitchen, explained to us that the proper practice of internal martial arts is one of the few ways to gain this level of awareness.  In the field of internal martial arts, the experienced instructors referred this level of experience as a skill.