Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Renewing the Winter Tradition of Reading the Classics and Other Matters

(Updated at 12:22 hrs.)

As mentioned before, being mindfully aware is the key to succeeding in any endeavor. Sometimes it does not hurt to re-read the classics to remind us of the various fundamentals of life. 

Recommended Classics
In previous posts, we have discussed the topic of taking one quiet weekend to re-read the classics (The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, Dao De Jing, Zhuang Zi, etc.) during the winter season while standing.

One of the following weekends, some of the group will be re-reading some of the following books:
  • Against the Gods (The Remarkable Story of Risk);
  • Sherlock Holmes Detective Stories;
  • The Protracted Game;
  •  The Thirty-six Stratagems Applied to Go;
  • The Tao of Physics; 
  • Strategies for the Human Realm;
  • The Tao of Deception;
  • 100 Unorthodox Strategies;
  • Dao De Jing;
  • Zhuang Zi;
  • The Romance of the Three Kingdoms; and
  • other unique strategic classics.
Here is an abridged list of the past "hot" books that we have read:
  • Anti-Fragile; 
  • Made to Stick;
  • The Physics of Wall Street;
  • The Signal and The Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail- but Some Don't 
  • Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe
  • Bill James's Baseball Abstract
For those who are audio listeners, we recommended the following books:
The rest of us will also be working on our Tangible Vision and our Compass Script while drinking hot tea.

This specific tradition and the use of the standing table have also enabled us  to hone our strategic and tactical skills.

Other Traditions and Suggestions
Following are other interesting yearly traditions that some of our strategic associates have always abide by:
  • Renewing one's yearly subscription of Business Week, Wired, Psychology Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Economist;
  • Reviewing and updating one's tactical playbook;
  • Reviewing and updating one's contacts database;
  • Upgrading one's own technological infrastructure; and 
  • Updating one's own security practices.
Our friends at Cook Ding Kitchen and other strategic groups have always reminded us to abide the subsequent list of suggestions that would help the underdogs:
  • Donating some cash and/or valued books to the local libraries;  
  • Donating some cash and/or food to the local charities; and 
  • Offering strategic advice to the local non-profit charities.
Comment From the Compass Desk
Practicing the process of reading the configuration of a situation, reflecting on the pluses and the minuses and adjusting to the  situation, is the daily proclivity of a good strategic implementer.

In our case, we preferred the practice of assessing, positioning and influencing.  We will discuss about that specific practice in a future post. 

Side note 
The book reading tradition and the walking of precipitous heights originated from an associate who studied from a Wu Dang practitioner/TCM expert.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

More Food For Thought: A Pragmatic Idea for December 25

Comments From The Compass Desk
On this holy day, many people will pursue the historical strategic approach of  eating Chinese food .

Click here on the Jewish tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas Day.  
A few of our associates favorite Americanized Chinese food is  the General Tso Chicken.
While it is an slightly over-rated dish, some people consider it as comfort food. Click here for a quick history lesson on this "fun" dish.

The late and great Red Auerbach the former coach of the Boston Celtics (a professional basketball team) , always had Chinese food for dinner regardless whether his Boston Celtics team won or lost a game.   ... He always insisted that his team consumed Chinese food for dinner, especially before a game. 

The presumption was that good Chinese food should never create the feeling of "heavy" with the eater.  Whether Coach Auerbach and his team have ever completed a Chinese "nine course" banquet, is a different story.   

"Being light is right" is the basic principle of consumption.  ...   The state of lightness enables one to be agile and mobile.  Conclusively, this state causes one to feel balanced. 

In our case,  some of us have always followed the Compass Principle of being balanced. 

Chinese Food + Netflix = A Good Day

Be  safe. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Dao of the Strategist: Protecting the Body Through Mindfulness

To be proficient in the strategy game, the strategist realized that he/she must be mindful of their own well-being.

Click here on more information on the topic of stressing one's body from the top down.

Near-Final Comments From The Compass Desk
Click here for our perspective on building a mindful center within one's own being.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Succeeding in the Field Game with the Moscow Rules or the Sunzi's Victory Temple Model

(updated on 12/27/14 11:18.11)

It has been rumored that the some or most covert field operators have usually function under some aspects of the Moscow rules especially in chaotic times. Whether one could use this set in a complex setting is quite questionable.

The Moscow Rules
Following is an abbreviated list of the probably-fictional Moscow Rules that has circulated around the Internet and in fiction:
  • Assume nothing.
  • Murphy is right.
  • Don't look back; you are never completely alone.
  • Everyone is potentially under opposition control.
  • Go with the flow, blend in.
  • Vary your pattern and stay within your cover.
  • Any operation can be aborted. If it feels wrong, it is wrong.
  • Maintain a natural pace.
  • Lull them into a sense of complacency.
  • Build in (the) opportunity, but use it sparingly.
  • Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. (borrowed from Muhammad Ali, aka Cassius Clay.)
  • Don't harass the opposition.
  • There is no limit to a human being's ability to rationalize the truth.
  • Pick the time and place for action.
  • Keep your options open.
  • Technology will always let you down.
  • Once is an accident. Twice is coincidence. Three times is an enemy action. (taken from Ian Fleming's novel Goldfinger)
  • Don't attract attention, even by being too careful
Click here for another version of the rules.  

Following is the International Spy Museum (Washington, D.C.,) version of the Moscow Rules are given as:[2]
  1. Assume nothing.
  2. Never go against your gut.
  3. Everyone is potentially under opposition control.
  4. Don't look back; you are never completely alone.
  5. Go with the flow, blend in.
  6. Vary your pattern and stay within your cover.
  7. Lull them into a sense of complacency.
  8. Don't harass the opposition.
  9. Pick the time and place for action.
  10. Keep your options open.
"Although no one had written them down, they were the precepts we all understood ... By the time they got to Moscow, everyone knew these rules. They were dead simple and full of common sense...".[1]  
- Tony Mendez
Source:  wikipedia.org

Regardless of the political change of our global economy, the Moscow Rules are still utilized by some field strategists. ... Whether it is effective in a complex setting, is questionable? 

So, do you think it is important to learn the the Moscow Rules before going on the field?

Comments From The Compass Desk
So, what is wrong with using these rules?  They lacked the tactical specifics on how to utilize it and when to employ it. 

To be strategically effective, the field operators must possessed proper training and practical experience.   Having the strategic instinct is an asset. 

  • Do you know when should one "assume nothing?"   ... 
  • Do you know when the Murphy Law is applied?   ... 
  • Do you know when to go against your instinct and when to go with your instinct?
  • Do you know why one should vary their pattern of operation and stay within their cover?
  • Do you know when and how to lull them into a sense of complacency?
  • Do you know why harassing the opposition is a bad idea? 
  • Do you know when is a good time to harass the opposition?
  • Do you know when to pick the time and the place for action?
  • Do you know when to keep your options open?
  • Better yet, do you know when to go with the flow and blend in?
Those who are deep in the strategy game, usually mindfully understand the notion of assessing the configuration of their Big Tangible Picture instead of just using the rules, for the obvious reason of minimizing negative after-effects.  When the factors of risk, uncertainty and volatility are numerous, applying this result-oriented process model becomes relevant.

Operating on simple rules and/or on base instinct could only go so far. Those who succeed with that approach usually succeed in simple strategic settings. But they frequently grinded toward their target in unique complex situations.

The Victory Temple Model
“These are the ways that successful strategists are victorious. They cannot be spoken or transmitted in advance. ... Before the confrontation, they resolve in their temple (or 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 temple (or 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)

Click here for more information on the Sunzi's Victory Temple Model.

# One of the best books for understanding this perspective is Dr. Ralph D. Sawyer's Tao of Spycraft.
Ralph Sawyer's first book on the history of Chinese intelligence, The Tao of Spycraft, was written to help correct what he perceived to be a general "lack of interest in China's achievements in the thorny field of intelligence." He adds that a detailed historical treatment is needed for two reasons. First, "no nation has practiced the craft of intelligence or theorized about it more extensively than China." Second, the current government in China employs the ancient precedents and practices that have proved successful for thousands of years.15 The result was a very detailed account of the techniques employed long before the Christian era by Chinese warring states. These methods were informed by the principles elucidated in Sun Tzu's Art of War and concentrated on the theory of agents, evaluating men, and the importance of terrain. In The Tao of Deception, or the way of the unorthodox,16 Sawyer extends his approach to espionage, surprise and deception in warfare.
Since Chinese warfare is and has been guided by fundamentally different principles--with the emphasis on the unorthodox--from those applied by European military tacticians, Westerners must learn the oriental approach, and Sawyer provides examples drawn from events throughout the dynastic periods (2853 BCE-1911). Sawyer acknowledges the use of deception in the West, but he contends it is not yet as integrated into military thinking and planning as it is in China. The final chapter discusses deception's applicability to intelligence operations in today's Peoples Republic of China, including their implications for possible future conflict. The book is extensively documented with both Chinese and English sources, many of the latter translations from Chinese.
Neither of Sawyer's volumes is easy reading--they are not introductory texts. And for readers unfamiliar with Chinese history and language, the task is doubly difficult. The names and relationships require considerable concentration. Nevertheless, for those who are concerned about China's historic and contemporary approaches to intelligence and deception operations, it is worth the effort.
Source: intel. central

This book espouses many intelligence gathering concepts, that does not directly connect to the topic of strategic and tactical factors. You just have to discover it and take the time to connect it to your situational setting or you can wait for us to publish some aspects of the Victory Temple algorithm.

There are other great books to this thematic subject. We will discussed this topic in a later post.

Click here for more information on the Sunzi's Victory Temple model.

Side Note: Then there are those who preferred to operate in the field by using the Phoenix List.

Comments From the Compass Desk
So, which strategic approach would you choose?

Knowing the rules and using simplified models in a complex and chaotic setting, could only go so far.   In most cases, grinding one step at a time is psychologically tasking.

In the Chinese strategy game, one focuses on the singularity (the Dao) of the situation before deciding on whether to pursue the obvious move or the exceptional move (non-obvious move). 

None of us are field operators. Nonetheless, we are just good observers who understand how the strategic process of properly assessing the Big Tangible Picture and the levels within it, could offer a slight advantage. 

The Dao Of The Compass 
Assess your grand setting by using the macro principles from the Seven Military Classics  of Ancient China.

Position by deciding the specifics of your strategic view (priority objectives, approach, condition guidelines and escapative guidelines) before developing your script of moves and counter moves 

Influence the setting with your script of moves while quietly assessing and positioning forward.


When or if you are residing in a chaotic field, carrying your copy of Sunzi's essay and/or a list of the Moscow rules is not going to help at all.

Wear your hoodie, carry your "Go Bag" and keep on moving while staying mindfully aware of your settings and beyond. Reflectively know what is the Big Tangible Picture before assessing its configuration in terms of threats, opportunities, weaknesses and strengths.

Positioning yourself forward with your script

Influencing your setting of the Big Tangible Picture with the macro concepts from the Sunzi classic.

Good luck!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Preparation Precedes Performance: Preparing The "Go" Bag for a Chaotic Setting

In our information economy (search, mobile and cloud), some members of the masses have become addicted to the immediate gratification of technology. 

What would happen to the masses if the power source behind the technological element of the information economy is nullified for whatever set of reasons? Concurrently, what would they do if natural disasters become a seasonal trend.  What would you do?

Planning and the preparation are the general steps of our "Position" stage.  ... One must be agile, light and mobile on the field regardless of the situation.  ... . 

To prepare for the uncertainty of life, it is important to possess the right essentials (tools, etc.)  and not use it than to need it and not having it.  ...                              
Preparation Precedes Performance
Here is the updated "Alpha" list of gear for one's everyday carry (EDC) purposes:                  
  • a compass        
  • a polycarbonatic clipboard and notepaper.        
  • a Swiss Army Knife (and a Leatherman's multi-tool)     
  • a devoted blade (Emerson, SOG, etc.)  
  • a roll of duct tape                     
  • a LED flashlight and backup batteries    
  • a set of N95 masks
  • a set of vinyl (medical) gloves
  • a Nalgene plastic water bottle (BPA free)
  • a pair of Sunglasses
  • a Smartphone  (with backup batteries)
  • a light pack of USB gear cables (esp. the USB to mini USB cable)            
  • a few large capacity USB flash drives
  • a Faraday-type of container. 
Compass Guidelines for Field Preparation
  • Be light, agile and mobile.  
  • Always carry necessities not accessories.
Here is the updated "Bravo" list of gear for the accessories bag (aka. "The Go Pack #2")  It is nice to have this prepackaged set of gear for extreme climate-driven terrains.                    
  • A set of paper maps of one's terrain
  • A good durable backpack or a quality vest w/ multiple pockets. 
  • A disposable cloth towel
  • A few elastic bands
  • A durable garbage bags            
  • wooden and metal toothpicks                   
  • non-metallic paper clips and metallic binder clips                           
  • Rolls of cash and coins
  • chewing gum, chocolate bars and energy food bars                                
  • a set of specialized magnets
  • a set of small screwdrivers and some screws             
  • a digital watch                                                 
  • a ball point pen and a wooden pencil                                        
  • a colored electrician tapes
  • a cloth towel
  • a dryer's lint filter                
  • a magnesium fire starter
  • a set of colored flares         
  • a set of colored b-day candles                 
  • nylon fishing line and hooks
  • a portable hard drive
  • a USB to mini USB cable                                       
  • a ethernet cable
  • safety pins
  • plastic straws
  • a mini first aid kit (TCM and Western medicine- band aids/gauze, anti germ gel, etc.) 
  • Yunnan White Powder (This Chinese powder medicine works for minor laceration)                                                    
Always be prepared and always know when to gear up.  ... As mentioned before, it is important to be prepared (possessing the right essentials) and not use it than to need it and not having it. Fwiw, this bag makes a good X-Mas gift to those who live in the extreme terrain.  


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Succeeding with Inefficiency: The Delusion of Poor Strategic Thinking

Source: http://www.xkcd.com/1445/

"90% of strategies fail due to poor execution. ..." - Harvard Business School research

"Three out of the four projects never leave the starting line." - Anonymous 

60%+ of strategies fail due to a misunderstanding of the goal and their surroundings.”     - 2009 Survey from Projectsatwork.com

70% of all strategies fail,  (Most of these strategies were basically sound, but could not be executed). 
-  An estimation by Fortune Magazine 

Comments From The Compass Desk 
We believed that the origin of this problem begins in the poor understanding of the following three points:
  • the poor assessment of the Big Tangible Picture of one's terrain;
  • the poor positioning of oneself through the planning and preparation" process; and
  • the "influencing of the terrain and the competition within it.
One cannot plan and execute when he/she does not understand their grand terrain and beyond. Do you agree?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Failure of Innovating in a Moderately Innovative Economy

The states who do not possess any companies that innovate, will find other ways to increase their revenue base. At that point, the race to the bottom become pertinent. 

Click here and here on how Subaru increased their competitive advantage by influencing the New Jersey state government to play the role of bottom feeder.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Post November 2014 IPTV Trends

The Possible Decline of Cable
Busting the Cord Cutting Myth
I gathered all of the video subscriber data from the top publicly traded cable, satellite, and IPTV operators. Combined, these companies account for about 85% of ...

Dutch IPTV up at expense of cable
Broadband TV News
Cable still accounted for over half (55%) of digital TV subscribers in Q3, despite losing market share to the increasingly available IPTV services over DSL and ...

What the Consumers are Doing 
53% of gamers download at least one title a month
CDN specialist Limelight Networks has released its first annual Consumer Gaming Trends report, which explores global trends in consumer video gaming and ...

UK kids topping up TV hours with online viewing
New Ofcom research reveals the extent to which children are topping up traditional live TV viewing by watching online video clips and catch-up TV. Ofcom's ...

IPTV to account for a quarter of UK TV views by 2018
Rapid tv news-11 hours ago
Research from Quantum-Web has revealed the success of BT and TalkTalk in driving the UK IPTV market which the analyst predicts will account for 23.7% of ...

Hungary digital television subs up 13000 in October
Telecompaper (subscription)
In October, the number of subscriptions on wired networks (CATV and IPTV) rose by 5,000 to 2.056 million compared to September. Of these subscriptions ...

US pay TV takes quarterly subscriber hit
TBI Vision
IPTV provider AT&T U-verse was the biggest pay TV gainer by far, adding 216,000 customers in the quarter, against 114,000 for Verizon FiOS. “The pay-TV ...

The Possible New Trends 
4K TV shipments surge 500%
TV shipments improved 4% Y/Y in Q3'14, and LCD TV shipments alone rose nearly 9%, according to the latest findings in the Quarterly Global TV Shipment and ...

Streaming sticks expected to help fill 2014 Xmas lists
New analysis and insights from Parks Associates predict smart watches and connected entertainment devices, including game consoles and streaming media ...

OTT pay-TV revenue to hit $10 billion in 2018
Over-the-top (OTT) pay-TV revenue is forecast to grow from $5.8 billion in 2014 to just over $10 billion in 2018, according to market research firm Infonetics ...

Infonetics: Pay-TV OTT Video to Hit $10B by 2018
PCC Mobile Broadband
... growing significantly compared to cable TV, satellite TV, and IPTV in the pay-TV segment, according to Infonetics' Pay TV Services and Subscribers report .

Video to equal 55% of all mobile data traffic by 2020
The latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, a comprehensive update on mobile trends leveraging big data from live networks worldwide, launches today.

OTT Video Market Attractiveness Index Worldwide Country ...
For pay-TV operators, OTT video has become an important alternative to the established cable TV, DTH and IPTV platforms. OTT is so prominent that today the ...

Since 2009-2010, we saw this trend coming.