Monday, August 31, 2015

The True Motive Behind Scripting The Starter Plays

One of the grandest traditions in the game of coaching football is the practice of scripting one's offensive starter plays, for the purpose of identifying the motives and the methods of their opposition. 

The originator of this moderately simple but innovative practice was Bill Walsh, the architect of the West Coast Offense and the former head coach of the San Francisco Forty Niners between 1979-1989.  

Beside the implementation of the script, Walsh also innovated the short-range passing attack portion of the West Coast Offense and the ratiocination for building a world class organization.

Under the leadership of Coach Walsh, the San Francisco Forty Niners won three Super Bowl Championships.  Some members of his football family have also won Super Bowls and many college bowls.

Click here on the brief history and the technicalities for scripting the starter plays

The Psychology of Scripting the Starter Plays

Before knowing the true motive behind scripting the starter plays, the smart strategist must know the following target points for scripting the starter plays: 
  • the technical weaknesses of the opposing defense (field players and sideline players);
  • the confirmation of the tactical deficiencies of the opposing defense; 
  • the identification of situational proclivity of the defensive playcaller;  
  • the approach for staging the opposing defense for adjustment plays and 
  • the staging of plays that would exploit their true inefficiencies.
By performing the above five points, the successful strategist is able to influence the opposing defense to be reactive.   

With the right play and the proper execution, this "real time" process enables the offensive coordinator to know when to call the game-changing play.  
(More to come.)

The Intricacies of Scripting Plays  

To properly develop the script of starter plays, the offensive coordinator must have the drive to knowing each and every technical deficiencies of the defense and possessed the mindset to measure and manipulate the defensive play caller and the defensive team who are operating on the field.  

When the script is working, the offensive coordinator and his scouting team begin to notice the confirmation of the targeted defensive player's base tendencies in various tactical situations (i.e., the "down and distance" situations, etc.) and their reactions to certain offensive formations, alignments, shifts and motions.

The Question of the Day
One of the unique challenges of running a scripted play while adjusting to the constant shifting of the defensive line and the constant threat of delayed blitzes and multiple blitzes from different directions. As a strategic thinker, do you know how to capitalize on that?

Side Notes
Connecting the principles from the Sunzi's essay to the process of scripting is a metaphysical challenge for the amateurs. Having the drive to seeing the Big Tangible Picture while possessing the technical foundation of strategic thinking is the key to building a good starter script.

The alpha fundamental to becoming successfully competitive is to properly assessing the strategic situation while performing one or more of the following points:

  • Building the starter script and the master script of plays on the strengths and the weaknesses of players on both sides
  • Implementing the starter script properly;
  • Knowing when to adjust to and from the starter script; and 
  • Convincing the offensive team to believe in the tangibility behind it.
The Final Note
We will publish our "Scripting" book sometime in the future.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Bruce Bochy's Book of Walks: A Book For Strategic Walkers, Cyclists and Baguazhang Players

(Updated at 13:11 hrs)

A good strategist rarely ever focuses on the x's and o's on a 24/7 basis. He/she needs to spend some time de-stressing himself for the purpose of staying relaxed and centered.

The Bochy's Perspective
One of our favorite game strategists is Bruce Bochy.  Beside managing three world series championship teams in the last five years,  he recently wrote a book on his favorite walking routes in the various cities.

"... I get out and take these walks for a workout but also to give me some clarity, or a mental break. It also allows me to see sights and sounds and smells of the places I go. ..."  - Bruce Bochy (an interview with a Canadian Newspaper)

Click here  on a radio interview on Bochy's new book  

"in 2006, Bruce Bochy has brought home three World Series trophies and earned accolades for his managerial maneuvering, all the while maintaining his trademark calm demeanor. What's the secret to keeping that famously large head cool? Walks. Not the intentional baseball kind, but the leisurely, reflective variety. Bochy joins us to discuss his favorite walking routes, the team's performance so far in 2015 and the much anticipated return of outfielder Hunter Pence."  -SF Commonwealth Club Interview 

Click here for a transcript of another interview with Mr. Bochy. 

Comments From The Compass Desk
Mikhail Botvinnik, the late world Russian chess champion, usually took a long walk before any chess match.

Walking is good.  Scripting is good.   But walking in circles could be better.    

Focus on the process of walking while paying attention to the specifics within the terrain is the challenge.

A proficient Baguazhang player who walks the circle, focuses on many objective points while the neophytes and non-BGZ players might focus on one or more of the following: the pace; the range of the circle; the pain and the discomfort; and/or the specifics within the environment.  

# # #

Notes on Jiang Tai Gong's Six Secret Teachings (Section 4 of Chapter 1)

(updated 13:11 hrs) 

The observed lessons from the second section of chapter one (The Civil Teaching: Fullness and Emptiness) are:
  • The chief executive officer (CEO/ ruler) should stay close to the other c-level officers and the senior managers (ministers).
  • They (other C-level officers and senior managers) should not conceal significant organizational and business matters from the CEO and should comply with the wishes of the CEO.
  • The CEO should be composed, dignified, restrained.
  • The CEO should see and hear with clarity, integrating different perceptions and understanding deep matters.
The Chinese classics compared the ruler to heaven and the ministers to earth. 

In a modern setting, the chief executive officer should always take a top-level view but does not get involved with the day-to-day running of the organization -- this is the role of the senior managers. While it is tempting for some chief executive officers to involved themselves with the detail, the consequences for lower oneself to the position of senior managers is to lose their respect.

The question then is how does a CEO lead (or how does a ruler rule), if they say little? The answer must be that what they say should be of great importance. They pull the larger levers of power. The senior managers and those below them turn the wheels of the organization in an aligned and synchronized response. In this way,  the wishes of the CEO are achieved with grace and ease.

The principal skill of all successful CEOs is listening

Each person who speaks to the CEO does so with an agenda, a purpose in what they say. The CEO should focus on this purpose and identify the truth amidst the bias.  The most efficient mean to securing the truth is to listen to the different perspectives and determine the underlying common issues behind it.

Profiting and Succeeding by Knowing the Pragmatic Practices of Successful Strategists

Following is an update of Pragmatic Practices (3): Compass Rules of Strategy:
  • Scripting the first 25 tactical plays, the adjustment plays based on the first tactical plays and situational plays in a sem-predictable setting
  • Always ensure that each move has a purpose;
  • Study problems and challenges in terms of completeness;
  • Always record each relevant project and then study it; 
  • Reading the Eight Classics (Seven Military Classics of Ancient China and Sun Bin's Military Methods { Art of Warfare}), Dao De Jing and other classics once per year;
  • Listening to audio books while doing non-lethal mono-task.
  • Building patience and control by practicing the various "Standing and Centering" exercises of Yi Quan, Taijiquan Baguazhang, and other internal martial art systems.
  • Focus on the objective while being mindfully aware of one's settings and beyond
  • Assess, Position and Influence
More to come. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Other Insights on Sunzi's Art of War: Alastair Iain Johnston's Sunzi Studies in the United States (Part 2)

An associate found a classic 31 pager on the perspective of Sunzi's essay from the western mind. It was published by Alastair Iain Johnston (江忆恩) of Harvard University in July 1999. 

Click here for part 1.

Scroll down for part 2 of this document 


by  Alastair Iain Johnston  江忆恩
Associate Professor
Government Department
Harvard University
July 25, 1999

Sun Zi studies are limited to a small community of Sinologists, historians and philosophers in the U.S. There has been relatively little direct research on ancient Chinese military thought, still less on Sun Zi specifically. For example, there were no articles devoted to the study of Sun Zi’s thought in the 1980s and 1990s issues of the premier journal on pre-modern China, the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, and there were only a couple of articles on ancient Chinese military thought. A search of the index of articles for another high-profile journal, The Journal of Asian Studies also shows no articles specifically about Sun Zi, nor indeed about ancient Chinese military thought in general. 11

There have been at about 5 major PhD dissertations on ancient Chinese military thought since the 1970s that all, in one way or another, discuss Sun Zi. One by Christopher Rand, focused on six different ‘schools’ within ‘militarist’ (bingjia 兵家) thought up to the Han Dynasty. 12

In particular he traces the historical evolution of the ‘wen’  (文)  versus ‘wu’  (武)  debate in statecraft. He extends this analysis up to the Tang Dynasty as well to see how this debate evolved in an era of very different military technology and military strategic challenges. In particular he identifies and expands on what he calls the ‘metaphysical’ school of military affairs in the Tang, the school which stressed the metaphysical qualities (qi ) of an ideal general. 13

Another, by Robin Yates, focused on theory and practice of siege defense in ancient China, based on an analysis of the writings of Mo Zi and his disciples. 14

Another by Edmund Balmforth provided the first English-language translation and analysis of Sun Bin’s work on strategy. 15

Alastair Iain Johnston’s dissertation analyzed the Seven Military Classics (武经七书) to determine what influence they had on Ming strategy towards the Mongols.16

Likewise, David Graff analyzed the effect of ancient Chinese military thought on the ways of warfare during the Tang dynasty. He found that practical experience was more likely a better source of strategic ideas than Warring States period texts. 17

In addition to these dissertations there have been a small number of specialized books published on topics relating to ancient Chinese military thought. In his book, Sanctioned Violence in Early China , Mark Lewis examined the role of ‘sanctioned violence’ in the political transitions from the Spring and Autumn to the Warring States period. He shows how sanctioned violence evolved from a highly ritualistic and symbolic use of hunting, limited engagements among warrior aristocrats evolved into larger-scale ‘interstate’ conflicts involving mass soldiers commanded by more or less professional officers. Lewis is the first US scholar to extract and  examine the concept of quan bian, and its impact on military thought and practice in early China18

In his book, Cultural Realism, Alastair Iain Johnston examined the role of strategic culture in strategic decision making during Ming conflicts with the Mongols. He analyzed the ‘deep structure’ of the Seven Military Classics to see whether there was a consistent preference ranking among offensive, defensive and accomodationist grand strategies across these texts. He then asked whether these preference rankings had any effect on strategic choice in the Ming dynasty. His conclusions challenged the traditional view that ancient Chinese military thought stressed defensiveness and even an anti-militarism.

Instead, he argued, these texts embodied certain realpolitik axioms, similar to those in Western strategic thought, and that their influence was seen in the fact that Ming strategists generally preferred, when material conditions allowed them, offensive strategies to deal with the Mongol threat. 20

Johnston argues that the traditional Confucian view of China’s own strategic traditions underestimate the degree to which the offensive use of military force was advocated in traditional Chinese thought and practice. This argument is controversial and at the moment is a minority interpretation of Sun Zi and other ancient Chinese military thinkers.       

But together this research does not constitute a coherent body of work, nor are the authors addressing similar issues. Indeed there is little direct debate over the Sun Zi text because there has been so little written on the topic in the Sinological community. The research in the 1980s through 1990s has generally not focused on the intellectual or philosophical content of ancient Chinese military thought. Rather it has tended to focus on on military history and operations (Tang, Song and Ming strategy). 21

In the 1990s, a group of historians and scholars of Chinese philosophy set up a Chinese Military History Group. But Sun Zi’s military thought is not the primary focus of this group. The underdeveloped nature of Sun Zi studies in the scholarly community is underscored by the fact that there been no major scholarly conferences in the US focused on Sun Zi’s text in the 1980s or 1990s. There is the potential for a major debate over the Sun Zi text as a pragmatic source of more or less universal ideas for military strategists versus its status as a uniquely Chinese philosophical text on violence. The lines of such a debate are evidenced in the differences between the approach to the text taken by Ralph Sawyer and by Michael Handel (see below) on the one hand and Roger Ames on the other. However, this potential faultline in Sun Zi studies has not really developed into a full-blown academic debate. There are simply too few people in the academic world working on these issues, and too little is at stake currently in terms of intellectual development for scholars to stake a position one way or the other.

There has been an increase in the popular attention paid to Sun Zi and business over the 1980s and 1990s. Mostly Sun Zi is treated as a source of ideas about how to understand market opportunities. One author, Bernard A. Boar models his book, The Art of Strategic Planning for Information Technology on the Sun Zi text. 22

Boar argues that The majority of aspiring strategists would be much better off studying the teachings of Sun Zi and Machiavelli than most teachers of business or information management strategy.”

In most cases, however, the application of Sun Zi to business tends to be somewhat faddish and shallow, the reduction of the text to easy-to-remember aphorisms and platitudes. While many business people have read the text, it is not the subject of study in major US business schools. In contrast to the US military education system, the US business education system evidently does not find much concrete value in the text as a source of instruction for future business leaders. Top American business schools put a great deal of emphasis on training in accounting, economics, statistics, and organizational sociology. 23

The adaptation of strategy from war studies to business is not seen as a particular important part of professional business education, and there are no courses devoted to the discussion of Sun Zi’s application to business in the major schools. There are, for instance, no specific courses devoted to Sun Zi and business taught at the Harvard School of Business or at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

A handful of business entrepreneurs offer short-term training programs, books, and cassette tapes that apply Sun Zi in a facile way to some aspect of business. The objective is almost always to make money by charging for these services.24

Typical of the application of Sun Zi to business is the consulting service provided by Jim Hight, a former financial consultant to the Merrill Lynch company.25

Hight defines the ‘enemy’ in markets as other “participants”, such as firms and companies. He uses quotations from the Clavell, Griffiths and Sawyer translations of Sun Zi. His approach is to move through the Sun Zi text translating each major line or concept into an analogical example for financial managers. For instance, in reference to Sun Zi’s comment in chapter one on the importance of ‘xian sheng er hou zhan’ ( 先胜而后战), Hight draws from this the parallel advice in business: “Always manage within the context of a written strategic plan that has been prepared from an objective analysis of market information. The plan should include very specific guidelines for money management, trade selection, risk control, and profit taking.”

In reference to Sun Zi’s famous dictum that “deception is the essence of war”, Hight states: “Although, as individual portfolio managers and risk managers, we have limited ability to deceive and manipulate the markets, however, we can minimize the opportunity for other market participants to impair our success by keeping our strategies and tactics to ourselves. Allow strategies and tactics to become apparent only when results have been secured and if disclosure enables rational and gainful business development efforts, or when regulatory reporting requirements necessitate.” 

As another example, concerning the concept of flexibility in Sun Zi’s chapter 5, where the commander is urged to change operations as strategic circumstances change, Hight notes in a rather vague way: “The way to capitalize on the endless opportunities created by ever-changing market conditions, is to become engaged as a part of a well thought out trading plan and be flexible in adapting to conditions within the context of the plan. In so doing we will become a part of the markets' energy flow and, thereby, continually improve our ability to successfully understand and utilize market conditions to our advantage.” The advice is, like the Sun Zi text itself, general enough to be very hard to apply specifically in practice.

Interestingly enough, the application of metaphors from war and conflict to business introduces two tensions into the ‘ethics’ of business. The first is that in the Sun Zi text there is no developed concept of a ‘just war’. For Sun Zi the ‘ends justify the means’. Using warfare metaphors, particularly from the Sun Zi text, raises questions about whether Sun Zi-influenced business practices would be unrestrained by business and societal ethics. The second, and related, tension is between market economics conceived as a search for win-win, non-zero sum solutions to contractual problems on the one hand, and economics conceived as a zero-sum war where the objective is the defeat of all adversaries and competitors on the other. In the US the use of Sun Zi as a guide to business often seems to promote this latter view of economics. 

--- More to come ---

This post will be updated and refined later this week.

Notes on Jiang Tai Gong's Six Secret Teachings (Section 5 of Chapter 1)

The observed lessons from the fifth section of chapter one (The Civil Teaching: Cleared Instructions) are:
  • One's comprehension of The Singularity (The Dao) is interrupted when the strategist interacts with topics and objects  about which he/she is  doubtful or when he/she fail to act when it is needed.
  • The understanding of The Singularity (The Dao)  begins when one becomes soft and quiet (within one's own terrain), dignified and respectful (to all), tolerant yet hard.
Comments From The Compass Desk
The section starts with the Emperor Zhou asking Jiang Tai Gong, the sage-strategist for clear instructions on what can he teach his son and the future generations. 
The sage-strategist responded by that The Dao is the absolute principle that underlining the matrix of connectivity and order within the universe. It is the base concept of Daoism. The masses use it as the practical guidance in how to live in harmony with the world.

The 'Dao' literally means 'the path' or 'the way'. It can also mean 'discipline'. The professional view the Dao as the Singularity. (Hint: Read Chapter 1 and Chapter 42).
Most translations of Laozi's book Tao Te Ching, offered the perspective of the Tao that is similar to Buddhism in reference to the preaching of peaceful intent, modesty, minimalism and open-mindedness.
The book also encompasses the duality of yin and yang, where each quality is embedded deeply within the other. Conclusively, there is hardness that is embedded in the soft factor and that there is softness embedded in the hard factor. 

This perspective is also found in the practice of Taijiquan and other Chinese internal martial art systems.

The way (or the path) of a great leader is parallel to that of a warrior, where he senses the way and the flowing with the forces around his terrain. Most people cannot define the Dao, yet they constantly strive towards it.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Other Insights on Sunzi's Art of War: Alastair Iain Johnston's Sunzi Studies in the United States (Part 1)

An associate found this classic 31 pager on the perspective of Sunzi's essay from the western mind. It was published by Alastair Iain Johnston (江忆恩) of Harvard University in July 1999. 

Read and enjoy.  

Following is an abridged portion of that document 


by  Alastair Iain Johnston  江忆恩
Associate Professor
Government Department
Harvard University
July 25, 1999

There is no doubt that in the 1980s and 1990s American scholars, business  people and military officers have become more aware of Sun Zi’s Art of War. Phrases and axioms from Sun Zi’s text have also gradually moved into the popular imagination through some well-placed lines in movies, by comments from famous sports figures, and in other arenas of popular culture. For instance, Gordon Gecko, the evil protagonist businessman in the popular 1980s movie “Wall Street”, quoted Sun Zi in the movie. The famous National Basketball Association coach Pat Riley quotes Sun Zi in his book The Winner Within: A Life Plan for Team Players (1993).

However, it is also true that the serious study and research of Sun Zi is very underdeveloped in the United States, especially in comparison with Sun Zi studies  in China and Japan. This chapter provides a brief examination of the state of Sun Zi studies in the United States. It begins by describing the major English-language translations of Sun Zi in the United States. It then goes on to summarize the status of Sun Zi studies in the US academic community, in business education and training, and in the US military.

The publication of scholarly translations of the Sun Zi text by major American publishing houses has remained relatively constant over the 1990s. As Figure 1 shows, there has been no major surge in new translations or new book-length analyses of the text. The annual production of books on Sun Zi has remained relatively constant.

As of the late 1990s, there are five main translations of Sun Zi used by American academics, business people and/or military officers. The first is Samuel Griffiths translation, first published in 1963, and reprinted over the past 25 years. 1

Griffiths, a retired U.S. Marine general at the time he translated Sun Zi, used the Song Ben Shi Yi Jia Zhu Sun Zi (宋 本十一家注孙子) version as his basic text. Indeed, the value of Griffiths translation is that he provides translations from historical commentators on the text. This allows readers to examine the nuanced  differences in how particular passages were interpreted at different points in Chinese history. The other value to the text is the forward by the famous British strategist, Basil Liddell Hart. Hart used Sun Zi to justify his critique of Clausewitz for his over-emphasis on the so-called ‘direct’ approach, defined as the massive application of military power at the enemy’s ‘center of gravity’. Liddell Hart blamed Clausewitizian thinking for the disasterous violence of the First World War (subsequent defenders of Clausewitz accuse Liddell Hart of misreading the German strategists and for mistakening playing up differences between Clausewitz and Sun Zi). While Griffiths’ translation is easy to read, as Chinese scholars have pointed out much of the information the translations provides about the Sun Zi text itself and about its impact on Chinese military thought is out of date. New research on the Griffiths text has focused on the relationship between the historical context of his translation. Griffiths saw his text has a tool for influencing senior US military and political leaders about how to deal with revolutionary warfare in the Third World.

According to one scholar who has examined Griffiths papers and letters, Griffiths asked that the publisher of his translation distribute copies to top leaders in the Department of Defense, Department of State and the White House, as well as key journalists and opinion-makers. The goals was to warn US strategic decisionmakers about the methods that China, North Vietnam and other revolutionary states were using to threaten United States interests. 2

Griffiths assumed that Sun Zi was a key influence on Mao Zedong’s military thought, and that Mao was a key inspiration for revolutionary guerilla war movements in the Third World. The Griffiths translation was the primary one available to American readers from the early 1960s through to the late 1980s. Since then, with the publication of two other major translations (see below), the Griffiths text is no longer the main translation used in the academic community or in the US military education system. In the 1980s, two new translations appeared in US bookstores. One was edited by the well-know fiction writer James Clavell and was published in 1983.3

This version has little scholarly value, however, as it is simply a re-publication of Lionel Giles 1910 version, with a few minor footnotes and comments. The introduction claims, rather hyperbolically, that the text should be required reading for US military officers because were they to internalized Sun Zi’s teachings they would be able to avoid costly conflicts in the future. A second translation that appeared in the 1980s was done by Thomas Cleary.4

Cleary, a translator of many other texts from the Buddhist and Daoist traditions, stresses the defensive, even Daoist, nature of Sun Zi’s text. This translation, however, is highly controversial among Sinologists, some of whom believe he takes too many liberties with the original text, injecting meanings that are not justified by the original Chinese language. Neither the Clavell nor the Cleary translations is taken very seriously by Sinologists, and for the most part neither translations is used in the US military education system. In the 1990s two new major translations appeared, one by Ralph Sawyer, a Hong Kong based businessperson, and one by Roger Ames, a philosophy professor at the University of Hawaii.5

Sawyer first published a translation of Sun Zi as part of the first English translation of the entire Seven Military Classics (WuJing Qi Shu) in 1993. This was followed in 1994 by a separate translation of the Sun Zi text alone. The Sawyer text focuses on Sun Zi as a manual for military strategy and operations. Thus it provides a fairly extensive discussion of the patterns in warfare, strategy, tactics and weapons from the Shang dynasty through
to the Warring States period. Sawyer provides extensive footnotes to pre-modern and modern specialists on Sun Zi in order to establish the historical accuracy of the text and its references to warfare of the Warring States period. In particularly he relies on the research work of Professor Li Ling from Peking University and Professor Wu Rusong from the Academy of Military Sciences. In his translation, Sawyer also examines a range of earlier annotations and commentaries. He relies heavily on the Ming dynasty commentator, Liu Yin’s Wu Jing Qi Shu Zhijie (明本武经七书直解) and on the retired Guomingdang general Wei Rulin’s Sun Zi Bing Fa Da Quan (孙子兵法大全) Because Sawyer tends to focus on the operational side of the text -- how it was used historically, what it says about historical warfare in ancient China, and what advice it provides practitioners of warfare -- his translation is used in many of the institutions in the US military education system.

The Ames text focuses more on the differences between Chinese and Western philosophical traditions and how the Sun Zi text can be treated as a text on philosophy. He notes that he is interested in the “cultural presuppositions” that are needed to understand Sun Zin from “its own world view”. Ames argues that military philosophy was a common topic in many of the works on political philosophy in ancient China and thus should be seen as a part of process of developing a distinctive Chinese philosophy, not as a separate field of military thought. Ames takes on a question that few Western specialists have asked, namely why is there such an rich tradition of military philosophy in an allegedly anti- militarist culture?6

He suggests that military action provides a metaphor for all other types of human behavior, and that in Chinese tradition military action was “applied5
philosophy”. His basic argument is that in both civil and military action the consumate actor is one whose character tries to achieve order through harmonizing himself with changing circumstances. In contrast to Western assumptions that there are two worlds -- a perfect, predestined, independent world that will be created through purposeful action, a teleology -- ancient Chinese philosophy assumed that order already existed in things, and was not imposed on things. The Dao was not a teleology, but a recognition of the completeness of existing reality. Harmony arose from “personal cultivation and refinement” whether in the civil or military arenas.

Ames provides an extensive discussion of several key concepts in the Sun Zi text which, he argues, reflects this philosophical tradition: the concept of yin , or to act in accord with the enemy, a “responsiveness to one’s context”7; the concept of shi  , which he translates as “strategic advantage” where all situations can be turned to one’s advantage through manipulating self and adversary, shaping the environment according to the concept of yin. Shi relies on genius, not just military skill, since no situation is ever the same. 8

The Ames text is unique in that it makes explicit use of the Yin Que Shan manuscript, and the Ma Wang Dui scripts. He also introduces readers to the evidence concerning the identities of Sun Wu and Sun Bin. Like Sawyer’s text it also uses a number of historical and contemporary commentaries. While Sawyer relies on Liu Yin’s commentaries, Ames relies heavily on Wu Jiulong’s text for interpretations of key passages.9

1   Samuel B. Griffith, Sun Tzu: The Art of War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1963)
2   I thank Ed O’Dowd for this information about Griffiths.
3  James Clavell ed., The Art of War: Sun Tzu (New York: Delacort, 1983)
4  Thomas Cleary, translator, The Art of War: Sun Tzu (Boston: Shambala Press, 1988)
5 Ralph Sawyer, translator, The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China (Boulder: Westview Press, 1993) and Ralph Sawyer, translator, Sun Tzu: The Art of War (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994) and Roger Ames, translator, Sun Tzu The Art of War (New York, Ballantine Books, 1993)
Ames p.40
7   Ibid., p.83
8  Ibid., p. 71-80, 8
9  Wu Jiulong, Sun Zi Jiao Shi   (孙子校释)(Beijing, Academy of Military Sciences Press, 1990)

-- More to come ---
This post will be updated and refined later this week.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Notes on Jiang Tai Gong's Six Secret Teachings (Section 2 of Chapter 1)

The observed lessons from the second section of chapter one (The Civil Teaching: Fullness and Emptiness) are:
  • Some countries (or organizations) are chaotic while others are in order;
  • The state and fortunes of any country (or organizations) are due to the leadership qualities of the emperor (chief executive officers), not by chance, divine beings, etc.
  • A worthy ruler focuses on the interest of others while not living in a grand comfort nor does he adorns himself with an exquisite setting.
  • Greatness originates from one's own integrity and how he/she treats his followers, the outsiders and the observers.
  • Rewarding those who are loyal and who respect others.
  • Rewarding good acts from people who have done bad things.
  • Identifying and prohibiting unethical practices.

Comments From The Compass Desk 
"Full and Empty" is a principle that is connected to the macro concept of Yin and Yang. This concept is also used in Daoism and Chinese martial arts. 

Regardless of the activity, we breathe by alternating the motion of full (yang) and empty (yin).

Fullness can also mean being connected to the entire organization (or country), feeling everything within oneself.  

Emptiness can be described a divesting yourself from activities that are not match your standards of ethics and quality. It also alienate you from the people within the organization.

Fullness implies action. Emptiness involves patience.  There is a place for each quality.  Having a mindful state of the connectivity that exists within the Big Tangible Picture (BTP) is the focus point of the successful strategists.

Applying to Competitive Strategy  
If someone attacked us, we yield displayed emptiness (yin), giving them nothing to press against. As they returned to their position (for the purpose of regaining balance), we follow, stick to the essence of their position with the force of fullness (yang)

Side note
This strategic classic was written by Jiang Tai Gong, the father of Chinese strategy.

(Opps! The order of the chapters are incorrectly posted. Ugh!?. Click here for section three of chapter one) 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Psychology is Strategy: Understanding the Mind of Bill Gross, The Bond King

(updated at 1:11 pm)

Bond king' Bill Gross donates old Bloomberg keyboard, Beanie Babies to Smithsonian
Once the centerpiece of his legendary bond managing days, Bill Gross' old Bloomberg terminal keyboard is getting a new home at the Smithsonian Institution.

The co-founder of Pacific Investment Management Co. also donated several other items from his trading desk -- a Monroe Trader bond calculator, two Beanie Babies (one red bull and one black bear) and a pair of fuzzy dice always set to lucky number 11.

"I'll want to adjust the dice to 11 if they're not to 11," he said. "And make sure the bull and the bear are appropriately placed so that if I'm bearish on the market, the bear is a little more forward than the bull."

The Question of The Day 
So, do you know why Bill Gross possessed a pair of fuzzy dice that was always set to the number 11?

The Conceptual Meaning of The Number "11"
In the game of craps (shooting dices), there are 36 possible end results from throwing two "cube-shaped" dices.  With those 36, there are only two combinations of the number 11 (6 and 5, 5 and 6) that enable the bettor to win on the first throw (the pass line bet).  It also offers the payoff of 16 to 1 odds.   

Mr. Gross realizes that the achievement of the high end rewards are usually risky, due to the uncertain probability of a certain situation occurring. 

While hitting the idealistic "11" on the first attempt is difficult and uncertain, the achievement is possible with the right research and strategic execution.   Regardless of the projected rewards in the competitive bond business, he must identify the high end rewards through long sessions of intensive research before determining whether it is possible to achieve that specific reward. 

The Compass Principle
It is better to be strategically good than it is to be strategically depended on chance.

Side Notes
  • The "winning lucky numbers" concept rarely prevails in the business of personal investments and "serious" table gaming.   

#  Portions From the Original Article

Bill Gross donated his old Bloomberg terminal keyboard to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. 

The item is part of the American Enterprise exhibit, opening July 1, which also boasts Eli Whitney's cotton gin.  (National Museum of American History, American Enterprise exhibition)

Bond king' Bill Gross donates old Bloomberg keyboard, Beanie Babies to Smithsonian
Once the centerpiece of his legendary bond managing days, Bill Gross' old Bloomberg terminal keyboard is getting a new home at the Smithsonian Institution.

The co-founder of Pacific Investment Management Co. also donated several other items from his trading desk -- a Monroe Trader bond calculator, two Beanie Babies (one red bull and one black bear) and a pair of fuzzy dice always set to lucky number 11.

"I think it'll be pretty cool," Gross said of his items' inclusion in the exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. "It'll be like visiting your old home where you grew up."

... When considering items for this section, he said the staff decided that they needed a Bloomberg terminal as the "icon of the modern financial world."

"I'll want to adjust the dice to 11 if they're not to 11," he said. "And make sure the bull and the bear are appropriately placed so that if I'm bearish on the market, the bear is a little more forward than the bull."

The keyboard also has a signature Gross touch. At the top is a piece of white sticker tape with his old password on it.   ...

After years of refusing to abandon his 25-year-old keyboard, the "bond king" said he now has a new one in his new role as portfolio manager at Janus Capital Group.

For more business news, follow @smasunaga.

Click here for more information on this news item regarding Bill Gross


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Psychology is Strategy: An Internal Martial Art Training Pointer

To succeed in one's endeavor, one needs to feel "driven" not feel "down."

One cannot think about "the quality driven" and become "driven."  He has to feel "driven" by eliminating any or all negative feelings that existed within oneself..

The conceptual practice of IMA  ( Baguazhang, Liuhopbafaquan, Taijiquan, Xingyiquan, Yi quan, etc.) emphasizes the general perspective of "feeling" in any activities that one does.

The Focus and (Energy) Flow Principle
Where your focus (or attention) goes, the energy flows.   The initial step is the performance of the Zhan Zhung posture.

Mind Over Matter
Whenever one is emotionally down, perform the Zhan zhung posture (of your choice) and push that negative feeling to the ground and beyond while performing these following "Feel" concepts (feeling centered, feeling relaxed. feeling grounded, feeling calm and  feeling whole) in unison.

Does it sound simple?  Try performing one of the two postures shown above in a well-lighted room by yourself while maintaining the five "Feel" concepts for 70 straight minutes.

Comments From The Compass Desk
There are more strategic concepts and tactical practices to this grand concept.  ...  We will discuss more about the "Feel" concept in a future post.   Good luck with your practice.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Notes on Jiang Tai Gong's Six Secret Teachings (Section 3 of Chapter One )

(updated on 08.03.15) 

The observed lessons from the third section of chapter one (The Civil Teaching: Affairs of State) are:
  • The key objective of the grand leader is to treat all people as a member of his close family.  Then, everything else follows.
  • Assist them in their endeavor. Do not harm them.  Beside providing them with jobs, offering them positive advice that comfort them, significant meaning to their lives , and happiness.
  • Be more equal. Minimize or zero out the gap between you and your people.  
  • Impose rewards, punishments and duties as if they were for yourself.
Comments From the Compass Desk 
To lead people, it is important to understand love, trust and respect from a grand perspective of bilateral reciprocity .  One only get what he/she gives.

Side note
This strategic classic was written by Jiang Tai Gong, the father of Chinese strategy .