28 March 2011

Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 9 Innovate without End

Continuing from Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 8 Group Innovation, we shall stress on the need to ‘innovate without end’ to end this series of posts.

Innovation should never be a one-off thing. The advantage gain by innovation will not last forever. It dissipates with time as competitors catch up or other PESTEL factor changes will obsolete the offerings. But let’s go back to the beginning first to stress that innovation is for creating differentiation.

1. Innovation Differentiate – Same Start but Increased Differences
Confucius said,
Analects 17:2 「性相近也,习相远也。」
Aptitudes are similar at the beginning, but overtime, with different practices and experience they differ greatly.
While we may all graduates from the same class or university, even with similar results, yet overtime, due to differences in occupations, opportunities, experience and additional learning, we all end up quite differently.  The career path, the learning and the innovation and new challenges that we choose and develop upon make a great difference. Dare to innovate and take up the risks and challenges, especially in starting new businesses, creating new technologies, and making a real impact on the community and even the world and we will have not regrets when age catches up with us.

Confucius gave us another meaningful mission
Analects 17:3 子曰:「唯上知与下愚,不移。」
Only unchanging principle for progress is for those who know much should teach those who are ignorance.
The typical translation is the wise at the top and the stupid at the bottom, they changed not. Such a translation is not too meaningful by itself.  I need to add the following action, ‘The way to change is for the wise to teach the stupid’. This tallies with previous verse. Learning and innovating new things create the difference.
Helping others to stand up and accomplish when one succeeds is the teaching of Confucius on ‘love’. (6:30 夫仁者,己欲立而立人,己欲达而达人).

2. Continual Innovation – Innovate & Optimize Cycles
Here is a quote from Confucius’ disciple:
Analects 19:13 子夏曰:「仕而优则学; 学而优则仕。」
Zi Xia said,”When you excel as an officer/manager then learn to do better. When you have excelled in learning then you work like an officer/manager to apply it.”
The innovation process is about creating something new first and then refine it and eventually obtain the mastery of the new thing. After which, we create yet another new thing. This should flip-flop endlessly. This is a path along an S-Curve and then somewhere at the top, another new S-Curve comes in to replace the existing one. It is easier to summarize it as:
Innovation is making the strange familiar & making the familiar strange.
3. Build the Culture of Innovation – Do it while you can

Confucius gives us four types of learners or innovators.
Analects 16:9 子曰:生而知之者上也;
First is those that are born with the ability (knowledge)
学而知之者次也;
Second is those that acquire it through learning.
困而学之,又其次也;
Third is those who are forced by circumstances to learn it.
困而不学,民斯为下也。
Last is those who are forced and yet refuse to learn. Such is the lowest level.
We can learn a few things:
  1. The hope is that you can do something about what you are not born with.
  2. The best time to innovate is when your business is doing well. Don’t wait till you are trapped in old offerings, processes, losses, and then be forced to innovate. Even then, there is still some hope.
  3. The best is to create a culture of innovation and learning.
    Some founders are born with it. It will be good that he creates and leave behind the culture of innovation. e.g. Google, Apple.
  4. Please remmember that innovation is not varities. Powerful innovation is about mini-max differentiation (See Differentiated and High Payoff Innovations). Apparently Steve Jobs has it and John Scully seemed to had not. Apple under John has lots and lots of products under Apple. When Steve came back, he killed most of it and put apple back on the core products Mac and give it a new meaning – computer can be fashionable too.
4. Learning The Universal Principle of Rightly Balanced (Doctrine of Mean or Pivot)

Great innovation is about holding a set of values in optimum dynamic balanced of win for all. It is not about compromises but about win-win for all parties involved.

Confucius warned us about just doing thing in one dimension very well and neglect this universal principle of doing the right thing and having the right conduct for all stakeholders.
Analects 17:8 子曰: 六言六蔽  Six Virtues and Six Viruses:
  1. 好『仁』不好学,其蔽也『愚』;
    Great in caring but not in learning will suffer from stupidity. (easily misled and taken advantage of)
  2. 好『知』不好学,其蔽也『荡』;
    Great in knowledge but not in learning will suffer from uncontrolled wild conduct. (too smart and do all kind of mischievous things)
  3. 好『信』不好学,其蔽也『贼』;
    Great in trusting and not in learning will suffer from theft. (Being cheated).
  4. 好『直』不好学,其蔽也『绞』;
    Great in forthrightness and not in learning will suffer from hurting people
  5. 好『勇』不好学,其蔽也『乱』;
    Great in courage but not in learning will suffer from creating a big mess.
  6. 好『刚』不好学,其蔽也『狂』。
    Great in strength and not in learning will suffer from violent acts.
This ends our discussion on learning innovation from Confucius. I hope you learned about innovation, about Confucius and the Wisdom of Ancient Chinese too.

For an animated presentation of the complementary values see Complementary Values from Chinese Zodiac Signs.

See also Gandhi's 7 Dangers To Human Virtue for a comparison:


1. Wealth without work
2. Pleasure without conscience
3. Knowledge without character
4. Business without ethics
5. Science without humanity
6. Religion without sacrifice
7. Politics without principle



For the first post of this series, see Learning Innovation from Confucius - Part 1 New from Old

For more about innovation see The Twelve Truths of Innovation.

Lim Liat Copyrighted March 2011

The Confucius Innovation Series:
  1. Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 1 Discover New from Old
  2. Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 2 Ideality & Diffusion
  3. Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 3 The Attitudes & Mindsets
  4. Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 4 Method 1 Observe & Discern
  5. Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 5 Method 2 Solve Contradiction
  6. Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 6 Method 3 Bipolar & Multi-uses.
  7. Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 7 Method 4 Speedy Process
  8. Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 8 Group Innovation.
  9. Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 9 Innovate without End

25 March 2011

Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 8 Group Innovation

Continuing from Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 7 – Method M5 Speedy Process. In the past few posts we cover personal innovation skills. We shall cover group innovation in this post.

There are five things from Confucius that I like to share with you.

1. Begin with the Right Attitude – Group Collaboration is Great Joy
1:1b有朋自远方来,不亦乐乎?
Having friends from far away, is it not joyful?
First is about friends – friends are those who share the same interests and values system as us.  Confucius said in Analects 15:40 ‘道不同不相为谋  Cannot work with those who do not share the same mission and values”. This is the Special Interest Group of the ancient time.
Secondly, interests are not measured by physical distance. The friends come from a far. Hence they are likely to be of different cultures too. China then was not one uniform country. They had many provinces of different cultures, dialects and even writing. Confucius was before the unification of writing by Chin Shi Wang.  Confucius talked about connecting the world and collaboration across cultures. Collaboration is happinesss.

2. The Progress of Teamwork – It take time to Work Well Together
7:32 子与人歌而善,必使反之,而後和之。
When Confucius sang with others, if they sang well, he would asked them to sing again and then he will harmonize with them.
We can see the three stages of
  1. coming together and agree on the main mission (all think is good), then
  2. understand each other strengths with repetitions
  3. harmonize and synergize to greater performance.
This remind me of the Group development model of Bruce Tuckman. He has 4 Stages of Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing. The forming and norming is in the 2nd stage of Confucius’ model of repetitions.
The team must agree on and are committed to the shared mission. This commitment will help them through the storming part before they get to the norming and performing part.

3. Learn the Good & Correct the Bad – Take out the Block of Wood in Our Eyes.
7:22 子曰:「三人行,必有我师焉: 择其善者而从之,其不善者而改之。」 When there people work together, there will surely be someone who can be my teacher. Choose the good things and follow them. Discern the bad things and correct them.
A key part in the storming stage is to discover the good and the bad of each other. We need to know that each one of us have our strengths and weaknesses. We need to appreciate others and to reflect on ourselves. It is easy to project our weakness onto others and criticize them. That is bad. We need to follow Jesus’ advice in Matthew 7:5  “You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

4. Transparency – The foundation for building Trust
7:24 子曰:「二三子以我为隐乎?吾无隐乎尔。吾无行而不与二三子者,是丘也。」
Do some people think that I hide things? I don’t hid things from you. There is nothing that I do without telling some of you. That is just me.
Working together requires trust. Trust comes from being transparent – sharing the motive, success and failures. Be willing to admit our mistake and apologize. We must learn to be accountable for our performance and our failures. Second guessing and doing things to cover up will lead to suspicion, waste efforts, time and even quarrel and breaking up of the group.

5. The Younger Generation are to be respected but not all.
9:23 子曰:「後生可畏,焉知来者之不如今也? 四十五十而无闻焉,斯亦不足畏也已!」 The next generation is to be respected. How do we know they won’t be better? Unless when they are in their 40′s or 50′s and are not making any impression, then we don’t need to respect them.
There needs to be a balanced. The seniors are not to look down on the young but be willing to hear and respect their opinions and contributions. On the hand, they should not go overboard to accept all the ideas of the young. Transformation is not about tearing down of everything, but only the bad things. Key values don’t change, but the mindsets and methods may need to change to embrace the new times.  It is a question of fit – new wine in new wind skin and old wine in old wine skin. You always need a skin to contain the wine. See the concept of the Doctrine of the Mean – Understanding The Doctrine of the Mean in One Minute.

Next: Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 9 Innovate without End.

Lim Liat copyrighted March 2011.

24 March 2011

Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 7 – Method M5 Speedy Process

Continuing from Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 6 – Method M3 Bipolar & M4 Multi-Uses,

The fastest way to innovate is by imitation with wisdom. The crude name is called copying. A better name is called cross-fertilization. A glorified name is called “Bench Marking” or adopting “Best Practices”. It is essentially adopting the practices found elsewhere (competitors, industry, other industry, other countries, and even in living things, environment etc).  However, we must take note that simply copying without thinking and adaption does not work. Confucius warned us a long time along.

1. Learn with Thinking – Copying Wisely

2:15 子曰:「学而不思则罔, 思而不学则殆。」 Just learning without thinking results in confusion, Just thinking without learning results in harm.

We can learn from others, by doing experimentation, by exploration and by observation.

However we must do some thinking to figure out what are the general that can be applied and what are the specifics that need to be discarded or modified for my use. We are well aware of hardworking students that fail and the playful ones that excel in examinations. The difference lies in the ‘thinking’ after the learning. Hard working student that fail in examination tends to do more memorizing and less thinking. Their mindset is a linear list. The smart students do mind-mapping technique by classifying and reorganizing of concepts learned. The figure out the relationships among the concepts. They have less things to memorize and they can easily handle the new problem and information encountered. They can wisely apply what they have learned in new situations.

Just thinking without learning of real world data and experience will be impractical ideas. If you try to apply such impractical ideas, you will end up in failure and even injury. Our concepts must be supported by evidence and data else we are just building castle in the sky. Innovation comes in connecting wild ideas and reality.  This is the next point.

2. Invent

Analects 7:8 子曰:「不愤不启,不悱不发。 举一隅不以三隅反,则不复也。」

Lack of trying result in lack of understanding. Lack of organized thought result in lack of clarity of speech. Pointing out one corner and not able to think about the other three, then there is no revision.

The first two points of the verse is covered earlier namely, learning must be accompanied by thinking to gain understanding. Our inability to speak well actually comes from our inability to organized our thoughts. Once our thoughts are well organized, even when we are not a language expert, we can still express and communicate clearly and simply.  Maybe more people should attend a thinking class first before a presentation skill class.

The key to innovation is in the last phrase, learning one corner of a square and exploring and extending to the other three corners. If we are not able to do that, then we have not done sufficient revision or meditation. We may think we know, but we actually did not master it because we are unable to apply them into other areas. We get a fact but not the operating principle, such a cause and effect relationship, underlying the fact. We learned from “The Great Learning” about observing to gain insights and knowledge.  We may need to understand Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning that classify learning into 6 levels of knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

The highest form of knowledge it the ability to predict.

The principle is that learn 1 and invent 3.

For a practical application, we know the Nuclear Reactors Incidence in Fukushima, Japan due to the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami. How many lessons and applications can you come out with?

3. Implement – Innovation is Implementation of an Idea.

Analects 7:25 子以四教:文,行,忠,信。

Confucius teach four things: knowledge, execution, faithfulness and trustworthiness.

In other words, innovation begins with a concept, a vision. It must then be followed by an  execution. Any execution will encounter all kinds of difficulties. It takes faithfulness, or  perseverance to overcome them. The usefulness of the innovation must be demonstrated with increasing adoptions and thereby create the trust which will result in greater and wider adoptions giving rise to the tornado effect. Innovations that failed to demonstrate its usefulness due to lack of adoption will not be able to cross this chasm of trust and die a premature death.

4. Share – Propagation

Analects 7:2 子曰:「默而识之,学而不厌, 诲人不倦,何有於我哉?」

Meditate to gain understanding, studying without complaining, teaching without tiredness, what are these to me? (i.e. not difficult for me to do them).

All successful innovators and entrepreneurs usually, without being forced to, willingly share their ‘secrets’ of success. Such sharing allows them and others to gain knowledge and to add to the total knowledge of the world. Knowledge management and Learning Organization are just two sides of the coin of an improving organizations and society.
The steps for high speed innovation are
copy wisely, invent, implement and finally share your successes.


Next: Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 8 Group Innovation

Lim Liat copyrighted March 2011

Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 6 – Method M3 Bipolar & M4 Multi-Uses

Continuing from Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 5 – Method M2 Solve Contradiction, we talk about twp additional personal innovative skills, namely M3 Bipolar  and M4 Multi-uses here.

M3 Bipolar – Integrative Thinking
T
he Confucius saying comes from Analects 9:8
子曰‘吾有知乎哉、無知也。 有鄙夫問於我、空空如也、 我叩其兩端而竭焉’
Confucius said,”Do I have knowledge? No. I don’t. When a crude person asked me, my mind was empty. I know at both extremes and exhaust all possibilities.
This is the yin-yang thinking mindset. We start with one end and ask about the other end. If we start with looking at the surface, then end with what is inside. If we look from the angle of quality, we also ask about the quantity. We don’t just look right, we also look left. We look down and we also look up. By exploring the extreme ends, we can discover more systematically. More such Yin-Yang thinking framework is covered in Yin-Yang Thinking Framework – Innovative and Critical.

M4 Multi-uses or Multi-Purposes.
Analects 2:12 君子不器。
The wise gentleman is not just an utensil (of one use only)
A vessel while designed for a particular use need not be used for that purpose only. Confucius tells us that man is of greater capability.Man is creative, adaptable and multi-purposes. A typical innovation exercise is challenge the student to come out with as many uses as possible for a particular object such as a paper-clip.  An average person will try to think of how to use the paper clip in its present form. A more creative one will bend it to make other shapes for other purposes. A more creative one will trade it for other thing and come out with even more uses.

Next :Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 7 – Method M5 Speedy Process

Lim Liat copyrighted March 2011

23 March 2011

Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 5 - Method M2 Solve Contradiction

Continuing from Learning Innovation from Confucius - Part 4 Method M1 Observe & Discern,

Confucius tells us to discern the contradiction and solve them to differentiate ourselves. 

Contradiction is term from TRIZ practitioner. In the original Analects (Lun Yu), the term uses is confusion or perplexity. But the meaning is the same as we shall see. The verse is Analects

12:10.  子張問‘崇德、辨惑’ 
Zhi Zheng asked, "How to exalt virtue and discern perplexity."

子曰: ‘主忠信、徒義崇德也。
Putting faithfulness and integrity first,  and going after rightouesness are exalting virtues. 

愛之欲其生、惡之欲其死、 既欲其生又欲其死、是惑也’
Love wants one to live. Hate wants one to die. Wanting one to live and die at the same time is perplexity.
   
“誠不以富、亦祇以異。”
Doing these (virtuous deeds and solving perplexity) may not truly bring your wealth, but will surely differentiate you.

(some scholars think the last phrase about wealth is a misplace. The ancient book was made of bamboo sticks tied together. So they thought that some of the sticks may have came off and were joined back wrongly. I think it was correctly placed. Confucius always placed virtue before wealth. In other places, e.g. Book of the Mean, he taught that government should go after righteousness first and wealth will come. Even so, we don't do righteousness to get wealth. Doing that actually put wealth as the objective and righteousness as the means. We should always put righteousness first irrespective of wealth. There is this universal principle that once you have righteousness, wealth, in many forms including money, will follow after eventually.)
1 Find out the Contradiction / Compromise / Dilemma  /Dichotomy
Back to the Innovation Method. We are to discover the perplexity or contradiction in the area of interest. Contradiction comes in the form of you cannot have both at the same time. Every time you encounter a situation where you are force to compromise, you are in a contradiction.

How can you want a person to live and to die at the same time?
Chinese has a powerful phrase to describe such a dilemma - 矛盾 Arrow and Shield. If the arrow sharper to pierce through the shield or the shield stronger than the arrow to stop it?

2. Solve the Contradiction - Break the Compromise
A typical example used in TRIZ class is an airplane frame. The material for the frame needs to be strong and at the same time light. But conventional wisdom tells us that to be strong, it need to be bigger and hence heavier. How can we have both? The TRIZ method tell us how with the Contradiction Matrix and 40 principles to tell us how to solve it. The essentials and additional are in my BVITS innovative method.

3. Outcome Evaluation - Righteous Richness
How can we evaluate the outcome of any innovation? Confucius tells us to follow after high moral virtue - righteousness. The triple bottom lines of economic, social and environmental well beings are being promoted now. For capitalism to survive, they need to increase conscience capital.

Innovation is about breaking the compromise and the contradiction. It is a win-win. Win-lose, lose-win, lose-lose are all not sustainable in the long term. Innovators are contradiction breakers. If you are unable to have a win-win or win for all, your idea or solution is not good enough. Go and think more. Revise, persuade, communicate the goals, methods, timing etc as in the 5W1H see The Basic Thinking Framework 5W1H.

Next Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 6 – Method M3 Bipolar & M4 Multi-Uses

Lim Liat copyrighted March 2011

22 March 2011

Learning Innovation from Confucius - Part 4 Method M1 Observe & Discern

Continuing from Learning Innovation from Confucius - Part 3 The Attitudes,

We now come to the meat of innovation - the thinking method of innovation.

I will group them into 2 main categories -
  1. the personal innovation skill and 
  2. the group innovation skill.

For the personal skill, we have the following 6 steps:
  1.   Observe & Discern - Environmental Scan
  2.   Identifying a Contradiction
  3.   Bipolar thinking
  4.   Multi-uses
  5.   Invent & Share
  6.   Implement Your New Ideas
The first step, observe and discern is very important and I will dedicate this post to talk about it. A key reason for many business failures is wrong assumption. The reality is very different from the assumptions of the business plan. Good entrepreneurs are not risk takers, they are risk minimizers. They conduct experiment first to find out the whether their assumptions are valid. This is what Confucius tell us to do - observe and discern first.

M1   Observe & Discern - Environmental Scan

The skill of observation does not come naturally. We need to be trained in it. We need to practice it. Confucius offer the following advices:
  1. Open & Fair Mindedness 正心
    Observation starts with an opened and focused mind. We covered this in depth in the 'Book of Great Learning' Learning Innovation from Confucius - Part 2 Ideality.
  2. Know yourself
    Confucius said in 2:17b
    知之为知之, 不知为不知,是知也。
    Knowing what you know and knowing what you don't know is knowing too. -or-
    Wisdom is knowing what you know and what you don't know.
    Most people think that we know and are embarass to admit what we don't know. We are actually very unaware of what we don't know because of the thinking biases and illusions that we have. See this List of cognitive biases.   None of us are fully free from the list. We just need to be aware of them. There is why systematic innovative thinking skill like TRIZ and BVITS have operators to help us go against the those erroneous thinking tendencies.  We have to constantly aware of our biases that trapped us and stopping us to explore the unknown.

    Innovation is about exploring the unknown and making know the unknown. It is to discover the patterns and connections that were there all the time but we fail to see them. In a way, we have to agree with Solomon that there is nothing new under the sky. The new thing is actually old thing that we there all the time. We are trapped in a box that we don't see and hence we can't think out of the box. There is no point to tell us to think out of box that we don't see. We need to use BVITS operators that help us to break free from the box.

    Knowing the unknown is the basic step for innovation.
     
  3. Discover New from Old - See it in Context and over Time too.
    We have cover this in part 1 and above. The key is always to relate to the context or environment that one is in. The context could be physical distance and super or subsystem, and could also be time - the progress of history, the trends. Our answers can usually be found in the elements of our context.
  4. Go wide first then depth.
    7:28 子曰:「盖有不知而作之者,我无是也。 多闻,择其善者而从之; 多见而识之;知之次也。」
    "There are people who do things out of ignorance. That is not me. We must hear much and pick and follow those that are good. We must observe more and remember them first. Then will study them in greater depth to know more.

    (many translators of this verse treat the last phase, knowing as second rated knowledge or wisdom. I beg to differ. The 2nd is not in ranking but in time sequence. We observe first to know rather that to make wild assumption out of no where. My interpretation tally well with 1st part of the verse criticizing those people who do things out of wild imagination)

    There are 4 things to learn here. Firstly is going wide first. Hear much and hear wide. Secondly is to gain first hand knowledge if possible. Go and see. Thirdly is to discern the good and bad. Fourthly is to study and gain greater depth of knowledge. We need to hear, see, discern and study. Don't pick one. Do all. Especially Go and See for yourself.

    Modern innovation encourages us to build prototype early and get the users involved to test it and give feedback. IDEO, the top rated innovation company encourages their clients to go and see first.
  5. Nine Thinking Objectives - Multi-Channel Input & Processing
    16:10  君子有九思:  Wise gentleman have nine considerations:
      视思明,see with clarity
      听思聪,hear with discernment (no mis-communication)
      色思温,facial expression with gentleness
      貌思恭,behave with respectfulness
      言思忠,speak truthfully (with trustworthiness, give corrections if needed)
      事思敬,work with commitment, quality and excellence
      疑思问,ask when there is any doubt
      忿思难,energized to think about the difficult and complex
      见得思义。when seeing gains consider whether it is right.

    In innovation, we engage our full faculties (the Smell is missing but it added the brain, body and heart (will and conscience)) to observe, think, communicate and work
Hope you can go out with an open mind to observe, discern, study and discover new ideas and knowledge. You can also conduct experiments, build prototypes to observe, learn and discover as well. If you run out of ideas, you need to go out to get them!

Next: Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 5 – Method M2 Solve Contradiction

Lim Liat copyrighted March 2011

21 March 2011

Learning Innovation from Confucius - Part 3 The Attitudes & Mindsets

Continuing from Learning Innovation from Confucius - Part 2 Ideality & Diffusion,
we discuss the attitudes and mindsets needed for innovative breakthrough thinking.

The Four Basic Attitudes for Innovation:
  1. It is fun.
  2. There is more for me. (humility).
  3. It is energizing.
  4. Let's go to the utmost. (Pursue of excellence, perfection, ideality)
1. It is Fun. The joy of learning and exploring.
Many children hate studying. Guess where they pick up the idea that studying is difficult and painful. It is from us, the parents and even the teachers. We have neglected the intrinsic motivation of learning and substitute it with external motivation of force and fear by having tests and examinations. We warn them that they better study hard or else they will fail and their future will be gone. The motivation by force and fear of failure is bad. This is against our natural instinct. One of the greatest asset of children is their curiosity. They explore endlessly, at times risking injury, and ask so many why's and how's that often tired their parents. What happen to such learning capability?

Confucius told us to get our attitude right in the first place. Learning is fun and joy. He said in Lun Yu 1:1a.
  子曰:「学而时习之,不亦说乎?
  Learning and practicing, is it not a joy?
There are two parts that bring joy, the learning and the application of learning and the two will reinforce each other to give greater joy. We need to make learning easy and fun and also show the usefulness of things learned. Once we find its usefulness, we will come back to ask for more. Learning and practicing are two faces of the same coin. Hence, in the above translation, I treat it as a singular thing, and say it is a joy.

May be the difficulty and boredom of our teaching is the lack of association and demonstration of the usefulness and use of the teaching. This is where innovation comes it. We learn to innovate. We acquire knowledge to make things and contribute to a better world, either by making the tedious easy, reduce or change the pains to joy, or to give new dreams and hope to the depressed and uninitiated.

Degree of Fun
Can we rate our 'fun' in learning. Confucius gave us 3 levels in:
6:20 子曰:「知之者不如好之者,好之者不如乐之者。」
Knowing it is not as good as loving it; Loving it is not as good as enjoying it.
So we have knowing, loving and enjoying and the best is to enjoy the learning and innovating because enjoying gives us the motivation to do more and sustain the growth.

2 There is more for me. (humility)

We must approach learning with humility and a confidence that we can do it. We are not the know-all and we shall not be embarrassed that we don't know. In innovative thinking sessions, we will discover that we don't know much at all and it is OK to not have the answer. It is OK that others don't think much of us. We should also do not think little of others. We must learn to appreciate the opinions of others and not to thumb others ideas down. In my innovative thinking sessions, I tell them that there is no useless idea, it is only that we have not found the situation and the person that could use the idea. Instead of saying the idea is useless. We should ask who, when, what and how will the idea be of use. It may not be useful in the normal situation, but in extreme situation, in crisis, in emergency, in war, in earthquakes, those ideas could be of great use. Here is the encouragement from Confucius:
 1:1c 人不知而不愠,不亦君子乎?
 Not feeling angry when others don't know about or acknowledge you, it not this a gentleman (wise, superior man)?
3.  It is energizing.
Most people think that the smart people are born smart. That was what they said about Confucius. Here is Confucius' reply:
7:20   我非生而知之者, 好古,敏以求之者也。
         I was not born with knowledge. It was that I love the ancient wisdom, and I am diligent in pursuing it.
The best praise for him was given by a guard. He said Confucius is the one that ...
7:19 其为人也,发愤忘食,乐以忘忧,不知老之将至云尔
       He is one that pursue knowledge so that as to forget to eat, so happy that as to forget worries and did not realize of his coming old age.
We can see that innovation done well is an energizing endeavor. The more we do it the more we are charged up. We could forget eating and sleeping and we don't feel the passing of time and age.


4. Let's Go to the Utmost. The Pursue of Excellence and Idealilty.
Confucius shared his big concern about not learning enough to reach perfection below:
8:17 学如不及,犹恐失之
Learn to grasp the full insights fearing otherwise one might loose it.
If you don't go far enough, you will loose what you have started with.

Let's start with right attitudes towards innovation, namely, it is fun, there is more for me, it is energizing and let's pursue excellence. Never give up half way.

Next: Learning Innovation from Confucius - Part 4 Method 1 Observe & Discern


Lim Liat copyrighted March 2011

20 March 2011

Learning Innovation from Confucius - Part 2 Ideality & Diffusion

Continuing from Learning Innovation from Confucius - Part 1.

The innovation concept of Confucius is best summarized in the book of "Great Learning 大学". See Understanding The Great Learning DaXue in One Minute.
It tells us about the 3O8S - The Three Objectives and Eight Steps or Stages.

The 3 Objectives - What is the Ideal?
  1. Glorify virtues
  2. Transform into New People
  3. Attain utmost Goodness or Perfection
Student of TRIZ will recognize this as the Ideality Concept or IFR Ideal Final Result. The ideal final result for the new system is that it has all the benefits and none of the costs and harms of the original system. This is exactly what Confucius want us to achieve - utmost goodness. Goodness is defined by the virtues (Chinese Classical Virtues are defined by Heaven and Earth known as the way of heaven 天道, the way of earth 地道, from which the way of man 人道 are derived so that man could live in harmony with heaven & earth 天人合一. From the way of man we get the way of business 商道 and then we do innovation.)

Innovation is not just an idea, or even any invention. Innovation is new intangible idea implemented that provide tangible business value. Business value means that are users who are willing to pay for the use of the innovations. Innovations must contribute to the betterment of society and environment. This was what Confucius was promoting. This is certainly the trend of Conscious Capitalism. This is another point to add to my post on The Future Of Management is Ancient Chinese Classics.

The 8 Steps
  1. 格物 Study Things
    Observe and discover the working of universe and society. This is equivalent to our hard and soft sciences. This is  beginning and foundation of knowledge and innovation. The key is to discover the reality and truth.
  2. 致知 Gain Insights
    The purpose of studying is to gain insights to the fullest extent. Insights is more than just knowing how it works but also being able to predict how it will work. Management is about prediction, according to EW Deming. Prediction is about applying our knowledge and putting our insights to work. This is innovation - converting intangible ideas into tangible benefits.
  3. 诚意  Be Sincere & Truthful
    Discovery of truth must be done with sincerity and integrity. In the eagerness to gain fame and wealth, we read about how scientists fabricate experimental results. Such people has forgotten about this key virtue and attitude all researchers should have. Confucius told us not to deceive ourselves, hate the stinking and love the beauty, be humble, reflective, in-depth, and working as if everyone is watching you.
  4. 正心 Have the Right Heart
    Our heart must be right, balanced and in peace then we can focus and think well without prejudices and biased. We must free ourselves of anger, fear, worry and desire. We are all aware of our thinking and cultural biases and how they distort or prevent us from coming out with really good ideas and decisions.
  5. 修身 Develop  Character
    We need to develop good and righteous character so that we can truly think clearly and create innovations that truly benefits the world.
  6. 齐家 Lead the Home
  7. 治国 Govern the Nation
  8. 平天下 Rule the World

    Point 6 to 8 show the increasing influence we have as we develop our character and knowledge. It shows the growth of our innovation, from home, to the nation, to the regions and to the world. There are 2 S Curves for our innovation that we need to know well. The first is the Market Diffusion S-Curve of how our innovation gets propagated in the market with different aspects and types of innovations that are important at different stages of the curve. The best book on this is Geoffrey Moore - Dealing With Darwin.  The 2nd S Curve is the replacement of technology. Any technology or innovation will eventually be replaced with better ones. The best on this topic is Clay Christiansen's Disruptive Innovations
Please don't forget that innovation is not just about inventing new things but about implementation of new things that bring value and contribute to a better world for community and environment globally. Take the heeds from Confucius.

Next: Learning Innovation from Confucius - Part 3 The Attitudes

Lim Liat copyrighted March 2011

19 March 2011

Learning Innovation from Confucius - Part 1

This title may have surprised you. Is not Confucius an ancient sage living sometime about 2500 years ago? What could Ancient Chinese Classics tell us about innovation? In particular, what could Confucius tell us about being creative and innovative? May be he can teach us about philosophies, development of character virtues, leadership, government and education, but innovation?
If you believe we cannot learn innovation from past, then you have committed a grave error in innovative thinking and could have missed out a big opportunity where many of your breakthrough ideas could come from.

Principle 1 Discover New from Study of Old
One of the key principle of innovation is discovering new things from the old. The most effective and widely adopted systematic innovative thinking method is TRIZ, invented by the Russian Genrich Altshuller by study ten of thousands of patents for patterns and invented the TRIZ method.
This method of new from old is exactly what Confucius said in The Analect (LunYu) Chapter 2 verse 11
2:11 温故而知新,可以为师矣。
Revise and review the old things and then discover and invent the new things. If you can do that, then you can be a teacher.
I think Confucius will be proud of Altshuller and his TRIZ and ARIS innovative thinking methods. (Have a look at my simplified, integrated and distilled BVITS innovative thinking method too).

A key thing to study the old and existing is to look for patterns, cause and effect relationships, the connections, the missing ones too, and then to re-connect and to simulate for new ideas and connections.

A subset of the word of wisdom of Confucius is a new fancy name for this analysis of past data. It is called Business Analytics (BA). It refers to the skills, technologies, applications and practices for continuous iterative exploration and investigation of past business performance to gain insight and drive business planning. The older names are Business Intelligence, Data Warehousing and Executive Decision Support systems. Such books recorded many success stories used in business.

Building on the past to create new is a good principle for innovation and a strong foundation to stand on. Newton told us to stand on others’ shoulders to advance knowledge rather than stepping on others’ toes where we get is more arguments.

Principle 2 Teach It
Implied in the Confucius saying is the principle to teach the new things that we have created. It is important that we share it. It brings two advantages. As we teach and share our new knowledge, we get to improve it. Secondly, the world is better with such sharing. We appreciate and honor Altshuller for sharing with us his TRIZ and ARIS inventive methods. Many breark through inventions and innovations come from people practicing his methods.

We must also honor Confucius by award him the Knowledge Management and Learning Organization Awards. It is capturing, sharing and inventing knowledge that we progress.

This is only part 1 of a series of Learning Innovation from Confucius posts that I wish to share with you, applying his teaching of creating new from old (studying his classics work) and sharing with world.

Lim Liat copyrighted March 2011

The Confucius Innovation Series:
  1. Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 1 Discover New from Old
  2. Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 2 Ideality & Diffusion
  3. Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 3 The Attitudes & Mindsets
  4. Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 4 Method 1 Observe & Discern
  5. Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 5 Method 2 Solve Contradiction
  6. Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 6 Method 3 Bipolar & Multi-uses.
  7. Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 7 Method 4 Speedy Process
  8. Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 8 Group Innovation.
  9. Learning Innovation from Confucius Part 9 Innovate without End

16 March 2011

Building Great Business with I-Ching Hexagram 48 井The Well

The secrets of building great business can be found in I-Ching (For an introductory understanding of I-Ching, see I-Ching in One Minute for Abundant Life)., the Ancient Chinese Classic Wisdom, Hexagram 48 井 The Well – Care & Sharing of Valuable (subscription needed to view the details). But the summary is reproduced below:


Summary & Teaching of  48 井The Well :
  • Business is about delivering value. 
  • We must protect and care for our source of supply and our value producing system.
  • We need to invest first to gains later. 
  • We need to plan and execute well to completion. 
  • Be considerate for the use and benefits of others. 
  • Co-operation brings greater success for all.
We can use the above as a reference check list to reflect on our present business. Such as:
  • What is the unique value that we are delivering to our customers? Who are they? How to we reach them? What do they think is our value to them? 
  • Are we caring for our production system? Are we keeping them in tip-top operating conditions? 
  • Are we upgrading them? Did we invest in the upgrade? 
  • Are we planning and executing our plans or are we just letting runs on its own? 
  • Have we extended our view of business to take care our suppliers, partners, community, and the environment? 
  • Are we getting co-operations from our stakeholders including our owners, staff, customers, suppliers and community? What do they think of us?

Each Hexagram has a 6-stage line of additional wisdom to guide us.  The six stage lines of the Hexagram uses different states of the well to impress us with great wisdom. Below is the details and my additional comments.

Wisdom from the Stage Lines:
  1. Dried Well.
    Must provide real value - thirst quenching water. Deliver your promises. Don't put up good marketing messages, beautiful packaging only to disappoint the customers. A well is supposed to have water to quench the thirst of your customers. Are you creating the wow experience that customers want to return and ask for more?
  2. Broken Well (equipments).
    Build on your strength and Fix the defects. Neglecting care and maintenance of our production system will result in broken equipments and lost revenues.
  3. Unused Well.
    Be wise – hire and use talents well. Don't let our resources go to waste. Don't put class A people on class C job or Class C people on class A jobs. Have you neglected promotion of your offering? How do people know about the value that you have?
  4. Strengthened Well.
    The system producing the value must be maintained and enhanced. Invest in improving our production system. Innovate in our offerings and the processes.
  5. Cleansed Well.
    Reorganized the system with right placement of resources and run with principles produce valuable offerings customer seek.
  6. Uncovered Well.
    Be trustworthy, transparent and generous. Great wealth is generated and shared. The more you give and share, the greater is your returns.
For more Ancient Chinese Wisdom, click here.

Lim Liat copyrighted March 2011.

11 March 2011

Understanding the Bible of Filial Piety (Xiao Jing) in One Minute

Alternative Title: The True Meaning of 'Filial Piety' Xiao

The original and the English translation of the Book of Filial Piety 孝经 Xiao Jing can be found here.

I thought, as a Chinese, growing up in a traditional Chinese family, studied in a Chinese School up to Pre-University 2, I had good understanding of the a key Chinese virtue called 孝(Xiao) translated as "Filial Piety", and known widely as honoring and respecting our parents. In some extreme instance, it is interpreted as obeying our parents no matter what.  So for a long time, I did not bother to read the classic book on this topic called 孝经, The Bible on the Doctrine of Filial Piety. Why bother, when I know so much already. Whenever we feel like we know all, we better start getting humble and to learn again. After just completing a challenging but interesting work on coming out with a framework to analyze the Media (the Old and the New) Business Landscape, decided to read the 孝经 book for a change. To my surprise, this original definition of Xiao is very much wider in scope than the common understanding of it!

Key Differences - True Original vs Current Misunderstanding

Let me summarize for you what I found first and give you the evidences later (You can skip that part if you trust me :) ! )

If you think Xiao is only about children obeying their parent, then you are wrong indeed. The original definition is different from the common definition in three key ways:

  1. Firstly in scope, it is the practice for everyone, from Kings to the Common-people and not just children to parent.
  2. Secondly, it is two ways and not the typical one way of the lesser (the children, younger, employee) obeying the higher (the parent, elder, bosses).
  3. Thirdly, it is not about blindly obeying the orders of the higher. The practice comes under a higher order of Righteousness (义 yi). If the Senior issues order that is against the higher law of righteousness, then the Junior should advise and reprove the Senior (see Chapter 15 Giving Advice/Admonishments
Xiao (Filial Piety) is Love and Respect
Two Chinese words occur frequently in the book. They are Love 爱 and Respect 敬。  The  Elders should love the Younger while at the same time the Younger should respect the Elders. The doctrine of Xiao (Filial Piety) is then about Elder loving and Younger respecting 长爱幼敬 within a framework of righteousness.

The Book
The book was a discussion between Zheng Zi (Confucius‘ disciple) and Confucius. It is divided into 18 chapters shown in the Mind-map below. Chapter 1 is the starting definition and explanation of Xiao. The key explanation given by Confucius (Kong Zi) is
  •   夫孝,德之本也,教之所由生也。
    Filial Piety is the root of virtue. Education should begin with this.

  •   身体发肤,受之父母,不敢毁伤,孝之始也。
    Body, hair and skin are given by parents, taking good care our body is the starting of Filial Piety.

  •   立身行道,扬名于后世,以显父母,孝之终也。
    Develop our character and have the right conduct, leaving a good reputation, a good legacy, to glorify our parents, is the end of Filial Piety.  (This is what life is all about - leaving a good legacy on the world)

  •   夫孝,始于事亲,忠于事君,终于立身。
    Filial Piety begins with serving our parents, being loyal to our kings (bosses,government, country) and ends with good character ( a good standing). 
Note that the Chapter is the starting page. Confucius extended it with clearer explanation in the following 17 chapters. It is all summarized in the mind-map.

Bible of Filial Piety or Xiao Jing

We can also see that in Chapter 18 Mourning, the emphasis is not just about having a grand funeral for the deceased and a long period mourning, there is the need to care for the living. A key point is about taking good care of our parents when they are alive and then also have a good farewell. There is no point in having a grand funeral without taking good care of them when they are alive.


For those who are familiar with the Bible, the commandment about parents is about honoring our parents rather than just obeying our parents. Obeying our parents are for the time when we are children. When we grow up to become adults, while we may, in many ways, smarter than our parents, yet, we must always honor our parents.

Lim Liat copyrighted 11 March 2011

06 March 2011

Apple iPad vs Window Tablet

I was informed by friends that iPad has sold about 2 million units in 2 months. It is now the hot thing for group working together. Corporations and Schools are pushing e-learning and other content for it.

What is so unique about the iPad? We have flat screen touch sensitive device called Window Tablet announced and delivered sometime in 2001-2002.  It is almost 9 year earlier. But not much impact it has created.

I need to understand why – why Apple succeeds ?
7 years ago I specially bought a Acer window tablet to try to the pen-input and also to look innovative. Even though Microsoft upgraded the window tablet a few times, improving the hand writing recognition software and others. I am a big user of mind-map and using the leading mindmanager, the king of mind mapping software, that integrated well with the window tablet, I never found it gave any major productivity or ease of use improvement. I always switched back from the flat tablet mode to the standard laptop mode using mouse and keyboard. When the Acer hardware  expired, I bought the conventional hp laptop. My daughter was not convinced and she bought the Fujitsu window tablet. Again, she set it aside and is now using a netPC for work requirement, an Apple laptop for home and own use, and an iTouch for mobility.

Now here come iPad with reduced capabilities, and yet it created a big fuss about it.

Let’s compare:


Features Win tablet iPad
User interface pen, virtual keyboard fingers, virtual keyboard
Software OS window + IOS
Software Apps mouse, keyboard based serious apps iPhone type apps(many useful small apps)
Users nerds & techies for happy dummies
Other Modal IO speech (poor) tilting recognition
iPad used as steering wheel
Emotional impact serious work fun, joyful work

Summarizing iPad over Win-tablet.
  1. Finger is easier & better than pen. It is faster. I always has it with me. No need to pickup pen and loose the pen. Even though pen is more precise than finger.
  2. Titling recognition, physical motion and feel is always natural and better than clicking options.
  3. Having fun and joy to do useful thing is better than ‘have to learn’ ‘to be serious’ in doing work (office)
  4. Laying flat on the table and all eyes can see is good for sharing and working in group.
  5. Keyboard is an intrusive device for sharing. Hide it when not needed. Have a wireless one for own use.
  6. For group work, may be useful to applications that
    a. join all the iPads physically available to have a bigger sharing workspace for the group.
    b. have software that run across multiple iPads joined physically or wirelessly.
Need to understand the key ingredients of Apple’s attractiveness so that we can innovate and produce offerings that people love. After further thinking, may be the following 2 slogans:
  1. Be natural
    use your finger, fingers, sensitive to tilting, twisting, (moving the iPad to do things? Eg. Nintendo’s Wii)
  2. Designed for the happy dummies to do useful work
    Using any program should be a joy not a stress.
If you have more insights, please share with me. Thanks in advance.

See also Understanding The Smartphone Battle – Rise of Apple & Android ...

The Message behind “Philip Yeo’s Apple Aps’ gullible dummies”

A comment by Philip Yeo on Apple making money from selling its applications at 99cents to gullible dummies was posted on Youtube. It generates many comments, some very emotional, from both sides.  They seem to miss a key point hidden the message.

The Key Message – 3 Levels of Value
People buy things on three levels: the rational, emotional and significant levels. The value of an offering comes from the 3 level too. Here are the details:

  1. Utility Value (Rational)
    - Solution to problems or increase productivity to jobs
    - Performance as Faster, Better, Cheaper, Safer, Easier
  2. Emotional Value
    - WOW, look & feel good, excitement, imagination, memory, fun, pleasure.
    - Lifestyles, fashions, the trends, the fine arts of living.Social Status & Prestige
  3. Significance Value
    - A Better World and improving people’s lives, health, happiness
    - Triple Bottom Lines  of Economic Profit, Social Contribution, Environmental Protection.
    - Thought Leadership – Religion, Belief ….
Increasing Stickiness of Levels
The customers loyalty and willingness to pay is positively related to the level. If customers are associated with our offering on rational level, such as cheaper or faster then we will loose them when the cheaper or faster offering come out. However, if we engage our customers on an emotional level, then we could enjoy higher premium than our competitors on the rational level. If we get our customers to believe in us, a status like Apple, then we enjoy greater support and loyalty. They will forgive our mistakes and even fight for us as shown in some of the comments posted in the YouTube.
However, engaging at the significant level have be demonstrated over time, at the other two levels. Big talking without delivery will lead to great disappointment. A Brand or a Religion is not built by talking but by both – communication of significance and the delivery of the promises frequently and over a period of time.

What About You?
On what level are we trying to engage our customers? How are you delivering the proclaimed value?

See also: In Praise of Dummies, 10 Design Rules for the Dummies

Dummy’s Rules

I am learning to be a dummy, at least in the use of things.
More people should learn to be or think for the dummy.
Then all our lives will be stress free.
We will have greater productivity.
We will protect the environment too.
Because all these important things, ease of use, great productivity, environmental friendly things, would have been built into the offering that me, the dummy, uses.

Dummy’s Golden Rule is “minimum effort with maximum returns”.
I want to spend the least effort to learn something and yet get the most benefits out of it using it.
I don’t want to stress myself in learning and then doing the thing that I need to do.
Everything should be so obvious that I don’t need to learn to use it.
It should so effortless as switching on a switch or pushing a button.
It should have remote control capability.
Better still, it should just hear my commands so that I don’t have to bring any gadget with me.
I can travel light and still have all the power with me.
It is like having a personal Genie with me.
If you are coming out with a innovation or an offering for me, the dummy, to use and benefit, you should follow the following rules:
  1. Everything should be obvious for me, the dummy. I know straight away which button to press to get what I want.  There should not be any training required. There should not be any reading of Instruction Manual. To make it clearer. A child should be able to use it.
    _
  2. Choices are bad, it confuses me.I just want to press the only one button that I need to press. So, there could not any possibility of making a mistake – a wrong choice.  This will help me to be stress free.
    _
  3. I should not need to remember any thing as all to use it.
    Whatever that I need, should be there at my command.
    _
  4. No or little effort is needed.
    I should not have use much strength to do it. I should not need to move to use it.
    _
  5. Will someone else help simplify the above list so that other dummies can benefit from it.
    _
  6. People should build devices with the Dummy’ rules for dummy to use to enjoy life now.
More people should learn or think for the dummy.

Then all our lives will be stress free and with great productivity with protection for the environment.

Help me improve to think like a dummy.

10 Design Rules for the Dummies

Many people want to know the secret of Apple Inc success. Here is my attempt:Apple iPad vs Window Tablet and The Message behind “Philip Yeo’s Apple Aps’ gullible dummies”.
One of the key secret is “Design for Dummies”. In the past, I have also made a few posts on Dummies.
  1. Dummy’s Rules
  2. In Praise of Dummies  talks about the attitudes and mindset of happy Dummies.
Here is a consolidated and improved list:

The Golden Dummy Rule:
  • Minimum effort with Maximum Returns” or “MaxValue@ZeroCost”
The Rules:
  1. No Brain Rule – Everything should be obvious.
    1. I know straight away which button to press to get what I want.
    2. There should not be any training required.
    3. No need of Instruction Manual.
    4. No need to remember any thing as all to use it.
    5. A child should be able to use it.
  2. One Step Rule – Minimize the List of Choices
    1. I just want to press the only one button that I need to press.
    2. Then I could not make any mistake. There won’t be a wrong choice.
    3. This will help me to be stress free and I won’t be embarrassed.
    4. The number of steps needed is just ONE. Two is worse. Three is worst. I cannot count to four.
    5. Any function that I don’t need should not be there. (The Lean Rule or No Waste Rule)
    6. There should only have one way to do one thing. Don’t confuse me with multiple ways to do the same thing.
    7. Multiple Birds with One Stone Rule - Multiple related functions are done by One Command.
  3. Complete Rule - Whatever that I need will be there.
    1. There should be no missing function.
    2. I don’t have to find workaround.
    3. I don’t have to get another device to do the thing I want.
  4. No Movement Rule – No or little effort or movement is needed.
    1. I should not have to use much strength to do it.
    2. I should not need to move to use it.
    3. It comes to me rather than I go to it.
    4. It sticks to me where ever I go. I will naturally leave home with it.
  5. Ergonomics Rule/Naturally Rule – It uses my body parts for input
    1. Typing and mousing are actually not naturally to me.
    2. My fingers are better input instruments.
    3. So are my mouth, eyes, nose, head, hands, feets, etc.
    4. I should feel it is so naturally. No stretching or no needing me to perform acrobatic.
  6. Instant Rule – The Response time is zero.
    1. There is no waiting.
    2. I get stress up if I have to wait.
    3. I will also forget quickly not remembering why I did it!
  7. Just in Time Rule – When you need it, it is there.
    1. It tells me just when I need it.
    2. Not too early that cause me to worry.
    3. Not too late that I have no time to react.
  8. Ask Once Rule – Any input from me needs to be requested once only for life.
    1. The system ask me once and remember it for me.
    2. When I change, the change is propagated throughout.
  9. Don’t Bother Me Rule /Exception Reporting Rule - It tells only me when thing is going wrong
    1. More then that, it suggests to me what to do.
  10. Know Me Rule – It anticipates my needs and do for me.
    1. This is the ultimate, It knows what I likes and needs at various situations and do for me without my command.
Please use the above list to improve your existing offering and come out with better innovation either in business models, customer experience, products, services, solutions, etc.

Lim Liat Copyrighted 2010

In Praise of Dummies

Zombie is death, lifeless, hopeless, unfeeling, care-less, indifferent, etc.

Dummies are different. 
  • Dummies are full of joy, life, and hope.
  • Dummies do not understand impossibility, fear, failures, cannot do.
    They do not suffer from the “analysis paralysis” disease of the smart people.
  • They are curious and will try at anything. Not knowing the complexity or know too much to not to try.
  • They subscribe to the principle of simplicity.
  • They believe in making complex thing simple so that their good friends, the child and the old people can enjoy the good things too.
  • They continue to strife for getting maximum benefits and minimum effort.
    That is the only way that can ensure the earth resources be productively used and cared for.
  • They enjoy making things for the dummies using the dummy golden rule of “max value at min effort” and hence makes a lot of profits along the way. 
BTW, as for profit making, so long as the objective and the methods are righteous, we should all strife to make maximum profits 一本万利, even 一本亿利 should be aimed for. Because, not making profit means we are destroying the value of the the total system. If there be 1% more productivity, we should go for it. Else there is waste and we should then channel the resources to others who could make better and more productive use of them.

  • Dummy does not understand compromises.
  • Dummy wants the cake and eat it too.
  • Dummy believes and want break through.
  • Dummy believes in you can win and I can win at the same time.
    This is also the true meaning of innovation. Don’t be tainted by the western idiotic thinking of either A or B. Dummy want A + B and if not C, the better way than A + B together.
Be a dummy and strife for the better world.
 See also 10 Design Rules for the Dummies.

Understanding The Chinese Mindset in One Minute - The Three Character Bible

The Chinese have more than 5000 years of history. They are spread all over the world. People staying in the China mainland are not the only way to define who are the Chinese. The Chinese culture, traditions and beliefs are spread throughout the world with the people and shared by those in the mainland and those in the rest of the world collectively known as Overseas Chinese (华侨).

A recent book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” written by Amy Chua, now known as the Tiger Mother,  created a lot of interests about the traditional Chinese parenting and education methods. Some even accused her of not even a Chinese or she does not represent the typical Chinese parenting tradition. Instead of arguing about her, we should dig into the ancient Chinese literature and history and let them tell us what the Chinese is like.

I think the shortest and most representative ancient Chinese literature is “三字经 The Three Character Classics”. Here is a good site with English translation. It is written the thirteenth century. It is simple, with only 3 word phases. It is short – about 1200 words. It is designed for kids. It is widely taught; being the required reading for primary school kids over the centuries.

It is an amazing book. It covers almost everything. It is a simple wikipedia! It is a curriculum for education.

Here is why:

It has five sections:
  1. Basic Knowledge about Man, Development and Relationships.
  2. Maths, Science and Sociology.
  3. Index to the Classical Must read Literature and their purposes.
  4. The History of China – from beginning to 13th century. (later editions extends to present time)
  5. The Past Heroes as our models.
The purpose of the book is about teaching man how to live well on earth – living a harmonious, righteous and useful life. 

The book emphasizes ‘education and learning’ from a young age. It teaches the young to make effort in learning and be hardworking.

It begins with men as basically good but warns that if not educated and developed well, they will go astray. It ends with “Others leave a fortunes to their children, but I only teach my children one bible. Diligence brings rewards, fooling around is no use. Take heeds and be vitalized.

On parenting, the most famous verse is v3、养不教,父之过。教不严,师之惰。子不学,非所宜。幼不学,老何为。 Just feed and not teach is the wrong doing of the father. Teaching without discipline is the laziness of the teacher. Children not learning is not right. Not learning from young then what will become of old?

All are to learn from young and live them out when older and stronger; bringing benefits to the king and the common people; build reputation,  bring honor to parents. Create a bright future and provide wealth for the future generations. (v46 幼而学,壮而行。上致君,下泽民。扬名声,显父母。光于前,裕于后。)

The moral values are ( v10 曰仁义,礼智信。此五常,不容紊)
  1. love, 
  2. righteousness, 
  3. good manners, 
  4. wisdom
  5. integrity
The classics are to teach us moral values, love, righteousness, self-control and managing others, understand the sayings of sages, understand good manners and music; know the good and bad, right and wrong. Understand the beginning and the ending.

The past heroes teach us about diligence in learning, learning from young so that there is no regrets in later life, not allowing poverty to stop us from learning, learn about vision, determination and watchfulness.

The way to grow is to learn, and learn the right thing well.

Put in the effort now to enjoy the fruit of the later.

I hope your interests are stirred up to know about the Ancient Chinese Wisdom.

Lim Liat copyrighted 2011

Transformation by Love – Beyond Conqueror .... DaoDeJing 49

Typical worldly wisdom is ‘an eye for an eye’ or ‘a tooth for a tooth’. Chinese Sword Fighting story books are full of taking revenge on one another. However, in Chinese Classics, we don’t find that teaching!  Confucius taught us to “repay injury with justice and to repay kindness for kindness”. (Original Chinese Text is 或曰‘以德報怨、何如’. 子曰‘何以報德、以直報怨、以德報德’.
That is not as effective as what Lao Zi’s taught in Dao De Jing verse 49 as follows:
聖人無常心。 以百姓心為心。
善者吾善之。 不善者吾亦善之 德善
信者吾信之。 不信者吾亦信之、 德信。
聖人在天下歙歙焉, 為天下渾其心。
百姓皆注其耳目, 聖人皆孩之。
The wise man has not the normal heart for oneself. His heart is for the hearts of the people.
Those that are kind, I am kind to them. Those that are unkind, I am also kind to them. Hence, kindness is gained (i.e. unkindness is transformed by kindness; a stronger translation could be ‘that is the virtue of kindness’)
Those that are faithful, I am faithful to them. Those that are unfaithful, I am still faithful to them. Faithfulness is obtained.

Wise man consider the society and restrict and muddied his own desire.(i.e. no desire of his own)
The people focus their eyes and ears to see and hear. Wise man guide and care for them as upbringing of children.
Lao Zi believed that the better way to conquer an enemy is by transformation of the heart by kindness and faithfulness from enemy to friends. This will have a long-lasting result and there will no need for use of force.  So, I have named it ‘Beyond Conqueror’. This is very much like the “Love your enemy’ teaching of Jesus.

We have a historical example of this. In the history of the Three Kingdom, Kong Ming captured and released the chief of the enemy of the South(present day Yun Nan) seven times and eventually gained the heart and support of the chief. This allows him to concentrate his forces to move north without worrying about the defense on the south.

See also Chapter 67 Love is the most Powerful and also Chapter 63.


For related topics of wisdom according to Ancient Chinese see Chinese Wisdom.

Lim Liat Copyrighted 2010

Ancient Chinese Bible of Grace & Truth

Can you guess what is the Chinese Bible of Grace and Truth?

If you say it it the Lao Zi’s Dao De Jing (道德经), then you are right.

For Chinese educated people, we tend to group Dao De 道德 as one group and it means moral virtue.

However, in the translation of Dao De Jing, it is broken into 2 parts, the Dao道 (The Way) verses 1 to 37, and the De 德 (Power) verses 38-81.  The Way is actually the  Way of Truth. It is the Way of the universe.  De德   in the dictionary gives meanings of  virtue,moral character, integrity and also means kindness, favor, grace and power. Dao is just the truth. De is the attainment, or the power or character of the truth that one has. The correct Biblical definition of Grace is more than just God’s favor. It is the empowerment of God to enable us to do the things that we should do but could not do by or for ourselves. Grace is God’s Loving Power for You to become Your Very Best.

In summary, Dao De Jing becomes Truth & Grace Bible, the Chinese version.
If we study Dao De Jing very carefully, we will learn that it begins with the Way (of Truth) that could not be expressed fully. It stresses on following the Way rather than insisting on doing things our own ways (Adam wanted to be his own judge of right and wrong rather than follow God’s way).  It stresses on doing the right thing and not counting the gains or lost. It talks about doing things without seeking own honor and glory etc.

Lao Zi’s stress on no action (无为), or more correctly, no interfering fleshy actions and just follow the Way is like the Grace based doctrine of the Calvinist. Confucius, Kong Zi 孔子’s stress on education, modification of bad behavior to good behavior, cultivating the good conduct, is very much like the sanctification and work doctrine of the Armenians.  Hope you find it interesting.

For more on Dao De Jing see The Tao Bible in One minute

For related topics of wisdom according to Ancient Chinese see Chinese Wisdom

Strategic HR Management of Ancient Chinese

An alternative title is “There is no such thing as a defective or unemployable person”.

In my study of Lao Zi Dao De Jing (see Ancient Chinese Bible of Grace & Truth), I was led to the work of Wen Zi(文子) which was another Ancient Chinese Classics, lesser known of course, about the sayings of Lao Zi. In it, passage number 8 on natural order 卷八 自然, it has a paragraph on the use of different personalities for different assignments in a battle. There is no such thing as a weakness or defective personalities. It is more about how matching job requirements and the personalities. Here is the original Chinese text:
故用兵者,或輕或重,或貪或廉,四者相反,不可一也,輕者欲發,重者欲止,貪者欲取,廉者不利非其有也。故勇者可令進鬥,不可令持堅,重者可令固守,不可令凌敵,貪者可令攻取,不可令分財,廉者可令守分,不可令進取,信者可令持約,不可令應變,五者,聖人兼用而材使之。

Here is the English translation:

Hence, in the employment of soldiers in battle.  There are some who are restless (& reckless), some who are careful (& steady), some who are greedy and some who are honest (& thrifty). These four are in contrast to each other. There is no  way to treat them the same. The restless like to move ahead. The steady and cautious like to stop. The greedy like to take. The thrifty ones do not like to take things that do not belong to them. Hence, the braves ones can be use to do the attacking but cannot be employed to persist in defense.  The steady and careful ones can be commanded to stay and guard the place but cannot be use to attack the enemy. The greedy ones can be employed to attack and possess but could not be used to divide the spoils and wealth. The  thrifty can be asked to divide the goods and cannot be sent forward to possess the lands. The faithful ones can be use to keep the laws but cannot be use to meet the changes. These five different types, the wise man (or superior man) is able to use all of them and their capabilities successfully.

These teachings are just as relevant and powerful now in Strategic Human Resource Management.
  1. Work out the strategic jobs or assignments in accomplishing a mission
  2. Understand the Personality Types of the Staff that you have.
  3. Match the Strategic Job requirements to the Personalities types of the staff.  Please note, there is no implied strengths or weaknesses for the personalities types. Or strength or weakness is dependent on the context of the job assignment.
    There is not such thing as unemployablility! You just need to find the right job that suits him
    .
  4. Think about usability or employability rather than just firing. Synergy comes from rightly employing the differences to the maximum in the best roles. 
    See also  八观六验 六戚四隐 (Eight Observation and Six Experience Six Relatives and Four Hidden) in The Principles for Greatness: #1 Know Others & Self.

    For related topics of wisdom according to Ancient Chinese see Chinese Wisdom.

    How Much Better You Need?Just a little more says Ancient Chinese

    How Much Better Do You Need to Stay Ahead of the Competition?
    Just a little more says the Ancient Chinese in 62小过 Little Excess – Taking Heed & Standing Out (subscription needed).

    Don’t be at the bleeding edge and be loosing a lot of money, but just a little bit better in the leading edge making the extra margins that your competitors can’t. (e.g. Apple – little better in ease of use, touch, style, etc. Nothing earth shaking, sometimes even purposefully less to make it easier for dummies, but always a little better than you think,…)

    The Secret of Delighting Customers
    Not by spending a lot of money. Just a little more of this and that,  that exceed his expectation. A little bit more is a pleasant surprise. Too much could be a rude shock.

    The Secret of long term Success
    Just giving a little bit more of respect, honor, comfort, understanding, and cost saving….
    What is the little more that you can afford to do, to make the life of your spouse, colleagues and company better?
    Do it and be rewarded!

    Little more to Little Mistakes
    Of course, all of us make mistakes. But learn from making little mistakes rather than wait till they become big mistakes. … here is the summary of that ‘Little More’ wisdom:

    Summary of Hexagram 62小过 Little Excess – Take Heed & Stand Out
    1. For the righteous and good things, do a little more than expected. It will create delights.
    2. For the bad things, correct the little mistakes before they become disaster.
    3. Be watchful the little signs of deviations from normal, they are alerts. Take heed.
    4. Follow the trend, just stay a little ahead of others, to be in the leading edge. Excessive ahead is called the bleeding edge of big losses.
    Wisdom from the Stage Lines:
    1. Bird flying. Heed the signs of danger pending. Be watchful of small deviations from norm.
    2. 2nd best opportunity is still good. Work on it.
    3. Did not take extra care and got injured. Learn from it and wise up. Next time do a little more.
    4. Opportunity but have much risks. Consider carefully before proceeding.
    5. Large but not productive or profitable. The boss needs to take little more effort to seek out and hire the talented people to help.
    6. Higher than what bird can reach. That is way over board. It will ends in disaster. Come down from your height and be more realistic .
    For other related and interesting wisdom to learn, see Ancient Chinese Wisdom

    Globalization to Ancient Chinese

    China is a big country. It is not a uniform place even though the country is united. Much thanks to Ching Wang Ti for unifying the Chinese Character set. But different parts of China still speak differently reflecting the diversity of Chinese Culture. I-Ching is written before Ching Wang Ti unification effort so you can imagined the greater diversity then. China businessmen travel across the country for business and so they have much to tell us about doing business in foreign land – the equivalent of our present day globalization.

    The hexagram that teach about globalization is aptly called Travel, as in I-Ching Part 60 56旅 Travel – Explore New Opportunities. The details are covered in the article that need subscription. A quick summary is presented below.

    Summary of  #56旅 Travel – Explore New Opportunities:
    The icon for Hexagram #56 Travel is fire on the mountain. With fire on the moutain, it is only natural that we need to move away fast or travel to another place.

    Traveling to explore new opportunity requires  wisdom, carefulness, and expedient decision makings. Be happy with small gains and successes. Need to stay in righteousness and follow the culture of the new place.

    Wisdom from the Stage Lines:
    1. Travel with care. Don’t bring too much funds and don’t show off your wealth else calamity.
    2. Travel with sufficient fund to find and hire good local staff to help us.
    3. Travel with taking good care of the local staff. Else, there could be danger.
    4. Travel and stay in a rental house. We make enough to cover operating costs. Strife for better performance.
    5. Travel and shoot higher. Try to achieve a high target with some investment. The effort of trying will attract attention and success eventually.
    6. Travel and uprooted. Make foreign place new home. It is a big decision. Don’t decide too quickly else disaster. 
    For related topics of wisdom according to Ancient Chinese see Chinese Wisdom

    Marriage Preparation by Ancient Chinese

    There are much teachings about how to be good husband and wife. These are good but may be a bit late. We should get ready at an earlier stage and to prepare for marriage. Some churches do well by requiring their to be marry couples to complete a pre-marital counseling class. Despite the male polygamy system of the ancient Chinese, they do have some teaching on marriage and its preparation. Here is the detail.I-Ching Part 57 54归妹Marriage – Build Long Term Partnership. It may be colored with my own view of the premarital counseling class that I am teaching. But hope you can learn something from it. Merger and Acquisition is like marriage too and hence for those in business, there is something to learn too.  Here is the summary:

    Summary on Marriage Preparation or M&A Lessons:
    Marriage is good and for joy and growth in abundance. It is meant to last. However, there are actions that will destroy the relationship and productivity. Always seek agreement before taking action. Always do the things you are suppose to do and don’t cross boundary without approval. Wife is to submit to her husband.

    Wisdom from the Stage Lines:
    1. Marriage with extra resources given to ensure success.
      A marriage life needs a lot of adjustment for either party. The lesser the external problems, the easier and better for the young couple to cope. Hence, it is most advisable for parents and friends to give the newly wed as much support as possible. However, in the typical Chinese wedding, because of 'face' reasons, young couples may have to start with a lot of debts incurred from having a too expensive an wedding that could hardly afford. Best of course is for the young couple to prepare well with their savings, persuasion and taking control of the situations. 
    2. Married yet all alone. Continue to give of one’s very best irrespective of the negligence of the other partner.
      Marriage is a 100%-100% covenant. I will do my part irrespective of whether the other party does it part. Marriage is frequently ruined by either party insisting on the other party to apologize first or to change first. But in reality, changing others begin with us first, changing our ways we treat the other party.
    3. Marriage of lower choice. Do not hurry. Prepare oneself well and wait to marry the 1st choice.
      Before marriage, it is my advice to courting couples to open their eyes 'big-big' and make sure they choose the right one. Never believe their promises that they will change once they get married. If they can't change during courtship which so much motivation to do so, why will they change when there is no longer any motivation? However, once the couple is married, then the choice to choose the right one is gone and each one must instead try to be the right partner for the other. They should close the eye that look for defects and open the eye that look for the good that the other is doing. Mutual praises and encouragements produce a happy and progressive marriage.
    4. Marriage delayed to make sure we get the right one and at the right time.
      Take your time. Any hurried into marriage tend to lead to problem. Trust that if this is not the right one, the right and better one will show up. Don't believe in the pressure tactics that it is once in a life time opportunity, grab it or loose it forever. A troubled marriage and a divorce are terrible things to happen to anyone. It is wiser to be unmarried rather than be in a troublesome and suffering relationship.
    5. Marrying down. Character and conduct is more important than external dressings. Don’t outshine the other side. Give respect to the spouse.
      While it is good to have marriages of equal social standings but the mindsets and hearts are lot more important. Riches are external things and may be lost. Character is eternal. Make sure you marry one of the right character.
    6. Empty Marriage. Invest time and resources to have a fruitful marriage or partnership.
      Relationship needs investment of time and effort to build. 
    For related topics of wisdom according to Ancient Chinese see Chinese Wisdom

    Updated 29 Apr 2013 ---- additional comments added to the wisdom of the stage lines.

    Lim Liat (C).