27 April 2011

Leadership Styles of I-Ching #7Army and #19Approach


There are two hexagrams in i-Ching that cover leadership styles. They are #7Army and #19Approach. The details of the hexagram are given in 07 師 Army – Mobilization & Management and 19臨 Approaching – Leadership with Integrity & Love (note – subscription is required). I will reproduce the summaries of the hexagrams here:

Summary  of #7 Army – Mobilization & Management:
Leadership and Management Skills are needed to mobilize and run large organization of people. The foundational qualities of the leaders and managers are character of uprightness and integrity and the wisdom of elders. Leaders lead with vision and shared mission, and motivations. Managers execute with discipline, selection and development talents, and delegation of authorities and tasks.

Characteristics:  Mission and Task Oriented. Discipline and Orders are key. Methods & Mind centric. Extrinsic Motivations. Autocratic, pushy type. Danger of ruling by fear leading to blind and passive following and sometime rebellion.

The stage lines further adds the following:
  1. Establish Polices and Have Discipline.
  2. Manage with clear Policies, Justice and Fairness
  3. Be Cautious. Wrong move can bring big losses. Don’t over-extend yourself.
  4. Learn from Failures. Re-group and start.
  5. Uprightness is best policy
  6. Rewards the Contributors. Don’t use ‘little men’ (selfish, self-centered)
Summary of #19 Approach – Leads with Integrity and Love :

Leadership and Management is about doing the right things and doing them rightly. Lead with a firm hands but be gentle in approach. Develop, plan ahead, care for and protect the interests of people. Leadership is not about self but about others.  The best form of leadership is servant leadership.

Characteristics: People oriented. Intrinsic Motivation. Heart centric. Authoritative (father) kind, drawing out, encouraging, coaching. Danger of being too ‘loving’ and too ‘soft’ to spoiling the people. If done well, you get fully engaged staff and maximum performance.

The stage lines give additional teachings:
  1. Make an Emotional Connection. Gain the hearts.
  2. Connected with Enthusiastic Support and expanded influence.
  3. Don’t sweet talk. It does not work. Love is not giving in and spoiling them.
  4. Lead with complete support
  5. Lead with wisdom
  6. Lead with love
Which One is Right?
If you think you need to pick one form of leadership over the other, then you have not master the thinking of i-Ching.

If your answer is ‘it depends’ then you have good understanding of i-Ching. One may think that for large corporation or large army, then #7Army way of mission, discipline and order is more appropriate. For a small organization, the perhaps, the people centered kind of #19Approach is better.

If your answer is both and is able to point out how to use them together in time and space, then you have master the art of i-Ching. Large organization is made up of small groups. We have a configuration of people centric in small group within the mission-centric of the larger corporation. You get the alignment from top to bottom because of clear mission, discipline and accountability. You get the fully committed and engaged staff because of your love and care.  You get the intrinsic motivation of giving love and freedom and the extrinsic motivation of incentives.

The master of I-Ching will tell you to do both at the same time in different space and be responsive to change. We must to be engaging and at the same time with the right methods and skills – working hard in the smart ways give you optimum result.

Comparing to modern management practices, #7Army reminds me of the Kaplan&Norton Balanced Scorecard for corporate performance management where drawing the strategic map, coming out with measures and targets, and assigning owners, cascading downwards etc that are very method oriented.

The #19 Approach leadership reminds me of Ken Blanchard’s HPO (High Performing Organization) that stresses on Shared info & Open Communications, Compelling Vision, On-going Learning,  Relentless Focus on Customer Results, Energizing Systems&Structure and Shared Power & High Involvement.

Both should be practiced in for creating a successful and growing organization. This is my blue-print for creating and sustaining high performance organization – integration METHODS with PEOPLE. Hope you can see the wisdom of the Ancient Chinese – 5000 years before our present day management gurus.

Lim Liat copyrighted April 2011

22 April 2011

Advice for the Wealthy – I-Ching #14大有 Great Possession

A key problem with the world is not that there is lack of wealth and abundance. The problem is with the distribution of wealth. The rich gets richer and the poor got stuck in the vicious circle of poverty unable to break out. How can someone truly enjoy his wealth without worrying about theft and be able to sleep peacefully every night. I-Ching Hexagram #14大有 Great Possession provides the answer for you.

I like to define wealth as not the amount you have but the amount you spend on others. You gain wealth only to give them out to make this a better place for everyone. 

The details of the hexagram can be found in 14大有 Great Possession(subscription required) but a summary is reproduced here with additional comments:

Summary of #14 Great Possessions – Do Worthy Projects
This hexagram is about having great possessions. We have it because of our foundation of integrity and righteous living. We are to use them to stop evils and promote righteousness.

The world have been impressed recently by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett who donated their great wealth of billions to fund non-profit making charitable projects. They fund research into solving problems and sickness that were faced by the developing countries. Projects that solve the problems for the rich and famous will be funded easily. They were used as models to encourage the newly rich mainland Chinese to give to charitable causes as repaying the community. They talked as if the Chinese had not been doing this. The oversea Chinese, since the early 1900′s, when they made it, they had always sent back their money to their homeland to build schools, infrastructure and even funded the overthrow of the Manchurian Government and the war efforts against the Japanese invasion in WWII. They were people like the Aw’s of Tiger Balm, the Chen’s, the Lee’s etc.

They were practicing what this i-Ching hexagram is telling them to with their wealth – spent it on worthy projects – schools, hospitals, universities, newspapers, parks, museum, scholarships and even war against evil etc. etc.

The 6-stage lines tell us more:
  1. Continue to work hard. Remember how we get here – state of great possession.
    • The most naturally things to do for the wealthy, especially those that just make it, is to show off with it. The 2nd generation that did no hard work to gain them will spend even more.
    • Here is a reminder for the  rich – not to forget the hard work and learning that created the wealth. Without the continued learning and hard work, the wealth could be easily lost.
  2. Go and do great work
    • A person without character will hoard and spend his wealth only on himself. We are reminded of the Rich Fool parable told of Jesus (Lk 12:13-21).
    • We are reminded here to do worthy project with our wealth. We don’t have to wait till we accumulate large wealth. We do worthy causes according to our ability. It is an acknowledgement that our wealth is not created by us alone. Remember to give back to the society. You are the best person to do it because of your wealth and your capability.
  3. Share your wealth. You have influence with the authority. Don’t hoard your wealth. Keep the selfish little people away.
    • The 6-stage lines are the progressive stages.
    • At stage-3, you have quite a significant wealth that you have influence with those in authority. You mixed with the leaders in the society. Hence, you have the greater responsibility of doing the worthy projects.
    • One thing you mush watch out though – be careful of the little-men who are after your wealth for selfish gains. Don’t use them. Pick the right people to work for you.
  4. Don’t show off.
    • Stage 4 is the beginning stage of crossing the chasm to greater height and wealth. It is especially important for you not to show off and be proud. On the contrary, know that there are others who are richer and more capable then you. Focus on the project and not rest on your wealth.
  5. Remain humble and sincere in spite of great wealth. Keep your integrity.
    • You have cross the chasm and rich greater height and wealth.
    • The reason you cross it is because of your reputation of integrity and sincerity.
    • They are drawn to you because you can be trusted.
  6. Do things of Significance that lasts – Follow the Will of Heaven
    • In the eyes of God, wealth is to be spent on improving the lives of others and not just for yourself. Wealth is not measured by how much you possess but how much you spent it on worthy causes. True wealth is measure by the outflow and not the inflow.  But doing so, you can be master of wealth and not be mastered my wealth. Precisely because you master wealth, more wealth can be entrusted to you.
See also Success Upon Success with I-Ching Hexagram#11泰 Vibrant Flow

Lim Liat copyrighted April 2011

21 April 2011

The Secret of Joy in Changes – I-Ching Hexagram 17隨 Following

Most people dislike changes. This dislike grows with age. Maybe the process of aging reduces one vitality and strength and causes us to resist change. But aging should not be an excuse for us not to learn and face up with the changes. New brain research tells us that as we exercise our brain more, it grows new brain cells and we can become wiser. Our ever learning attitudes will keep us in good health.

It would be great if we are the ones triggering the change, either as entrepreneurs that start new businesses or as intrapreneurs that are breaking new grounds for our companies. But the real world is full of changes. Mostly caused by factors beyond our control.  Even so, I-Ching tells us the secret of how to enjoy the change.

(Note: For those initiating the change, they can consult i-Ching #03 屯 Sprouting – Starting is hard).

The hexagram to check up is #17隨 Following – Adaption & Contentment (subscription is required).

It tells us to follow the change. If it just tells to accept the change and follow it, then it is not much of an advice as most people could tell you that.

I-Ching goes much further to tell you how to have the joy in the change.  Below is the summary reproduced from the article for sharing with you with my additional comments.

Summary of 17隨 Following - Joy in Change:
  • The ‘ hexagram #17 Following’ tells us about seeing the change – facing it openly so that we can do the following steps.
    • learning about it
    • adapting to it, and
    • be happy in it by mastering it.
      ( Most likely you have heard that Crisis in Chinese is spelled 危机 Dangerous Opportunity or Risky Opportunity! There is the opportunity in crisis and crisis in opportunity. This is the typical i-Ching Yin-Yang Thinking. So, do not just see the danger but see the opportunity hidden in it so that you may bring out the opportunity in the crisis or to convert the threat to opportunity).
  • We don’t hold on to outdated practice. Confess that our mind is opened and we are prepared to experience new things. Don't be bound by fear. Step out to experience the new life.
  • The only things that should not change, and will help to ride the change is to hold on to the unchanging principles of integrity and righteousness. 
  • While the technology, politics and other human systems may change, human characters and needs do not.
The 6-stage lines give us additional teaching as follows:
  1. Ideas and Friends can change but moral standards should not.
    • Changes cause us to learn new concepts and new realities. Most frequently, we meet new people and make new friends. But our ways to handle them must be with integrity and righteousness.
    • Japanese was praised worldwide for their good behavior in the recent 9.0 earthquake and tsunami (March 2011). Under such crisis, they maintain good order. There was no looting or fighting but a lot of helping and encouraging one another.
    • Most of us do not encounter such devastating crisis. Typical situations are losses in business, loss of jobs, investments and of loved ones. We need to continue our lives in the new situations. Sometimes we are even upset by minor things like someone cutting into our lane while driving, how silly!
  2. Don’t major on the minor and loose the major.
    • When changes come, what was important in the past may not be important now (except for moral standards). This may lead us to hold on to old things that of no value now and lose out on doing the new things that are important.
    • Consult the people who had adapted or even adopted the new things. Learn from them. Let go of our outdated concepts.
    • Old age is not just physical but in the thinking. When we stop to learn, we age. This brings us to the next advice.
  3. Major on the major and win.
    • With the new understanding of what are the important things, learn and master them well. We may take longer than others but we can catch up and even outdo them.
    • Don’t be fooled by those who think you must be first. First movers have some advantages but not always and not insurmountable.  We can let the first movers get on the bleeding edges. Let them spent the money to learn the lessons and we just follow well and learn from them. We can be the real leading edge that benefits from the change. (Note: the First mover does have advantages. But whether the advantage can class depends on how well he executes and the switching cost. Google and Facebook are not the first in the search and social network respectively. But they are the leader. Further more Google+ is trying to beat Facebook ! You are never late. You can start now!)
    • Learn from the ‘wisest man’ on earth, King Solomon, who said in Ecc 9:11-12 (for details see Adding Biblical Wisdom to Bill & Steve Jobs' Wisdom)
      • Again I saw that under the sun :
        • the race is not to the swift,
        • nor the battle to the strong,
        • nor bread to the wise,
        • nor riches to the intelligent,
        • nor favor to those with knowledge,
        • but time and chance happen to them all.
      • In addition, no human being knows his time:
        • Like fish captured in a cruel net,
        • or as birds caught in a snare,
        • so also are human beings caught by bad timing that surprises them
  4. Follow but maintain integrity and righteousness
    • Moral Principles, your key values (such as love, righteousness, good manners, wisdom, integrity, boldness, pro-activeness, respect etc),  are the unchanging part. Hold on and keep them. These are the rocks or anchors that give you the stability in the midst of making changes.
  5. Follow only the good things
    • We are not to blindly follow changes. We choose and follow the right ones.  Those who follow some of the Chinese 36 Strategies and used them in the bad way that exploited the crisis suffered by others and looted and robbed would be found out and punished later. We can exploit the crisis for good.
    • Doing the right things give you the peace of mind and long term economic benefits as well.
  6. Follow from the heart – need no external pressures.
    • Finally, the best adaption to change is from the heart.
    • We may be forced to change at the start,  so that we are forced to learn and adapt to it.  When over time, we come to master it and enjoy it from the heart. We may even welcome the change. Edison remarked when his factory was destroyed by fire said that he could have a fresh start with the errors wiped out.
    • Changes is best handled from the heart. External force can achieve change for the short term. To have long term change, reach out to the heart of people. Help them to see the benefits of the change. Hold them and coach them through the change so that they can experience of the goodness of the change and be sold by it. They will help others to change too.
    • We are not defeated by change. We conquer and benefit from the change. We have joy in the change that come from a process of facing, learning, adapting and mastering it.
    See also Yin-Yang Thinking Framework - Building Upon the Great Teaching

    Lim Liat copyrighted April 2011 (updated 4 Oct 2011).

    18 April 2011

    Success Upon Success with I-Ching Hexagram#11泰 Vibrant Flow

    Most people think that while building a successful business is hard, maintaining it is even harder. Chinese has a saying that "富不过三代 Wealth does not last over 3 generations". Not sure has anyone done a study of how many successful corporations did not survive even the 1st generation.There are many reasons for successful businesses to go bust: internal fight, lack of skills, disrupted by the market or technology, economic crisis, war and so forth. External factors are beyond our control and we can only ensure our response is correct. Because in any crisis, while most will loose but some will gain. Internal factors are those that we could control or at least influence. We must know how to handle such internal factors and the changes brought about by our success.

    The secrets of building success upon success can be found in I-Ching Hexagram#11泰 Vibrant Flow. (For an introductory understanding of I-Ching, see I-Ching in One Minute for Abundant Life.

    The details of Hexagram #11 can be found in Learning from I-Ching Part 16 11泰 Great-Vibrant Flow in Harmony(subscription needed to view the details).

    But the summary is reproduced below with my additional comments:

    Summary of Hexagram#11 泰 Vibrant Flow:
    • This Vibrant Harmonious Flow of success is a great state to arrived at. It is overflowing with abundance and joy. 
    • You got the multiplier effect into play so that small investment and little effort bring forth large gains. Success breeds further success. You have the economy of scale, the leadership, the customers, the channels, the know-how to amplify your innovations.
    • The corporate mission is shared and all from top to bottom co-operate to achieve it. 
    • The culture and practices are fair and right. Bad practices and bad people are kept out. You don't get to where you are now without the right cultures to enhance the good to better and rid the bad out of the system.
    • Inside is strong and the external is gentle. Your success does not make you proud and arrogance. Instead, you use your strength with great gentleness. It is easy for people to do business with you and to like you.
    • The public does not perceive you as the aggressor but a good corporation. 
    • There is only BIG CATCH - It is there for you loose it. Hence, watch out for the danger that success brings.
    Further wisdom from the six stage lines are:
    1. United and Move out to Expand Quickly. 
      • It is so easy to stay put and enjoy the present success. But the world continue to change and you cannot afford not to change. You must plan to change and take the lead. You need to continue to take calculated risks. There is no reason why you should not since you are now able to handle more risks and failures.
    2. Get the Best of the Global Resources. Develop the untrained talents.
      • You need to continue to get talents and resources from outside. 
      • However, you need to train them up and make sure they adapt and adopt your culture that bring you the success.
      • Bringing talents in the corporation but share not your values and cultures will just create infighting.
    3. Keeping Fair. Having no favorites is ever more important.
      • The need for integrity, fairness, transparency and trust increases with the size of the corporation. It is not less. The bigger you are, the greater the tendency for misunderstanding and infighting. 
      • If you want to move fast with size, you can afford a lot of rules and complexity. You need trust, communications and clear values to move ahead.
    4. Big yet Still Friendly. Easy in making Friends with integrity.
      • While you may be large, yet you acted and interact with your customers as if you are small. You remain in touch with your customers. You are flexible and you listen to them. They perceive your size as trustworthiness and capability to deliver your promises. They believe in you.
    5. Relationships with Royalties (Stakeholders, customers, partners, staff with powerful influence).
      • Your size and friendliness enables the influential people in government, business, and community to want to work with you. You have tremendous leverage with them.
      • Stay connected in touch with such power like you do with the little people in stage-4. All these allow you to invest little and yet gain big rewards. The new start-up cannot match you at all. 
    6. Watch out for the danger that success brings – blind to change, not responsive, infighting, and corruption that bring the walls down.
      • This is the only catch you need to always remember. Don't let success goes into your head and heart and you think you are above and beyond everything. The next Hexagram after Vibrant Flow is Hexagram #12 Stagnation. If you are not careful, you may go into it and then the decline. You don't want to be forced into Hex#18蠱 Worm – Removing Disorderliness that require you to do major restructuring. 
      • You want to lead the change, not be forced to change, and build success upon success. You must follow the teaching of this hexagram.
    Lim Liat copyrighted April 2011

    07 April 2011

    The Patterns of Chinese 36-Strategies

    This series of posts on the Chinese 36-Strategies can be used as a lesson on progressive learning and knowledge management. I started with a linear list of 36-strategies and found that it was too long a list to remember all. I said that in the original text was they were divided into 6 segments  that were ok but not good enough for me. So I came out with 12 Success Principles from Chinese 36-Strategies that went by the phases:

    Lesson 1 on learning is about categorizing.
    Grouping those that are similar into a category.
    We need to discover what are similar and what are the differences. If there are no differences, then we need to merge them together.
    If we leave them there in a category, we must be prepare  to state their differences.  I can still find there are differences in the 36 strategies, even though that are the similar, and I could not bring down 36 to a lesser number.

    For example, at first I find the following 3 are similar and perhaps can be combined into just one:
    #01 瞒天过海 Trick our King/Boss and cross the sea
    #08 暗渡陈仓 Repair roads in the open but cross the sea secretly
    #06 声东击西 Say East But Attack West
    But they are not. #06 is a false claim (fake action) but #01 and #08 are real actions.

    #01 Acted on the King and got him entertained while the troops crossed the sea to fight a war. The king did not realize he is going on with the battle.

    #08 is the last 4 four words of a 8 word phase. The first four words talked about repairing the roads to fool the enemy into thinking the attack will be by the land but the actual attack is by the sea. This is the invert of the Japanese attack in Singapore in WWII. The Japanese built boats and fooled the British to turn their guns southward expecting an attack from the sea. The Japanese just cross the bridge and match into Singapore. This is similar in Iraq-Kuwait war where the US practiced sea attack but actually attacked by land in 1991.

    #01 and #08 differ in that #01 is to fool our own king (he was afraid to continue with the battle seeing the waves) and #08 is about fooling the enemy.  We need to divide and go into fine details to truly understand a piece of work.

    Lesson 2 on learning is about finding Patterns
    Lesson 2 on learning is about abstracting further and discovering the underlying patterns that could unify the knowledge.  This is what the physicists are trying to do to come out with the Grand Unified Theory that unify the four force fields.  There is proposal that if there are many explanations for the same event, then the most simplified one is preferred.
    So here is the further attempt to find the patterns and to simplify our learning from the 36 strategies.

    P1 Don’t always have to act by yourself
    You don’t always have to take action by yourself immediately. You can actually do the following
    1. wait
      1. The problem may solved itself. A natural disaster could destroy our enemy. Our enemy may have internal fights and destroy themselves. The PRETEL factors could change so that they favors and disrupt our competitors. Of course, we could also be on the bad end while our competitors had the good end.
    2. watch
      1. Watch for the opportunities and openings to arrive. We don’t always have to be the first to win. First mover has advantages and also big risks.
    3. outsource
      1. You don’t always have to do it yourself. You can outsource to some one who is better than you. You can borrow resources. You can persuade someone else to do it for you for free.
      2. Best and most productive work is the Dummy Golden Rule – Maximum Benefits, Zero Harms at zero effort.
    4. act
      1. If we have to act, act with greatest productivity by doing the most important tasks first (leaving others to adjust themselves),  to attract rather than to pursue, attack the weak points rather than the strong, to give a little to exchange for large returns and so forth. See the mind-map below.
    5. quit
      1. This is the option you always have. Most people recommend that when you have exhausted all the other alternatives, then try this – Quit, Give-up and Do other things. But I think we should reverse this thinking as ask instead, Why NOT quit now? What are the benefits for staying the course vs quitting now?
    P2 What you see may not be what it actually is.
    What we see is the external appearance and we don’t see the inside, the inner motivation and intentions. We also don’t see everything. There are many things we don’t see. We also see what we want to see and is unable to see what we don’t like to see. ‘Seeing is believing’ is the principle that makes deception possible. Ask the magicians. Be humble and wise and never just conclude that seeing is believing. If seeing could not be believing, how much more serious is ignorance! 36 Strategies tell us to See far and wide and deep inside and over time.  We may need to probe to verify and not just watch.

    P3 Not 1 but 2 Actions
    We tend to be satisfied with the first answer, the first solution to our problem and not to explore other alternatives. The obvious may not be the best or the only answer.  We may need to take multiple actions in sequence or concurrently. I frequently tell my fellow Singaporeans that the reason that we are always busy and complaining lack of time is that we are too quick to find and execute the first solution, and we may be trying to solve to the wrong problem!(see P2) .  We take 1 step forward only to take many corrective steps backwards and sidewards to solve the problems  caused by the first hurried step. Please go back to learn P1 and P2.
    If we do want to act, after identifying the real issue, at least try two actions:

    P4 A supportive action A and a Main Mission B
    1. Actions A & B can be in sequence or concurrently
    2. A is Watch first and B is Exploit later
    3. Action A is distracting so that they ignore concurrent action B
    P5 The Supportive A Actions
    1. Probe to verify
    2. Watch for Opportunities
    3. Fake – A Claim, False Action
    4. An Outside Cover
    5. Distraction
    6. Give/Lure 1st
    7. Confuse with Ridiculous acts
    8. Borrow first (possess later)
    9. Encircle
    P6 The Mission B Actions
    1. Follow up Exploitation of the Opportunity or opening in phase A
    2. Attack the Weak
    3. Capture the Keys
    4. Outsource
    5. Innovate
    6. Quit
    P7 Mix and Match and Iterate
    There is no law that say you should follow the 36 strategies exactly. Mix and Match, the detail actions of A and B and iterate the various combinations through time. Then even those who follow the 36 Strategies will be out done by you.


    Here is pattern of the 36 Strategies:
    You will find that I change some of the translations of the strategies from the previous mind map to make them clearer.
    Lim Liat copyrighted April 2011.

    05 April 2011

    12 Success Principles from Chinese 36-Strategies


    The Chinese 36-Strategies, some called it, 36-Tactics are well known and gainfully employed in military, business and politics. They usually have a bad connotation associated with it – dirty tricks. But if we examine them carefully, they are powerful strategies that can be used for good or evil.  Good as building a successful businesses and bad as destroying the competitions or enemies through deception and lies.  In a just and legal society, lies are bad and could be liable and criminal acts are not be done. In other words, we can use the 36 Strategies in a right, truthful and legal ways.

    The 36-Strategies have the following interesting points (Please refer to the mind map attached):
    1. The Name of the Strategy is just 3-4 Chinese Words that gives a vivid picture of what to do for that strategy.
    2. There is a commentary on what the strategy means. The 2nd part of the commentary is a quote from a hexagram in  i-Ching.  This shows that the authorship comes after i-Ching and it is an extension of i-Ching teaching.
    3. From Form to Concept. The picture while vivid, may actually trapped our thinking. Hence, we need to abstract the form to the original concept of the strategy. The picture is just one form, an implementation of the concept. There could be other forms that we should adapt to our present situation.
    36 Strategies are too many to grasp and apply. The original text divided into 6 segments with 6 strategies for each segment. I find them not too clear, may be can be divided into winning, confusing and lost 3 main segments. I prefer to regroup them into 12 principles and place them in order of starting a new business. It begins with probing (situation analysis), watch for the opportunities, exploiting the opportunities and so forth as shown in the mind map below. I will explain the individual strategies clearer in future. But I think the mind map speaks volume already. Hope you can benefit from it.



    Lim Liat copyrighted April 2011

    Next: The Patterns of Chinese 36-Strategies