07 December 2011

Growing with Great Difficulty - Fix it with I-Ching #39 蹇 Lame's Teaching!

Many businessmen felt the need to grow their business quickly. They think they must grow to survive. They are advised to be agile, responsive, flexible and to move with speed. They learn from the inspiring quotes of the rich and famous and hear of advice that says, “In this new world, fire first and then aim” without the correct understanding of the context. Singapore is too small, they are advised to go abroad. So, they just spend money to try to grow their business. Some even globalize into China, Vietnam, India, Russia and even Brazil. They heard that these were the newly rich and rapidly developing countries. Truths without the context will lead to many wrong decisions. Many have encountered great difficulties in their growth. Quite a number have made major losses and have to shutdown their expansion plans. Fortunate are the cautious who are still able to keep their base camp business. It is better that they check up the wisdom of i-Ching before they grow too fast. Even if they encounter grow pains, i-Ching also provides some wisdom with Hexagram 39 蹇 Lame – Move Rightly on Your Strength (registration needed). I reproduce the summary teaching of the hexagram here with additional comments below: 
Summary Teaching of 39蹇 Lame:
  1. When meeting obstruction, pause and see clearly.
    • We must resist the urge to react too quickly. Pause first to see the situation clearly and then develop the response.
    • Always choose to response positively to any situation, specially the adverse ones. Don’t prejudge too quickly. Check your direction and positioning.
    • Are you positioning your offering in the right place at the right time?
      When a Chocolate company expanded into India, they have to sell their chocolates in smaller sizes and lower prices, provide cooler to keep the chocolate in good condition, and position it as items for celebration. What about your offering and positioning?
  2. Take the right way that leads to success and not the short-cut evil way that eventually brings failure.
    • There are always option available to us. If you think there is none, think again. Think outside of yourselves.
    • See point 3 below. Under difficulty, you will be tempted to take short-cut. Don’t do it. Stick to the righteous way.
  3. Always seek and follow advice of the wise.
    • Be bold and unashamed to ask for advice and help.
    • Just make sure you ask the right people and not just anyone.
  4. Building character will brings long lasting success.
    • Long lasting business can only be built on unchanging foundation of truth and righteousness.
    • Build this culture throughout your organization.
    Wisdom from the Stage Lines:
    The building of Internal Strengths to get moving involves the following stages:
    1. Wait for the right time to move especially for things beyond our control.
    2. Get first hand knowledge and then work together to seek the interests of the community and not self.
      • Rapid moving company needs the information from the front-lines – the people serving the customers.
      • It is difficult to have a hierarchical structure for information to filter up to the boss to get the truth. It will be too slow and usually distorted. Get the organization to be more opened and transparent so that information can be shared quickly and truthfully. See how the successful companies like HCL tech, The Morning Star Company, WLGore, Google, Zappos, etc operate. Read my posts on self-management such as The Future Of Management is Ancient Chinese ClassicsIntegrated View of the Wisdom of Chinese Classics – Future of Management Now.
    3. Build Morale - Celebrate and learned from past successes and get ready for the right time to charge forward.
      • Most people have “Defect fixing” mindset. They focus on their failures and weaknesses and forgot about their successes.
      • Have a “Positive Appreciation” mindset instead. Study your success and learn what make you successful. Find out your core competitive strengths and re-examine whether you have lost it. When company grows, complexity set in and the core-strengths slowly get lost in the midst of growing. Back to your basics and cores. Celebrate those things to bring up the morale and clarity of strategies.
    4. Get Alignment - Return to strengthen unity and alignment first. Put the right people at the right jobs.
      • Many businesses can grow quickly when small. But if the business is not built to scale, the growth will straight away amplifies the weaknesses of the business.
      • Make sure:
        • the mission, vision and strategies are shared and cascaded through out.
        • the processes are streamlined. So see what can be standardized, centralized, modularized, optimized, outsourced (to partner that share the culture), prioritized to support the mission and vision.
        • Pick and put the right people on the right jobs.
        • Get information and trust flowing.
        • Get the engagement of staff high.
        • Then you are ready for growth.
    5. Get Support – Have a meaning mission and a proven character, friends will come to support you.
      • Growing and big business needs support, from staff to customers, to suppliers and the bigger social network.
      • Having a worthy mission helps inspire people. Examine your mission. Are you making the world a better place to attract the support that you need?
      • Are you inclusive enough to accept diversities? Do you welcome and respect different ideas from the wider external networks of customers, suppliers, partners and the social network.
    6. Get Talents- Get support of leaders of power and influence and have worthy pursues.
      • I-Ching often tell us to get support from the “Big People”. People with great wisdom and influence.
      • Some you can hire them.
      • For those who you can’t hire, then get them to sit on your advisory boards.
      • At the very least, join them in their circles.
      • Having mentors is a great thing for your growth.
    Now, if your growth have been impeded much, you may want to go through the above teaching to find out where you need to build and change. All the very best to your health and your business.

    Lim Liat (C) 7 Dec 2011
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