30 May 2012

Control & Management Principles according to I-Ching

In the real world, things seldom happen according to plan. We hire managers to manage projects, expecting them to take initiatives to resolve whatever issues that may cause the work to deviate from plan. At times, we may even need to change the original plans. At times, we may need to suspend work for a while to resolve certain critical problems; may be just to wait till the storm has passed. At times, we may over-react and make the situation worse rather than better! The statistical control theory people tell us to accept certain deviations from the norm as normal. Interfering with a statistically stable process will only make it worse. I-Ching provides us the following four hexagrams.
  1. Be Realistic and Follow the Principles & Seasons - #25 无妄 Not Bizarre  
  2. A System to Ensure Just Enough of Correction - #60 節 Control  
  3. Discipline+Punishment to Correct Bad Behavior - #21 噬嗑 Biting 
  4. Stop! Contentment in Position & Wait for the Green Light - #52 艮 Mountain
C1 Be Realistic and Follow the Principles & Seasons - #25 无妄 Not Bizarre  
The first principle on Control & Management is to be realistic or be practical. There are physical laws and other behavioral laws that one must accept and cannot be violated without negative consequences. A simple on timing is the seasons. There is the right time for doing the right thing. So, here are the key points that one take note:

     * Be Realistiic and Practical
     * Follow the principles and seasons.
     * Be watcful. Don't go for short-term successes at expense of long term.
     * Stick to the principles and short term challenges will correct itself.

C2 A System to Ensure Just Enough of Correction - #60 節 Control
We need a proper control system to ensure smooth operation and to guard against over exertion of corrective actions. Here are five key recommendations:
    1. A set of Desirable Attributes or Factors– the righteous virtue and conduct.
    2. A set of Targets telling us what is just right.
      If it is a project, there must a plan first. If this is a flow, there must be operating ranges.
    3. A set of Measurements and continued monitoring system. 
    4. The systems and the process of controlling must be efficient and effective. It cannot be too much wasting resources and even hurting people. Neither it can be too little to loose direction.
    5. We should ignore variations from the targets within certain control limits. We trust the system to correct itself.
C3 Discipline+Punishment to Correct Bad Behavior - #21 噬嗑 Biting
Discipline and punishment need to be administered to ensure bad behaviors are not repeated and be corrected. The rules, expectation and consequences must be made clear at the start. It is only through practice and through mistakes that we can learn the right behavior. It must be applied according to the situations and person and be balanced.

C4 Stop! Contentment in Position & Wait for the Green Light - #52 艮 Mountain
There must be traffic light type system to warn us when to stop and when to go. We should dare to stop when the season is over or our position is wrong. We don't always have to be on the move. When the time or the position is wrong, we need to be patient and be contented with staying at our current position. We take this time to equip ourselves and to prepare for the next big thing. We don't need to be envious of others and try to copy their practices that are not natural to us. Premature movement and incorrect copying do more harm than good. 

Note: For all the principles presented, digging deeper into the related hexagram with the detailed study of the 6 line-stages of the hexagram will give us further wisdom. The details of the complete 64 Hexagrams can be found in Manage Change with I-Ching (registration is required).


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Lim Liat (C) 30 May 2012

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