16 May 2013

How a Company or Nation Get Complex and Unproductive

If a fundamental problem is not solved or resolved at the root, it is typical for us to add more rules to handle the additional varieties and exceptional cases thinking that the added rules will work. I am not so sure.
The Singapore Government is adding new rule to curb the cost of car ownership.

Individuals may need to pay surcharge for second car onwards - Channel NewsAsia
If a fundamental problem is not solved or resolved at the root, it is typical for us to add more rules to handle the additional varieties and exceptional cases thinking that the added rules will work. I am not so sure.

This is how company and government get bigger and more complex over time and everyone think that they are working very hard and productively. 
They do create a lot of work and hence of jobs for 
  1. the people to make the laws, 
  2. people who monitor the laws, 
  3. people who judge the violation if any, 
  4. people who argue in courts, etc etc. 
They don't realize that they are the inhibitors rather than the facilitators for the entrepreneurs and the business of those that producing the foods, products and services. 
They just add costs and not value.
For any new rules added, there are many ways to by-pass it.  The Chinese has a saying "上有政策,下有对策", translated, “The top set policies but the bottom has counter measures". It will be just a meaningless spiral to complexity, higher costs and greater inefficiency.
Let's fix the root problem and minimize the rules and complexity. (note: I am not saying that rules not needed. But they need to be minimized to ensure clarity, simplicity in following and enforcement). The costs of extracting the goodies must not be higher than the value of the goodies extracted.
The teaching of Lao Zi's should be studied and followed here. See The True Teaching of Lao Zi’s Dao De Jing in 1 Minute.
Lim Liat (c) 16 May 2013.

14 May 2013

East West Fusion Mindset as a Key and as Simple as ABC

The East and West mindset can be integrated and represented as a Key with the round base representing Eastern/Chinese circular mindset and the straight grooved pin as the Western linear and detailed mindset. The application of the fusion mindset is as simple as ABC represented using computer language statements of assignment, If-the-else and looping construct. The details of ABC can be found in my blog posts.

The East-West Key
After much study, comparisons and reflections on the Eastern/Chinese and Western(trained in high schools, university, post graduate, consultants, management books, HBRs etc etc) , I think both can be integrated into a key, represented by a physical door-key. The rounded based representing the circular, cyclical Chinese mindset, with Yin-Yang balance and harmony as objective and the pin with groves representing the linear, sequential, and detailed task oriented mindset of the West.  Here is the picture with greater details:

Note: To know more about the Chinese Mindset see The Essence of Sinology or Chinese Mindset - The Values & Methods for 21st Century.

Fusion mindset calls neither East or West alone thinking but both, applying them in different degree, depending on the situations and the players, to achieve the right result by thanking the right action at the right time and place.  We should also be aware that the 'right result' is a dynamic balance of among multiple forces. The balance will and have to shift through time as situations change.

The Application of Fusion Mindset is as Simple as ABC:
Using the computer language as a means of representation, the following picture show this Fusion Wisdom can be applied:

If you have only one take away, just remember the IF statement:

IF then DO A else DO B.

All the very best to your business and career.

To know more about Chinese vs Western Management, see Sinology & Chinese Management.
To know more about Ancient Chinese Wisdom, see Ancient Chinese Wisdom

Lim Liat (C) 13 May 2013

06 May 2013

The Legalist Fa School - Fool Proofing the Organization

How to guard against the abuses, misuses and stupidity of man in an organization? By institutionalization of good practices and drawing up a set of laws for rewarding good and punishing  bad behavior.  Such carrots and sticks system is a key factor in the unification of China into the Chin Dynasty and was the teaching of Fa School advocated and popularized by Han Fei Zi. Learn the details
The teaching of the Fa School (Legalists School) can be easily summarized into the acronym 2H3K Two Handles and Three Knives. The two handles are the carrots and sticks of rewards and punishments. The Three Knives, the power tools to achieve the ruler's objectives, are power, stratagems and laws (legal systems).  It is shown in the mind-map below:
The objectives of the proposed is to ensure common people obey the laws by fear of punishments (usually very severe), to ensure managers do good as motivated by the huge incentives and do no evil as prevented by clearly defined laws and punishments, and to make sure the country works as in the past against the possible arisen of a foolish king.  The is a human-being error proof system.

Han FeiZi assumed that people are basically villains and must be motivated by rewards and threaten with fear. People are not moved by love but by fear. This is like the Theory X Management Principle. Whereas MoZi's equality, mutual love and support based philosophy assumed people to be gentlemen (Theory Y).

Han FeiZi's system is to support the king. The laws are drawn as such to support the king and not the people. It therefore will lead to the rule of the tyrant. It is effective in enforcing laws and order in the short run. But it is subjected to misuse.  The laws are the means to get people to toll the line set by the ones with the Power (the King) and the ones who win by stratagems. The teaching of the use of stratagem to rule is very much like the teaching of "The Prince" by  Niccolò Machiavelli. Use stratagem to gain power and then set up the system of laws to enforce obedience.

There are however, many other useful lessons we can take from Han FeiZi. Such as the Laws must be opened and made know to everyone first. The Laws must be applied consistently and fairly to all. There must be only one system and every one must follow it. There is no consideration for relationships and compassion.

Does the system proposed actually foolproof? I think not. Because we always need the 'judge', a man, to decide whether the laws have been violated and the amount of punishment or rewards to be given. The Judge of course is appointed by the one with the power and he who has the power can then distort the judgement or change the laws to suit his purposes. Hence, it is important that the jurisdiction and the  political systems of power be separated. But this is not easy even in this modern day of democratic governmental system.

Lim Liat (c) 5 May 2013