24 January 2018

How to Know a Person Better - Gui Gu Zi's Wisdom#10 C8 8 摩篇 Probe

An important element of the appreciation of situation for planning is to know the personality, the likes, and dislikes of the key people involved. This is done through Probing 摩. Here are the techniques and principles.
To Know a Person is to know His Intentions & Motivations
How can we know a person well? What is there to know about a person? The key is to know his character or personality, his abilities, weaknesses, values, and when wanting to work together, then his intentions for the project. Such intentions can be discovered through observation and probing. Gui Gu Zi tells us that the inside will be revealed eternally when we probe wisely. It is a process of making friends, observing, probing lightly and then deeply. Eventually, the hidden intentions can be known.

The Best Kind of Leaders is Invisible and Traceless
Taking the oppositive viewpoint then, the top class leaders should not draw attention to themselves but be invisible in their leading. Such a concept is taught by Lao Zi in Levels of Leadership - Can We Measure Leadership? The best leaders are not known by the people. The people all taught they have achieved successes by themselves. "The king's army wins daily by not having to fight nor spend any resources and so the people do not know what to obey or what to fear, and the world is like heaven.", said Gui Gu Zi. See How to Win without a Fight? The Wisdom of Sun Zi & Gui Gu Zi. A key ingredient for winning is knowing the intentions and desires of the key players. Here is the method.

Probe According to the Personality Types and Desires

  1.  The Peaceful/Steady will be calm, still, and quiet. They don't like changes.
  2.  The Righteous will be just and doing the right things. Is it wrongful?
  3.  The Happy will be joyful. What pleasures and funs?
  4.  The Angry will be excited with a lot of movements. Why not now?
  5.  The Honorable will want to get more famous.
  6.  The Doer will want to accomplish more things. What needs to be done?
  7.  The Honest will want to stay clean and is against corruption.
  8.  The Trustworthy will be hopeful and optimistic. We can do it.
  9.  The Greedy will demand more benefits. Where is the money?
  10.  The Insecure will use and want flattery. 

Doing the 3 Key Things Well

  1. Planning needs to be complete and details. No small things can be neglected.
  2. Persuasion needs a lot of listening and gaining the hearts to gain the agreement and support.
  3. Execution must be done right to achieve success.
The Principles of Probing
  1. Be like them to gain acceptance and trust so that they are willing to disclose themselves.
  2. Appeal to their desires so that they will listen, agree and support you.
Applications 
  1.  The Chinese have subjects that can tell a person's character and abilities from their face, palm, and general shapes of the body.
  2.  Today, we have the subject of "Body Language". Our inner feelings are expressed unconsciously through our body actions and facial expressions.
  3. A customer complains are actually his desire to want to buy your products or service if only you get through to solve their problems. 
  4. The Traditional Chinese Medicines(TCM) doctors have long been able to diagnose the sicknesses without the aids of modern technologies like X-ray, MRI, Ultrasound devices.
So, by careful observation, and probing at the right time with the right questions, we can engage a person and slowly get to know him better especially his intentions and motivations for your business ventures. Don't be distracted by initial success but persist to complete the full understanding of a person.


Lim Liat (c) 24 Jan 2018

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23 January 2018

How to Win without a Fight? The Wisdoms of Sun Zi & Gui Gu Zi

"Winning every battle is not the best strategy. Winning without a war is the best strategy.", said Sun Zi in the Art of War. But Sun Zi left it to us to discover the secrets in his book. A subsequent work by Gui Gu Zi who taught strategic alliance and persuasion tells us even more. 
The Sun Zi's Secrets on Winning without a Fight

1.  Build Yourself Up such that Your Enemy perceived that You are stronger.

Sun Zi gives us 5 factors and 7 measures to evaluate our comparative advantages. If we do the needed calculation and evaluation based on the correct intelligence and finds that we are stronger and can win, then we can start a war if needed. But our enemy may have a different view of the comparative strengths and may also think he can win. So, we must, in the eyes of the enemy, to appear to be stronger, so that the enemy will know that if he starts a war, he may lose. Then, he will be willing to give in to our demands to prevent starting a war that he may lose more.

2. Other Means of Winning besides a War

In addition, Sun Zi says that war should be fought as a last resort after we have exhausted all other alternatives. Sun Zi lists them in order, "Strategy", "Alliances", "Negotiation", then "War in the opened fields", and the last and worst is "Attack Castles". We can add a few more ourselves, such as the PESTEL factors of politics, economic, social, technology, environment and legal (eg international laws, UN etc).

3. More than a Conqueror - Converting the Enemy to Friend

An even better strategy is to convert the enemy to become a friend. Then, you become a 'more than a conqueror." Why? A conqueror conquers you by force. You will always look for an opportunity to fight back. But if he wins your heart and become your friend, then they will not strike back. Could this be real? Yes. In the famous story of the Three Kingdoms, 孔明七纵孟获 KongMing Caught and Let Go MengHuo Seven Times. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meng_Huo Kong Ming captured and released the local leader seven times until he finally swore allegiance to Shu Han.

4. Strategic Alliance & Persuasion of Gui Gu Zi

The teaching of Gui Gu Zi on Strategic Alliance and Persuasion influenced many of his students to become prime ministers and commanders of the warrior states then. A famous story is how Su Qin (a student of Gui Gu Zi) persuaded the king of the State of Qi to return 10 cities back to the State of Yan. During the transition of power to a new king of Yan, Qi attacked Yan and took over ten cities. Later, the State of Qin married their princess away to King of Yan for form alliance. Su Qin went to meet the King of Qi. He first congratulated the king for his growth in power but then said he was worried about him. Qi King asked him for the reason. Su Qin said that Yan has a marriage relationship with Qin and they have a strong alliance. It is only by time that Qin and Yan will attack Qi. "Does your majesty think that you can overcome their combined forces?",asked Su Qin. King of Qi agreed and sent Su Qin back to Yan with the return of the ten cities to build a good relationship. So we can see that cities can be captured even without having any war. The power of strategic alliances with persuasion can be seen the many stories recorded in 战国策 "Records on the Warring States period".

Lim Liat (c) 23 Jan 2018

For more on Sun Zi and Gui Gu Zi, please see Sun Zi and Other Strategists



01 January 2018

Actions For Your Planning - Gui Gu Zi's Wisdom#9 C7 揣篇 Appraisal

"Failures come not from lack of planning but from lack of actions before the planning", says Zhai HongSheng, Sinology Master of PRC. The GIGO (Garbage-In Garbage-Out) principle applies not just to computer science but to all activities as well.  All planning must begin with much effort in an appraisal of the situation. Not just the observable and measurable factors but also the intentions of the players. "Who has what" and more importantly "What are they going to do with what they have?". Learn more from Gui Gu Zi Chapter 7 揣篇 Appraisal of Situations & Intentions.
The Importance of Pre-Planning Actions - The Appraisal of Situation & Intentions

Most planning presentation comes with PowerPoint supported by charts and data in Excel Spreadsheet that misled us into wrong thinking that planning is about coming out with such a presentation. We have also taken the easy way of making assumptions and playing with What-ifs rather than going down to the fields to validate our assumptions and doing survey and investigations to collect actual data to feed into our model.

It is important for me to repeat the quote mentioned earlier:
  • "Failures come not from lack of planning but from lack of actions before the planning" ---- Zhai HongSheng, Sinology Master of PRC. 
Gui Gu Zi begins this chapter with such a reminder:
  • Even if we have the virtues of the founding kings, the wisdom of the sages, unless we also know and do the appraisal of the situations, there is no way to predict and plan well.
  • Such is the foundation of any strategy and of persuasions.
  • The most difficult thing is to know before and acts before it happens. In short, a correct prediction is most difficult.
Do BOTH - Appraisal of Situation & Intentions

Most of us will tend to look at the observable things(more on what to look at later) when we appraise a situation. Who has what and how much and how strong they are. But we must add the "intentions" of people. It is the intentions that cause things to change. So Gui Gu Zi tells us:
  • Since the ancient time, those that know how to rule the world well must measure and compare the power in the world and study the intentions of the feudal lords. If one is not careful in examining the relative strengths, then one cannot know the balance of strong and weak. Not studying the intentions and relations of the lords, one cannot know the hidden dynamics of changes.
Static Comparative Analysis of Situations:

To discover the balance of power at a particular time.
  1. Resources Levels?
  2. Population Sizes?
  3. Needs - Excess or Insufficient? 
  4. Terrain Characteristics - Advantages & Harms?
  5. Strategic Plan for Long or Short Term?
  6. The relationships between King and Officers? Who are good & who are bad?
  7. Their Consultants intelligence and numbers.
  8. Seasonal Factors and Trends --- Disaster or Fortune?
  9. The Relationships with the other Feudal Lords, which can be used and which cannot be used?
  10. The morale of the population, secured or panic? What they like? What they hate?
  11. Do Reflections and Discernment.
To apply such wisdom in modern business, we need to do some mapping. Kings and officers can be mapped to the senior management of the major players in your market. Populations can be mapped to your potential customers. We can add in the typical factors PESTEL, which stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technology, Environment and Legal, for the Seasonal trends. Relationships with other Feudal Lords can be the supply chains and partnerships of the major players. Sun Zi's Art of War has a shorter list of five factors and seven measures which concentrate on the fighting force. The five are Dao/Philosophy of Business, Seasonal, Terrains, Leadership, and Organization& Methods. We should use both together to get a better understanding of the forces at play and the balance of power.

Discovery the Hidden Intentions:

To discover the hidden intentions and dynamics that will cause changes, we can begin by careful observation of behavior. In modern terms, we learn to read the body language.
    The internal changes in hidden emotions will be seen in the external. Hence must always observe and discover in depth to know the inner hidden things. We can also test them. Some obvious ones will be:
  1. Happiness reveals Desires
    When they are happy, go to the extreme(by talking, following, encouraging them to do more) to bring out their desire. If there are any desires, they will show up.
  2. Fear leads to Hatreds
    When they are fearful, go to the extreme to find out what they hate. If there are any hatreds, they will show up. 
  3. Bring Change to see their reactions.
    The emotions will show under stress of change.
  4. If No Reaction - Then Ask the people close to them.
    Some people are very good at hiding their emotion. So we can ask the people close to them, and know what they are comfortable and secured with.
Techniques for Persuasion - Just One Principle:
Planning requires the analysis of relative powers. For persuasion, we must discover the intentions. Find out what their worry and desires. Then you can decide to honor or to despise, to emphasize or to lighten, to benefit or to harm, to succeed or to fail all with just one principle - find out his desires and use the right method accordingly to get his agreement and support.

One More Thing: The Process of Discovery Dialogues

Choose the right time for persuasion. Do only if there are benefits? Observe the movement of insects, it is either for gaining benefits or running away from harms, to ensure change for good. Making change is to improve one's position. So, beautify your words, write an organized article, and then have a discussion is the way to discover intention. 

In short, persuasion begins with pre-suasion.

Lim Liat (c) 1 Jan 2018