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

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