22 November 2008

Levels of Beliefs

The components, body, mind and heart that make up a person can be used to understand his behavior and belief. We are at times very moved and inspired by what the Leaders and Preachers say they believe in publicly only to be shocked by their behavior and private talks that reveal a different belief. Some one (e.g. John Ortberg's 'Faith & Doubt' )classify them at 3 levels:
  1. Body - What we Say we belief - the Public Belief.
  2. Mind - What we Think we belief - the Mental Accent
  3. Heart - What we Really belief and acting them out naturally - The Core Belief
Saying Belief
We say many things out of politeness that we don't really believe. We want others to think we believe. This is called a spin job or a marketing message. We can't tell the truth of a Spin or a Marketing message until we actually experience it. Most people think that 'Branding' is just that - a catchy and inspiring slogan or tag-line. But true Branding is about consistent experience with the proclaimed message. Some saying says that we are smart when we believe only 50% of what we hear and we are truly smart when we know which 50% to believe in. Hence, we learn not to fully trust the 'beliefs' we hear until we can see them in action. We also learn that saying it out is just 1st step.

Thinking Belief
There is a story about a Rope-Walker who publicly displayed his skill on rope-walking by carrying things and performing acrobat from one end of the rope to the other end. He asked his spectators whether they belief he can carry one of them and walk across the rope. Many responded that they believed. So he asked for volunteer. No one responded. After a long while, a small boy shouted that he wanted to. He said, "He is my Dad and I trusted him." So we know we may belief with our thinking only - it sounds rational, but it is not a true belief when we dare not follow what we think.

Thinking belief may show as fickle-mindedness. We thought something is true until we experience it to find out that it wasn't and we change our mind.

True Belief
True belief is conviction that we don't even think about it. We just act accordingly. We don't have to struggle to believe. That is true faith. Faith that guides our actions. So it sounds ironical that true belief is not having to try to belief or believing unconsciously. We can compare what we say we believe and what we think we believe against our actions to show whether there are any inconsistencies. The inconsistencies reveal what our true beliefs are.

Nevertheless, True Belief can be changed through knowing(the Mind) new truth and validated through experiencing (the Body) so that the new acquired belief can sink deep into our heart and be the guide to our actions without struggle anymore.

17 October 2008

Business as War is Half the Truth

Most people see Competitors as the biggest challenge to their business. Business is seen as a war. Books from the Military, like Sun Tze Art of War etc were highly recommended and studied, especially for designing strategies to overcome the competitors. But this war model is not correct.

Reason 1 Busines is a game of A, B & C not A against B

It is Courtship rather than War

It is not A(My Business) against B(The Competitor) in business. It is A trying to serve C (The Customer) with an alternative offering from B. It is a play of ABC and not just A against B.
The key in business is the Customer. He has at least 4 choices.
  1. Don’t know about the Offering.
    For new invention, the Customer may not even know about his needs.
    Henry Ford once said that if you asked customers what they wanted they would answered that they want a faster horse. (not a car!)
  2. Don’t Buy the Offering. Could be pricing, distance, etc. See Non-consuming Context of Clay Christensen’s books.
  3. Choose to buy from You.
  4. Choose to buy from Your Competitor.
Notice that your competitor is only a reference point issue. The main issue remains whether you notify the customer, make an offer that his benefits-cost-analysis is better for you than your competitor. Watching your competitor does not help you in addressing your customer’s needs. Understanding your customer’s needs and build your trust-relationship may even help you to make a profit by selling your competitor’s products! The key I want to stress is to focus on your customer more than your competitors.

Reason 2 Win-Win Not Win-Loose is the Game
A long term relationship that can be build between you and the customer is a win-win one. Win-Loose is a short term game.

Reason 3 Competitors as Partners
There is strength in unity. A marketplace full of competitors addressing similar products, like an IT Mall, is a main attraction for customers. Industry Association works for the benefits of their group of competitors.

Reason 4 Changes
In this world of rapid changes, the Merger and Acquisitions, the rise of new and disruptive technologies, it is difficult to see who are your competitors. The competition occurs perhaps on a deal by deal basis.

Hence, always focus on your Customers first and use your competitors as a reference point for judging how good your offering is.

Reason 5 Competitors are Beyond Your Control
While you can control and choose your actions, you cannot control what your competitors will do. You can influence and even misguide them, but you can never be sure their reactions to your actions.

Reason 6 Incremental Rather than Breakthrough Innovation and Market

(updated 23 Nov 2008)
Looking at competitors only get us further involved in the Red Ocean of low margin competitive Market. We tend to come out with just incremental innovation and improvement. Looking at the customers' needs, and experience allows us to create a Blue Ocean Market of without competitors. We look at not just serving the existing customers but also creating new a market to serve the non-customers of the past.

Microsoft Helped Apple - The True Quality of A Champion, Steve Jobs' Humility.

The best example of Competitors helping each other is Microsoft investing $150 million to help Apple.

Steve Jobs' announcement of Microsoft's investment.
If we want to move forward and see Apple healthy and prospering again, we have to let go of a few things here. We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose.

We have to embrace a notion that for Apple to win, Apple has to do a really good job.

And if others are going to help us that's great, because we need all the help we can get, and if we screw up and we don't do a good job, it's not somebody else's fault, it's our fault.

So I think that is a very important perspective. If we want Microsoft Office on the Mac, we better treat the company that puts it out with a little bit of gratitude; we like their software.
So, the era of setting this up as a competition between Apple and Microsoft is over as far as I'm concerned. This is about getting Apple healthy, this is about Apple being able to make incredibly great contributions to the industry and to get healthy and prosper again.
Microsoft $150Million investment, converted to 18.2 millions Apple shares later and sold. It is worth $5.5B+ with Apple shares pricing around $300+ in 2011.

Korean Drama "Bread King"
The Guru was explaining to the loser in the competition, "He, Zhuo Qiu, (the winner), only think about bread, whereas you only think about him (your  Competitor), who do you think will win?"

See also: Competition vs Opposition

25 March 2008

Competition vs Opposition

Many people treat their competitors as their oppositions - the enemy. This is incorrect. Competition and Opposition differ and the ways to handle them are also different.

In opposition, you have 2 parties - yourself and the opposition. In competition, you have at least 3 parties, 2 or more competitors trying to get the business of the one customer. There is the referee called the Customer who decides who win or loose. In opposition, your focus is the opposition. In competition, your focus should be the Customer and not just your competitors. You can win deals without even bothering about the competitors so long as you keep your eye on knowing and satisfying the Customer needs.

Overcoming Opposition
There are a few techniques to overcome opposition.
  1. Get the Purpose and Come out with Alternatives.
    Many quarrels may share the same purpose but disagree on the methods. e.g. Both parents want their children to do well but argue about the training and skills the children need to do well. In this case, it is best to list all the alternatives to achieve the same purpose and evaluate them.
  2. Get the Different View Points
    Quarrels arise also because of different points of view. The viewpoints of employees, management, stakeholders, and customers are different. What is good for one party may be bad for another. Creativity and innovation are needed to ensure win-win for all parties that are involved.
  3. Re-frame the Issue by looking from the Higher Level.
    When two subsystems conflict, resolution can usually be resolved at the system or super-system level. Take a look at banding of smoking in building. The higher level issue is fresh air inside building. Smoking are usually allowed in open-air. What are the factors causing bad-air in sick building ? Better filtering system, regular cleaning, air-circulation, etc Sources of bad air include our foods consumed in building, chemicals in paints, copying machine, carpets, etc. The solution might to have better areas for foods (pantry), smoking, copying when the circulation can be specially provided for.
  1. Focus on the Needs of the Customer 1st. Know your customer well.
  2. Show that your proposal is the best fit and give best outcomes for your customer from his point of view. This is habit 5 of 7 Habits of Effective People. Seek 1st to Understand and then Be understood. Note, attention is on the customer, with and for the customer and not the competitions. Competitor offering could be a reference but not the priority.
  3. Collaborate with Competitors.
    Competitors share the same market pie - make the pie bigger and all can grow together. There are advantages that competitors are co-located at one place to create the draw. Competitors also help us and challenge us to improve ourselves to provide better offerings for our customers and bring growth to the total system.
Competition in many cases are good for the competitors themselves beside the customers. Opposition is different, opposition want you to loose and that is a real war.

See also: Business as War is Half the Truth

05 January 2008

The Mentality & Danger of TQM

I have been a strong supporter of TQM (Total Quality Management) and related methodology like Six-Sigma. These are good things to minimize variations and ensure consistent quality. But over-emphasizing TQM or only doing TQM leads us to a "Defect Fixing" mentality. We are led to think that "success comes from removing defects or overcoming weaknesses/deficit". This is the danger of TQM mentality because this mentality is not fully correct.

A champion racer or swimmer needs more than just staying healthy and free from sickness. They have to train and build up their skill, mental and body strength etc. Such training has nothing or little to do with the healing of sickness or staying healthy. TQM is a necessary but insufficient condition for success to speak in mathematical language.

In Tom Rath's "Strengths Finder 2.0" pg 19 "Instead, we have discovered that the most successful people start with their dominant talent - and then add skills, knowledge, and practice to the mix. When they do this, the raw talent actually serves as a multiplier." In short, success comes from using and building up your strengths and not just fixing your deficit.

In the corporate world, in your business, you need to discover your strengths, go for innovations, and do not just rely on TQM for your success. TQM alone is not enough for success in the long term.

Building on your strengths, innovating and then augmented by TQM are the surer ways to success. For those who are interested in looking at things from the strength point of view, please see literature in Appreciative Inquiry .... http://appreciativeinquiry.case.edu/intro/default.cfm

The key is then:
Develop your strengths, outsource your weaknesses and you can become champions.
If you just focus on your weaknesses, even if you can fix it, you are just a mediocre average.

(note: outsourcing is about getting others to help you manage and do for you what they could do better than yourself).

Let me re-emphasize the needs for studying your success.
Quoting from Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast, "If you don't know the reasons for your success, then if you fail, you don't know how to fix it".

Lim Liat (c) 5 Jan 2008

[Update 6 Apr 2018]
Just found a story that testifies to building from your strengths to succeed in life.
See Design for Your Strengths