30 December 2010

Sun Zi Art of War-3: Health Check with 7 Measures

What is well known and yet need to be repeated often about management? Measurement. If you don't have a measure, then you are out of control. You become and get what you measure. Without measure, you don't know how you are progressing. Without targets, you can't tell whether you have arrived.  Because measure affects behavior, what and how you measure and what you do with the measured result had great impact on the behavior of people, it could be good or bad. So the measurement system itself need to be reviewed regularly. Here is Sun Zi's proposed Seven Measures explained in mind-map format:

  1. Top Leadership (The King) commitment to the Mission & Values
    1. Does the top embrace and practice the mission and values and thereby gain the following and commitment of his men, such that the men are willing to die for the cause (Factor 1 of 5 Warfare Factors). (Dao by itself could be translated as whether the Top has character that follows the righteous Ways. But in context, we had use Mission and Values instead.
    2. A lot of top leaders just talk and don't walk their talk and wonder why people are not following or trusting them. 
    3. It is common for consultants to find that their clients staff generally could not tell the mission and values of their companies that are written and published on their website and manual.
    4. How do we measure this? Not by measuring the Top leader's attributes but by measuring the outcome desired! Hence measures like employee satisfaction, staff turnover rates, ranking in top companies to work for, employees recommending others to join their companies, etc are the better to use.
    5. Personally, I feel that Top Leadership is responsible for the culture of the company. Hence, measures on culture and values are useful too.
  2.  Commanders - Capabilities
    1. Sun Zi tell us to measure this. For the measures, please see Sun Zi Art of War-6: Leadership Skills and Creating HPO.
    2. Capabilities required may be classified into general soft skill and specific domain skill needed for the jobs. Different strategic jobs need different skill sets, so we must come out with our system of measurements.
  3. Timing & Position
    1. These two factors are rated together. 
    2. Again, we must use output and outcome measures. So we could use measures like cycle-times, delays (with respect to plan, with respect to competitors).
    3. Right position and timing should produces good revenues for us and hence such financial measures are useful too. Cost savings or over-runs are useful as well.
  4. Laws (Policies) Implemented?
    1. Implemented can be measured in stages:Drafting, Written, Communicated, Enforced. 
    2. We can measure the content (quality and depth of the laws) and also the extend or how widespread in the organization, are they being enforced.
  5. Work-Force Strength
    1. Strength can be measured in Capability Level and Size (no of people).
    2. A good measure is Readiness Measure - the number and type of skills have divided by the number and type of skills required.
    3. Work-force's productivity is enabled by the productive assets like machines, methods, materials, environment, and measurement(instrumentation) (6M). Hence, I included them here.
  6. Work-Force Training
    1. Are the work-force skills set being continuously improved. Is there a program to ensure this is so. How many and what are the scope of the exercises that are carried out by the men? Exercises are reviewed and improved. Our soldiers do that regularly so what about our employees.
    2. Training need not be formal. It is best to create a Learning Organization for self-learning to ensure the man and the organization learn over time.
  7. Rewards & Punishments
    1. Are there rewards and punishments systems? 
    2. Do they support the enforcement of the Laws/Policies or do they go against them?
    3. Are the system clearly understood by the workforce?
    4. Are they fairly and transparently enforced? Do the workforce trust the system? Untrusted incentives system create suspicion, fear and cheating. 
    5. Most people are very suspicious of measurement system, especially when they are used for incentive systems. There are proper way to do them.
What are Missing?
What do you think are the Measures that are missing from Sun Zi's Art of War? Take a look at the Singapore Quality Award System Business Excellence Framework fig 1. It covers Leadership(Driver), System of Planning, Information, Processes, People, Customers, and Outcome of Results, in an environment of Learning & Innovation. 

In the mind map I listed down weapons and other assets and customers. Assets could be included in the workforce strength. A key element missing is CUSTOMERS. One can argued that it is included in the Timing and Positioning. That is so because I change terrain to positioning with creates the concept of marketing position with reference to the customers and to the competitors. This missing is because Sun Zi is about Warfare whereas business is a Love-affair with Customers that I stated in the post of this Sun Zi Series. 

For the seven measures, six are internal and only one Timing and Positioning is external. In the war, timing is about weather, seasons and positioning is about terrain. In business, we will extend it to mean customers desires/satisfaction, market trends, relative positioning to competitors and the macro factors PESTLE (Politics, Economic, Social, Technology, Environmental and Legal)

Got Strength or NOT?
Our strength or lack of, should be measured in the eyes of the customers, relative to our competitors'. Hence, Sun Zi is emphasizing that we need to know both, our competitors and ourselves in order to ensure success. Knowing oneself alone has a 50% chance of success. Not knowing either is sure to fail.

What is Your Company's Health?

1. Can you come out with 7-10 measures for your organization (Remember to include one for CUSTOMERS). 
  • For customers, to just measure satisfaction only. Studies show that satisfied customers behavior just like unsatisfied customers; only those are highly satisfied will be loyal. So it is better to measure Net Promoter Score. 
2. What is Your Score? What are the areas of strength and weaknesses?
3. Pick a key Competitor, do one about him, or better, ask your customers to do one about him.
4. How do you compare against him?
5. What actions should you be taking? About your strengths and not just about fixing weaknesses.

Update 2 May 2013
A typical error in quoting Sun Zi is "知己知彼,百战百胜".
The phrase in 3:6 and 10:5 is "知彼知己, 百战不殆;知天知地,胜乃可全。”
There are 3 key errors:
  1. Order. Know our enemy first and then we can compare ours against the enemy. Most people look  at themselves to claim their strengths and weaknesses. That is incorrect. Our strengths or weaknesses can only be determined in comparison with the enemies that we are going to fight with and with respect to the theater and timing of our operations. Strengths and weaknesses should be determined from the external. In business, the external are competitors and customers, the markets, industries, and locations that we operate in.
  2. Not Win every time but Not Loose every time. It is a secured position but need another two factors to ensure a win every time.
  3. The Two More Factors: Know the Heaven & Earth - i.e. The Right Timing and the Right Terrain to take advantage of.
Next post: Sun Zi Art of War-4: Appraisal & Prediction

BVOTECH Copyrighted 2010

28 December 2010

Sun Zi Art of War-2: How to Manage the Five Factors Well

Continuing with  Sun Zi Art of War (Sun Tzu) in One Minute the details for the 5 factors are shown in the mind map below:
You can see that Sun Zi explained its terms well.

The first factor is Dao 道 which stands for the The Right Way literally. But from his explanation, I feel the use of the word mission, the cause, and the values one belief in are more appropriate translation. The mind-map note without the orange box reference is my added commentary its application in business and management. All organization must begins and exist with a meaningful mission - the reason for its existence and the value that it brings to the society.

Second is Tian 天  Heaven or Sky + Timing, Seasons or Dimension of Time
Sun Zi explained that the SKY means weather, day or night, cold or hot, seasonal changes. From other parts of his book, I find using trends and timing are appropriate. Chinese traditional teaching on warfare uses 天时地利人和, literally means Heaven-Time, Terrain-Advantages and People's harmonious support.

Third is 地 Terrain or Position or Dimension of Space
The terrain, the shape, size, depth etc has great effect on the strategies to be chosen. Sun Zi in fact spent a few more chapters to describe the different types and how to exploit them such as in Chapter 10 Terrain and Chapter 11 Nine Terrains.
For modern day business, terrain could refers to where the market is. It could be better to use it as the positioning of our offering, with respect to our target market and competitors' offering.

Fourth is 将 Commanders or Managers or Leaders
Sun Zi tells us the specific qualities to look for in our commanders - wisdom, integrity, compassion, bravery and discipline. Values are to be balanced - we need compassion and compassion must be balanced with disciplined. Intelligence is needed but it must be balanced with integrity. There is nothing more dangerous than talents without integrity.

Sun Zi also gives us the hiring and firing principle - hire those who share the company' 道 Dao, cultures and values (implied by your order and plan) and fire those who do not match the company's culture and values.

Decisions making are to be based on facts and evaluated objectively. Follow those that bring benefits, increase our posture, gain public support. Sun Zi is against using the company resources to advance one's personal goals and gains. Look for leaders than can put company's and others' interest above their own selfish gains.

Sun Zi also tells us how to allocate authorities according to the strategic contribution of the positions. Giving the right power to the key positions creates strength. We are then left with finding the right people to fill the key positions. How to do that is given on the next factor.

Fifth is 法 Laws + Order
The organization must have openly stated and understood laws and policies on telling people
  1. what are the right and wrong things to do. 
  2. What is the promotion system and how does one get promoted. 
  3. What are the strategic jobs.
I added a reference from 10:4 to give a balance (Sun Zi, or Classical Chinese Thinking, is always about balanced). It is not Laws without compassion. 10:4 exhort the leaders to treat their men as their own children; to love them but not to spoil them.

Application To Your Business - 10 Questions for Your Review
With these five factors in mind, can you review your company situation?
  1. Consider your company mission, are they meaningful and motivating? 
  2. What values are key to accomplishing your mission? 
  3. Are those values institutionalized into policies? 
  4. Do you have corresponding incentives and discipline systems to enforce those key values? 
  5. Are your offering leading, riding, following, or outdated by the market trends?
  6. Is your offering position well? 
  7. How are you organized ? 
  8. Can you tell which are the strategic jobs? 
  9. Do you have the right people in those key jobs? 
  10. Are those key jobs given the right authorities to make those key decisions? 
This is a first cut for your organizational health review.

Sun Zi tells us more in the next post Sun Zi Art of War-3: Health Check with 7 Measures.

BVOTECH copyrighted 2010

Sun Zi Art of War (Sun Tzu) in One Minute

Sun Zi's Arts of War is so famous that need little introduction. Many translations and applications to business are available. In Business as War is Half the Truth, I presented business is more a love affair with customers than a war between competitors. Customers are the prime concern with competitors as reference for the customers. But since it is a book not just about warfare, but about creating an organization that is agile and powerful, we need to pay much attention to it.

The book was very well written and organized. It started with an overview and then expand the points in greater details later. It is a book that explains itself. It gave terms and then explain what the terms mean and then how to apply them. It clearly shows the system mindedness of the author. 

If there be a shortage of time, one just needs to read the first chapter (there are 13 chapters) on planning. It gives the complete overview and the main strategy of war. I summarized the book in the following mind-map.

Overview of Sun Zi's Arts of War
Because my English translation may not capture the full meaning of the original Chinese, I keep the original Chinese text for comparison by those who know the language well. In the mind-map above, the orange color box with R: x:y represents the Chapter x and Verse y of the original text so that reader can quickly find the original verse or chapter to read for himself.

Warfare is a matter of utmost importance as it affects the survival of the country. It is divided into 4 main parts:
  1. Five Factors to manage well.
    1. Mission & Values (Leadership and Organization) or Philosophies or beliefs.
    2. Seasons, Trends and Timing. The opportune time.
    3. Terrain or Positioning.
    4. Commanders (their qualities and capabilities) i.e. Leadership
    5. Laws or Policies i.e. the methods and processes.
  2. Appraise, or audit, or do a health check on Seven-Measures.
    1. The seven measures are related to the five factors. It is the extent and success of the five factors and the morale and capability of the men. More details are given in mind-maps that follow.
    2. This scoring or assessment system is like the Singapore Quality Awards or Deming Awards.
  3. Appraise the Situation by looking at the measures, and make a comparison with the enemies' so that we can arrive at a conclusion on the probability of winning.
    1. Individual scoring is of not much use. It must be compared against the scores of our competitors (the enemies) to reveal our relative strength or weaknesses and then deriving the right strategies. 
    2. This is like doing the SWOT analysis well - deriving strategies to ride on the opportunities, overcome or convert the threats into opportunities.
    3. A key principle is to know the enemy/competitors and to know oneself.
  4. A list of Good Strategies and tactics.
    1. Sun Zi tells us the main strategy of war against the enemy is by surprising the enemy, and this is main achieved by deception. Deception is achieved with the "Invert" operator. Making strong look weak; weak to appear strong etc (Sun Zi provides quite a list. See Sun Zi Art of War-5: The Principles for Good Strategies ).
    2. Sun Zi also covers the strategies exploit the five factors above.
    3. There is not one right strategy or a fixed pattern for all situations. The KEY is to be agile, flexible and adaptable to exploit the situations.
    4. In addition, there are strategies in the use of fire (in today terms, may be artillery or air raids) and the use of spies (espionage) to collect intelligence and to give false information to misled the enemy.
Sun Zi stresses a lot on planning before action. Planning that are based on facts, situations, intelligences on the enemy, and then try to gain advantages over the enemy. Early probing and careful planning provide decisive committed action at the right time and place to gain a win in the shortest possible time. Posturing of Power 势(accumulation of strength) and then a decisive control 节 release at the right time is key to early success.  Lack of power or releasing too early or late are bad.

More details on Sun Zi's Art of War will follow in future.

  1. Sun Zi Art of War (Sun Tzu) in One Minute
  2. Sun Zi Art of War-2: How to Manage the Five Factors 
  3. Sun Zi Art of War-3: Health Check with 7 Measures
  4. Sun Zi Art of War-4: Appraisal & Prediction 
  5. Sun Zi Art of War-5: The Principles for Good Strategies
  6. Sun Zi Art of War-6: Leadership Skills and Creating HPO
If you are interested in knowing the Art of War and the Bible, please see

Copyright of Bvotech 2010

21 December 2010

Yin-Yang Thinking Framework - Innovative and Critical

There are two basic thinking framework that I find very useful.

The first is the popular 5W1H framework or Why, What, When, Who, Where and How. When I encounter an issue, I will start with finding the answers for the 5W1H. (See The Basic Thinking Framework 5W1H).

The other powerful thinking framework is the Ancient Chinese Yin-Yang framework (from I-Ching). (note: A more comprehensive innovative thinking method is BVITS).

Yin-Yang Thinking Framework
To a Chinese, the Yin-Yang concept is ingrained in his thinking. For a healthy body, there must a balance of Yin and Yang. Yang relates to masculine and Yin relates to famine. Foods are classified into Yang (heaty), Yin(Cooling) and Neutral (Balanced) types. Fried foods are heaty, the Yang type. Most fruits are cooling, the Yin-type. If the body is too heaty, then one needs to take the cooling food staff like fruits, or tea (most common type).

Such Bipolar Yin-Yang Concept provides a good thinking framework.  Here is a mind-map:

Bi-Polar Concept - Opening Up the Options

Any thing or event can be viewed from multiple angles. There should be at least 2 extreme points of view if not more. There is no one right answer. It depends on the situations, timing and the people involved. For any property, we can find the two extremes. Physics tells us there is the particle and its anti-particle. For every force exerted there is a reactive force in the opposite direction. Light is a wave and is also a particle. This is the yin-yang concept. We can push, or we can pull. We can move, or we can stop. We can start-stop endlessly over time. In the mind-map above, I classified the yin-yang framework into 4 categories of force, time&motion, space&properties and character values. By going through them, it opens up lots of options that we can choose.

Invert - The Power Operator for Innovation
With the Bi-polar concept, we can easily come out with the invert operator. For every idea, we can ask what, the opposing idea, the mirror image or the switched idea is. All the creative thinking methods that I have studied always have this invert operator.

Balanced - Range - Intensify - Extremities
The Yin-Yang concept does not just have 2 extremities or two poles. Discretely speaking, there is the balanced , mid-point or neutral position. It is actually tri-states, Yin, Yang and Neutral/Balanced. But why should we be restricted to discrete values only? We can have a range of values. If we have a range, then we can intensify, increase the value, of the parameters, even to the extreme points in either direction. Thinking like this open out a big wide range of possibilities. We need not stop at a dimension but have multiple dimensions too.

Win-Win for All
There is not need to be forced into an either or position. We can move into a position where we can have the best of both worlds. That is the true objective and spirit of innovation - never a compromised but a break-through. Breakthrough can be achieved over the I-Ching teaching of time and position(space), properties and people.

Cyclical Movement of Yin and Yang
On its own, things progresses in cycle. What goes up must come down. The cyclical change of states tells us that we need to monitor the changes and proactively take actions to prevent, resist, delay (the yang way) or just follow and ride on the trends (the yin way). In whatever phase of an economic cycle, there are always winners and losers. We just have our mind set to be alert and prepare to convert the threats (yin) into opportunities(the yang).

Hope that our mindset is opened with possibilities with the Yin-Yang thanking framework.

Read about a more basic thinking framework in The Basic Thinking Framework 5W1H.

Update Personal Moral Character Yin-Yang  23 Jul 2011

From Chinese Classics 《说苑·敬慎》 (Lesser Known than Lun Yu):


Confucius said,
"At a height yet can come down to the low,
full and yet as if empty,
rich yet is thrifty,
honorable yet is able to be humble,
wise yet as if dump,
bold yet as if fearful (and hence cautious),
different yet can accept,
has great depth yet as if shallow (able to make complex thing simple to understand),
bright and yet can be dark (not showing off, overshadowing others).
This means one can be less and not go to the extreme.
Those who could do this must those that have high moral character.
I-Ching says "Not wanting to sacrifice and only to gain will result in loss.
Giving of oneself instead brings great gain."

Lim Liat copyrighted 23 July 2011

Yin Yang vs Dualism vs Delectics

Yin-Yang is different from Dualism or Delectics in the following ways:

1. Yin-Yang comes from the same Dao.
Yin and Yang are but two opposite attributes of the same thing. They are the two sides of the same coin. The head is yang, and the tail is yin. The ancient Chinese use the palm of the hand as an illustration.

2. Yin Yang cannot exists without the other.
Yin is defined according to the Yang and Yang according to Yin. Yang cannot exists without Yin or if Yang exists, then Yin must exist.

3. Yin and Yang are Complementary.
Dualism and Delectics(thesis and anti-thesis) are in opposition against each other. Yin and Yang complement each other to create the proper balance for the growth of the whole. They are harmonizing forces rather than confrontational. Yin does not overcome and remove the Yang or vice versa. They are there for each other. In fact, there is Yin in Yang and Yang in Yin because they come from the same source. They are the attributes of the same entity.

So in Marxist' Delectics where there are the conflicts of employers and the employees and the eventual overcoming of employees over employers. In Yin-Yang mindset, employers and employees exist for each other ---- for the survival and the growth of the company. Employers are in someway the employees of the Company. Employees are in someway the owners of the Company. Each has its role to play out for the benefit of the whole Company. Each sees the contribution of the other and value the other, working at his best, to serve each other, for the shared ownership of the company.

Just read this from FaceBook friends:
Yin-Yang is one cannot exist without the other.
Vision without action is a daydream.
Action without vision is a nightmare.

Lim Liat (c) 14 Oct 2013

13 December 2010

10 Pointers for Coaching/Teaching

While searching through the net, came across a good article on "10 Pointers for Self-Discipline". It was written to the teachers and is in Chinese.  I think it applies to being a good leader in coaching or a good parent as well. Hence, I just summarize the main points as follow:

We must use our love, patience and sincerity to treat every student. Education is a science. Developing people is a fine arts. The ten pointers are (my version, not a literal translation):
  1. Concern for the Total Man. Not only about the student study performance, but also his emotions and moods.
  2. Give students time to change - step by step. They can't change immediately.
  3. Changing mindset and behavior needs patience, lots of patience. Mindset and behavior are like floods water. Blocked it and it rises higher and increases the pressure to overflow. The only way to release the pressure is to channel them to the right ways and it takes lot of patience.
  4. Everyone is a pearl inside a shell. It is the teacher job to help open the shell and let the pearl shines forth. Don't be prejudiced against anyone.
  5. Criticizing them openly in the class will only build up their rebellion against the teacher.  Be stingy in use of criticisms. Don't jump to conclusion too quickly. Don't ever be proud and contented to point out the lies of a student.
  6. Being strict in discipline is good. But too finding of faults is not good education. Sometimes, you need to learn of the arts of muddiness. 
  7. Good result comes from good learning style; a good learning style comes from a good class atmosphere, a good class atmosphere rise from the uprightness and it comes from good class leaders.
  8. Show more tolerance those that make mistakes. Be objective and fair. Address the issue and not attach the person.  Protect his self-esteem. Give time and opportunity for correction. Promote student self-reflection.
  9. Harsh education system produces impatient students. Reprimanding education produces obedient yes-only student. Opened, people-centered education produces students that can think independently and with insights.
  10. Students can accept teachers' criticisms and corrections. What they can't stand usually is the methods of criticism.

10 December 2010

Levels of Leadership - Can We Measure Leadership?

This is copied from my bvotech/blog Levels of Leadership – Which Level are Yours?

In there a way to measure how good a leader are we? In the typical maturity model (like CMMI for software or system integration development), there is a rating of 1 to 5 with 1 meaning non-existence or ad hoc, 2 for managed, 3 for defined, 4 for quantitative managed and 5 for optimizing. That is probably a good measure for a process, or process-control to be more precise. What about this more intangible things called “Leadership”? How do we measure the quality or level of leadership.

Leadership is about leading and managing people to accomplish a mission together.

Achievement of the mission is the outcome measure of the team – leader + the people/followers. What about just the leader alone? How do we measure him besides the outcome measure of goals accomplishment. We are left with the other key parameter – the people or the followers. What do the followers think of their leader? This was in fact what Lao Zi did, writing in about 2600 years ago in Dao De Jing Chapter 17.  Below is a mind-map of the Chinese and the English translation:

If we go by Level 0 as no leadership, or not a leader, then we can based on Lao Zi’s rating and come out with the rating as follows:
  1. Level 1: Not a leader. May be a competent individual or worker.
  2. Level 2: A leader that is despised and hated by his followers.  Lao Zi explained that such leader lack integrity. The followers do not trust him. This is likely that such leader tries to lead them by spinning stories and telling them lies. He lead them by hiding information, distorted stories, hiding truth and try to manipulate them through their lack of knowledge. It may work for the short term but the people found out the truth.
  3. Level 3: A leader that they feared. The leader rules  by strict laws and punishments. He rules by creating fear.  Follow me exactly or else. He is likely the behavior of an autocratic leader.  His model of people is Theory X – people are lazy and need to be forced to work hard.
  4. Level 4: A leader that people love and honor and praise. This is a leader that show concern for his followers and take good care of them. He is also a leader with wisdom that do things productively, rightly and fair gaining the respect and praise of his followers. He probably practices situational leadership and servant leadership.
  5. Level 5: A Invisible leader that no one know! This is because the people thought that they accomplished the mission by themselves! Or they accomplish the mission together. The credit belongs to no one but everyone in the team! The leader does not see the accomplishment of the team as more important than himself. He just want to see the mission accomplished and the team succeeds. Once mission is accomplished, he does not fight for rewards or credits but give the rewards to his people. He step down and step out quietly.  This is the principle of Lao Zi’ of  Self-directed team or “Non violating the Way/Dao Action management” 无为而治.
How can one be an invincible leader? (updated by liat 20 Nov 2015)
  • Give them a mission-vision-values that they can believe in and adopt as their own. They will naturally try to achieve the vision without being forced to. This belief, the philosophy is the Dao, the 1st factor of Sun Zi's Art of War 5 factors.
  • Forsee and prevent the problems that may arise. Because there are no problem, people will never be aware about it. Leadership is taken for granted. 
  • Do not demand or fight for credits and rewards. Pass to able hands and leave when the mission is accomplished.
  • Giving the resources, set up the infrastuctures, the operating procedures that enable the people to work together effectively. They follow the system and forget about the leaders that make all these possible in the first place.
We are see the progress, from non-leader, lousy leader (despised and hated), fearful leader, loved and honored leader and self-directed or self-managed team (invisible leader).

How productive is such team?
  1. No leadership is a gathering, may be social, that does not accomplish any mission (no one set the mission).
  2. Bad leadership do not accomplish much, may be continued the loss-making.
  3. Fearful leadership accomplish mission with minimum standard.
    The people, due to fear, do the very minimum to satisfy the standard requirements. Why? Because any attempt to do new things may end in mistake. Any such mistake will be heavily punished. Hence, it is better for people to do as little as possible to minimize mistakes. This kind of leadership may still work well in situations and processes that are stable and well known. However, in situation of changes, such leadership and method will fail.
  4. In this world of knowledge and conceptual economy, of increasing complexity and increasing pace of change, the knowledge to do things well does not reside in a few people, whether the chairman, CEO or COO, by every where in the organization. It is better to consolidate and aggregate the wisdom of everyone in and even without (the customers, the suppliers, partners etc) to define the strategies and work together to accomplish the mission and vision of the organization. This present world needs the leadership of level 4 Honored Leader and 5 Invisible Leader to succeed, especially in the long run.

It may be good to compare with Jim Collins (‘Good to Great’ Book Author) Level 5 Leadership.

The levels are:
Level 1 Capable Individual
Level 2 Contributing Team Member
Level 3 Competent Manager – Organizes people and resources to achieve predetermined objectives.
Level 4 Effective Leader – Motivates people to achieve a clear compelling vision with high performance standards.
Level 5 Executive – Humility+Will Power to accomplish great and lasting missions with people.

Jim Collins has the additional descriptions for the Level 5 Leader:
  • Face the facts and handle the realities. Do whatever is right and needed. Stick to Core Values.
  • Right person on the bus in the right Seat and Wrong person off the bus and set the direction.
  • Hedgehog perseverance to be the Best =Passion of People + What Organization Best at + Its Best Economics
  • Culture of Discipline = Disciplined People, Disciplined Thought, Disciplined Action.
  • Use of Technologies as Accelerators
  • Flywheel – build up from small and increases to breakthrough.
  • Core Values: Focus on Organization, People, and NOT self. Be Ethical.
  • Succession Planning for creating Lasting Organization
The qualities of Jim’s Level 5 Leader is like Lao Zi Level 4 The Loved and Honored Leader.  It is close to Lao Zi’s Level 5 The Invisible Leader. The Ancient Chinese Classics has also much to say about Leadership and cover much greater depth than the Level 5 Leadership. It is summarized in “内圣外王” -  A Saint within will make a King without. Great leadership comes from a strong inner character and wisdom. I will cover this more in future. A short post with the Christian perspective is in How to be King.

Lim Liat (c)

See also The Simple 4 Dimensions Measure of Leadership Quality

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Moral Laws are for the Sinners says Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 18
More:Ancient Chinese Wisdom

08 December 2010

The Right Way to Consult I-Ching

This post is reproduced from my bvotech.com/blog on the same topic.

Alternative titles: How to use i-Ching or Yi Jing rightly.

To the common people, I-Ching (Book of Change, YiJing) is a book of divination. Hence, their way of consulting I-Ching is by casting a lot, or more accurately, drawing a stick. In ancient time, it is about drawing of straw. To those who know about I-Ching, it is not a book of divination and it is not about luck. It is about handling changes and ensuring good outcomes. See I-Ching in One Minute for Abundant Life.

The Random Method
Ancient Chinese had a relatively complex process of casting the lot. To me, they were just trying to ensure they had a good random number generator. With availability of computer, we can generate a random number easily. If we don’t know where to start, it is easy and good to start randomly anywhere. Here is one random Hexagram generator. Go the site and click on the cast button. You will get a starting hexagram number in the pink button. Clicking the button will bring you to detailed description of the hexagram and its stage lines. If you click cast, you will get another hexagram. That says much about the divination method.

The Right Method
To consult I-Ching, we need to have a situation or problem at hand. In I-Ching, the context (of the situations, the players, environment …), timing and positions are key parameters. Let take a typical issue to start with. I was impressed today with William Ury Ted Talk on Conflict Resolution and Mediation. Please watch the video to see his recommended method of conflict resolution. I am curious, if I consult I-Ching, will I come out with some good answers on conflict resolution and mediation. So, this is how I will seek the wisdom of I-Ching on conflict resolution.

The Computerized Tools
I teach courses on Creative & Visual Thinking Methods, Creating Learning Organization and Knowledge Management. Hence, I capture the knowledge of i-Ching using mind-map tools. I have them in Freemind, Mindjet’s MindManager, and Personal Brain formats. Freemind or its fork Freeplane are good and FOC open source software. Mind-map are more tree-like and are good for organizing and presentation of concepts. Personal Brain is a very interesting network concept-map. It is great for linking concepts but is a bit of a challenge to layout the linked concepts in presentation. It provides tags and hence is great to search and look for related information. Working with computerized tools allow quick search and retrieval, organization and update of knowledge.

Consulting I-Ching About Conflict Resolution & Mediation
If we know i-Ching, we can straight away recall that there is precisely a hexagram that talk about conflict. It is hexagram 06 訟 Litigation – Conflict Resolution.
The main description reads “integrity and honesty are withhold, need to be watchful and stay with the middle-path/balanced of justice is good. It says litigation has bad ending. Good to have people with influence and power on your side. It is no good to start big project“. You can quickly jump to the summary and detail lines to gain additional wisdom. I will just reproduce them below for you:

Summary on 6 Litigation:
Litigation consumes resources and is bad for relationship. It is best prevented by having a detailed plan, covering all possible scenarios and provide settlements clauses for them. The clearer and more foresighted one can be, the lesser the need for a litigation. For partnership, please include an exit-clause.
Nevertheless, when we execute, some misunderstanding and disputes could arise. The stage-lines give us additional wisdom to handle them.
1. Settle it Quickly even with small losses.
2. Flee: If you don’t have a case against those who sue you, then give in. Re think your strategies and business.
3. Get Support, from your past good work, network, reputation, advices of elders.
4. Follow uprightness.
5. Get a fair and wise Judge.
6. Watch out – Winning on a bad foundation is loss.

How’s that for a start? It tells us not to take up litigation to resolve issue. It is better to go for mediation. The reason we have conflict is because of differences. Mediation is about resolving of differences. Searching for differences in my mind-map or through using of tags, I can find another Hexagram 38睽 Deviation– Synergy of Differences. The description say that in small matter, differences is good. In the commentary, we know differences are good when they are resolved. I reproduce the teaching below:

Summary of 38睽 Deviation:
We are created to be unique and different from each others. We need to excel in our unique strengths and not to be like others. We need to share the common goals for the higher whole of which we are all parts of. Synergy is of differences and not sameness. Unity is common goals with different and committed people.
Wisdom from the Stage Lines:
1. Different views help prevent mistakes. It is good.
2. Sharing the same objective and values will be sufficient for unity.
3. Get a Strong Mentor to break impasse due to in fighting.
4. Build relationship with prominent people based on integrity.
5. Achieving group co-operation of complementary strengths brings celebration.
6. Deviation brings loneliness. People with different views are not against us but for us. Strength comes from putting the right talents to the right jobs.

After reading this, perhaps we can see that differences are not just bad per se. We need to re-frame our mindset – Differences could be good. The key is to create common and shared goals. How can we do that ?Sharing goals leads us to 13 同人 Companionship – Same Hearts for Teamwork.
How can we build good relationship? Building good relationship leads us to 08 比 Union – Relationship Building and to 58兑 Lake – Joy of Togetherness.
If each hexagram gives us 8 lines of wisdom, we have now walk through, from 6-Litigation, 38-Deviation, 13-Companionship, 8-Union and 58-Joy of Togetherness, 5 hexagrams or 40 lines of wisdom. Hopefully, that is enough pointers for us to resolve differences and enjoy the joy of togetherness.

What about My Business and Entrepreneurship?
I have already done that with The S-Curve & Bell Curve. All you need to do is to determine which stage of growth is your business in and than look up the relevant hexagrams for wisdom. A complete list is here. If you are just starting out, then refer to [1-starting] in the mind-map diagram and look up 03 屯 Sprouting – Starting is hard, 04 蒙 Naive – Learning, and 05 需 Needs – Wait for the Right Time. If your business is highly successful and it at its peak, then learn the wisdom from [5 Peek Success] and look up the list of hexagram listed such as 11泰 Great-Vibrant Flow, 14大有 Great Possession, 16豫 Enjoying – Yet Prepared etc.

Hope you can find your needed answers in I-Ching.