24 January 2011

Performance Management According to the Ten Commandments

For a quick review of 10-commandments, read my post on Principles & Insights from the Ten Commandments. It also show how I derive the following advices from the original 10 commandments. Applying to Corporate Performance Management, we have the following advices:
  1. Find out the What the Most Important Thing is.
    • This is usually your company's mission or vision statements. (There are much confusion about mission and vision statements and they are interchanged often. To me, mission is the why and vision is the what of the your future. Mission is your Identity and Vision is a picture of you ID that you are becoming. The clearer you can describe your vision, the more inspiring and directing it can be). 
  2. Give it Top Priority - Focus -type 1
    1. Channel all resources into accomplish it (mission, vision, strategies, objectives, targets)
    2. It is not unusual to find that you may be trying to achieve multiple targets that are in conflict with each others. That is because you have not done step 1 yet. You have not figure out what is more important than the others.
  3. Saying No to Others - Focus Type-2
    1. You may think that you do not have the resources to achieve to accomplish it. The answer lies in identifying those resources committed to achieving other targets that are not related or are in conflict with your top priority objectives. They are actually waste, no matter what you call them.
    2. Cut the waste, channel the resources back to the top priority objectives. (I use objectives, the plural form, is because the top most objective have to be cascaded into sub-objectives).
    3. Be on the alert. There are always temptations to detract you from achieving the top priority objectives, including some seemingly good and hard to reject offers, such as customers' potential or real orders.
    4. For more on focus see Focus - The Key to Productivity and Excellence
  4. Build your Brand
    1. What is your unique customer value proposition? The one in your mission statement. Work this out with some details, the  key 1 to at most 5 key unique experiential offer and carefully deliver such promised experience. 
    2. Monitor for, in the social media as well, what your customers are saying. Correct any bad experience. Reinforce the good one.
  5. Communicate and Build Engaged Relationship
    1. The key stakeholders are customers, staff, partners, public and owners in decreasing order of priority.
    2. There are shift in the management thinking from customers to staff. Treat staff well to engage customers. Not that customers are not important, but staff is the channel through which the customers is served. Do all well.
    3. Keep in touch with all stakeholders. Have regular meetings with them beside the convenient social media for daily and constant contact. Accept ideas, explain ideas, involve them in product development, marketing, and also customer service. Let and empower users help other users.
  6. Respect all especially those who are our Senior or the Power Influence-rs.
    • Not all stakeholders are of equal important. Identify the leaders among them. Work closer with this group. Those who bash us well are good leaders to talk to too.  They are the ones that were concerned with your bad performance. Win them over.
  7. Harmony and Compassion.
    1. Business is not just a war, see my posts Business as War is Half the Truth,
    2. Think of how to work with competitors to enlarge the pie and not fight over a shrinking pie.
  8. Loyalty and Faithfulness.
    1. In the world of rapid changes, such values are even rare and are highly valued.
    2. Help customers to upgrade.
    3. Help staff to develop and move them to new areas instead of letting the area obsoleted and then retire them.
    4. Loyalty and faithfulness are strong motivators to help you do better, staff and customers alike. It is not just about caring, but setting good standards and delivery high quality experience. Some discipline may be needful.
  9. Defending, Protecting Reputation and Your Brand
    1. There are people out there to try to destroy your brand reputation. It is very sad that the social media is being exploited to be an effective media for the nasty people to plant false stories and create rumors to ruin your brand.
    2. Be quick and wise in your defense against such attack. Always take things with a positive pro-action than a vengeful reaction. Be frank and truthful if the mistake is truly ours. Don't try to spin it off.
  10. Defending and Protection of Assets.
    1. Today assets include the soft intangible intellectual properties besides the tangible physical assets.
    2. In the past, we are concern about assets being destroyed. Now we have to add one  more layer of protection - leak.
    3. IP type assets could be easily leaked to others, even by insiders. Check your DLP (Data Loss/Leak Protection) and monitor them well. 
    4. Wikileaks is a good lesson for all to learn and raise our concerns on DLP.
BvOtech Copyrighted 2011

21 January 2011

Management According to Confucius 2 - 5 Good & 4 Bad Practices

This is the 2nd post from the Series on "Management According to Confucius". The first is the 10 Key Fundamentals of Successful Leaders.  This post discusses the Five Excellent and Four Terrible Practices of management. It is taken from Lun Yu (Analects) Chapter 20 verse 2 论语 堯曰 20: 2.

Firstly, let me give the original Chinese in mind-map form for greater clarity and for those who understand Chinese to validate my interpretation.

My translated English Version:

Power of Mind-Mapping:
You can take a look at the some English translations in paragraph format here. Mind map gives a clearer grouping of concepts from broad to detailed. It has the framework to ensure all the main concepts presented are covered with detailed explanations too and hence improves quality and depth. It is a much better way to present complex ideas.

Five Good Practices
(You will find that some of the English words that I used below are different from the mind-map above. That is because there is no exact translation from Chinese into English and I want to use similar English words to give better understanding)

The five practices are balanced - typical middle of the way thinking of Ancient Chinese. Should not go over board. Too much of a good thing is bad. Let me also quickly add that needed balanced is not fixed but change with the situation. To turnaround an extremely bad situation, we may need to go the other extreme for a short while to kick start or break out of the vicious cycle, after which, a more moderate policy will be better to re-adjust and sustain the momentum before we end up in the other extreme that is bad.
  1. Benefits without Waste
    Only do the things that benefits the people and not oneself will keep us from over spending. Focus on the organization, community and country and use resources wisely and productively.
  2. Hard Working without Complaining
    Confucius taught how to have hard work without the complains. The work must be meaningful and for a worthy cause. If the manager can explain to the staff how their work relates and contributes to the corporate strategies and objectives, they could work with better engagement and productivity with some empowerment when is needed.
  3. Desire without Covetousness It is good to have desire and passion. That is key motivation. But we must guard against greed. The way to prevent that is to pursue righteousness and compassion.
  4. Powerful yet Not Proud - Not be Rude
    It is natural for the rich and powerful to be snobbish and proud. For those of the higher ranks to pull-rank and ill-treat or be rude to others. But good managers are humble. They treat people with respect.
  5. Authoritative yet not Fierce
    Authority comes with one's position. But greater power and influence comes from one's status - how one behaves. Authoritative people command respect and following without screaming, shouting and threatening. It relates to simple things on our dressing and our demeanor. The word I translated as being serious is more about our discipline and integrity - saying and meaning what we say by our action. Seriousness is not about being gloomy and a kill-joy. It also comes by inverting the four bad practices below.
Four Bad Practices
  1. Cruelty
    Confusion explained it as 'without teaching and yet punishing with death'. In business, we can treat 'death' as 'being fired'.  It is cruel to fire an employee for lack of performance without first teaching and equipping him for the job.  Manager has the first responsibility of finding the right person for the job rather than just appointing anyone that is free.
  2. Brutality
    Confucius explains it as giving no guidance and warnings and yet demanding quick success. Cruelty covers the case of lack of performance due to lack of development. Brutality covers the case of crossing boundary, doing without authorization and resulting in failure.
  3. Theft of Time & Resources
    It is quite typical of commanders to take their time for their planning and then leaving very little for their subordinates to plan and get ready for the mission. Confucius called it as stealing - stealing the time from their staff. It is unfair. We can extend time to mean other resources as well. Not providing sufficient resources for their staff to carryout their work and then blaming them for failure is same as theft.
  4. Stinginess - Not Giving Out what is Due
    A typical selfish thinking is the concept of a fixed pie - the more I give the less I have for myself. There are managers who give very low incentives and there are managers who reduce the agreed incentive due to super performance by staff. It is much better to give more to enlarge the pie so that a smaller slice is actually bigger than before. This is principle of sowing and reaping -the greater you sow the greater the harvests. It is also the principle of reciprocation - you get what you give. For more such success principles see 10 Kingdom Principles for Business Success.
The 9 Good Practices

By inverting the bad practices, we get four more good practices. So we have the following 6 to 9 practices as:

6. Develop Your Staff for the Jobs you assigned.
7. Set the Boundaries & Coach when you empower or delegate.
8. Give time and resources to your staff to accomplish your assigned tasks.
9. Be generous in your praise and incentives.

To make it easier for memory, may be covert to the following key words for good practices:
  1. Productivity (Be lean and not wasteful)
  2. Joy in Work
  3. Set Challenging Standards (but not overdoing)
  4. Be Polite & Respecting (to subordinates)
  5. Lead with Influence (draw not push)
  6. Develop staff
  7. Set Boundaries with Empowerment
  8. Support Staff - Give Time and Resources
  9. Be Generous

BVOTECH Copyrighted 2011

See also:
  1. Management According to Confucius - 10 Keys
  2. Management According to Confucius 3 – Love & People Centered

17 January 2011

Management According to Confucius - 10 Keys

The best and important parts of a book are usually at the start and at the end. The first five verses of Lun Yu (The Analects, the teaching of Confucius complied by his disciples) are presented below:
Chapter 1 学而 Learning
1 子曰 Confucius says:
  • 1a“学而时习之,不亦说乎?Learning and practicing, is it not a joy?
  • 1b 有朋自远方来,不亦乐乎?Having friends from far away, is it not joyful?
  • 1c 人不知而不愠,不亦君子乎? Not feeling angry when others don’t know about or acknowledge you, it not this a gentleman (wise superior man)?
2 有子曰 YouZi says:
  • 其为人也孝弟,而好犯上者,鲜矣;不好犯上,而好作乱者,未之有也。
    Those that respect parents and friends, they are seldom disrespectful to their superiors. Those that are not disrespectful to their superior and at the same time create troubles, cannot be found.
  • 君子务本,本立而道生。孝弟也者,其为仁之本与!
    Wise men (frequently translated as Superior Men) focus on the development of  basics first. When the basic foundations are strong, moral virtuous character is birthed. Respecting our elders and friends is the basic of love and compassion.
3 子曰 Confucius says:“巧言令色,鲜矣仁!” “smooth, flowery and tricky speech, tempting appearances, are seldom associated with true love and compassion.
4 曾子曰:“吾日三省吾身:为人谋而不忠乎?与朋友交而不信乎?传不习乎?”
Zeng Zi says: “I examine my life daily on three things. Am I faithful in my work? Am I trustworthy with my friends? Am I doing what I am teaching?
5 子曰:“道千乘之国:敬事而信,节用而爱人,使民以时。”
Confucius says: “The ways to govern a big country are: faithful in work and be trustworthy. Controlling my spending(be not wasteful) and loving the people, using the people at the right time (i.e. use them when they are free and not to disturb their farming or other productive activities)

The Management Principles:
  1. Learning and the Joy of Learning.
    Confucius predates Peter Sengge’s Learning Organization by about 2500 years! Yet he has one key thing that is missed out by the Learning Organization proponents, and that is the Joy of learning. Why do people not want to learn? It is because we are ‘educated’ by the society that learning is hard and painful. If one sees learning as fun and joyful, one will be motivated to learn. Walt Disney was the first person that I know to do this well – one mission of his Disney Lard is about learning and fun – the origin of EDUTAINMENT! Read his Disneyland opening speech.
  2. Networking and the Joy of Relationships.
    He had friends from far away. Friendship is joy and precious. It builds one up. Expand your network, even to far away places. With the social media network, it is easy. But Confucius did teach us about how to pick your friends in other part of Lun Yu.
  3. Humility – Don’t be Full of Self.
    We can tell how proud we are by our reaction to others action about us. If we get angry because someone does not recognize or know about us then we are really too proud. It is a warning signal that we could be too full of ourselves. We need to pay attention to others.
  4. Love & Respect is the Foundational Quality of Relationships & Success
    The way to build relationship is by love. The basic of love of respect, respect for those that are our elders, either in age or in position, and respect for one another.  Respect for others is a reflection of our character and quality and not about whether the other person deserving our respect or not. In this world of knowledge and diversity, it is important respect the culture and opinions of others that are different from us. Only through mutual respect, can we truly build harmonious and strong relationship.
  5. Watch-out for the Sweet Talk and Tempting Appearance.
    (Don’t believe in Advertisements and PR’ Spins!)
    Don’t be fooled by external sweet speeches and appearance. Trickery talk and inviting and tempting signals take advantage of us are not true love. They may appear that they have our interests at heart but are just out there to take advantage of us.
  6. Review and Improve Continuously – Integrity in Work, Friends, Self.
    We are to reflect on our lives daily on 3 things:
    1. Commitment to our work – giving our very best.
    2. Integrity and trustworthiness to our friends.
      Did we delivery our promises? Did we do our best for them?
    3. Walking our talk. Did we practice what he taught others?
  7. Manage the Organization by:
    1. Faithfulness and Accountability to our Responsibilities.
    2. Integrity
    3. Spending wisely without waste
    4. Loving people.
    5. Putting the right people at the right job and right time.
      Create opportunities for them and use them wisely. Jim Collin’s bus model “Getting the right people on board and on the right seats”. I just want to add that we must make sure we are heading the right direction.
Lun Yu begins with learning to gain understanding and ended with the warning of the consequences of  ‘not understanding’.

The last verse Chapter 20:3 is
Confucius said,
  1. “Not understanding the ways of Heaven and one’s destiny, it is impossible to be a wise man (Usually translated as superior man or gentleman).
  2. Not understanding good manners (the protocols to behave and communicate) , it is not possible for person to be successful.
  3. Not understanding the true message behind the speeches, it is impossible to know and evaluate people.
Hence, I will need to add the following points to the 7 points above
  • 8. Develop and Understand your Calling and Mission
    Understand our own personal calling and matching that of the corporation.
  • 9. Understand the Protocols of Communications and have good manners.
  • 10. Know a Person well by his speech and behavior. Not just his speech.

The ten key words for good management and success are:
  1. Learning with Joy
  2. Networking with Joy of Relationships
  3. Humility and don’t be full of self
  4. Respect & Love – the basic quality for good relationships and success
  5. Watch-out for Sweet Talk and External Appearance.
  6. Review to Improve – Integrity to work, friends and self
  7. Manage your Organization Effectively by Integrity, Accountability, Lean Methodology, Compassion and Put people at the Right Jobs
  8. Know Your Calling and the Organization Mission
  9. Have Good Manners – Understand the Rules of Proper Conduct in Different Settings
  10. Know your Staff & Friends by their speech and behavior,
BVOTECH Copyrighted 2011

See also
  1. Management According to Confucius 2 - 5 Good & 4 Bad
  2. Management According to Confucius 3 – Love & People Centered

11 January 2011

Sun Zi Art of War-6: Leadership Skills and Creating HPO

I thought I have covered Sun Tzu (Sun Zi) Art of War well with just 5 postings. But I felt I needed to cover one more important area, Leadership Skills or Leadership Principles to bring out the point that the 'Art of War' is more than just strategies for war. It is first about the building of High-Performance Force or Organization(HPO) if I have not made it clear enough in the first 3 posts.

Leaders hold the greatest responsibility for creating the mission and culture for a High-Performance Organization. Hence, let me cover the leadership skills from Sun Zi with the following mind-map:

Five Qualities of a Leader
  1. Wisdom - knowledge, skills, capability, competence
  2. Integrity - walk the talk, deliver promises, trustworthy, ethical.
  3. Compassion - love, and care of staff and even of their families.
  4. Bravery - Boldness. Bravery is not recklessness. Bravery is acting on calculated risks. Bravery is also about maintaining one's cool head in the midst of pressures to think and decide objectively.
  5. Strict-Discipline.
    Let me emphasize that the set of values listed above are counterbalancing one another (as mentioned in Sun Zi Art of War-2: How to Manage the Five-Factor). Compassion must be moderated with strict discipline and vice versa. So it with wisdom and integrity, bravery and wisdom, wisdom with discipline (be flexible when needed), etc. See Complementary Values from Chinese Zodiac Signs for a longer list.
What are Stronger than Number?
To a good leader, strength in number is not something to count on. Big market-leading companies are dethroned by start-ups. Here are the five things that are stronger.
  1. Alignment - shared mission and values provide concentration and focus of laser-sharp cutting strength. Read my posts on Corporation Performance Management (CPM). Kaplan & Norton's Strategic Map Driven Balanced Scorecard method is a great framework to follow to create a focused and aligned corporation.
  2. Foreseeing Enemy's actions or reactions - In the business world, I will translate to mean the ability to understand and foresee the trends in the market, customers' preferences, industry, technology, social, environmental, economic, and political situations.
  3. Getting Commitment of Staff - Highly engaged and motivated staff are key to corporate growth and performance. Happy employees create happy customers who in turn reward the corporation with money and loyalty.
  4. Detailed & Careful Planning with Agility - As covered in previous posts, Sun Zi believed in planning on real data, of weather, terrain, staff, and enemy's intelligence. Sun Zi also teaches about agility and flexibility to adapt and exploit changes.
  5. Humility - Never Under-estimate the Enemy - Our customers and our competitors are no fools. They can tell our 'lies' and 'spins'. With social media, one 'small' customer can create a great impact. Don't assume our competitors are dump or dead that will not react or pro-act against us. Continued learning and innovation is the key to long-term survival and growth. 
Love & Discipline
The strongest motivating force for people is still LOVE - I Care about you. It must be demonstrated and not just spoken of. Yet love is not indulgence. Standards need to set and discipline needs to be enforced.

The order is important - love first and then set standards. Discipline without love will produce temporary and on the surface following commands. Deep down in the heart is the feeling of misuse, abuse, bitterness, anger and will create sabotaging whenever there is an opportunity.

Lead by Example
Leaders must walk their talk. The best form of teaching is not by instruction but by example. This is the teaching of Lao Zi, teaching without talking! see The Tao Bible in One minute and Levels of Leadership – Which Level are Yours?.

Lim Liat copyrighted 2011

For more on Sun Zi:

07 January 2011

Sun Zi Art of War-5: The Principles for Good Strategies

This is the last post in the series of Sun Zi's Art of War.  The 5 posts of this Sun Tsu Series are:
  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
The Best Strategy is to Win without a Fight
SunZi in Chapter 3 'Planning to Attack' says that winning every battle is not the best. The best is to subdue the enemy even without a fight! Every war will result in destruction even for the winning side. Hence, we begin the principles of good strategies with this foundation principle of win without a fight.  Here is the mind-map.

How can one win without a fight?
The answer is given in the 1st chapter on 5 Factors and 7 Measures. You must build yourself up and engage others and be sure that you and others see that you are relatively much better off than them and recognize you as their leader. See How to Win without a Fight? The Wisdom of Sun Zi & Gui Gu Zi

The Other Strategies for War

We summarize the teaching of Sun Zi's strategies into the following 8 main principles or guidelines shown in the mind-map:

(Sun Zi in Chapter 1 said the main strategy of war is deception. But in going through the 13 chapters, I felt the starting or basic strategy is actually agility and flexibility in reading and exploiting the variations in time, terrain, and attributes encountered. So I put this mastering variation or change as the first and deception as the 2nd principle).

P1 Mastering Variation & Occupy the Advantage Position and Time.
There is no fixed strategy for a war. An attack is not always right. The direct approach may be the wrong way. The best strategy is the ability to read the situation encountered, understand the variations and the advantages or disadvantages offered, determine the truth or false of intelligence gathered,  and then come out with the right strategies. This is the very basic teaching of i-Ching which is using unchanging principles to handle the changes encountered and obtaining the desired outcome.  There is so much richness in this principle that we need to expand it in the mind-map below:

P2 Deception - The Basic Strategy
How to deceive the enemy is given in the mind-map below. A typical operator is 'Invert' (see the BVITS Innovative Thinking Method for other 10 operators). We have covered in fact the Divide and Combine operators in the P1-Mastering Variations mind-map. You may need 2 or more actions to create deception. See

P3 Key Factors for Attacks
The keys for attack are: The key of a force is speed, attack when he is not ready, take the unexpected route, attack the defended (or at least the weak spots).

P4 Divide the Enemy
To weaken the enemy, a key operator Divide is used ...cause the enemy force to be divided, front from back, small from large, powerful and weak, top from bottom, so that the enemy cannot combine and cannot be in mutual support of each other.

P5 Combine and Move only when there is an advantage else stop.
This is a reminder that no guideline is always right for all situations. Reading the situation and apply the right guideline is the Art of War.

P6 When we are relatively lesser in size - Capture the Enemy's Love(or nightmare)

We don't always need to rely on bigger forces to win. When we are lesser in number, we can still win the war. We do not attack the enemy at its strength but focus our forces and attention in attacking the enemy's love - it could be their King (this is one of the 36 tactics to destroy the thieves capture their chief first), but it could be other things. The things that keep the Enemy sleepless at night.  Find out this key resource, critical success factor or concern of the enemy and possess this key resource.

P7 Use Fire to Attack - Artillery or Air Raids in Modern Times
Don't just think in a 2D flat plain of operation. Think 3D, go by air, go wireless, go remote control. It could be a small impact to create confusion that the enemy will kill each other in panic or run away. In the business world, what will be the equivalent of using fire legally?

( Possible examples? :  Sun buying StarOffice and having it freely available as Openoffice may have created a big impact on the Microsoft Office sales. IBM gave up on its IBM only and embrace non-IBM solutions, especially Linus/Open software, for total and integrated customers service and solutions change the competitive boundary and upset competitors.)

P8 Espionage
We have stressed much in earlier post that planning must be based on facts and correct intelligence. We can collect intelligence in many ways. Sun Zi proposed five types of spies. We must reward them well, as some may die in the process. In this modern times, there are many equivalent to spies like customers, our sales and service staff, candidates seeking jobs, competitors' public information, disgruntle staff, etc. etc.
We can also send out false intelligence to misled our enemy.
Here is the mind-map:
Hope you have benefited from the reading of this series of posts on Sun Zi's Art of War and could apply them well in your business. Just to emphasize again that Business is a Love-affair with Customers rather than just a pure war against competitors. To the Sun Zi's principles, we must map it to today business situations, which I have presented much, and we need to add in the Customers factor - loving them (which Sun Zi only covered loving your own work-force. For that, please refer to my I-Ching Series and Ancient Chinese Wisdom).

BVOTECH Copyrighted 2011

04 January 2011

Sun Zi Art of War-4: Appraisal & Prediction

Before we engage in a war, it is better to do a appraisal of the situation and make prediction as to the chance of winning, the associated costs and benefits. The mind-map below show the steps:

W E Deming, the Guru of Quality Control (actually, he is much more than that), says that management is about prediction (theory of knowledge). Management must be able to predict the outcomes accurately and hence showing his understanding of the working of the system. Management is also responsible for improving the performance of the system, not by meddling, but by understanding the profound knowledge of system, variation, psychology, and knowledge (ability to predict). (Do a Search on Deming's Profound Knowledge to find out more).

This is exactly what Sun Zi is teaching us - we must be able to predict the outcome before we decide. Prediction of outcome comes from careful analysis of facts from multiple factors and dimensions.

To Fight or NOT
Appraisal is done with comparison of relative strength. Recalling it is about knowing the enemy and knowing oneself. It is also about the interests of the Country and its people and is NOT about the Commander's ego or self benefits. 

History tells us a great number of stories of defeats due to Commander's ego or anger. One of Sun Zi's strategy is to anger the quick temper commander and thereby gains benefits against him. Hence, as a good commander, he must remain calm, objective and always have the interests of the nation at heart.
Continue to Improve One's Position and Strength
Appraisal does not end with a decision to fight or not but about continuing to  improve one's relative position and advantages. 

Sun Zi gives the steps for Appraisal:

  1. It starts with identification of factors of competitions, besides the 5 general factors and 7 measures, we must study into the specifics of this situation. He used the term "Dimension" and I extend it to include the common dimensions of time, space and properties of the present situation. 
  2. Once a factor(dimension) is identified, we need to decide a measure of it. Then we can measure its volume, or strength, in terms of how much or how many. 
  3. Certain factor is the combination of several sub-factors, then we need to compute the result. 
  4. Comparison with the Enemy's Computed Result will give us the conclusion to be drawn on the next step.
  5. Will we win against the Enemy? I think with should read Sun Zi's claim of Winning as a probabilistic measure, a measure of confidence level, rather than absolute. There are too much factors of variation to make a deterministic prediction for victory or defeat.

5 Principles of Victory 

They are clearly depicted in the mind map below:

Exhortation from the Experts

I wish to quote one of China leading Guru on Chinese Classic on Success & Failure. He said that the reason for failure is not lack of planning but lack of activities before the planning. What does he mean? He means that we need to do a lot of work to list our our assumptions and conduct survey and experiments to find out. Planning cannot be based on luck, dreams, and unknown. This is exactly what Sun Zi is teaching.  Sun Zi is an advocate of data and intelligence collections before planning or planning must be based on facts. Sun Zi has a Chapter 13 dedicated to Espionage for Intelligence collection.

Successful Entrepreneurs are in fact not risks taker or gamblers as commonly perceived, but are in fact risks minimizer. They identify the key assumptions for their business to be successful first and then conduct survey or experiment to validate the assumptions before taking the plunge.

next post: Sun Zi Art of War-5: The Principles for Good Strategies

BVOTECH Copyrighted 2011

Decision Making Tips

Divergent & Convergent Thinking

When we trying to start something new or to try to solve a problem, it is important that we apply Divergent and Convergent thinking iteratively through out the process.  In The Yin-Yang Thinking Framework we discussed the more general framework of applying the bi-polar thinking concept. We can start with Divergent thinking when we are exploring. We do that effectively by including diverse experts in our team. Failing which, we try to play out the different roles to get the viewpoints from different angles. However, after some time, the diverged views have to be consolidated. We must arrived at certain points of agreement by applying convergent thinking in order to move forward.  We can agree on the priorities, and the subset of opinions, so that we can move forward. As we move forward, we may hit new road blocks or discover new facts or trends that we did not considered earlier. It is then time to call for Divergent thinking again. So here are a few principles we can use:
  1. For exploration and problem identification, start with Divergent Thinking.
  2. To have coordinated  high speed execution and movement, we need convergent thinking.
  3. Both can be apply iteratively or dynamically to move quickly toward the optimum point. This pattern is not fixed.
Dynamic applications of solutions are important. A person wanted to keep the birds away from his hanger.  He tried various methods like using artificial birds, sound, paints, nets etc. He discovered that any of the solution only worked for a few months at best. What can you suggest to him?
  1. Search for more solution – using live hawks? lights and reflectors etc.
  2. Implement a few of the solution at the same time.
  3. Dynamically alternate the solutions over random time period to prevent adaptation by the birds.
  4. Other ideas?

Conflict Resolution

To have convergence of differences in opinions and ideas, we need methods to resolve conflicts and gain agreement. Commitment to the agreement comes from a fair, transparent, debates of differences. We respect the ideas put forward and not go by the position of the person offering the ideas. We must have a few principles to follow in Conflict Resolutions. Here are some proposals:
  1. Respect for each other.
  2. Go for the ideas and not on the person, and definitely not by his rank. His domain expertise may count some what but just make a note. We know experts also make a lot of very wrong predictions. e.g. the world has need of only 5 mainframes. Who needs PC? (names left out. If you are curious, do a Google search)
  3. Go by goals or objectives. What we want to achieve together?
  4. Go for a win-win. Without a win-win for all, there is no convergent yet. Rehash, rethink, applying the BVITS thinking method, until we can find a win-win for all (at least the agreed key groups of people).
  5. Discuss the “HOW to reach agreement” if we have a stalemate. We need to review the method for arriving at a agreement.  Get the How agreed and then go back to work out the final answer or answers needed.
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