27 December 2011

Transiting to New S-Curve - iChing #63 Completed & #64 Uncompleted

iChing teaches us about the endless cycles of change. The last 2 hexagrams tell us clearly that life is about growth and growth is about changing, more specifically, transiting to the next cycle of growth. Things are never fully completed. If it ever completes, then it begins to die.

So, #63 Completed is followed immediately by #64 Uncompleted. i-Ching begins with #1 Heaven - Creation and ends with #63 Completed and yet continue with #64 Uncompleted leaving room for continued growth.

The teaching of i-Ching is not just about how to start and scale-up to maturity, but also reminding us of the need to continued to transform.

Here is the teaching of the last 2 hexagrams summarized in the table below:

#63 Completed starts with a known worthy vision. Since we know our destination, we need to just get moving, overcoming the obstacles that we face on the way. We when through the typical rapid growth period of stage 3 and 4 (the tornado of G Moore Technology Development Life-Cycle) and arrive at stage 5 of Main Street success with celebration and a worship of thanks giving to God. Stage 6 come with a great warning. Don't let our success filled and enlarge our head that we lost sight of the need to learn and transform. 

#64 Uncompleted started with loss of direction, struggling in the water and not reaching the shore. Hence, the first step is to find the vision. This step of finding the new vision should be the stage 6 of #63 Completed so that we will not have to suffer a big down turn. We the success we have, we can find and fund the next vision and continue on with the next cycle of success. 

The teaching of the #64 follows that of #63 except that it is about one stage behind. #64 started with lack of a vision and not knowing where to go. It ends with us having a success but warning us not to loose our integrity and good conduct. We are not to get drunk.

For those of us enjoying our success, let this be a reminder of us to innovate for the next cycle of success at this very time of our success. We should enjoy this year end season heartily and prepare for the next round.

Lim Liat (C) 27 Dec 2011

21 December 2011

All About Danger from i-Ching #29 坎 The Pit

Life is full of danger and temptations to lure us into them. With better technology and a globally connected world. the scams can come from any where in the world. We may get a call on our hand-phone congratulating us that we have won big cash prizes in some far away country and we need to tele-transfer some small money to certain account to pay for the taxes, legal and other related fees so that the big cash can be transferred to our account. We read on newspapers that quite a number of people fell for such schemes and lost quite a lot of money. While technology may change, the principles for luring and trapping us have been the same. The wisdom of Ancient Chinese in the "Book of Change - i-Ching", remains applicable to us in this modern or post-modern world.

The teaching on "Danger", or more specifically, "falling into the pit", is covered in i-Ching hexagram #29 坎 The Pit. It talks about prevention, getting out and staying out of danger. For the details, see 29 坎 The Pit – Danger –Be Watchful & Righteous (registration is required). The summary is posted here with my additional comments.

Summary of #29 坎 The Pit – Danger:
  • Always be on the alert and watch out for impeding danger.
    A famous Chinese saying is “居安思危”, meaning in peaceful time, one should consider the potential danger.  One should live life circumspectly
  • The safest and surest way is to hold on to integrity and honesty.
    Our greed for making lot of money quickly and easily has caused us to fall into many traps. Even a simple thing like gambling is very tempting and addictive. Wishfully thinking that we may not be caught and hence taking short cuts that by-pass the laws or cheating our customers will eventually catch up with us and put us into prison.
    A win-loose relationship never lasts. For long term success, we must go for win-win and never betray our commitment to them, Integrity build lasting relationship.
  • Instead of being afraid of danger, we can use the dangerous obstacles for our protection. Convert any threat to opportunity.
    This a key principle of i-Ching.  Fortune or disaster depends on the timing and situation. Danger that stops our progress can become our protection to stop our enemy from attacking us. See the opportunity in any threats. The macro political, social or economic events happen to all, even our competitors. Hence, we just need to know how to differentiate ourselves.
  • We should teach others to be righteous and alert too.
    Sharing makes for a better world.

Wisdom from the stage-lines teaches you how to act in time of danger:

1. Stay away from Dangers / Temptation else you will fall into them.
Don't think you can be the hero - others will fall but not me. It is best steer clear from danger and temptations. Many are those that fell thinking that they won't or don't.

2. Probe and move cautiously if you fall into it.
Not taking heed to stage 1 warning and fall into the pit. It is time to wake up and carefully probe and study the situation. There are options but you need to spend effort to find them.

3. Dangers everywhere, just stay at rest. Wait for help.
Sometime over doing bring forth more troubles. To cover a lie, we tell a bigger lie! Don't fall into this. It may be best to face up with the consequence, pay it and quit. Putting in a last big bet to recover all the loss is unlikely to happen as wished. The best policy may be just to stay still and wait for others to come to help.

4. True friendship is seen in times of troubles. They come to help.
In times of troubles, it is easy to see who are your true friends. In your good days, please remember to make good and true friends and by helping them when they are in troubles. They come to help you when you are in trouble.

5. Core integrity strength not fully developed yet got out of danger due to external help. Take heed to develop internal strength.
Remember that this time it was the external factors and your friends that help you out of troubles when you are still weak. Please take this opportunity to build up your inner strengths.

6. Stay righteous – the sure way to prevent and keep out of danger else back to stage 1 of imprisonment.
I-Ching author warn us again and again. Stay in the path of righteousness. That is the only way to stay out of danger. But sadly, men does not learn from history. This stage line 6, the highest stage, tells us the sad ending of committing a crime and be imprisoned for 3 years.

Please break out of the addiction or vicious circle of poverty or crimes or disappoints. Build up the inner character and strengths.

Lim Liat (c) 21 Dec 2011

20 December 2011

Innovation from the Thought Leaders - Ox vs Horse

Successful entrepreneurs and industrialist (an old term that is seldom used nowadays) thought leaders like to say some extreme things to trigger the thinking and to shock people into actions. Here is one example from Taiwan shared by a friend. The Chinese post is at http://www.businessweekly.com.tw/webarticle2.php?id=16349.

My dynamic translation (by meaning rather than word for word - hence may have biases due to me the translator) is as follows:

Main Point of Ox vs Horse of Barry Lam:
1. Software is important than Hardware.
2. Cloud computing changes and replaces current practices in design and other things. This is the big opportunities and innovative talents are required.
3. Subcontracting work talents staff is like the farming ox - all about the same and not creative.
4. University Degrees are not important. Your out-of-the-box thinking is more important.
5. The future is a race. Winner take all. Must be a race horse rather than ploughing ox.
6. Need to pay for such talents highly differentiated remunerations - 10x, 20x, 100x !
7. Adapt to the new world - don't go back to ask people to watch the old top-tv shows. Ask them to watch the current top TV shows.

Do you agree with him?
Most people will.
But being a good consultant and a trainer, I have to disagree some what and give a more balanced view. Here are my comments and recommendations for the potential innovators and entrepreneurs:

The Balanced View:
Actually he is 50% right and 50% wrong. Here are the reasons:

1. Hardware and software are both equally important.
The key is the integration and best fit. Ask Steve Jobs and Google Brin and Page who recently bought Motorola Mobile for its hardware capability to augment its Androids and Chrome.

2. Cloud and Endpoint Devices are Opportunities.
The powerful resources and the brains of the clouds is at the center and need intelligent devices to link up so that its power can be used and enhances by the millions who connect to it. There are businesses for the center cloud and the end-point access devices. iPhones, iPad are the access devices. iTunes App and iCloud are the center. Imaging Dropbox without iphones/ipad/android!.

3. Subcontracting/OEM work requires talents and innovation as well.
They need innovation in their processes and other part of business models. Subcontractors unfortunately does not enjoy the branding of the consumer devices and offering, nevertheless, they need innovations for productivity, effectiveness and efficiency. Someone said that there is no such thing as hi tech or low-tech businesses only hi-tech or low-tech management.

4. University degress train our thinking and provide indepth knowledge that we need for innovations. 
But may be can be like Steve Jobs, pick your subjects and master them well e.g. Calligraphy. Or an old entrepreneur friend who left Stanford to start his own successful business. Asked him why he did not complete his course. He said he already picked up the knowledge he needed to do his business. Ask Bill Gates and he too would give you the same answer.

5. Speed is only ONE factor of Success. There are More.
"The future is a race. Winner take all. Must be a race horse rather than ploughing ox" may be right some times but definitely not all the time.
First mover may have advantage but it all depends on the particular situation. (When the entry barrier is low, that the first mover actually may have advantage for a short time only. First mover may be in the bleeding edge and educating the market for the followers!). Microsoft is seldom first but is a good follower and replacer e.g. MS Office replaces Lotus-1-2-3, Wordperfect and IE replaces Netscape etc. There are people who think MS can yet do it one more time with Window 8 for the smart-phone business. Read also the new Hare and Turtle Story.

See also ...http://mind-value.blogspot.com/2011/06/adding-biblical-wisdom-to-bill-steve.html - Success is a combination of multiple factors of speed,timing, strength, creativity, thinking skills, technical skills etc.

Google works with 70-20-10 rule : 70% of budget on core business, 20% related to core business, and 10% on blue-sky not related to current business.

So a typical company need may be 7 oxen, 2 horses, 1 dreamer. But that is percentage talking. In reality, everyone in a company should be encouraged to innovate in his own area, extended area and even wider.

6. Need to pay for such talents highly differentiated remunerations - 10x, 20x, 100x ? May not be. It is a team work too beside talents.
As the business get complex, the success is the result of great team work of great engaged talented people. Then, it is not about paying a few guys top salaries but about getting fair salaries and share in the extra-ordinary profits from the success of the business. It is about outcome based renumerations where there is no ceiling to your renumerations - it is decided by your customers who willingly pay you for your great offering.

7. Adapt to the new world - don't go back to ask people to watch the old top-tv shows. Ask them to watch the current top TV shows.
Adapt to the new world is a must. Even better is to create the New World.
Nevertheless, never ignore the old successes. There are much lessons for us to use.
Consider the re-vitalised VM Bugs, Mini-Coopers etc. The old principles, the core strengths, just need a new context.

The Critical Thinking - Never be one sided in your thinking. 
At least be bipolar yin-yang if not more. It always depends on the situations. Everything has value. You just need to find the situation and the people that may need it.

Lim Liat (C) 17 Dec 2011

07 December 2011

Growing with Great Difficulty - Fix it with I-Ching #39 蹇 Lame's Teaching!

Many businessmen felt the need to grow their business quickly. They think they must grow to survive. They are advised to be agile, responsive, flexible and to move with speed. They learn from the inspiring quotes of the rich and famous and hear of advice that says, “In this new world, fire first and then aim” without the correct understanding of the context. Singapore is too small, they are advised to go abroad. So, they just spend money to try to grow their business. Some even globalize into China, Vietnam, India, Russia and even Brazil. They heard that these were the newly rich and rapidly developing countries. Truths without the context will lead to many wrong decisions. Many have encountered great difficulties in their growth. Quite a number have made major losses and have to shutdown their expansion plans. Fortunate are the cautious who are still able to keep their base camp business. It is better that they check up the wisdom of i-Ching before they grow too fast. Even if they encounter grow pains, i-Ching also provides some wisdom with Hexagram 39 蹇 Lame – Move Rightly on Your Strength (registration needed). I reproduce the summary teaching of the hexagram here with additional comments below: 
Summary Teaching of 39蹇 Lame:
  1. When meeting obstruction, pause and see clearly.
    • We must resist the urge to react too quickly. Pause first to see the situation clearly and then develop the response.
    • Always choose to response positively to any situation, specially the adverse ones. Don’t prejudge too quickly. Check your direction and positioning.
    • Are you positioning your offering in the right place at the right time?
      When a Chocolate company expanded into India, they have to sell their chocolates in smaller sizes and lower prices, provide cooler to keep the chocolate in good condition, and position it as items for celebration. What about your offering and positioning?
  2. Take the right way that leads to success and not the short-cut evil way that eventually brings failure.
    • There are always option available to us. If you think there is none, think again. Think outside of yourselves.
    • See point 3 below. Under difficulty, you will be tempted to take short-cut. Don’t do it. Stick to the righteous way.
  3. Always seek and follow advice of the wise.
    • Be bold and unashamed to ask for advice and help.
    • Just make sure you ask the right people and not just anyone.
  4. Building character will brings long lasting success.
    • Long lasting business can only be built on unchanging foundation of truth and righteousness.
    • Build this culture throughout your organization.
    Wisdom from the Stage Lines:
    The building of Internal Strengths to get moving involves the following stages:
    1. Wait for the right time to move especially for things beyond our control.
    2. Get first hand knowledge and then work together to seek the interests of the community and not self.
      • Rapid moving company needs the information from the front-lines – the people serving the customers.
      • It is difficult to have a hierarchical structure for information to filter up to the boss to get the truth. It will be too slow and usually distorted. Get the organization to be more opened and transparent so that information can be shared quickly and truthfully. See how the successful companies like HCL tech, The Morning Star Company, WLGore, Google, Zappos, etc operate. Read my posts on self-management such as The Future Of Management is Ancient Chinese ClassicsIntegrated View of the Wisdom of Chinese Classics – Future of Management Now.
    3. Build Morale - Celebrate and learned from past successes and get ready for the right time to charge forward.
      • Most people have “Defect fixing” mindset. They focus on their failures and weaknesses and forgot about their successes.
      • Have a “Positive Appreciation” mindset instead. Study your success and learn what make you successful. Find out your core competitive strengths and re-examine whether you have lost it. When company grows, complexity set in and the core-strengths slowly get lost in the midst of growing. Back to your basics and cores. Celebrate those things to bring up the morale and clarity of strategies.
    4. Get Alignment - Return to strengthen unity and alignment first. Put the right people at the right jobs.
      • Many businesses can grow quickly when small. But if the business is not built to scale, the growth will straight away amplifies the weaknesses of the business.
      • Make sure:
        • the mission, vision and strategies are shared and cascaded through out.
        • the processes are streamlined. So see what can be standardized, centralized, modularized, optimized, outsourced (to partner that share the culture), prioritized to support the mission and vision.
        • Pick and put the right people on the right jobs.
        • Get information and trust flowing.
        • Get the engagement of staff high.
        • Then you are ready for growth.
    5. Get Support – Have a meaning mission and a proven character, friends will come to support you.
      • Growing and big business needs support, from staff to customers, to suppliers and the bigger social network.
      • Having a worthy mission helps inspire people. Examine your mission. Are you making the world a better place to attract the support that you need?
      • Are you inclusive enough to accept diversities? Do you welcome and respect different ideas from the wider external networks of customers, suppliers, partners and the social network.
    6. Get Talents- Get support of leaders of power and influence and have worthy pursues.
      • I-Ching often tell us to get support from the “Big People”. People with great wisdom and influence.
      • Some you can hire them.
      • For those who you can’t hire, then get them to sit on your advisory boards.
      • At the very least, join them in their circles.
      • Having mentors is a great thing for your growth.
    Now, if your growth have been impeded much, you may want to go through the above teaching to find out where you need to build and change. All the very best to your health and your business.

    Lim Liat (C) 7 Dec 2011