31 March 2012

The Superior Mindset of A Leader - The 4 Dimensional Thinking

A true leader thinks and reacts differently from the common people. When the people are in a panic and don't know what to do, the leader stays calm and works out a course of action that is able to motivate others to go along with him. How is the mindset of a true leader different from the rest? This 4D, Four-Dimensional Thinking Framework show us how:

Here is the visual for 4D Thinking:

The Inner Circle of Vision & Execution

It begins with the inner circle of the 4D-Thinking framework. A leader must be good at 'Visioning' and also at 'Execution'. Common business literature like to differentiate leaders and managers. They define leaders as the ones able to do set the vision and goals and managers as the ones good at controlling and execution. A true leader must have both qualities of setting an visioning and execution. He must be able to chart the course, the strategies, to arrive at the destination, i.e. achieve the targets. He must be able to execute the strategies through motivating, coaching and directing others. He must be able to monitor the progress and adapt his strategies to meet the changing environment and continue to steer the organization towards the established vision. So the inner circle is made up for 4 steps of

  1. defining the vision
  2. plan out the strategies - the popular term used now is called Design
  3. execute the strategies
  4. monitor and adapt to the changes to ensure continued movement towards the vision.
The Outer Circle of 4D - Height, Length, Breadth and Depth.
  1. Height or Positioning
  2. Length of Time & Distance
  3. Breadth of Mind and Heart
  4. Depth of Insights
1. Height or Positioning
A leader must be able to stand above the situation. He does not merely react like others but choose Positivity Response that is able to see the opportunities in the crisis and convert the threats to opportunities. He think above the line - i.e. take charge rather than blame others. He is able to be creative and encourage others to have hope and to move on.

2. Length of Time & Distance
A leader has 4 types of sights:
  1. Hind-sight that learn from the past successes and failures. He does not repeat the old mistakes. He builds knowledge bases that he could use to enhance his decision making.
  2. Far-sight to see not only the short term but beyond into the long term. He sees farther than others and is able to work out the implications and side-effects of his decision way into the future, 50 years, 100year and beyond.
  3. Fore-sight to see before what others could have seen. He defines the future before and for others.
  4. Radius(Circles) of Influence: He can see what are within his sphere of influence and what are beyond. He continues to work what he can influence to extend his sphere of influence. He does not let those outside his sphere of influence to upset him.
3. Breadth of Mind and Heart
A leader a breadth of mind, open-mindedness, to be able to listen and learn from others; to be able to learn any time, any where and from anyone. He values the views of others, especially of those that are different from him. He synergize diversities rather than merely tolerating them. 

He a board-heart, a generosity that love and care for others. He develops others. He cares for right and wrong, fairness and balanced minded, always taking into consideration the multiple parties and views involved and come out with innovative answers and solutions for win-wins for all.  He see beyond himself, family, community and into the environment.

He has passion and persistence to continue when others would have given up.

4. Depth of Insights
Most people just see the surface and symptoms missing out the root causes. A true leader find the root causes, dig deep and wide to discover insights, patterns and principles. Hence he can solve problems effectively without short and long-term side-effects  

Leadership of the Whole Man
Man is tripartite being of body, mind(soul) and heart(spirit) and live in relationships to one another and to the universe. Any thinking and decision making should always have these 5 factors in mind. The 4D of Height, Length, Breadth and Depth can be apply across the factors of body, mind, heart, community/others and environment/universe. It would be a complex visual to draw and I hope you like my simplification of it as shown above. Will try to improve with time. 

Lim Liat (C) 31 March 2012

(Update 4 April 2012) The Version 3.0 Chart:

(Update 18 Sep 2012) The Version 4.0 Chart:
Changes: A Growth Model

  1. Height: Added 'Increasing levels of expertise" showing stages of growth.
    No one become a great leader at once. Leadership is developed through time. Before a leader can stand at a next higher plane than others, he must learn, starting from novice, to professional and then expert master. We grows from children, young people to parents. In the book of i-Ching, we have a 6-stage model of growth ( Learning from "I-Ching" Part 04 1-乾 Heaven - Creative Force).
  2. Length: Added - The Journey of Reaching a Predetermined Destination.
    Life is the journey. The length represents the routes we take, including the de-tours to by pass obstacles, getting lost and finding our way back, but we continue until we reach our destination. 
  3. Depth: Added - Identity and Character Building and What You are Made Of
    As we grow, we discover and become more assured of our identity. We become more and more stable. We don't sway easily nor give in to external pressure. Ancient Chinese Classics teaches us that leader develops from the inside first and then rule externally.(See Understanding The Great Learning DaXue in One Minute).
  4. Breadth: Added Inclusivity This is a word that captures the essence of Breadth - openness of the mind to welcome ideas and openness of the heart to embrace people of different diversities. It is extending of self to include others of a greater community and the environment too.
Lim Liat (C) 18 Sep 2012

29 March 2012

Steve Jobs on Leadership

The success and influence of Steve Jobs has many of us that following what he said and did. We want to learn from him and hope one day we could also duplicate his success, at least in a very small degree. Some friend on Facebook shared the following "The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson, who wrote the Steve Jobs biography. So I quickly read it and see what new lessons we could learn or unlearn from.

There is nothing much new but the background stories are interesting and iphone glass story was differed from one that I read earlier but provided additional details.

It is a good exercise to try out our mind-mapping skills and to check out our ability to write a good summary. I reworded some of the headings and hope they convey the content better. Here it is:

If you like to know more of Steve Jobs' saying, please read the following:

22 March 2012

Success Principles from Li Ka Shing Quotes

Li Ka Shing needs little introduction. You can also find his quotes by doing a google on him. But the better ones are in Chinese. So here is attempt to collect, translate, re-organize and rephrased the quotes that I found on the internet.

First Things First
Let me first begin by sharing what he said about the right sequence of things. Success also begins with one personal character. So here is the 1st mind-map that I recommend to all young people.

From Starting a Business to Having a Successful Life.
Here is a more complete mind-map on Entrepreneurship and a Successful Life. Enjoy and benefit from it.

Integrated Success Principles:
Comparing it with Others like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Lao Zi and even the Bible. Here is version 7 of Integrated Success Principles:

Lim Liat (C) 22 March 2012

update 20 Dec 2012 - Socializing and Networking added with advice from Zeng Shi Qiang.

For the latest version of this map, see

21 March 2012

Relationship Building According to I-Ching

How to build successful and long term relationship is taught by iChing with the following 7 Steps, each step represented by a Hexagram. It begins with personal integrity, meeting and selecting the right person, engaging not just the mind but also with the emotions, engaging according to complementary roles, building high performance team, having a harmonious family-type relationship and finally a blissful long-term oneness.

Many people are overwhelmed by i-Ching 64 hexagrams. Without a good understanding, they resort to lot-casting to get a forecast for their future and to get some guidance. That is not the right way to use the wisdom of i-Ching. For the right way see The Right Way to Consult I-Ching.

In this post, we shall be talking about "Relationship Building". You can get the full categorization of iChing 64 hexagrams at The Right Way to Consult I-Ching. I just pick up the group "Relationship" and reordered them in chronologically order for building deeper and more intimate relationships. Here is the re-ordered mind-map:

1. Begins with Personal Integrity
Relationships are built on trust. Trust comes from integrity. What is integrity? You can get the details at 61 中孚 Integrity – Create Right Bonding (registration is required). In essence, integrity has the following characteristics according to iChing:

  1. is based on righteousness and honesty.
  2. does not give in to external pressure
  3. yet does not force its way on others and cross into others boundaries.
  4. always deliver according to one's best ability, within one's position authority and role.
  5. never over promise and under deliver. 
  6. Integrity does not mean one should not aim higher. One should always learn and develop oneself. However, integrity tells us to extend oneself only when one is ready and capable. 
2. Go out and Make Friend but Choose your friend carefully.
44 姤 Encounter – Handle It Well(registration is required) tells us to make friends. But choose those that are righteous with integrity. You can also choose friends that are different from you (with different interests, capabilities, cultures etc) but don't forget the 1st rule of righteousness. Friends should build you up rather than tear you down or lead you astray. Serving others is a good way to make friend. See also Encounter of “The End” Kind 44 姤 Encounter

3. Engage with Emotion besides Rationality.
31 咸 Affection – Engage Emotionally (registration is required) tell us to engage with our heart besides our mind. We need to be consistent and continue to build the relationship to the end.

4. Engaging according to our Roles - Upward and Downward.
08 比 Union – Relationship Building(registration is required)
Relationship building need not just be horizontal. We should build relationship upward with our elders and bosses and also downwards with our sub-ordinates, and younger people. Understand the relationship with respect to the positions of each other e.g. parent-child, leader-follower. The basis of relationship shall always be 'integrity'.

5. Same Heart for Team Work.
13 同人 Companionship – Same Hearts for Teamwork(registration is required) tell us to not to build any relationship based on blood-line but on the sameness of heart. True team work may start with some violent disagreements when all openly and truly share their opinions. But as long as the hearts, the conviction and belief are same, they will work it out in the long run and become a closely knitted top performing team. This is the true teamwork of righteous gentlemen. Lousy and low performing team are formed by members who are afraid to be transparent and work together superficially.

6. Family Kind of Relationship 
37 家人 Family – Harmony & Trust (registration is required). In a family, everyone plays his/her role well to sustain the harmony and growth of the family. Different roles but the same body. There are discipline and order but harmony is the key. The roles are all complementary and no one is dispensable.

7. Husband and Wife Kind of Lasting Oneness.
54 归妹Marriage – Build Long Term Partnership (registration is required). A lasting relationship is built with long-term investment. Doing your part irrespective of whether the other side does or does not his/her part. It is a 100%-100% covenant and not a 50%-50% contract. Of course, it begins with choosing the right partner based on character rather than appearance. It is worth the while to wait for the right person. It is better to check through the 1st six steps before you get involve, the step 7 of permanent relationship.

Follow this Series:
Previous:Control & Management Principles according to I-Ching
Next: Stage 1 Start-Up and The Guidelines from I-Ching

Lim Liat (c) 21 March 2012

09 March 2012

Rephrase A Problem Positively to Get Better Answers

The quick way to get better answers to your problem is to define it in a positive way.
We can learn good management lessons from watching Korean Serials.

In the serial, "福熙姐姐", Fuxi was the CEO of a clothes factory. They have the problem of pilferage of buttons and other accessories. The management met to discuss how to solve the problem. Before I tell you their answer, what is the thing that you would do?

Typical answer is to have inspection of employees before they leave the factory. That was their initial suggestion. But they were concern about the implications. (This is teaching us to consider the emotional and social impact of our decisions). So they went home to think about it.

The came back with the answer:

"It is better to teach our employees to love our company than to tell them not to steal from the company".

This is the teaching of Appreciative Inquiry, and one of the very important thing that I teach in my management and innovation classes.  Applying the "Invert" operator is a good practice to generate ideas. (see BVITS Innovative Thinking Method)

Always rephrase a problem stated in a negative way into that one that is positive.

So, change from "how to reduce employees turnover" into "how to increase employees love for the company".

Rephrase the problem into a positive challenge open up the mind for more and better solutions than thinking in negative terms. One is to increase and we think of opportunities and the other is to stop and hence we think only of barriers.

I am very surprised to find it in a Korean Serial, but may be not. Many good Korean serials like Da Zhang Jing, Shan De Nu Wang etc have management principles in them.

Teaching life and management principles through movie and TV serials are very effective. They are the non-invasive and effortless way of learning. This leads to the 2nd principle of always communicate with a story to illustrate your point. Story touches the heart and not just the mind.

In summary, we learn three things:
  1. Rephrase the problem in positive terms to open your mind to get better answers.
  2. Use story to illustrate our ideas to touch the mind and heart of our audience.
  3. Always consider the emotional and social impact of our decisions.
One more thing, will you still implement an inspection system to catch the culprit? See Integrated View of the Wisdom of Chinese Classics.  Please shaer with me what you think.

Lim Liat (C) 9 March 2012