22 September 2012

Wisdom for Success in a 21st Century VUCA World

21st Century World is characterized by VUCA of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity plus Deception (VUCAD). Successful living calls a new mindset. The world-view of the factors, causes and proposed solutions are shown in a Visual Model. But surprising the wisdom that you need is not new but originated 5000 year-ago in a book called i-Ching, meaning, the Bible for Change. Applying the wisdom will lead to you the objective of harmony and abundance of diversities of people, races, cultures, living things in nature and in the universe.

Alvin Toffler, "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn".

So what do we need to unlearn and relearn?

The Generations of Our Mindset
1. The Deterministic World of Clarity and Confidence
The mindset of the 19th century industry age is deterministic cause-effect, which is still the mindset of many people today, even those in the government, the engineering and scientific mindset... symptoms of the one best answer, cockiness, and in today world, presumptuous.

2. The Probabilistic World and Control Limits - Not so sure but predictable within limits
The mindset of the 20th century, thanks to quantum and statistical theories, is a probabilistic world with predictability. We understand variation, standard deviation, and we only jump when things are outside the control limits. E W Deming's A system of profound knowledge is a must read. It covers four areas of  an appreciation of systems, understanding of variation, theory of knowledge, and psychology.

3. The VUCA World - What shall we do in this seemingly mess?
The mindset of the 21st century, the hot term in this week seminars, is VUCA which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. VUCA comes from the US Military awhile back but is new to the management gurus. Some military literature have it as VUCAD, with D standing of delay in the feedback of information from the confusing raw data. But I would like to change the D to represent Deception. In the VUCA world, delay is implied. However, in this modern world of spam, hoaxes, outright sabotaging, it is important to recognize intentional Deception and be not deceived.

The key is how do we live successfully in this VUCA world?

Do a google on VUCA and see the articles on how to, especially on leadership. Start with this HBR http://blogs.hbr.org/frontline-leadership/2010/11/leading-in-a-vuca-environment.html.
The are books that address this issue such as Strategic Speed: Mobilize People...Leaders Make the Future: Ten New... etc.

The Big Surprise
But the BIGGGGG SURPRISEEEEEEEEEEE, the leadership advices from the above articles and books are only a subset of the wisdom of I-CHING, the "Bible for Change". The unchanging principles of i-Ching is a good guide for us to live in this VUCA world. To read more about i-Ching, see http://mind-value.blogspot.sg/2012/05/making-i-ching-come-alive.html

The VUCAD World Visual Model:

What are the principles for doing well in the VUCAD world?

1. Universal Rules
You find the things that are unchanging or robust that always work no matter what the situation. You find such universal truths and principles in books such as the Bible and i-Ching.

2. The Patterns or Paths when Change follows
Change does not happen haphazardly but follow a patterns. i-Ching have contains 64 Hexagrams of Situations and for each Hexagram, a description of the situation and a judgment of good or bad, followed by 6 stages of change, each with a line of advice and the judgment of good or bad outcome.

3. Learning how to read the Situation:
3 Major factors in any situation, the Heaven(the Seasons), Earth(Terrain, market, industry, PRETEL), and People and 2 keys of your positioning(strengths, weaknesses, offerings, etc)  and timing relative to the 3 external factors.

It is often then we do not read a situation well. In which case, we are encouraged to probe, to conduct small experiments and survey to find out more, to validate our assumptions and intuition. Watchout for garbage in garbage out in planning. Planning based on wrong data or interpretation of data will lead to wrong actions. In the VUCA world, go for robust and lightweight agile alternatives for common people. Few people have the insights or intuition of Steve Jobs and so we go for alternatives with greater option, and place more bets, that make them definitely less effective than one concentrated effort. But we can go long and adjust as shown in next step.

4.  Apply, Monitor and Adapt
Keep the mission, vision and values intact while you adapt the 'how' first. You change the ways you behave or do first before you change your vision or mission. But never change your values based on the universal truths, else you loose your identity.

Hope you like it and please your advices.

Lim Liat (C) 22 Sep 2012

17 September 2012

The Secrets of True Happiness

The secret of true happiness is not to have one's feeling be dependent on the external happenings. It is to have joy, the internal feeling of the heart that change not with happenings. It begins with knowing your identity and accepting your strengths and even your weaknesses. It is knowing the world is imperfect and unfair and hence living at ease with those that are beyond our control and making it better with those that are withing our control. Using the body-mind-heart-character model will dislodge the secrets of happiness. Pleasure is good feeling from the body. Happiness depends on the external happenings. Joy is the internal peace & pleasure of the heart and does not depend on the external events.

It is interesting that friends in the email and facebook communities talked about happiness recently. On reflecting what they have said, here is my consolidated view on happiness. I always want to put any good quote or advice that I read or heard into a context so that we can understand the truth and proper use of the quote or advice. The internet world is full of good advices and opinions from people all over the world. It is so easy to share things. However good things without the context only leads to misunderstanding and wrong use that may result in great harm. So we must learn and build models of the world around us to gain better understanding and predictive power upon which we can influence the outcome of our life.

A recommended model to use in the understanding of the human behavior, of which, happiness is the topic of interest in this post,, is the Body-Mind-Heart-Character-Relationship model. I will write about this model in greater details in future. But for now, we apply the B-M-H part to the understanding of happiness.

Here is the mind-map for the "The Secret of True Happiness".

The Body-Mind-Heart Make-up of a Person
When we look at the three parts of Body-Mind-Heart of our 'person', then we can easily see that "Happiness" of the body gives us pleasure and come from external happening such as having a good party, a joy ride in Disneyland. Reading a good book and watching a good movie with the visual and sound effects give us pleasure in our body and also our mind. The movie has a good plot and it is touching. It makes us think of lovely and good thoughts.

The Negative Type of Response & Solution
Bad things also happen in our life, such as loosing a sale, reprimand by our boss, betrayed by a friend. 'Unlucky' accidents, not due to us, also happen to us to upset and depress us. So we can quickly conclude that since such bad things happen frequently to us in this world, a good solution will be to get-out of this world. A good start is to simplify our life. Make sure we don't depend too much on the things of this world. The lesser the dependent, the less upset we will get from it. If you take this to the extreme, you can join the monastery or to become a hermit. That is the negative way to solve the problem - avoid it.  But does our solitude brings us happiness? The answer is partially. There is a conflict of real living and living as if dead! What are to do with the feelings that we are built with? The answer lies not in eliminating but in directing it. Build the internal joy of the heart is the answer.

The True Happiness is Internal Joy - Build it Up.
The passage to the door of the heart comes from our mind. The door to our mind is our body of course. But we must now take care of what we input into our mind and then into our heart and into our spirit if you are of the religion persuasion. We are to guard our mind and heart through controlling our body.

Joy comes first with our mind knowing our identity and then accepting our make-up, our strengths and also our weaknesses or limitations. We are uniquely make up of different extent of strengths and lack of strength, in our many attributes. Acceptance of our uniqueness is the first step to great joy. Then we recognize that the world that we live in is an imperfect world and it is also an unfair world. For factors that are beyond our control and influence, we just need to adapt to it and be at ease with it. For factors that we could influence, we help to make it  a better world.

The keys to more joy in our heart is to learn to be contented. Being content does not mean we don't strive to be better. We want to be better but at present we are contented with what we have. We learn to be contented in whatever situation we are in. Joy comes easily when we have a grateful heart. When we appreciate what others have done for us. The secret of joy is but having faith and hope. Faith that this is a good, yourself, others, world and hope that we can make it better. On deeper reflection, joy is but a facet of something call Character, that we must develop into maturity. The final outcome, the fruit, of this mature character, have many facets shown in the mind-map. It is best summarized by Paul in Gal 5:22-23 of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness (forgiving, empathy), goodness (good works), faithfulness (loyalty, integrity, trustworthiness), gentleness (giving ways) and self-control.

It is easier and more effective to spend time and energy to build what is in the inside of us, our character, and of joy as one facet, than trying to control our external happenings which usually lies beyond our sphere of influence. Why waste time trying to control those that are beyond our reach? Build up your inner joy that you can do by controlling what your read, see, touch and mix with and think on those thoughts that are pure, right, worthy, lovely and of excellence.

Determine to have joyful day no matter what because joy is what you are made of.

Lim Liat (C) 17 Sep 2012.

Updated Map:

See also The Key to Happiness - Just One Word

And for a wonderful talk on Happiness:
Happiness 101 with Tal Ben-Shahar www.youtube.com
He recommends:

Take Action -- Do them regularly to have Peace & Happiness:
1. Give yourself & others permission to be human.
2. Simplify Life and Give Times for Recovery
3. Exercise regularly 3x30min/week
4. Meditate & 3 Deep Breaths often esp when upset
5. Appreciate Life and be grateful. ... Write down 5 things you appreciate every day.

12 September 2012

Bait first and then Catch is the Better Way says Gui Gu Zi C5

To chase and catch is a not only stressful but of low success rate. The better method is "bait to catch" said Gui Gu Zi. It takes a match of four key factors, our strengths, his strengths, the Others' relationships and situational features. Baiting is first step. We need to also to know how to catch and exploit the advantages. It is best summarized in the "Mop Principle" of "Suck you in and Squeeze you dry!". It also applies to the attraction, development, retention and employment of talents.
The simplest way to catch a prey is to chase after it. However, it may not the smartest thing and easiest thing to do. The chaser needs to have strength that out run the prey. The success rate is not very high and it is very exhausting and stressful. Ask the Cheetahs. Human beings should have better methods. We invented fishing with a bait. "Bait to Catch" has higher success rate and it takes less resources. This is the advice of Gui Gu Zi Chapter 5.

What could serve as a bait of course will depend on the characteristics of the prey. Hence, Gui Gu Zi recommended us to find out and measure those characteristics. Go far and near and find out as much as you can. "It is not lack of planning but lack of actions (discovery types) before the planning that causes business to fail" say one Chinese Classics Guru.

"Knowing our enemy" and then "Knowing ourselves" are key strategic advices from Sun Zi. (See Sun Zi Art of War (Sun Tzu) in One Minute). Gui Gu Zi reminded us to look at two more set of factors, the politics among the players in our theater of play and the situational factors. It is the interplay of all these four sets of factors that we can set our baits and catch our prey.

Baiting is the first step. How to baits are given by Gui Gu Zi too. This is be followed up by the catch. Catching successfully also includes employing the catch to gain other advantages. This whole process is best summarized by a saying of my boss. It is called the the "Mop Principle" of "Suck you in and Squeeze you dry!".

These advices do not just relate to strategies but also about the attraction, selection, development, retention and employment of the talents to bring great performances for the company.

All the details are best captured in the mind-map below:
Hope you know what to do now to accomplish your dream.

Lim Liat (C) 12 Sep 2012

07 September 2012

Critical Thinking on Singapore Fertility 1 - Is it a problem?

The first thing that we learn about critical thinking is to question the claim. Low fertility rate is claimed to be a serious problem. On further questioning and thinking, the issue is really about preservation of this thing called "Singaporeness". In which case, the solution is not just about increasing fertility but about defining, propagating and maintaining this Singaporeness. Not finding the right problem will get us to find the right answers to the wrong problem!
This is the first in a series of Critical Thinking using Singapore Fertility as an example. It is a hot and important issue and we need to find the real problem and come out with the real solutions with the right thinking framework.

The reducing fertility rate of Singapore is getting much attention, especially when it was pointed by the former MM Lee Kuan Yew in the Aug 2012 Dinner. His quotes and the abstracted points are shown in the mind map below:

Begin with Questioning the Statement and Not Find the Answer

If you attend my thinking course, one of the first basic thing to learn is to question the claim. Why? How come? So what... For improving your thinking please see my Thinking Frameworks.

Singapore education system has placed too much emphasis on finding the right answers to questions set by teachers. Hence, it is very very rare that a student will question the question set by teachers. We bring this into the working life and we seldom question the boss' statement of a problem.

If you read the quotes of Mr Lee carefully, the main issue is not about fertility but about preservation of this thing of Singapore Cultures, ethos, codes, etc which I call "Singaporeness". This difficult to describe but can be felt kind of behavior that Singaporeans seem to stand for and be proud of. I talked about this Singaporeness in Looking at Singapore Immigration with a Yin-Yang Mindset.

If Preservation of Singaporeness is the Issue then Fertility Rate is a sub-Issue or even a none-issue.

Culture are usually and naturally transfer from one generation to the next. But there is a problem. The Law of Entropy from the Science seems to be applicable to the society as well. Without intervention, things naturally degrades and increases in randomness over time. So we find dilution of culture and values over generations. But we also noted that certain culture and races seems to have strength in the preservation of their culture. This is, to my limited knowledge and observation, the Jews, the Chinese, the Indians etc, those with a strong and long living culture are able to withstand the erosion of time. But those do not come by naturally. The Jews, Chinese and the derivatives had in their own Holy Books and Classics, the commandment to teach the next generation.

Hence, if you buy my point (which you need to question it first) that it is the preservation of Singaporeness, then the proposed solution will be:

1) Define what is "Singaporeness".
2) Teach, Memorize and Internalize it for individual.
3) Sustained with an Eco-system or Community. It is communicated, encouraged, values, codified in behavior, stop with mores, etc in our daily practice and behavior.
4) Improving the "Singaporeness"
Preservation should not be seen as just keeping the old standards but about improving the standards as well overtime.

What do your think?

Lim Liat (C) 7 Sep 2012

See also:

02 September 2012

Looking at Singapore Immigration with a Yin-Yang Mindset.

Due to our western education influence, most people are looking at issues with a one track mindset. Because some Singaporeans complains about some of the behaviors and congestion etc caused by influx of large quantity of immigrants, Singaporeans are labeled 'anti-immigrants' and asked to be more inclusive and loving.

The real issue is best summarized in the remark "Singapore is no longer like the Singapore that we know and built for the last 50 years".

The issue is not just about welcome or not welcome, or lack of love for the immigrants. It is about love and standards or values of Singaporeans. We must hold the two in dynamic balance. We love and welcome immigrants but at the very same time we also want to maintain our Singaporeans good values and standards.

We welcome immigrants that believe and accept our values and standards. We want them to join us to bring up and expand these Singaporeness. But we don't want our Singaporeness to overrun by too large influx of immigrants that destroy our Singaporeness,

We are not so narrow minded to reject immigrants and only want to maintain our Singaporeness at the expense of growth and a better Singapore. Because one of the key ingredient of Singaporeness is Multi-Racial Harmony. We don't just value diversity, we synergize them while keeping and respecting their differences. Strength comes from both diversities and synergy. Singaporeness have other values of openness, honesty, integrity, law-abidingness, cleanliness physically and morally, progressiveness, quality, helpfulness etc. We are the land of opportunities that allow for your diversities provided you uphold our Singaporean's values.

We say yes to both 'Love for Immigrants' and 'Singapore's values and standards'.

We welcome immigrants to join us to build a better Singapore and to uphold our Singapore's values and culture.

Lim Liat(C) 2 Sep 2012