20 December 2012

Year End Reflection & 10 Keys for Success of Chinese Management Master

Reflection is not just about looking at the past, but also about building for the future. It is much better done with a reference framework to guide us. A 10-Keys for Success by Chinese Management Master Zeng Shi Qiang  is referenced here to help you, especially when you are still young.
Doing a Good Reflection at Year End
It is Christmas Season once again. The year is coming to an end. It is time for reflection and planning for the coming year. For older people, time seems to pass so ever quickly. For the young, life is still such a long way to go and there are many things to hope for and to accomplish. It is even more important that we do a better job at reflection.

Reflection is not just about looking at the past but also about building for future. There are so many things to look at the past but not all are of equal important. It is better to look the fast with a future orientation. It is better done when we have a guide as to what to look for - what the important things of life are.

Using the 10-Keys for Success of Chinese Management Master Zeng
Famous Chinese Management Master Zeng Shi Qiang 曾仕强 gave many great speeches all over the world and his messages can be found easily and widely on the internet. The only problem for the English readers is that they are all in Chinese. Machine translation from Chinese to English for his messages will end up with many jokes if one understand both languages. So here is my attempt to translate one of his key message into English that you may benefit from it. One famous one is the
"Chinese 10 keys for success" and is attractively summarized from 1 to 10 points as follow:

The Translated with i-Ching Hexagrams Added:
The meanings of some of the phrases, even in Chinese, are not very clear. One needs to listen to his speech to understand. I also take the opportunities to add in the relevant i-Ching hexagrams for ease of referencing the i-Ching wisdom as well. So here is the complete mind-map.
For more on i-Ching or Sinology see Ancient Chinese Wisdom

Integrating into the Wisdom Base (Knowledge Base of Success Principles)
There are the many sayings of successful people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Li Ka Shing, Stephen Covey, Richard St John and even from Philosophy like Lao Zi and also from the Bible. I am a strong proponent of integrating any new knowledge to an existing knowledge base so that the total knowledge can increase over time. By integrating and re-organizing knowledge, we are able to enhance our knowledge in both broadness and depth. I started with Adding Bill Gates to Steve Jobs Wisdom for Success, and overtime into this Mind Value: Success Principles from Bible, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, etc And here is the 8th edition of the sayings of the wise and successful:

Hope this mind-map helps you in your reflection of the past and your planning for your future.

A joy filled Christmas Season and an Abundant New Year to you and your family.

Lim Liat (C) 20 Dec 2012

14 December 2012

Two Types of Goods & Their Economics

Conventional economics teaches about the supply and demand of tangible physical goods. Tangible goods are consumables and they get less when used.  It is a scarcity mindset of fighting for bigger share of a fixed pie. There is another type of goods, the intangibles, such as information, software, skills, talents and emotions like love and joy, that do not get consumed when used or shared. They work on a different economic law, the law of network effect when the more it is shared, the greater is the total benefits. The abundance by sharing law can be applied to the scarcity economic laws to increase the production of a much bigger pie. It is one of the key factor for the economic of scale. Consider this law of abundance by sharing in your next decision making to open up your innovating mind to create more by sharing and using less. Consider open sourcing and crowd sourcing etc.
Two Different Types of Goods with Different Economic Laws
There are two main categories of goods - the tangibles and the intangibles.

Tangible Goods and Scarcity Mindset
The tangible goods tend to be also consumable --- it gets less and less when used and gets used-up. When one person uses it, there is less for another. It is the famous sharing of the fixed pie. A whole set of economics laws is dealing with this kind of goods. (There is another type of tangible goods such as a National Park, where it does not get less that fast with additional people, but it will break down due to congestion and destruction when too many people use it at the same time.)
This scarcity brings forth the concept of opportunity cost. If I use it do this will prevent me from using it to do others. It bring forth the problem of distribution. Who should get more or less of this limited amount of goods.

Intangible Goods & Abundance Mindset
There is these other kinds of goods, the intangibles, such as information, software, talents and even emotion such as love, courage and joy. These kinds of goods are Non-consumable - they don't get used up when use. They can be used at the same time concurrently with many users and non get lesser of the goods. In certain time, there is this network effect of greater total value when more people use and share it. This "Abundance by sharing" also works in the tangible goods economy by increasing the production effectiveness and efficient due to sharing of skills. The economic of scale of the scarcity based economy is not just the outcome of the sharing of a fixed costs over greater quantity of units of production but also from improvement in the production methods due to better knowledge.

More details can be found in the following mind-map:

Next time in your decision making, remember this law of "Abundance by sharing" or "Sharing to get more for everyone".

Lim Liat (C) 14 Dec 2012

03 December 2012

Strength alone has no meaning - Reorder Your SWOT

All strengths are dependent on the situation. They should be determined externally by the situation unless you specific choose the situation wherein your strength is relevant. Going further, we should do our SWOT in the order of TOWS! BTW, No idea is useless. You just need to choose the situation and the job or person that need it. Finding the jobs that make use of your idea is also innovation. Innovation is not just the invention of things or even services. Giving new meaning and hence new uses for existing products are also innovation. 
When sending my daughter to work this morning, I encountered the following situation as shown in the photo below:

What can you see or learn in the above photo?

That's is the very sexy looking Ferrari? I wish I can afford one?

Ferrari is better to be in red than white?

It is a traffic jam.

That's is the 1st level kind of thinking.

For deeper thoughts...

In a traffic jam or at a red traffic light, the Ferrari is as fast my Honda.

Any strength is situation dependent. 

All the horsepowers in the Ferrari cannot be used in a traffic jam.

Strengths or weaknesses should be viewed externally, from the opportunities and threats that are present in the situation.

So we must :

a. choose the theater of operations where our strengths can be used or

b. get the strengths that we need when we are forced into a situation.

Doing SWOT in TOWS Order

This lesson is the key to the SWOT analysis that we do often in strategic planning. We tend to do it inwardly first, from what we think as our strengths and weaknesses and look outward for the opportunities and threats. Hence, we see what we like to see and miss out the greater opportunities (threats are opportunities too. So I purposefully not mention it here) that lie in our blind spots. Furthermore, strengths should be measured not by us but by our customers and the market relative to our competitors

We should invert the way we do SWOT. We should look at the OT and then derive the S!W. Or even we should do it TOWS! Look the external threats, find the opportunities, discover the weaknesses and find the strengths to come out with a set of action plans (the strategies) to convert threats to opportunities, weaknesses to strengths, so as to ride on the strengths to capture the opportunities. The good news of external opportunities and threats are that all your competitors are facing them also. There open the great opportunities for you to better them!

Opportunities and threats are uncertain too. If we can convert threats into opportunities then what we first called threats are actually opportunities. If we ignore the risks in our opportunities then our opportunities may change into threats.

Chinese has a famous saying, 塞翁失马焉知非福, a blessing in disguise. An old farmer lost a horse. The neighbors said, "What bad luck." A few days later, the horse returned with other horses. The neighbors said, "How lucky." Later, the Farmer's son fell from taming the horses and broke his leg. The neighbors said,"How unfortunate." Then, there was war and all young men in the village were conscripted except the son with the broken leg. The neighbors said,"How lucky." Often, we could not even be sure of the outcomes of our decisions in a world of changes. Changes in the external environment could make our prior wise decision looks stupid!

So, we have the following levels of thinking:
  1. It is a crisis, we have problems.
  2. There are opportunities in every crisis besides the threats.
  3. Opportunities have their risks and threats have opportunities within. It is not so clear after all. So, manage the risks in the opportunities and convert the threats into opportunities. 

No idea is useless. 
Extending even further, there is no such thing as a useless idea.
You just need to find the situation and the job or person that need it. 
Finding the jobs that make use of your idea is also innovation. 
Innovation is just the invention of things or even services. 
Giving a new meaning and hence new uses for existing products are also innovation.

Hope this post gives you lots of ideas to improve your business and life.

For more, see Sun Zi and Other Strategists

Lim Liat (C) 3 Dec 2012