21 August 2013

Business Strategies and Decision Making According to the Bible

The Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible is a book of wisdom written by King Solomon. One key piece of wisdom is "there is a right time for everything".  There is more to it and the extras are covered in this post.
The Map of Wisdom:
Let's begin with the mind-map that captures the essence of the decision making wisdom of Solomon:

Key Lessons:
  1. Everything in Life goes in Cycles. 
    • It is important for you decide at which stage or phase you are or your business is in? There is the technology S-Curve. There are the TALC Technology Adoption Life Cycle and the Market/Category Development Life Cycle of Geoffery Moore. You can look at the technology and the market life cycle of your business. You can extend that to cover the PESTEL factors of politics, economy, society, technology, environment and laws. There is this supply chain of customers, suppliers, staff, management, partners, owners. Which stage are they in? Are they just starting, scaling up fast, maturing or declining?
  2. Under the Situation and the Type of Action Needed. 
    • While Solomon says there is a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to harvest etc, the key word is not just the timing but also the action. The mind-map shows 8 types of action that you can take such as to start or to quit, to invest or to sell out, to compete or to co-operate, to tear down or to rebuild, to be sad or to celebrate, to keep or to give, to stay quiet or speak up, to embrace/merge or to separate and depart. The wisdom is in knowing what to do at the right time. You have to read the situation and understand it carefully.
  3. Seize the Kairos and not the Chrons Time.
    • Chronos time is the time that just go on.
    • Kairos time is the opportune time. The event or milestone time. You know the kairos time by reading the trends as in point 1. You create the kairos event time by your action as in point 2. 
    • Read and understand the trend. Be prepare for it. Don't be caught by surprise and ends in disaster is the great warning given by Solomon. He said most people got caught. May you be the one that rides the wave rather than be sinked by it.
  4. The Multiple Factors
    • You can't win on just being strong in one particular factor alone.
    • Solomon lists out 5 factors of speed, strength (of resources), knowledge, smartness of seeing and adapting, and the master skills. We know the sad stories of many famous artists and performers. They have great talents that the world know not or got to know after their death. It is important that we don't just be good at our own domain but to connect to others. Success is usually team work with lots support from others. Get mentors, seek advice, collaborate, build relationships with others. Be interested in knowing about the knowledge of other domains. Steve Jobs success is not a one man show. He know how to connect and ride on the work and talents of others in diversed fields. See The Least Known Strength of Steve Jobs - Standing On ...
Hope this is helpful to you as you strategize to grow your business or personal life to the next level.

One more thing, you may know that this is very similar to the teaching of I-Ching, the Bible of Change of the Chinese.

See Making I-Ching Come Alive! The Key Principles & Applications

Lim Liat (c) 21 Aug 2013

19 August 2013

What Make Great Businesses? Learning from Jack Ma

From his speech at "China 2.0" hosted by Standford GSB in 2011 titled "Alibaba's Ma Reflects on 12-year Journey", we can learn much about building great business of the 21st centuries. Great businesses are about creating value to fill the gaps to impact and bring benefit to the largest number of people. Ma chose to work with the SMEs and to create value for them with his Alibaba, TaoBao and Alipay.  It is not about making money alone.  
Here is a mind-map of Jack Ma's speech given at the China 2.0 conference in Sep 2011. It is my summary of Ma's speech. It may not be comprehensive. It is just the key points that I picked up from him.

Here are the Key Points:
  1. Business is not about making money but about creating value for the society. 
  2. The large amount of money made represents the trust from the people of the society. 
  3. Hence, everything should be transparent in this 21st century.
  4. The major business of the future is about solving the problems of the society rather than just pursuing the opportunities to make money. Company policies affect the society too.
  5. It is Eco-system of connected contribution and not the 'Empire business' of killing of competitors.
  6. Staff should run the company.
  7. Global vision with local wins. Back to basics is key.
  8. Solving Misunderstanding: Our job is to change ourselves to suit the others.
The Chinese mindset of "Harmony" is clearly seen in his belief of "Eco-system of mutual contribution" rather than the 'Empire thinking of domination and killing off'.  Business is about contributing to the maximum good of the society. You need to decide and pick the area of operation where you can contribution. Gaming could bring you lots of money, but Jack prefers to help the SMEs to grow and that he can sleep well at night.

The best evidence of his work can be seen in the people on whom he met on the streets to thank him for the help his businesses brought. It can also be seen in the word of his staff when asked why is still working so hard? He replies:
  1. I never know in my life I can do that much 
  2. I never know the things that I am doing are so meaningful to the society.
  3. I never know life is that hard. We work day and night.
People are very concern about the business ethics of the Chinese with so much bad publicity on the poison milk powder, oil, etc. Does the Chinese know about other values beside making money? With business leaders and thought leaders like Jack Ma, we can see hope. With greater emphasis and popularity of the Sinology (Ancient Chinese Wisdom and Philosophies) and greater emphasis of anti-corruption by the government, they will learn about sustainable business is about righteousness, ethics and laws-abiding. 

15 August 2013

Reflections on the "Reflections of Our Singapore Conversation"

Using a reference mindset we can make additional contributions of the "Reflections of Our Singapore Conversation". Firstly, asking the people is only side of the Yin-Yang bipolar thinking. Asking may not you the innovative breakthrough answer. Secondly, by relating to the past, values and strategies revealed in the National Flag and Pledge, we can trace the changes and decide the future. Thirdly, the perspective and the core aspirations wording are vague and  are subjected to misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Better clarity can be obtained by describing the observable behavior, defining the measures and targets to monitor progress and to make changes when needed. By reframing the OSC in a different format, I hope we can discover new jewels and help in the defining and the execution of the Singapore Dream. We may need to have Pledge 2.0 to convert the OSC document into a more inspiring and useful form.
"Reflections of Our Singapore Conversation" (https://www.oursgconversation.sg/) is an important document at least for Singaporeans and residents since it will be a reference document for government policies.  It is also good to know, or to confirm what we already know, about what some Singaporeans think and like. Here are my additional reflections on what else we can learn and do with the document.

Use a Thinking Model or Framework to Guide
I personally think the Ancient Chinese mindset is the one for the VUCAD 21st centuries of connected diversity. See The Essence of Sinology or Chinese Mindset - The Values & Methods for 21st Century.
Of course, I am not stuck to just using the Eastern Mindset of the Chinese, I can do both East & West. So here is the fusion mindset East West Fusion Mindset as a Key and as Simple as ABC.

We can see immediately that the Chinese Sinology mindset is very related to the OSC such as 'A Society based on Values', harmony of diversities, values of love, righteousness, proper rules of conduct. wisdom, trust and boldness. Any leader can build a strong nation on those values and mindset.

Yin-Yang Mindset of Tell & Ask,
Chinese mindset is not about A or B but both and a dynamic balance of A & B depending on the situation. See Yin-Yang Thinking Framework – Innovative and Critical.

OSC is the 'ask' side. Asking and finding out what do the people want, think and feel. It is only one side of the story. "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." was attributed to Henry Ford. Steve Jobs have a much improved version, "It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them."

Asking people only gives the answers, usually incremental, based on their perception of the current and short term situations. But we do know that the world is changing fast (VUCADly) and could they have come out with the answers for the near future challenges? OSC Perspective '7 A Singapore with a competent and trustworthy government ....'.  Do we have a leader that can stand above the circumstances, see further, broader and deeper than the people at large and lead the people well to adapt and progress in the future? If not by a person alone, but at least by a gathering of top minds in diverse fields. See The Superior Mindset of A Leader - The 4 Dimensional ...

Going Back to the Past - The Leaders of Nation Building
When our past leaders were building the nation, they did not publicly conduct such OSC.  Based on their experience and study, they had a dream of the kind of nation that they want to build and have the confidence of leading and persuading the people to join them. Their dreams, values and strategies are reflected in the National Flag and also in the National Pledge that came later.

In my days of growing up, it was about building a 'rugged society'. We were told that Singapore has no resources but only human. We are just a small nation. We are poor. But we can become strong and rich if we are rugged and we try together. We should be able to face up and overcome the obstacles and disadvantages confront us. We did build such a nation. Have we gone beyond the need to be rugged? Are the nation building values and strategies still relevant now?

Here is the mind-map of the 12 Perspectives with my additional comments to hope to make them clearer. I also regroup them to show the cause-effect relationships. These bring out the key differences of perspectives ... some are values, some are goals, and some are just strategies.

Let me add in the Flag and the Pledge:
(See also :The Kia-Su Kia-X's Uniquely Singaporeans - Mindset ...)

Here are a few comments we can draw from the above mind-map:

  1. Many of the past values are still applicable. 
    1. The old wording is better than the present one with alot more punch. (May be the younger generation think the wordings are old fashion).  Happiness is clearly better than the passive form of "other definitions for success" (the author may intentionally make it vague to encourage discussion.)
    2. 'A Singapore for Singaporeans - wanting the immigrants to adopt Singapore values' expressed the stronger desire to retain the nation building values.
  2. The addition of the Soft Side of "Love, Care and Respect"
    1. A major contribution from the OSC is this soft side of values. In nation building from a state of poverty, the leaders might just want the people to charge forward and did not want to emphasize the needs to care for those who could not. 

OSC remaps the 12 Perspective into 5 Core Aspirations.
I think it confuses rather than help. Here is a mind-map of the matching.
Are you inspired by the Core Values? Do you know want it means at first reading?

The Right Way to Describe Values
As a consultant in Corporate Performance Management, it is better to cast a nation's future in terms of mission, vision and the key values that enable the people to achieve the visions (over time) of mission (identity and uniqueness) through the strategies to be designed.

Values is best described with observable behavior so that others can see and copy. What does dignity for the aged means? A list of do and don't observable behavior will help clarify. Of course, we need to be careful of that such external acts may not have the true motivation within.

Are we there yet? How do we know?
To have greater clarity and understanding, we need define measure and set targets. By measuring we know our progress or lack of progress. We may need to change our methods so as to achieve our objectives. By having the target sets, we can see that when it is enough to re-channel and re-balance our efforts. If we take the strong view wanting to implement our strategies to achieve the dream we want, we can see that there is still much work that need to be done. But at the very least, we know the next few steps to take.

National Pledge 2.0
To go forward, we need something shorter and more inspiring than the 5 cores aspirations. It is perhaps time to change our National Pledge to incorporate the dreams and values that we want to build. We may need to add in the love side factors to build our nation into a balanced one of meaningful joy with love and wealth.

By reframing the OSC in a different format, I hope we can discover new jewels and help in the defining and the execution of the Singapore Dream.

Lim Liat (c) 15 Aug 2013

07 August 2013

Which Grammar Checker to Use? A small sample to try.

Here is a short list of some Grammar Checkers for your consideration. They are helpful tools for writing but are not perfect. You still need to rely on your English Language training.

I was looking for some Grammar Checkers and tried to use them to check my blog post.
Here is the original blog post (a subset only) that I wrote:

Multi-Brains Whole-Man Thinking & Behavioral Model

Thinking and making the right decisions and plans are very important for successful living. To increase our thinking power we need make good use of the multiple brains that we have access to. Besides the popularized creative right and rational left brains model, we need to see that can enhance our brain power with the digital brain of computer and software. Furthermore, we can draw upon the brains of our friends. Stretching even further, with the connected world of internet, there is this powerful brain of the digital cloud that we can gain much knowledge and help. This is the Multi-Brains model that we need to master better to cope well with this increasing volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous and deceptive world.

However, without the motivation to take action and to persevere in the face of challenges faced in the execution of the plans are equally important. Any behavioral change requires the study of the whole-man besides the brains. The whole man model shows that man is made up of body, mind and heart as an individual and the man's relationships with others which also impact the behavior of the man.

Here are the results of a few of the Grammar Checker:

1. Microsoft Word 2003
Word did not pick up any error.

2. Virtual Writing Tutor:
No error was picked up when this post was written on 7 Aug 2013.
However, the latest version (as tested on 30 Mar 2015, see comments on this post), picked up 8 errors and give useful feedback as shown below:

3. After-the-Deadline:
There are some suggestions but no errors. The explanation is helpful.

There are no errors besides the US spelling and the haven in Whole-man.

5. Grammarly
There were many remarks. I did not sign up for the trial and could not provide the answers. You can probably guess.

6. Ginger:
Ginger picked up four errors as shown below:
I can agree to "need to make", an error missed by the others. I will leave the "right and left brains" as in the original. I do not think I need to add the 'the' to internet since I already have 'the connected world of internet".  I also agree to "persevere in the face of" rather than "persevere in face of". But on reflection, in the face of challenged faced is rather redundant and needs to be rephrased. 

7. There is also http://www.serenity-software.com/ Editor to be considered. I just uninstalled the trial and could not use against the text. It is a very good checker too except for the user interface.

This is not a post to tell you which Grammer Checker to use but rather a quick survey of some of the possible ones for your search.

I also discovered that when my speed of writing was slower than the speed of my mind, I will end up with very confusing writing as illustrated in the 2nd paragraph. It is important for me to write in short sentences as in Chinese. The 2nd paragraph should read:

"However, the motivation to take action and to persevere in the face of challenges during execution are as important as thinking effectively with Multi-Brains. Any behavioral change requires the study of the whole-man and not just the brains. The whole man model shows that man is made up of body, mind and heart as an individual. Man's relationships with others which also impact the behavior of the man is an important 4th factor of the Whole-Man model."

Such improvement is not possible with present Grammar Checkers (Ginger software has a rephrase feature but it works more like a theasuarus suggesting alternative words such as replacing "impact" with "affect", "as important" with "equally important"). Let me know if you find one that can rephrase my English writing.

Lim Liat (c) 7 Aug 2013