25 December 2013

SunZi's Art of War - The Misquotes and Keys that are missed even by the Experts

A famous book like SunZi's Art of War is likely to be quoted partially. Even so, there are already much wisdom to be gained. But, having the full quotation will lead us to greater success. We look at the famous quote, or misquote, of "知己知彼,百战百胜  know self, know others, win every time”. Yet, the best strategy is to win without a war. Having peace in the world is not about just building more powerful weapons and larger military, but more importantly, it is to build better well being and sharing for more people so that there is no reason for war. That's the heart of Sun Zi.
What has Sun Zi's Art of War to do with Christmas that have me to write about in this season of peace and joy? Much, if you know the heart and purpose of Sun Zi's Art of War. Let begin with the famous quotation, or mis-quotation.

The source of Know-Self-Know-Others can be found in two places in Sun Zi's Art of War book. They are shown below in the mind-map:

There are 3 key errors
  1. Order. 
    • Know our enemy first, and then we can compare ours against the enemy. 
    • Most people look at themselves first to claim their strengths and weaknesses. That is incorrect.  Typical SWOT analysis begins with listing your own strengths and weaknesses. That is an error. We should look at the external Opportunities and Threats first and then back to your strengths and weaknesses to address those opportunities and threats.
    • Furthermore, our strengths or weaknesses can only be determined in comparison with the enemies that we are going to fight with and with respect to the theatre and timing of our operations. 
    • Strengths and weaknesses should be determined from the external. In a business, the external are competitors and customers, the markets, industries, and locations that we operate in. 
  2. Not Win every time but Not Loose every time. 
    • It is a secured position but need another two factors to ensure a win every time. 
  3. The Two More Factors: Know the Heaven & Earth - i.e. The Right Timing and the Right Terrain to take advantage of.
There are Four Factor
  1. Know-Other, 
  2. Know-Self, 
  3. Know-Heaven: the Time & Seasons, 
  4. Know-Earth: the terrains and the positioning. or the market and industries, the PESTEL factors
How do we know others and our strengths or weaknesses. Sun Zi proposed 7 measures. See Sun Zi Art of War-3: Health Check with 7 Measures.

Sun Zi however tells us that knowing something is better than knowing nothing. Knowing self and not knowing other bring us 50% success rate at times. The worst case is, not knowing anything which will result in 100% failure.

We need the two additional factors of knowing Heaven and Earth to ensure completeness.
How to appraise a situation is given in Sun Zi Art of War-4: Appraisal & Prediction.

Even Better is Not to Go to War - How to Win without a Fight .
Another misunderstanding about Sun Zi's Art of War is the purpose. It is not a book that teach us to win every war. It is in fact book that teaches us how we need not go to war! Sun Zi say the best strategy is to win without a fight! Fighting will result in destruction and deaths that both sides will suffer. The better way is to build oneself up such that others will not dare to take us to a war. They surrender voluntarily. Other better strategies will be to defeat their plans before execution, negotiate for win-win for all, and war is only the very last resort. Even if have to, win it quickly without much losses of lives.

See Sun Zi Art of War-5: The Principles for Good Strategies

How to Build a High Performance Organization that others will respect and follow.
The heart then of Sun Zi's Art of War is about building an organization or nation that other will respect and follow rather than trying to dethrone you.
See Sun Zi Art of War-6: Leadership Skills and Creating HPO

Having peace in the world is not about just building more powerful weapons and larger military, but more importantly, it is to build better well being and sharing for more people so that there is no reason for war.

Hope this post encourages you to look deeper into Sun Zi's Art of War.

Lim Liat (c) 25 Dec 2013

21 December 2013

Chaordic - Chinese Mindset from a Westerner, Dee Hock

Chaordic is a word invented by Dee Hock, the founder of VISA. It is made up of Chaos and Order. This combination is very Chinese in thinking as it is well known that Crisis in Chinese is 危机, which is made up of 危 danger and 机 opportunity, or CrisOpp if we follow Dee Hock. The teaching of Dee Hock is actually very close to the Chinese philosophies of I-Ching and Dao. 
In my recent reading, I came across the work of Dee Hock. There is his famous The Chaordic Organization: Out of Control and Into Order paper and his book Birth of the Chaordic Age. On further reading of his work and quotations found in the internet cloud, I am surprised that it teaches many concepts from the Chinese Philosophies of I-Ching, Dao and Confucinism. Starting with the word Chaordic = Chaos + Order. This combination is very Chinese in thinking as it is well known that Crisis in Chinese is 危机, which is made up of 危 danger and 机 opportunity, or CrisOpp if we follow Dee Hock.

Here is a mindmap showing some of the similarity of teachings between Dee Hock and the Chinese mindset:

Dee Hock is proposing that the Chaordic mindset is needed for solving the problems in this 21st century and to bring it to the better harmonious world with God, nature and man. The study of harmony with Heave, Earth and Man has been the objective of the Ancient Chinese Classic, I-Ching, the Bible of Change, 5000 years ago. Chinese philosophies, basing on the book, covered greater depth and scope than Chaordic. It just supports the many who said that the Ancient Chinese wisdom is in fact the future mindset for this VUCAD world available now.

Lim Liat (c) 20 Dec 2013

17 December 2013

Regrets of the Dying & How to Live Without Regrets

The regrets of the dying points out the important and meaningful things of life. But we need to move one step further to know how to live positively without regrets. We take the teaching of the Bible as a guide and combine them with the regrets of the dying to give us the way to live well and die well without regrets. The tagline for living is "Live out your unique self in peace with God, yourself and others."
An ancient Chinese saying, 曾子言曰:‘鸟之将死,其鸣也哀;人之将死,其言也善。’, tells us that the departing words of the dying are true and good for us.  http://www.inspirationandchai.com/Regrets-of-the-Dying.html gives the top five regrets of the dying. http://tonycampolo.org/if-i-had-to-live-it-over-again/ gives us the top 3 things they could have done if they are to start over again.  I did some reflections and consolidated them into 5 keys. I also looked up the Bible to get some further advice for living a good and happy life (5 Keys for A Happy & Good Life).  Then, we live through life through several stages that are well captured in the famous Psalm 23 that we read often in funeral and wake services. But we should read the Psalm 23 when we are young. It will be a regret for others to read to us when we laid death in the coffin. The Meaning and Cycle of Life from Psalm 23.

Here is condensed mind-map on how to live without regrets:

The 5 Nuggets for Living Well:

1. Find Your Calling

2. Live Out your Calling

3. Be Balanced in Spending your Time

4. Be & Seek Peace with Yourself & Others

5. Do Good & Turn Away from Evil in Speech & Deeds.

The Tagline for Life:
If you like the advices above compressed into a tagline, then try one of the following:
  • Live out your unique self in peace with God, yourself and others. or
  • Find your calling and live out your calling rightly and be in peace with God and others.
Lim Liat(c) 17 Dec 2013

05 December 2013

West Moving East - Chinese Mindset in Gladwell's David & Goliath

The Wharton's interview of Malcolm Gladwell about his book "David and Goliath: : Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants" have many so new ideas that are actually very familiar to the Chinese. In fact, such ideas are just Ancient Chinese Wisdom of thousands year old.
I was giving a talk on 'taking a seat in the cockpit' (27 Nov 13) for HR managers to shift into Strategic Human Capital Management and spoke on the story of David vs Goliath. Specifically, I mentioned that the West thinking is about getting more strength to win, but the Chinese thinking is about how the so-called weak, the underdog can beat the giant. That was how the start-up dethroned the existing leaders.

Today I got the email about this interview with Malcolm Gladwell.

Here is the mindmap that summarized the key thoughts and the similarity to ancient Chinese Wisdom.

Sun Zi's arts of war, see Sun Zi Art of War-6: Leadership Skills and Creating HPO | BvOtech, clearly pointed out that winning a war does not just rest on the size of the troops. He went deeper to give the strategies for how to win: Alignment, Foreseeing Enemy’s actions or reactions , Getting Commitment of Staff, Detailed & Careful Planning with Agility and Humility (Never Under-estimate the Enemy). More wisdom can be found in Sun Zi Art of War (Sun Tzu) in One Minute.

A summary of East-West Mindset differences can be found in East West Fusion Mindset as a Key and as Simple as ABC.

More comparison between East and West management and Chinese Management Style can be found in Sinology & Chinese Management

To learn more of the Chinese mindsets, see Ancient Chinese Wisdom and 

Lim Liat (c) 6 Dec 2013