30 May 2015

The Effective Way of Learning - Sharapova Advice for Prodigies

Do you have an effective way of learning and accumulating knowledge? When we read good articles, what do we do with them? Here is an example from Maria Sharapova's Advice.

With the French Open Tennis going on, news about the players is many. Here is a very interesting one found. Sharapova advances with advice for prodigies.

Step 1. Do a Mindmap to capture her sayings.
Step 2. Go one step extra to distill what she is telling us. Put your understanding in your own words.
Step 3. You can improve the map better with highlights and punchy keywords.
Step 4. Integrate to your big mindmap of success lessons.

Here is the outcome of Step 3.

Here are the Key Lessons:

1 Most important things in Life are not tennis --- Find them.
2 Watch out for the Temptations! Have fun but have control
3 Get, Be & Listen to Smart Mentors --- Note the need to obey them.
4 Remember the foundational reason for your success.
    --- Don't ever forget the who, what & how for your success.
5 So continue to develop it.

Ancient Chinese Wisdom teaches us the same thing!

The advice from I-Ching to the Young Successful and the Old Successful is the same: 利见大人 ....having great people with you will bring blessings. ... i.e. always have mentors to guide and keep you in check. It is so easy for us to be blinded by our success, especially when we are so young.
Learning from "I-Ching" Part 04 1-乾 Heaven - Creative Force.

The mind-map for Integrated Set of Principles for Success from the various famous people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Li Ka Shing, Lao Zi, and from the Bible is:

Lim Liat (c) 30 May 2015

25 May 2015

The Sun Zi's Art of War that even the experts may not know #3

The Art of War Winners' mindset helps us to understand the rise and fall of nations and also of corporations. It can be the guide for us to build successful businesses. Here is a series of stories of the Smart-phone wars that explained the successes of Apple and Androids and the failures of Nokia-Microsoft phones.
 The Sun Zi's Art of War that even the experts may not know  #3:

Last post The Sun Zi's Art of War that even the experts may not know #2, ends with "I still want to play the catch-up game, what can I do?"

We have to go back to the very basics of Sun Zi's Art of War - the Five Factors and Seven Measures.

The five factors are Philosophy, Seasonal Timing, Terrain Advantages, Leadership, Policies & Processes, and a sixth-factor Customers Desires added by me for business use.

The philosophy of business is best captured in the Mission, Visions, and Values of the business that when really practiced by the top and the bottom will become the culture of the company.
Who has the Best Mission statement?

The Right Way to Do SWOT - TOWS
We will use a well-known method for the design of strategies called SWOT.

But we will follow Sun Zi's teaching and do it in the right order of TOWS.

The first principle from Sun Zi is outside-in analysis. Our perspective should start from the external environment, the external factors, the threats and opportunities, and then looking for the relevant internal factors of our comparative weaknesses and strengths.

The second principle is risk averse, risk first analysis.  Hence we must overcome the threats first before we can talk about the opportunities. If we are unable to address the threats, all the opportunities are false optimism.

These TOWS order guards against the typical optimism of project proposers and sponsors who tend to underestimate the risks and over-rate the potential opportunities.

So our Sun Zi based Outside-In, Threats before Opportunities, TOWS analysis should look like this:


Start with External Factors of Season Timing, Terrain Advantages, and Customers Desires:


The Internal Factors of Philosophy, Leadership, Policies & Processes, Staff:
The Strategic Initiatives:

Lim Liat copyrighted 25 May 2015

Seasonal Trends & Timing for Business includes the PESTEL factors of Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, and Legal.

Terrains for business relates to the markets and market positioning. In the markets are various competitors and supply chain partners and competitors.

The winning principle is to choose the market where your abilities become strengths and your competitors' become irrelevant or weaknesses in the eyes of your target customers.

Every analysis of the TOWS must derive the strategic initiatives that need to take such that:

1. Our weaknesses exposed by the threats are handled and eliminated, or even better converted to strengths to overcome the threats to become opportunities to be exploited.
2. Our strengths exposed by the threats can be gainfully employed to overcome the threats.
3. In the same way, our weaknesses that may prevent us from exploiting the opportunities are eliminated or converted to become strengths to take advantage of the opportunities.
4. Our strengths relevant to the opportunities can be recognized and profitably employed.

We shall use the Google Android experience rather than the earlier mentioned Microsoft successes which may be too old for many younger readers to know.

The Apple iPhone was announced by Steve Jobs in Jan 2007. The first Android phone was HTC dream announced in Sep 2008. So we can roughly say that Android is about 1.5 to almost 2 years behind the iPhone. They have much to catch up then.

So here is the TOWS analysis may be done by Google in 2005-6? (Note: This is my fictitious thinking for illustration of TOWS and were not real).

The weaknesses revealed in the analysis of threats caused Google to use its existing strengths to acquire the skills and to pull in many other leaders in hardware and telecoms to form the OHA to create new strengths to snatch the opportunities from Apple. Android soon became the market shares leader and many of its partners, namely Samsung and HTC earlier and China Huawei, Lenovo, ZTE and lately XiaoMi to become major players in the smart-phone cloud-device market. While they may not be as profitable as Apple and are still successful.

Lim Liat (c) 25 May 2015 
Update 7 Aug 2019 

The Sun Zi of Finance in Action - Holding a lot of cash because there is no good opportunity.

See how the wise apply it in real life. 
For an investor, sitting on idle cash is costly. 
He has to pay his clients interests but the idle cash is not generating any interest at all. 
Yet if you really understand Sun Zi's Outside-In and Threats before Opportunity approach, then you understand Warren Buffett's action. When there is no good opportunity, or if the market is going down, if you invest at all, you at just investing in bad deals (no matter what the optimistic forecasts are. That's the job of the people asking you for investments) and will lose more instead.

So, if the market, the external world, does not provide you any good opportunity, keep your cash. You cannot force it out of the external world. You just have to adapt to it. So wait and see is a good policy to follow.



The Sun Zi's Art of War that even the experts may not know #2

The Art of War Winners' mindset helps us to understand the rise and fall of nations and also of corporations. It can be the guide for us to build successful businesses. Here is a series of stories of the Smart-phone wars that explained the successes of Apple and Androids and the failures of Nokia-Microsoft phones.
In The Sun Zi's Art of War that even the Experts may not know #1, the winning Strategy is making sure others cannot compete with you. When you try to compete with others, you are starting from the loosing position.

The key question is then how can I achieve that?

In 20005 Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne wrote the Blue Ocean Strategy to tell us how to get out of the red ocean of commoditied fierce competition into the blue ocean of non-competitors. The strategy canvas is a good tool to show you how to differentiate yourself from others. His ERRC and 6 paths are good guides to generate a different curve.

Sun Zi gives us the higher level guidance in
Art of War Chapter 4v7 He who is skilled in defense hides in below the earth; he who is skilled in attack moves in the sky above. Thus he can protect himself safely and gain all out win. 善守者藏于九地之下,善攻者动于九天之上,故能自保而全胜也。

The best defense is that you could be seen. There is no where to find you.

The best attack is to come from the next dimension, the sky, where you are not expected and yet you can still hurt them.

In the last post, I said that Apple created iPhone (cloud device), a new dimension, where the Nokia did not even understand. Only much later, when its sales were greatly impacted, that they tried to compete with iPhone by working with Microsoft - too late and no new value proposition.

Last post ends with, "If you miss the boat, how can you recover?".

In 1998, after Steve Jobs has saved Apple from going bankrupt, he was asked by Rumelt, "What are you trying to do? What’s the longer-term strategy?"

Jobs just smiled and said, “I am going to wait for the next big thing."

His strategy was precisely hiding underground and then attack from the sky (a blue ocean, next dimension market).

The Busy Wait
Most people think that waiting is doing nothing. That's laziness and losers talking. Jesus told his disciples to be busy still he comes again.

In this period of waiting, and hiding, Steve Jobs did incremental innovations for the Mac to keep the company profitable. In the meantime, he saw new opportunities in the music market - the deficiency of packing 20 songs in a CD. He went after a dollar a song anytime anywhere on the go. That's was the iPod and iTune. The new thing was marketed Oct 2001. Then, a major mp3 player, Creative Technology, just like Nokia later in the phone market, did not even know what was happening. They tried to go on a features war with iPod without the understanding of the real business issues. I hope you do remember Creative Technology, one of Singapore proud success stories that impacted the whole world in sound and games PCs.

The winning strategy is to hide while you develop and then create a new wave a new dimension ... i.e. a blue ocean. A blue ocean that sucks the profits out of the red ocean competitors, especially the market leaders of the red oceans. iPod greatly impacted the music and tech businesses and even later, through iTouch and iPhone, the phone market and the telecom market.

The Great Followers
But you may say, Steve Jobs types are rare. Creating a new wave is not easy. How can I really play catch-up successfully? Does Sun Zi have any good strategies?

For catching up strategies, we have to learn from Microsoft - the best followers that replaced the first movers. Microsoft DOS replaced CP-M, Excel replaced Lotus 123 that replaced Vasicalc earlier. Word replaced WordPerfect that replaced WordStar earlier. Even so, we can see how Sun Zi Art of War at play.

Lim Liat (c) 24 May 2015

The Sun Zi's Art of War that even the Experts may not know #1

The Art of War Winners' mindset help us to understand the rise and fall of nations and also of corporations. It can be the guide for us to build successful businesses. Here is a series of stories of the Smart-phone wars that explained the successes of Apple and Androids and the failures of Nokia-Microsoft phones.
I have shared a few posts on Sun Zi's Art of War on my FaceBook. It may be better to share in on my blog for reachig a wider audience. The blog also provide better search capability.

Here is the first one of a series:

What is Competition?
Sun Zi: It is about making sure that no one can compete with us.

A good example is Apple Inc, first with its Mac, then iPod, iPhone and so forth.

Typical Consultant: Identify a target and then try to copy and then out do him.
A businss school professor cited the example of "Killing the Cat" referring to Komatsu competing with Caterpillar. 

Sun Zi: When we start to compete with others, we are already a loser. 

A good example that we can think of is Nokia's attempt to compete with iPhone and the Andriod phone with Microsoft Window-phone.

Where did Sun Zi say that?
Chapter 4 v 1. Sūnzǐ said: The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy. 孙子曰:昔之善战者,先为不可胜,以待敌之可胜.

If you know Chinese, then a highly recommended book on Sun Zi's Art of War is at http://home.quanjinglian.com/home.php…  But may be I could be biased, for I find quite a number of my original views on Art of War were also shared by the author, 

The follow on question you may want to know is:

If I miss the boat, how can I recover?

See The Sun Zi's Art of War that even the experts may not know #2

Lim Liat (c) 24 May 2015

15 May 2015

The Treasures of Sun Zi's Art of War that You Will Never Find in Books

The Treasures of the Sun Zi's Art of War are buried deep in the spirit of the Art of War. So you will not find them in the many books that cover Sun Zi's Art of War. The common wisdom covered in the books are generally about the strategies to win the war against enemies. They cover know yourself and know your enemy (which is not quite correct. See here). The better ones cover more on knowing the Sky of Weather and Seasons and of the right timing and the Terrain characteristics to gain advantages. Then they cover about deceptions and surprises to out-smart the enemy. Some even mistakenly include the 36-Stratagems as part of the book of Art of War. Such are but superficial knowledge on Sun Zi's Art of War. To gain better wisdom, we need to dig deep into the Art of War and discover the treasures. The spirit of Art of War can be captured in a few key words. The words are very applicable to doing business, besides fighting and winning a war. Here are the few jewels:

Art of War is all about Gains 得

If we need to summarized Sun Zi's Art of War in one word, it will be Accomplishment, or Achievement or Gains. The Chinese word for this is 得.

The Art of War is firstly about how to build up a nation rather than just winning wars. Sun Zi's in Chapter 3 谋攻 (How to Attack) says,  是故百战百胜,非善之善者也;不战而屈人之兵,善之善者也。Therefore, winning every battle is not the best. The best is to subdue them without a battle. It is about building oneself up to such a powerful stage that others are fearful to fight us and acknowledge our leadership or even surrender to us. 

Chapter 3 begins with keeping the enemy's country intact rather than destroying it. To win by strength is best, If not, by negotiations, else by battle in the open space and the worst to attack a castle. It says the best to take over all the resources of the enemy rather than destroying them. Hence, the spirit of the Art of War is about how to Gain without risks of loss. (必以全争于天下,故兵不顿而利可全,此谋攻之法也). So, we can see that:

The book of Art of War is all about how can we gain all. 

Is not this the very purpose of business? 

The purpose of Business is to create profits (=revenues - costs) without the risks. If you want to know how to have profits without risks, then you need to study Sun Zi's Art of War. There is only one key mission in Art of War. It is CUSTOMERS. Peter Drucker said the purpose of business is to create customers. So, we must add Customers into the factors considered by Sun Zi. Customers are people, so are soldiers and generals of wars, for Chinese, people are 人 ren. So we add 人 into Sun Zi's formula which is presented later.

The Meaning of 得 Gain = Know + Do

得 in the oldest bone form is represented by walking to the beach to pick up shells(which are like the coins, money of today). It conveys the concept of knowing where to go, how to search and the need for walking and picking to finally gain the precious shell/coins. It is the combination of knowledge and doing. To gain anything, you need to know and also to do to get it!

We know that just knowing without doing is not real knowing right? Consider swimming. You can know how to swim theoretically but you only know when you jump into the water and swim. So, truly knowing must have both, know and do. Know to do and do to know more. Know and Do together will result in good work which we call accomplishment or achievement or simply success. The Chinese know this well and has a 4 word proverb for it as 知行合一 Know and Do united as one.

The 3B of Gain:
The Art of War gives details on how to gain, in fact, to gain all at minimized risks. To help us to memorize, I will use three B's to describe it. You must know+do the following:
  1. Know and Do the Basics of Strategies & People
  2. Know and Do Before the others.
  3. Know and Do Better than the others.
B1 The Basics of Strategies & People
To be successful, we must know the strategies. the how-to, to achieve our goals and getting the rigth people to execute the strategies. Sun Zi teaches us how to design the winning strategies. He also teaches us about leadership and how to create organization power and how to maintain organization health avoiding the errors. These shall be covered in greater details in the subsequent post. However, if you like to know the d etails immediately, my earlier posts are Sun Zi Art of War (Sun Tzu) in One MinuteSun Zi Art of War-2: How to Manage the Five Factors and the links there in.

B2 Before the Others
There is the temptation to use the word "First".  But the key for comparison is relative to your competitor. If you and your friend are being chased by a bear, you don't need to out run the bear. You just need to be one step faster than your friend. First mover have advantages and also great risks and costs. You don't want to be too early in the eagerness to be first and ends up in the bleeding edge. You rather need to in the leading edge. It is about seizing the initiative, regaining the initiative rather than be outright first. Waiting for the right time and place is a key teaching of Sun Zi. Just staying one step ahead is good enough. While Apple tends to lead the market, he also keep its best for later releases. Apple took its time to release the larger screens for its iphones but when it does, it gains great successes.

B3 Better than Others:
Before is about timeing. Better is about features, effectiveness, efficiency, proficiency and excellence. It is about doing the right things and doing them rightly. Again, it is Better than others and not be the very best. Best is a dangerous word. It gives us the wrong idea that no improvement is needed because that is best. We also tend to look at it from our own point of view. It ignore that over time, others will catch up with us. Better is a better word than best. It open our mind to improvement and to others.

Summary of Sun Zi's Art of War:
Art of War teaches us the following formula:

    Gains All = Know+Do (Basics, Before, Better) 
    over our competiors in the eyes of our customers.
This is roughly the first part of a new book, "The Complete Leadership and Strategic Insights of Sun Zi's Art of War for Business" that I am writing. More details on the Basics, Before and Better will be covered in the book. Hope you like it.

Your Turn:

For the time being, ask yourself the following 3 questions (at least for this year annual restreat or planning exercises):

1. Have you covered the basics?
2. What can be done before others?
3. What can be better than others?

Lim Liat (c) 15 May 2015

For more on Sun Zi see V Sun Zi and Other Strategists(Gui Gu Zi)
For more on Ancient Chinese Wisdom see Mind Value: Ancient Chinese Wisdom

The Chinese Word for Know and Do

What is the meaning of the word in the picture?

Here is the story:

The Power of Chinese Language and Word:

Chinese word is an extensible language with much power in conveying meaning.

Let's take a example, the word for walk or do is xing.

If you move quickly, rush, creating momentum, then you are putting heavy weight or mass in walk so you get the word chon, meaning rush or attack.

To control the movement of a horse, you put a metal bit in the horse's mouth. The Chinese word for the bit is xian. Hence, if you do well and graduated, or if you do great work, people will give title known as 头衔 tou xian.

Now that you get the drift, what should be the word that cover both know and do ?

We know that just knowing without doing is not really knowing right? Consider swimming. You can know how to swim theoritically but you only know when you jump into the water and swim. So, truly knowing must have both, know and do. Know to do and do to know more. Know and Do together will result in good work which we call accomplishment or achievement or simply success.

The Chinese know this well and has a 4 word proverb for it as 知行合一 Know and Do united as one. So you will be tempted to create such a word as shown in the picture below. You can't find the word actually. There is no such word in Chinese not because they don't want to create one but because there is no need to. There is such a word already. It is , meaning gain, obtain, achieve.

in the oldest crafted on bone or shell form is represented by walking to the beach to pick up shell(which is like the coin, money of today). It coveys the concept of knowing where to go, how to search and walking and picking. It is the combination of know and do. To gain anything, you need to know and also to do to get it!

Do you like chinese? For more, see Chinese Words Make You Smarter.

12 May 2015

Learning Success from Failures & How to Accumulate Knowledge to be Wiser

Don't just read their failures and lessons. Do some processing and digestion of the knowledge read. Here is a 3 Step process to show you how to use the computer as your mind-extender to become wiser over the years. 
There are many books, blog posts and social media sharing about the successes and failures of business. Recently, some friend on Facebook shared this  With a simple googling, we can find this 33 Start ups That Died Reveal Why They Failed - Business ... and this Entrepreneurs reveal their failures en route to success ..., and this 7 Reasons Why Most Entrepreneurs Fail in Business and etc. How can we really their lessons and apply them in our business and even in our lives? I suggest the following 3 steps process:

  1. Digest the Lessons learned from the blog post/book. This it best done with a mind-map.
  2. Build Your Success Knowledge Base. This is done by integrating the mind-maps from step 1 into your own knowledge base of success principles successively over time.
  3. Consult Your Success Knowledge Base whenever you need to. It is good even to browse the knowledge base now and then for you own reflection.
Step 1 Digesting by Mind-Mapping:

A main use of the mind-map is to group the 13 lessons into 7 categories using your own words. You may want to re-order as to the timing sequence or priority. So I have "Come out and Start it" as the first category, customers as second, agility as third and so forth. We can also see that the common mistakes are not talking to customers and not focusing with 3 failures each.  Surprising, Cash or Funding was mentioned only once. This must have been the ease of raising funds in the availability of Angel and Venture capitals and the various government grants and subsidies programs. Nevertheless, one key rule is the less the cash burnt, the higher the valuation and the likelihood of funding. 

Step 2 Integrating to Your Success Knowledge Base:
I have built a Integrated Success Principles mind-map many years earlier based on the sayings for the very successful people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Stephen Covey and even from the Bible and Ancient Chinese Wisemen like Lao Zi and modern successful Chinese like Li Ka Shing. I hope to have a fusion of the best from the East and West. I compared the lessons learned in Step 1 and the wisdom I have here and integrated them into my map. There is almost nothing new to add, showing the power of the existing Knowledge Base. However, there is this failure lesson 7 "7 Never let growth exceed my own ability to fund it. If I am tempted to seek outside funding, it is a sign of a flawed business model."that impressed me.  In this world of easy money and leveraging, reading this reminded me of HP founders policy of financing growth internally. So I added this to Money branch of "Methods for Growth".  It also triggered other thoughts.

It also reminded of the "Sun Zi's Art of War for Business" courses that I have been teaching and was surprised that I did not include this in the map. So I took this opportunity to modify my map adding in a new main topic of "The External World", the 天 Seasons/Weather trend. and 地 Terrain Characteristics in Art of War emphasising the needs to take an Outside-In situational analysis in the design of strategies. The other 5 factors of Art of War, the 道 Dao - Way, the Business Philosophies and Cultural Values, 将 Commanders/Leaderships, and 法 Policies and Operation Systems can easily find their main branches and be included there. Then there is Peter Drucker's saying about business is about creating customers. So, it is added. 

Here is the big mind-map, the version 10, for your consideration:

Step 3 Look-up or Browse the Map for the Advice you need.

Do you have an issue with your business? You can browse the main branches to see if you can find a related topic, roughly will do. You can look into the sub-branches for more details. Then if still unclear, do a google on the subject to discover more. The Internet cloud is the wisdom data base of millions of people. It could and should be a good source of reference. The Consolidated Map provides a guide to your search for answers.

Hope you can find the guide that will lead you further. All the very best to your business success.

Lim Liat(c) 12 May 2015