30 December 2017

Getting Agreement Despite the Differences - Gui Gu Zi's Wisdom#8 C6 忤合

Getting agreement despite the differences is the key to building large projects and maintaining good relationships. Here are the keys to mediation, facilitation and negotiation. Always keep the options open and relationship nice despite the disagreement at present because changes in situations over time may make an agreement possible. We learn such wisdom from Gui Gu Zi Chapter 6 忤合 Against & Agreement.
Converting Enemy to Friend
Sun Zi tells us that winning every time is not the best strategy! The best strategy is to win without a fight. There is no loss of men nor of resources.
  • Sun Zi 3v3 是故百战百胜,非善之善也;不战而屈人之兵,善之善者也。 Hence, hundreds of battles and hundred victories are the best of all. Without any battle and able to subdue the enemy is the best of all.
One way of doing that is to build yourself up such that you are so strong that all others are willing to follow and surrender to your leadership. Even so, you have to alert all the time because you don't know when your enemy may find the opportunity to attack you. So, a better way than that is to convert your enemy to a friend. You win not by power but you win the heart of your enemy.

The Bible tells us a similar concept, love your enemy. By loving your enemy, you may gain his heart and he becomes your friend. You become the "More than Conqueror". (See The Meaning of "More than Conquerors")

Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 68 shows us the same concept of making friends out of your enemies as in The Utmost Winner - More than a Conqueror.

So you can see the better strategy is about making friends, getting agreements and support in the execution of the agreement. Here are the guides from Gui Gu Zi.

The Keys:
  1. Observe & Find the Fit in Changing Situations
  2. Plan with Purpose and Scope
  3. Consider the Interests of All Stakeholders
  4. Test and Discover the Match
  5. Know the Comparative Strengths and Weaknesses of Others and Ourselves and move accordingly.
1 Observe & Find the Fit in Changing Situations
  • Whether to break or to form a partnership, there is always a right way to do it. Hence find it and do it well. Always keeping the relationship nice even if there is a need to part away.
  • There are cyclical or serial changes, with each having their own characteristics and particularity, mutual dependencies, hence we have to plan accordingly to the situations. It is seldom one size fits all.
  • Here are the factors to watch out for:
    • how things meet together
    • to observe the seasons and trends. Is it the right time?
    • according to the sizes, should it be more or less? That's the scope too.
    • must know them before your planning and execution.
    • convert them to your benefits whenever possible. There is always opportunity in threats and risks in opportunity.
2 Plan with Purpose and Scope
  • In the world, nothing stays valuable and be dominant forever. With every change, there comes the opportunity or threats.
  • The wise men never give all the time and yet he is seen giving all the time. How come? Give where the needs are. Giving without needs is show-off and waste. The wise men never listen to all and yet seems to know all. They listen objectively and without prejudices and hence understand the key issues.
  • The can only be one objective. If you agree with this one you will disagree with another. There are always for and against. We can recall what Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate one and love other... You cannot serve both God and money." So we must prioritize and pick the most important one as the objective and the rest as sub-objectives to serve the main objective. In Jesus' case, you use the money to serve God.
  • Decide the scope of your plan. Set boundaries and so you can plan for the right amount of resources and make sure no scope creeps in the execution.
  • Your plans must be sold to the top management and the people who are involved. So follow the principles taught in Chapter 4 Bait to Catch.
3 Consider the Interests of All Stakeholders
  • In the old times, those who were good at handling rebellions first get alliances across the four seas. They understand the grounds of objections and agreements of the feudal lords and innovate a new way for an agreement to be made.
  • A good book to read about this is Stephen Covey's "The 3rd Alternative". It is not mine nor your ways but the way that meets the needs and desires of all.
4 Test and Discover the Match
  • We can find out as much as we can about a person or a company. But eventually, the best way to know is to work with and for one. We need to take the time to do experiments first hand to find out. Gui Gu Zi cites two persons that took three to five times working for different leaders before finally making up their mind to be devoted to one. They found their match - agreement in mission and values.
5 Know the Comparative Strengths and Weaknesses of Others and Ourselves and move accordingly.
  • The methods of achieving success for others may not be applicable to you. It works for them but may not work for you. The reasons are simple. They are different from you and are in a different situation from you. There is no short-cut to success but the following are key factors:
    • Wisdom to manage. Learn and acquire as much as you can.
    • Think hard. The answer could not be obvious. It is good that it is not. Else others will know and do them already.
    • Study the Situations.
    • Obtain quality resources including the talents.
    • Know Others well.
    • Evaluate, Compare with Others in the Situations and make the right choice where your abilities become strengths and theirs become weaknesses. You need to find out whether you should advance or withdraw, to partner with this or that groups. 

Diversities make for not just an interesting world but also great opportunities to partner together to accomplish great things. Success in life is about knowing people and partnering with the right ones against others in the right place and at the right time. It is much better than trying to win against them all the time. Hope you can benefit from this post and apply them in your partnership and as the needs arise, know how to facilitate, negotiate, and mediate.

One more thing...
In this chapter, Gui Gu Zi added the responsibility of the wise sages. He names five:
  1. to build oneself up to be independent
  2. to manage and impact the world
  3. to teach others
  4. to speak out and promote
  5. to let the truth/wisdom to shine brightly
So after you have found the right way to work co-operatively with others, please teach others to do too.

All the very best for a joyful New Year 2018

Lim Liat (c) 30 Dec 2017

Prev: Catching & Retaining Talents - Gui Gu Zi's Wisdom#7 C5 飞箝 Fishing
Next: Actions For Your Planning - Gui Gu Zi's Wisdom#9 C7 揣篇 Appraisal

After I shared this post on FaceBook, a friend pointed out the inevitability of competition and the consequences of winners and losers.

I made the following reply:

Thank you very much for your comments. It helps me to reflect on my post. 

Speaking very broadly, there are two kinds of mindsets, one believes in a fixed size cake and hence they concentrate on dividing the cake. The other one believes in enlarging the cak
e and hence spend time working with others to enlarge the cake.

In practice, Toyota works closely with its subcontractors, helping them with technology, sharing their plans and schedules, and have a much more efficient and effective supply chain. GM, on the other hand, believes in competition, lowest prices win, and hence ends up with frequent changes in subcontractors, different ways of working, etc. The result is obvious.

TRIZ, the Russian innovative methods adopted by leading MNCs says that innovation is about breaking contradictions, or in our terms, compromises. e.g. Speakers to have good sound must be big and heavy. XMI, a Singapore firm, breaks this compromise by coming out with their thumb-sized speakers X-mini, which can give good quality sound at a very small size. It becomes quite a success. It is something we thought our Creative Technology should have come out. But they are trapped by their belief in the physical contradiction of size and quality of sound.

Singtel and Starhub competing for the rights for FootBall sports program resulting in Singapore paying extra charges, compared with other countries so much so that the gov has to step in to stop such 'silliness' that sacrifices our people benefits.

In Sun Zi's Art of War, one of the five factors for winning is Unity from top to bottom. A strategy to destroy the enemy is "When they are united, cause divisions and fights among them".

When we read the "Future of Management" from the western management gurus are about self-management, self-directed, and “leaderless” organization. See e.g. https://www.zapposinsights.com/about/holacracy.

10 December 2017

The Treasures of the Art of War - Emotion

Decision making can and should involve the emotions of the people affected but should never be done emotionally by the decision maker. --- Lim Liat's distillation of Sun Zi's Art of War.
Just reading from the original text of the Sun Zi's Art of War without a deeper reflection will not help you master the Art of War. Only by integrating and distilling the whole book would you truly learn and apply them wisely in your work.

Original Quotes:

The Disasters of Acting Because One is Angry:
12v16. No ruler should start a war because he is angry. No general should attack because he is upset.
17. Move only because there are benefits to gain. Stop because there are no more benefits.
18. Anger over time can change to happiness. Upset can become satisfaction over time.
19. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed cannot be re-established; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.
20. Hence the wise ruler is prudent, and the good general watchful. This is the way to keep a country at peace and the army intact.

Emotion as a Factor in Planning:

In fact, getting the enemy to be angry is a way to win over him as in 1v23 If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him.

9v30 If the officers are angry [with the general], it means that the men are weary

9v35 If the enemy’s troops march up angrily and remain facing ours for a long time without either joining the battle or taking themselves off again, the situation is one that demands great vigilance and circumspection [since it may be a ruse].

The anger of the Middle Management: 
One of 6 Types of Sickness of a Failing Organization - Collapse

10v18 When the higher officers are angry and insubordinate, and transfer their anger on the enemy they meet and engage in battle with them before the general can decide whether he is able, this is called collapse.

The kind of Commitment and Devotion you want:

11v25. Hence, the men without training are disciplined, without demanding are all ready, without contracts are all closely knitted, without any order they are trusted.

How, by loving, but not indulgencing, them:

10v28. Regard your men as your children, and they will follow you into the deep rivers; treat them as your own beloved children, and they will even die with you. 29. However, if you are so forgiving so that you could not command them; so loving that they don’t follow your orders, then they are just like spoilt children, and they are useless.

And by using the situational factors as in 11v21-26 to get the devotion in 11v26 above.

So, don't make any decision when you are in an emotionally charged state, either with anger or remorse. Yet, you must calmly and objectively take into considerations the emotions and feelings of the people involved in the plans that you are going to execute. You must gain the hearts and not just the mind of the people who are executing the plans.

Lim Liat (c) 10 Dec 2018

03 December 2017

Jesus' Teaching and Sun Zi's Art of War

Great people teaching us the same thoughts show the power of the thoughts. Here we quote from Jesus to show that Sun Zi's Art of War teaching is right on the spot.

Sun Zi started his famous book on "The Art of War" by saying warfare is a matter of life and death and must, therefore, be carefully planned and calculated right at the start. Later, he said, "Winners plan first to win and then start the war whereas the losers start a war and then plan to win". Such a plan to win mindset is also taught by Jesus in Luke 14. Let's examine it:

1. Count First - Enough money to complete it?

Luk 14:28  For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Luk 14:29  Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
Luk 14:30  Saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish.

You don't start a project only to find out later that you don't have the fund to complete it. You have in fact wasted the money.

2. Compute First - Can I win against a larger force?

A clearer illustration that parallels the Art of War is given in:

Luk 14:31  Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?

Luk 14:32  Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 

We learn the following important principles of Warfare:

  1.  Plan and Calculate to see if we can win first.

  2. You can win a larger force if you know how.

    The revealing part of Jesus' story is considering whether the smaller 10,000 force is still able to win against the larger, twice the size, 20,000 forces. Jesus did not give the idea that the larger size force will surely win. It was an open question. The answer can be yes or not. It depends on how you fight!

    Sun Zi's Art of War is precisely about how to win against, even a larger force.
    Jesus did not show us how because in the context, winning against the larger force is not the purpose of his teaching but counting the costs before making a commitment to be His disciple was. Plan first so that you don't have to give-up halfway.

    Art of War 9v36 兵非贵益多也,惟无武进,足以并力料敌取人而已
    Having a larger force does not bring benefits, only don't be reckless to advance, but to know how to concentrate your forces, predict the enemy, and get support from your staff to overcome can capture the enemy.
  3.  Strategize and Act Objectively and Accordingly.

    Wise men make decisions based on facts and calculation with risks taken into consideration. Jesus tells us that we should follow our factual evaluation and take the right action. In the case, if we can't win, then we negotiate for a peace treaty.

    Sun Zi tells us that winning every war is not the best. The best is to win without a war. The enemy surrenders and follows your terms. There is no destruction of resources and you effectively take over all the resources. So Sun Zi gives a prioritized strategy for the war. The best is win by strategy, next by alliances and negotiation, next to fight in the open, and the worse is having to attack a fortified castle.

    This is exactly what Jesus taught here. If you can't win your enemy by strategy, then at least go to negotiate the best terms for peace.
  4.  Do it as early as possible. Never wait until the last moment.

    Not that the computed outcome is clear, we should take the action as early as possible, "yet a great way off".  The earlier you take action, the greater the range of options. You can enjoy the better-negotiated result. That's why Air-tickets are cheaper the earlier you commit before your day of travel.

    Sun Zi emphasized must on taking speedy actions.

    Art of War 2v17. 故兵贵胜,不贵久。
    Hence, winning is the top priority, and having a long and lengthy campaign is not.

    Art of War 2v5. 故兵闻拙速,未睹巧之久也。
    Hence, we heard of defective but quick action, and skillfulness has never been associated with long delays.
The Winners Mindset - The Teaching of the Art of War

Here we can easily pick up four principles for winning:
  1. Plan 1st to win before taking any action.
  2. You can beat a larger force is you read the Art of War.
  3. Be objective and act on the computed result. Don't let it be an emotional prejudiced decision.
  4. Act decisively and Quickly.
Lim Liat (c) 3 Dec 2017

20 September 2017

Catching & Retaining Talents - Gui Gu Zi's Wisdom#7 C5 飞箝 Fishing

Gui Gu Zi uses the principle of fishing, bait first then catch, to apply to the hiring and retention of talents. This chapter covers more than just knowing a person, it is about determining whether he is good enough for the complex and big task, such as running a country. After hiring, you need to get their engagement to be fully committed to the task. 
Catching the Talents - Analysis of Needs and Strengths:

Firstly, you need to spread the net wide. You need to look for talents far and near.  You also need to build the momentum, so that people can know about your needs and come to apply for a job. 

Secondly, follow the criteria below:
  1. Find out the similarity and differences - Is Synergy possible? 
  2. Discern his words, the true and false, and his moral values.
  3. Check the integrity of his words. Does he say what he means and means what he says? Does he walk the talk?
  4. Check his abilities and resources. How much does he really have?
  5. Check his prudence. His plan for security and risks management any good?
  6. Check his relationships. Who are close to and who are a distance from him?
  7. Overall Analysis and Evaluation. Is there any other information needed to form a decision?
Accomplish large projects need talents and creating and maintaining momentum in execution.

The Conversation - Praise and Trap

Begin with questions to get information and praise to bring bonding. He must feel secure and appreciated to tell you more.

For those that are not disclosing, can you threats of different degrees or rewards of various kinds, to get the information. The rewards can be wealth or power.  Or use the previous chapter method of fixing cracks (he needs, his problems, his aspirations not fulfilled)- finding the cracks and discuss and offer the right way to fix it.

You want to establish whether the talent has the following:
  1. Measure his Intelligence (IQ), Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Audacity Quotient (AQ).
  2. His wealth and resources. Not just physical, his network of people and influence.
  3. Measure his stateliness, character strength, and energy level.
  4. Measure his observant and agility.
  5. Follow, harmonize, praise, affirm his sayings to know in greater depth and create the bonding even at this stage.
The Large Task and Situational Analysis:

The analysis of a situation is similar to Sun Zi's Art of War. We have to find out the relative powers of the following factors and players within. The factors are 
  1. The seasonal trends (rising or falling?), 
  2. The terrains characteristics and hence the advantage or obstacles for the players, 
  3. The wealth, and related resources that the people possess in the theatre of operation, 
  4. The friendships and alliances network of the players.
It is best to have your own analysis and then invite the interviewee for his opinions.

This kind of analysis turns out to be key interview questions to ask the candidate. See I'm A Hiring Manager—Here Are Five Questions I ... - Fast Company.

Retaining the Talents:

Daniel Pink in his best seller, "Drive", talks about motivation 2.0 of incentives and punishments and motivation 3.0 of intrinsic motivations, consisting of autonomy, mastery, and meaning. Gui Gu Zi tells us to engage the talents by following his aspirations and likes to gain his commitment. Giving assignments with flexibility and versatility. Getting the talents fully committed(motivation 3.0) rather than forcing him (motivation 2.0) such that no matter what you assign him, he will accomplish it with excellence. It is not the rewards but the opportunities that engage the talented.

Lim Liat (c) 20 Sep 2017

17 September 2017

Incremental or Disruptive Innovations ? Gui Gu Zi's Wisdom#6 C4 抵巇 Fix It

Any partnership and any business will soon encounter problems. Gui Gu Zi gives us the principles for solving such problems, which he calls them cracks. Firstly is to be watchful and detect it. Never ignore the little faults because the accumulation of little will result in a big one. Secondly, you can incrementally fix it. But, thirdly, at times, it is better to break it and start building a new one. Transform the crack into an opportunity to bring gains. Do the radical innovation.
Any partnership or business needs your attention and effort to build and grow. Things that are used will need maintenance to keep running. There will be changes that slowly creep in to create problems for you. To have a growing and sustainable company or partnership, you need to follow the Principles of Fixing Cracks proposed by Gui Gu Zi.

Principle 1 Detect Early
Problems, defects, or changes in the early stage will usually be small to escape our attention. Often, we spend much worrying about the big changes coming in the future to forget to notice the decays that are happening right under our nose. We are encouraged not be myopic and to look into the future but we must also, at the same time, watch for the present progress and take note of any signs of troubles. It is not a choice either or but rather a must to take care for both, the present and the future.

Principle 2 Know the Power of the Accumulation of Little
Gui Gu Zi tells us any great mountain is but an accumulation of small sands. Lao Zi said that a journey of thousand miles begins with one step and is the accumulation of more steps. There are three lessons to learn.

Firstly, never ignore any signs or signal just because it is small. Don't despise any small start-up. We must learn to take care of the details.

"The details are not the details. They make the design."
--- Charles Eames, Famous US Architect, and Designer.

Secondly, we need to continue to work on it, a step at a time, and never give up. Eventually, we will have a great success. Perseverance brings success.

"Through perseverance, many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure." --- Benjamin Disraeli

Thirdly, we are not going to make a giant leap immediately. We need to learn the technique of bootstrapping and get going with as little as possible. We learn from the boot process of a computer where the boot program, a small program, when switched on will load the larger program, the Operating System (OS) from the larger memory device such as the disc. We are familiar with the technique to using a small string to slowly pull in a larger and larger rope.

Principle 3 Fixing the Crack Incrementally - Incremental Innovation
Interestingly, Gui Gu Zi uses the fall of a kingdom as a precursor to the methods of fixing cracks. He listed seven reasons for the fall, namely, an unwise king, corrupt officials, good people are not employed, profiteering, cheating, and falsifications are rampant, distrust between king and officers, no laws and order and infighting, and breaking up of family. The biggest issue in any business is not the products or services but the people running it! Or, the culture that creates the bad behavior in the people. Depending on the types of cracks, there are many ways to fix them.  If you can manage it and it can be fixed, then do the incremental fixing, one step at a time. If it could not be fixed, so badly cracked up, then you have to abandon it and go for transformation as in the next principle. Fixing incrementally can be first trying to block the leaks, repair/restore it, stop it at the root cause, and cover up the crack to make it invisible.

Principle 4 Break it and Start with a New Thing - Disruptive Radical Innovation
Not all cracks can be fixed. It may be better to abandon it and do something radically different. Transform the crack to become an opportunity for gain. We heard the famous story of  Thomas Edison calmly watching his factory being burned down and said, "Thank God we can start anew.”
This is a typical Chinese Proverbs on Crisis which is written as 危机 in Chinese. It is a combination of danger and opportunity. Within any danger, there is an opportunity. Within any opportunity, there is the danger. We just have to seek the opportunity in the crisis and transform it to become an opportunity for gain. Cybersecurity business is the opportunity for the dangerous hacking and stealing of sensitive and valuable information from businesses.

For businesses, we the fall of once glorious leaders such as Nokia, Kodak, RIM etc.  In 2017, 15 companies were out of the Fortune 500 list. From 1955 to 2014, only 12% of the companies remain in the Fortune 500 list. The ranking of the list also changes annually. Hence, we must watch the changes in the external environment close and adapt accordingly.

Let's learn from the rich and famous Warren Buffett. In the 1985 Berkshire Hathaway Annual report.

  • My conclusion from my own experiences and from much observation of other businesses is that a good managerial record (measured by economic returns) is far more a function of what business boat you get into than it is of how effectively you row (though intelligence and effort help considerably, of course, in any business, good or bad). 
  • Some years ago I wrote: “When a management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for poor fundamental economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact.” Nothing has since changed my point of view on that matter. Should you find yourself in a chronically-leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks. 
More quotes from the experts:
  • E W Deming … zero defect does not guarantee jobs.
Make sure you’re climbing the right ladder otherwise all your efforts will be wasted.

Lim Liat (c) 17 Sep 2017

Prev: Selecting & Partnering for Long-Term Success - Gui Gu Zi's Wisdom#5 C3 内揵 Inner Bonding 
Next: Catching & Retaining Talents - Gui Gu Zi's Wisdom#7 C5 飞箝 Fishing

15 September 2017

Selecting & Partnering for Long Term Success - Gui Gu Zi's Wisdom#5 C3 内揵 Inner Bonding

After you know yourself and others already, what criteria are there for you select a partner? Furthermore, you need to persuade him/her to join your plan. After that, what does it takes to build the long-term relationship? Gui Gu Zi will tell you.
The Levels of Partnership:

There are usually three. The lowest level is there is no partnership.  Everything is done through transactions as the needs arise. The second level is the partnership in form, in the contractual agreements, but not in the heart.  Things are done to the minimum standard to satisfy the requirements. The highest level is the close partnership in form and in the heart.  Relationships exist beyond the contractual agreement. Each one takes care of the other and seeks to maximize the benefits of the whole partnership. There is no you and me but us together. This is the ideal that any partnership should seek after.  It is like a marriage of a husband and wife.

What it takes to get Heart & Mind Partnership? 3 Steps:

Step 1 - Shared Purpose and Values
Gui Gu Zi gives an example of the dilemmas in typical boss-staff relationships. The staff is physically close but is not trusted by the boss. The boss would rather consult a distance friend for important decisions. Gui Gu Zi gives the reasons, lack of virtues, difference in aspirations, differences in ways of getting things done,

Confucius also tells us, 道不同不可与相为谋 If the Dao/Philosophies are different, then we cannot plan together. Sun Zi's five factors of winning strategies also put Dao as the first factor. Dao, the philosophies of life, meaning, purpose, values represent the identity of a person and the culture of an entity.  I usually define Dao as the mission, visions, and values of an entity. That Dao gives rise to culture, the way things get done and valued in an organization.

A common reason cited for the failure of mergers and acquisitions is culture. Some even consider it as the number 1 reason. See for example The Root Cause Of Every Merger's Success Or Failure: Culture.  The author of the article defines culture as the entity’s behaviors, relationships, attitudes, values, and environment. It does not differ much from my definition of culture as a mission is defined relative to one's existence in an environment. Visions and values determine the attitudes, behaviors, and relationships that one build.

Gui Gu Zi gives four types of reasons for the partnership.
  1. Sharing of Same Values and Virtues: Soul-Mates or Religions
  2. Sharing of Same Interests: Special Interests Group
  3. Sharing of Wealth: Business Joint Venture or Merger
  4. Sharing of Power or Status: Political Party or Social Causes.
These four types need not be separated in any particular partnership. The best is to have all four. Consider Apple Inc. People buy Apple products not just that they are good and easy to use. They have chosen Apple as a way of expressing themselves. To them, using Apple Products tell others that they have style, rich, good taste, smart, fashionable, innovating, etc. If any criticises Apple, it will be like insulting him. Such a one will incur his wrath.

So, the criteria for partnership is shared culture or shared purpose and values.

Step 2 Persuasion - Strategic Persuasion - A Definite Yes to Your Presentation

People must be persuaded to join you in your pursue. The unique contribution of Gui Gu Zi in persuasion is called "Strategic Persuasion". Most books on persuasion talk about persuasion as a standalone subject concentrating on the techniques, the words, the illustrations, the place and time etc of presentation. Better books on persuasion talk about Pre-suasion - the planning for the persuasion. Gui Gu Zi's Strategic Persuasion merges strategic planning, persuasion, and the understanding of the human hearts and desires into one integration phase.  With strategic persuasion, once you present, the answer will be a yes. Why? Because you have the good understanding of your potential partner aspirations and characters and the friendship of trust. You design your plans to maximize the mutual and shared benefits. Your plan is designed not just to benefit yourself but for the partnership.

Strategic persuasion begins with addressing the inner needs, the hearts of the potential partners or the ones you want to persuade.

Persuasion must speak to the hearts of the listeners. It must be done with sincerity, presented in logical sequence, appealing to desires, knowing the agreements and objections, speaking clearly about the gains and losses, and showing how the listener aspirations can be achieved.

Step 3 Execution - Success in Challenging Situations Build Lasting Trust

Trust can only be gained through a long period of demonstrated promises. When partners join you and the plan is executed, the initial outcomes must follow according to plans to gain trust. Even if things do not happen as plan, at least it was foreseen earlier and contingency plans can be put in place to gain the original desired outcome. More trust can be gained if the situations turn out to be worse than expected and yet you are able to adapt come out successfully. Building strong bond and trust is not about being faithful, but about the ability to do the right things in the ever-changing situations. Gaining the “Trust” in your ability to deliver even in bad times. Jack Ma of the Alibaba success said that CEO only has two important jobs. The first is to see the risks in good times and be prepared for it while his staff is celebrating the successes. The second is to see and lead the way out in a bad time when the staff is in a panic. Gui Gu Zi's strategizing and execution are very similar to Sun Zi's teaching and I will not repeat here. Please read the posts on Sun Zi's Art of War in Sun Zi and Other Strategists.

Any partnership goes through many phases of challenges before a lasting one is built. Please read
All You Need to Know about Team Building - The Combined Wisdom of East & West.

Lim Liat (c) 16 Sep 2017

Prev: Knowing Each Other Through Conversations - Gui Gu Zi's Wisdom#4 Chapter 2 反应 Response
Next: Incremental or Disruptive Innovations? Gui Gu Zi's Wisdom#6 C4 抵巇 Fix It

14 September 2017

Knowing Each Other Through Conversations - Gui Gu Zi's Wisdom#4 Chapter 2 反应 Response

Partnering begins with choosing the right partner. Choosing starts with knowing. Knowing a person starts with conversations. Learning how to communicate is the foundation of all soft skills and the building of relationships. Know how to do it better with Gui Gu Zi's wisdom.
The Principle of Asking & Response

All things will response if probed correctly. You can discover its behavior characteristics, intentions, and values.

The Principle of Pure Objectivity - The Right Way to Listen

To be able to probe, observe and listen well, we must adhere to the principle of  Pure Objectivity. Gui Gu Zi uses the term 无形 WuXing, without any shape. There are some key attributes about WuXing:

  1.  Invincible or Undetectable - The person must not know your intentions else he may mislead you by giving you the answer you want to hear and disguised his true feelings. 
  2. An Opened Mind, Without preconceived ideas, biases, prejudices, and prejudgement. We must remove our colored lens so that we can see clearly else we may only see what we want to see and miss out on the most important things that we should have seen. Consider the failures of Nokia, Motorola, RIM, Microsoft who taught iPhone was a niche and temporary success. Consider the failures of many wrong diagnoses. 
  3. Never Give Your Opinions. Your objective is to understand the subject and not to persuade at this moment. We will cover persuasion in a later chapter. You are not important,  your subject is. Always remain neutral. You can rephrase what you heard to get the correct understanding. "Do you mean this ... from what you said ?" "Did I get you correctly? You want to ....".
  4. Non-fixed Pattern - Be flexible and change the ways to ask and probe. Come from different angles. Change your approach when the subject is trying out guess you. 
  5. Make the subject feels secure, calm, loved, and most important. While we are not to have or express our opinions, we can and must show love and care to get the subject to be calm and feel secure. Showing concerns and understanding is the first step to calm agitated emotions. Help them to express themselves. Anger and screaming come from lack of words to express one feeling and fearing others do not understand. Think about the crying baby.
Making Sense to Gain Understanding

Everyone has his own logical mind to make a decision and behave in a certain predictable way. Even the 'mad' people have their own logic. There was such a joke to illustrate this point. A patient was given a final test before he was discharged. The doctor projected a ladder image on the wall and asked the patient to climb the ladder. The patient refused. The doctor was pleased and want to declare the patient fit. Before the patient left, the doctor asked, "By the way, why didn't you climb the ladder?" The patient said, "I am not stupid. What if I climb halfway and you switch the light off and then I will fall down. "

As we converse we want to slowly build up a model of the person thinking patterns and logics. Gui Gu Zi tells us the following points:

Study the past and try to explain the present and then predict the future. If our model built from the past could not explain the present, it surely also could not be used to predict the future. As stated in earlier post, management is about prediction. Even if it can explain the present, we still have to make sure that the environmental factors do not change so that the future can be predicted with some confidence. 

To always reflect, rethink, re-validate our thinking is the only to make sure our model is applicable. Of course, we don't have to start from scratch all the time. We can learn from the sages, experts, and people who have gone before us. So Gui Gu Zi admonishes us to listen to the advice of the wise sages.

Knowing Others Like Self
From words that we heard we have to figure the meaning. What is not said, or what is expressed in a certain way, tell us much about the intention and meaning as well. If you fail to get a coherent meaning, we are to ask again, in a different way, to confirm the understanding. Knowing our own thinking pattern, our prejudices and blind spots, help us to understand others. From their answers, we can also gain an understanding of ourselves. Others can see our weaknesses very clearly. With a better understanding of ourselves, we get to understand others better too. What is the ideal state of truly knowing another person? Gui Gu Zi uses the metaphor of a shadow. If you become his shadow, then you truly know him.

Validating the Saying with Observed Behaviors
What we hear are words. The words must be validated with the behaviors. We use a net to catch an animal. We should also use a net of observations and probes to understand a person. A net must cover a wide area. Similarly with people. The network of a person reveals much about the person. Finding out what he does in various situations also shed light about him. If possible, we can construct some tests to know a person better. See for example ...Strategic HR Management of Ancient Chinese and The Principles for Greatness: #1 Know Others & Self.

Conducting True or Fierce Conversations:
There are many conversations that are like cocktail party weather talks. We gain very little from such superficial talks. Relationship buildings need true conversations from the hearts. At times, those conversations could be painful or even fierce. Here are two good books to recommend.

Fierce Conversations & Fierce Leadership - Books - Fierce Inc.

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most: Douglas ...

Getting to know people and building your network of trustworthy and wise people will be your paths to great success.

Lim Liat (c) 15 Sep 2017

Prev: The Universal Principle of “Open & Close” to Mastering the World - GuiGuZi's Wisdom#3 Chapter 1 捭阖 
Next:Selecting & Partnering for Long-Term Success - Gui Gu Zi's Wisdom#5 C3 内揵 Inner Bonding 

The Universal Principle of “Open & Close” to Mastering the World - GuiGuZi's Wisdom#3 Chapter 1 捭阖

This is the Universal Principle & the Key to Mastering Your World and Increase Your Influence
In modern terms, I will call it the switch or button. To master the world, yourself, others, and systems, you need to discover the ways they work and more importantly, the switch or trigger that will cause them to act in a certain predicted way. The Newton Laws, the Theory of Relativity, and the various scientific laws are the basic principles that enable us to build all these scientific things that make our lives better and more productive. GuiGuZi tells us to discover such principles of behavior whether of things, animals, weather, or people too.
How can we discover such principles of behavior?
阴阳之开阖以命物,存亡之门户,筹策 万类之终始,人心之理,变化之朕焉,而 守司其门户。
GuiGuZi said: “观、知、筹策、通达、见、守司”
Observe, know(life & death), analyze & measure(begin to end), understand(human heart/intention/purpose), insights (laws of behavior), and then manage(the doors).
E W Deming, the Father of Quality Control, said that Management is about prediction. To manage anything, you must be able to predict. If your prediction is wrong, then you could not manage it. That's why in Wall Street if the company performance differs widely from the management forecast, even if it exceeds the forecast, it is considered no good. It shows that the management does not really understand what is going on.
Once you know how things and people work, you can then switch on (Open) to get it/him to do certain things and switch off (Close) to stop the action.
So, how can we apply this understanding?
On Ourselves:
Understand the switches/buttons on our body. What will upset us? What will make us happy? etc. We talk about knowing ourselves and knowing others in the Wisdom#1 post.
Knowing the switches, we can develop ourselves better. If we are quick to anger, we must develop our ability to remain cool. Most of the Chinese Philosophies are about how we develop self-control and increase our EQ.
The devil knows the switches of our bodies and can get us to sin willingly by pressing the right switch. We call it temptation but actually, the devil is pressing a switch --- anger, lust, wealth, pleasures, fear, etc.
We develop ourselves by controlling this switch or doorway to our minds. We are open to letting in the good thoughts and close to shutting out the bad influences.
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
We use open to meeting new people. We use close to form partnerships. That is the development of self. The principle is the same - open and close. See the power of this simple law. It is like our DNA, with four basic elements to form all the living things of the world.
On Others:
To look for partners, we must understand them first. Understand the switches on them. Do they share the values as us? Do they share the same purposes as us? What are their abilities and weaknesses? How can they complement us?
On Your Business:
What are the switches of your business? Which ones can grow the business and which ones can shut it down? Are the KPIs that you measure so diligently really switches? What worries do you have about your business? If you spend the time to discover the switches and the key factors, then you can worry less and think more about growing the business.
Knowledge and Understanding are about identifying the switches for the various outcomes of the subjects of study.
See the Wisdom of GuiGuZi? Simple but Powerful. It is called elegant.

How Game Theory Explains Sun Zi vs Gui Gu Zi - Gui Gu Zi's Wisdom#2

Gui GuZi vs Sun Zi wisdom is best illustrated with Game Theory's The Prisoners' Dilemma.
The Dilemma Case is:
Two suspects were caught in robbing a bank. However, besides the possession of a gun, there is no evidence to charge them. If they both remain silent, they can only be charged with the illegal possession of a gun with a jail term of 1 year. If one confesses to implicate the other, he can go free while the other goes to jail for 20 years. If both confess, then each will get a 5-year jail term.
If each prisoner considers his best interest strategy, using Sun Zi’s thinking, they will confess and get 5 years. If they colluded with Gui Gu Zi’s thinking, they could get off with a 1-year jail term.
Using the Matrix shown in the picture, since Prisoner A is kept from talking to Prisoner B, they cannot collude. Using SunZi's Kiasu Conservative Threat-Before-Opportunity approach, he considers the best strategy under the worse condition and will choose the dominant strategy of confession and get a 5-year jail term.
Under GuiGuZi's wisdom of forming an alliance, perhaps A & B have discussed the possible capture and have predicted the outcome, they can pre-colluded and hence choose the best strategy of non-confessing. In which case, both A and B, with their pre-agreement, will get away with a 1-year jail term.
So you can see that under this specific situation, and in many real-life situations, forming strategic alliance well,is likely to give better outcomes than a competition.
Hope you can see the importance of strategic alliances and the power of GuiGuZi's thinking. Actually, if you read Sun Zi carefully, Sun Zi is for peace and not war. Sun Zi said the best is to attack the strategies, next worse is negotiations, next is to fight in the open, and the worst is attack a fortified city. Sun Zi said the best strategy is to win without a fight. Sun Zi covers the topic of a fight. If you have to fight then at least make sure you win. GuiGuZi covers a different topic - How can we form an alliance and pursue a shared goal to win and benefits together.

If you are a Project Manager and is familiar with the PMI's PJM certification, you will know it covers 11 soft skills. All the PJM soft skills like leadership, team building, negotiations, decision makings etc are covered in GuiGuZi's Book of 14 chapters almost one for one.
Here is open-close for the Project Manager Soft Skills:

If you want to master a complete integrated set of soft skills rather than the typical Western Silos of sub-topic of leadership, influencing etc separately, you need to study GuiGuZi. Chinese philosophies and TCM always take a total system view of things rather than studying each subsystem like each organ separately as if they are not related. This is the 2nd reason why you must learn and adopt the Chinese Mindset. (The 1st is the Both-it-depends yin-yang mindset covered in the earlier post).
In future posts on GuiGuZi, we will do chapter by chapter.
If you have any questions, or wisdom to share, please feel free to add your comments.

Sun Zi vs Gui Gu Zi - GuiGuZi's Wisdom#1

We know about Sun Zi. But who is Gui Gu Zi? Is he better than Sun Zi that I want to write about him? This is the first in a series to introduce the wisdom of Gui Gu Zi to you.
Most people know about Sun Zi and think highly of him, especially when they want to fight or compete. 

However, there is one guy that is better than Sun Zi. He is an unknown in the West. A search on Amazon on Sun Zi gives you 625. On Gui Gu Zi is 145 but almost all are in Chinese!

That does not mean GuiGuZi is less useful. It is just that the West does not know how smart he was. His writing needs some higher intelligence to decipher it. But look at the result of his work. Sun Zi was just a good general in Wu. The students of GuiGuZi were generals and prime ministers who shaped the history of China. Without lifting a finger, his students could get kings to return back the 10 cities taken, withdraw from attacking, etc.

Sun Zi's wisdom is about warfare or competition in business terms. Gui Gu Zi's wisdom is about partnerships or strategic alliances in business terms.

If you pick either one of them to be better, then you have fallen into the trap of the Western "either-or" mindset. It is like choosing a hammer vs a screwdriver. Which is better? Common wisdom will tell you it all depends --- depends on the task you want to accomplish, or depends on the environment whether you find a screw or a nail. Depending on the external environment, if you find a screw, you will pick a screwdriver to do the job, whether you want to tighten it or loosen it. If you find a nail, then you will pick a hammer for the task. It is so obvious but then we tend to come across motivational talks about "Should we work hard or work smart?". Some will go for work hard. Some will go for work smart.

What should your answer be?

If you say it all depends. Then your score will be 50%.

You will get 100% if you know when to work hard and when to work smart.

See Work Hard or Work Smart to be Successful? Let Sun Zi tell you

It is the same endless arguments about innovations vs efficiency or innovations vs quality or project vs production.

It all depends.

In a growing or stable market, you will want to increase efficiencies and quality. In a saturated and declining market, you will want innovations to bring in the next growth. Even for innovations, you would still want quality. Once you have ironed out the problems in any innovation, you will then want to scale it up while keeping the quality intact.

So back to SunZi and GuiGuZi, you need to learn both. One for competitions and one for alliances. The business world is so networked that it is no longer a competition of products vs products but supply-chain vs supply-chain. Even Apple switched CPU from Motorola to Intel and is slowly adopting USB Type-C connectors to make sure its proprietary OS and its products won't be obsoleted by inefficient supply chains.

Since Sun Zi is more well-known and GuiGuZi is less, I will share on GuiGuZi's wisdom in forthcoming posts.

Remember, it is seldom Ethier-Or, it is "It all depends" and a key factor is, it all depends on the situation/task.

Adopting the Chinese Mindset for a start will open up your mind and enable you to make better decisions. Decisions that take into consideration the elements in the environment such as different types of people being involved and affected, the timing and trends, the locations and positioning you should choose, etc. Life is about others and not just about you alone.

Lim Liat (c) 13 Sep 2017

Prev: The Key to A Good and Successful Life is Knowing Others & Self 
Next: How Game Theory Explains Sun Zi vs Gui Gu Zi - Gui Gu Zi's Wisdom#2

09 September 2017

The Key to A Good and Successful Life is Knowing Others & Self

How much do you know about yourself and about others determine your success in life. Let the Ancient Sages teach you.
Ancient Chinese Philosophies have much to teach us. Here are some quotes from the famous sages according to their dates of birth:

1. 老子 “知人者智 自知者明“
Lao Zi: knowing others are wise. Knowing yourself is brilliant.

In order to benefit from this, we need to ask a few more questions. A good guide is the 5W1H framework.
1. What is that to know?
2. Why do we need to know? The answer is there be wise and brilliant and be able to make the right decisions and live a good life without dangers.
3. How to know?
4. Who to know? Others and Self.
5. Where to know? All the people we meet in this life and even historical characters.
6. When to know? As early as possible to know as much as possible.

What to know?
We have various psychological tests for personality traits such as DISC, MBTI, the Strengths-Finders and many others. We can discover our natural tendencies and aptitudes. Ancient Chinese like to measure your character virtues and maturity. The Confucius School has a basic five 仁义礼智信 and more like 勇忠恕孝悌 - charity, righteousness, good manners, wisdom, integrity, boldness, faithfulness, forgiving, filial piety, and respect. Ancient Chinese also have personality traits like DISC see Strategic HR Management of Ancient Chinese. There are also tests to find out more about oneself or others in 八观六验 六戚四隐 (Eight Observation and Six Experience Six Relatives and Four Hidden)

However, such tests tend to be about you alone. The wisdom of Lao Zi comes in telling us to know not just about ourselves but about others because no one is an island. Life is about relationships. Good relationships come from knowing one another. The wisdom of Lao Zi is seen in today concept of Emotional Intelligence. Emotional Intelligence is about being self-aware and also others-aware. Lao Zi's wisdom predates Daniel Goldman by 2500 years.  Lao Zi places knowing others before knowing self. 

Lao wants to stress that before making any friend or doing any business with others, you must spend the time to know them first. We need to choose your friend wisely. After that, you still need to know your friend to maintain the friendship. His advice is also for good relationship between husband and wife. Knowing others and knowing self, enable us to find the common ground of understanding, likes and dislikes and also to know how to help one another to grow up together further enhancing the relationships.

2 孔子 “知之为知之,不知为不知,是知也。”
Confucius: Knowing is knowing. Knowing not what one knows not is wise.”
Confucius reminds us that knowing includes knowing what we don't know.  A person that thinks he knows all is actually blind and will never grow. What we don't know include our blind spots, or prejudices, biases, or things so natural to us that we don't even aware. A good modern understanding of this knowing-oneself and don't concept is the Johari's window see Johari window - Wikipedia
Knowing what we don't is really wisdom. We can admit that we don't know and hence don't make presumptuous decisions that we will regret later. We can consult those who know and learn from them.

3 孙子 “知彼知己,百战不殆”
SunZi: Know others know self, hundreds of battles will not be put at risks.
SunZi gives the above advice in the context of warfare. To win a fight, you need to know about the enemy or the competitors. You cannot know your strengths or weaknesses until you know your competitors. Let says you can lift 100 kg. Is that a strength or a weakness? It depends on the competitor you pick. If you pick a person that can lift 75kg only, then you have strength. However, if you pick a competitor that can life 125kg, then you are weak. In competition, you must know your competitors and only fight those you can win is the wisdom taught by Sun Zi. Sun Zi teaches us to compare so that we can know the comparative advantages. Actually, "Know Others and Know self " is only half of the quote of a winning principle. The other half is "know the seasons(time) and the location". For more see SunZi Art of War - The Misquotes and Keys that are missed even by the Experts and even more on Sun Zi at Sun Zi and Other Strategists.

4 鬼谷子 “故知始己,自知而后知人也。”
GuiGuZi: "Hence, knowing comes first from knowing self. Must know yourself first then you can know others。“

GuiGuZi's advice is in the context of forming a strategic alliance. It is the complement to Sun Zi's Art of War. To pick a partner you must know yourself first, such as your aspirations, your values, your strengths and weaknesses, and also what you may not know. Then you can look for a partner, of course, you must know his aspirations, values, strengths, and weaknesses, to look for a good match. A good partner should share your aspirations and values and have strengths and weaknesses that complement yours. Gui Gu Zi teaches us to match characteristics first before we form a partnership.  To fight or not to fight, know the competitors to pick one you can win. To form a partnership, you take the center-stage and pick one that matched your characteristics.

Lessons for Us:

Life is about relationships. Mostly friendships but also "competitorships". Hence, knowing oneself is not enough. We must also know others. In the area of knowing oneself, please remember to know and to admit what we don't know. An effective way to discover what we don't know is through others, by comparisons and by feedback from others, even criticisms. We must be thankful to those who dare to criticize us. Hope you can continue to build up the knowledge of yourself and others, especially of those people close to you, for you to have a better life.

Lim Liat (c) 9-9-17

24 August 2017

Truths of Life & How to Live It Well - Combining Two 20-Truths Lists

I found two lists of "20 Truths of Life". Combining them into a shorter list will help memory and understanding. I also improved some of them. I hope it is a good list for your reflection in life, especially for the annual New Year resolutions.
The Sources:
https://www.inc.com/matthew-jones/20-brutal-truths-about-life-no-one-wants-to-admit.html By Matthew Jones
  • http://hackspirit.com/20-brutal-truths-life-will-make-better-person-1/ See 20 Truths of Life & You Must Choose the Right Response

  • The Combined List Summary:
    1. Life is Short - Live Wisely
    2. Develop Yourself 1st -Then can you help others
    3. Self-awareness - Be & Manage Yourself
    4. Write Your Life Story - Only You can do it
    5. Life is about Relationships - Use Your time to build them
    6. Happiness comes from Good Relationships - Acceptance of Self & Others bring satisfaction

  • The Expanded List:

    The truth numbers are kept from the original lists so that you can check them up if needed.
    Yellow truth is from Hackspirit and Green truths are from Matthew Jones.

    The Details:

    1 Life is Short - Live Wisely
    • 1) We haven’t got that much control in life.We can only control our response. Habit#1 Be Proactive
    • - 1. You're going to die and you have no idea when.Start structuring your life in a more meaningful way.
      • 11) Everyone will die.So, what should I be doing?
    • 20. Time is your most valuable asset--you need to prioritize how you spend it.You can't manage time but can choose wisely how to spend your time.
    • - 0 Know Your life purpose, the right values and develop the right character.
      • 12) You give your own life meaning.A car does not know its purpose. Ask the right source, your Creator who created you. He should know.
    • 14) Life isn’t that serious.Find your answer in Point 12 and enjoy living our your purpose.
    • 15) Everything will come to an end.Enjoy while it lasts and prepares for the next stage.
    2 Develop Yourself 1st - Then can you help others
      • 15. Investing in yourself isn't selfish. It's the most worthwhile thing you can do.Confucius: Build yourself up first that you may help others. 己欲立而立人
      • 11. Your talent means nothing without consistent effort and practice.Develop them and put them to use.
      • 19. Your ambition means nothing without executionIt's time to get going
      • 18. Pleasure is temporary and fleeting, so stop chasing fireworks and start building a constellation.Don't settle for an ego boost right now when you can delay to experience deeper fulfillment.
      • 18) Make a change or don’t complain.Unless you can find a better way.
      • 5) The best lessons often come from hardships = 19)Challenges develop you.
      • 6) We often confuse being busy with being productive.Prioritize the Important over urgent. Habit#3 1st Thing 1st
      • 4) Worrying is a complete waste of time.Face up the worries. How likely and Even if it happens, so...
    3 Self-awareness - Be & Manage Yourself
      • 8. Your thoughts are less important than your feelings and your feelings need acknowledgment.Examine your feelings first and then think through to know and accept yourself better.
      • 6. You can't make everyone happy, and if you try, you'll lose yourself.Start respecting your values, principles, and autonomy.
      • 3) Everything, even you, is imperfect. & 17) Be realisticAccept it. Develop your talents and outsource your weaknesses
      • 7. You can't be perfect, and holding yourself to unrealistic standards creates suffering.Fight back against that negative voice, develop your strengths, outsource your weaknesses
      • 9. Your actions speak louder than your words, so you need to hold yourself accountable.Be responsible and take actions that increase positivity and love.
        Listen to criticisms carefully. Learn from it and make improvements
      • 2) Our expectations are what causes are sufferinglet go and simply enjoy life for what it is. But, make it better for yourself and others.
    4 Write Your Life Story - Only You can do it
      • 13. Nobody cares how difficult your life is, and you are the author of your life's story.Stop looking for sympathy and start to create your desired life story.
      • 16. It's not what happens, it's how you react that matters.7-Habit#1 Response positively to achieve a better outcome.
      • 12. Now is the only time that matters, the past is gone, the future is yet to be. (modified from original post)Learn from the past, enjoy and prepare for the future- see #13
      • 10) It’s easier to hold onto the way things are than to learn and grow.Embrace change and grow up.
    5 Life is about Relationships - Use Your time to build them
      • 17. No man is an island. Life is about meaningful relationships.You need to improve your relationships to have lasting happiness.
      • 10. Your achievements and successes won't matter on your death bed.Relationships matter more so start to act accordingly
      • 2. Everyone you love is going to die, and you don't know when. re-establish meaningful relationships with important people in your life
      • 5. Donating money does less than donating time.Giving your time creates a memory for yourself and others that last
      • 14. Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, (replace original post)And those who love it will eat its fruit. --- Make sure our speech gives life
      • 13) There is no such thing as a perfect partner.Open your eyes wide to choose the right one. Then close the eye of criticism and appreciate the one you have chosen. She is the right one for you.
    6 Happiness comes from Good Relationships - Acceptance of Self & Others bring satisfaction
      • 3. Your material wealth won't make you a better or happier person.money only amplifies that which was already present.
      • 7) Most of us don’t need more to be happy, we need less. = 20)Happy for a while only. There are things more important than wealth.
      • 4. Your obsession with finding happiness is what prevents its attainment.Happiness is always present --it's just a matter of connecting to it
      • 9) Most arguments we have are pointless.Put ego aside and think what you can learn from the arguments.
      • 8) As a society, we’re way too focused on outer beauty.Do both, internal virtues and external grace.
    Lim Liat (c) 24-8-17

    23 August 2017

    What do you think of PM Lee's National Day Rally Speech 2017?

    I post this topic at first on Facebook and received some comments. I am posting it here to see whether Blogging is still a popular media. Here are my thoughts on his speech.
    What do you think of the PM's Speech? 

    Some feel, using their word, "Forgettable". They wanted him to address the pressing issues such as MRT breakdowns, foreign policies, and relationships, etc. But if those are being addressed already, there is no point mentioning them to stir-up more attentions. 
    In Chinese strategies, we learn about 避实击虚 avoid the strength and attack the weakness,避重就轻 avoid the heavy and handle the light. Even Jesus uses parables when He addressed the crowd. GuiGuZi tells us to address the heart, gain the listening ears first before selling your reasons. Grace must come before truth.
    The 3 issues he mentioned are actually the long term and important issues. The 7 Habits Habit 3 First thing First teaches us to address the important issues now before they become urgent where we don't have the time for a right solution (e.g. MRT breakdowns come from many years of neglect on maintenance for chasing after profits). I only have one issue that he did not address, i.e. the increasingly high costs of living and doing business in Singapore. But may be he did subtlely in the SmartNation project.
    1. Pre-School issue addressed two key problems - declining birth rates and qualities of the future workforce and hence of wealth in the future.
    2. Diabetes issues address the health of the people. Most people are aware of cancer and heart problems, but as he said, diabetes is important but neglected and hence he must bring it up to get people's attention.
    3. The smart nation issue is about addressing the work force skills and productivity issues of organizations, private and public. We must make use of technology to increase productivity and create jobs. The long term solution for us is to better skilled and organized for better productivity. Using technology to extend our brain and body to compete better especially we cannot rely on labor only but on value-adding. The richer we get, the more productive and value-adding we need to do.
      (See https://venturebeat.com/2017/09/07/automation-replaced-800000-workers-then-created-3-5-million-new-jobs/)
    They are long terms issues that must be addressed now when there is some time to put them right. Once we got the message and internalize them then may be we can happily forget them because we are already doing them.

    Some friend commented:
    •  "But a National day rally is like a "motivational" speech for what to look forward to rather than being health consultant/ techie consultant? Child care issues have been around for so many years. Many say it's way long over due by at least 1.5 decades."
    • But I agree with you on increasing cost of living and cost of doing business here. A few of my friends already shut down shop/business to venture overseas...
    My Response:
    • It was a motivational speech to encourage you to take care of your health by more check-ups, more exercises, and less sugar. Go ahead to have more babies and not worry about their education, the govt will take care for you. Learn hi-tech and use hi-tech in your business. 
    • He put money to support the programs and not just empty talk. How many politicians talk without money or commitments.
    • To address an issue late is better than not addressing it. Besides adding facilities, he is upgrading the teachers' skills. Essentially, he is asking MOE to address education from pre-school rather than from Pri 1.
    • He has been held accountable now to those 3 programs and next year they have to report progress.
    • On High Cost of Doing Business in Singapore:
      • In a way, when we need to go overseas to start businesses, it may mean that the value-add that we are creating cannot exceed the local high costs. Companies like Apple, Facebook etc do not have to go overseas because their value-add is so much higher than the high salaries and the great environment that the talents they employed.
      • Nationally speaking, high costs actually pushes out the low-value adding industries. It looks cruel in the short run but if we can make it, our people will be wealthy. So the govt is trying very hard to help all kinds of SMEs. We may disagree with their specifics, but that is their programs.

    28 July 2017

    All You Need to Know about Team Building - The Combined Wisdom of East & West

    Integrating the latest research from Google and of the West, and the oldest Ancient Chinese Wisdom from the East, we have the complete guide for building high-performance teams.
    Management of People is the key subject of study since the ancient of times of by the Chinese. Chinese Philosophies are essentially about how people should live in harmony with one another. So, a very good source of people management and leadership is to study Chinese Philosophies. Western Management has a much shorter history. However, western management has been a subject of serious investigations and research and have come out with much wisdom too; on one hand confirming the teaching of the Chinese philosophies and on another hand, adding details and refinements. We shall combine the wisdom of both in this study about building great teams.

    Let's start with the latest discovery from Google. You can do a google search for this topic and you can find many posts on it. Here is a mind-map that captures the essence base on a post referred to in the map.

    The Google Research on 5 Dynamics of Effective Teams:
    The surprising thing is team effectiveness does not depend on the members' brilliance but rather on how they work together and the relationships. The leader should create the environment where such dynamics of security and love cherish. Google uses new terms like "Psychological Safety", Dependability etc.

    The New Science of Building Team:
    In this article, Alex narrows now key attribute for the effective team to the ways of how communications take place among members and with other teams. He also disregards the characteristics of members.  Going a step further, Alex gives three communication dynamics as energy, engagement, and exploration.


    The 5 Stages of Team Building from Bruce Tuckman:
    Google studies did not focus on the stages of development of teams but they did note that new teams need more structure and whereas effective teams were hindered by too many structures. As trust builds up over time, rules can be simplified or become unnecessary. An earlier work by Bruce Tuckman shows the progress of teams over time. Each stage of the development needs a different form of leadership. This is much like the "Situational Leadership" work of Ken Blanchard et al.

    The Work of Gui Gu Zi Strategic Alliances and Persuasions
    Going back to China and in the time of 2500 years ago, to the teaching of Gui Gu Zi, and in Chapter 3 内揵 Inner Bonding, of his book, he taught on how to about partnering for long term success. He talked of three types of partnership, no partnership, superficial partnership in form but not in heart, and close-partnership of form and heart. The key for long term partnership is a bonding of hearts and minds or desires and thoughts. Partners must share the passion about the mission, visions, and values of the partnership. These are the number 4 and 5 of the Google Effective Teams Dynamics. Google themselves have the excellent practices of leaders 'advertising' their projects and have interested colleagues to apply to join the projects. The leaders and the members can choose each other for the partnership. It is already a good starting point.  More on Inner Bonding can be found at Progress Comes from Getting Your Proposals Adopted.
    Team Work from I-Ching:
    Let's go back another 500-1000 years, to the book of i-Ching, the Book of Change. I have written the book "i-Ching for Success in the VUCA World". It is a book of wisdom teaching us how to navigate this complex and uncertain world for success and escaping the misfortunes. A search for "team" in the mind-map knowledge base is shown in the slide below:

    You can find many similarities with the google effective teams dynamics and Tuckman's stages of team development.

    Building High-Performance Teams
    Putting the wisdom of East and West, Ancient and Present, together, we can get the following guidelines for building high-performance teams.

    One More Thing ...
    Never hope to solve a fundamental problem, such as lack of leadership, insecurity, poor communications, by going outside for some magical answer. External team building often doesn't work if you do not follow the above guidelines. Do a google and you will find articles about this. For example, see http://help4nonprofits.com/NP_PRSNL-TeamBuilding_Art.htm. If you do follow the above guidelines, may be you will see you have no need to have special team building programs at all.

    Lim Liat (c) 28 Jul 2017