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

25 July 2017

20 Truths of Life & You Must Choose the Right Response

Some Facebook friend shared the following post These 20 inconvenient truths about life are hard to admit but they'll change your life when you do - Hack Spirit. I thought it was important enough for me to do mind-map to capture the essence. However, I discovered some duplicates, 5 and 19, 7 and 20, and then some are related such as 3 and 17. On further thoughts, I don't agree with some of the suggested responses and so I put on my own.

Here is the result:

How about your own responses? What should you think you should do?

See also a bigger list at Truths of Life & How to Live It Well - Combining Two 20-Truths Lists

Lim Liat (c) 25-7-17

Confucius explained why his followers often ended up being dogmatic and blockheaded

Confucius explained why his followers often ended up being dogmatic and blockheaded. Confucius teaches us about the four stages of learning. The last stage is principle centered flexibility. Most of his followers fail to reach this stage and become dogmatic. Actually, we will encounter people at different stages of development. So don't treat them the same. Don't brand them. Just be wise and choose your friends and relationships carefully.
The Analects Chapter 9:


Confucius said,

  •  Can learn together, but may not share the same principles and values of life (the Dao).
  •  Can share the same principles, but may not adhere to them to be successful.
  •  Can adhere to them, but may not be able to be adaptable.
The Four Stages of Learning:
  1.  Learning to acquire knowledge.
     Learning and practicing should be a joy. (Analects Chapter 1v1).
  2.  Knowing the Principles and Values of Life.
     Learning is first about how to be a mature person and then acquiring other skills and arts. (Analects Chapter 1v6),
  3.  Adherence to such principles.
    Many people know what are the right things to do but they fail to do them. Even the great Apostle Paul said, "I do not do the good things I want to do, but I do the bad things I do not want to do." (Roman 7:17).  Even if they know and follow, there is the great danger of following to the letter of the Laws and neglecting the spirit of the Laws (Matthew 23:23). They become the legalists and become dogmatic and blockheaded.
  4.  Principles centered flexibility.
    The principles are unchanging but the application of the principle must be situational sensitive. Consider the case when you promised to take your child for swimming in the coming weekend. The weekend came but your child caught the flu and ran a fever. Now, do you still keep your promise and bring your child for a swim? The answer is no. You broke your promise but you keep a higher principle of caring for the child.
Principles Centered Adaptability

Confucius, being aware of our tendency to be dogmatic and legalistic, gives us another saying:

子罕: 子絕四:毋意,毋必,毋固,毋我。

Zi Han: There were four things from which the Master was entirely free. He had no foregone conclusions, no arbitrary predeterminations, no obstinacy, and no egoism.

Confucius followed his own teaching and summarized his life as:

《论语·为政》4 "吾十有五,而志于学。三十而立。四十而不惑。五十而知天命。六十而耳顺。七十而从心所欲,不逾矩。"
The Master said, "At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning. At thirty, I stood firm. At forty, I had no doubts. At fifty, I knew the decrees of Heaven. At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception of truth. At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired, without transgressing what was right."

At seventy, Confucius said he finally could follow his heart freely and violate not any principles. He has internalized the values and wisely applies them in all kinds of situations.

It is not about freely doing anything you like but rather freely doing the right things bonded but the right principles. The Chinese have a saying for doing the things that fit the relationships, that are reasonable and abide the laws - 合情合理合法。This is how we should make changes and adapt to the ever changing world.

Lim Liat (c) 25 July 2017

19 July 2017

State of the Art of Western Management vs Ancient Chinese Wisdom - CEO Genome vs The Art of War

On comparison, the article supports the teaching Ancient Chinese Wisdom. The Ancient Chinese Wisdom covers a greater scope and the Western article has some good detail guides. The best is to integrate both with Chinese Wisdom as the framework and Western management filling in the details.
Is Ancient Chinese Wisdom applicable to the present high technology rapidly changing world? We can easily find the answer by comparing the latest western management studies and ancient Chinese wisdom. One such study is the CEO Genome with a forth coming book with an HBR podcast "4 Behaviors of Top-Performing CEOs" and the HBR article titled What Sets Successful CEOs Apart” in the May-June 2017 issue. On comparison, the article supports the teachings of Sun Zi's Art of War and other ancient Chinese master like SimaGuang. The Ancient Chinese Wisdom covers a greater scope and the Western article has some good detail guides. 

"4 Behaviors of Top-Performing CEOs"  Mindmap with Sun Zi's Art of War:

Below is my mind-map that summarized the 4 behaviors (please read the article for more good wisdom and guides on each of the four behavior). The four behaviors are highlighted with blue, red, green and purple and Sun Zi's related concepts are in yellow. You can see that they match well except Sun Zi cover a greater scope. That is due to the narrow focus of the article. But it is good to take a higher level view of things. More matching could be found if we cover the details of the article.

You will benefit more if you also read the work SimaGuang in Leadership is as Simple as 123 according to CEO Handbook.

For more on Sun Zi's Art of War, see Sun Zi and Other Strategists

Lim Liat (c) 19-7-2017

What is better than teaching them to fish rather than giving them a fish?

We are familiar with the saying,
  • "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
Can you improve it?

The answer is Yes according to Chinese Sayings.


Give a person a fish is not as good as teaching him how to fish.
Teaching him how to fish is not as good as motivating him to want to fish.

鱼 Eating a fish belongs to the body.
渔 How to fish belongs to the mind.
欲 Wanting to fish belongs to the heart.

All three Chinese words have the same pinyin spelling of  "yu".

Do you like Mandarin?

Touching the heart, self-motivation is most important.

That is why God wants to in Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you, your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

That is why believers need to be born again

That is why Zhuang Zi of the Dao School, says 内圣外王 Saint within and King without.

And Mencius of the Confucius School, says, 内修外治 rule out from inside-development.

There is the saying, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink".

In Chinese, you have the more advanced version of:

《论语·雍也第六》知之者不如好之者 好之者不如乐之者.

[Analects Chapter 6] Knowing is not as good as the one with desire (to know).
Wanting it is not as good as enjoying it.

We can see why a typical advice for the entrepreneur is about doing it with passion.

Lim Liat (c) 19-7-17

17 July 2017

Garbine Muguruza, Sun Zi's Art of War & The Keys for Winning

The purpose of this article is to show the relevance of Sun Zi's Art of War to modern day business and competition, even in a sport like Tennis. The popularity of Muguruza turnaround success is a good case study for the application of the Art of War.
The great story from the Wimbledon Tennis Competition is not Federer winning his 8th Wimbledon Titles but rather Garbine Muguruza winning her 2nd Grand Slam events. Federer winning was largely expected. But Muguruza's winning was not after her French Open loss and quick exits from two earlier grass courts events. In fact, since her 2016 French Open win, her ranking has been going southward and dropping down to 15. What happened that caused her form to drop after her big win in 2016 and more importantly what caused her winning form to return?

Most players drop in form after a big win. The pressure from having to sustain the top level performance and to coping with found fame. They were monitoring how far would Ostapenko, the 20-year-old 2017 French Open Champion to progress in Wimbledon. Some were expecting her to drop out in the earlier round, not making it to the 2nd week. But she did well to reach up to the quarter-final. The reason for Ostapenko's success was attributed to her 'fearlessness', each point is a new point to fight for. Back to Muguruza's turnaround.

The one big factor that accounts for the change in Muguruza's turnaround was the change of coach for the Wimbledon competition. The regular coach was on leave for his new born and Conchita Martinez became the coach just for this tournament.

What did Martinez do to Muguruza and what has their story to do with Sun Zi's Art of War?

While they may know nothing about the Art of War, the things they did to bring about the success actually follow the teaching of the Art of War.

By googling for this story, we can find many articles that describe roughly the same things. Here is my summary of what Martinez did:

1. Encouraging Words to restore a player confidence and calming the emotion:
  • "Martinez’s calming influence has been ideal for the emotional Muguruza, ..."
  • Sun Zi Art of War:
    • Bold and Calm:
      Sun Zi listed 5 attributes of a good commander(1v7). Being bold and calm in face of challenges is one for them. Sun Zi's tactics for getting the enemy to make mistakes are to get the enemy to lose his cool. He tells us to irritate the quick-temper, make the humbler proud(1v23) to shame the one who is righteous and to disturb the ones who love his men(8v11).
2. Strong Mentality to Win:
  • "Inspired by the soothing words of former champion Conchita Martinez, Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza believes she is ready to follow in her fellow Spaniard’s footsteps." (Martinez was the 1994 champion). 
  • “I lost two years ago, so I look forward to this one and to try to change that.”
  • Sun Zi - Win first then Fight"
    4v15 The winners prepare to win first and then start a war; the losers start a war then hope to win.
3. Point by Point - No Concern over Glory and Fame and just focus on the task at hand.
  • "She plays relaxed, but with a lot of intensity. Just point by point, I try to tell her, don't think of anything else." and "Sometimes you're going to win playing unbelievable, sometimes you're going to win playing ugly. The semifinals, I just told her, it's another match, not a semifinal. And today, it's another match, another day."
  • Sun Zi - Focus on the mission and nothing else.
    4v12 The win of the skillful commander is not about the fame of wisdom nor rewards for boldness.
    10v27 - Hence, advance not for gaining fame, retreats without fearing disgrace, the only concern about protecting the people, benefitting his superiors, such man is tthe treasure of the country.
4. Improving Your Skill:
  • "Martinez also said they worked on Muguruza's serving, including using more slice and going into the body."
  • Sun Zi - That's what the Art of War was written for - improving your strategic and people management skills for winning.
For more on Sun Zi, see Sun Zi and Other Strategists

Lim Liat (c) 17 Jul 2017