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