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.

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