Sunday, December 30, 2007
We recently guided a small startup in a brainstorming session
Through the use of Compass AE, their project team built Tangible Vision first. After hrs of debating, they connected with it in term of the goal, strategic specifics, specific objectives, and how the team operate as a team. They lead with the Tangible Vision and came up with their own Tangible Vision that they will be pursuing soon
There will be more on this company later.
December 30, 2007
Innovative Minds Don’t Think Alike
By JANET RAE-DUPREE
IT’S a pickle of a paradox: As our knowledge and expertise increase, our creativity and ability to innovate tend to taper off. Why? Because the walls of the proverbial box in which we think are thickening along with our experience.
Andrew S. Grove, the co-founder of Intel, put it well in 2005 when he told an interviewer from Fortune, When everybody knows that something is so, it means that nobody knows nothin’. In other words, it becomes nearly impossible to look beyond what you know and think outside the box you’ve built around yourself.
This so-called curse of knowledge, a phrase used in a 1989 paper in The Journal of Political Economy, means that once you’ve become an expert in a particular subject, it’s hard to imagine not knowing what you do. Your conversations with others in the field are peppered with catch phrases and jargon that are foreign to the uninitiated. When it’s time to accomplish a task open a store, build a house, buy new cash registers, sell insurance those in the know get it done the way it has always been done, stifling innovation as they barrel along the well-worn path.
Elizabeth Newton, a psychologist, conducted an experiment on the curse of knowledge while working on her doctorate at Stanford in 1990. She gave one set of people, called tappers, a list of commonly known songs from which to choose. Their task was to rap their knuckles on a tabletop to the rhythm of the chosen tune as they thought about it in their heads. A second set of people, called listeners, were asked to name the songs.
Before the experiment began, the tappers were asked how often they believed that the listeners would name the songs correctly. On average, tappers expected listeners to get it right about half the time. In the end, however, listeners guessed only 3 of 120 songs tapped out, or 2.5 percent.
The tappers were astounded. The song was so clear in their minds; how could the listeners not hear it in their taps?
That’s a common reaction when experts set out to share their ideas in the business world, too, says Chip Heath, who with his brother, Dan, was a co-author of the 2007 book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. It’s why engineers design products ultimately useful only to other engineers. It’s why managers have trouble convincing the rank and file to adopt new processes. And it’s why the advertising world struggles to convey commercial messages to consumers.
I HAVE a DVD remote control with 52 buttons on it, and every one of them is there because some engineer along the line knew how to use that button and believed I would want to use it, too, Mr. Heath says. People who design products are experts cursed by their knowledge, and they can’t imagine what it’s like to be as ignorant as the rest of us.
But there are proven ways to exorcise the curse.
/// When building the Tangible Vision, our process focuses the implementers on the importance of knowing what is the outcome and its effect before ever developing it.
In their book, the Heath brothers outline six hooks that they say are guaranteed to communicate a new idea clearly by transforming it into what they call a Simple Unexpected Concrete Credentialed Emotional Story. Each of the letters in the resulting acronym, Succes, refers to a different hook. (S, for example, suggests simplifying the message.) Although the hooks of Made to Stick focus on the art of communication, there are ways to fashion them around fostering innovation.
To innovate, Mr. Heath says, you have to bring together people with a variety of skills. If those people can’t communicate clearly with one another, innovation gets bogged down in the abstract language of specialization and expertise. It’s kind of like the ugly American tourist trying to get across an idea in another country by speaking English slowly and more loudly, he says. You’ve got to find the common connections.
/// We will touch on this point in a later entry.
In her 2006 book, Innovation Killer: How What We Know Limits What We Can Imagine and What Smart Companies Are Doing About It, Cynthia Barton Rabe proposes bringing in outsiders whom she calls zero-gravity thinkers to keep creativity and innovation on track.
When experts have to slow down and go back to basics to bring an outsider up to speed, she says, it forces them to look at their world differently and, as a result, they come up with new solutions to old problems.
/// It is all about understanding the big picture
She cites as an example the work of a colleague at Ralston Purina who moved to Eveready in the mid-1980s when Ralston bought that company. At the time, Eveready had become a household name because of its sales since the 1950s of inexpensive red plastic and metal flashlights. But by the mid-1980s, the flashlight business, which had been aimed solely at men shopping at hardware stores, was foundering.
While Ms. Rabe’s colleague had no experience with flashlights, she did have plenty of experience in consumer packaging and marketing from her years at Ralston Purina. She proceeded to revamp the flashlight product line to include colors like pink, baby blue and light green colors that would appeal to women and began distributing them through grocery store chains.
It was not incredibly popular as a decision amongst the old guard at Eveready, Ms. Rabe says. But after the changes, she says, the flashlight business took off and was wildly successful for many years after that.
MS. RABE herself experienced similar problems while working as a transient zero-gravity thinker at Intel.
/// What a title!?
I would ask my very, very basic questions, she said, noting that it frustrated some of the people who didn’t know her. Once they got past that point, however, it always turned out that we could come up with some terrific ideas, she said.
While Ms. Rabe usually worked inside the companies she discussed in her book, she said outside consultants could also serve the zero-gravity role, but only if their expertise was not identical to that of the group already working on the project.
Look for people with renaissance-thinker tendencies, who’ve done work in a related area but not in your specific field, she says. Make it possible for someone who doesn’t report directly to that area to come in and say the emperor has no clothes.
/// It is not what the consultants say. ... it is how they say it.
Janet Rae-Dupree writes about science and emerging technology in Silicon Valley.
Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Each body of water has its risk and rewards. The good fisherman usually have the skill and the gear to match that body of water. He must also understand the risk that comes with that body of water for that chosen moment.
The great Jiang Tai Gong (the author of The Six Secret Teachings) possessed the strategic skills
and experience to help the ruler of Zhou to overthrow the Shang dynasty of ancient China, believed in the following five concepts:
1. Understanding the big picture;
2. Targeting the big fish (not a batch of shrimps);
3. Establishing a position of strategic advantage;
4. Creating the bait that enables the big fish to come willingly;
5. Waiting patiently until the circumstances ripen.
Does your plan includes the following five grand points?
* Is your plan based on the grand setting of your competitive arena?
* Is your plan focused on a bigger target or a smaller target?
* Is the initial stage of your plan based on establishing a strategic advantage?
* Is your plan focused on getting people to complete the team willingly?
* Does your plan include situations that enable you and your team to get a minimum of two steps closer to the goal?
If your plan does not include those five points, you need our Compass AE methodology to get your team "strategizing" as a team?
"One who excels at warfare, seeks victory through the strategic configuration of power, not from reliance on men. Thus he is able to select men and employ strategic power." - Sun Tzu’s Art of War Chapter 5: Strategic Power (Sawyer's translation)
When a Compass team builds and connects with their Tangible Vision, they see the critical path that leads to the completion of the goal. They can also collaboratively configure the strategic influence that allows them to completes the goal effectively.
Does your project process focuses on that feature?
Copyright: 2008 © Collaboration360 Consultants (C360 Consultants).
Copying, posting and reproduction in any form (without prior consent) is an infringement of copyright
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Utilizing Art of War (AoW) principles with an abundant of resources against inferior competition does not mean the implementers are great strategists
Competing and winning in an underdog situation where the resources are low and the competitions are strong, is impossible. A Compass team of high achievers understands the need of the Tangible Vision.
There are so many reasons why a strategy fails and many reasons why a strategy succeed. If you're interested in this viewpoint, the Chief Architect will elaborate on this topic later.
After reading many global strategy classics and implementing tons of project plans, Collaboration360 Consultants developed a strategic process that enables the implementers to understand the total objective from a geometric view.
fyi- Ancient Daoist like Wang Xu emphasizes this process of thinking in his writings.
If one's unable to see and adjust to all the situations relating to their endeavors, there is no sympathy for the loser. One can learn all the history he/she wants. If it is not applied properly in their game plan esp. against a world class opponent. The penalty is usually defeat.
Presume you have read Sunzi and other strategic classics. DO you think you can recite and practice any or all 300+ lines of Sunzi writings immediately? Unlike ppl from other strategy forums where they spend time talk about strategies, tactics and tricks. This Chief Architect believes in the practice of concepts in terms of habits.
Reciting lines of Sunzi are for street corner philosophers and arm chair generals who never stain their hands in hi-risk projects and street fights.
Before one can perform the practice of concepts as a habit, he becomes conscious aware of his surroundings. Develop your state of conscious awareness and extend it. At that point, you can strategize better than the masses.
Copyright: 2007 © Collaboration360 Consultants (C360 Consultants).
Copying, posting and reproduction in any form (without prior consent) is an infringement of copyright
From Gulf War to Global War on Terror. A Distorted Sun Tzu in US Strategic Thinking?Dec 2007, Vol. 152, No. 6
By Charles Chao Rong Phua
It is claimed that Sun Tzu’s precepts were applied in US strategy for both the First Gulf War and the ongoing Global War on Terror. General Norman Schwarzkopf, who led the US and coalition forces in the Gulf War, was a student of Sun Tzu and employed tactics from The Art of War to secure victory. In the latest war in Iraq and Afghanistan, former CENTCOM Commander, General Tommy Franks, was reported to be a devotee of Sun Tzu and often found quoting him. However, the results differ. The Gulf War was a short and victorious war while the Global War on Terror (GWOT) is long and hitherto inconclusive. This essay does not seek to judge the success of the GWOT, but rather understand why the results of the US application of Sun Tzu are so different, given McNeilly’s claim that Sun Tzu’s influence is growing in the US military amongst the higher-ranking officers, to the extent that an essay competition in Sun Tzu’s name has been inaugurated at the National Defense University
The use of individual quotations from the AoW book as a source of fortune cookie-like proverbs and not seeing the general coherence of the text has been criticized by many scholars of Chinese history
Monday, December 24, 2007
Collaboration360 Consultants recommend the following list of sites to purchase quality gifts:
Bookfinder.com (The name says it all.)
CCrane.com (Great gear for the electronic aficionado.)
PGP.com (Pretty Good Privacy encryption software for the security-driven professional.)
Standupdesks.com (A1 quality stand up desks for the performance-driven professional.)
UltraEdit (A great text editor and other superb s/w tools for the for the performance-driven techie.)
Of Course Lion Source (Great Chinese Lion Dance items as souvenir gifts.)
Red Blossom Tea (Quality tea for the hardcore tea lovers.)
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Efficient Strategy development is about balancing the goal and the objectives.
The following set of questions determines the type of goal pursuer that you are and the type of risk that you are willing to take.
Regardless of your fishing style, what body of water do you prefer to fish at, the pond? the lake? the river? or the ocean?
The pond is for the low achievers who prefer low risk and small catches. It is greatly affected by small climate change. For those who want more risk and a larger catch, they might choose the lake.
The river is for the greater risk takers who are willing to wait or go with the flow of the water. The X factor is the climate effect (constant change). Finally, there are those who love a wide variety of catches, a fast velocity of change and the constant dramatic change of climate, prefers the ocean.
The choice of the "body of water", its grand settings, and seasonal climates determine the proficiency level of achievement, difficulty and risk. This is "The Dao of the Fisherman". This is also "The Dao of Strategy".
Always remember this rule: "The greater the catch, the greater the risk, the greater the reward for the strategist. . . . Always follow the Dao."
So what type of fisherman (strategist) are you?
When building the Tangible Vision, it is important to know the risks that lead to the grand rewards.
In future articles, we will focus on how does goal setting and risk applies to the Compass AE process.
Copyright: 2007 © Collaboration360 Consultants (C360 Consultants).
Copying, posting and reproduction in any form (without prior consent) is an infringement of copyright
Monday, December 17, 2007
There is nothing like the non-professionals who have never done any dirty work from the ground level, telling the amateur professionals how to be a leader.
If those five virtues ("wise (zhi), trustworthy (xin), humane (ren), courageous (yong) and strict discipline (yan)") of leadership are not embedded in the conscious of the readers, they will rarely do the right thing.
One cannot read something and understand it immediately. They need to study it from a content perspective first. To get the tangible view of the greater picture, it is important to understand it from a context view. Learning, experiencing and finally leading with proper leadership is a difficult process for most amateurs.
# # #
December 16, 2007
The Newest Mandarins
By ANNPING CHIN
Lei Bo is a philosophy graduate student in China whose faith is in history, and by habit he considers the world using the thousands of classical passages that live in his head. Three years ago he was studying in an empty room in the School of Management at his university in Beijing when students began to amble in for their class on Sun Tzu's "Art of War," a work from either the fifth or the fourth century B.C. Lei Bo decided to stay. He had taken two courses on "The Art of War" in the philosophy and the literature departments, and was curious to see how students in business and management might approach the same subject. The discussion that day was on the five attributes of a military commander. Sun Tzu said in the first chapter of the book, "An able commander is wise (zhi), trustworthy (xin), humane (ren), courageous (yong) and believes in strict discipline (yan)."
The students thought that a chief executive today should possess the same strengths in order to lead. But how did the five attributes apply to business? Here they were stuck, unable to move beyond what the words suggest in everyday speech. Even their teacher could not find anything new to add. At this point, Lei Bo raised his hand and began to take each word back to its home, to the sixth century B.C., when Sun Tzu lived, and to the two subsequent centuries when the work Sun Tzu inspired was actually written down.
On the word yong (courage), Lei Bo cited chapter seven of The Analects, where Confucius told a disciple that if he "were to lead the Three Armies of his state," he "would not take anyone who would try to wrestle a tiger with his bare hands and walk across a river [because there is not a boat]. If I take anyone, it would have to be someone who is wary when faced with a task and who is good at planning and capable of successful execution." No one ever put Confucius in charge of an army, said Lei Bo, and Confucius never thought that he would be asked, but being a professional, he could expect a career either in the military or in government. And his insight about courage in battle and in all matters of life and death pertains to a man's interior: his judgment and awareness, his skills and integrity. This was how Lei Bo explored the word "courage": he located it in its early life before it was set apart from ideas like wisdom, humaneness and trust. He tried to describe the whole sense of the word. The business students and their teacher were hooked. They wanted Lei Bo back every week for as long as they were reading "The Art of War."
Scores of men and women in China's business world today are studying their country's classical texts, not just "The Art of War," but also early works from the Confucian and the Daoist canon. On weekends, they gather at major universities, paying tens of thousands of yuan each, to learn from prominent professors of philosophy and literature, to read and think in ways they could not when they were students and the classics were the objects of Maoist harangue . Those inside and outside China say that these businessmen and -women, like most Chinese right now, have caught the "fever of national learning."
Scholars, however, are cautious. They revel in the possibility of being able to study the classical texts without an ideological tether. But they warn that this kind of learning cannot be rushed and does not lend itself to easy adaptation. The classics are not simply primers on how to succeed or lessons in the glory of the Chinese nation. Having survived the ravages of the Maoist era, when Confucius' call to "revive the spirit and the practice of the earlier rites" was derided as "an attempt to reverse the course of history," the classics must not lose their distinction in the hullabaloo of the market economy or under the pressure of globalization.
These scholars are also doubtful that the "fever of national learning" will last. They see it as a political event, staged by party leaders to celebrate national pride. But students like Lei Bo and many of his classmates and friends discovered the joy of reading classical texts long before the political rally began. One friend became enamored with books when he was a toddler, and by the time he was in junior high, he was poring over intellectual and political history from the 11th and 12th centuries. Another was drawn to the sound and beat of classical poems ever since he could remember, and so now he is studying Tang poetry in graduate school. Lei Bo's journey was more tortuous. (Unlike his two friends, whose parents are factory workers and farmers, his father is an environmental scientist and his mother, a librarian.) After being steeped in Marxist education, Lei Bo took a sharp turn in college while he was pursuing a degree in chemistry. He became disenchanted with communism and was deeply suspicious of any political philosophy that encouraged fixation on a single goal without any regard for the grim consequences this could have. He aired his displeasure on a Web site, which led to a brush with the public-security police.
It was readings in Western philosophy that saved him from more serious trouble. Translated works were widely accessible in China when Lei Bo was an undergraduate. Habermas, Heidegger, Arendt, Popper, Foucault and Derrida were all popular then, and now Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss have been added to the list. Chinese men and women, especially the educated young, are book-hungry, and writings in Western political philosophy offer them several ways out of the firm grip that Marxism has had on their reasoning and their judgment. Lei Bo latched on to Heidegger, who alerted him to the importance of historical thinking and historical imagination; his writings convinced Lei Bo that any experience is inseparable from its past and future.
This, however, does not mean that Lei Bo avoids the more pressing subjects of the day. Now in China, he says, it is the students in law and the social sciences who call for more personal freedom, and it is also this group that sees great promise in the concept of democratic government.
But students studying history and philosophy seem to ask more questions. They want to know whether there is an appropriate way to pursue the idea of freedom; whether this chase, which is often complicated by the tangles of human relationships and life's unwanted circumstances, can become a test of one's interior strength. Learning the texts, for them, is learning to think. Lei Bo and his friends, for instance, found resonance in Confucius' description of freedom at the age of 70: "I was able to follow what my heart desired without overstepping the moral bounds." They thought that this was perhaps the most perfect freedom one could experience.
In speaking with Lei Bo and other students, I've been struck by the clarity of their convictions about China's past and future. They understand why Confucius described himself as a transmitter and not a creator and why he said that he "had faith in antiquity." History does not just provide actual lessons from the past, but, more important for the students, history gives them the chance to consider the right and wrong of human judgment even though the deeds were done long ago. And for this reason, they are taking the long view of their country's future and are reluctant to put their hope in any sort of quick fix or in any ideal, even one that is as appealing as democracy. They want change but are not ready to consider drastic corrections, not until they have absorbed what is stored in their history and cultural tradition. They are not utopians. They want reforms but, for now, only as measures to check the totalizing tendencies of their state. And, some of them ask, was this not the intent of the founding fathers when they wrote the American Constitution?
Annping Chin teaches in the history department at Yale University. Her most recent book, "The Authentic Confucius: A Life of Thought and Politics," has just been published.
Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Assess the Grand Situation ( Material covered from the C360 Presentation on Applying Sun Tzu (Sz) Art of War principles to the Global Economy)
To master the Sun Tzu's (Sunzi) Art of War (Chinese Strategy Mindset), it starts with the understanding of Chapter 1 "Assessments" (aka Estimates, Calculations, etc)
Step 1: Assess from the Field Level
- Disposition (of the Implementers) - Identify and assess the situation(s) before the conflict even begin.
- Strategic Advantage- Identify and assess the momentum and the timing within each identified macro cycle.
- Weaknesses and Strengths- Identify and assess the best match-ups.
Step 2: Assess from the Field Level (2)
- Terrain- Identify and assess the obstacles.
- Nine Grounds- Identify and assess the tactical situations.
- Nine Variables- Identify and assess the technical realities of the mission.
Step 3: Assess the Top View (1)
- Planning Offensives- Identify and assess the Tangible Path that enables the completion of the mission promptly.
- Marches - Identify and assess the strategic leadership challenges of the mission.
- Maneuver for Advantage- Identify and assess the deployment before and after each identified situation.
Step 4: Assess the Top View (2)
- Use of Competitive Intelligence- Identify and assess the current state of competitive intelligence.
- Waging the Operation- Identify and assess the tangible costs and consequences of launching the plan
- Use of Influence- Identify and assess what influences can be or are in play and what influences are available.
If you are interested in the basics of our Strategic Assessment process, please contact us. Thanks!
###Copyright:2007 © Collaboration360 Consultants (C360).
Copying, posting and reproduction in any form (without prior consent) is an infringement of copyright.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Preliminary Outline of Future Speech: Applying Sun Tzu Concepts (Ancient Chinese Strategy) to the Global Economy)
Later this week, I will be doing a presentation on Applying Sun Tzu's principles (Ancient Chinese Strategy Mindset) in the Global Economy.
Following is a preliminary outline of my speech:
- Personal Introduction
- Who is Sun Tzu (Sunzi)?
- Who has been using it?
- Mentioned in the news media
- Number of books published
Six Principles of Sun Tzu (Ancient Chinese Mindset)
1. Winning All Without Fighting
2. Avoid Strengths, Attack Weaknesses
3. Deception and Foreknowledge
4. Speed and Preparation
5. Shaping the Opposition
6. Character-Based Leadership
* from Sun Tzu and The Art of Modern Warfare by Mark McNeilly
Assessing the Grand Situation (Initial Stage)
- Identifying Strategic and Tactical Variables
The Benefits of Strategic Positioning
- Secure Positional Advantage
- Focus on Long Range Objectives and Strategic Matters
- Influence the opposition to grind
Recommended Translations of Sun Tzu’s Art of War
- Sun Tzu Art of War by Dr. Ralph D. Sawyer’s
- Sun Tzu and the Art of Warfare by Dr. Roger T. Ames
- Sun Tzu and The Art of Business by Mark McNeilly
- Questions and Answers
Appreciate your comments and questions.
Copyright:2007 © Collaboration360 Consultants (C360).
Copying, posting and reproduction in any form (without prior consent) is an infringement of copyright.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Are you the leader or the chaser?
"Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed...every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle...when the sun comes up, you'd better be running."
Does your strategic process enables your company's marketing development team to create a lead position or a chase position in the marketplace? If not, Collaboration360 Consultants provides a strategic solution that enables your company's team to accelerates their influence in the marketplace
Sunday, November 25, 2007
When collaboratively defining the Tangible Vision, the team must define the state of their settings before assessing the risk in their Tangible Vision
November 18, 2007
Crazy Little Thing Called Risk
By PETER L. BERNSTEIN
BACK when I was managing other people’s money, I had a client, a doctor, who enjoyed giving away money to his daughters. He was lucky, because an extended bull market was under way with only minor interruptions. The more he gave away, the more the market replaced what he had parted with. As generosity appeared to be a cost-free form of recreation, he considered the whole thing a riskless enterprise.
Whenever I saw my client, he immediately thanked me for making him whole after his most recent spate of giving. I always had to remind him that his gratitude was misplaced. Don’t thank me, I warned him. Thank all those nice people who are willing to pay higher prices today for the stocks you bought earlier at lower prices.
This client, who assumed that the steady multiplication of his money would continue indefinitely, without risk, keeps popping up in my memory. Although this episode happened back in the 1950s, it contains a deep truth worth exploring now, because his experience gets to the roots of what investment risk is all about.
A naïve approach to risk might have been appropriate in an era when economic activity was almost totally agricultural. For most of human history, in fact, the main source of economic risk was the weather. But nobody can do anything about the weather. Risk management in those days was therefore a matter of religion, incantation or superstition. Rain dances in one area were
matched by novenas in another. Appeals to God’s will or the fates seemed to be the only way to deal with the risks that weather could wreak.
That model of risk management changed radically during the Industrial Revolution. As more and different kinds of goods and services came to market, a wide variety of risks replaced the longstanding and single-minded concerns about the weather. What will our suppliers charge? Will customers pay the prices we set? Will they want the new products we are developing? Will our competitors beat us to the punch? Will they start a price war? Should we raise our employees’ wages, and, if so, by how much? Can the engineers rearrange our production to be more efficient? Will our bankers smile or frown when we seek credit? Will our interest rates rise or fall?
Today, risk has shifted from a bet on what nature will provide to an intricate series of bets on what other players in the economy will decide — and how each will respond to the others’ decisions. Instead of a throw of the dice, economic activity has become an intense interchange among companies, employees, suppliers, customers, owners, borrowers, lenders and financiers.
The interaction has become more complex over time, so the answers to the above questions will in turn provoke new questions, answers and decisions among these groups.
Most important, the essence of risk itself has been fundamentally transformed. Risk today depends upon the consequences of what somebody else will do, not on what God or nature will provide. Risk management means protecting oneself from the adverse and unexpected decisions others may make and, in the process, making better decisions than they do. John von Neumann, who developed game theory, referred to these interactive patterns of decision-making as the sphere of combat and competition.
My client acted as if his portfolio was immune from others’ adverse choices. He wasn’t alone in that thinking then, and he wouldn’t be alone now. A look at recent events shows that many investors are following in his footsteps. Three months ago, for example, subprime paper was an investment rated Aaa for most investors, which meant they believed they were virtually certain of receiving the return they expected. But then homeowners began to default on their subprime mortgages, and suddenly, the paper was risky, because other investors were making adverse decisions. People who wanted to sell their homes found that prospective buyers were offering much less, and homeownership was suddenly transformed from riskless to risky.
In recent weeks, chief executives have departed from leading financial institutions like Citigroup and Merrill Lynch. Such institutions have hit the headlines for the magnitude of their losses, which occurred because other investors wanted to pay lower prices for the exotic financial assets the banks had been so comfortable holding. Those assets appeared risky. And then investors reduced the prices they would pay for all types of financial assets that they feared had become too risky to attract buyers. And so on down the line.
It is not the market that is rising or falling at any moment, even if we commonly speak as though it were. In truth, prices move in response to the buying and selling decisions of countless investors, who are constantly considering the likely decisions of countless others. Incantation may still go on — for example, “In the long run, stocks will always go up” — but it may not change the decisions of other investors.
In the 1950s, those other investors made my doctor-client happy. Today, he would have no reason to thank them or me.
Peter L. Bernstein, a financial consultant and economic historian, is the editor of the Economics & Portfolio Strategy newsletter.
Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
Saturday, November 24, 2007
As a strategist, it is always a challenge to explain to potential clients about doing the right thing.
Following are some of the things that they do not consider:
- The importance of thinking long-term;
- The importance of mastering the basics while implementing elaborate plays;
- There is a risk and reward in everything;
- The flaws behind managing their team in transition;
- The importance of having a positional overview instead of grinding day by day;
- The importance of seeing a tangible path in each and every venture;
- The importance of preparing for the up-cycle during the down-cycle; and
- The importance of devising a complete strategy.
These potential clients tell us that they do not have a problem, but they ask for our viewpoints. ... Just another day.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
There is nothing like amateurs who begins with an goal in mind. But forgot to devise a tangible strategy that possess a critical path.
Targeting the minds of the people on top w/ a combination of unorthodox and orthodox tactics is the key to absolute victory.
November 21, 2007
Hollywood and Strikers Watch Clock
By MICHAEL CIEPLY and BROOKS BARNES
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 20 Sun Tzu, the Chinese sage, warned of the danger in prolonged conflict. Let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns, he wrote in The Art of War.
In the next week, that advice will probably be on the mind of David Young, a leader of Hollywood’s striking writers, who has closely studied the famous treatise in his time as a hard-nosed union organizer. Now 16 days into a work stoppage, screenwriters and their employers are scheduled to talk on Monday for the first time since Nov. 4.
A rapid settlement would jump-start the entertainment industry. But anything less, and Mr. Young and the writers could be stuck on the wrong side of yet another of the master’s admonitions: Not to besiege walled cities if it can possibly be avoided.
A protracted war, much like the sides fought during a five-month strike in 1988, would pose a particular threat for writers. They have been operating under a strategy intended to shock their employers into an early settlement by shutting down as much television production as possible before alternative programs were in place or guild morale began to flag. A lengthy strike, however, could sap the staying power of the writers, who do not have the resources their media conglomerate opponents possess.
Screenwriters, represented by the Writers Guild of America East and the Writers Guild of America West, took to the streets of Hollywood with supporters from other unions on Tuesday afternoon in a demonstration that was meant to telegraph resolve. The show was complete with a performance by Alicia Keys and the presence of eight aging actors who played Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz.
We’re here to show our teeth, Patric M. Verrone, president of the West Coast guild, said in kicking off the rally attended by thousands. Later, the actress Sandra Oh stepped up the anticorporate tone, suggesting that the crowd boycott Disneyland.
/// Ms. Oh should be aware that Disneyland owns her show. In Hollywood, rising stars can be transformed falling stars in less than a year.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which negotiates labor contracts for the studios and networks, maintained silence.
To make progress despite continued animosity, the sides would have to close a wide bargaining gap and no public signals have shown that either is ready to make a substantial move.
For the sale of shows and movies via the Internet, producers have been seeking to impose a payment structure that mirrors the residuals paid over the years for home video showings. Writers, deriding that formula almost from the time they agreed to it two decades ago, have sought far more. Similarly, the sides are in sharp dispute over writer payments for free showings of programs on the Web.
Representatives for both sides declined to discuss the coming talks, in keeping with a mutual agreement not to discuss them publicly.
In e-mailed communications, union representatives told members that employers had been forced back to the table by heavy pressure from the writers. Numerous shows, including Grey’s Anatomy and Two and a Half Men, have ceased work on previously written scripts because the writer-producers who oversee these shows withheld their producing services. But the renewed discussions were also intended to lure these writer-producers, known as show runners, into resuming their nonwriting duties.
We agreed at a meeting a couple of weeks ago that if the C.E.O.’s went back to the table then we would go back in our producer capacity, said Neal Baer, the show runner for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Mr. Baer said many of the show runners he knows have already returned albeit quietly. At least some television executives have hopes that going back to the table would give cover for others to return to work, notably late-night comedians whose shows were instantly shut by the strike. NBC Universal notified the 100 or so employees of The Tonight Show With Jay Leno on Nov. 6 that they could be laid off as of Nov. 19. So far the company has not done that.
Television networks and movie studios are well positioned to withstand a prolonged walkout, Wall Street analysts say. Because of widespread consolidation in the industry, all of the big players are housed inside giant conglomerates. The lights do not even flicker at General Electric, which had $163.4 billion in annual revenue last year, if its $16 billion NBC Universal unit has a bad quarter or even year.
Even the CBS Corporation, viewed as the most vulnerable to a strike because television makes up the bulk of its business, is not in any immediate financial danger. Ratings for the late-night shows have not dipped drastically. And the company has enough original episodes of prime-time shows to stretch into January.
And some studios and investors are actually bullish about the media companies’ near-term fortunes and largely because of the strike. My guess is that during fiscal 2008, a strike is probably a positive for us, as lower production costs would more than make up for any loses from advertising, said Peter Chernin, president of the News Corporation, in a conference call with analysts on Nov. 7.
Mr. Young, who is executive director of the West Coast guild, is well acquainted with corporate strength, something he confronted during the mid-1990s as a leader in the unions that sought unsuccessfully to organize garment workers employed by Guess Inc.
Writing of that campaign in the fall/winter 2005 issue of The American Sociologist, Edna Bonacich, a sociologist who worked closely with Mr. Young both then and later at the writers guild, noted that he studied Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’ with deep attention, trying to find its applicability to union struggles. (The fascination has been shared by modern students of conflict as diverse as Douglas MacArthur, Lee Atwater and Michael S. Ovitz.)
/// *** Studying the principles from Sun Zi 's essay is one thing. Using it as a process is another.
Yet another threat to be confronted is the possibility that the Directors Guild of America, its own deal set to expire next June, will soon open its own negotiations and perhaps reach an accommodation with companies, undercutting the writers’ bargaining stance.
In an e-mail message last week, Peter Lefcourt, who is on the board of the West Coast writers guild, told writers who also belong to the directors guild that any near-term move by companies to talk with directors would be like Hitler dangling a separate peace in front of Stalin.
/// *** If the competitor is not positioned to stay ahead of curve. he is behind the curve. @ Collaboration360, our axiom is: "If you are not positioned to win, you are grinding. In a conflict against a larger competitor, you do not want to be grinding. ..."
Gil Cates, who will lead the directors guild in its negotiations, told Mr. Lefcourt in an e-mailed response that his fellow members could do without the writers’ advice. It will be the membership and the membership only who will make the decision about accepting any deal, Mr. Cates wrote.
Progress on any front would be welcomed by many of the directors, production managers, actors, assistants and others who are being shut out of work.
In a grass-roots movement, hundreds of such workers are now trying to organize their own Strike a Deal demonstration in Hollywood on Dec. 2.
It was born out of frustration by people who were working on films and television shows, said Christopher L. Griffin, a producer of the Nip/Tuck series on the FX Network. There’s a general sense of desperation and helplessness.
Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
Sunday, November 18, 2007
During the initial build and connect process, the Compass team establishes structure, order, technical reliability and accountability into their Tangible Vision. When they team believe in their Tangible Vision, they will connect to it. (Note: Smart professionals only want to work with people who are accountable, reliable and believe in the same cause)
When a Compass team leads with their Tangible Vision, positive results are expected.
Positive results = Profits.
The greater the profits are, the greater the team expectations will be, when they are assembled as a team.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
The "To-Do" list is good for individuals, but our Compass AE process is better for the team that collaborates as a team.
Users of the "To-Do" List focus on completing the current objective without any conscious regard to any of the milestones ahead. While the Compass AE implementers focus on understanding the grand outcome and how a tactical objective can connect to the other objectives and finally the goal. They have foresight of opportunities and know how to capture it.
They also know which specific tactical list fit into which objective and what part of the list must be adjusted to the objective.
By " . . . focusing on the tactical specifics of their Tangible Vision while minding the Tangible Vision,” the Compass team will complete their grand goal.
# # #
An abridged version of the article.
The Way We List Now
September 29, 2006
Let's jot down a few reasons why lists are the defining organizing principle of the 21st century.
• Mothers leaving executive jobs to stay home with their children are embracing corporate time-management techniques to run their households.
• As BlackBerry usage eradicates complete sentences, items that can be quickly ticked off have become the accepted shorthand.
• In a post-Sept. 11, post-Hurricane Katrina world, people see lists as a way to prepare for inevitable disasters.
A range of companies, including Amazon.com, book publishers, stationery makers and Internet sites, are pushing new products aimed at the growing appetite for list-making. Within the next year, publishing houses will roll out at least eight books of lists. One will feature images of nearly 300 food-shopping lists that were found near supermarkets around the country. Others include a memoir culled completely from one woman's collected to-do lists, and "Mountain Man Dance Moves: The McSweeney's Book of Lists," a compilation of satirical lists like "The Collected Apologies of Lawrence H. Summers, President of Harvard."
Major media companies are funding, buying and starting up list-centric Web sites. Next week, Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp will launch a beta version of Very Short List (veryshortlist.com), an email newsletter and Internet site dedicated to quick recommendations of media and culture. Amazon.com is funding a company that runs several list sites, including allconsuming.net (where people catalog the books, movies and music they own) and 43things.com (where users list up to 43 things they want to do before they die). On the networking Web site Consumating, which was bought last year by CNET Networks, users' main profiles consist of a simple list of adjectives and interests, also called tags. "It's a succinct way of explaining to someone who you are," says Ben Brown, the site's founder.
Looking for Order
Several factors are feeding the commercial growth: Lists are a cheap, fast way for publishers and Internet sites to generate new content -- especially online, where users are often creating the lists themselves. As consumers face more ways to spend their time and money, companies hope their bullet-point, short-attention-span offerings will appeal to even the most time-starved. Lists also offer order, real or perceived, in a chaotic world. "People have a hunger for patterns and order and stability in a rapidly changing world," says Ben Dattner, a professor of organizational psychology at New York University.
Executives often manage by lists. Bob Cancalosi, the chief learning officer for GE Healthcare, a division of General Electric, keeps "microlists" for daily tasks, which he constantly compares to his "mothership list" about the company's management philosophies and goals. Individual projects get their own lists -- for one leadership class, he writes a 450-item checklist 125 days before the event. Weekends are no different. Every Saturday morning, he brews a pot of coffee and makes a list, with items like "buy gallon of milk," "take daughter to piano" and "run three miles." "I think I'm a little anal," he says.
|A crop of new Web sites allow people to create and share lists, on everything from a baby's nap schedule to an action-figure collection. Below, five sites that aim to help people get organized.|
|diyplanner.com1||Douglas Johnston, a multimedia project manager, founded this site devoted to downloadable paper lists and planning kits while he was living in Newfoundland, Canada. (It was too far to drive to a store for day-planner refill pages.) Available templates include "Goal Planning" and "Checklist." Since the site launched in September 2005, about 800,000 template kits have been downloaded, says Mr. Johnston.|
|recipething.com2||Influenced by Web site LibraryThing, RecipeThing (launched three weeks ago by a husband-and-wife team) allows home cooks to enter and organize their recipes by tags like vegetarian or tailgating -- and access those of others. So far, 800 users have added 2,014 recipes.|
|squirl.info3||On this site, introduced last month, nearly 1,000 people have logged lists of their collectibles, including records, "Star Wars" action figures and autographed copies of Sports Illustrated. Co-founder John McGrath says that he plans to integrate an option allowing users to sell their items at online auction houses.|
|tadalist.com4||Ta-Da allows users to create online to-do lists that can be shared, free of charge. For project collaboration, several users can access the same tasks and check off items as they're accomplished. The site was launched in January of 2005, and in the last year, users have added 1.4 million to-dos.|
|trixietracker.com5||After maintaining a blog for three years that listed his baby's feedings, sleep patterns and dirty diapers, Ben MacNeill of Chapel Hill, N.C., created software for other new parents to do the same. (A subscription costs $14.95 for three months.) Since the site's launch in March 2006, members have logged more than 100,000 naps.|
Every Sunday night, Pamela Salzman, a 36-year-old M.B.A. in Los Angeles who worked in marketing and public relations before having kids, says she writes a master list of the errands and obligations she must complete in the coming week. Each morning, she creates a daily list, pulling tasks from the weekly list. Then there is her "major project list" with items such as "reorganize my 2005 photo album," and lists of gifts given, what to do when the kids get sick and a timeline for preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Mrs. Salzman says making lists is a stress-reliever. "When I can see everything in front of me," she says, "it feels like it's more within my control."
Nancy Paul, one of Mrs. Salzman's best friends, has another system, which she credits to her corporate experience. In a small binder she keeps at the ready, Ms. Paul, 40, jots notes on specially designated pages, indicating such things as gifts to buy, people to call and things to tell the interior designer. She also gives the family baby sitter a list of tasks to complete while the children nap, like replacing old markers with new ones. "I graduated from business school, and I use a lot of techniques I learned" there, says Ms. Paul, a former executive at Walt Disney Co.
Along with three other close friends, Ms. Paul and Mrs. Salzman discuss, borrow, covet and critique one another's lists. "I wouldn't call it competitive list-making," says Mrs. Salzman. "But it is envious."
Lists, of course, have been around since man put chisel to stone. The British Museum in London houses what is thought to be one of the oldest surviving lists -- it's a menu or grocery list dating back to around 80 A.D. written on a thin wooden tablet in Latin. (Not much has changed: It calls for olive oil and wine.) Historians say the Buddha and Thomas Jefferson were inveterate list makers. Charles Darwin notably wrote one titled "To Wed or Not to Wed" that included one advantage of a wife: "better than a dog anyhow." In the 1970s, "The Book of Lists," covering topics like movies, animals and crime, became a best-seller. A revised edition, "The New Book of Lists," was released last November.
Technology is a big part of what's driving the interest in lists. The new online sites make it possible to maintain and search through giant inventories of content. Apple Computer's iTunes, for example, offers over 3.5 million songs.
This also comes as consumers are overloaded with options. The average Barnes & Noble store holds 100,000 books. In 2005, 549 new films were released, up 5.6% from 2004, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. Netflix has an inventory of 65,000 DVD titles. People are struggling under an unparalleled glut of information and media, says John Warner, editor of the forthcoming book "Mountain Man Dance Moves." "Choice is paralyzing," he says.
... Stationery companies are cashing in on the list's new luster. Knock Knock, a company with paper products sold in 5,000 retail outlets, stocks 21 different list-formatted pads this year, representing 22% of the company's year-to-date revenue of $2 million. That's up from eight pads totaling 12% of revenue in 2005. Reading-tool and desk-supply retailer Levenger is counting on "list-building" products as its greatest growth opportunity. Year-to-date sales of its best-selling list product (a $38 pocket-sized leather note-card holder) are up 56% over last year, says Steve Leveen, the company's co-founder and chief executive. "We'd like to be the Starbucks of note-taking and list-making products," he says. Another stationer, MomAgenda, says revenue from notepads with to-do lists doubled in the first nine months of this year over last year. Its top seller: a menu planner affixed with a magnet for display on the refrigerator.
Yet too many lists can cause problems. Grant Newman, a first-year M.B.A. candidate at Duke University, has been making lists since middle school. Each day, he writes "tactical lists" with items like "do problems for statistics" class and "make sure I send Mom a birthday card." He throws away those lists when the tasks are complete. But he holds onto all of his "strategic lists" -- "get into a top M.B.A. program" (mission accomplished!) and "learn Spanish" -- and only occasionally consolidates partially completed lists. The list pileup was the cause of many arguments with Mr. Newman's ex-girlfriend. "His whole dining room table was covered with lists, bills and old newspapers. Just covered," says his ex, Ana Perez, who lives in Chicago. "It was really bad."
It's a good idea to go through lists periodically to knock out unnecessary items, and consolidate as much as possible, organizational experts say. Keep all resource lists in one place -- books to read, museums to visit -- whether it's in a notebook or in a single computer file. And to-do lists shouldn't become endless "mind dumps," says Julie Morgenstern, a New York time-management consultant who advises corporate and individual clients on how to get organized. After writing down what needs to be done, list-makers should identify how long a task will take and when it will be completed. "A 'to do' that is not connected to a 'when' rarely gets done," says Ms. Morgenstern, who has a line of paper day planners coming out next month from FranklinCovey.
/// *** Our Compass AE covers that and more
As a vast repository of information, the Internet has given rise to many kinds of lists that aim to help consumers make sense of it all: Frequently Asked Questions, the Netflix "queue," craigslist and Amazon.com's Listmania. Social-bookmarking site del.icio.us, which was bought in December by Yahoo, categorizes sites recommended by others, with tags like "interesting" or "oil." Membership on Angie's List -- a clearinghouse of user ratings for service providers in 72 cities nationwide -- has doubled to more than 500,000 in the past year, according to a company spokesman.
Subscribers to the new Very Short List will receive a free daily email with one pick -- such as a book, song, video or movie. The company plans to earn revenue from advertising and other transactions. "People feel they're drowning in choice and are desperate to go into a curated space," says Michael Jackson, IAC's president of programming.
|"Milk Eggs Vodka: Grocery Lists Lost and Found"|
|After finding a discarded grocery list outside a supermarket 10 years ago, St. Louis-based photographer Bill Keaggy began a collection, and he now has more than 1,000. His book is divided into chapters, like lists that seem to be for party preparations (chips, salsa, beer, paper plates) and "sad lists," some of which include a lot of medications.|
|"Things to Bring, S#it to Do... and other inventories of anxiety"|
Stewart, Tabori & Chang/September 2006
|Writer Karen Rizzo compiled this memoir after she discovered her father's boxes full of old lists -- and realized a list can say a lot about a person. Her book reprints some of her own, including a to-do list from October 1989 with items like: "new black Reebok sneaks" and "toss everything with shoulder pads." A November 1993 list entitled "I must read before I get married" includes Dante's "Inferno" and "Crime and Punishment."|
Simon & Schuster/October 2007
|Sasha Cagen, the former editor of the defunct To-Do List magazine, is editing this compilation, which includes a color-coded accounting of 69 people one woman had amorous relations with and how to start your own church. "They're even more revealing than a diary entry," she says. "They're written about what people want in a way that's not very self-conscious."|
|"Trivia Lovers' Lists of Nearly Everything in the Universe"|
Random House Reference/October 2006
|This is Barbara Ann Kipfer's 15th book on lists, which will weigh in at 656 pages -- she is the author of "14,000 Things to Be Happy About" and "The Wish List." She has also worked up lists of synonyms: She's the editor of "Roget's International Thesaurus (Sixth Edition)" and "Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus."|
|"Your Personal Assistant"|
|Barbara Guggenheim has managed a bicoastal career -- she is an art consultant with offices in New York and Los Angeles -- and a marriage to a member of the Hollywood power structure -- her husband is attorney Bert Fields -- by keeping lists. She plans to publish 300 of them, with co-author Nadine Schiff, along with a CD-ROM to download and edit each one.|
Part of the draw of list sites is voyeuristic. By early next year, Very Short List users should be able to create their own recommendations and share them online. "It's always fascinating to look at someone's list," Mr. Jackson says.
Another site, LibraryThing, allows users to publicly catalog their books and organize titles in multiple ways, such as era, subject matter or genre -- or just browse through other people's libraries. Since LibraryThing launched in August 2005, about 84,000 members have listed almost 5.9 million books.
A growing clutch of Web sites are using lists as a launching pad into the booming social-networking market. The Robot Co-op, a two-year-old company that is wholly funded by Amazon.com, has five list-centric sites on which users can post their own lists and find people with similar tastes and interests -- from books to DVDs to lifetime goals. Its goal-oriented site, 43things.com, had nearly 1.4 million unique visitors in August, more than three times the number in August of last year, according to comScore Media Metrix.
Posting recommendations from other consumers can also appeal to companies looking to replicate the experience of "social shopping," with a little peer pressure mixed in, at home. "If someone else has all of the records that I have, but there is one they have that I don't have, that could induce me to buy," says Patti Freeman Evans, Jupiter Research's senior retail analyst.
Jennifer Scully-Lerner, a vice president for private wealth management at Goldman Sachs in Manhattan, considers lists an easy-to-digest language that is compatible with the quick pace of BlackBerry-influenced corporate culture. Ms. Scully-Lerner has become well known at Goldman Sachs for her "Organization List to Prepare for Baby." It recommends buying more than 90 separate items and makes 15 suggestions under the heading "General Notes." The list has been widely circulated throughout her office and beyond.
Using Microsoft Word, Excel, errant scraps of paper and her BlackBerry, Ms. Scully-Lerner makes lists that govern almost every aspect of her life. She has lists of work projects all around her desk. There's a packing list on her closet wall, to simplify the preparations for her frequent business trips. She has emergency lists at home and at work. She keeps lists of books to read, phone calls to make and presents to buy. She also maintains a list of gifts she'd like others to give to her. "My husband tells people it's my purchase order," she says. "I'm a list freak."
Write to Katherine Rosman at email@example.com://online.wsj.com/article/SB115948761037977424.html
More information on "The List":
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
What is Strategic Power?
"... The critical, highly complex concept of shih ("strategic power") that figures prominently in the Art of War and underlies all subsequent military theorizing and much political thought presumably originated in the martial realm. ... " - Ralph D. Sawyer, The Tao of Deception: Unorthodox Warfare in Historic and Modern China
"... In warfare the strategic configurations of power do not exceed the unorthodox and orthodox, but the changes of the unorthodox and orthodox can never be completely exhausted. ..."
--- One Hundred Unorthodox Strategies: Battle and Tactics of Chinese Warfare (pp, 121)
King Wu asked the T'ai Kung: "What is the Tao for aggressive warfare?"
The T'ai Kung replied: "Strategic power is exercised in accord with the enemy's movements. ... One who excels at warfare will await events in the situation without making movements. When he sees he can be victorious, he will arise; if he sees he cannot be victorious. he will desist. Thus it is said he does not have any fear, he does not vacilate. Of the many harms that can beset an army, vacillation is the greatest. Of disaster, that can befall an army, none surpasses doubt. --- Tai Gong Six Secret Teachings, Chapter26: The Army's Strategic Power
A connective understanding of the grand goal and the specific objectives produces strategic power.
When a team has strategic power. It means that they have built and connected with their Tangible Vision and ready to lead with it. They also know the following:
- The measure and constraints of every situations;
- The component forces;
- The unorthodox;
- The fundamentals to manipulate competitive forces;
- The outstanding tactical variables;
- The background of the competitors;
- The basics of the specific terrains;
- The understanding of the specific tactical fundamentals;
- Complete the goal by determining the critical path;
- Avoid the negatives and focus on positives;
- Anticipate opportunities;
- Perform proper strategic adjustments;
- Shape the target; and
- Lead by strategic collaboration.
Is your company moving with strategic power?
Copyright: 2007 Collaboration360 Consultants (C360).
Copying, posting and reproduction in any form (without prior consent) is an infringement of copyright.
--- More to Come ---