Saturday, July 26, 2008

Strategic Assessment: The Book

After a few weeks of contemplation, we at the Collaboration360 decided to write a book on how to apply our Strategical Assessment process to the global marketplace.

As mentioned before, our process is based on the principles from the Art of War and the rest of the eight Chinese strategy classics.

We have already done the table of contents. Have not figured out the book title. It will have
detailed examples for different competing arena.

It will be a long and slow process. But we will get it done.

More to come

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Thriving in the Global Economy by Collaborating Without Borders

team that implements technology with a direction is like a compass with a needle.

Strategic classics emphasize that "
an organization (or a team) with a strategic foundation is a house with a cornerstone. "


July 22, 2008
As Travel Costs Rise, More Meetings Go Virtual

Jill Smart, an Accenture executive, was skeptical the first time she stepped into her firm’s new videoconferencing room in Chicago for a meeting with a group of colleagues in London. But the videoconferencing technology, known as telepresence, delivered an experience so lifelike, Ms. Smart recalled, that “10 minutes into it, you forget you are not in the room with them.”

Accenture, a technology consulting firm, has installed 13 of the videoconferencing rooms at its offices around the world and plans to have an additional 22 operating before the end of the year.

Accenture figures its consultants used virtual meetings to avoid 240 international trips and 120 domestic flights in May alone, for an annual saving of millions of dollars and countless hours of wearying travel for its workers.

As travel costs rise and airlines cut service, companies large and small are rethinking the face-to-face meeting — and business travel as well. At the same time, the technology has matured to the point where it is often practical, affordable and more productive to move digital bits instead of bodies.

The emerging trend, analysts say, goes well beyond a reaction to rising travel costs and a weakening economy. “These technology tools are going to change the way corporations think about travel and work in the long run,” an analyst at Forrester Research, Claire Schooley, said.

Past predictions that technology could replace travel have been frequent and premature. The main difference today, analysts say, is that the technology is finally catching up to its promise. No single breakthrough explains the progress, but rather a series of step-by-step advances — and steady investment — in telecommunications networks, software and computer processing.

The results can be seen not only in the expensive new telepresence systems like those from Cisco Systems or Hewlett-Packard, but also in more mainstream collaboration technologies — Web conferencing, online document sharing, wikis and Internet telephony. The audio and desktop presentations in Web-based meetings, for example, are now more likely to be in sync and interactive.

Companies of all sizes are beginning to shift to Web-based meetings for training and sales presentations. “Only in the last two years has the technology gotten to point where it really makes sense to use it,” said Alan Minton, vice president for marketing at Cornerstone Information Systems, a 60-person business software company in Bloomington, Ind.

With his sales force doing many product demonstrations online, Mr. Minton estimates the group’s travel costs of have been cut by 60 percent and the average time to close a new sale has been reduced by 30 percent.

No one suggests that the face-to-face meeting is becoming obsolete, or that it is time for a requiem for the road warrior. Companies talk about using digital tools mainly as a way of making business travel more selective and more productive.

Still, the potential for digital displacement of business travel is substantial. A report last month by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, a group of technology companies, and the Climate Group, an environmental organization, estimated that up to 20 percent of business travel worldwide could be replaced by Web-based and conventional videoconferencing technology.

The most dedicated business travelers tend to be management consultants, investment bankers, accountants, lawyers and technology services consultants. Much of their work has to be done in person with clients. But these professionals are increasingly using online collaboration tools for work within their firms.

At I.B.M., Michael Littlejohn, a work force and technology expert in the company’s global services unit, said two years ago, he was on the road 13 to 15 days a month. These days, he says, he travels 8 or 10 days a month. “But my time spent with clients is not less,” he said. “To really understand a client’s problems or to close a deal, you need face to face.”

/// On an one on one basis, he is correct.

Corporate training and education is a field many companies are moving online, in part to trim travel costs. Darryl Draper, the national manager of customer service training for Subaru of America, used to travel four days a week, nine months of the year, presenting educational programs at dealers nationwide. Today, Ms. Draper rarely travels and nearly all of her training is done online.

Previously, Ms. Draper estimated, in six months she would reach about 220 people at a cost of $300 a person. She said she now reaches 2,500 people every six months at a cost of 75 cents a person.

A range of companies offer the mainstream online communications and collaboration tools, including WebEx, Citrix, Microsoft, I.B.M. and others. The most rarefied offering, though, is telepresence videoconferencing. Today, it is an elite product supplied by a few companies, including Cisco, H.P. and Polycom.

Completed telepresence rooms, typically with three huge curved screens (and a fourth screen above for shared work), custom lighting and acoustics, cost up to $350,000 — though that is down from $500,000, when H.P. sold its first system in early 2006.

The resolution on telepresence screens is even sharper than on high-definition televisions, and images can be magnified to inspect products. Engineers at the far-flung labs of Advanced Micro Devices, for example, scrutinize the microcircuitry on new chip designs using the company’s telepresence systems. And the images of people on screen are life-size.

Cisco, which has more than 200 telepresence rooms, figures it is avoiding $100 million in yearly travel costs, and reducing its greenhouse gas emissions from air travel by 10 percent. H.P. says air travel among its offices with telepresence rooms is down 25 percent.

When used regularly, the rooms pay for themselves within a year, analysts estimate. Sales of telepresence systems will more than double this year to 627, estimates the market research firm IDC, and reach more than 8,000 by 2012.

There is a certain paradox in telepresence, in that it is all to simulate the richest form of human interaction: people talking to each other, face to face.

And it is not a perfect substitute. Ms. Smart, the chief of human resources for Accenture, still travels about 10 days a month. “You don’t learn about other cultures in telepresence,” she said. You get things from being there, over breakfast and dinner, building relationships face to face.”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Regardless of the distance and the project culture, the process precedes the technology.

To thrive in the global economy, the virtual project team needs a strategic foundation and direction. They must collaborate as a team.

Most people know how to perform and produce as an individual. Not many knows how to collaborate as a team.

If you are interested in knowing about how to collaborate anywhere as a team regardless of the distance, the technology and the project culture. Please contact us at service [at] collaboration360 [dot] com. We have a white paper ready for your reading..

Implementing the C360's Strategic Assessment Process

We are currently talking to a high-tech media personality to implement our Strategic Assessment process as the format for a "new" high-tech market research report. Both sides are still playing with the idea.

Our strategic assessment process is designed to be implemented to all competitive arenas.

More to come

Friday, July 18, 2008

Building the Tangible Vision

"You don't know what you don't know
You can't do what you don't know
You don't know until you measure
You don't measure what you don't value
You don't value what you don't measure. .."


One cannot build a Tangible Vision (a complete strategy that encompasses the grand picture, a strategic overview and an operational plan) if they do not know the specifics of their grand settings.

For more information on the Tangible Vision, please view the various Compass AE and Tangible Vision related threads that are listed on the right side of this page.

--- More to Come ---

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Importance of Strategic Assessment: (Moneyball Style)

While gathering data on the competition and one's grand settings is a difficult objective, knowing how to properly assess the data is a greater challenge.

One of the many keys to surviving in the global economy is knowing how to transpose the data into a strategic advantage.

If one wants to play against the big boys, learn how to assess oneself, their competition and their grand settings is the first step.

Suggestion: Get a copy of Michael Lewis's "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game".

It is about the low-budget Oakland Athletics (Professional baseball team) and their larger-than-life general manger Billy Beane who uses objective-based statistics to select good amateur baseball players for his team.

In order to contend against the big budget teams (like the Yankees and the Red Sox) Billy Beane needed to use every tools of the trade to be a contender (not a pretender). ... He developed the approach of "Moneyball" to assess up and coming ball players.

You can read more about "Moneyball" by clicking on the following links.

How do you assess the talent of your team?

More 2 come.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Our "Strategic Assessment" Chart

Following is our strategic assessment chart that we have developed and implemented for competitive analysis:

This chart is based on our understanding of Sun Tzu's The Art of War (90%) and other strategy classics (10%).

Our strategic assessment process will work with any industry.
In a later entry, we will explain the concept behind the chart.

In the next few months, a business magazine will be publishing our article titled "Strategic Assessment: Insights from the Art of War."

More to come.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Competing in the Global Economy: Why Honda Prevails.

Following is a list of why Honda dominates in the automotive industry:
1. Everyone in their "assembly" team can do everyone's else job.

2. Honda has a technological system that adapts to any car model.
3. Honda spends a great deal of time on the ground.
/// They always knowing what are the current and future intents of the vendors. Honda's intelligence gathering and strategic assessments protocols enable their implementers to strategize ahead.

4. They adjust strategically as a team.

/// Honda has a strategic project management process that enables the team to collaborate anywhere as a team,

Regardless of the times, Honda has a grand strategic process (a Tangible Vision) that enables them to adjust strategically. Currently, they are #1 in car manufacturing in the United States.


July 3, 2008

The Struggles of Detroit Ensnare Its Workers


DETROIT Their pickups and sport utility vehicles are not selling, and now General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler have to pay thousands of auto workers not to make them.

With more than 15 of their assembly plants across the country set to be idled or slowed because of shift cutbacks, the Detroit automakers will temporarily lay off upward of 25,000 auto workers this summer and fall.

Because of their union contracts, G.M., Ford and Chrysler are obligated to pay workers more than half of their regular take-home wages, plus health benefits, with state unemployment benefits picking up a portion of the rest.

Despite cutting more than 100,000 jobs since 2006 through buyouts and special retirement programs, the Detroit companies still cannot match their production capacity with their steadily declining market share.

Consumers are shifting to more fuel-efficient vehicles, if they are stepping into a showroom at all. New vehicle sales plummeted 18 percent in June, and Detroit's share of the declining market fell to a combined 46 percent.

Moreover, all three companies are losing money in North America and burning through cash reserves. On Wednesday, G.M.'s stock fell 15 percent after a Merrill Lynch analyst issued a report saying that "bankruptcy is not impossible" if the overall market continues to deteriorate.

Unlike many factories operated by Japanese manufacturers in the United States, Detroit's plants are not flexible enough to switch their production to better-selling models.

So while some G.M. and Ford factories are scrambling to build more cars, even paying workers overtime to meet demand, other assembly lines are shutting down.

"It's an unprecedented situation," said Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at the University of California, Berkeley. "Despite enormous reductions in total employment, the market is forcing massive temporary layoffs."

Detroit's Big Three, it appears, can't escape their past.

Since the 1980s, the companies by dint of their contracts with the United Automobile Workers union have parked idled workers in so-called "jobs banks" where they received full pay while doing community service or simply clocking in.

New contracts with the U.A.W. signed last year were supposed to pave the way for elimination of the jobs banks and make the companies more competitive on health care and wages for new hires.

In addition, the historic buyout and early-retirement programs were meant to better align, at enormous expense, the automakers' workforce with demand for its vehicles. Even before this year, the companies had announced plans to close several plants.

But the restructuring plans did not account for the huge drop in sales and the shift by consumers to smaller vehicles that have resulted from soaring gas prices and the weak economy.

"You have the demand for large vehicles dropping, combined with growing demand but limited supply of smaller vehicles," said Jesse Toprak, executive director of industry analysis for, an automotive-research Web site. "What you end up with is miserable sales numbers."

Rather than flood the market with unwanted trucks and S.U.V.'s, the Detroit automakers have announced broad, temporary layoffs on a scale unseen since the early 1990s.

"Instead of building vehicles and selling them at deep discounts, the companies are shutting the plants," said Ron Harbour, managing partner of the consulting firm Oliver Wyman, which issues a widely followed annual report on auto manufacturing trends. "It's painful, but it's smarter than the alternative."

G.M. plans to send about 11,000 United States workers home on layoffs the rest of the year, some for weeks and others for months. It also has about 1,000 workers still on the rolls of jobs banks from plants long since closed.

Ford is idling about 5,000 of its hourly employees, in addition to the estimated 500 workers it has in the jobs bank. Chrysler, which has 300 people in the jobs bank, will lay off about 9,500 workers.

There are also layoffs scheduled at plants in Canada and Mexico.

Virtually all of the laid-off workers are at plants building slow-selling pickups like the Ford F-Series or big S.U.V.'s such as G.M.'s Chevrolet Suburban and Chrysler's Dodge Durango.

Some of those workers will, over time, be moved to car plants that are adding shifts or otherwise increasing production.

But the vast majority of the laid-off workers in the United States will stay at home and collect 95 percent of their average after-tax, take-home pay about $816 a week, according to U.A.W. documents posted on the union's Website.

Of that $816, the automaker pays about 55 percent and state unemployment covers the remainder. In G.M.'s case, the cost of supporting 11,000 laid-off workers averages about $1 million a day.

"It is a very expensive issue, but it's not the critical one for Detroit," said Mr. Shaiken. "The reason these plants are going down is that some catastrophic decisions were made in the past to continue building so many trucks."

The companies are trying to mitigate the impact of the production changes. Ford, for example, will cut a shift at its Missouri truck plant and almost immediately move the workers to a nearby factory making small S.U.V.'s.

At a Kentucky plant that makes Explorer sport utility vehicles, Ford will slash production from two shifts to one. But rather than lay off workers, the shifts will start to alternate work weeks.

Still, the Detroit automakers are hamstrung by the inability of their factories to shift production from slow-selling vehicles to hotter models. Rivals such as Honda can quickly move from making an S.U.V. such as the Element in its Ohio plant to Civic sedans.

"The key is they are able to change the mix of products to what is selling right now," said Mr. Harbour.

While plants operated by G.M., Ford and Chrysler have markedly improved their productivity and lowered their worker rolls in recent years, they generally are confined to making variations on a single truck or car platform.

The stunning drop in truck sales has forced the Detroit companies to make some hard decisions. Chrysler this week said it will close a minivan plant in Fenton, Mo., near St. Louis, and cut a shift at a neighboring factory that makes Ram pickups.

The double blow stunned workers. About 1,500 workers at the minivan plant will go on indefinite layoff in October, while 900 workers at the Ram factory will be idled in September.

"It's very scary," said Joe Wilson, a 40-year-old worker at the minivan plant. "We'd been led to believe we'd have a future. Now they pull the rug out from under us."

Mr. Wilson said that getting a paycheck for not working is hardly a relief when his job is disappearing. He was already cutting back on expenses, and had bought an old Ford Escort to save money on gas for his commute.

"It takes three weeks to get that first check and by then we owe everybody and their uncle," he said.

A worker at the Ram pickup plant, Dave Jacobs, said the plant's long-term prospects have been clouded by the reduction to one shift.

"They can't afford to run this place with one shift," he said. "One shift pays the bills and the others are for profits."

Laid-off workers can receive their unemployment pay for up to 48 weeks. At that time, workers can shift into the jobs bank for another two years.

But one Chrysler worker, Andy Marlow, said the cutbacks are coming so fast that employees fear the worst.

"You can sit and try to ride it out and hope the plant comes back up," said Mr. Marlow. "But then if that pay runs out, you're unemployed."

Bill Vlasic reported from Detroit, and Nick Bunkley from Fenton, Mo.

--- eof

If your company needs a strategic collaborative management process that enables your team to collaborate anywhere as a team regardless of the distance, the technology and the project culture.

Please contact us at service [aatt] collaboration360 [dottt] com. We have a white paper ready for your reading.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Lesson on the Importance of Strategic Assessment

An interesting news item on how Will Smith became a mega-superstar.

Will Smith wondered what did it take to be a mega star. He strategically assessed the state of the movie industry ... and the rest is history.

Will Smith: My Work Ethic Is "Sickening"
PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 2, 2007(CBS) Of all the stories in Hollywood, there is not another one like Will Smith's. At age 39, he has already had three successful careers: Grammy award winning rapper, sitcom sensation, and finally one of the biggest movie stars on the planet.

With two Oscar nominations and almost four and a half billion dollars in box office receipts to his credit, a movie starring Will Smith is about as close as you get to having a sure thing, whether it's science fiction, romantic comedy, or a summer blockbuster.

As correspondent Steve Kroft found out, there is an ease and enthusiasm about him that transcends race and cultural boundaries, and it is one of the reasons so many people like him.

Asked what he thinks his appeal is, Smith tells Kroft, "I love living, I think that's infectious. It's somethin' that you can't fake."

"And I think that the camera can feel that I'm happy doin' what I do. And it's somethin' that gets inside of people," he adds.

It is swagger with a smile, confidence with cool, and wit grounded in wisdom -- someone who knows who he is, and where he is going. And it has made him one of the most popular and powerful actors in Hollywood.

Why does he think he has been so successful?

"I've never really viewed myself as particularly talented. I've viewed myself as slightly above average in talent. And where I excel is ridiculous, sickening, work ethic. You know, while the other guy's sleeping? I'm working. While the other guy's eatin'? I'm working. While the other guy's making love, I mean, I'm making love, too. But I'm working really hard at it," he tells Kroft, laughing.

That he makes it look just the opposite is testament to his personality and his skill as an actor. He likes the fact that you never see him sweat unless you are supposed to, or notice the emotional capital expended as a homeless father with a hungry son, or the commitment it took to become Muhammad Ali.

... Instead of falling on his face, the performance was hailed as extraordinary and one of the year's best. And the critical acclaim was soon followed by box office success by stealing the largest grossing film of 1996, as Captain Steven Hiller in "Independence Day."

"It was one of those moments where I just realized my life was changed forever," Smith recalls.

How did it change?

"You know, it was so bizarre. So bizarre, 'cause the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is on, and people scream, 'Will! Will! Will!' And on Monday morning, when the box office receipts for 'Independence Day' came out, I was Mr. Smith. 'Good morning, Mr. Smith. Congratulations.' Who the hell's Mr. Smith?" Smith explains, laughing.

A year later, he brought the same sense of style to "Men In Black. It was another huge blockbuster, and as it turned out, all part of Will Smith's plan.

He's been in a lot of movies with special effects and Smith says that's calculated. When he came to Los Angeles to become an actor, he and his manager did some simple research about the movie business.

"And we got the top ten movies of all time, and we realized that ten out of ten were special effects movies," Smith explains. "Nine out of ten were special effects movies with creatures. And eight out of ten were special effects movies with creatures and a love story. So 'Independence Day' and 'Men In Black' were really no-brainers."

There have been a few turkeys along the way, like "Wild Wild West," which was universally panned and still grossed $250 million.

It's placed him in the elite company of a handful of actors who can command over $20 million a picture. He lives in a spectacular 200-acre compound outside Los Angeles, far away from the paparazzi, with his wife and two children; daughter Willow is in his new movie, and son Jayden was in his last.

His wife is actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, who was a good friend until they became romantically involved.

Produced By John Hamlin and Albert Kahwaty
© MMVII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The key phrase is: "... did some simple research..." It propelled Will Smith ahead of the competition.


"Before the engagement, one who determines in the ancestral temple that he will be victorious has found that the majority of factors are in his favor. Before the engagement one who determines in the ancestral temple that he will not be victorious has found few factors are in his favor.

If one who who finds that the majority of factors favor him will be victorious while one has found a few factors favor him will be defeated, what about someone who finds no factors in his favor?

If I observe it from this perspective, victory and defeat will be apparent." - Art of War, 1