Friday, August 29, 2008

C360's Freebie: Strategic Assessment Template for IT Project Development

We are currently working on a specialized strategic assessment template for IT project development. When it is finished, we are offering it to any interested parties.

If you are interested in securing a digital copy, please contact us at service [aatt] collaboration360 [dott] com.

Copyright: 2008 © Collaboration360 Consultants (C360).
Copying, posting and reproduction in any form (without prior consent) is an infringement of copyright.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

C360's Compass View of Strategy (3)

Not all processes are alike.

Compass AE is a strategic process that gives the implementers a high level, top to bottom overview of the priorities, approaches and circumstances for any Tangible Vision-driven projects.

Does your company have a process like that?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

C360's Compass View of Strategy (2)

To succeed in ones venture, ones intelligence gathering process must be correct.

If the gathered intelligence and the implementation of the strategic assessment process are correct, then the strategic assessment of the intelligence is valid.

If the strategic assessment is valid, the project team's plan of action (based on the strategic assessment) will be correct.

The C360 View:
When the Compass team properly gathers
intelligence, they assess themselves, the competition and their grand settings. Then, they collaboratively build the Tangible Vision.

By using the Tangible Vision, the team properly defines the grand goal, the tactical objectives, and the connections between the objectives and the goal. Then they delineate the tactical requirements of each objective.

When the Compass team leads with their Tangible Vision, they perform the following:
  • minimize the costs;
  • mitigate the risks;
  • accelerate the delivery;
  • maximize the opportunities;
  • ensure the quality
At the end, success is the absolute.

Does your process enable your team to do the above?

If you are interested in knowing more about our Compass AE process, please contact us at service (att)collaboration360(dott)com.

Copyright: 2008 © Collaboration360 Consultants (C360 Consultants).
Copying, posting and reproduction in any form (without prior consent) is an infringement of copyright

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Another Endorsement of Our Strategic Assessment Process

Michael Hom has discovered a unique method for transforming the ancient teachings of Chinese strategist Sun Tzu into a comprehensive methodology for modern business strategy. His approach integrates grand strategy, technology, and market dynamics to produce a unique multi-level strategic analysis, including competitive threat assessment and a positive action plan.
- Dr. Phil Fellman, Professor of International Business, University of Southern New Hampshire

His comment on
our previous presentation
The Chinese students said that on the Mainland, they don't study Sun Tzu, so they found it very interesting and also very new. They were deeply impressed by your level of knowledge and I was very grateful to have you as a guest lecturer. -Dr. Phil Fellman

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An Endorsement from Mark McNeilly, a Sun Tzu Expert

"Michael Hom's strategic assessment approach provides an insightful and logical way to understand and take advantage of one's market position relative to competitors and the marketplace, all built on the writings of one of history's great strategists, Sun Tzu."
--- Mark McNeilly, Author of Sun Tzu and the Art of Business,
Sun Tzu and the Art of Modern Warfare and George Washington and the Art of Business.

Copyright: 2008 © Collaboration360 Consultants (C360).
Copying, posting and reproduction in any form (without prior consent) is an infringement of copyright.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Collaboration 360's Article on Strategic Assessment is Published

Effective Executive magazine (The Icfai University Press) recently published our article on Strategic Assessment.

If you are interested in securing a digital copy of it, please contact us at service [aatt] collaboration360 [dott] com.

Sidebar: Wish to thanks the many friends of Collaboration360 for their time and their views.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Learning Lessons of Strategy from the Recent Russian Blitz

The following article is something that most businesses can learn from the "Russian Blitz".

August 17, 2008
Military Analysis

Russian Blitz Melded Old-School Onslaught With Modern Military Tactics

WASHINGTON — Russia’s victorious military blitz into the former Soviet republic of Georgia brought something old and something new — but none of it was impromptu, despite appearances that a long-frozen conflict had suddenly turned hot.

The Russian military borrowed a page from classic Soviet-era doctrine: Moscow’s commanders sent an absolutely overwhelming force into Georgia. It was never going to be an even fight, and the outcome was predictable, if not preordained.

/// In any "real" competition, there is no such thing as even parity.

At the same time, the Russian military picked up what is new from the latest in military thinking, including American military writings about the art of war, replete with the hard-learned lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan.

So along with the old-school onslaught of infantry, armor and artillery, Russia mounted joint air and naval operations, appeared to launch simultaneous cyberattacks on Georgian government Web sites and had its best English speakers at the ready to make Moscow’s case in television appearances.

If the rapidly unfolding events caught much of the world off guard, that kind of coordination of the old and the new did not look accidental to military professionals.

“They seem to have harnessed all their instruments of national power — military, diplomatic, information — in a very disciplined way,” said one Pentagon official, who like others interviewed for this article disclosed details of the operation under ground rules that called for anonymity. “It appears this was well thought out and planned in advance, and suggests a level of coordination in the Russian government between the military and the other civilian agencies and departments that we are striving for today.

In fact, Pentagon and military officials say Russia held a major ground exercise in July just north of Georgia’s border, called Caucasus 2008, that played out a chain of events like the one carried out over recent days.

“This exercise was exactly what they executed in Georgia just a few weeks later,” said Dale Herspring, an expert on Russian military affairs at Kansas State University. “This exercise was a complete dress rehearsal.”

/// In some project culture, "amateur professionals" rarely spent enough time preparing and rehearsing their implementation.

1st rule of preparation is ...The amount of time it takes to deploy one's plan is inversely proportional to the amount of time that is spent planning your plan

Compass AE process requires the project implementers to review and rehearse their recently-built Tangible Vision process before connecting to it. ///

Russian commentators have countered that more than 1,000 American military personnel were in Georgia for an exercise last month. But that exercise focused on counterinsurgency operations to prepare a Georgian brigade for duty in Iraq, a different mission than the seizing of territory or denying an aggressor a new stake on the land.

Even as the Russian military succeeded at its most obvious objectives — taking control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, humiliating the Georgian government and crippling the republic’s army and police units — serious shortcomings on the Russian side were revealed during the brief fighting, Pentagon and military officials said.

To the surprise of American military officers, an impaired Georgian air-defense system was able to down at least six Russian jets. The Sukhoi-25, an aging ground attack plane, appeared to be the most vulnerable.

Georgia never has fielded an integrated, nationwide air defense system, and those ground-to-air weapons that survived early Russian shelling operated without any central control — and some without battle-command radars, as they were destroyed by Russian strikes.

That they bloodied the Russian air wing was taken as a clear sign of poor Russian aircraft maintenance, poor Russian piloting skills — or, most likely, years of insufficient funds for adequate flight training.

Russian-language media and unofficial national security Web sites in Moscow, which since the days of the disastrous Soviet foray into Afghanistan have developed a skeptical independent streak, also noted other shortcomings.

A Russian general in command of the 58th Army was wounded in the leg when he led a column of 30 armored vehicles toward the capital of South Ossetia, apparently without sufficient intelligence from scouts on the ground or surveillance aircraft overhead to know a Georgian ambush was awaiting.

The Russians also suffered losses as they came through the Roki Tunnel, which connects South Ossetia to the neighboring region of North Ossetia in Russia proper. Russian national security analysts said there was no air cover to protect Moscow’s forces in their first minutes on Georgian soil outside the safety of the mountain tunnel.

Despite these failings, the Russian military was able to coordinate infantry advances with movement of airborne troops, simultaneously with the deployment of armor and artillery. To be sure, they only had to travel short distances, but Russia was able to inject 9,000 to 10,000 troops, 150 tanks and 700 other armored vehicles onto Georgian territory in the first weekend of fighting, officials said.

Russian warships moved off the coast of Georgia, and Russian special operations forces infiltrated into Georgia through Abkhazia, according to Pentagon and military officials.

“This was not the Russian Army from the humiliation of Afghanistan, and it’s not the Russian military that had to flatten Chechnya to save it,” said one Pentagon official knowledgeable of how the fighting unfolded. Another said: “The Russian military is back. They are to be contended with.”

Despite a recent increase in Russian long-range bomber flights along old, cold war routes near United States airspace, the offensive into Georgia gave little indication of a renewed capacity or renewed interest in global projection of power by the Russians.

But Moscow’s military is wholly capable of pressing the Kremlin’s designs on hegemony over the formerly Communist states along the border that Russian leaders call “the near abroad.”

Russia prepared the battlefield in the months leading up to the outbreak of fighting.

In April, Russia reinforced its peacekeeping force in Abkhazia with advanced artillery, and in May it sent construction troops to fix a railroad line linking that area with Russia.

Georgia’s overmatched army of about 30,000 was able to field four combat brigades of about 3,300 soldiers each.

At the start of the fighting, the Georgian Army’s First Brigade was in Iraq, and subsequently was airlifted home aboard American aircraft — but without their war-fighting gear. The Fourth Brigade was in training for the next rotation to Iraq. The Second and Third Brigades were in western Georgia, closer to Abkhazia than to South Ossetia, where the fighting started.

The American military training for the Georgian troops has been described as involving counterterrorism for domestic security and counterinsurgency for the Iraq mission, with little emphasis on taking ground, holding ground or defending against invasion.

The influx of American training and American support might have left the Georgians feeling that their far smaller military could stand up to Russia in asserting sovereignty over South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

But Georgian command and control withered quickly under the Russian attack, and army and police units were operating on their own, often at cross purposes or overlapping missions.

/// Opposing operational responsibilities create internal conflicts. It also wastes time and resources.

With our Compass AE process, the implementers always know their objectives and how it connects to other team's objectives . A collaboratively-built Tangible Vision increases efficiency while eliminating redundancy. ///

Although the Georgian units had been taught that speed of operations brings a mass all its own to the battlefield, and that improving accuracy in firepower brings a mass all its own, the lesson of the conflict is that, in some cases, mass has a mass all its own.

Russia easily smothered the smaller Georgian force.


C360's View on Achieving World Class Standards of Performance
Professionals of this caliber are able to coordinate and implement multiple processes in parallel order. Without a macro process to coordinate multiple processes, people are reduced to doing one thing at a time. This level of performance does not work when competing against competition with great resources.

With our Compass AE process, any project team can achieve this level of performance. They build a strategic overview (Tangible Vision) that allows their implementers to view the "multiple process" in any geometric order. By understanding how everything is connected strategically, the team knows what to do in advance in certain circumstances.

C360's View of the Importance of Momentum:
"When torrential water tosses boulders, it is because of momentum; ... When the strike of a hawk breaks the body of its prey, it is because of timing. ... Thus the momentum of one skilled in war is overwhelming, and his attack precisely regulated. His potential is that of a fully drawn crossbow; his timing, the release of the trigger. ... " Art of War, 5

A Compass team that builds and connects with the Tangible Vision, is prepositioned to move with momentum.

If you are interested in knowing more about our Compass AE process, please contact us at service (att)collaboration360(dott)com.

Copyright: 2008 © Collaboration360 Consultants (C360).
Comments made by Collaboration360 blogger is copyrighted.
Copying, posting and reproduction in any form (without prior consent) is an infringement of copyright.

The C360's Compass View of Strategy (1)

Many professionals are not properly trained in identifying or defining a grand picture that is tangible. They would rather build things from the ground up. Improvising and making new changes without any strategic guidelines every 2-5 days. No idea of outcome. No direction. No connections. No anticipation. Regardless of the outcome, time and resources are wasted.

With our Compass AE process, the project implementers build a Tangible Vision by focusing on "the end in mind" first. The first step is delineating the specifics of the direction from a top down direction. Then they continue by optimizing the delineated tactical specifics from bottom up. The tactical details matches the specifics of each tactical milestone

If you are interested in knowing more about the Compass AE, please contact us at service(aa tt)collaboration360(ddott)com.

Copyright: 2008 © Collaboration360 Consultants (C360).
Copying, posting and reproduction in any form (without prior consent) is an infringement of copyright.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Latest Status on Our Strategic Assessments Process paper.

Will announce the publishing of our Strategic Assessment article later this month. For those who are interested in securing a copy of this article, please contact us. We will send you a PDF version of it.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Collaboration 360's Latest Compass AE Success

/// A few months ago, we mentioned that we were working with an organization on a remote collaboration project. The project is over. It was a success

For the last few months, we worked with Lois Gomes, the Chairperson of the Oakland Youth Games committee in organizing their Youth Games. It was our first real test for Compass AE.

[side bar: Compass AE is our strategic collaborative management process (SCMP) that enables teams of implementers to collaborate anywhere as a team regardless of the technology, the distance and the project culture.]

We instructed Ms. Gomes on the fundamentals of Compass AE by guiding her in the building of her Tangible Vision. It began by defining the specifics for her grand picture and her operational objectives.

By understanding the completeness (wholeness) of her project, she became aware of the grand picture of her project. Ms. Gomes also understood the connection
between each milestone together from a strategic viewpoint.

Once the Youth Games began, the operational side (of this event) went off without a major glitch.

Our Compass AE process enabled Ms. Gomes (and her team) to do the following:
  • understanding the critical path;
  • avoiding negative situations while focusing on positive situations;
  • anticipating opportunities;
  • adjusting strategically;
  • shaping the Tangible Vision; and
  • leading by strategic collaboration.
Ms. Gomes comprehension of how the objectives of her current milestone were connected with the grand picture, allowed her to make quality strategy decisions. (We referred this action as "Leading with the Tangible Vision.").

The Collaboration360 team is happy to say that it was a success for the Youth Games organizers and our distance collaboration process. ...

This is a small victory for us. There are many, more miles for us to walk before we sleep.

In a future entry or our next white paper, we will explain the specifics on how our collaborative process was successfully used.

The Importance of Strategic Assessment: (The Origin of Moneyball.)

While the amateurs regard the act of gathering the data and implementing the plan as the monumental keys to project success, the professionals believes that the act of gathering intelligence and assessing it strategically are the keys to quality strategy development and implementation. A team that performs quality strategy development and implementation will succeed.

Compass AE Implementers use the assessed data as the foundation for building their Tangible Vision.

Those who properly build, connect and lead with their Tangible Vision, will prevail.
Just remember that "intelligence is assessed as information with value ."


The Red Sox' Stat Man And The Numbers Game
March 30, 2008
(CBS) At last the summer game is back, hope once again rears its pretty head, and the sound of "Play Ball!" is heard in the land. Baseball is a game like no other and despite the obscene salaries and even more obscene steroid cheating scandals, it remains rich in tradition - a favorite of poets and dreamers - and most of all of statistical wonks who believe that enlightenment lies in the correct reading of the numbers. This brings us to Bill James, the wizard hired by the Boston Red Sox five years ago. Since then the team - that was a congenital loser for 86 years - has won two World Series. James invented something called "sabermetrics," loosely defined as the analysis of baseball through objective evidence. Whether it actually works or not is open to debate, but baseball, with its unshakeable reliance on superstition, believes the Red Sox have found themselves one extremely lucky charm.
60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer found Bill James at spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., a shambling giant who strolls unnoticed among the stars and the star-struck fans, about as athletic as a night watchman at a pork and beans factory, which is exactly what he was. Asked if he tried playing baseball, James admits, "I did play baseball but I have no athletic ability whatsoever." "What position did you play?" Safer asks. "I played where anybody else wasn't playing," James says. He still does. The Red Sox created a new position, Senior Adviser for Baseball Operations. He's an unlikely guru, who for 30 years had been declaring that many of baseball’s hallowed beliefs were "ridiculous hokum." "I remember by the time I was 14 or 15 I'd begun to realize that a lot of baseball's traditional wisdom didn't actually make sense," James says. He says he realized that baseball was going to be his life when he "failed at everything else."

Growing up in Mayetta, Kan., rooting for the old Kansas City A's, James, consumed by baseball, couldn't help but adapt college courses to his first love. "I went to a state university in the Midwest and they tried to teach me economics. And I took everything that they tried to teach me and applied it to baseball," he explains.
He tried a variety of jobs, finally ending up as the night watchman at the Stokely Van Camp Pork and Beans plant in Lawrence, Kan.

To pass the time while watching the beans simmer, he brought a stack of box scores to work. Thus began the theory of sabermetrics.
"There were certain things that Major League Baseball traditionally believed that I argued were nonsense. One, that you could evaluate a pitcher by his won-loss record. Two, that I -- serious disagreement on what drove an offense," he says. Like batting averages: the oldest way to measure a hitter, James believed that players who got a lot of walks and wore down pitchers were overlooked. So he embraced a new statistic, "on-base percentage," which has become part of baseball's Bible. As for pitching, he has said that won-loss records do not tell how good or how bad a pitcher is. "The most accurate thing is to focus on the strikeouts, the walks, the home runs allowed. And to evaluate the pitcher on that level," James explains. So James stresses another statistic: the strike-out to walk ratio. He says for decades managers used outdated formulas or intuition in making decisions. So night after night, he crunched numbers until he came up with new statistics based on facts that would either support or debunk tradition. In 1977, the night watchman became so confident of his theories that he published them. The "Bill James Baseball Abstract" was born; it was 68 pages, mimeographed and stapled, and there was even an advertising campaign.

"Did you have a hard time convincing people of what is the basic truth of baseball?" Safer asks.

"I was a night watchman. I was working in a factory in Kansas. I didn't have a prayer of convincing people who had been in baseball for 40 years that I understood something that they didn't. Nor reasonably should I. I mean, it wouldn't have made sense for them to listen to me and they didn't," James says.

But James did gain a following that kept growing, and by 1982 a major publisher had signed him up.

"He's actually the pioneer of a whole school of thought," says NBC commentator Bob Costas, who is a true believer.

"It changed the way I looked at baseball. The idea that the most important hitting statistics are on base percentage or slugging percentage…it seems simple. But, basic baseball statistics hadn't taken that into account," Costas says.

Costas says James debunked of many of baseball’s myths, like the old belief that pitchers prevented stolen bases. James proved it was the catcher who made the difference.

Some other theories seemed unsupportable, like James' dictum that there is no such thing as a clutch hitter, or that batting order has no significance. But his numbers did show that the sacrifice bunt is rarely worth the out, and that the use of the so-called "closer" is a wasted pitching resource.

"Why does your closer only have to pitch the ninth inning?" Costas asks. "Bill has said for a long time, 'Why wouldn’t you bring in your best reliever with the tying or go ahead runs in scoring position and the best hitter for the other club coming up in the sixth inning or the seventh inning?' Maybe the game turns right there."

Costas says the key to Bill James' success is his simply expressed logic. "He writes very well. And, he’s funny," Costas says. "Bill James is a very, very smart guy. Who doesn’t just understand information, but, he’s shown people a different way of interpreting that information."

Though James' abstracts became bestsellers, and he became the "voice of God" to baseball geeks everywhere, Major League Baseball was slow to appreciate him. When James claimed that legendary manager Sparky Anderson was more lucky than talented, Sparky shot back that James was "a fat little bearded man who knows nothing about nothing."

His ideas were finally put into practice in 1997, when Billy Beane of the hapless Oakland A's used sabermetrics to fill his roster with young, underrated, cheaper players. It made the A's competitive.

In 2002, the new management of the Boston Red Sox came calling on Bill James, ready to try anything to break the 86-year-old curse. Two of the partners, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino, proclaimed James was part of a grand design-that the team would not be "your father's Red Sox."

"His reputation had preceded him so we knew we were getting a guy who was unusual. And I thought it was a giant step forward," Lucchino says.

"The truth is, Morley, this is a very sophisticated business these days. And it's very competitive. And I think when Larry and I first came into the business, the general manager relied fairly much on gut instincts. And I think that what we've done is we've taken a much more systematic approach, which really comes from Bill," Werner adds.

James sees his job as being the voice of cold reason based on hard evidence.

Example: Fenway Park and its infamous left field wall, the "Green Monster." Fenway was legendary as a right-handed hitters' park. But analysis showed it actually favored left-handed hitters, and the Sox line-up has been lefty-heavy ever since.

Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein says Bill James is the staff contrarian. "I know with Bill that I'm always gonna get a unique perspective. 'Cause he I think he does see the game from a different vantage point than most anyone else," Epstein says. "His basic questions about the game, I think, have allowed us to think more critically about the best way to develop players. Even if he doesn't have the answers, he always has the questions."

Neither the Red Sox nor James will reveal specific decisions based on James' input, but it is widely accepted that it was James who urged them to sign a jolly giant named David Ortiz.

But James refuses to take full credit for hiring Ortiz, nicknamed "Big Papi."

"Everybody was in favor of signing David Ortiz. I liked him because of his numbers. The scouts liked him because of his swing. Some people liked him because they knew he was a positive guy in the clubhouse," James says.

"Were there any people who said no?" Safer asks.

"Yes, there was. There was a guy. Yeah," James says.

Asked if that guy is still with the club, James says, "I think he is. But I haven't seen him around the office lately."

And what does the guru think about baseball generally? Best player of all? St. Louis Cardinal’s first baseman Albert Pujols. Most underrated? Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley.

And if he could have anyone on his team?

"David Wright," James says.

Asked why, James tells Safer, "Because he does everything I like and he's very young."

And age is just about the most important number of all to Bill James. "A player's best years are 25 to 29. That was true when I was a kid, and it's still true now," he says.

Many believe that James-ian theory was behind the Red Sox decision to not re-sign hugely popular but aging stars Johnny Damon and Pedro Martinez, a decision that seems to have paid off for the Red Sox.

But while Red Sox manager Terry Francona says James is an integral part of the Red Sox, you can’t always play strictly by the numbers. "This game's played by people. And, you know, I mean, certainly knowing the numbers, and I care about 'em, and it's important. But people play the game, and I never try to lose sight of that," Francona says.

"Of course in any given day any professional baseball player can defy all the numbers in his record," Safer remarks.

"Yep," Francona agrees. "And the only reason they're ever gonna be any good is if they believe in that. I would never wanna say, 'Hey, you're 0-for-20 against this guy. You can't play.' We don't share that with the players a lot. We want 'em to feel indestructible."

"He's made some what sound like pretty dogmatic statements like, 'There's no such thing as a clutch hitter,'" Safer points out.

"I've heard him say that. But then I would want him to be introduced to David Ortiz…You get my point? We feel pretty good when David Ortiz is hittin' in the clutch," Francona says.

James is rethinking that one. But the players, like Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, say theories are for the front office-not the playing field.

"I don't think we come into spring training and say, 'Man, hopefully we have a .960 fielding percentage.' I don't think it gets that detailed," Lowell says. "But I think more teams are realizing that when you use these numbers you’re gonna win more games."

"In the final analysis, it's one guy with a piece of wood, hitting a ball that's moving at 90 miles an hour," Safer remarks.

"Absolutely. You can't put a number on that," Lowell says,

But one number, the number two, as in two World Series, still resonates.

"Whatever effect that Bill James has in the Red Sox, he’s certainly been a good luck charm. I mean, in four years, they’ve won two World Series after an 86-year drought," Safer tells Bob Costas.

"You certainly can't say that Bill James has had a negative effect on the Red Sox fortunes. And, that's bought a tremendous amount of good will, as well in Boston. I mean, 2004 changed everything," Costas says.

One thing 2004 did not change is the hatred for the New York Yankees, who are now playing the numbers game as well.

"Are you concerned that the 'evil empire,' I think, as he - otherwise known as the New York Yankees, are doing the same thing?" Safer asks Larry Luccino.

"Yes," he replies. "They are, but, there are several teams in baseball that are doing it. But, the Yankees always tend to spend a little more money at whatever it is they're doing."

James says he’s always looking for new numbers to help the Red Sox. But even he admits the numbers will never say it all.

"There's something in baseball that you really can't quantify. And that is, the mix of guys at a given moment, there's some magic or whatever, that goes on. That all the James-ian theory in the world will never find the answer to," Safer says.

"It's mostly intangible," James says. "I mean, I don't understand most of it. I don't think that anybody in the Red Sox would tell you that we have that magic stuff figured out. But there are people here who understand that part of the equation a lot better than I do."

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