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Welcome to BvOtech blog.

BvOtech provides consulting and training using the fusion of the best of Chinese and Western thinkings, to helping people and their companies to be successful.  As the world moves towards increasing uncertainties and diversities, a new kind of mindset is needed. The answer is in fact in the Chinese Classical Philosophies which are about achieving harmony and abundance from the synergy of diversities and change. The best of Western Management Thinking and Practices are then fused onto the Chinese Philosophical framework for a complete and in-depth solution framework for either problem solving or innovation. For information about the company please click on the menu item at the top. e.g. About

This BvOtech blog contains many useful articles on corporate performance management, leadership,  innovations, creative thinking, learning organization, knowledge management and Sinology (Ancient Chinese Wisdom).

Most of the posts are accessible to everyone. Some of the posts on I-Ching “Manage Change with I-Ching” are restricted to subscribers only.

Hope you find the posts useful and we appreciate your comments for us to learn from you.

 

See How Jack Ma Applied the Art of War in Growing Your Business in Bad Times

In 2016 Zhejiang Businessmen Conference, Jack Ma gave a speech on “How to grow your business in a challenging time?”. You will find many concepts taught by Sun Zi’s Art of War in his speech. Here is his speech mind-mapped from the Art of War perspective. You can learn about the application of the Art of War by a very successful master.

The Mind-Map of the Art of War Oriented Speech:

Jack Ma put forward 13 key points in his speech. I re-organized them according to Sun Zi’s Five factors.

The Key Lessons:

  1. Transform to Stay Relevant:
    The most important concept is that any business must be constantly transforming itself to stay relevant to the market.  This echoed Peter Drucker’s quote “Business failed because their theory of business does not match reality”. The main teaching of the Art of War is 审时度势 – Read the Time & Trends and then response rightly.
  2. Develop Inner Core Strengths:
    Jack Ma said the inner strengths are about organization, talents, and culture. These are exactly the 法 method, 将 commanders/leadership, and 道 dao philosophy. The order is opposite of Sun Zi. But Jack Ma in other speeches said that Culture is key. So we see Jack did not have the order in mind. Sun Zi said that “Dao 道 is the thing that unites everyone from top to bottom to act together and they are not afraid to die and to live together. It is the mission, vision, and values of a business. It is the culture of the business.
  3. Leadership – Entrepreneurs vs Professional Manager
    Jack Ma used a hunting story to show the difference. An entrepreneur and a manager went hunting. They fired at a wild-boar. They missed. The manager would run away. But the entrepreneur will bring out his knife to go after the wild-boar! When times turn bad, managers live first. Entrepreneurs will find ways to turn the business around. You can find the other leadership attributes highlighted by Sun Zi in Jack’s speech as shown on the map.
  4. Good News or Bad News? It all depend on You!
    If the economists forecast is bad, it may seem like bad news. But the good news is that it applies to everyone, including your competitors. Hence, another key principle of Sun Zi is about conversion. Choose the right combination of time, situations, people, methods such that you see the opportunities in the bad news, where also you convert the harms to benefits so that you can be successful while others fail. Similarly,  when things are going well, you need the potential dangers, the current wastes, the possible redundancies in the future and take action now.
  5. TOWS, not SWOT.
    The Art of War is about cool and calm evidence base decision making based on facts and calculations. Warfare cannot be left to chance or by prayers. Threats must be addressed before opportunities. Jack Ma advised this in point 5 above.
Your Turns:
What are lessons can you pick up from Jack’s speech. What one or two things that impressed you that you may want to take action now to benefit your business?
Lim Liat (c) 22 Feb 2017

For more on Sun Zi, see Sun Zi and Other Strategists

Maximizing Your Persuasive Power

Gui Gu Zi’s Strategic Persuasion is about developing strategies and persuasion to complement each other for winning together. The strategies and tactics for maximizing your persuasive power are covered comprehensively in this Chapter 9.  The key principles are covered first and the English translations of the original text are given in mind-map forms subsequently. By studying the translations, you may be able to come out with additional principles and tips to increase your persuasive power. Hope you can share with us too.

The Overview and Key Points
The following mind-map captures the principles and key points for maximizing your persuasion. it begins by pointing out that persuasion is not just about us but more about the listener. Why should they listen to us? We must earn the rights to be heard. Please go through the map below and see if can follow them to improve your persuasive power.



Want to go further to discover for your own?
I may not have discovered all the wisdom of Gui Gu Zi and so I present my translations of his original text below for your own study and learning, please remember to share with us your additional discovery.

1 Persuasion – Earn the rights to speak

2 Knowing the Speaker

3 Listen by Watch but Speak Not

4 Use Others Strengths

5 Five Emotions and Speech
Be aware of the listeners’ emotion. A person that is angry is not going to listen to anything. Need to calm them first and help them into the right emotion and mental state to listen and support what you are proposing.


6 Speak accordingly to the Types of Your Audience

7 Purpose & Qualities of Speech
A final checklist to reflect on what you want to say. Are you addressing your audience rightly? Do you have any worthy things to share with the wise or new things to teach those that know not? How are you saying it and the words you use, do they create surprises and curiosity? As an example, “The differences between male and female” is not as attractive as “Man are from Mars and Women from Venus”.

Lim Liat (c) 15 Sep 2016

New Management Thinking and Sun Zi’s Art of War

PwC’s Strategy+Business website has an article titled “Creating a Strategy That Works” that came out with Five Key Practices after studying 14 leading companies in various countries and industries. It pointed out how these five unconventional acts differ from the conventional business wisdom. These five unconventional wisdom supports the teaching of Sun Zi’s Art of War. Furthermore, Sun Zi’s Art of War provides a better framework and additional wisdom that demands our study.

PwC’s Strategy+Business website has an article titled “Creating a Strategy That Works“. It compared the conventional business wisdom against the unconventional acts of the leaders in the various industries and countries.  I like to examine such business strategic articles and books, e.g.  Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works, or Managing in a Time of Great Change, against the teaching of Sun Zi’s Art of War to see if the Art of War is still applicable to business and whether there are additional wisdom to be gained from both, the modern Western management thinking and the ancient Chinese wisdom.

 Here the summary of the combined thinking presented in a mind-map format:

The main branches describe the unconventional acts with the conventional acts described under them. In the sub-branches, additional remarks are added to give greater clarity.  Related quotations from the Sun Zi’s Art of War Book are added.For Point 4 Cut Costs to Grow Stronger, Jesus used the illustration of the pruning of a vine to convey the concept better, see Secrets of Organizational Success – Growing Vines.Culture Eats Strategy for BreakfastThe Key Points of the Teaching is best summarized by a quote of Peter Drucker (at least commonly attributed to him) which is “Culture eats strategy for breakfast/lunch”. It is not about not to have a strategy but rather has a strategy based on your identity of unique value contribution driven by the right culture. Having the right culture adopted by all as the foundation, it can handle the storms of all changes and come out winning. The identity and the right culture, usually described in the business literature as the mission, visions, and values, is also what Sun Zi called it as Dao 道, the Way or the Philosophy of the company. Sun Zi’s put it as the #1 factor in his five factors of 道Way 天Heaven/Seasonal Trends, 地 Terrain/Markets 将Leadership 法 Methods. Using a solid unchanging foundation to handle all changes is a famous Chinese Stratagem of 以静制动 using the unmoved to manage the moving. This is also the famous Jim Collins Hedgedog concept. It reminds me of Jesus’ parable of the “Wise and Foolish Builders”

  • “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” –  Matthew 7:24-27

The two key words are Jesus’ Words and Doing them. They can be translated into modern business practices as the right Way (Sun Zi’s Dao 道) and then the adopting and execution of them, which means the right culture. Culture is the actual values and behavior adopted by the people.

The most successful example of the adoption of the right culture, the mission, and its practice, is Apple Inc. See What and Who has the Best Mission Statement?

As most management books only cover a subset of the total wisdom needed to run a business well, it is my recommendation that we study Sun Zi’s Art of war for a complete picture. My complete Sun Zi’s Art of War framework for developing business strategies taken from one of slide in my Sun Zi courses, is shown below:

I hope you can see that modern management books continue to support the teaching of Sun Zi’s Art of War.  The Art of War gives a more comprehensive and condensed teachings on not only developing the better-winning strategy but also the leadership skills to execute them.

For more on Sun Zi, see Sun Zi and Other Strategists(Gui Gu Zi)

Lim Liat (c) 6 Feb 2016