Creating Fully Engaged & High Performance Teams and the Wisdom of I-Ching

There are many articles and books that talk about how to create high performance teams. But many only cover the subject from a narrow angle. The wisdom of I-Ching however, is able to look at the subject from a wider angle. This post gives the details to show the power of I-Ching wisdom. So, save yourself the time to read many business books and let I-Ching guides you.

How to have an engaged and high performance team has become a popular topic recently again. May be this is due to the multi-generation workforce, or the merger and acquisitions that are getting more frequent. Team building has always been a corporation favourite subject. Many team building programs are activities based. They get the people to play some games and to socialize together. These are good basic steps to get staff to know one another better, especially for the newer staff. However, just having happy staff working and socializing with one another is not only objective of a business. A business is about having engaged staff working together to achieve the mission and visions of the business. The mission objectives must be shared, cascaded and aligned for all the staff to work passionately towards achieving them. Therefore, having team building games are but the very basic and starting point for building high performance team. There are much more to be done to create the policies, directions and culture for high performance and fully engaged staff. We must address the mindset and the attitudes in greater scope and depth.

By searching, we can find many articles and books on the subject of teamwork. Each one will cover certain aspect of the subject. If you can find some book that address the topic more comprehensively, please let us know. I personally find that I-Ching is able to do  more comprehensively then the books we find today. For example, in term of leadership, in 4 Basic and 5 Orientation Principles of Leadership from I-Ching, we find that leaders need to have creative power, nurturing love, integrity and humility as four basic virtues and five orientations to lead depending on the situations. The five orientations are mission-task centred, people-centred, synergy from diversities, congregational (team) culture centred and matching of talents and jobs. I have yet to find a leadership book that cover the scope and the agile principle for application. The early days business books talk about task oriented leadership to achieve the mission. Later business books shift to people-centred. Present business books talk about inclusivity and the importance of talents. Business fads are like fashion where certain topic becomes popular and then dies off. But running a business cannot be done that way of going by the fads of the its day.

Back to the main topic of interest, namely, “teamwork”. I can do a keyword search of ‘team’ on my I-Ching mind-map. The following is the result of the search with the relevant wisdom being displayed:

What’s Next?

1. I will expand the selected Hexagram (#38, #10) to include the wisdom from the 6 stage-lines associated with the Hexagram (i.e. like the Hexagram #45 Congregation in the map).

I will then get the following mind-map with some highlighted to make it clearer:

2. Go through Each Branch of Map and Write down the thoughts triggered and the action that you will take to improve teamwork.
The thoughts and actions will be very specific to your organization, and hence I give no answers here.

3. Grouping 
I will then group the thoughts and actions into clusters. It will get rid of duplicates and put the related ideas together. I will end up with a shorter list of things to do.

4. Prioritize, Collaborate and Share.
I will then prioritize the list of actions. What are important and easiest to do will be listed first.

I may want to share my discovery with my staff to gather more feedbacks and suggestions. After this, it will be a good time to think of the 5W2H for the actions. i.e. What, Who, When, Where, How and How much. Such assignment of work can also be conducted in a group with the right persons volunteering to take over the relevant tasks.

In summary, I hope you find the wisdom of I-Ching useful. It can give you a wider and deeper view of things. It serves as a trigger to other or better ideas.

Lim Liat (c) 8 Oct 2013

“Rule for Success” – A Case Study for Multi-Brain Whole-Man Mindset

Success is the desire of everyone. Having a Multi-Brain Whole-Man(MBWM) mindset is a key for people to know how to achieve it.  So, I use this “Rule for Success” as a case study to help introduce the MBWM mindset that will hopefully help you to attain the success that you want.

Here is the mind-map that summarize the whole story:

Multi-Brain Whole-Man(MBWM) mindset

   We all know that “exercise is good”, but many are still not exercising regularly. Why? Because the fact (‘Exercise is good”) only enters our mind and not our heart.  We don’t feel it is important enough for us to do something about it. Our heart is not fully persuaded. We make excuses like “I don’t feel like it now”, “I’m too busy now”, etc and the best excuse of all, “I’ll do it tomorrow”.  So we know that any behavior change or improvement, must address at least two parts of our “Whole-Man”, namely the mind and the heart. If we have friends, the relationship part, then perhaps our friends can encourage us and even force us to join them in their exercises. So now we have our mind, heart and relationship that trigger us to get our body to go out and exercise. This is the concept of Whole-Man mindset.

   One of the key part of the Whole-Man mindset is the MIND. To help us develop our MIND, I introduce the Multi-Brain model making up of rational Left-Brain, creative and intuitive Right-Brain, the Digital-Brain of the computer, software and knowledge bases and the internet collaborative Cloud-Brain of the millions of people of the world. Left and Right Brains are well covered in the literature or in the internet Cloud, and I shall not cover anymore except to remind us that we should not be fooled into thinking that we are either a Left or a Right Brain person. We have both and should develop and use both Left and Right Brains.
   I have intentionally show the mind-map to above to show that we can use computer and software to extend our biological brains. The digital brain serves as our brain or mind extender. We must develop our extended brain —- our Digitial Brain.  For more information on how to develop our digital brain, please see Thinking Frameworks, or at least the series on mind-mapping starting with Brain Storming with Mind Mapping – Illustrated with Future of Singapore.

“Rule for Success” Small Business Ideas and Resources for Entrepreneurs is a good site for reference. So if I do a search “Rule for Success”, I will get back a list of quotes and short articles from the successful people. Here is the screen capture of the 1st page (as shown in the mindmap above):

These are the great wisdom from the crowd of successful people available in the internet Cloud Brain. It will be too much to digest, remember and to recall.

Making the Cloud Brain into Personal Digital Brain
For us to benefit from the Cloud Brain, we must do a little bit of processing and organization of knowledge. That’s where mind-mapping comes in. I did the following:

1. Copy & Paste or Retype the Key Words into the Mind-map.

2. Read the articles refered and try to make the article title more meaningful.
For example, the first article title by Evan is just “Do Less”. If we read the article, we get to know more. He is talking about doing less so that we can focus on the key thing (something that Steve Jobs also said in “Say No to a 1000 thing”). Furthermore, he said to follow our gut! His success in Blogger and Tweeter are subsets of his main thought that he felt have great potential. These keys are important. So I change the title from “Do Less” into “Do Less – Importance of Focus & Follow Your Gut”. Of coure, you are free to shorten it to whatever that help you understand and remember better. So a shorter title might be “Focus & Follow Your Gut”. But I prefer ‘Do Less’ because that is what focus means and ‘do less’ is a great reminder for us who naturally want to ‘Do More’.

I spent the time to read all the articles and rephrase the titles shown in the mind-map above.

3. Beautify the Map.
You can then color, number and format the map in whatever way you like to make it appeal and easier to understand.

4. Link it with Existing Mind-maps.
This is not the first time we look for the secrets of success. Most likely, we have read many quotes and stories of the rich, famous and successful people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Stephen Covey etc. That was what I did and have shared it in Integrated Success Principles – Adding the 5 Secrets of Richard Branson. So I put link in this mind-map to the “Integrated Success Principles”.

In fact, I have go one-step further to integrate this one into the larger “Integrated Success Principles” mind-map. When I do that, I will discover there are many duplicates and there will be some new thoughts. This is how an existing mind-map of knowledge grows with time.

Study the Rule for Success:
I have went to the mechanics of building a mind-map for success principles. Don’t forget to read the content of the “Rule for Success” and see if you can learn something from them. All the very best to your success.

Lim Liat (c) 7 Oct 2013

See also: Map Your Way to Greater Success from the Keys of the Super-Rich.

East West Fusion Mindset as a Key and as Simple as ABC

The East and West mindset can be integrated and represented as a Key with the round base representing Eastern/Chinese circular mindset and the straight grooved pin as the Western linear and detailed mindset. The application of the fusion mindset is as simple as ABC represented using computer language statements of assignment, If-the-else and looping construct. The details of ABC can be found in my blog posts.

The East-West Key
After much study, comparisons and reflections on the Eastern/Chinese and Western(trained in high schools, university, post graduate, consultants, management books, HBRs etc etc) , I think both can be integrated into a key, represented by a physical door-key. The rounded based representing the circular, cyclical Chinese mindset, with Yin-Yang balance and harmony as objective and the pin with groves representing the linear, sequential, and detailed task oriented mindset of the West.  Here is the picture with greater details:

Fusion mindset calls neither East or West alone thinking but both, applying them in different degree, depending on the situations and the players, to achieve the right result by thanking the right action at the right time and place.  We should also be aware that the ‘right result’ is a dynamic balance of among multiple forces. The balance will and have to shift through time as situations change.

The Application of Fusion Mindset is as Simple as ABC:
Using the computer language as a means of representation, the following picture show this Fusion Wisdom can be applied:

If you have only one take away, just remember the IF statement:

IF then DO A else DO B.

All the very best to your business and career.

Lim Liat (C) 13 May 2013

Strategic Planning – How To Read a Situation with Fusion of East & West

The most important step in any strategic planning is to read or study the situation first. But before we can read, we must know what are the important factors to consider first. Presented in the mind-map is the methodology integrated from the teachings of East (Chinese) and West. You may follow it to get a better strategic plan.

Sun Zi’s Art of War is a famous Ancient Chinese Book in the west. It is much less know fact that Sun Zi’s wisdom has an earlier and higher source. It is the book of i-Ching (see I-Ching in One Minute), the Bible for Change, the foundation of all Chinese wisdom and philosophies. But such great wisdom will be of no use if we cannot put them into good use in this present world. With a view from building successful and long lasting businesses, instead of wars, here is an attempt to bring the East and West wisdom into strategic planning for business. 
Only a very little part of the Ancient Chinese Wisdom is cited here due to limited space of a blog post. But I hope it serves the purpose of helping you to do a better strategic plan.  More practical Chinese wisdom can be found at Ancient Chinese Wisdom.

Lim Liat (c) 25 Apr 2013