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

Leading in Uncertain Times – Learning from Ps Andy Stanley

The building blocks for building a successful enterprise and the principles for leading an organization in uncertain times are essentially the same according to Andy Stanley. We just need to do more for clarity, flexibility and transparency. This reinforces the methodology for building successful enterprises.

I have been listening to Andy Stanley’s Podcast for many years. Recently, he has one titled “Leading in Uncertain Times” which is one of the subject that should interests everyone in times of uncertainty best coined as VUCAD, Volatility, Uncertainty, Complex, Ambiguous and Deception. I have written on this topic in Wisdom for Success in a 21st Century VUCA World and shall be giving such a talk at the ITMA Singapore AGM Dinner on 19 March 2013.

I had previously wrote about Andy’ earlier podcast on “Better before Bigger” on Learning CPM from Andy Stanley the Pastor. I think it would be very useful to combine the two podcast together and present them in a mind-map shown below:

The top yellow branch shows us how to grow a enterprise or a church. The lower blue branch shows us the three principles of how to lead in uncertain times. The interesting part is that the 3 principles of clarity, flexibility and transparency match exactly the 3 building blocks for a  growing an enterprise. The way to build successful organization is reinforced by the principles to run enterprise in uncertain times! We just need to hold on to them more and communicate them more often in the present uncertainty.Lim Liat (c) 6 March 2013

Strength alone has no meaning – Reorder Your SWOT Analysis

All strengths are dependent on the situation. They should be determined externally by the situation unless you specific choose the situation wherein your strength is relevant. Going further, we should do our SWOT in the order of TOWS! BTW, No idea is useless. You just need to find the situation and the job or person that needs it. Finding the jobs that make use of your idea is also innovation. Innovation is not just the invention of things or even services. Giving new meaning and hence new uses for existing products are also innovation. 

When sending my daughter to work this morning, I encountered the following situation as shown in the photo below:

 

What can you see or learn in above photo?

 That’s is the very sexy looking Ferrari? I wish I can afford one?

 Ferrari is better to be in red than white?

 It is a traffic jam.

 That’s is the 1st level kind of thinking.

For deeper thoughts ….

In a traffic jam or at a red traffic light, the Ferrari is as fast my Honda.

Any strength is situation dependent. 

 All the horse powers in the Ferrari cannot be used in a traffic jam.

Strengths or weaknesses should be viewed externally, from the opportunities and threats that are present in the situation.

So we must :

 a. choose the theater of operations where our strengths can be used or

 b. get the strengths that we need when we are forced into a situation.

Doing SWOT in TOWS Order

This lesson is the key to the SWOT analysis that we do often in strategic planning. We tend to do it inwardly first, from what we think as our strengths and weaknesses and look outward for the opportunities and threats. Hence, we see what we like to see and miss out the greater opportunities (threats are opportunities too. So I purposefully not mention it here) that lie in our blind spots. Furthermore, strengths should be measured not by us but our customers and the market relative to our competitors.

 We should invert the way we do SWOT. We should look at the OT and then derive the S!W. Or even we should do it T O W S! Look the external threats, find the opportunities, discover the weaknesses and find the strengths to come out with a set of action plans (the strategies) to convert threats to opportunities, weaknesses to strengths, so as to ride on the strengths to capture the opportunities. The good news of external opportunities and threats are that all your competitors are facing them also. There open the great opportunities for you to better them!

No idea is useless. 

Extending even further, there is no such thing as a useless idea.

You just need to find the situation and the job or person that need it.

Finding the jobs that make use of your idea is also innovation.

Innovation is just the invention of things or even services.

Giving new meaning and hence new uses for existing products are also innovation.

 

Hope this post give you lots of ideas to improve your business and life.

Lim Liat (C) 3 Dec 2012

Wisdom for Success in a 21st Century VUCA World

21st Century World is characterized by VUCA of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity plus Deception (VUCAD). Successful living calls for a new mindset. The world-view of the factors, causes and proposed solutions are shown in a Visual Model. But surprisingly the wisdom that you need is not new but originated 5000 year-ago in a book called i-Ching, meaning, the Bible for Change. Applying the wisdom will lead to you the objective of harmony and abundance making up of diversities of people, races, cultures, living things in nature and in the universe.

Alvin Toffler, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”.

So what do we need to unlearn and relearn?

The Generations of Our Mindset
1. The Deterministic World of Clarity and Confidence
The mindset of the 19th century industry age is deterministic cause-effect, which is still the mindset of many people today, even those in the government, the engineering and the scientific mindset… symptoms of the one best answer, cockiness, which we now call them presumptuous.
2. The Probabilistic World and Control Limits – Not so sure but predictable within limits
The mindset of the 20th century, thanks to quantum and statistical theories, is a probabilistic world with predictability. We understand variation, standard deviation, and we only jump when things are outside the control limits. E W Deming’s A system of profound knowledge is a must read. It covers four areas of  an appreciation of systems, understanding of variation, theory of knowledge, and psychology.
3. The VUCA World – What shall we do in this seemingly mess?
The mindset of the 21st century, the hot term in this week seminars, is VUCA which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. VUCA comes from the US Military awhile back but is new to the management gurus. Some military literature have it as VUCAD, with D standing of delay in the feedback of information from the confusing raw data. But I would like to change the D to represent Deception. In the VUCA world, delay is implied. However, in this modern world of spam, hoaxes, outright sabotaging, it is important to recognize intentional Deception and be not deceived.
The key is how do we live successfully in this VUCA world?
Do a google on VUCA and see the articles on how to, especially on leadership.
The are books that address this issue such as Strategic Speed: Mobilize People…Leaders Make the Future: Ten New… etc.
The Big Surprise
But the BIGGGGG SURPRISEEEEEEEEEEE, the leadership advices from the above articles and books are only a subset of the wisdom of I-CHING, the “Bible for Change”. The unchanging principles of i-Ching is a good guide for us to live in this VUCA world. To read more about i-Ching, see http://mind-value.blogspot.sg/2012/05/making-i-ching-come-alive.html.
The VUCAD World Visual Model:
Hope you like it and please share your advice with us.
Lim Liat (C) 22 Sep 2012