Monday, 25 September 2017

Advice on Surviving Personal Crisis

Life After Darkness
How to Survive Personal Crisis

It was a cool August morning in 2001. I will never forget that inner voice telling me: “so you only lost your wife!” during a quiet meditative moment alone in the Rex Hotel room in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  It was the beginning of an international consulting assignment for the International Labor Organization (ILO), a United Nations agency, to the Government of Vietnam which would return me regularly to Vietnam and also to China, Cambodia and Hong Kong over the next 8 years. Rosie succumbed to breast cancer on May 1999 after we fought the scourge for 2 years. That hot summer day in 1999 at the end of her life triggered the darkest episode in my life.         

With son Timothy, who was only 5 years old then, we wrapped ourselves in a cocoon of grief and pain to engage life one day at a time as best as we could. The fear of losing a loved one had been the most dreadfully frightening, and the eventual loss of one was utterly painfully unbearable. With no one to talk to and none to comfort by, I took to writing poetry as a therapy.  An early poem reflected:  

“On life’s pathway we journey on alone.
When the road seems long, and temptation strong,
We remember how you press on,
Keeping the faith to finish the race.
In the evening, as the moon shines brightest,
Our strength seems almost gone.
Our souls cry out in thirst and our hearts gasp for warmth,
As Tim’s little hands reach out to grasp your embrace;
We wake up in a parched and weary place
Where memories lingered, never forgotten,
Of your love that endures forever.”

A year later in 2002 in the same Rex Hotel, I received news of my Public Service Medal Award by the President of Singapore in recognition of over a decade of voluntary community service. I wondered then who to share the news with among the many intimate friends, but found none particularly special or significant. It was shockingly my loneliest moment.  I realized then that true loneliness is when you have no one to share your desired moments with.  It was another epiphany at the same Hotel.

The journey into my dark soul through the tunnel of grief lasted nearly 3 years of psychological loneliness and emotional pain.  And as I emerged from the darkness, I was no longer the same man who did not know that he was trapped in a reality pattern which was no longer relevant or applicable to my life.

The world looks different after the darkness inside the grief tunnel. The darkness did not kill me.  Neither did it make me stronger.  It led me through into the light, again. Not the old light. Only different this time round, my learning in the darkness has stripped me of the delusions and superstitions of philosophies, man-made truths, myths, folklores and religions. Gone are the immutable sense of the surroundings, of temporal acclaims, of empty accolades, of meaningless awards, of empty crowns and superficial relationships. Victories and disappointments are revealed as imposters, and the Gods and their gods exposed to be basically immaterial and irrelevant to human existence.

I did not become stronger. In the deep abyss of grief and loneliness, I had the courage not to take my own life.  Instead, I confronted directly the pretentious darkness to take the next best way out of this life rather than ending it. Only the Truth of multiple realities in the omniverse awaits all who enter and want to survive the inevitable darkness in life. My journey into the dark of my soul yielded one valuable lesson - no one returns from the dark side of life.  

Only the Truth matters now.  It has been a while since I passed through the dark side of life.  That darkness has moved on, never to return.  Today, I engage life in full awakening to the truth of multiple realities which illuminate my understanding into all things temporal and impermanent.  This is the wonderful and profitable lesson I want to share with one and all.

The epiphany in the Rex Hotel room in August 2001 pointed me to a larger alternative reality. Only on the previous day, I had mingled and engaged with my warm hospitable Vietnamese hosts and many quickly became my friends.  I listened with empathy their long history of foreign subjugation and oppression, and marveled at their inherent resilience and strength to defeat not one, but two superpower nations within a quarter century. I was challenged to reconsider lugging around the unbearable burden of my grief baggage from Rosie’s demise.  

In that epiphany, my conscience was awakened to the daunting challenges faced by the Vietnamese in their nation-building efforts when compared with the “loss of my Rosie”, tragic no less.  My mind-eyes quickly envisioned the reality of their challenges, and my heart demanded “what are you going to do about them?”  Rosie’s gone, has been for a while now; and these people need me now.  The option choice was plainly clear – the old reality was long past and gone, and the new reality must be embraced or my life will remain stuck in the prison of an outdated reality now irrelevant, unreal and unproductive. In Vietnam that August 2001, I met the new life which was awaiting me.

The successful impact of the UN-ILO consulting work facilitated the rollout of a 3-year US$2 million ILO Project on Industrial Relations and Collective Negotiations in Viet Nam, covering 70 companies in 7 Provinces. I remained its International Consultant. The phenomenal Project impact later extended the Project by another 3 years in 2004.  In November 2002, the ILO Project became a part of the World Bank’s Comprehensive Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy (CPRGS) in Vietnam, which is a 10-year US$370 million multi-agency total initiative aimed at education, health, job creation and infrastructural development.

The awakening of new realities to meet the needs of others led to other humanitarian and community building projects in Timor Leste and Nias (near Aceh) in Indonesian, as well as disaster relief work in Pakistan.  My life after the darkness is never the same as before.  In 2012, I married the wonderfully beautiful Pingping, who enjoined the rest of the special women in my life.  

Are you Stuck in the Darkness of Life?
Get Out to The Life Awaiting You.

Why is the darkness around you? For many obvious reasons, I guess.  Mostly from a deep dissatisfaction with the status quo. You do not like your appearance; your career sucks; your boss is not sensitive or understanding; your lack of progress in relationships; have no close friends; no boyfriends or girlfriends; cannot afford that dream car or dream house or dream gadgets; cannot have what other people have; unhappy most times; unloved rest of the time; no one to love all the time; loneliness; depressed; want more of anything; want less of others; don’t like being sick or weak or medicated; having to depend on the unwilling; trapped in an unhappy marriage; stuck in an unhappy home; abused; beaten; hungry; cold; poverty; wars; diseases …. an endless list.

Your reasons for change can also be mundane and personal. You want to look better, more desirable and more beautiful. Modern marketing of personal and life-style products makes you feel too fat, or too thin, or too tall, or too short, or facial features non-symmetrical; eyebrows too natural, eyes not at same level, nose not in the middle of your face, your ears unbalanced, one foot bigger than the other, one leg longer, another arm too short, one hand bigger, mouth not aligned with face, unshapely body, breasts too high or too big or too small or too ‘different’ or not enticing enough … well, just look at Nature where beauty flourishes in diversity, differences and NOT symmetry or same-ness. Remember you were born an original, why strive to become an imitation, just because the advertisements and product magazines say you should? 

Choose your New Reality

The most difficult thing to do as you stumble within the dark of life is to let go and forget your future in this life, and to reach out for the life that is waiting for you. Imagine the many alternative life realities which you desire and want to have. Know that there is no past, present or future. The past, present and future are concurrent and constant. The future is not what will happen. The future is what is happening now. Yesterday, today and tomorrow are just markers on a time horizon which is common to everyone. If yesterday were a different day, and tomorrow yet another, is the future therefore in front or behind us?

Perceive the many potential “future” realities and select the most delightful possibility, then shift the present forward to make the ever-present your future. Leave “behind” all and every past baggage as you embrace the selected future reality pattern in the continuous present without them. Your selected preferred alternative reality should have the alluring power of influence to inspire you to act with the strength and courage to accomplish something positive, that it is worth getting out of bed for and doing it now.  You are empowered by the change you want to become. The secret in surviving a personal crisis is the conscious knowledge that reality is immanent and malleable, and to realise that you are the principal architect of your own becoming.

Change happens. It has nothing to do with time. Our grasp of the applicable reality is created by our perception and “sense” of it. The darkness of life is in reality a “dark tunnel” which has formed around us by the confluence of multivariate elements of events, people and the environment. The “grief tunnel” is an example of a “dark tunnel”.  You are not responsible for the darkness now enveloping you.  The dark patches of life are always there for everyone to stumble into for all the wrong reasons and the right timings.

When you are stuck in the darkness of life, be awaken to realise that you are entrapped in a changed reality pattern. Overcoming the unique challenges is the struggle in facing the new reality paradigms. Determine the baggage that must be let go in exchange for the risks of new relations and objects that will be created in the new desired reality. Believe you can influence events and people, in spite of seemingly powerful forces behind the counter-currents in your new journey.

The new reality is created. It is imagined by you, and materialized into reality when you are willing to work and sacrifice for it. Some people dream, others imagine while many more simply just face the realities happening to them. And as you imagine your dreams turning into realities, you will also discover the liberating lights of the new realities as they dispel the darkness to empower your escape from the dark tunnel. Inspired by Jean-Paul Sarte: "because we can imagine, we are free”; I did, and so can you rediscover life after the darkness too.  

The secret of true happiness lies in the creation of happiness in the life of others. The personal tools of flexibility and adaptability can engage the human conditions of paradox, ambiguity, chaos, absence and silence when you face the dark side of life.  Affirming yourself strengthens your self-esteem and facilitates the building of close and intimate relationships with those around you.  Self-esteem empowers you to nurture and develop in others a greater capacity for love and for you to receive their love in turn.  When you are at your best self, you will readily share without fear or limit to bring out the best in others as well.  Invariably, you will also discover and rediscover happiness at the end of the sharing of everything ours and ourselves.


Saturday, 23 September 2017

The Action Pathway of Blue Leaders

9-Actions Pathway of Blue Leadership

Blue Leaders have exceptional environmental sensitivity and consciousness. As they process the change analytics in the terrain(s) of opportunity with their physical senses as well as with their intuition, their natural move is to engage actively. They possess an acute propensity to lead. The desire to lead is a natural aspiration in Blue Leaders. They are born to lead, just as everyone is a leader of sorts at birth. Blue leadership is the emergent leadership that is better aligned and aptly conducive to this era of uncertainty and permanent turbulent change.

Blue Leaders are devoted to perfect the multiple skill-sets necessary to materialise their four characteristic Passions for Strategy, Service, People and Performance respectively and concurrently to varying degrees.  Perfection is defined by impact, and the ultimate perfection is attained through self-mastery in the Blue Leader when the Art of Blue Leadership becomes him.            

Blue Leadership self-mastery in its Tao or Way is cultivated by his mindfulness of the change characteristics in the applicable terrain(s) of opportunity perceived in the Terrain elements of Shape, Structure, Hazards, Psychometrics, Rules and Value.  Perfection is assured through the discipline of The Tao in its elements of Timelessness, Formlessness and Intelligent.

The six Terrain elements influence one another during interaction in some limited manner as they pulsate in meaningful significance in the minds of buyers and non-buyers. The individual and combined significance of the elements in the decision-making matrix of Blue Leaders would depend on their respective mastery level in the Art of Blue Leadership as demonstrated in the deployment, execution and mindfulness throughout the 9-Actions Pathway.     

The 9-Actions Pathway operates as the sense-making framework for continuous reality-learning by the Blue Leader.  The 9-Actions Pathway is visualised here:

The 9 Actions bond and fuse with each other, like an atomic molecule, into a single entity with the 4 Passions and Orientations of Blue Leadership. The major Actions of Strategy which materialise the Passion for Strategy sit front and centre to provide the unshakeable visionary purpose polestar in Blue Leadership.

The Cornerstones of Blue Strategy have Society, People, Stakeholders and Analytics as their core preeminent fascinations.  They are the nominal first steps as Blue Leaders embark on the expeditionary journey into the Terrain of Opportunity. Analytics actions are programs for factual discovery involving identifying, gathering and analysing all types of data and information that are adjudged by Blue Leaders to be material and relevant from Stakeholders (employees, vendors, customers, regulators and shareholders), People (non-buyers, service providers, stakeholders’ families, influencers and opinion makers) and Society (environment, community, associations, power groups and their enforcers, interests groups and the general public).

Blue Strategy enhances and strengthens Blue Leadership by being squarely omnipresent at the centre of the continuous learning response to Terrain changes in the unconscious mindfulness of the Blue Leader.

The cornerstones of Stakeholders, People, Society and Analytics are firmly anchored on the Pillar-like architecture of Leading, Systems, Markets and Learning. Together, the Cornerstones and Pillars establish the constitution of the Blue Actions Framework to identify and characterise Blue Leadership. Through their behaviors in the 9-Actions Pathway, Blue Leaders are identified and recognised.

Blue Leadership behaviors can be comprehended and better fathomed by their Action Trigons. The 9 Blue Action paths are organised as Action Trigons when crafted and “weaponised” for Blue Strategy. (see above Action Frames)

Each Action Trigon is the pivot on a Cornerstone in its affinity with 2 Pillars. The Strategic Purpose of Blue Leadership is driven in execution by the other 8 Action Paths which organised themselves into 4 Action Trigons each composing 3 Actions. There are 4 Action Trigons, namely Data, Transform, Impact and Feedback. The Action Trigons enjoin when the Pillars become Trigon linchpins as they interplay in interaction to assure the integration, coherence and formation of Strategy during their unison navigation through the Terrain of Opportunity. Together in action, they generate the kinetic motivational energy for the dynamism of formless Blue Leadership in the execution of strategic moves through the 9-Actions Pathway.

Action Trigons Formation

The Action Trigons are briefly described in this section. Cornerstones are underlined for easy reference only.

1) The Data Trigon [Analytics, Systems, Markets]
The Data Trigon pivots on factual discovery actions involving identifying, gathering and analysing all types of data and information from the Terrain of Opportunity to produce multiple usable multimetric analysis.  Systems are leading actions in the never-ending creation, recreation and alignment of the appropriate organisational forms, structures, systems and processes. Systems actions also design and deploy apps to leverage and maximise advantages unleashed by the Internet of Things (IoT). Markets actions aim at embodying real value into desirable products and services (research, innovations, design thinking, fabrication) and translate marketing efforts into sales revenue at affordable prices. Psychometrics in the Terrain are critical inputs to the Data Trigon through the interplay of Systems and marketing communications.       

2) The Transform Trigon [Leading, People, Systems]
The Transform Trigon pivots on the creative production of purposeful actions from people and organisations. Leading actions also involve visioning, visualising strategy and inspiring, motivating, developing, supporting, rewarding, engaging and empowering People, promote decent work as well as mobilising the critical resources (including funds, alliances, partnerships) for the necessary Systems actions to execute Strategy successfully.

3) The Impact Trigon [Society, Learning, Markets]
The formless nature of Blue Strategy involves continuous learning (formal, informal, co-operative, mentoring, coaching, neurolingistic programming) from the Society and Markets actions in the Terrain of Opportunity. The Impact Trigon pivots on the delivery of abundant physical satisfaction and greater access to the opportunities of happiness through Society actions (corporate social responsibility and balancing profits, people & planet). Unique Blue Leadership obtains impactful outcomes through empowerment of effective relationship management in Markets actions. The pivot of Impact is powered by the actions of adaptive systems and flexible structures meeting the demands of Society and Markets actions. 

4) The Feedback Trigon [Stakeholders, Leading, Learning]
Blue Leadership strategy is informed by multiple multimetric analytics from various stakeholders and other sources as harvested by the Data Trigon.  Leading actions are based on facts, knowledge, learning and grounded information. Stakeholders actions involve conversations, participation, co-investments, responsibility, partnerships and ethical behaviors. Flexible organisational structures supported by adaptive systems are thereafter designed and developed to support value-laden innovations to address emergent and new blue markets validated by factual feedback from dynamic multi-variables in the Terrain of Opportunity. The formless essence of Blue Strategy feeds on a never-ceasing diet of continuous learning empowered by immanent aspirations and expectations of various stakeholders in interaction with the environment of the Terrain of Opportunity.

Dynamism of Formless Blue Leadership

The 9-Actions Pathway provides the sensemaking frame for Blue Strategy. It materialises the Way [Tao] of Blue Leadership for the planning, formulation, execution and evaluation of Strategy. When fully installed and implemented, the Pathway has the essential 9 DNA building blocks of a living Blue Organisation led by Blue Leadership at all levels to assure sustainability for the existential survival of lasting organisations.
The playbook of Blue Strategy compiles and encapsulates the dynamism of Action Trigons. The dynamism of Action Trigons spawns numerous material combinations in the patterns of Blue Strategy. The first strategic pattern is a single Blue Strategy consisting of 9 strategic Blue Action moves of the Pathway consistent and aligned with one another. There are therefore 81 possible strategic positions at the outset of Blue Strategy as choice options for the first strategic move. 

Mathematically, there are 136,048,896 possible strategic pattern combinations of Blue Strategy for the first consideration before any specific formulation. When factored in the 6 specific elements in any Terrain of Opportunity, Blue Leaders would have 4,897,760,256 material strategic combinations available in his initial strategic choice matrix

Upon comencement of strategy, responses from other actors and players in the same Terrain of Opportunity can be expected to be immediate and swift. And the actions by Blue Leaders in response to these countermoves to their initial Blue Strategic move would generate a choice of any combination(s) from 2.39x1019 possible strategic patterns! This is just at the beginning of the strategy cycle.

Such awesome transmutation of Blue Strategy represents the absolute formlessness of Blue Leadership. The possibilities of strategic moves and the variations of respective strategic pattern are however finite and knowable, and hence can be learnt.  

Look at the game of Chess as an imperfect comparision.  In Chess, only one piece is moved at any time. In Blue Leadership, each strategic move consists of at least one move by each Action within the 4 respective Action Trigons. In practice, many initiatives or moves actually take place in each of the 9 Actions.

In a Chess game, the number of possible chess positions for the first White move is 20 (16 pawn moves and 4 knight moves).  There are 400 possible chess positions or board patterns after the pair of first White move and the first Black move in response.  And after the 2nd Black move, there are 197,742 possible games or board patterns, and after three pairs of moves, 121 million.  Some have estimated the possible number of Chess game patterns to be around 10,100,000. Of these, 10,120 Chess games are believed to be "typical”, with each game lasting about 40 moves “long” with an average of 30 choices per move.

When compared with Chess, Blue Strategy is indeed more complex and complicated. Blue Leaders can therefore play Chess as a form of mental practice for formless Strategy even though the Chessboard is clearly not an authentic depiction of an actual Terrain of Opportunity.

The simplicity and elegance of Blue Strategy lies in its basic structure grounded in the 9-Actions Pathway hinged at the hub of Strategic Purpose千方百计不离其宗.  The Passions of Blue Leaders facilitate insightful visions and The Tao’s disciplined mindfulness of Timelessness, Formlessness and Intelligent guarantee the instinctive execution of Blue Strategy to great effect for truly outstanding exceptional impact.      

Next – Strategy Formulation in Blue Leadership

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Monday, 18 September 2017

The Tao Energy of Blue Leaders

The Tao of Blue Leaders

Blue leadership is the emergent leadership that is better aligned and aptly conducive to this era of uncertainty and permanent turbulent change. Blue Leaders exist to various degrees before I began to write about them. Their eventual discovery is the result of a personal journey which spans nearly 40 years beginning from a student leader through university studies, management practice and intensive PhD research, and as a University Professor who concurrently engages in consulting, networking as well as leading business enterprises as an entrepreneur.

The literature and research on leadership has spawn thousands of books and articles, with numerous prescriptions explaining inadequate and uninspired leadership, whilst offering alternative deficient models for leadership effectiveness.

The discovery of Blue Leaders emerged from the mountain of literature on leadership, strategy, human capital management, social responsibility and business excellence.  Sightings of Blue Leaders since are seen regularly in the news, during numerous consulting assignments, in clients and people met during networking meetings resulting from knowing the evidence indicative of Blue Leaders.  The inevitable conclusion is that Blue leaders are ubiquitous. You just need to know what to look for to identify them.

This series of Articles hopes to awaken one and all to the Blue Leaders who walk among us. They however do not yet recognize themselves as Blue Leaders.  It is time to make conscious their unconscious, and awake the Blue Leadership revolution for the sake of this epoch.

Blue Leadership is nurtured and cultivated by perfecting the skills necessary to materialize its 4 driving passions of Strategy, Service, People and Performance through conscious, deliberate and continuous experiential learning towards the attainment of self-mastery.  Blue Leaders are not genetically born since everyone is already a leader of sorts at birth. The leadership journey of Blue Leaders is one of learning rather than training and education.  The essential skills of Blue Leadership is learnt rather than taught.        

The Tao represents the flowing life energy in the Blue Leader.  To the extent Blue Leadership blends, integrates and harmonizes the knowledge domains of its Passions, the first step to achieve self-mastery of the Art of Blue Leaders begins from understanding and invoking the Tao of The Blue Leader in you.

 The Tao of Blue Leaders is Timeless, Formless and Intelligent. Together, they describe its existential philosophy, values, beliefs, attitudes and practices devoted to the main purpose of leading people and society to greater physical satisfaction and better access to the opportunities of happiness. The Tao does not try to rationalize or resolve the inherent conflicts and contradictions found in life.  It instead generates workable solutions to engage whatever human and social conditions one encounters along life’s journey through the inevitable Terrain of Opportunity. The key to unlock The Tao is Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the capacity and capability to capture holistically the authentic pattern(s) of changing social realities. Self-mastery in Blue Leaders imbues in them the consciousness of action through the sense-making process.  It empowers exceptional courage for profoundly insightful reflection to inform fearless engagement and innovative decision-making. The awaken sharpened self-awareness in Blue Leaders strengthens their grasp on the relevant patterns of social reality amidst turbulent change to visualize meaningful coherence of the emergent trends operating in their terrain(s) of opportunity as they weigh the long-term impact of possible robust solutions among available decision options.         

The “Blue” in Blue Leadership is associated with commitment, loyalty, trustworthiness and dependability. It is gender neutral, is accepted as a neutral colour for diversity and exists as a constant colour for everyone irrespective of location eg. the perennial “Blue” sky. The “Blue” quality also has a calming and tranquil effect for cool-headedness in the midst of permanent turbulence and change. It personifies the intuitive and innovative Blue Leadership spirit that welcomes and embraces the impending events from the blue horizons ahead.

The absence of The Tao, or Blue Leader mindfulness, explains why many organisations failed to navigate through the permanent turbulence in their terrain(s) of opportunity. Their failure to survive is often due to the inability to escape the past or/and the inability to invent their future(s). The Tao provides the disciplined Way of Blue Leadership for effective and successful navigation through the uncertainty of permanent turbulence change.

Timelessness in The Tao
The Tao acknowledges the absence of consensus as to a definitive concept of time and space. Time exists before people invented devices and clocks to measure its apparent motion. Early mankind pretends to understand time by measuring the motion of the sun and moon across their section of the sky, which is also in motion itself!  Even distance or space is first measured by the frequency of moon sightings.  Time in fact does not move, we do and so do the sun, moon and everything else. The future is not what will happen; the future is what is happening.   

In The Tao, Time is permanent and eternal; meaning it has no beginning or ending.  Yesterday, today and tomorrow are just markers on a time horizon which is common to everyone.  If yesterday were a different day, and tomorrow yet another, is the future therefore in front or behind us?  The “passage” of time is a misnomer; it is actually a space metaphor like the “distance” of space. 

Blue Leaders do not use themselves as the static standard reference to the Time element wrongly conceived to be in motion. To Blue Leaders, the past, present and future are concurrent and non-existent, and this awakening leads them to self-awareness in their change management action.  They consciously leave “behind” all and every past baggage as they engage the future in the ever-present without them.    

Change happens. It has nothing to do with Time. Time did not cause or initiate them nor is Time a part of the solutions in change management. Change is the natural environmental characteristic in the terrain(s) of opportunity. Absence the immaterial and irrelevant Time element, change can therefore be captured in any of its permanent forms to be readily grasped and managed.  In today’s era of uncertainty, change manifests and mutates rapidly to produce the permanent turbulence encountered by Blue Leaders and other leaders alike.

Formlessness in The Tao

Each day repeats itself with different happening of events representing the myriad permutations of change. Nothing is permanent except permanent change itself. The conventional management wisdom is to race ahead of change and be ready for it.  This approach is both illogical and stupid. It is like waiting at the next or a few stations ahead in order to catch the next train, even though one knows (unconsciously, perhaps) that the train is in perpetual and increasing motion!  The only solution to catch and board a train in perpetual motion is to match its speed like the Red Queen in “Alice in Wonderland” who has to “keep running fast just to stand still”.  This is also consistent with Einstein’s postulations in his theory of relativity.    

Self-mastery in The Tao develops a profound sense of Formlessness in Blue Leaders.  Blue Leaders do not mistake motion for action, nor substitute resources for creativity.  They derive no lasting contentment with current performance since change continually re-opens and widens the gaps between expectations and performance.  Change produces wide fluctuations and unacceptable dissonance in the expectation-performance gap like a runaway yin-yang pendulum where non-action would surrender to the chaos of oblivion whilst conventional action would definitely accentuate the gap.

The Tao in Blue Leaders injects Formlessness into their Blue Strategy. The Blue Strategy playbook is different from prescribed strategies in the literature.  Blue strategies are at once and forever formless, like water over terrains.  To paraphrase Sun Tzu, the master strategist: “Just as water retains no constant shape, so Blue Strategies also have no constant forms or conditions”,

Water can be “weaponized” into countless forms as in Formless Strategies, but remains basically itself;  千方百计不离其宗 .

The playbook of Blue Strategies do not target change itself but the configuration and dynamism of capricious environmental characteristics in the terrain of opportunity. They reflected and located the genesis of change to certain elements in the terrain of opportunity. The only and most appropriate decisive response to harmful turbulent change is to reinvent its Blue Leadership continuously so as to reimagine, reconfigure and recalibrate its strategic moves without adherence or conformance to any particular management ideology, known models and hitherto successful prescriptions.    

The synthesis of timelessness and formlessness in The Tao unleashes implications, consequences and possibilities from the captured trending happening in the terrain of opportunity. Reflective and reflexive learning thereof excites and accelerates the creative energy flows in Blue Leaders to generate the necessary unusual, unfamiliar and uncommon intelligent change response.     

The Intelligent Tao

Guided by The Tao, the Blue Leader as a continuous experiential learner constantly reflects on his experience of the timeless world to construct and re-construct new patterns of social reality in harmony with his consummate passions. For the Blue Leader, what is most important about any event or phenomenon is not what has happened, but what it means. The Blue Leader is therefore interested in everything and anything in his terrain(s) of opportunity.  The Blue Leader reads, listens and feels every intelligence and applies comprehension, reasoning, judgement, intuition, anticipation to draw his own conclusions for the right creative and innovative action.

And The Tao derives actionable meaning for the Blue Leader by using his passions and their orientations to provide a consistent, authentic and harmonious sense-making worldview. The Intelligent element in The Tao empowers conscious reality-learning in Blue Leaders through “knowing what I think when I see what I say”.

As a Blue Leader awakens to the self-awareness of the timeless, formless and intelligent elements of The Tao, he opens the door to his own Blue Leading potential to grasp the holistic learning that enables him to achieve eventual self-mastery when the Art of Blue Leadership becomes him. Blue Leadership is the impact of learning, not training and education.  

Learning enhances mindfulness in the Blue Leader. It expands his self-awareness in The Tao. It infects Change upon him as he imagines the many futures made possible by the permanent turbulent mutations in the terrain of opportunity.  To the Blue Leader, the future is what is happening and not what will happen.  And the “long-term” is not something that will happen one day. The “long-term” refers to some patterns of possible futures that he plans strategically to achieve by dealing with the hazards and obstacles, among other factors, in the terrain of opportunity that block the outcomes of harmony and happiness in personal, social and community life. 

The Terrain of Opportunity provides the context for Blue Leaders.  Blue Leaders perfect the Art of Blue Leadership as they sense, navigate and execute strategic moves in anticipation and response to uncertainty and permanent turbulent change in the Terrain elements categorised as Shape, Structure, Hazards, Psychometrics, Rules and Value whose confluence embodies and defines the situational character of the Terrain.

Terrain of Opportunity

The Terrain of Opportunity is the natural province and domain of Blue Leaders. In his pursuit of business and organizational pre-eminence, his Terrain of Opportunity looks like this:

[1] Shape
Refers to the numerous product and services in the Marketplaces. Blue Leaders understand the distinctions between substitute and alternative products. Bloody market competition happens between substitutes, not alternatives. There are just too much marketing communications battles designed against both substitutes and alternatives.  Such efforts increase costs and distract as well as diffuse buyers’ attention. Another key is that competitors would know each other personally and intimately. The basic test is simple: if your presumed competitor does not know you exist, you are not his competitor, even if you had benchmarked him to be yours.

[2] Structure
Refers to the actors, players – people - and landmarks in your Terrain of Opportunity.  Landmarks are strong brands that act often as surrogates for their owners and players. People include inventors, designers, entrepreneurs, managers, executives, workers, service providers, shareholders, funders, buyers (+family and friends), non-buyers and the internet.   
[3] Hazards
Refers to the physical and psychological obstacles, barriers and inconveniences to a more fulfilling and satisfying buyer experience. Include environmental concerns. The cost of market entry is a huge factor in determining choice options for buyers but high entry costs would also spur introduction of alternative products and services.  The internet is both a facilitator and obstacle to consumption experience to the extent of its requirements of knowledge, access devices, compliance rules, registration, anonymity and privacy considerations.    

[4] Psychometrics
Refers to buyers’ preference and psycho-emotional desires derived from their use of your products, including cultural factors. Includes influencers, opinion leaders, media, researchers and lifestyle shapers. They indicate, measure and influence buyer decisions. The impact of marketing communications in their battles for positional advantages is a key consideration here.

[5] Rules
Refers to applicable laws, regulations and norms relating to the products and services. Include power brokers, politicians, regulators, enforcers, lawyers, judges, religious minders and advocates. Include corrupt practices.  They tend to be common to most if not all buyers, and are relevant and material to the extent that they affect buyers differently and between them.

[6] Value
Often conflated with price, which is merely a surrogate for perceived value.  A price level is acceptable and tolerated as long as the price lags behind the corresponding perceived value.    

An Opportunity Map can be drawn to summarise and depict the perception of the 6 Terrain elements. The elements affect each other in some limited manner in their interplay and interaction as they blend in the mind of buyers and non-buyers. The individual and combined significance of the elements to the decision-making matrix in Blue Leaders depends on their mastery maturity in the Art of Blue Leadership as they deploy and execute their decisions throughout the 9-Actions Pathway.   

Next – The 9-Actions Pathway of Blue Leadership

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