From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Emperor's Teacher (3) Talking Points-c

For the introduction to The Emperor's Teacher, click here (coming soon).
[a] Clouds RF
I am devoting 2012 to one of the projects closest to my heart/mind (心). It is called The Emperor's Teacher, and deals with lessons that need to be understood by managers all over the world. "Managers?," I hear you ask? But I am a parent, a teacher, an employee, and, at home, a busy cook, bookkeeper, and sometime voter. I'm not a manager.                            Yes, you are. 
[b] Allied RF
We are all managers, and we would do well to learn abiding lessons of how to make managing work. Some people in our midst (and in human history) have spent inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out how we might manage ourselves (since if you can't get your self right, you'll have a hard time with anything bigger...right?), our families (since a family is a whole bunch of interrelated selves in social communion), and the whole enchilada...all under heaven (天下). The latter term was used traditionally in China to refer to running the empire, but it had both moral and governmental innuendo that we would do well to consider in our own lives today. All three ideas (oneself, one's family, and all under heaven) are versatile enough to be read in secular or sacred terms, and, indeed, early Chinese cosmology had a plethora of ways of interpreting such matters. Interpret away. The concepts are big enough for all of us, as even Dong Zhongshu might have agreed.

My book, The Emperor's Teacher, introduces the greatest management book of all time (Sima Guang's Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Ruling), and then explains its key teachings to readers in the twenty-first century. This is challenging stuff for readers today (in East Asia and the West, I might add), just as it was ten centuries ago. No book is deeper or richer with lessons you need to learn to manage your career, your family, your football team... 
...or the corporation you lead. We all need it. My book takes you through the lessons found in a thousand year-old text. The "Talking Points" that follow in the next few posts will give a sense of the book as a whole. Close readers of Round and Square will know that I have already posted all of chapters one and two, and the first parts of chapters three on this blog (look for them below). I will post the entire "blog draft" on Round and Square in 2012.
Front Matter:
Talking Points-a          Talking Points-b          Talking Points-c          Talking Points-d          Talking Points-e  
Table of Contents-a                                        Table of Contents-b                                        Table of Contents-c

The Emperor’s Teacher 
Life Lessons from Chinese History 
“Talking Points"—C 

2008 Olympics 
Half the world watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony in August 2008. For three hours, a dynamic civilization danced across the stage of Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium. The celebration of music, dance, artwork, and ritual was more than the imagination of a skilled director. It was the product of a five thousand year old organizational culture.  The displays of Chinese history and culture unfurled before the world just a year ago were founded in China’s managerial empire, and Americans have only begun to understand it. 

A Rich Organizational Culture 
[c] Organization RF
[d] Livin' RF
Half the world watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony, but only a few people could “see” the connection to the management of a complex imperial organization that would only be rivaled in very recent times.  Most American business readers have paged through the Art of War, and many have gained some strategic insight for complex business situations. Almost no one, however, has had the opportunity to take the next step beyond the Art of War, since no one has ever written about historical management texts that created China’s greatest dynasties.  It is these texts—not the Art of War—that China’s leaders used to build the empires that would create the displays we saw depicted at the Olympics.  American business readers have only tasted the frosting of China’s management teachings. 

The Comprehensive Mirror—Sima Guang (1019-1086) No management work in Chinese history is as influential as the Comprehensive Mirror, and few authors are as well known. The Mirror’s author has a story surrounding him that is as famous in China as that of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree. Little Sima Guang, at the age of seven, was studying while other children played in a courtyard. Suddenly, he heard the cries of a child who was fighting for his life—drowning in a rain-filled urn while playing hide-and-seek. The other children fled. The little bookworm put down his book, picked up a rock, and broke the vessel—saving the child.  The little boy put down his book and picked up a rock. He put his learning into practice, and would spend his life doing just that. 

Learning and Living (and Learning 
Even as a young lifesaver, the boy who would eventually grow up to write the most important management text in Chinese history would move from text to action.  Living and learning were (and are) the heart of the matter, and his text shows precisely how managers in China and the West might deal with complex situations that present themselves when we are least prepared (not unlike a drowning playmate in a courtyard urn).  The Comprehensive Mirror shows hundreds of examples of precisely how the able manager might move from advice to action in a complicated world. 

The Comprehensive Mirror—Chairman Mao (c. 1935) 
Almost nine hundred years after little Sima Guang saved the child, Mao Zedong would study Sima’s Comprehensive Mirror while riding on a donkey during the Long March of the Chinese Communist forces. He learned valuable lessons in management from a book that the very finest rulers in Chinese history studied. He recognized what his predecessors had understood—case studies from history were the key to action in the present. He put this information to good use in the decade before the People’s Republic of China was established. 

Front Matter:
Talking Points-a          Talking Points-b          Talking Points-c          Talking Points-d          Talking Points-e  
Table of Contents-a                                        Table of Contents-b                                        Table of Contents-c

[e] Comprehensive RF
Tomorrow, we'll continue with our talking points by moving from today's overview to the lessons that will be found in The Emperor's Teacher.

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