Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a balanced approach

balanced approach

Confucius said: “If you can’t find people who take a balanced approach to associate with, you’ll have to settle for the wild or the fastidious. The wild dare to do anything to achieve their goals, while the fastidious won’t get their hands dirty.”
子曰:「不得中行而與之,必也狂狷乎?狂者進取,狷者有所不為也。」

How balanced is your team, not just in terms of skills and knowledge but also abilities and personalities? While you certainly need a number of go-getting risk-takers to push the team forward in developing new products and opening up new markets, you also need more fastidious types to make sure that no sloppiness occurs as you ramp up your R&D, production, and sales efforts.. At the same time of course, you need people who take a balanced approach to bring the two extremes together. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a balanced approach

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a true scholar-official

scholar-official

Zigong asked: “What qualities must you possess to be called a true scholar-official?” Confucius said: “A person who maintains a sense of humility and can be sent on a mission to the four corners of the earth without bringing disgrace to their ruler can be called a true scholar-official.” “May I ask what type of person ranks one step below that?” “A person who is praised by their relatives for their filial devotion and who is known by the people of their neighborhood for being respectful towards their elders.” “May I ask what type of person ranks one step below that?” “A person whose word can be trusted and who completes whatever task they undertake. In their stubborn determination, they may resemble a petty person, but they could still probably qualify as a scholar-official of a lower rank.” “How would you rate the people currently involved in public affairs?” “Sadly, these are people you measure by a bucket or scoop. They’re not even worth mentioning.”
子貢問曰:「何如斯可謂之士矣?」子曰:「行己有恥,使於四方,不辱君命,可謂士矣。」曰:「敢問其次?」曰:「宗族稱孝焉,鄉黨稱弟焉。」曰:「敢問其次?」曰:「言必信,行必果;硜硜然,小人哉!抑亦可以為次矣。」曰:「今之從政者何如?」子曰:「噫!斗筲之人,何足算也!」

How many hard-working and trustworthy people of a “lower rank” do you have in your organization with the potential to take on a leadership role? What steps are you taking to provide them with the experience and training they need to show what they’re really made of? As technologies like AI proliferate, you are going to need far more people who can act like a “true scholar-official” than ever before. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a true scholar-official

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a good life

a good life

Fan Chi asked about goodness. Confucius said: “Be considerate in your private life, diligent in your public affairs, and loyal in your relationships with others. Even when you’re among the Yi and Di tribes, don’t deviate from these principles.”
樊遲問仁。子曰:「居處恭,執事敬,與人忠,雖之夷狄,不可棄也。」

There are no big secrets to leading a good life. If you treat people kindly, work hard, and build close relationships with others, you will have a great time no matter where you are and who you happen to be with. As much as some would like to accentuate our differences, the core values all of us live by are very much the same. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a good life

Notes from the field: magic lanterns and Edge AI devices

Edge AI devices

One way of thinking about an Edge AI device is as a magic lantern that lights up whenever it is triggered by a specific event. When an AI video security system identifies an intruder entering the building, for example, it could potentially set off lights flashing, alarm bells ringing, and urgent messages flying to make sure that the individual is apprehended before he does any serious damage.

The same principle applies to Edge AI devices for industrial, transportation, and other vertical applications. No matter whether it’s a defective product on a manufacturing line or an errant driver surreptitiously checking his smartphone for the latest sports news, the magic lantern will shine a bright light on it and issue a call for action. Continue reading Notes from the field: magic lanterns and Edge AI devices

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: what are your blind spots?

blind spots

The Lord of She declared to Confucius: “Among my people, there’s man we call ‘Upright Gong.’ When his father stole a sheep, he informed on him.” Confucius said: “Among my people, the ones we consider to be ‘upright’ are different. Fathers watch the backs of their sons and sons watch the backs of their fathers. ‘Uprightness’ can be found in this.”
葉公語孔子曰:「吾黨有直躬者,其父攘羊而子證之。」孔子曰:「吾黨之直者異於是,父為子隱,子為父隱,直在其中矣。」

We all have our blind spots: people and ideas that we elevate so highly that we lose all sense of reality when evaluating them. Even Confucius had his with (possibly) Yan Hui and (definitely) with filial devotion. What are your blind spots? Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: what are your blind spots?

Notes from the field: emerging Edge AI market trends

2021 Edge AI market

The term Edge AI has slipped seamlessly into the high-tech marketing lexicon over the past couple of years thanks to the convergence of a number of trends. The most notable ones are the integration of cameras into just about every new electronics device and the development of increasingly sophisticated algorithms that give these devices the intelligence to recognize a person or object and issue a call to action whenever they are triggered by a particular image or type of behavior. Continue reading Notes from the field: emerging Edge AI market trends

Notes from the field: new technology trends in 2021

new technology trends in 2021

I’ve been asked by one of our PR agencies to prepare a series of articles for their national media about the new technology trends in 2021. This is generally a task I plan to work on every year but somehow never seem to get around to. Perhaps this year will be different. After all it has already been different in so many other ways thanks to Covid-19.

Ironically, I don’t actually see any major new technology trends emerging in 2021. The key metric to watch will, rather, be the speed with which the now-familiar digital transformation drivers such as Machine Learning, AI, IoT, and Cloud are being adopted. While there has definitely been a great acceleration in remote working this year, for example, we are already seeing growing resistance to the idea that it is some sort of panacea. Continue reading Notes from the field: new technology trends in 2021

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: don’t try to rush things

don't try to rush things

When Zixia was governor of Jufu he asked about governance. Confucius said: “Don’t try to rush things. Ignore matters of minor advantage. If you try to rush things, you won’t achieve success. If you pursue matters of minor advantage, you won’t succeed in major affairs.”
子夏為莒父宰問政。子曰:「無欲速,無見小利。欲速則不達,見小利則大事不成。」

Don’t try to rush things. That’s not just the easiest way to make silly mistakes. It also increases the risk that you’ll miss what’s really important. Take some time to analyze the situation and talk to everyone involved. Look behind the numbers and reams of emails and reports to find out what’s really going on. By rushing in to show you’re in charge, you’ll more likely make things worse than better. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: don’t try to rush things

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: beating down the doors

beating down the doors

The Lord of She asked about governance. Confucius said: “If you make the people near to you happy, others will come to you from afar.”
葉公問政。子曰:「近者說,遠者來。」

If you make your organization an attractive place to work for, you won’t have to pursue aggressive recruitment strategies to attract the right people. They’ll be beating down the doors to join you. Strict enforcement of petty regulations to impose greater discipline will just as easily drive them away again by causing resentment and resistance. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: beating down the doors