The How NOT 2 team is big on Win/Win and Collaboration, so we were really interested to hear the story of a 15th Century Chinese mariner called Zheng He. He is not well known in the West and certainly not as read about as Sun Zu of “Art of War” fame, although both built their philosophies on Confucius’ idea of benevolence. We think knowing about him and how he operated in really collaborative ways is useful. It is in real contrast to the European colonisation preference of the period.
In the late 14th Century (100 years before Columbus) the Emperor summoned Zheng He and gave him a mission to sail to other countries and spread goodwill and peace. The desire was that all peoples could share prosperity.
To achieve the mission Zheng He worked through 5 acts of collaboration:
1. Articulate Intent – he used the translators he brought with him to assure the rulers that despite the size of his fleet (300 ships and 30,000 men), he came in peace and wanted to work towards joint prosperity
2. Practice Generosity – he would give gifts (better than any he received) and send out royal doctors to help the people
3. Build Win Win – he worked on ventures that would ensure both countries benefitted
4. Ensure Sustainability – he removed barriers: for example he would capture pirates and prevent them from attacking his new allies
5. And finally, Build Ongoing Trust….over many years.
How does this link to the How NOT 2 concept? Working collaboratively is a really good way of ensuring you know How NOT 2 fail.
We haven’t produced a video yet, on How NOT 2 Collaborate, but if we did it would include the following 5 gaffes:
· Win at all costs and make sure no one else does: who cares about them? (Keep your intentions close to your chest, don’t give your game away, trust no one)
· Treat employees and suppliers badly: what do they matter? (Only give what you are likely to receive, or less if you can get away with it, don’t be soft, it’s all about the margin)
· Never listen to other people: they don’t have anything useful to say. (Play to win, beat the opposition as they would want to beat you)
· Don’t trust others. (Get in and get out, relationships are messy and high maintenance)
· Take all the glory, regardless of who deserves it. (Be opportunistic, every new conversation is a chance to make money but don’t hang around, those doors can close quickly)
The full story of this incredible mariner is in Professor Hum Sin Hoon’s book. “Zheng He – The Art of Collaboration”.