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The Principle

Sun Tzu, in the "Art of War", a 5000 years old Chinese literary classic, defines the situation.

"Conquerors estimate before the war begins. They consider everything. The defeated also estimates before the war, but they do not consider everything. Estimating completely creates victory. Estimating incompletely causes failures. When we look at it from this point of view, it is obvious who will win the war."

"The elements of strategy are first, measuring; second, estimating; third, calculating; fourth, comparing; and fifth, victory."

The Situation

Keep in mind; management is just another form of conflict control.
You are under difficult conditions, often with not the best set of workers, but a full stack of Murphy's laws against your effort to organize and time all activities.

The Organization

Three characteristics of a successful organization.

It exists to serve a defined purpose.
The term of its existence corresponds to the time required to accomplish its purpose. It is designed for that specific purpose only.

It is information-centered.
Organizations seek and use data as a basis for action. They avoid unwarranted opinion and conjecture, choosing to deal with uncertainty by estimating reasonable probabilities. They increase organizational effectiveness by increasing the speed and improving the quality of information used by the people in the organization.

It is completely flexible and totally adaptable.
It responds quickly and effectively to changes in the environment that affect its ability to serve the defined purpose. Organizations structure themselves according to the requirements imposed by their objectives and the shape of their environment.
Continuous change and continuous improvement are at the heart of an organization.

The Leadership

Ten principles of a successful leader

Learn, learn and learn.
We cannot learn too much about how to compete, but we should avoid competition for its own, or our own sake.

Develop leadership.
The leadership alone determines success.

An effective leadership comes from seven characteristics:
1/. Self-discipline. A leader does not need external motivation to ensure performance. He lives by a set of rules that he determines are appropriate and acceptable.
2/. Purpose. A leader works to achieve objectives that are important to his constituents and does not constrain his goals with the narrow focus of self-interest.
3/. Accomplishment. A leader defines results in term of meeting the needs of his constituents.
4/. Responsibility. A leader takes ownership of the outcomes of his decisions and actions.
5/. Knowledge. A leader constantly strives to improve his understanding and ability.
6/. Leadership. A leader works cooperatively with his constituents to reach agreed-upon objectives.
7/. Example. A leader shows the way and set example by his own actions. Planning is important, but actions are the source of success. Advantage arises from creating favorable opportunities and then acting on them at the appropriate time. We put ourselves in a strategic position, but others must create the opportunity to win. We must be willing to use time. Move when it is profitable and stop when it is not.

Five leadership flaws:
1/. Recklessness. When a leader is reckless, he can be manipulated to waste his resources.
2/. Timidity. If a leader is timid, his resources can be usurped.
3/. Emotionalism. If a leader is emotional, he can be forced to make rash decisions.
4/. Egoism. If a leader is self-important, he can be deceived by flattery.
5/. Over concern for popularity. Such a leader will hesitate before making an unpopular decision at a critical moment.

Do it right.
Winners do the right things at the right moment. They plan, train and are ready when an opportunity, that they created, arrives. Create an opportunity and be ready to exploit it.

Know the facts.
To achieve success, we must manage information. We gather information to make good decisions and we give out the information to misdirect the competition. The best information comes from a first-hand experience. We must view intelligence operations as critical and invest the resources needed to make them pay off. Avoid "folk wisdom", reliable facts always precede successful actions.

Expect the worst in order to succeed.
Even with superior strategy, we will be defeated if we lack resources, therefore, adequate material and organizational preparation is necessary before the activity starts. Do not assume an easy victory assume the competition will attack. We must rely on adequate preparation to defeat it. Successful strategies avoid difficult methods and seek easy ones.

Seize the opportunity.
The most important success factor in competition is speed and timing. To win, do things the simple way whenever possible. Simple methods are effective and inexpensive try them first. Staying one step ahead is worth more than any other advantage. When we are ahead the competition must react. Do a lot of simple things very well and you will taste victory. A complexity just breeds more overhead.

Unite peoples.
When people are united in their vision and purpose, no obstacle can hold them back. When people know they can fail if they do not work together, they will be unified in their purpose and will maintain their commitment to a set of goals and objectives. Motivation and commitment are the keys to leadership. The people are motivated by the expectation of profit. When we face obstacles and challenges, we need to focus the attention of our constituents on the benefits of success. To capture their attention, give them clearly defined goals and valuable rewards. Treat people well. Train them thoroughly. The success of an organization is build upon the individual success of its members.

Do it better.
There are only two types of tactics: expected and unexpected. Only unexpected, or innovative tactics create the opportunity for victory. Effective innovation is not necessarily complicated or difficult. This goes back to the idea of doing simple things well; make simple improvements often. A large number of simple improvements can and will make a significant difference in performance. Those who are skilful at encouraging and implementing innovation have infinite resources in a competition.

Pull together.
Organization, training and communication are the foundation of a successful operation. If we organize and train our members clearly, we will be able to control their actions in competition. If organization and training are vague, people cannot be relied on. They will fail us at the most critical moment. Training is the essential element in getting people to pull together. Training should be combined with an appropriate organization and a reward system that motivate them. Training must be interesting in order to be effective. Good training leads to common understanding and perceptions. A common vision is essential for clear communication. Further, effective training builds loyalty to the organization leader and to other members.

The best competitive strategies have no form.
What does it matter if a competitor has greater resources? If we control the situation, he cannot use them. The less a competition knows about where we intend to focus attention, the stronger we are!


When the time has come to meet the competition, move around obstacles and difficulties, rather than through them. Gather together the most knowledgeable people, organize them appropriately, train them effectively, and equip them well. Do not tackle difficult problems with inadequate resources.

If you must reorganize your group, move toward a stable organization. Stick with acceptable, easily understood methods and procedures. Maintain stable organization patterns. Keep administration simple and clear. Do things the easy, well-understood way. People work better with methods, procedures, and equipment they understand. They are more comfortable if they know what is going on. (the common vision) They dislike being in the dark. People who are comfortable and stable have healthier emotions and sharper minds.

When you face challenges, focus on the benefits of success. Create motivation through enthusiasm.

When managing people, if you criticize an individual before he feels loyalty to you, he will not obey your orders in the future. Further, after a person feels loyalty, if discipline is not enforced, he will not follow orders either. Without obedience, it is hard to use people effectively. Therefore, if you direct your employees through an appropriate organization structure and maintain control through appropriate discipline, your people will be competent.

If you train and organize your employees with clear expectations, they can be relied on in any situation. If you train and organize your group with vague expectations, they cannot be relied on. When expectations are clear and organization structure is appropriate for the task, people will trust their leader(s).

Failure can spring from six different conditions. These conditions are not created by fate, but are caused by management mistakes.

  • Lack of resources.
    Poor leadership and planning.
  • Lack of direction.
    Employees are strong-willed but their managers are weak.
  • Lack of performance.
    Managers are strong-willed but the employees are poorly trained or de motivated.
  • Lack of discipline.
    Employees lost faith in an unjust management. Favoritism is practiced. Lack of order.
  • Lack of personal authority.
    Poor motivation, tasks are unclear and organization structure is vague.
  • Lack of competence.
    When management cannot develop effective operating plans, misunderstands competitor's actions, or when it underestimates the resources needed to complete tasks, the cause of failure is lack of competence.

    Every executive, or manager, needs to investigate these conditions carefully.

    Lead the people by actions not by the words.

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    Seismic Survey 

    Rafal Swiecki, geological engineer email contact

    This document is in the public domain.

    March, 2011