About

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.” 

– Henry David Thoreau in Walden, or Life in the Woods 

Bamboos bend, not break, even in the most terrifying storm or devastating earthquake that would snapped the mighty resisting oak tree. It survives, therefore it conquers.

Disruptive storms and punctuated black-swan crises have become a permanent fixture not only in today’s marketplace but also in my decade-plus journey as a value investor and fund manager/analyst in the Asian capital markets where I have  traveled across Asia interacting with entrepreneurs and top management in different industries, gaining interesting insights on the (elusive and painful) process of value creation.

How nice it would be if one can seek sanctuary in a raging storm in the tiny hut by the small Massachusetts pond that reflected the careful mind and sometimes sassy Yankee spirit of Henry David Thoreau. The work Walden, written in the humble cabin by the Walden Pond, is part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, satire, and manual for self-reliance. Henry’s hut is perhaps the most mindfully constructed and recorded event of American architecture. The humility of its scale makes it a feasible norm for everyone and reminds us that the greatness of a person or country is not measured by meters but by motive, not by capacity to dominate but by capacity to meet. Such a hut in Asian culture would be a bamboo grove; the Buddha chose a bamboo grove as one of his most constant homes after his enlightenment.

How wonderful it would be if countries, companies and individuals can stay self-reliant and resilient amidst the disruptive upheavals and unorthodox challenges – like the bamboo. The search for these companies with bamboo-like resilient qualities would be the Holy Grail in investing. Yet, resilience is rare in companies, even among successful ones. Studies rife with survivorship-bias abound in examining – and extrapolating – the multiple factors behind the “long-term” performance of firms. Just as character is ultimately tested in periods of crisis and in the inevitable traumatic knocks of life, past contributing success factors may prove fragile and fleeting especially in disruptive upheavals and previously successful firms are unable to bounce back to scale greater heights. Instead, they remain in a state of protracted consolidation or even decline, whereby the very optimization that made it so successful is now maladaptive, confounding conventional rigorous analysis. There is much more to resilience than simplistic oak-like strength, which is achieved typically by efficiency in the hardening of assets of a system.

This site is about the study of resiliency, exemplified by the Bamboo Innovatorswho outperform in the face of dramatically changed circumstances. The key objectives are three-fold: one is to propagate the core ideas in my findings accumulated over the years as a value investor in companies to enable them to be productive innovators in order to surpass stall points in tumultuous periods, particularly among SMEs aspiring to scale up to be regional or global champions; the other is to use this powerful lens to view the value creation process afresh and make predictions to continually find emerging evergreen Bamboo Innovators; the third is to adapt the timeless principles in us all to become a more emotionally engaged innovator-leader, Bamboo-style.

R.E.S.-ilience framework in value creation

A checklist approach in examining “successful” companies might overlook the resilient Bamboo Innovators. After all, there are much larger impressive trees in the forest. By comparison a bamboo looks smaller, thinner, and fragile. The list of Bamboo Innovators is a surprising one; many of them are not the typical ones that one would come across. While the details are always different, I find that certain features of the Bamboo Innovators are remarkably similar to those that resulted in the astonishing vitality in bamboo: the R.E.S.-ilience factors in value creation.

  • R stands for “Rootedness” in cultivating a culture of kindness, trust and cooperation to contend with and heal creative dissent and incentivize innovative experimentations.
  • E for “Emptiness” like the empty hollow center of a bamboo in having (1) “indestructible intangibles” which in turn derives its strength from either a certain know-how or trust and support in the community; (2) a “core-periphery” network; and (3) an “open-innovation” business model in which both internal and external partners co-develop new products and creations.
  • S for “Sheath” in leadership to create the context, adaptive-govern, coordinate, synthesize and weave diverse networks and groups who might otherwise be excluded into a coherent whole, rather than the typical command-and-control “positional/title-based” leadership .

More about top Bamboo Innovators around the world in why and how they are able to create massive value can be found in this page:  https://bambooinnovator.com/category/bamboo-innovator-series.

While the specific application and context changes, the enduring R.E.S.-ilence principles in value creation at these Bamboo Innovators remain relevant and evergreen no matter how the world around us changes.

The sage Confucius was reputedly so absorbed in his investigation of bamboos that he forgot to taste meat for three months. He remarked to a friend, “People get thin without meat, but without bamboo they get vulgar”!As with all serious quests, the sought turns out to be the seeker. I hope that the ideas in Bamboo Innovators will come alive not when we “taste” them but when we feel them from inside of us and discover contextually-relevant forms for ourselves.

“Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I’ll move the world,” says Archimedes. The long lever we choose to innovate in the world is hopefully the Bamboo; the place where we stand is Emptiness – when we empty our heart of prejudices, pride and fear, we become open to the possibilities to innovate – and Emptiness is rooted in Kindness and Trust.

I hope this site will be the Bamboo Grove that belong to the Innovators in us; I belong, therefore I am.

KEE Koon Boon

24 February 2013

Singapore

bambooinnovator@gmail.com

Published Articles & Research:

Featured:

  • Mental Models: Bamboo Innovator, April 4, 2013 (BeyondProxy)
  • The Bamboo Innovator Approach to Investing in Asia, April 4, 2013 (Youtube uploaded by BeyondProxy.com)
  • Six Common Accounting Pitfalls at Asian Companies, March 20, 2013 (BeyondProxy.com)
  • Insights into Accounting Pitfalls at Asian Companies, March 21, 2013 (Greatinvestors.TV and Frequency.com)
  • Beware of “Other Receivables” Accounting at Asian Companies, March 26, 2013 (Greatinvestors.TV)

Unpublished Articles & Research:

  1. Word of the Year in Asia for 2012 and 2013: “Bloated” and “Value Circle”, On the Ground in Asia (Dec 2012)
  2. Match: How to Patch the Asian Leadership & Institutional Uncertainty Discount?, On the Ground in Asia (Oct/Nov 2012)
  3. Resilience Investing with the Batfish and Buddha: Why Things Bounce Back (Or Not), On the Ground in Asia (Sep 2012)
  4. The Great Asian Infrastructure Stimulus: Network Effect or Redcliff Battle? On the Ground in Asia (Aug 2012)
  5. Beanie Babies Vs Vendor Financing: Can the ‘Product’ (and Asia) Stand On Its Own? On the Ground in Asia (Jul 2012)
  6. “I’m Only a Paperboy”; “I Can Still Run After the Bus!” (Special Edition – Berkshire Hathaway AGM 2012 from Omaha Trip), On the Ground in Asia (May/Jun 2012)
  7. Do Asian Entrepreneurs Desire To Have ‘Black Cats’ To Become Multibagger Stocks? On the Ground in Asia (Apr 2012)
  8. Is Avoiding Pitfalls in Value Investing in Asia All About Painted Puppets and the Dalang? On the Ground in Asia (Mar 2012)
  9. Are the Chinese Back to the “Real” Economy with the Invasion of Swabia? On the Ground in Asia (Feb 2012)
  10. The ASEAN 2015 Bloom: Gathering a Life at $3,000 and the “Second-Generation GKCs”, On the Ground in Asia (Jan 2012

“From the Fund Management Jungle: Value Investing Exposed and Explored” Public Workshop Series:

  1. In Search of Compounding Stocks in Uncertain Times” on 13 July (Saturday)
  2. Detecting Frauds Ahead of the Investing Curve” on 3 August (Saturday)
  3. Tipping Point Analysis in Value Investing” on 31 August (Saturday)

Presentations, Conferences, Seminars, Workshops:

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2 Responses to About

  1. Daniel says:

    Hello Mr Kee. I have followed some of your work on beyondproxy, in particular the research work you carried out on Kewpie. I believe your bamboo investing philosophy is the framework for successful investing in Asia. I am amazed by the level of work that you put in on your research articles. The level of critical thinking applied to any piece of information is first class.

    • Hi Daniel, thank you for reading our articles on BeyondProxy and for your kind words. Our upcoming new website and subscription-based Asian monthly research product co-created with The Manual of Ideas, an established and well-regarded European independent research house and the parent of BeyondProxy, will be coming soon in the next 3 weeks around the end of this month in July. The aim is for the value investor to gain a deeper insight about Asia not through the myriad confusing and dangerous macro- and industry-based prognosis that “The Miasmic Asian Jungle Vs The Tranquil Bamboo Innovator Grove” weekly column series has highlighted all along, but through the eyes of the innovative resilient compounders. Will keep you updated on the developments!

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