"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Monday, December 28, 2009


"The power of ideals is incalculable. We see no power in a drop of water. But let it get into a crack in the rock and be turned into ice, and it splits the rock; turned into steam, it drives the pistons of the most powerful engines. Something has happened to it which makes active and effective the power that is latent in it. So it is with ideals. Ideals are thoughts. So long as they exist merely as thoughts, the power latent in them remains ineffective, however great the enthusiasm and however strong the conviction with which the thought is held. Their power becomes effective only when they are taken up into some refined human personality."

—Albert Schweitzer

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Shortly, my wife & I will depart from our home in Jurong West for Changi International Airport to take our Singapore Airlines' morning flight to Jakarta.

We are scheduled to spend three days with our Indonesian friends, Alex K Taslim & his wife, Santi, at Taman Safari Indonesia, a wild-life conservation centre/zoological gardens/amusement park, which is located in Cibeureum village, Cisarua, South of Jakarta in the Bogor-Puncak area.

The park is considered as one of the most productive breeding centre of some species from all over the world, including rare species like Anoas, Rhinos, Giraffes, White Tigers and European, American and Asian Bears.

Covering an area of over 168 hectares, 75 km south of Jakarta, Taman Safari Indonesia allows visitors to gawk at wild animals roaming around their natural habitats within the park.

Another three days of our visit to Indonesia will be spent in the capital, Jakrta.

In order that I can have a completely relaxing time-out - on the highlands in the Puncak area, 1500m above sea level, with fresh air & cold mountain breeze - to attain the objective of recharging my batteries, so to speak, my weblog will be shut down from 17th to 22nd December 2009. It will resume upon my return.

[During the early nineties, & for two years, I was alternately stationed in Singapore & Jakarta, as General Manager in charge of project development, involving the setting up of manufacturing facilities for zinc industrial chemical derivatives in Jakarta, Medan & Surabaya. I was then working under the Premium Metals subsidiary of the Indonesian Citramas Group, led by Pak Kris Wiluan.]

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

QUESTIONS TO PONDER: 3 QUESTIONS that exist at the interplay between Selfishness & Selflessness

If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?

And if I am only for myself, then what am I?

And if not now, when?

~ Rabbi Hillel, (flourished 1st century BC – c. first quarter of the 1st century AD) Jewish sage & architect of rabbinic Judaism; remembered as a model scholar & communal leader, whose brilliance, patience, & goodness are to be emulated by all rabbis;


This is a diagram of geek culture created by illustrator Julianna Brion.


"Objections are expressions of interest," said Zig Ziglar.

If people do NOT object to your creative idea, they may NOT be engaged enough to think about your ideas. Successful innovators appreciate objections because they demonstrate that people are engaged in thinking about proposed ideas.

If you get no objections, you may not have much engagement. Successful innovators also "anticipate" potential objections and prepare responses to those objections in advance.

According to Gerald Haman, founder & president of Solutionpeople, the '10 Most Common Objections' are easy to anticipate. You've heard them before, and here is his list:

Objection #1-PRICE

“We don’t have a budget for this”
“Your competition is cheaper”

Objection #2-TIME

“The timing isn’t very good”
“Let’s discuss this later”

Objection #3-INTEREST

“I’ll get back to you if I’m interested”
“You’ll need to talk to somebody else”

Objection #4-NEED

“I don’t need it”
“My situation is different”

Objection #5-RISK

“It’s too risky”
“My reputation is on the line”

Objection #6-CHANGE

“I don’t need to change”
“The change may not be an improvement”

Objection #7-QUALITY

“It won’t work”
“The quality is poor”

Objection #8-IMAGE

“It doesn’t fit our image”
“We do things differently around here”

Objection #9-TRUST

“I need to think it over”
“I want to do some more research”

Objection #10-APPROVAL

“I want to talk to some other people”
“I need some more information”

As an exercise, Describe How You or Others Might or Should Address these Objections.

You can download a FREE "Objection Anticipation" Worksheet created by Gerald Haman that includes Zig Ziglar's quote by clicking HERE.

[Gerald Haman is also the creator of the pocket innovation tool known as 'Knowbrainer', which is the precursor to the earlier version known as 'Pocket Innovator'. During the early nineties, the 'Pocket Innovator' was sold at my retail store.]

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Can you now take the fantasy word "F A B U D E L I C I O U S" and use the different letters within it to make lots of different words?

How many can you come up with?

Here are the rules of the game:

- Only words of four or more letters to be used;
- No plurals allowed;
- Only the letters within the word can be used;
- You cannot use the same letter twice unless it is already a part of the word (i.e. the letters "I" & "U");

Try to make words using all the eleven different letters in this thirteen-letter word:














Here is a quick sample from Dilip Mukerjea:













By the way, when you are drawing a mind-map, please make each of your maps a little more...

[Excerpted from the now-out-of-print book, 'Superbrain: Train Your Brain & Unleash the Genius Within by Using Memory Building, Mind Mapping & Speed Reading', by Dilip Mukerjea. This was Dilip's debut book published in the mid-nineties;]


The following piece of beautiful thoughtware comes from Dilip Mukerjea as he thinks through a major change initiative for a client, just before he departs for India on a private trip on Monday morning:

Humans are hard-wired to resist change. We are programmed not to change. Bizarre, but true. This is because we are wired to survive, so we hang on to what has worked in the past…even when it becomes irrelevant! This is a consequence of entrenched, previously successful mental maps!

In fact, for change and transformation to happen, the fundamental process is as follows:

Stage 1: Do the right thing and do it well;

Stage 2: Discover the right thing is now the wrong thing;

Stage 3: Do the new right thing, but do it poorly at first (learning is taking place);

Stage 4: Eventually, do the right thing well;

Change starts with a history of doing the right thing and doing it very well, but then something happens: The environment shifts, and the right thing becomes the wrong thing.

Now consider this fact, using a fighter jet airplane as an example:

When approaching the speed of sound, Mach 1, powerful but usually invisible sound waves bunch tighter and tighter together, forming a massive wall of energy that tries to buffet and shake the plane right out of the sky.

Without sufficient thrust, lift, and proper aerodynamic design, disaster is inevitable as this sound barrier combines with the forces of gravity to crush the plane and bring it crashing back to earth. Lucky for the pilot of this plane, the designer possessed an in-depth understanding of these fundamentals to achieve breakthrough, letting her punch through the sound barrier as though it were a puff of smoke.

Change in institutions follows the same path.

The faster a leader tries to force change, the more shock waves of resistance compact together, forming a massive barrier to success. Instead of a sound barrier though, the leaders of these institutions confront a “brain barrier” composed of preexisting and successful mental maps. These incredibly powerful maps determine how people see the world of work, guiding their daily steps and behaviours.

Indeed, our heads are chock full of such maps! They frame our personal views of the world.

When change and transformation are needed, the challenge of remapping the mental terrain brings us to critical barriers that prevent sustainable strategic change.

What are the natural gravitational forces that suppress change and build brain barriers to breakthroughs? The answer lies in three questions that capture the essence of failed change.

And if we can understand why change fails (and it often does), we can figure out what the necessary thrust, lift, and aerodynamics are for pulling off breakthrough change.

• Why, when opportunities or threats stare people in the face, do people fail to see the need to change?

• Even when people see the need, why do they often still fail to move?

• Even when people move, why do they fail to finish – not going far or fast enough?

If we can grasp why people fail to see, move, and finish, and if we can break through these three barriers, we can deliver strategic change.

Leaders need to ensure that their people are not blinded by the light of what they already see. It is not that “an old dog can’t learn new tricks.” Rather, it is that an old dog has a devil of a time unlearning old tricks!!

When the maps in people’s heads begin to fail, the first reaction is to deny the failure, and the second reaction is to try harder by doing even more of what you know how to do best—even if it is no longer relevant, and perhaps, suicidal!

Tremendous effort and energy are required to get people to change, thus the need for visionary leadership!

Unless old mental maps are cracked or maybe even shattered, the journey to significant, and new, growth cannot happen.

The most prevalent reason for failed change is the first brain barrier — the failure to see. But even when you break though here, there is the next barrier to overcome.

With clear destinations, required resources, and valued rewards, you can break through the second, the failure-to-move barrier.

And even if one gets through the first two brain barriers, if the institution fails to focus on finishing, all the prior investment to break through the first two barriers is totally wasted. Thus the need for visionary leadership—one that can ensure commitment from everyone involved in the transformation process!

In summary, and another way to encapsulate the above points, the institutions in need of change need to follow the CBA path:

Conceive, Believe, and Achieve.

These three stages in implementing change successfully are designed to correspond with and overcome the three gravitational forces or barriers to change.

To break through the first barrier, people must conceive the old right thing as wrong and see the new right thing.

To break through the second brain barrier, people must believe in the path that will take them from doing the new right thing poorly to doing it well.

Finally, to break through the third barrier, people must achieve and know they have achieved the desired results.

Bon Voyage! Dilip.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Thanks to Google Alert, which has led me to the following action-oriented questions - to help you sustain your paradigm pliancy - from Tom Borg, president of Tom Borg Consulting Development & Training, writing in his weblog:

1. What is a business challenge you are currently facing in your business?

2. How could changing your business paradigm or your problem solving approach, help you create a profitable solution?

3. What new problem solving approach could you try?

4. Who else in your organization needs to be involved?

5. When will you begin tackling this challenge?


Further to my earlier post, I append below a random list, originally compiled by Dilip Mukerjea for a project, of famous - & supposedly smart - people, apparently predisposed with low thermostat settings at some point of their professional lives:

"Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances."
- Dr. Lee DeForest, Inventor of TV

"The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives."
- Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

"There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom."
- Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
- Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year."
- The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

"But what ... is it good for?"
- Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

"640K ought to be enough for anybody."
- Bill Gates, 1981

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
- Western Union internal memo, 1876.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"
- David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."
- Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.'"
- Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer.

"Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools."
- 1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work.

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy."
- Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."
- Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."
- Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction."
- Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon."
- Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
- Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977


"There is only one admirable form of the imagination: the imagination that is so intense that it creates a new reality, that it makes things happen."

~ Sean O'Faolain (1900-1991); Irish short story writer;

Sunday, December 13, 2009


In recent months, Dilip Mukerjea & I have unwittingly entangled ourselves with episodes of stupidity, involving seemingly intelligent professional individuals.

Interestingly, in the process, I have discovered a new term, "agnoiology", which is the study of human ignorance, & more specifically, human stupidity.

Amusingly & appropriately, Dilip likes to use the analogy of thermostat settings to describe the behavioural patterns of those foolish individuals.

According to him, when one has a low thermostat setting, his worldview is often narrow & restricted. He owns what Harvard psychologist Carol Dweck calls a "fixed mindset".

I would even venture to add that such an individual holds a truncated perspective about the world around him. He is more focused on his past failures, & is more likely to peg his challenges as "problems".

In contrast, when one has a higher thermostat setting, his perspective window is often large & wide. He owns what Carol Dweck calls a "growth mindset".

He is more focused on what's possible, & is more likely to peg his challenges as "opportunities".

As a movie buff, I am quickly reminded of a hilarious parody of the great David vs Goliath story to drive home my point:

When Goliath came against the Israelites, the soldiers all thought, "He's so huge, we can never kill him."

Pint-sized David, slingshot in hand, looked at the same giant, & grinned: "He's so huge, how can I miss?"

Nonetheless, Dilip has also concurred with me with regard to observable patterns of people who have low thermostat settings.

You can tell immediately from their functional physiology & language patterns. I will write about these in a separate post. Please stay tuned!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


In tough times, where do you start from?

If your desire to change yourself is getting stronger, more urgent, where are your tipping points?

When you want to tell people about yourself, what's the most effective thing for you to say?

Readers can go to this weblink of 'The BrainMap', an unique self-assessment profile instrument created by thinkologist Dudley Lynch since the early eighties, to help you explore your answers to the foregoing questions, among others, so that you can build a road map to tomorrow.

[Dudley Lynch is the lead author of some of the thinking skills field's most unique & groundbreaking books, including 'The Mother of All Minds: Leaping Free of an Outdated Human Nature', 'Strategy of the Dolphin®: Scoring a Win in a Chaotic World', & 'Evergreen: Playing a Continuous Comeback Business Game'.]


The following are my take-aways from an expert advisory by futurist, trends & innovation strategist Jim Carroll, whose two wonderful books have been reviewed in my weblog as well as on

1) It’s incredibly fast, with collapsing product life cycles;

2) It involves a huge adaptability gap, due to accelerating change;

3) It has a huge instantaneity, as we live in a rapid idea cycle era;

4) It hits you most when you don’t expect it - understand hype cycles;

5) It's being defined by renegades & insurgents;

6) It involves partnership with customers, suppliers, facilitators & other stakeholders;

7) It involves intensity, like playing video-games;

8) It’s bigger than you think - there's danger in the comfort zone;

9) It involves innovation intensity from everyone in the organisation;

10) It comes from experiential capital - learning, unlearning & relearning;

[Jim Carroll wrote 'What I Learned from Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin with Forward-Thinking Innovation' & 'Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast'.]


When Dilip Mukerjea is not plonking himself into thinking (about new ideas), writing, consultancy work &/or training at the Singapore Institute of Management, he often enjoys a time-out with friends & associates, as well as kids.

The following photos captured his clownery with 4-year old Princess Faye at the Hanis Cafe, located on the ground floor of the National Library Building on North Bridge Road yesterday morning.

[The National Library is Dilip's favourite haunt when he is busy thinking & writing.]

Princess Faye is the only daughter of our mutual friends, Edward & his wife, Angela. Edward is a HR consultant, while Angela is Princess Faye's first as well as full-time dedicated teacher.

Friday, December 11, 2009


I have stumbled upon the following fascinating short sci-fi story, while surfing the wild wild web. I believe that there is a valuable lesson for all of us, especially from the standpoint of innovation:

Men have always talked about building a better mousetrap, just the way they talk about a car that runs on water rather than gasoline, or nuclear fission that doesn’t have any harmful by-products. But it wasn’t until they reopened the Heisenberg Space Station out between Europa and Callisto that they realized they really needed a better mousetrap.

The first team of scientists — four men and two women — docked their ship there on 2 November 3014 ad, at exactly 7:43 p.m. H.T. (Heisenberg time). They buttressed the hatch up against the entrance to the station, sealed it, then opened both doors and stepped into the station, the first humans to do so in more than 900 years.

Exactly 43 seconds later, one of the women screamed, and the other jumped onto a chair that was bolted into the floor. Three of the men started cursing, and the fourth, a wimpy little fellow,fainted dead away.

It seemed that some of the station’s inhabitants were waiting for them. They’d been there nine long centuries, and were glad to have some company. Having just eaten the last of the huge stores of preserved food that prior crews had laid in, they were even happier to have a new source of protein.

“What are they?” asked the wimpy scientist when they woke him up.

“Mice,” said the nuclear physicist. “Or maybe rats.”

“I don’t care what they are!” said the roboticist from atop her chair. “Get them away from me!”

“No problem,” said the biochemist. “I’ll whip up a fast-acting poison and lay it out for them.”

At which point the wimpy scientist fainted again.

So the biochemist mixed up the poison, and left it out for the mice, and the crew went about setting up their workstations, ate dinner and went to bed, expecting to find a few hundred dead mice in the morning.

What they found were some plump mice, happily licking their chops and looking for more poisoned bait.

“They’ve evolved,” said the biochemist.

“They’ve obviously developed an immunity to poison. I suppose we’ll just have to find some other way to kill them.”

“I know just the thing,” said the nanotechnologist.

“I’ll design a mechanical microbe that will invade their systems and attack them from the inside, and I’ll slip it in some cheese.”

The mice came, and they saw, and they ate — and they came back the next morning looking for more.

“I don’t understand it,” said the nanotechnologist.

“Those microbes would kill any one of us. Why didn’t they kill the mice?”

No one knew, so they captured one of the mice, drew blood samples, stomach samples, gene samples and still had no answer. The best suggestion came from the biochemist, who theorized that their forced evolution had created an internal environment so hospitable to microbes, even engineered ones, that the microbes ignored their programming and set up shop in the mice’s intestines.

The roboticist tried next. She created an army of tiny metal warriors and sent them forth to do battle under chairs and beds, inside bulkheads, wherever the mice were hiding.

That was when they learned that the mice had evolved mentally as well as physically, and that their commanders were far superior at warfare to the roboticist, who had programmed her metal army. The robots were outflanked and outmanoeuvred, and finally surrendered only 17 hours into the battle.

The nuclear physicist didn’t do much better with his jerrybuilt disintegrator ray.

The mice were impervious to it, and the only harm it did was to two bathrooms and the coffee-maker in the galley.

“Well, I’m all out of ideas,” said the biochemist.

“The dirty little swine have beaten us at every turn,” muttered the nuclear scientist.

“Idiots!” said the wimpy little scientist disgustedly.

“The mice?”

“No,” he said. “I was referring to my colleagues.”

“You should talk!” snapped the roboticist.

“All you ever do is faint.”

“I have never denied my limitations,” said the scientist, “though it is thoughtless of you to refer to them. Just for that, I’ve a good mind not to solve your problem.”

“So you think you’re the one who can build a better mousetrap?” she said sardonically.

“Most certainly.”

“Even though they’ve withstood poison, microbes, military robots and disintegrator rays?”


“Okay, hot-shot. What will you need?”

“Just a little help from our geneticist.”

“And nothing else?”

“Not at the moment,” said the scientist.

So they left him and the geneticist alone for a month and tried not to notice all the damage the mice were doing. And then one day the scientist announced that the better mousetrap had been created and was ready to perform its function.

The others all snickered at him.

“That’s it?” asked the nanotechnologist when he displayed it. “That’s the better mousetrap that we’ve been waiting for all month?”

“You don’t really think something this primitive is going to work, do you?” demanded the biochemist.

“Oh, ye of little faith,” muttered the wimpy scientist.

They all laughed. (Well, they laughed at Newton and Einstein too.)

Within a week every mouse on the station had been eliminated, including three that had somehow migrated onto the docked ship. It had been swift, efficient and devastating.

“Who’d have believed it?” said the roboticist as they all gathered around the better mousetrap.

“Where did you ever hear about something like this?” asked the nanotechnologist.

“Sometimes you have to read books that aren’t exclusive to your field of study,” answered the scientist.

“Meow,” agreed the better mousetrap.

[This sci-fi story is attributed to Mike Resnick, the all-time leading award winner, living or dead, for short science fiction, according to Locus, the trade journal of the science-fiction field.

The foregoing story somehow reminds me of a fascinating anecdote from Edward de bono in one of his early creativity books.

In the early years of competitive space exploration, the Americans were struggling to design & develop a writing instrument which their astronauts could use to write their reports, while floating upside down in weightlessness.

The Russian cosmonauts used the pencil.]

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I have picked up the fascinating new term "active inertia" from Prof Donald Sull of the London Business School.

I have just started to read his latest book, 'The Upside of Turbulence: Seizing Opportunity in an Uncertain World'. The book has this great tag line on the inside front flap:

"A provocative user's guide to a world where the only thing that doesn't change is change itself."

In the book, he describes "active inertia" as the current preoccupation of today's executives when dealing with turbulence in the marketplace.

They respond to turbulence by accelerating activities that worked in the past.

According to him, drawing on relevant historical examples from the business world, executive saw changes in the market & responded, but hardened commitments channeled their actions into familiar grooves.

In the book, among others, he brings up the classic examples of US Steel & General Motors as well as dinosaurs like Digital, Wang & Data General.

Actually, come to think of it, the term "active inertia" is an oxymoron.

It somehow reminds me of the term "temporary insanity", often attributed to the iconic physicist Albert Einstein, who once commented as follows:

"... doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

As a matter of fact, Dilip Mukerkea has an interesting corollary:

Are you busy living or busy dying?

[In his book, Prof Donald Sull dedicates one whole chapter, Chapter IV, to the subject of "active inertia". Readers can go to this weblink of the author's weblog in Financial Times to read some excerpts from the book.]

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


[continued from the Last Post.]

[My personal musings, inspired by Page 4 of 'The Brainaissance Program of iCAPitalism Seminars with... The World's Most Powerful Learning Systems for... The Learning Economy', by Dilip Mukerjea.]

I believe it was corporate skunk Tom Peters who first came up with the 'distinct or extinct' mantra way back in the nineties.

Since then, many other authors or consultants have rode on it to distill various ideas & strategies for readers or clients to create distinctions &/or differentiate offerings.

Interestingly, while preparing for this blog post, I came across an amusing challenge, as appended below, from a personal branding expert, who has signed himself off as 'iMicrobrand' in the 'Small Business Online Community' forum:

He has posed the question:

How do you find out if you are Distinct or Extinct?

& has suggested:

1. Open your browser and type in your name;
2. Observe how many times your name appears;

He has added further:

"How many times did you come up?

Are the results connected to what you want the world to know you for?

If you are not populating the natural means by which people are finding your products and services today, then 9 times out of 10 you are not properly branded!!

This small oversight could cost you literally thousands of dollars."

Wow! Give it a go with your own name. Meanwhile, I have already done mine, using my Copernic Agent Pro. My personal response to the search findings: exuberant & exhilarating!

What do you think, as you ponder over your own personal experience with the foregoing exercise, & at the same time, over Dilip Mukerjea's exhortation via his imaginal picture?

Meanwhile, I like to leave this wonderful quote from the Grande Mademoiselle Coco Chanel as food for thought:

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”

[By the way, I have traced the personal branding expert, iMicrobrand' to Vincent Hunt of Sapien Harbor, a US-based Personal Consultancy specializing in helping individuals & companies think differently. I like his tagline: Rethink. Redefine. Reinvent. Many thanks, Vincent, for your sharing.]

[to be continued in the Next Post.]

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


[continued from the Last Post.

My personal musings, inspired by Page 4 of 'The Brainaissance Program of iCAPitalism Seminars with... The World's Most Powerful Learning Systems for... The Learning Economy', by Dilip Mukerjea.]

The following pertinent question from Dilip Mukerjea can be quite scary.

I reckon, the only option for us today, as part of our longer term strategy to survive & thrive, is to keep on learning new things, & at the same time, keep on learning to apply technology-enablement to increase our personal productivity, so that we become more productive, efficient & irreplaceable.

I recall my early exposures as a working professional to what futurist Alvin Toffler has once described as "a turbulent environment filled with revolutionary reversals, surprises, & competitive upsets..." as far back as the late eighties or early nineties.

At that time, I had also just started to indulge myself in the beautiful writings of economist Paul Zane Pilzer.

The following jottings in my ideas scratchpad came from his brilliant work, particularly 'Unlimited Wealth: The Theory and Practice of Economic Alchemy':

"... The overwhelmingly largest determinant of success today for both the individual & the organisation is the speed with which they can accept, learn, & work with technological change... Prosperity today belongs to the person & organisation that learns new thins the fastest..."

"... The key to achieving financial success today, or success in any field for that matter, is being able to learn new things. And the key to having the ability to learn new things, is developing confidence in your ability to learn...'

"Indeed, technology is advancing on so many fronts that the main constraint on innovation today is not so much the capacity of engineers & entrepreneurs to come up with new ideas, but their ability to keep abreast of & integrate the latest developments from fields outside their own particular specialty..."

Just imagine that he wrote all that in the early nineties, & to me, they are still very relevant today.

As a matter of fact, Dilip Mukerjea has recently made a wonderful observation in an expert advisory to a client [actually, an extract from his currently still 'work-in-progress' book, tentatively entitled 'Brainaissance'] as follows:

"Corporations and capital markets differ in their attitudes towards the forces of creative destruction ~ specifically, in the way they enable and manage this phenomenon. Corporations focus on operations. They aspire to function perpetually as ‘going concerns’, and thus work on the assumption of continuity.

Capital markets have no such concerns — they function on the presumption of discontinuity; their focus is on creation and destruction. Whilst corporations may tolerate long-term underperformance, markets have no qualms about annihilating the underperformer.

Outstanding corporations might stand out amongst the downtrodden, but unless they become perpetual learning organisms, the very processes that led them to success will anchor them to failure.

The choice for organisations: change, on your terms, or be shortchanged on the market’s terms!"

The foregoing insightful observation certainly sums up very well what Dilip has originally in mind when he poses the question as outlined in the foregoing imaginal picture.

[to be continued in the Next Post.]


Two nights ago, I had reluctantly sat down to watch a sci-fi thriller movie, entitled 'Alien Raiders', on StarHub cable television.

The movie director (Ben Rock?) & all the actors/actresses (Carlos Bernard? Mathew St Patrick? Rockmond Dunbar? to name just a few) were unknown, at least to me. Hence, the movie somehow triggered my initial lukewarm response, even though I was intrigued by the catchy title.

However, as the story progressed, I began to be drawn into the taut & gripping movie plot.

In a nut shell, the movie had centred on a bunch of masked gunmen who raided a small town supermarket, killing some employees &/or customers along the way. They then herded all the remaining clueless people who happened to be around - wrong place, wrong time, as they say - into one part of the supermarket, while the masked raiders seemed to be determined in hunting for something.

Police soon came, but couldn't really help the hostages as the lights in the supermarket were shut down, & also the masked gunmen didn't demand anything, except for scrawling two big words on the front glass panels, 'STAY BACK'.

Gradually, it was revealed that the masked gunmen were actually a group of scientists who had turned vigilantes, hunting for some mysterious alien bugs that had apparently infested humans, using the warm bodies as some sort of gestation process, & the supermarket was identified as a "hot spot".

Interestingly & amusingly, the rogue scientists seemed to have found an ingenious way to isolate humans who were infested. That gruesome process, coupled with the fast-paced action sequences, really made the movie thrilling to watch till the end.

Frankly, I didn't quite like the movie ending, where the evolved alien bug in human form eventually managed to escape the siege. I reckon that's how Hollywood producers often leave room to plan their sequels.

Nonetheless, I had really enjoyed watching the seemingly low-budget thriller movie till the end.

To me, the story plot was awesome, & also original in many ways, when compared to most other movies in the same genre.

Transposed the movie experience - analogically - to a personal life application: What is your story?

More precisely, what is the story you tell yourself?

In other words, if you keep telling that story - your internal dialogue, your self-talk - you will keep living that life.

You are the one in charge of your internal dialogue, your self talk, & you are the one that can change it by making it exciting to talk in ways that encourage you & inspire you.

Are you loving your old story too much?

People don't just have ideas & self-images about themselves; they have stories.

The stories come up repeatedly in your internal dialogue, your self-talk,

That's to say, the story you tell yourself is what determines your future outcome.

We are what we tell ourselves. This is the harsh reality.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Following is another selective sampling of rudimentary conceptual symbols from Dilip Mukerjea's 'work-in-progress' book, tentatively entitled 'Brainaissance'.

In a nut shell, a concept symbol encapsulates the essence of 'A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words'.

Take a quick look at them, & for the fun of it, explore what they mean to you.

Possible representations as envisaged by Dilip are given at the bottom of this post.

[Possible Representations: Laughter; Leadership; Lost; Love; Loving Relationship; Making Choices; Manipulation. All images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]


“Do you want to be a positive influence in the world? First, get your own life in order. Ground yourself in the single principle so that your behavior is wholesome and effective. If you do that, you will earn respect and be a powerful influence. Your behavior influences others through a ripple effect. A ripple effect works because everyone influences everyone else. Powerful people are powerful influences.”

- John Heider, 'The Tao of Leadership';

Saturday, December 5, 2009


This is a four-part blog post from Tom Peters in the 'Blogging Innovation' weblog (edited by Brandon Kelley, founder of Business Strategy Innovation):

Click here to view Part I - Innovation Tactics #1-16

Click here to view Part II - Innovation Tactics #17-42

Click here to view Part III - Innovation Tactics #43-72

Click here to view Part IV - Innovation Tactics #73-114

[More information about Tom Peters can be found at his corporate website.]

Friday, December 4, 2009


Change can be hard for most people, including myself during my early years of exploring & executing personal change, but it doesn’t have to be mysterious or complicated.

I realise, after the hard knocks, all it takes is just thinking about & doing things differently.

To help myself to understand change better during those tough years, I had often used the following interesting formula (often attributed to Michael Beer, writing in his 'Organization Change & Development: A Systems View', during the early eighties):

Successful Change = (D x M x P) > C

Successful change is a function of the relationship between four variables:

- dissatisfaction with the way things are (“D”);

- a different model for the future (“M”);

- the process of achieving the new model (“P”); &

- the costs of making those changes (“C”);

Change can be accomplished successfully if people are unhappy with the way things are, if they have a plan for an alternative, and if there is a way to turn the plan into reality.

When the variables are multiplied together, all of those i.e. dissatisfaction, a model, and a process, must be greater than the rational and emotional costs involved.

Regardless of the costs, if any of the other variables approach zero, your chances of bringing about real change are rather slim.


When faced with a new task, ponder over these questions as part of thinking strategically:

1) what am I actually expected to do here?

2) how does this task resemble or differ from others I have dealt with before?

3) what different ways are there of interpreting this task?

4) what is the significance of the particular aspects of this task?

5) what do I actually know?

6) what are the facts as distinct from the opinions?

7) what information would I need to have in order to deal with this task?

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Here are some excellent suggestions from the experts, based on notes from my scratchpad:

- Build in some quality time to think about the future and possible change that could occur;

- Generate a range of possible scenarios and write down what might need to change now to avoid a problem or capitalize on an opportunity;

- When significant events or situations occur, try to anticipate what could happen;

- Plan how you might respond positively to new or unusual experiences;

- Look to network with a wide range of people to actively keep up-to-date and ahead of the game;

- Think about every reasonably significant change as a project (like moving a house or launching a new advertising campaign);

- Develop a written plan to include contingencies, milestones, and measures for each of your more significant projects;

- Think about how you will organize yourself, other people, and resources to cope day-to-day and week-by-week;

- Carefully assess the risks that you foresee before each significant change event or project takes place;

- Spend quality time looking ahead so you are prepared for change, or as unsurprised as possible when it occurs;

- Look to build relationships with people who are open and generous with their time;

- Ask people about their ideas and suggestions about how to tackle changes;

- Start to offer a few ideas and thoughts of your own (where you have experienced success);

- Solicit input from as many types of people as you can (especially the more reserved ones), to gain a better appreciation of reactions to change;

- Seek to regularize this informal exchange process as part of your daily schedule;

- Act enthusiastic about the future, and highlight the opportunities to do things in new, better, and more interesting ways;

- Sketch or draw your vision of the future on regular occasions, or find time to close your eyes and think about what tomorrow could be like;

- Having done this, work backwards to list all the things that would have to be initiated now or in the short-term to help this vision become a possible reality;

- Develop a list of future steps, in sequence, that would need to be taken to achieve your ultimate goals;

- Use analogies and metaphors to describe what you think the future could look like to capture peoples imagination in different and interesting ways;

- Practice writing or presenting what is important for people to understand about a future change on one piece of paper before reading it aloud (to the mirror, your family, or even a pet if you have no one else to listen);

- Think about the different audiences that will receive your message, and how it might need to be adapted to make it entirely clear to everyone;

- Carefully monitor rumors or gossip, so as to feed the right information to people whenever necessary;

- Translate any information that may be complex or confusing, so that every individual can readily understand it;

- Look to draw early comparisons of past and future approaches or practices, once you have evidence that the new way is better or clearer;

- Develop different ways to describe the non-benefits of the old and the value of the new ways;

- Firmly but fairly lead people to talk about new changes, rather than to ignore them or criticize them gratuitously;

- If possible, find a visible way to be a role model for others to accept new change willingly;

- When planning any change transition, design and develop progressive opportunities for people to gently take on new practices or behaviors;

- Make sure that people do not feel coerced or "jettisoned" too quickly, to the point where they become uncomfortable and fail to standardize and learn to cope by themselves;

- Create opportunities for people to pilot, practice, test, or experience a change in a limited way to help them come to terms with it on a wider scale in the future;

- Evangelize to people about the benefits of continual learning and broadening the mind;

[Source: 'Change Management Effectiveness Profile']

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


[My personal musings, inspired by Page 4 of 'The Brainaissance Program of iCAPitalism Seminars with... The World's Most Powerful Learning Systems for... The Learning Economy', by Dilip Mukerjea]

As I look closely at the page as shown above, I have come to realise that there are actually five key aspects for me to elaborate, each represented by an imaginal picture.

That's to say, based on what I had already committed from the onset of sharing my personal musings, I have to outline five personal perspectives, over five subsequent blog posts, starting with this one.

The first aspect is, as usual, the pertinent question posed by Dilip Mukerjea, as shown below:

The first thing that strikes me when I read the question from Dilip is recalling the salient points from the wonderful book, 'Leading Change: Overcoming the Ideology of Comfort & the Tyranny of Custom', by noted leadership expert James O'Toole.

In a nut shell, & drawing my intellectual cues from the author, leaders who are tough, manipulative, dictatorial, or paternalistic, have only themselves to be blamed for driving or pushing their organisations to mediocrity &/or early death, when instituting organisation-wide change initiatives under their charge.

Interestingly, when employees down the line, whose status quo - meaning: psychological comfort - is being challenged by leaders who are apparently still stuck in an outmoded Machiavellian approach, resistance from the ground build ups & gradually skyrockets.

They become powerful prisoners in the comfort zone, & often delay the acquisition of requisite change until it's too late.

On the other hand, about 90% of organisational change initiatives fail, & a majority do so because of "cultural barriers".

The author aptly outlines more than thirty realistic examples of "cultural barriers" as evidence of the ideology of comfort & the tyranny of wisdom.

To employees, organisational changes always bring about a perceived personal loss of some sort. More importantly, most employees do not fear change, rather they fear what is unfamiliar & unsettling. To them, "what's in it for me?" is real & legitimate.

In the end analysis, perceived irrelevancy &/or perceived fear of personal loss are the major causes of resistance to change.

I reckon change leaders just have to deal patiently & intelligently with these seemingly powerful opponents to change within their organisations.

I recommend reading the book for its brilliant illumination on the subject of leading change.

[to be continued in the Next Post.]

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Just a couple of hours ago, I had sat down on the sofa of my living hall to re-watch the really entertaining animation movie from Dreamworks, 'Kung Fu Panda', on StarHub cable television.

I had actually watched it more than a year ago in the theatre.

In a nut shell, the movie was all about the adventures (or misadventures?) of a young goofy Panda named Po (voiced by Jack Black) with big dreams of becoming a kung fu fighter in the village, known as the Valley of Peace.

By day, he was a lowly cook/waiter in the noodle restaurant of his father, Mr Ping, a goose (James Hong; this incomprehensible relationship wasn't explained in the movie) & by night he often fantasised as a side-kick to the formidable fighting quintet, known as the Furious Five, comprising Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Crane (David Cross), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) & Monkey (Jackie Chan). They happened to be his fondest idols.

Amusingly & unexpectedly, along the way, he was chosen - & then trained reluctantly by Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) to become the Dragon Warrior, but with the blessing of Grand Master Oogway - in order to fulfill an ancient prophecy, under which he had to fight against the vengeful & treacherous snow leopard Tai Lung (Ian McShane).

What had attracted me to re-watch it was, firstly, the well-choreographed, visually-stunning action sequences, against the backdrop of photo-realistically textured computer-generated imagery - vast, moody, misty landscapes, pastel sunsets, hazy mountain vistas, dewy flowering trees, fanciful interiors, & traditional Chinese colors (dominated by red & gold) - throughout the entire movie of almost ninety minutes' length.

Secondly, & in fact, more importantly, I reckon there are many valuable lessons to be learned from the movie especially for young people, which I had captured the last time, drawing from the witty dialogue:

1) "There are no accidents."

- Everything happens for a reason. We just have to learn to find the true meaning of the events in our lives. No matter what happens to us, not only does something valuable come out of it, but it may be just what we need.

2) "A real warrior never quits."

- Well said, as it resonates with, remember, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone)? Another day, another struggle.

- As a matter of fact, Rocky's fiery words continue to reverberate in my head:

"Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine & rainbows. It's a very mean & nasty place & I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees & keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get it & keep moving forward. How much you can take & keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!"

3) "One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it."

- This certainly resonates very well with what William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925), well-known US Congressman, once said: “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.”

- Many of our trials & heartaches are not designed to make us bitter but better in life. The fact is, troubles do not always last, but tough people do.

- The only people I know with no trials, troubles & challenges are those in the graveyard.

4) "To make something special, you just have to believe that it is."

- If you believe in yourself, you can do anything, including creating miracles;

5) "You are too concerned with 'what was' & 'what will'. Yesterday was history; tomorrow is a mystery, & today is a gift; that's why it's called a present."

- Don't waste time. Seize the day!

6) "The mark of a true hero is humility."

- Definitely, well said. Humility is one of the hallmarks of wisdom.

7) "You have to let go off your illusion of control."

- This was the vital message from Grand Master Oogway to Master Shifu, as the latter struggled incessantly to understand the ultimate choice of Po as the Dragon Warrior;

- Likewise, sometimes in life, we tend to want to control everything that goes around us, which often cause us to lose touch with the greater picture or larger reality of our life;

8) "There are no good news or bad news; just news."

- It's not what had happened to us, it's what we choose to think & do with what had happened;

9) "There isn't any secret ingredient."

- It's already in each & every one of us. This was reflected in the movie, when Po found out that there wasn't anything written - it was actually blank, with a reflective surface - in the Dragon Scroll, which was believed to grant limitless power.

- Likewise, when he found out, to his dismay, from his father that there wasn't anything special in the noodles, either.

10) "The true path to victory is to find your opponent's weaknesses & make him suffer for it."

- In the movie, Master Shifu grudgingly realised that Po had this natural propensity to hunt for food & would go to great length, with physical prowess, to attain it. So Master Shifu exploited it as powerful motivator for Po to pay attention to his training.

- As a matter of fact, Po also unwittingly realised that his greatest weaknesses - cheeky playfulness, roly poly belly & bouncing butt of fat & fuzz - turned out to be his greatest strengths, when fighting Tai Lung, who was terribly cynical of his opponent. Naturally, his physical prowess following the exhaustive training under Master Shifu helped, too.

11) It's OK to say 'I don't know'.

- When Master Shifu confronted Grand Master Oogway: "But who? Who is worthy to be trusted with the secret to limitless power to become the Dragon Warrior?", the latter responded: "I don't know."

- In the same vein, when Po challenged Master Shifu: "How are you gonna change me into the Dragon Warrior? How?", the latter retorted: "I don't know".

- One of the hallmarks of wisdom is to realise how limited one's wisdom is. That's to say knowing how little we know... in fact, knowing we might learn something that will lead us to change our judgement on some important topic, as demonstrated by Grand Master Oogway & Master Shifu in the movie.

- In the real world, we often don't like to admit this, for fear of being ridiculed or of looking stupid among our peers.

12) A master can only show the path or the way. It is up to the student to reclaim or rediscover the greatness within.

- That's how Po rediscovered his own gift - his renewed self-confidence, courage, determination, perseverance, tenacity against impossible odds, & of course, his genuine love of kung fu.

13) Last, but not least: "There's no charge for awesomeness or attractiveness."

- It's very true. It's already inside all of us, in whoever we are & whatever we do.

Attention, Mums & Dads, if you haven't yet watched it, please go & watch this wonderful movie quickly with your kids & use the movie to share vital life lessons with them.

[Extracted & adapted from my 'Optimum Performance Technologies' weblog, where the foregoing was originally an extended movie review.]


Monday, November 30, 2009


If you haven't yet read the book, 'Fast Strategy: How Strategic Agility will help You Stay Ahead of the Game', by Yves Doz & Mikko Kososen, you can go to this weblink to download a 20-page ebook [actually a Powerpoint presentation by one of the authors] which will give you a quick introduction as well as broad brush.


Here's the weblink to an interesting article on 'Facilitating Strategic Execution' by strategist Johan Roos, Director of the Imagination Lab Foundation, based in Switzerland.

As concurred with Dilip Mukerjea, I find that the essence of the article - "turning strategizing into embodied experiences... using your hands to craft sense... " - resonates with or rather accentuates the philosophy of 'Lifescaping', as conceived for his 'Lifescaping' seminars with the Singapore Institute of Management.

[Readers can check out the next 'Lifescaping' seminar schedule at SIM.]

SYNVERGENT THINKING: Mind-Mapping, PhotoReading & Syntopicon Method

The foregoing hand-drawn mind-map by Dilip Mukerjea captures his major learning points from the 4-day 'PhotoReading' workshop, which he had attended during the mid-nineties. I was then the workshop organiser, under 'Optimum Performance Technologies'.

The hand-drawn mind-map as appended below, also by Dilip, captures his major thoughts from the syntopical reading of five books, as part of the application of 'PhotoReading' strategies.

For more information about the syntopicon method, as originally conceived by Mortimer Adler's in his classic, 'How to Read a Book', please refer to my earlier post entitled 'How to Become an Expert'.

[The term 'Synvergent Thinking' was originally coined by creativity expert Michael Gelb, as explained in his book, 'Thinking for a Change: Discovering the Power to Create, Communicate & Lead'. I have used it deliberately to describe the synergistic combination of disparate processes.

For more information about the 'PhotoReading' workshop in Singapore, please contact Ms Jean Giam of Xssion Training & Consultancy, at 65361612 (O)/96850020 (HP), or check out her corporate website.]


"Your life is yours to create. It's time to stop struggling, to stop fighting to "make a living". It's time to step to one side, to take a time out, & design the life of your dreams!"

~ Dr Stephen Hudson, success coach;

Say Keng's personal comments:

The 'Lifescaping' methodological tool as envisaged & designed by Dilip Mukerjea for his 'Lifescaping' seminar with the Singapore Institute of Management is one good tool to use in designing the life of your dreams.

Readers can check out the next seminar schedule at SIM.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


I have stumbled upon an enlightening article, though belated, by productivity coach Esther Derby who shares her 10 lessons learned from supporting organizational change.

Her article, entitled 'A Manager’s Guide to Supporting Organizational Change' has appeared in the January 2006 issue of 'Crosstalk: The Journal of Defence Software Engineering'.

I still think that, from the strategic implementation standpoint, her insights are still relevant in today's organisational context.

The gist of her ten lessons is as follows:

1. Communicate a Compelling Reason to Change;

2. Communicate Formally and Informally;

3. Personalize the Message: What Does This Mean for Me?;

4. Acknowledge the Unknowns;

5. Surface Rumors and Fill in the Blanks;

6. Practice What You Preach;

7. Acknowledge and Build on What People Value;

8. Reframe Resistance;

9. People Do Not Resist Change, They Resist Coercion;

10. Empathize;

Interestingly, at least to me, her insights resonate with the battle cry of "90% of strategy is execution, while 90% of execution is communication' often exhorted by business nerds.

By the way, here's the weblink to her original article. More about about her & her consulting work can be found at her corporate website.


Here's the weblink to an interesting article by executive coach, Kevin Conroy.

I really enjoy reading what he wrote, & here's a quick snapshot:

"... Future prospering depends on three outcomes:

• Improving the customer’s quality of life with new products and services that deliver unexpected benefits and meet latent needs;

• Having employees contribute personally in ongoing, viable,meaningful ways;

• Inventing and then taking over new competitive space.

It is not just about out-running competitors – it’s about imagining and insight.

Strategy is not only a positioning game, it is a quest for reconfiguring existing business or early adopting business. This creates the future..."

Saturday, November 28, 2009


1) Have a compelling business idea, one that is differentiated & sustainable;

2) Be a zealot - have passion for your idea;

3) Have a conservative business plan;

4) Believe in people & work effectively with them;

5) Learn everything about your business; change & grow as your business grows;

Friday, November 27, 2009


In an earlier post of my 'Optimum Performance Technologies' weblog, I have talked briefly about the research work of futurist Verne Wheelwright.

Verne Wheelwright is a different kind of futurist. Most futurists focus on the big picture; the future of the world, the future of society or an institution, but he is a “micro-futurist”, focusing on personal & individual futures, one person at a time.

He has written the 'Personal Futures Workbook' to guide individuals through the futuring process. Tactically, it's a guide to personal strategic planning.

The newest version of the workbook is digital (PDF) & can be completed & saved on a computer.

Here's the weblink where you can download a free copy of the workbook.

More information about the author & his consulting work on Personal Futures can be found at his corporate website or at his personal weblog.