"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."

Saturday, January 31, 2009


[Extracted from the 'Optimum Performance Technologies' weblog.]

My good friend, Dilip Mukerjea, Learning Chef & Managing Director of Brain-Dancing International, has just released his latest masterpiece, 'Taleblazers: Imagination to Imprint'.

It is targeted primarily at all aspiring authors, from students to professionals.

As far as I know, there is no such book in the marketplace that is graphically illustrated with conceptual symbols, systematically packed with a very broad spectrum of pertinent topics from conceiving your first story-idea, through the use of story-starter stimulants & sentence mapping, all the way to editing & publishing the book, & coupled with illustrated understanding of the print economics as well as crafting a book prospectus.

Best of all, the book is skillfully organised in aesthetically vibrant colours across all of its 168 pages.

Even the conventional table of contents you often see in books is now superseded with the author's unique & beautiful tapestry of contents.

Please enjoy the snapshots from the book in this blog.

As an avid reader, I can say that the book is drawn from the author's real-world portfolio as an accomplished writer of many pragmatic works, namely:

- 'SuperBrain';

- 'Brainfinity';

- 'Braindancing';

- 'Building Brainpower';

- 'Unleashing Genius';

- 'Brain Symphony';

- 'Surfing the Intellect';

The first three books, released by the author during the mid-nineties, are now out of print.

The remaining four newer books, according to the author, now form the 'Creative Brain Quartet'.

More information about the books & ordering is available at the author's corporate website. Here's the link.

Personally, I know as a good friend, writing 'Taleblazers' has been a rather steep personal challenge to the author, as he has intentionally written it in just about two weeks, thus proving that his story-crafting methodology of bringing out "the best-selling author within you" & "moving you from rhetoric to reality" really works.

For a beginner, his "dot logic to launch your consciousness" is definitely ground-breaking, as most first-time authors often find a blank page rather intimidating. The moment the pen meets the paper, it's a dot, & if you could do that, then writing can commence its journey from that dot.

His apt metaphor of "pen & sword" & analogy of "jaw jitsu" - "if you can converse, you can write" - provide a very refreshing prologue to "just get it all out" on paper.

Every conceivable issue or problem in writing, editing & publishing a story is dealt with wit & wisdom.

Inspiring quotes are abound to keep you in good company. All the fancy icon graphics & rich conceptual symbols in the book come from the painstaking efforts of the author, who is also a gifted cartoonist & caricaturist.

Interestingly, from my point of view, this book caters to both traditionally text-oriented as well as picture-oriented readers.

The author shows you how to use your initial scribblings, jottings & even doodles - "the philosophy within random symbolic shapes" - on paper to bust your FUD (fear, uncertainty, & doubt).

To instill some fun at the onset of your writing endeavour, the author's 'The A to Z Narrative', 'Story Word Alternatives' & '12 Words Challenge' are great story-starter stimulants.

As an active blogger, I find these little nuggets very useful in my own writing pursuits.

With this book, I am confident that "the journey from first thought to bestseller" is right within your grasp, & best of all, the author is always there to hold your hand & tap your shoulder.

For me, my favourite chapters are sections 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10, pertaining to "Creative Calisthenics" as applied to writing, "Taleblazer Economics", "The Business of Taleblazing", "Crafting a Book Prospectus" & "Sentence Mapping", respectively.

As an engineer by training, the author has obviously an excellent command of the English Language as you can see from his linguistic footprints.

To conclude this book review, I like to extract two inspiring quotes from the book:

"All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary - it's just a matter of arranging them in the right sentences." (Somerset Maugham)

"Exercising the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up." (Jane Yolen)

On behalf of the author, may I invite you to get hold of his book & "make your voice count by writing, publishing, & setting the fires of innovation ablaze!

This book is about YOU, writing with authority, expressing your authenticity!"

Bravo! My good friend!


[Extracted from the 'Optimum Performance Technologies' weblog.]

Let's take a quick look at how the creative process has evolved over the years.

In a nut shell, the creative process is generally viewed as a logical patterned sequence of steps or stages through which we move on to define, clarify & work on a problem, & then produce a solution to that problem.

Way back to the 1920s, I remember that psychologist Graham Wallas had formally pinned down the process to 4 primary steps or stages, as follows:

1) Preparation - defining the issue, observing & studying;

2) Incubation - laying the issue aside;

3) Illumination - the moment when a new idea finally emerges;

4) Verification - checking it out;

Then, in the 1950s, advertising executive Alex Osborn, who coined "brainstorming", expanded the process to 7 steps or stages:

1) Orientation - pointing out the problem;

2) Preparation - getting pertinent data;

3) Analysis - breaking down the relevant material;

4) Ideation - piling up alternatives by way of ideas;

5) Incubation - letting up, inviting illumination;

6) Synthesis - putting the pieces together;

7) Evaluation - judging resulting ideas;

Towards the early seventies, Alex Osborn apparently teamed up with educator Sidney Parnes to found the Creative Education Foundation, which then systematised the process as follows, which eventually evolved as the well-known CPS process:

1) Objective Finding - identifying goal, wish or challenge;

2) Fact Finding - gathering data;

3) Problem Finding - clarifying problem;

4) Idea Finding - generating ideas;

5) Solution Finding - selecting & strengthening solutions;

6) Acceptance Finding - planning activities;

Since then, I have learned that many creativity researchers as well as creativity consultants have come out with their own variations, but it seems that the basic CPS methodology has always remain intact.

One good example is Min Basadur, who wrote 'Simplex: A Flight to Creativity', among other books. He has outlined his complete methodology under four phases:

1) Generation (of new problems and opportunities);

2) Conceptualization (defining & understanding the challenges, & creating new, potentially useful ideas);

3) Optimization (of practical solutions);

4) Implementation (of the new solutions);even though it still adheres to the principal steps of the original CPS methodology.

The breakdown of steps looks like this:

1) Initial scan - problem finding;

2) Gathering facts - fact finding;

3) Defining problem -problem defining;

4) Generate solutions - idea finding;

5) Evaluate solutions - evaluating & selecting;

6) Plan action - action planning;

7) Gain acceptance - gaining acceptance from stakeholders;

8) Take action - taking action steps;

9) Evaluate action - monitoring progress & evaluating results;

Another example is Paul Plsek, who wrote 'Creativity, Innovation & Quality', with his synthesis model, designated as 'Directed Creativity', comprising also four phases:

1) Preparation:

2) Imagination:

3) Development:

4) Action:

which in turn is broken down into the follow steps as he describes it:

"We live everyday in the same world as everyone else, but creative thinking begins with careful observation of that world coupled with thoughtful analysis of how things work and fail. These mental processes create a store of concepts in our memories. Using this store, we generate novel ideas to meet specific needs by actively searching for associations among concepts. Seeking the balance between satisficing and premature judgment, we then harvest and further enhance our ideas before we subject them to a final, practical evaluation. But, it is not enough just to have creative thoughts; ideas have no value until we put in the work to implement them. Every new idea that is put into practice (that is, every innovation) changes the world we live in, which re-starts the cycle of observation and analysis."

In reality, I have observed that all the subsequent methodologies in use today or in most ongoing creativity training programs still more or less resonate with the original model as conceived by Graham Wallas.

One thing we should all be very clear about is that the creative process begins with deliberate preparation & ends with critical evaluation, prior to planned implementation.

The complete cycle therefore reaffirms that both creative, imaginative & analytical, logical thinking processes are needed.

More importantly, the total creative process requires a drive to action & the implementation of ideas.

We must do more than simply imagine new ideas, we must work consistently to make them concrete realities.

My good friend, Dilip Mukerjea, Learning Chef & Braindancer, writing in a recent subscription issue of his 'The Braindancer Series' of bookazines, shares his version of the creative sequence, with a little twist:

Step 1: INTAKE

Use Nature's attributes to get started. Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. Observe the workings of Nature, & study the behaviour of plants & animals: they lead to ideas & to breakthrough solutions.


Use Nature's infinite stimuli, think about possibilities. Suspend judgement. Let your mind play with the concepts of making strange familiar, & the familiar, strange.


Having prepared your mind, start generating ideas. Go for quantity; quality will emerge from quantity. Don't analyse or priorities. Just let the dam burst! Capture your ideas in hard copy by writing & drawing.

Step 4: DEBATE

Dialogue & debate your outpourings with colleagues, friends, family & diverse members of society. Agree to disagree, wherever relevant. The divergent outbursts from Step 3 could now converge to help you focus on probabilities.


Sleep on it! Do not hard focus on your ideas. Let your subconscious play with possibilities. Your analysis through debate in the preceding step, will metamorphose into a synthesis for concepts to emerge in fuller form.

Step 6: CREATE

This is where ideas become inventions: the pathway from concept to creation.


Prototype your creations, fine tune them via experimentation, then let them loose in accordance with your well-designed business model!


Rejoice! You have now conquered the challenge of having moved from concept to cash! Innovation is ablaze!

It is pertinent to point out that the first two steps are preparatory steps for the mind to open to new ideas & fresh insights, by making analogies, with Mother Nature as our best teacher!

Here's a lifescape of the creative sequence created by Dilip Mukerjea.

Friday, January 30, 2009


[Extracted from the 'Optimum Performance Technologies' weblog.]

Ever since reading 'Winning the Innovation Game' & also listening to the audio compilation, 'Innovative Secrets of Success', at the tail end of the eighties or so, I have always been impressed by the work of innovation strategist Robert Tucker.

In fact, I even had a brief fax correspondence with the author during the early nineties, during which he had generously offered me some additional valuable information.

I had also read his subsequent book, 'Managing the Future: 10 Driving Forces of Change', & its audio version, 'How to Profit from Today's Rapid Changes', as well as many of his other interesting articles in magazines, newsletters or on the web since then.

For me, after a perusal, 'Driving Growth through Innovation' seems more like an intellectual expansion of his earlier work, 'Winning the Innovation Game', with substantial refinement of the stuff he has spent the last twenty years in studying, researching & consulting.

From my personal perspective, 'Winning the Innovation Game' was a broad-brush of his findings from some 50 innovative companies during the early years.

In contrast, 'Driving Growth through Innovation' is a more in-depth analysis of the success factors of what he has designated as the 23 Innovation Vanguard companies. BMW is one of them.

What I like about the book so fondly is his artful blending & skillful machinations on how to master innovation as a "disciplined, systematic & repeatable process" in an organisation.

I certainly like his expressed belief in the Introduction, that "you'll grow as an individual in the process of mastering innovation".

That's to say, what applies in an organisational setting also works well in the personal setting, as far as the pursuit of innovation is concerned.

The author writes very eloquently & succinctly. The book is spiced with provoking questions & relevant strategy checklists.

In fact, I dare to say that very, very few innovation authors have adopted his innovative presentation style.

There are only 10 chapters, but he followed up - & peppered - each chapter of the book with "magical numbers", as follows:

Chapter 1: What It takes to Drive Growth:
5 essential practices that undergird business growth;

Chapter 2: Leading Innovation:
3 types of innovation; assessing your firm's Innovation Adeptness against 10 criteria;
6 most important leadership functions in building an all-enterprise innovation capability;

Chapter 3: Cultivating the Culture:
11 strategies designed to guide you in improving your firm's culture for greater innovation effectiveness;

Chapter 4: Fortifying the Idea Factory:
7 distinct methods of idea management,
plus 7 suggestions to guide you in designing & implementing a system;

plus 10 guidelines to keep in mind as you consider how best to empower the process;

Chapter 5: Mining the Future:
6 strategies innovation-adept firms are using to analyse trends;
3 critical components to developing your own future scan system;

Chapter 6: Filling the Idea Funnel:
6 strategies to ensure a steady stream of good ideas;

Chapter 7: Producing Powerful Products:
6 strategies to master the art of deriving business value from innovation;

Chapter 8: Generating Growth Strategies:
6 places to jump start your search for imaginative new business models for your firm;

[I like what he wrote: "Strategy innovation is, first & foremost, an act of imagination - the ability to see how something could work better from the customer's standpoint, in a way that in turn profits the sponsoring firm".]

Chapter 9: Selling New Ideas:
7 strategies for selling new ideas;

[Another good point from the author: "Innovation has always been about selling ideas".]

Chapter 10: Taking Action in Your Firm:
7 areas to look at prior to preparing an Innovation Initiative;

How do you like that? For me, that really makes perusal - & digestion - a breeze as you can zero into the brass tacks very quickly.

The author has focused primarily on what actually works, not fancy theories. Just pure insights from the battlefield trenches of 21st century innovators!

In spite of his two-decades' experience working with companies to improve innovation, the author has rightly & humbly admitted that he "rode on the shoulders of giants" in writing the book.

In this respect, I reckon that the author has fashioned his thinking as well as rethinking about strategy innovation from the work of Peter Drucker, who was the first among all the gurus out there to assert that "innovation is a disciplined, systematic & repeatable process".

To end this post, I would recommend reading Peter Drucker's 'Innovation & Entrepreneurship' as well as Michel Robert's 'Innovation Formula' as thought companions. They will certainly be worth your while.


This digital snapshot or photo, probably taken towards the tail end of the nineties, has already been used in my blog post dated 7th April 2008 in the 'Optimum Performance Technologies' weblog.

Readers can read it at this link.

I am now using the same photo to tell a slightly different story.

To recap, the guy sitting on the extreme left of the photo was the late Bob Lewis, environmental ecologist & museum designer from United States.

The guy with the blue shirt/white vest is yours truly. On my immediate right is my good friend Dilip Mukerjea.

My late wife, Catherine, was sitting on my left.

[I have actually forgotten the names of the two gentlemen sitting from the right of Dilip. Dilip has however informed me that the gentleman next to him is Brother Michael Broughton, Vice Principal, La Salle College of the Arts.]

Interestingly, I had also written an earlier post about Bob Lewis. Readers can read about him at this link.

Dilip had told me the other day when we had our pow-wow that Bob once served as a coffee boy to the legendary Walt Disney.

Most readers may know that Walt Disney actually pioneered the use of storyboarding techniques in the development of his animation movies as well as the construction of his theme park projects.

So, in a way, Bob had first-hand observations about the storyboarding techniques at work in Disney's studios.

Dilip had also revealed that Bob had shared many interesting insights about the storyboarding techniques, which enabled Dilip to adapt them for other uses, e.g. story-crafting for dissecting stories in English Literature, writing an autobiography, business as well as project planning.

Come to think of it, the six degrees phenomenon is no joke.

Anyway, please stay tuned for a quick lesson in storyboarding.


1) Question persistently. Ask ‘why,’ ‘what if,’ ‘why not,’ and other such questions ~ the more seemingly ridiculous, the better. (What if we all wore shorts to the office? What if we all received no salary for one month in every year? What if I were made CEO of my company for one week? Why not?)

2) Make up and play with metaphors and analogies. (A brain is something like a bank ~ you can take out as much as you put in, plus a bit extra, the interest accrued.)

3) Pay attention to small twinges; they may be stunning ideas. That’s how big ones are born.

4) Daydream periodically. Let your mind wander, and look out for imagery to arouse your consciousness.

5) Play ‘imagine if ’ (Imagine if I could travel round the world every five years … Imagine if I found a way to boost my memory by 100 percent … Imagine if…)

6) Indulge yourself! Try out diverse items on the creativity menu: cooking, drawing, painting, music, photography, writing, playing squash, chess, inventing products, throwing parties, jazz dancing, etc.

7) Notice when you do something creative and keep a CREATIVITY File. Record and celebrate your successes. Receive feedback from your failures and seek out ways in which to flip them into successes. Consciously strive to be creative every day.

8) Learn and play strategy games such as chess, draughts, go, backgammon, or bridge.

9) Learn a foreign language (and force your brain to think in new patterns).

10) Cultivate ambidexterity. Develop coordination. If you’re right-handed, try using your left hand to do things. If you’re left-handed, switch to your right for a while.

11) Enhance intuition. Guess at measurements rather than use a ruler, tape measure or jug. See how close you were. Work out supermarket totals in your head, then see if you’re correct at
the check-out.

12) Balance your cheque book without using a calculator.

13) Read all except the last chapter of a novel, then stop and write your own ending.

14) Stand on your head to get the blood really flowing to your brain.

15) Do jigsaws and crossword puzzle. JUGGLE, JUGGLE, JUGGLE!!!!

[Excerpted from 'The Braindancer Series' bookazine #BD0801, entitled 'Igniting Innovation'. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I have set up this new personal weblog with the blessing of Dilip Mukerjea, Learning Chef, Braindancer & Managing Director of Braindancing International.

As the name implies, it will showcase a constantly evolving array of tools, templates, tactics, techniques & tips to turbo-charge your creativity & innovation, personally, professionally & organisationally, with specially dedicated contributions from Dilip Mukerjea.

Besides complementing Dilip Mukerjea's own established business outfits & other ongoing professional endeavours, this weblog will also eventually function as an additional marketing avenue for the many published thoughtwares from the Learning Chef & Braindancer.

In the mid-nineties when he had just started out, Dilip Mukerjea had understandably aligned himself with Tony Buzan, the progenitor of Mind-Mapping.

Particularly in the last few years, he has deliberately moved outward as well as jumped forward to reach much higher levels of technical competence, with his own intellectual creations.

His creations are often well thought of & elegantly constructed, in sustaining resonance with his personal motto of "advancing human performance across multiple as well as multi-disciplinary domains".

Because of my personal interactions with him, & having known him since the mid-nineties, I have noticed that many of his new intellectual creations often run off-tangent from his original association with Tony Buzan's work.

In other words, which I hate to say but proud to reveal, the protege has ultimately surpassed the master, in terms of intellectual productivity, & more importantly, novel experiences & value-added benefits for his clients.

Braintales or Storycrafting, Insight & Solution Generator Matrices, Splash Maps, Conceptual Symbols, Lifescapes, Exponential Junction or Junction Dynamics, & SWOT Analysis with Venn Diagrams, are just a handful of them worth mentioning at this point in time.

Many of these products have already been openly shared with his consulting clients & seminar participants, & more will be covered in his forth-coming series of books &/or bookazines.

This weblog of mine will also, from time to time, take the opportunity to share his numerous intellectual creations with readers.

I will also extract excerpts from his books for special mention as immediate takeaways, with the view of guiding readers to maximise learning from his published thoughtwares.

As principal blogger, I will also endeavour to provide personal perspectives of his work & contributions, in addition to sharing with readers useful information about our personal interactions & professional collaborations, & to disseminating our fresh insights as fellow explorers in the field of creativity & innovation.

Please stay tuned!

[All images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]