"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, February 28, 2009


Two and a half thousand years after the ancient Greeks, we need to look with a fresh perspective at the dynamics of a chameleon-like marketspace. The great accomplishments of these ancestors were based on their preoccupation with theory and proof; they had little interest in experimentation.

Today, experimentation is vital to survival.

I repeat:

Experimentation is vital to survival.

The Latin root of “probability” is a combination of probare, which means ‘to test’, ‘to prove’ or ‘to approve’, and ilis, which means ‘able to be.’

The majority of humanity once considered everything that we now take for granted, impossible.

It is the minority that dared to step over the edge, the minority that considered the probability of success. May the minority be infectiously creative.

The word statistics is derived from the analysis of quantitative facts about the state. One of the origins of the word creativity is the Latin creare, meaning “to make out of nothing.”

However, only divine providence can adhere to that definition, whereby mortals need two essential ingredients: KNOWLEDGE and MEMORY.

But a word of caution: these two items, used well, can engender an avalanche of creative ideas, but used incorrectly, they will ensnare one swiftly in the “intelligence trap.”

Our brains have been designed primarily for survival, and this is ensured by the creation of safe patterns for us to follow automatic routines.

And yet, the institutions of education and commerce demand an exponentially increasing amount of creativity from the populace.

Think: Competition Commands Creativity!

The prime role of business should be to increase the sum of human happiness. This leads us to consider the greatest moral question of our age: how can we work effectively to ensure the survival and propagation of all life on our planet?

The creator should consider: What can be done? What should be done? This is a consideration, and confrontation, between ability and possibility versus morality and desirability.

Both, Western Enlightenment, and Eastern Awakening, must inspire Holistic Globalisation through a spirit of charismatic creativity.

This calls for leadership involving transactions within marketspaces, transformations within human minds, and transcendence of human consciousness from harm to harmony . . . across all forms of life.

The creator must work with the next generation in mind . . . believing that there will be a next generation. All of us have a part to play in protecting our planet from ourselves. The present age, in partnership with nano, bio, micro, and macro technologies, contains promise . . . and peril.

Thermonuclear demons threaten our soil, air, water, and every living creature. The behaviour of our civilisation must be steered by a fresh, ethical consciousness, through creative effort that can eliminate destructive intent.

The cynics might remark, “Why bother? The world is destined to end?”

Consider: In Albert Camus’ masterwork, ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’, (1955), about a man who refused to die, the author recounts how in the Greek myth, Sisyphus is condemned by the gods to roll a heavy rock up a steep hill.

Upon reaching the top, the rock immediately rolls down and Sisyphus must resume the
labour. Repeatedly.

In order to give meaning to this tribulation, Camus imagines himself to be Sisyphus and wonders if death would be a viable alternative to this endless labour.

After some reflection, Camus concludes, “Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks...this universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile ... The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

“Once pathology disappears, everybody becomes a creator. Let it be understood as deeply as possible; only ill people are destructive. The people who are healthy are creative. Creativity is a fragrance of real health. When a person is really healthy and whole, creativity comes naturally to him, the urge to create arises.”

~ Osho

"Every act of creation is first an act of destruction."

~ Picasso

On the next page, I provide three examples where creativity has assured survival for the ‘persecuted’.

Example 1: Survival Situation 1

When it comes to survival, quick thinking is what it is all about. Legend tells us that Sinbad and his sailors once landed on a tropical island, parched from their exertions at sea. They soon spotted some coconuts, bunched high up in the trees – accompanied by apes that remained perched up there, looking very proprietorial.

Fearing the consequences of going up the trees to collect the coconuts, they contrived to have the coconuts come down to them. Reversal. So they threw stones at the apes up in the trees, to tease them. Playing right into their hands, the apes retaliated by throwing coconuts back down at the sailors! Thirsts quenched.

Maximum gain via minimum effort.

Example 2: Survival Situation 2

The following true story is about a 13th-century castle confronted by a life-and-death dilemma.

A powerful opposing army had surrounded and besieged the castle for months. The inmates of the castle were finally down to their last two sacks of grain. Naturally, once these were consumed, death by starvation would be inevitable …or perhaps their lives would be spared, after a fashion, if they surrendered to the enemy.

If you were the CEO of the castle, what decision would you make under the circumstances?

The most ‘logical’ step to consider would most likely be some form of drastic food rationing, so that one could survive for longer. The extended period might see the enemy give up in frustration and return home.

Or perhaps not. In this case, food supplies are viewed as a nutrient vital for survival. Food is being taken at its face value.

The CEO could thus deliberate over a greater number of options.

In one instance, he could view the situation as hopeless; the longer the siege persisted, the shorter their stock of food supplies. No matter how many bags of grain there were, it was only a matter of time before they starved to death.

On the other hand, if he succeeded in making the enemy think that they had more than enough food, they might just give up and march back home.

He decided on the latter option and got his people to throw one full sack of grain over the castle walls, at the enemy. By doing this, he believed the impression given would be that there was so much grain within the castle walls, even after such a long siege, that it was pointless hanging around any longer; they might as well return home.

True enough, the enemy was thoroughly demoralised by this act of insouciance from the inmates of the castle. Feeling dispirited, devitalised, and defeated by this incident, they departed.

Example 3: Retail Sector

The most sophisticated information processor is the human mind.

In an environment that has finally been recognised as non-linear, our strategic thinking skills are designed to confront chaos daily; one can no longer care how long an entity has been in business for it to be competitive.

In the mail-order catalogue war between Sears, Roebuck and Company and Montgomery Ward, for example, both parties were fiercely wooing the American customer.

Richard Sears started his company almost 20 years after Aaron Montgomery Ward, yet after only eight years Sears emerged ahead as the largest mail-order company in the United States. This situation remained unchanged for the next 40 years of competition between the two retailing giants.

Imagine that you’re a customer looking for several items that are to be obtained via mail-order. You need to grab a catalogue, and see two before you, in a pile. Which one do you grab? The one on top, of course. It’s the most convenient, and readily available.

Well, this little bit of obvious wisdom is what struck Richard Sears. He made his catalogue smaller than Montgomery Ward’s. By reversing the logic from ‘bigger is better’ to ‘smaller is surer’ Sears achieved dominance in the battle for bigger business.

[Excerpted from the 'Ideas on Ideas' edition of The Braindancer Series of bookazines by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

Say Keng's personal comments:

Dilip Mukerjea brings up two interesting aspects in his wonderful essay. They are. among others, the essential characteristic traits of creative as well as enterprising leaders, who aren't afraid to break their own paradigms or mental models in the pursuit of their strategic objectives.

One is risk propensity or a preparedness to accept & take risks. The other is contrarian thinking.

Fortunately for most of all, these two behavioural traits are learnable, via proper coaching, disciplined practice, & deliberate introspection.

For exploratory reading, based on my personal favourites over the years, I recommend these two classics:

1) 'A Guide to Personal Risk Taking', by Richard Byrd (1978);

2) 'Art of Contrarian Thinking', by Humphrey Neill (1976);

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