"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."

Sunday, March 15, 2009


With reference to the motor system of the human brain, the area that controls movement, neurologist Robert C Collins suggests that neural output during action is an overlapping interplay between past experience (planned) and current intention (unplanned).

He analogically compares the human cortex with that of a piano keyboard, where an infinitely rich repertoire of melodies can be created from an infinite number of notes.

In this instance, the piano symbolises the planned, and the emerging music the unplanned. Their synthesis produces a symmetry of sensations that pure planning alone could never achieve.

We must bear in mind that there is a delicate balance between the planned and the unplanned in the process of creativity. But in the end, the novelty of creativity emerges from the spontaneous, unrehearsed, unplanned, fresh movement of thought, perception, language, and emotion.

In a future laden with low-probability and high-impact phenomena, the sudden emergence of new patterns will be based on the continual, dynamic interplay between the planned and the unplanned.

The essence of creativity is the unannounced, impromptu, and extemporal interaction of diversity in the process of self-organisation.

Movement corresponds to a shift in thinking. The alternative is allowing oneself to be embedded indefinitely within the status quo. After all, the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth! Yet movement also calls for the planned and the unplanned.

Oxymoronically, we need to know where we are going, and yet when we get there, it happens to be someplace else! Such is the dance of intellect within the fuzzy magic of mind.

Strategic thinker T Irene Sanders affirms that "most people are directionally impaired; they lack 'geographical intelligence'." Her definition of this includes the ability to read a map or to use a compass, to navigate to safety in unfamiliar terrain.

Conversely, in the domain of creativity, we need the geographically informed person or organisation. Here, the attributes are knowing how to see, think about, and interpret scenarios that embrace connections, relationships, and patterns of interaction that are local as well as global.

At the heart of all involvement in creativity, lies the willingness to immerse oneself in 'visual thinking'. This is where 'geographical intelligence' puts flesh on the bones of strategic thinking.

The merging of intuition and intellect creates meaning and significance. This process is stimulated by cultivating the parallel attributes of insight about the present and foresight about the future.

If we can visualise this natural phenomenon and practise it in our lives, we will find an infinite expansion of our abilities ~ a movement of the most wonderful order, in the most sensational manner.

After all, the metropolises of the planet are all connected by the skies overhead, yet all we focus on is the sky above our own heads ~ if that! Move, and with every movement, the world expands, offering up its infinite horde of creative treasures.

[Excerpted from 'Surfing the Intellect: Building Intellectual Capital for a Knowledge Economy', by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

Say Keng's personal comments:

For me, the foregoing essay is a profoundly enriching piece of writing.

In fact, as I started to reread it, in preparation of writing this blog post, I happened to be fully engrossed in it to the point of being stuck eventually by the last sentence, which I thought there had been a typographical error.

So, I sought Dilip’s immediate clarification, to which he has quickly responded as follows:

“Yes, no typing error. What I mean is that "all we focus on is the sky above our heads" the very least! But when I add "~ if that!", I mean even the sky above our heads may NOT be focused upon! It's a quirky way of expressing a sentiment in English! Sort of mock sarcastic. Thus, we should be focusing on so much, with an expansive consciousness, but instead, we have a narrow bandwidth limited to the area or zone above our heads, but then again, perhaps it is even narrower (i.e. if that!) and we are mostly spaced out, not focusing on anything!”

Dilip went on to elaborate:

“The last sentence refers back to the theme of 'Movement' (ergo, 'move') equated with being the essence of creativity. Movement causes expansion because it initiates a spread of energy, and the world IS energy (and information) ... thus with every movement, there are fresh insights and discoveries possible, because of the expanded, increasingly opened up world. (Of course, I could write an equally strong case for 'stillness').”

I certainly like Dilip’s beautiful analogy of the piano keyboard, with its virtually unlimited myriad of possible melodies.

At this juncture, I like to recap Dilip’s last sentence:

“Move, and with every movement, the world expands, offering up its infinite horde of creative treasures.”

All I know instinctively or rather have always experienced is this:

Man’s body is designed to move, not sit down all the time. So, whenever I am stuck with a problem, I just stand up & move, while still deep in thought, & invariably my mind often opens up to seeing many options.

So, the image of a corporate executive pacing in his office is not about random activity; he is thinking at his best!

Interestingly, although I have planned activities in my life, especially in the morning, as part of my own disciplined routines to engage my body & mind, I also welcome unplanned activities, or rather, serendipity, like chance events: surfing the net or reading other people’s blogs for what may come my way; window shopping with my wife; accepting lunch invitations from my buddies; or just hanging-out with pop-in visitors, often at the spur of the moment.

Incidentally, a wonderful quote from Tom Peters, in writing his early issues of the ‘Achieving Excellence’ newsletter, comes to my mind:

“Allow for unplanned interruptions. Most AHAs mundane or grand come from the juxtaposition of surprising streams of information.”

To my pleasant delight, Dilip’s last point with regard to focusing continues to reverberate in my mind.

I just can’t help myself recalling some great stuff I had read many years ago from innovation strategist Wayne Burkan, who wrote the wonderful book ‘Wide Angle Vision’.

In a nut shell, the book talks about the power of observation through the application of peripheral vision. The author calls it "splatter vision" or "wide angle vision", which he uses as the book's main title.

I understand from my American friends that this is an age-old technique practised by native North American Indians. Henceforth, it is now practised by nature observers, bird watchers and animal trackers.

In the book, the author relates an analogy of how US Secret Service agents apply "splatter vision" in the field to visually screen out, read the signals quickly - & anticipate - any potential threats against the President.

In the business world, I fully agree "splatter vision" is a useful & powerful anticipation tool, with which you can apply to constantly scan the entire business landscape in sweeping motions in order to avoid missing "unexpected gaps", which could be potential threats &/or possible opportunities.

In reality, you are:

- un-focusing your eyes;
- maximising your peripheral vision;
- sustaining a soft focus;
- increasing your view of the landscape with an almost 180 degree-field-of-vision;

in order to avoid becoming so focused that you expect your challenge to come from a specific direction!

Many thanks, Dilip, for that whack on my head! By the way, it’s unplanned.

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