"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."

Friday, March 20, 2009


Problems are birthplaces for solutions. The more difficult a problem, the greater the possibility for a creative solution. In being able to solve problems with fluidity and flexibility, we free ourselves from intellectual bondage.

An article in the New York Times (reprinted in the Detroit Free Press, P B1, January 3, 1993) reveals a typical example of ‘mind set’ versus ‘mind flux.’ The article tells us that a major reason customers defected from buying GM cars was that they compared the key entry system and the key ignition of the GM car unfavourably with that of a Toyota car.

Two keys are required for the GM car. One can be used only for the car door and the trunk while the other, only for the ignition. This is so that you can permit someone to drive your car, if required, and yet, keep the contents of the trunk safely locked away.

Furthermore, the keys work only if inserted the right way up. Such a system becomes exasperating, especially when fumbling for the right key and aligning it correctly when rushed, or overloaded with packages, or in the dark.

In the mid-1970s, Toyota introduced a single key that unlocks the door, trunk, and glove compartment, and also starts the ignition. An added bonus, the key could be inserted either way up. This innovation was copied by other Japanese auto makers.

More than 15 years later, however, GM had yet to adopt this idea. Apparently, they were not even considering the alternatives. This paradigm paralysis remained entrenched despite research demonstrating the overwhelming preference of customers for a single key.

This example is simply one of many where GM has been caught in paradigm paralysis resisting the forces of innovation. Other examples include seat belts, air bags, advanced engines, and transmissions.

But that was before. Today, GM has an OnStar system. With octopus-like tentacles, it is able to connect a car to the Web, provide directions to motorists, unlock a car with the keys trapped inside, and summon an ambulance after an airbag has been activated.

Further innovative moves include products that will track a car when it is stolen, and for sake of good order, eavesdrop on the burgler. Paradigm paradise at last!

Watch the Paradigm Shift

In 1968, the Swiss claimed 80 percent of the world market in watch sales. Today, this dominance has been eroded; they hold less than 10 percent of the market. This is because of the emergence of the quartz digital watch, a Swiss invention that was initially ignored by Swiss watchmakers!

A paradigm shift in wristwatch technology had occurred, but the Swiss failed to adopt this new technology because they were caught in a paradigm paralysis. Seiko and Texas Instruments happily grabbed the Swiss idea and made a fortune out of it.

Unsweetened Success

Up until the mid 1880s, champagnes were sweet and drunk at the end of a meal like ports and sherries.

Charles Perrier was a successful champagne producer in France. In 1837 he began marketing and selling Perrier-Jouët™ Champagne in the US, and between 1840 and 1870 exported over a million bottles. His success and fortune continued to grow to the extent that he constructed a $120,000 chateau (a lot in those days) in Epernay, France. The chateau featured six miles of underground cellars containing 8 million bottles of champagne.

In the mid-1880s, a family friend encouraged Perrier to produce a dry (i.e. less sweet) champagne, one that would not compete with the after-dinner sherries and ports. Perrier considered the idea and thought it was interesting. But why should they change? Who would buy it?

Though not the leading champagne company in France, they were extremely successful and were concerned that such a change would bring ruination. Nevertheless, they did take a risk and began producing a dry champagne. Although it sold slowly to start with, by the early 1890s it was out-selling sweet champagne.

By the turn of the century, over 1 million bottles per year of their dry champagne were being exported worldwide. Nowadays, virtually all champagnes are dry.

~ NWA World Traveller, 25, No.8, p.28, 1993

"Most people use a very small portion of their possible consciousness, much like a man who out of his whole body organism should get into the habit of using and moving only his little finger."

~ William James;

[Excerpted from the book, '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.]

Please read my personal comments in a subsequent post.

No comments: