"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, October 31, 2009


Following is a 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: Addiction, Alignment, Analyse, Balancing, Birth, Bottleneck, & Breakthrough. All images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]


I am sure most readers are probably familiar with Prof Michael Porter's Five Forces Model, which slices the competitive environment into the following five areas:

1. Bargaing power of Suppliers;
2. Threat of New Entrants (& the attendant barriers to entry);
3. Bargaining power of Customers;
4. Threat of Substitutes;
5. Competitive Rivalry within an Industry;

To recap in a nut shell, an industry's profit potential is largely determined by the intensity of competitive forces within the industry.

According to Prof Porter, a good understanding of the industry's competitive forces & their underlying causes is a crucial component of strategy formulation, which is the building of defences against the competitive forces, or finding a viable position in an industry where the forces are weaker.

The foregoing Splash Map by Dilip Mukerjea captures the model of the five competitive forces as conceived originally by Prof Michael Porter.


[continued from the Last Post.]

(2) The next strategy, “Hit Them Where They Ain’t”, is a case of the follower of a market leader successfully exploiting the market leader’s innovation, to the detriment of the original innovator.

This strategy hits home as one of the major weaknesses of the “Fastest with the Mostest” strategy: the most innovative product without a market is a cost center, not a profit center.

Drucker cites as examples:

• IBM was a market follower within the Personal Computer market. The IBM PC was neither the first nor the most innovative, but the market that IBM pursued was the business market; meanwhile, Apple sought to dominate the educational market. IBM established itself with enduring prominence.

• The Hattori Company in Japan took a Swiss innovation, the quartz watch, and created a market winner with the Seiko brand. This was enabled by the Swiss shelving their new idea after demonstrating its feasibility.

• Sony, not in consumer electronics at the time, purchased a license for transistor technology from Bell Labs. Starting with cheap portable radios, she became a major player in the home electronics market.

Drucker lists five “fairly common bad habits that enable newcomers to use entrepreneurial judo and to catapult themselves into a leadership position in an industry.” These five habits, allowing competitors to use the “Hit Them Where They Ain’t” strategy, are:

• The Not Invented Here (NIH) syndrome (the arrogance that leads a business or profession to believe that something new cannot be any good unless they themselves thought of it).

• The tendency to “cream” a market by staying in the high profit zone, with a concomitant tendency to keep costs high. This led to US automobile manufacturers permitting entry by Japanese auto makers into the low end of the auto market in the 1970’s, thereby providing the vital foothold the Japanese needed to become competitive throughout all segments of the US automobile market.

• Believing that quality is something a supplier puts into a product rather than understanding that quality is something that the consumer gets out of the product.

• The belief that the consumer will pay a premium price thereby keeping prices high, which in turn lures competitors into the market if the market entry barriers are sufficiently low.

• Maximizing rather than optimizing, a habit that contributed to the destruction of Burgmaster.

[To be continued in the Next Post. Excerpted from the 'Lifescaping' seminar participant's manual. The 'Lifescaping' seminar is conducted by Dilip Mukerjea about four times a year under the auspices of the Singapore Institute of Management.]

Friday, October 30, 2009


The foregoing Splash Map, by Dilip Mukerjea, is based on material from the book, 'Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World', by futurist Bob Johansen.

Please refer to my review of the book in an earlier post.


[continued from the Last Post.]

The entrepreneurial strategies that Drucker identifies are:

“Fastest with the Mostest”;

“Hit Them Where They Ain’t”;

Ecological Niches; and

Changing Values and Characteristics;

Each of these strategies has advantages and disadvantages; they may also be combined to form hybrid strategies. Some of them are riskier than others. Market structures such as demographics, and economic conditions within the market, will certainly influence the potential for success with a particular strategy.

(1) As examples of “Fastest with the Mostest,” Drucker cites:

• the growth of the pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-LaRoche, from its beginnings as a small chemical firm in the 1920’s, and

• the decision at DuPont to grow its plastics industry after the discovery of Nylon.

This strategy is also one of the riskiest because it appears so much like a gamble; insufficient resources may cause the strategy to fail.

Nylon was a commercial success, according to Drucker, because the negative impact of World War II on the Japanese silk industry protected the fledgling plastic fibre industry; it could thus become cost competitive by the time the silk industry rebuilt itself in the late 1940’s.

DuPont was able to follow up a technology innovation with the process innovations necessary to reduce costs, and thereby to keep the market built during the absence of silk from Japan.

[To be continued in the Next Post. Excerpted from the 'Lifescaping' seminar participant's manual. The 'Lifescaping' seminar is conducted by Dilip Mukerjea about four times a year under the auspices of the Singapore Institute of Management.]

Thursday, October 29, 2009


As a movie buff, reading the book, 'Riches Among the Ruins: Adventures in the Dark Corners of the Global Economy', invariably reminds me of vivid memories of three great movies during the eighties, 'The Year of Living Dangerously' (starring Mel Gibson), 'Under Fire' (starring Nick Nolte, Ed Harris & Gene Hackman) & 'Salvador' (directed by Oliver Stone; starring James Woods) in some ways.

For me, this book is basically "part-adventure, part-memoirs" of the enterprising author, Robert Smith, lawyer-debt-collector-turned economic mercenary & financial entrepreneur, who has been acknowledged as the 'Indiana Jones of International Finance', especially the more interesting & dangerous parts.

The book also traced his adventurous global exploits - stretching over three decades across five continents - in the risky world of trading in emerging & submerging markets' sovereign debt & evaluating creditor claims against foreign governments in the most remote, & sometimes hostile, areas of the world.

What had motivated him most was, like he said, "I'm restless & I love to travel... I crave adventure in exotic places... Living by my wits in an unpredictable environment is a thrill I seek over & over... I love the thrill of the deal, & I love making money!"

As a matter of fact, what had really stood out in this book, especially in terms of personal traits, were his astute power of observation, knack for improvisational creativity, & propensity for instinctive (intuitive) decision making.

For me, even though finance is not my cup of tea, this book has been quite an enjoyable read.

Luckily for me, it is not about lessons in global finance, although it does provide numerous snapshots of intriguing financial transactions that go on in the murky fringes of the global economy. To illustrate the magnitude of the wheeling & dealing: The author lost US$15 million on a single day in 1998 pertaining to the ruins of the Russian economy.

I am in fact rather keen to glean street-smart insights from a man on the spot, so to speak (cold calling was a staple of his business), in the remote frontiers of globalisation: El Salvador, jungles & streets of Vietnam, Turkey, Guatemala/Panama, Nigeria, Russia, & post-Saddam Iraq.

Sad for him, his trading days are now over. The globalisation of the market & the availability of information rapidly transmitted electronically has made the business much less lucrative than it used to be.

Nonetheless, I fully agree with him that there are valuable lessons to be learned from his book in terms of understanding human nature, & also about the complex new world in which we live.

The following are my personal takeaways from his book:

- "... sometimes, you have to fake it in order to make it.";

- "... learn to listen critically & discern whether people are telling the truth; learn to weigh people's motives & sometimes hidden agendas; learn how to be at ease & operate in unfamiliar territory; learn how not to behave in a foreign country, when you wanted to get things done.";

- "... find someone you trust who speaks the language & lives in the culture; also, while you handle the business, always find a local partner to handle the politics.";

- "The Vietnamese were, generally speaking, very patient people who listened carefully to everything you had to say, even if they had no intention of cooperating."; [This is an interesting observation.]

- "... to get things done, keep your own dignity & the dignity of others, intact; treat people well & they will follow you to the ends of the earth... ";

- "Psychology is all important if you want to make money speculating in currencies... We are creatures prone to excesses of both pessimism & optimism. We are emotional. And emotions, especially contagious emotions like excessive pessimism & excessive optimism move markets all the time...";

- "Don't get discouraged when things ain't working out. Why? Because circumstances are going to change. All you have to do is be open to new opportunity when it arrives.";

- "... always follow a lead, because you never ever know if there might be a pot of gold at the end.";

- "Timing can be everything in business & in life.";

- "... most positively brilliant ideas are born on hotel balconies in the middle of the night under the influence of alcohol."; [For me, the alcohol part is questionable; maybe I am not a drinker.]

- "... in finance, every financial problem has a solution - or, more likely, a thousand of them. Financial creativity, too, is an organic process, & if there is a way to make money at something, someone will inevitably find it.";

- "(in negotiation)... always let the other party go first... You should never be the first to state a price. By waiting the other guy out, you let him establish the floor. It may be higher than you expected it. If it's lower, you lose nothing... You learn a lot about their thinking that way without selling yourself short.";

- "Things change. There's always another train coming into the station."; [I recall maverick billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson had also thought likewise.]

- appreciate "the extraordinary value of circumspection. Even today, when there is so much financial information readily available in real time on computer screens throughout the world, circumspection is essential in business...";

- "Play your cards close to your vest or you will lose your leverage. Always suggest your need is limited, not infinite...";

- "You can learn about a country from its airport when you first arrive; continuing in the cab while you pick the brains of the cab driver about local conditions, while scanning the view for more clues; next, from the viewpoint of your hotel window, which gives more clues about the state of the economy.";

- "Countries don't have permanent alliances, only permanent interests (attributed to George Washington). So it is in business, one doesn't necessarily have permanent enemies, either. When mutual self-interest is involved, even former enemies will bury the past to make millions of dollars in the future.";

- "... make investment decisions based on the reading of politics, not economics.";

- Pottery Barn rule: if you break it, you own it;

- "... find the right lawyer for the right job.";

- "... learn that trust should not be dispensed too easily, that you can travel a long way on a good bluff, & that business is largely about shaping perception.";

- "... people's imagination will let them believe what they want to believe.";

- "Things don't always break your way, & to thrive you have to be a survivor. You have to take your knocks & get up to fight again another day.";

- "... to be successful in the global economy you need, first & foremost, to understand people.";

- "... at the end of the day, it's about doing well & doing good, & in my view everyone who has done well has an obligation to do good." [referring to his charitable work in recent years];

In the end analysis, all I can say is that this book has been a rare treat, at least from my personal perspective: an entertaining broad-brush view of the dark corners of the global economy, & a penetrating observation of human nature under dicey circumstances.

[Disclosure: The book came from the author's publicist. Payment: FREE.]


What if? Thinking:

Ponder the possibilities of apparent impossibilities. What if whatever you thought impossible were possible? What then would you think of? Make a random list of such items.

Future Features:

Create imaginative scenarios by writing present fiction as future fact. Play with such themes and creative catapulting will generate vivid pages of future ages: these are templates for vivid scenarios describing future events.

Headlines and Tailends:

Look at headlines in newsprint and see if you can make them more impactful. Then create fresh headlines for events in the future!

Look at articles, stories, reports, from the past, and, via creative reconfigurations, change their endings to create past possibilities. Then step back and see what the whole scenario looks like: could it have occurred? Could it occur in the future?

Trend Mapping:

Scan what’s happening in various domains (e.g. technology, transportation, medicine, agriculture, etc), then link items from these diverse domains and extrapolate them into the future, via Mind Maps, or otherwise.

Media Mining:

Plug into the various media outlets and scoop up stimuli that help to identify trends or generate hypotheses.


These are perspectives of mentors, experts, specialists, and so-called gurus: their opinions from unique vantage points could provide raw material for ripe rewards.


Play with random images, scattered across large sheets of paper (brain dumping), or onto storyboard panels, sticky notes, and Mind Maps, and combine them with traditional statistical renderings (graphs, charts, grids, etc), to portray a chaotic tapestry of future thinking. Such chaos leads to creative order.


Create collages or montages of clippings from diverse newsprint or other such sources, and use random juxtapositions to stimulate ideas for future scenarios.


Create linear, organic (like nature, flowing, as in Lifescapes), or radial, timelines, into which you force fit scenarios to establish a compulsive rhythm between time and space, via constructive pressure. Stipulating timelines can lead to stimulating Lifescapes…and the time of your life!

Lifescapes are not horoscopes or forecasts.

The future remains as unpredictable as ever. If it were not so, we would have no use for our faculties of choice and liberty. Uncertainty and freedom are strange bedfellows. It is precisely because the future is unprecise, indeterminate, that our choices and decisions mean something.

Lifescapes are ecosystem maps that address today’s uncertain world, and help us to to create a dialogue with tomorrow’s uncertainties.

The world is a fabric of elaborate information networks; clear cut answers are elusive, and thus, what matters most is our ability to deal with the nature of relationships among things, phenomena, and forces.

Lifescapes help us to incorporate the myriad aspects of entrepreneurship and leadership, so that our decisions are directed at the Triple Bottom Line: Financial Prosperity, Environmental Well-Being, and Societal Harmony.

[Excerpted from the 'Lifescaping' seminar participant's manual. The 'Lifescaping' seminar is conducted by Dilip Mukerkea about four times a year under the auspices of the Singapore Institute of Management. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]


[continued from the Last Post.]

In the practice of entrepreneurship, Drucker embeds the innovating agency within an organization and tries to answer the question: “what kind of organization encourages and exploits innovation?”

Drucker looks at three types of organizations:

• the established private sector business;

• the established public sector service institution; and

• the new start up business;

The established private sector business, despite the prevailing idea of innovation only happening in new ventures, is the major wellspring of innovation.

The reasons for an established company spewing out innovation are:

• the established company usually has the financial resources as well as

• the knowledge base to innovate.

Unfortunately, established companies have a track record of not exploiting innovation; this situation is taken advantage of by disenfranchised employees opting to start their own enterprise around the spurned innovation.

Several organizations started by entrepreneurial founders have languished once the founders have left their companies; the innovative drive emerged solely from the efforts of those founders rather than from the existence of an organization-wide entrepreneurial culture.

Large established companies such as 3M and Procter & Gamble have built entrepreneurial management into their organizations. In both cases, innovation is expected and encouraged throughout the organization.

Both companies have established processes that encourage innovation and provide methods for employees to fund innovative efforts.

In an interesting sidebar, Drucker warns:


A non-innovative company, acquiring an innovative one, in the hope that the newly acquired company will inject it with a strong dose of innovation.


Usually results in failure of the objective, as well as the destruction of the acquired company.


The acquisition of Burgmaster machine tools by Houdaille Industries in 1964 followed by a slow decline of Burgmaster until the liquidation of the its assets in 1986, as described in 'When the Machine Stopped: A Cautionary Tale from Industrial America' by Max Holland (1989).

[to be continued in the Next Post. Excerpted from the 'Lifescaping' seminar participant's manual. The 'Lifescaping' seminar is conducted by Dilip Mukerjea about four times a year under the auspices of the Singapore Institute of Management.]

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


The process of creating a vivid picture of the future is an important step in designing a future that is better than yesterday & today. It applies both to the organisation as well as the individual.

A clear, motivating picture can inspire us to reach for the sky & overcome challenges & problems that come along.

Once created, a compelling vision will begin to impact today, as a foundation for new directions.

The brilliant neuro-scientist Dr Karl Pribram of the Stanford University has often described such a phenomenon as an "image of achievement", which in reality has powerful multi-sensory implications, especially for an individual.

By the way, he has postulated the brain model, known as 'Holographic Brain', to help substantiate his theory.

In fact, I like the way futurist Joel Arthur Barker puts it in perspective:

"The future is something you create; not something that happens to you."

”You can & should shape your own future; if you don’t, someone else surely will.”

Crafting a meaningful vision of the future - irrespective of whether it's for an organisational or personal setting - isn't always that easy or simple, but it can be done, with proper coaching & guidance.

Essentially, 'strategic visioning' takes concerted efforts to explore, think, assess, plan, organise, execute, control & monitor. Once a vision is established, one has to follow-through consistently as well as persistently.

To draw lessons from success coach Anthony Robbins, in addition to having the sensory acuity to stay focused on the defined objectives, one also needs to have the mental flexibility to make immediate adjustments & changes, if things are not working according to plan.

After all, success is always the function of making corrections.

Personally, my most profound learning experience with "strategic visioning" came from the late Datuk Eric Chia, former Chairman & CEO of the United Motor Works Group, during the early eighties, when I had just joined the group's Singapore subsidiary as a marketing manager. [When I first met him, he was 'Datuk', but later became 'Tan Sri' after I had left the group in 1987. He will always be in my fond memory as Datuk Eric Chia.]

I had already described my personal learning encounters with him in several earlier posts of my 'Optimum Performance Technologies' weblog.

My next most productive learning experience with 'strategic visioning' came personally from the legendary corporate strategist Jim Channon in Kona, Hawaii, during the early nineties.

The third encounter came from all the amassed learning materials of large-scale graphic facilitation guru David Sibbet of Grove Consultants, & a few others.

In a nut shell, 'Strategic visioning' is just a powerful term to denote the process of designing a compelling future, for an organisation as well as for an individual.

Dilip Mukerjea likes to call it 'Lifescaping'.

After all, as scenario strategist Arie de geus, & also author of the classic, 'The Living Company', has argued so brilliantly, an organisation is also a "living organism", metaphorically speaking.

Interestingly, as a sidetrack, our planet earth is also a "living organism". Thanks to Dr James Lovelock & his Gaia hypothesis, even though planet earth's friendly genius Bucky, or more officially addressed as R Buckminister Fuller, preferred 'spaceship' as an analogy.

Nonetheless, other experts in the field have fancy term for 'strategic visioning': futurcasting; futurescaping, visioncrafting, just to name a few.

Unlike the traditional & more mundane "strategic planning", which is a readily accepted practice among many businesspeople & professionals, 'strategic visioning' encapsulates a more cogent, cohesive content-rich, big-picture, gestalt-provoking metaphorical perspective.

Operationally, right-brain visual thinking, combined with left-brain analytical approach, plays a vital role in the 'strategic visioning' process design.

My good friend's beautiful lifescape, as recapitulated below, captures the whole essence - the "strategic heartbeat", so to speak - of 'strategic visioning' with its attendant operational intensity, extrapolating from the hindsight of the past, merging with the insight of the present & integrating with the foresight of the future.

Strategically, the purpose of 'strategic visioning' is to help one - organisation or individual - to answer the following pertinent & yet critical questions:

- what have you been?

- where are you now?

- where do you want to go?

- how do you get there?

- how do you keep going?

- how do you know when you get there?

I reckon, the most distinctive feature of 'strategic visioning', based on my own personal & professional experiences, & as compared to 'strategic planning', is the extension of the envisioning of possibilities, where one paints possible future scenarios in order to to think more deeply about the future.

The foregoing is actually a relatively new area of expertise known specifically as 'strategic or scenario exploration', which I will have to cover separately.

In fact, the more possible futures one can imagine & prepare for, the better one will be able to survive that unexpected future that will most assuredly come about.

It is my personal intention to use the next & subsequent posts to explore with readers how 'strategic visioning' actually works, by riding on Dilip's wonderful masterpiece as an intellectual platform.

[To be continued in the Next Post. The bottom image in this post is the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


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


According to management guru Peter Drucker, writing in his now classic, 'Innovation & Entrepreneurship: [Published in the mid-80's, this is the first book to present innovation & entrepreneurship as a purposeful and systematic discipline.]

• innovation & entrepreneurship are not limited to high technology industries.

Most innovation & entrepreneurship happens in low technology industries just as most job creation also comes from low technology industries.

• entrepreneurship is doing something differently so as to better use resources & expand markets for the product &/or service.

Ray Kroc took a hamburger stand in a single city and turned it into an international business, McDonalds, by applying innovation to his products, services, & marketing.

Ray Kroc was an entrepreneur. Someone else running that hamburger stand without Kroc’s entrepreneur spirit may have had a thriving hamburger business but it wouldn’t have been McDonalds & that person wouldn’t have been an entrepreneur, just another hamburger stand owner.

• entrepreneurship & innovation are not inborn characteristics. They are behaviors that most anyone who is willing to apply themselves can learn.

• innovation is “a bright idea” and maintains that dependable innovative ideas come from systematic exploration of the seven sources of innovative opportunity as follows:

- The Unexpected - composed of three areas of unexpected events: unexpected success, unexpected failure, unexpected outside event;

- Incongruities - a discrepancy or dissonance between what is and what ought to be or is assumed to be which is composed of four areas: economic realities of an industry (marketplace), other realities of an industry (optimization of local, non-essential areas rather than system optimization), customer expectations versus the industry perception of customer expectations, internal incongruity with a process;

- Process Need - a weak or missing link in a process that makes the process cheaper, easier, or possible (technologically possible or economically possible);

- Industry and Market Structures - changes in industry or market such as new competitors, new customers, more differentiated products, new manufacturing or marketing processes, new substitute or complementary products or services;

- Demographics - changes in population structure such as size, age structure, cultural composition, employment, education, & income;

- Changes in Perception - a change in the way that facts are perceived such as “the glass is half full” versus “the glass is half empty”;

- New Knowledge - the discovery of new knowledge which can be exploited such as a new technology or materials;

• entrepreneurs innovate.

Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship. It is the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.

Innovation, indeed, creates a resource. There is no such thing as a resource until man finds a use for something in nature & then endows it with economic value. Until then, every plant is a weed and every mineral just another rock.

The Do’s:

- Purposeful, systematic innovation begins with the analysis of the opportunities;

- Innovation is both conceptual & perceptual, analysis must be followed by testing of the analysis against reality;

- An innovation must be simple and focused because everything new runs into trouble;

- Effective innovations start small providing incremental changes which provide leverage for larger change;

- Effective innovations aim at leadership in a market or industry;

The Don’ts:

- Don’t try to be clever;

- Don’t try to do too many things at once;

- Don’t try to innovate for the future even if the innovation lead time is long;

The Conditions:

- Innovation is hard, focused, purposeful work requiring knowledge, experience, & ingenuity;

- Innovators must build on their strengths because of the risks of innovation & the costs of allocating knowledge & performance capacity to the innovative effort;

- Innovation affects the economy & society, requiring a change in the behavior of customers, so it has be close to the market, focused on the market, & market driven;

[To be continued in the Next Post. Excerpted from the 'Lifescaping' seminar participant's manual. The 'Lifescaping' seminar is conducted by Dilip Mukerjea about four times a year under the auspices of the Singapore Institute of Management.]

Monday, October 26, 2009


What follows is an unique collection of exhibits from small designs submitted by professional designers, artists & educator, under the Leonardo Project organised by the Eli Whitney Museum in May 1995.

They embodied the expression of the craft & creativity defined by Leonardo da vinci's Notebooks.

He explored his world with the eyes of a scientist; he reinvented it with the hands of an artist. he directed students in architecture & landscape design, in fashion & theatre design, in product design & graphic design: all of the creative expressions that surround mankind.

Inspired by Leonardo, the museum invited submissions to demonstrate the transformation of a clothespin into a recognisable character as well as to show design at work.

Personally, I am very impressed by the creativeness & ingenuity of the creators of the following exhibits.

[Source: Eli Whitney Museum & Workshop]


[Source: A belated Computerworld report providing a new glimpse of the future with tomorrow's mobile phones.]


[continued from the Last Post.]

Entrepreneurial Characteristics

The general characteristics of an entrepreneur are:

• Willing, perhaps eager, to live with the fear of failure.

• Stimulated by a feeling of elation and aliveness when confronting risk.

• Able to perceive risk as common sense, as he or she has weighed the pros and cons of the issues in question.

• Impelled by the certainty of success, an entrepreneur is happy to accept the occasional, or repeated failure; this is considered the price of eventual success, “failing forward to success” as stated by Mary Kay Ash.

• Failure = Learning, and moving on

• Not primarily motivated by money, since the pursuit of money per se would create an unwillingness to take the (calculated) financial risks from which real wealth flows.

• Work = Fun in accomplishing worthwhile aims

• Devoted to business, often at the expense of their personal lives. No job is too menial for them, and laserlike focus on the goal is their raison d’être.

• Passionate belief in a quest for the best. Negativism in/from others = Positivism, and optimism, within themselves. They are driven by confidence in their resolve to attain their objectives. Ignorance is an asset, and thus, they succeed because they don’t know what can’t be done.

• Constantly on the lookout for products and services that that might satisfy genuine needs in the marketspace.

• Churn problems into opportunities with the idea of turning them into profit.

• Persist in checking out the competition, in order to determine what they might be doing right, or wrong.

• Expect frequent rejection when they seek funding, as they have a different mentality to bankers and investors

• For really new products, an entrepreneur tends to go with his or her instincts, and creates a market by educating the consumer, as follows:

- Creating buy-in for the product by demonstrating how it solves a problem or delivers a benefit.
- Repositioning the product in the consumers’ minds by illustrating its uniqueness, and superiority over competing products.

- Flipping a perceived liability into an asset.

• They invest in advertising, promotions, and publicity (via good press relations, for example) to create and amplify market awareness of their presence. The objective is to build sales and establish a strong brand image; that is, to attract customers.

Add your own contributions:

Some Notable Entrepreneurs:

- Richard Branson, Virgin empire
- Bill Gates, Microsoft
- David G. Neeleman, JetBlue Airways
- P. Diddy, Bad Boy Entertainment
- Ben Cohen, Ben & Jerry’s
- Steve Jobs, Apple and Pixar
- Henry Ford, Ford Motor Company
- Walt Disney

These entrepreneurs exhibit the following common characteristics:

- They crave thrill, excitement and speed;
- They are highly creative problem solvers;
- They are impulsive;
- They are ambitious and industrious;
- They have tons of energy;
- They love being the hero in emergencies;


It is NOT my intention to portray entrepreneurs as being of a certain fixed ‘tupe’. History has enough evidence of entrepreneurs coming in all flavours. The above are just the common characteristics of the category of entrepreneurs given as examples.

[Excerpted from the 'Lifescaping' seminar participant's manual. The 'Lifescaping' seminar is conducted by Dilip Mukerjea about four times a year under the auspices of the Singapore Institute of Management.]


"I have no secrets. There are no rules to follow in business. I just work hard &, as always have done, believe I can do it. Most of all, though, I try to have fun."

~ Richard Branson, billionaire entrepreneur, founder & Chairman, Virgin Group;

Sunday, October 25, 2009

POSTERWORKS, by Dilip Mukerjea

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

Digital images from the author - in high resolution, vector graphics; hand-crafted but digitally enhanced, & arranged in different library categories, to suit both corporate & educational domains - are readily available for outright purchase.

Please contact the author at for more information about pricing & delivery.

Requests for custom engineering designs to suit clients' particular requirements are also welcome.]


Successful entrepreneurship is characterised by persistent dogged determination.

This is how entrepreneurs surmount recurring obstacles through their improvisational creativity.

Jay Van Andel, cofounder of Amway, featured in a set of experiences that typify the entrepreneurial persona. Just after the end of the Second World War, Van Andel and two friends opted to ride the airplane craze and launch an enterprise.

This is their story:

For a down payment of $700, they purchased a two-seat Piper Cub in Detroit. Not knowing anything about flying, they hired a pilot to fly their new acquisition from Detroit to Grand Rapids.

As they state: “The next difficulty was making enough money to pay off and fly the airplane we just bought.”

So they opened a flying service, naming it Wolverine Air Service. They still didn’t know how to fly, and thus hired two veteran pilots, whilst they did what was necessary on the ground: their mainstay was flying instruction, but they also offered passenger rides, group transportation, and sales and rentals of airplanes.

They recall: “We were counting on being able to use the new Grand River Air Park in Comstock Park, which was under construction when we started.

When the airport project ran out of money, we attached pontoons to the bottom of our airplane and used the Grand River for our airstrip.

This was a lesson to us in improvisation, and we learned a few more like it during our air service days…[We] employed the services of an old chicken coop for an office…”

On a trip to Florida to deliver a plane, they hit on the idea of opening a drive-in restaurant, similar to ones they’d seen elsewhere.

With $300 to invest, they opened the “Riverside Drive-Inn Restaurant” on May 20, 1947. It was the first of its kind in the area. Their knowledge of running a restaurant was no better than what it was forflying an airplane, but they pressed on.

Their story continues:

“[We] built a diminutive wooden structure there at the air park, laying the foundation and nailing the clapboards ourselves. It took several months to get electricity hooked up properly, so we bought a generator. We also had no water for some time, so every evening we would fill up jugs at the nearest place that had plumbing and carry them to the restaurant.”

They kept the restaurant open from 5 P.M. until midnight. Like all good entrepreneurs, they functioned on overdrive. They kept conjuring up ways to provide additional services to their customers at the air park.

At one point, they started offering canoe rides down the Grand River, and fishing excursions on that lake. Within two years in this business, they were operating a flight school, charter service, repair service, an aircraft and gasoline sales organization, as well as the boat rental and charter business, not to mention the restaurant!

During these years, they gained business wisdom the hard way: the primary lesson was to persist with their persistence in spite of an unending series of unexpected problems.

As they conclude: “When the air park didn’t open on time, when the electricity and water weren’t hooked up for our restaurant on time, when several of our airplane engines were destroyed after we used the wrong lubricating oil, when hail and wind seriously damaged several of our airplanes, we didn’t give up.

Winter snows forced us to put skis on all the airplanes, but it seemed that as soon as the skis were on, the snow would melt, and as soon as we removed them, the snow would fly.

But the first year, we flew two million passenger miles and earned $50,000."

Entrepreneurial Improvisations:

• No landing strip? They used the river.

• No office? The chicken coop would suffice.

• No electricity? Locate a generator.

• No water? Haul it in.

• Ground covered with snow? Put skis on the plane.

Adapted from Source: Joseph H. Boyett & Jimmie T. Boyett

[to be continued in the Next Post. Excerpted from the 'Lifescaping' seminar participant's manual. The 'Lifescaping' seminar is conducted by Dilip Mukerjea about four times a year under the auspices of the Singapore Institute of Management.]

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Whenever I see this beautiful poster from Dilip Mukerjea, I am always reminded of the following wonderful quotes from success coach Anthony Robbins:

"It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped."

"Using the power of decision gives you the capacity to get past any excuse to change any & every part of your life in an instant."

"The greatest power that a person possesses is the power to choose."

[Excerpted from the 'Leadership, Learning & Laughter' edition of 'The Braindancer Series' of bookazines by Dilip Mukerjea. All images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]


While reading the weblog of turnaround strategist Steven Feinberg, also author of 'The Advantage Makers: How Exceptional Leaders Win by Creating Opportunities Others Don't', I came across his unique definition for 'leadership':

"Leaders create advantage that encourage followers."

According to him, "followers can be customers, employees, stakeholders or even voters".

Also, "your leadership becomes obvious & irresistible when you shift the odds in their favour by producing leverage for followers".

He posed this pertinent question:

"If you are a leader, do your strategies & tactics create advantage for your employees?"

[If you haven't yet read Steven Feinberg's book, his weblog - which serves as a wonderful teaser - is a goldmine of information nuggets on 'Advantage Making'.]

Friday, October 23, 2009


Last night, I just picked out a book from my large stack of books next to my bed, prior to taking my slumber, which has been a personal habit of mine for years.

The book was 'The Advantage Makers: How Exceptional Leaders Win by Creating Opportunities Others Don't', by Steven Feinberg, a turnaround strategist who has spent more than three decades applying the study of human behaviour to performance efficacy.

The first chapter of the book, entitled 'How to Shift the Odds in Your Favour in the Best of Times and the Worst of Times', continued to grab my personal attention, especially with the following story:

"Hundreds of years ago, in medieval Austria, a small but determined army was trying desperately to hold on to its fortress against tremendous odds. For more than six months, the defenders had been surrounded by a hostile army, With no way to contact outside help to replenish their stocks, supplies had dwindled to a desperate level.

Only one cow and two bags of grain were left.

The fortress soldiers, wracked with fatigue and hunger, turned to their commander for guidance.

Expecting their leader to say the expected, "Ration the food for as long as we can hold out," they were astonished and perturbed when they received a different, radical reply.

"Kill the cow, stuff it with all the grain we have, and toss it over the walls when the next wave of attack ensues."

This seemed illogical, foolhardy, and dangerous.

During the next attack, they followed the unexpected order and heaved the grain-stuffed cow over the wall. Without a doubt, they anticipated a slow, anguish death by starvation. To this day we don't know why the soldiers complied.

But the commander had foreseen something that no one else had.

Confused by the bovine assault, several of the attackers took the cow back to their officer's tent. The attacking officer saw it for what it was - a signal of defiance from the fortress commander, as well as well as a message that his soldiers had the will to fight on. If they could afford to throw a cow stuffed with excess grain over the wall, he reasoned, they must have vast stores of supplies, enough to last the entire winter. he ordered an immediate retreat."

To paraphrase the author, this is a great example of applying the strategy of shifting focus to produce a novel solution.

The fortress commander stepped outside the logic of the battle and delivered an unexpected message.

The counter-intuitive, resoundingly clear message:

"We have plenty of supplies; prepare for a long battle."

Clearly, the competition didn't know he was up against an Advantage Maker, who was able to shift his vantage point 180 degrees to see opportunities, solutions and strategies others didn't even know existed.

Did I enjoy reading the book? Oh, Yes!

Are there any other goodies in the book? You bet!

I must say it's packed with new ideas, techniques, exercises, and checklists that will transform the way you view every business challenge... so you can find the winning solutions that are hidden in plain sight!

I often love to read - & reread for inspiration - books of such a genre. My personal library is packed with such books.

[More information about the author, his book, & his 'Advantage Maker' methodology, can be found at his corporate website.]

Thursday, October 22, 2009


In today's fast-changing, turbulent & chaotic world, there are actually many visual tools available to help businesspeople, professionals as well as students to navigate information, build understanding, generate ideas & manage complexity.

I reckon most people have come across Mind-mapping, as envisaged by Tony Buzan since the late sixties or early seventies, but I must point out that it is just one of the visual tools available today.

I wish to reiterate: mind-mapping alone is not going to help you solve all your information problems.

In today's context, irrespective of whether it's business or personal, not every challenge or issue can be adequately centralised in a problem solving - or finding - perspective.

Also, just imagine you only have a screw driver in your strategy tool-box.

For us to be operative, we therefore need a smorgasbord of visual tools in our strategy repertoire!

Dilip Mukerjea, a protege of Tony Buzan, has moved out of what I like to call the 'Mindmapping' gridlock to explore new paths in visualising information.

Sad to say, there are a lot of people, including so-called master trainers, who are still stuck in the gridlock.

Over the years, Dilip has created an innovative variety of new visual tools, namely, 'Splash Maps', 'Flow Maps', 'i-Maps' & 'Lifescapes' to help businesspeople, professionals & students, in navigating information, building understanding & generating ideas as well as managing complexity.

Some of these tools have already been covered in this weblog.

In addition to the offerings from Dilip, I like to take this opportunity to highlight other visual tools available today, especially for readers who are keen to explore beyond traditional mind-mapping:

- fish-bone diagramming;
- time-lines;
- transitive-order diagramming, an expanded variation of time lines;
- story grid;
- concept mapping;
- V-diagramming;

- causal loop diagramming;

Readers can also take a look at the following resources:

- 'Thinking Visually: Business Applications of Fourteen Core Diagrams', by Malcolm Craig;

- 'Rapid Problem Solving with Post-It Notes', by David Straker;

- 'The Power of 2 x 2 Matrix: Using 2 x 2 Thinking to Solve Business Problems', by Alex Lowly & Phil Hood;

- 'Visible Thinking: Unlocking Causal Mapping for Practical Business Results', by John Bryson;

- 'Beyond Words', by Milli Sonneman;

- 'The Marketer's Visual Toolkit', by Terry Richey;

- 'The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems & Selling Ideas with Pictures', by Dan Roam;

In the realm of strategic planning & organisational development, I reckon 'Reinventing Communication: A Guide to Using Visual Language for Planning' by Larry Raymond would be an excellent resource.

Even Nancy Margulies' mind-scapes as envisaged in her 'Mapping InnerSpace' &/or 'Visual Thinking: Tools for Mapping Ideas' can help you deliberately move away from Tony Buzan's standard routines.

In other words, you can start your idea from anywhere you like.

For readers who just want a quick & broad understanding of visual thinking perspectives, I would recommend Robert Horn's 'Visual Language: Global Communication for the 21st Century.'

For readers who are working in the educational world, in which visual tools are more commonly addressed as graphic organisers, the following resources are worth exploring:

- 'Drawing Your Own Conclusions', by Fran Claggert;

- 'Going Beyond Words', by Kathy Mason;

- 'Tools for Thought: Graphic Organisers for Your Classroom', by Jim Burke;

Readers who want to explore multi-disciplinary applications should take a further look at these books:

- 'Cooperative Think Tank', Volume I & II, by James Bellanca;

Those who prefer graphic organisers with a focused, critical thinking perspective, should explore:

- 'Organising Thinking', Book I & II, by Howard Black & Sandra Parks;

For navigating scientific materials, 'Concept Mapping' & 'Vee Diagrams', which I have mentioned earlier, as postulated by Joseph Novak in his two seminal books on the subject are definitely worth exploring.

Those who want a more spontaneous free-form approach, I guess Nancy Marguiles' mind-scapes in her book, 'Mapping Inner Space', which I have mentioned earlier, would fit the bill.

For a technology-based system in an educational setting, consultant David Hyerle's 'ThinkMaps' as postulated in his four books, 'Visual Tools for Constructing Knowledge', 'A Field Guide to Using Visual Tools', & 'Student Successes with Thinking Maps', & 'Visual Tools for Transforming Information Into Knowledge' are recommended, even though they have some limitations.

From the foregoing resource highlights, there is a likelihood that readers may be bewildered by so many resources.

My contention is very simple: one should always be open to as many perspectives as possible, so that one does not get stuck to one single perspective.

Of course, there bound to be some overlapping, but, from my own experience as a strategy consultant, the unique perspectives of the particular author as well as the broad diversity of applications as illustrated are definitely worth our time & effort to explore them for knowledge acquisition.

To conclude this post, I like to pose this question:

what is the rationale for using a smorgasbord of visual tools?

I have taken the liberty of selecting several beautiful pictures - hand-crafted first in pencil on a tablet, then digitised on computer - by Dilip Mukerjea, & specifically arranged them in order to answer - visually & picturesquely - the foregoing question, as shown below:

... at three progressive levels: first, as an initial response; second, as a deeper, reflective response; & finally, as an assimilative response, with diligent execution...

...through the visualisation process, you can develop the ability to find & search the 'Next Steps' or 'What's Next? or 'What else?'... after all, the whole purpose of using visual tools is to find & search where they would lead you to... interestingly, creativity guru Edward de bono calls the process, 'water logic'...

additional gains, for the user:

you are able to generate a resourceful state of mind to deal with complexity & to go straight for the jugular...

your thoughts become crystal clear, as you can see all the complex inter-relationships...

you now have the bird's eye view, thus you are able to see the forest from the trees...

you become more discerning & discriminating in creating strategic insights from the data smog... picking strategic intelligence from the information glut...

further gains for the user:

you develop the knack for grasping the big picture quickly, which is a critical tenet of thinking strategically...

plus, the ability to manage & deal with tough, compex tasks...

Last, but not least:

[This post has been inspired by Dilip Mukerjea's newly-released handy 36-page pocket-sized guide to 'The Brainaissance Program of iCAPitalism Seminars', an earlier version of which has already been featured in this blog. All the images are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]