FROM DILIP MUKERJEA

"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

BOOK REVIEW: 'FUTURE SAVVY', by Adam Gordon

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

While reviewing this book, my curious mind somehow retrogresses to the early eighties, which had given me my first exciting encounter with strategic management, more specifically, the domain of planning & forecasting.

I was then involved in corporate planning & research of a Malaysian conglomerate based in Singapore.

I recall my first introductory book, among a few others (including George Steiner's 'Strategic Planning'), to help me understand & appreciate the basics of horizontal scanning, was actually Francis Aguilar's 'Scanning the Business Environment'. It was in fact my excellent field guide for many years.

Since then, I had become very fascinated by the subject of planning & forecasting, venturing into new ancillary fields like futurology or future studies, trend tracking, even after I had left the corporate world in the early nineties.

I had even joined the World Future Society & other learned institutions to gain more access to available resources.

From that subsequent period onward, all the way right up to even today, as part of my own strategy consulting as well as personal development, I began to develop a deep interest in state-of-the-art stuff like anticipatory management & developing strategic foresight.

Over the ensuing years, I have amassed, read & digested a whole gamut of good books as well as interesting articles, including watching webcasts & listening to podcasts.

It has never dawn on me that all the books on exploring the future & intelligence gathering, which I have now acquired in my personal library, could be placed on a continuum, just for the purpose of seeing where all the books stand syntopically, until recently:

- at one end, I have acquired the books that pertain to the broader methodologies of "exploring the future & scanning the horizon", e.g. 'The Art of the Long View' (Peter Schwartz), 'Strategic Foresight: Standing in the Future' (Nick Marsh), 'Futuring: The Exploration of the Future' (Edward Cornish), 'Thinking about the Future' (Peter Bishop), & including the works of Alvin Toffler, John Naisbitt, James Canton, Kees van der Heijden, Edie Weiner & Arnold Brown, Richard Slaughter, Peter Drucker, Joel Arthur Barker, Jennifer James, Margot Cairnes, Chantell Ilbury & Clem Sunter, just to name a few;

- at the other end, I have acquired the books that pertain to the tools of "sculpting information into informed decisions, & in turn, shaping the latter into incisive actions, with the effective use of technology", e.g. 'Information Management for the Intelligent Organisation' (Chun Wei Choo), 'InfoThink' (Mary Park), 'Info-Sense' (Keith Devlin), 'The Warning Solution' (Kristan Wheaton), 'Inside Information' (DVL Smith), 'Hearing the Voice of the Market' (Vincent Barabba), & including the works of Benjamin Gilad, George Day, Paul Schoemaker, Bob Johansen, Alain Martin, Frederick Timmerman, Thomas Buckholtz, just to name a few;

Standing back, with 'Future Savvy' right in front of me, I somehow feel very strongly that the author, Adam Gordon, has done a great job of more or less plugging the imaginary gap between the two perceived extremes, & thus pulling & tugging the twain together, resulting in an offering with the best of both worlds, so to speak.

More signifcantly, the author has provided us with a deliberate & disciplined critical thinking routine for coping with a rapidly-changing world.

I have really enjoyed perusing 'Future Savvy', especially for its battery of critical tests to evaluate the validity - also, exercise quality control & ensure 'future-fit' (between our strategic initiatives & the world out there) - of information from the torrential myriad of sources, like newspapers, economic insights from TV stations, conference presentations, industry papers, etc.

For me, I have found my favourite chapters to be those towards the second half of the book, from chapter 7 to 11.

As a matter of fact, I reckon that the last chapter, Chapter 11, offering the well-thought 'forecast filtering' checklist, together with the preceding chapter, Chapter 10, covering many case examples of application, is actually worth the price of the entire book.

I also appreciate the author's many fine distinctions, e.g. future-aligning vs future-influencing forecasting, point forecasts vs multiple scenarios, the dynamics of system variables in a forecast, maintaining a wise balance between uncertainty/complexity & quantitative modeling, etc.

In a nut shell, the author has shown in great detail how to come up with realistic predictive statements, so as to dovetail or resonate in some way with our particular circumstances, fortuitous timing & even good fortune, which often play into eventual outcomes.

The book is almost written like a scholarly exposition, but the author, fortunately, doesn't bother the reader with historical facts & theoretical perspectives often found in forecasting books.

With succinctness & clarity, he goes straight into the jugular to help readers to identify the factors that most often derail the potentially good predictive process.

His principal premise is very clear from the start: "Forecasts are a crucial decision-making success resource . . . but these forecasts are often badly done or done with a purpose to influence the future (i.e. not to neutrally predict it.) . . ."

He argues that, as decision-makers, we "need to be able to judge how good a forecast is – so as to know how to or whether to factor it into our world view".

Also, again as decision makers, we "need to be able to critically judge which predictive statements are worth planning for & investing in".

To end this review, I must qualify that this book does not supercede or diminish the importance of all the other book resources I have highlighted earlier. Those mentioned books are worth pursuing on their own, especially if you are like me, always wanting to have a clearer view of the future.

To take a creative cue from creativity guru Michael Hewitt-Gleeson from Down Under, a BVS (better view of the situation) > (greater than; which is measured as a ten times by this author;) CVS (current view of the situation).

From my perspective, both as a consumer & a practitioner, Adam Gordon's 'Future Savvy' is definitely a highly useful & much-needed addition to the strategy repertoire of a 21st century manager.

[Incidentally, more information about Adam Gordon & his work can be found at his corporate website or personal weblog.

Also, very interestingly, he has acknowledged in his book that Peter Bishop, author of 'Thinking about the Future: Guidelines for Strategic Foresight', another wonderful book from my perspective, especially for its 115 superb guidelines, as his teacher & mentor for many years.

More information about the latter book can be found at this link.]

CREATIVITY & SURVIVAL

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);

BIOMIMICRY: LEARNING FROM MOTHER NATURE

Ever since I had read Janine Benyus' luscious book, 'Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature', at the tail end of the nineties, I have been hooked by what we can learn from Mother Nature.

In addition to the foregoing book, here are two great resources on biomimicry:

- Biomimicry Institute;

- Biomimicry Guild: The Innovation Consultancy for Bio-inspired Design;

A brief write-up on author Janine Benyus & the latest developments in biomimicry can be found at this link.

Friday, February 27, 2009

SYNTOPIC BOOK REVIEW: 'THINKING WITH A PENCIL', by Henning Nelms, & 'RAPID VIZ', by Kurt Hanks

In the field of rapid visualisation, there are only two books I would often recommend to others:

For left-brainers, i.e. people who are naturally logic-oriented:

Get hold of 'Thinking with a Pencil' by Henning Nelms;

For right-brainers, i.e. people who are naturally creative &/or imagination-oriented:

Get hold of 'Rapid Viz' by Kurt Hanks;

Both books cater to all those who wish to use a simple drawing as a tool for thought & communication.

They explain how to draw &/or sketch quickly as well as how to use graphic illustration as a thinking tool & as a means of organising & presenting ideas on paper. This, in a nut shell, is essentially the process of rapid visualisation.

The only difference between the two books lies in their approach to the process, even though both have a free-hand style.

'Thinking with a Pencil' has a more structured approach, with a slant toward technical drawing. It has almost 700 technical illustrations.

In contrast, 'Rapid Viz' has a more free-form or creative approach, with a emphasis on speed & simplicity. In essence, it's more wholistic in terms of the process. It has some 900 illustrations & is also packed with ideas, games, puzzles & exercises to guide the reader.

As an engineer by training, I have owned the first book since the late sixties, & the latter book since the early eighties.

During my engineering days, the first book has been my field guide.

I have found that both books are written for the novice in mind. They provide easy-to-follow step by step instructional approach to the practical strategies of seeing, thinking, & drawing.

For me, they are the only two true classics in the field!

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

BEAUTY LIES IN THE BRAIN OF THE BEHOLDER


Writing in his book, 'Brain Symphony: Brain-blazing Practical Techniques in Creativity for Immediate Application', Dilip Mukerjea pens a beautiful piece about the brain in the inside back cover, as follows:

"The phenomenal mass of protoplasm that is your brain has all the elegance of a wrinkled lump of clay. Yet it governs your life and determines your destiny. The bio-mechanics of human nature are unraveling extraordinary possibilities, all via the lyrics of molecular melodies that create your perceptions and orchestrate your learning accomplishments.

Your brain is the most astonishing galaxy in the universe. Its constellations of neurons sling and dance to the rhythm of their dazzling harmonics.

What emerges is a symphony of sensations that choreograph your passage through life. This happens when your brain's hundred billion neurons continually vary their tunes, and produce a repertoire that is sensed in every fibre of your being.

The gelatinous interiors of our brains harbour the secrets of humankind's success as a species.

This book is a window that invites your immersion into the treasure chest of creative brilliance.

It is a symphony of the brain that I call 'brainsong'.

Come sing! Come play!"

Writing in his latest book, released only in September last year, 'Taleblazers: Imagination to Imprint', he pens again another beautiful piece about the brain, under the caption of 'Your Glorious Briangarden of Possibilities', as follows:

"Your brain is a hypnotically beautiful garden, abloom with possibilities. It is creatively flamboyant, inter-flowing with a rich blend of vivid imagery and vibrant prose. Buoyant when aroused, it is capable of a fascinating spectrum of moods: chaotic, random, violent sometimes, often uncontainable, a pandemonium of creative effusions . . . yet, it can also be dazzling, all-embracing, enchanting and restorative.

Your braingarden is a universe ablaze with a battalion of 'brilliances; a salute to what you were born with, who you are capable of being, the legacy you can leave humankind."



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

Say Keng's personal comments:

Reading Dilip Mukerjea's beautiful pieces is almost like reading poetry, especially with his mastery of the English Language.

However, the crux of the matter is that the brain, as the way I see it, in spite of all its intricacies & idiosyncrasies, is invariably our pre-eminent information processor and perpetual idea generator!

Just savour this reality from today's headlines, a true manifestation of brainpower:

A feel-good story concocted by the fertile mind of a British screen writer [even though it was adapted from an original story by Indian novelist Vikas Swarup], under the artistic direction of a British director, coupled with a catchy score by an Indian music maestro, backed by an all-Bollywood cast, plus a handful of street-corner commandoes from the slums of the second largest nation of the world, & set against the backdrop of charming Mumbai, swept off 8 Oscars, including Best Picture, in a recent ceremony.

I am of course talking about 'Slumdog Millionaire' - "the finest hour for Indian cinema on the global stage", to paraphrase Anand Sharma, the Indian Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting.

To me, it should be a salute to what we were born with.

On that note, use more of your brain, because . . . it is the key to boosting your Intellectual Capital, just as Dilip Mukerjea has exhorted on the back cover of 'Brain Symphony'.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

THE LEARNING SOCIETY

[continued from the Last Post.]


Even today, we know more about our phones and automobiles than we do about our own minds.

Despite having attained ‘high intelligence’ and ‘culture’ we remain in a cognitive prison. Our ways of learning and interacting with one another have remained primitive, and principally “user-belligerent.”

From simple bacterium-like organisms to complex eukaryotic cells to large multicellular animals, we have emerged and evolved as a predatory species, to the grief of most preexisting life forms.

We need a fresh consciousness. If not, we remain on course to annihilate our habitat. The solution lies in creating a Learning Society.

We are confronted by the master unsolved problem of biology — how the hundred billion nerve cells of the human brain work together to create consciousness. Yet we have free will to choose our actions, from the infinitude of emotion-charged and symbol-drenched, arbitrary in content, multifarious options on offer.

Why not choose to be a superspecies of learning organisms that blend together to form a Learning Society?

This ‘learning culture’ would apply to infants, families, pensioners, executives, and would be free of the ills that beset the planet today.

Idealistic? Indeed. But all it needs is a will to move: from ideal to intention to illumination ~ an awakening to the truth that we can lead ourselves only through learning continually; our societies can thus stem the rot and salvage the future for our species.

“You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it.”

– G.K.Chesterton

All learning is brain-to-brain, inspired by heart, spirit, mind, body, and soul. When brains connect, illumination dispels darkness, possibilities spark into life. Imagination oxygenates the brain, and ideas flourish: The engine of Intellectual Capital is in motion. The world is alive, and magic must happen.

"Imagine the brain, that shiny mound of being, that mouse-gray parliament of cells, that dream factory, that petite tyrant inside a ball of bone, that huddle of neurons calling all the plays, that little everywhere, that fickle pleasuredome, that wrinkled wardrobe of selves stuffed into the skull like too many clothes in a gym bag."

~ Diane Ackerman

[Excerpted from the 'Leadership, Learning & Laughter' 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:

To help readers in developing a personally relevant 'learning culture', here is my broad recap of the critical skills & attributes for effective managers in the 21st Century [extracted from the 'Optimum Performance Technologies' weblog]:

- inter-personal communication (people skills);

- ability to act with integrity;

- ability to manage change & adapt quickly;

- ability to motivate & counsel people;

- being a strategic thinker/visionary leader;

- analytical as well as creative problem solving skills;

- having a global mindset;

- ability to make informed decisions & take quick actions;

- being able to anticipate & recognise industry trends & market conditions;

- ability to manage & resolve conflicts;

- knowledge of information technology;

- knowledge of financial performance & risk management;

- knowledge of strategic as well as scenario planning;

- influencing & negotiation skills;

- knowledge of multiple languages;

- knowledge of geopolitical & cultural diversity;

- business development & presentation skills;

- having a self development mindset;

- ability to facilitate & manage teams;

- staff recruitment, training, appraisal & mentoring skills;

- ability to manage energy & stress;

- resiliency (able to balance job, family & external demands);

- project management skills;

If you are an educator/parent/student, I suggest dropping by this wonderful link, which provides an excellent roadmap to the skills, knowledge & expertise which all students of today should master in order to succeed in the 21st century.

I reckon, in the end analysis, the most absolutely, fundamentally important aspect of surviving & thriving in the 21st century is learning & acquiring new skills, & more importantly, learning them fast!

THE LEARNING PLANET

[contined from the Last Post.]

This realm will glisten with design outcomes, where creators of art and science, storytellers, caregivers, pattern recognisers, and big picture envisioners, will becomethe architects of social evolution.

In an ideal state, we will witness the marriage of beauty and utility, of an awareness that is sententious and masterful. At least, this is my hope in a world gone mad!

Solutions lie in creating what I call, a Learning Planet. We must dare to opt for a better world.

Our species is the only one that can imagine the invisible, the impossible, and the inevitable. It is thus our moral responsibility to establish a learning consciousness.

As perpetual learning organisms, we can undo the yarns of ignorance, and shift our focus from warring to caring. Or else, this will be our Last Millennium! And with it, our Lost Millennium!

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.”

~ Carl Gustav Jung

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

THE LEARNING REVOLUTION

The Learning Era is upon us.

In the grand scheme of human evolution, generally accepted learning procedures have been unable to keep pace with the high-velocity transformations that most enterprises now face.

Most prevailing learning systems are still rooted firmly in the industrial era, where capital was seen as financial and physical, not intellectual.

The antiquity of our current learning systems is critical. These systems tend to perpetuate the status quo, within which, there is little status. Transforming and correcting this scenario calls for much individual resolve, and collective action.

New dimensions of learning have unfolded with stunning speed … either we move ahead, or stay dead! The preceding half-century has been defined by computer programmers, lawyers, and MBAs.

Their time is passing.

The world is waking up to the need for a fresh approach to the future. In this scenario, we will see the emergence, prominence, and dominance of an invigorating, modern consciousness, where the players are meaning makers, their collective consciousness the very pith of brilliance.

[To be continued in the Next Post. Excerpted from the 'Leadership, Learning & Laughter' 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:

What Dilip Mukerjea has written so eloquently is very true.

In fact, I recall vividly, way back into the early nineties, having come across the work of the American philosopher Eric Hoffer (1902-1983), who gave this small piece of great advice:

"In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."
Just reflect on the following forecasted future scenarios, which I have read not too long ago [from the book, 'What I Learned from Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin with Forward-Thinking Innovation' by futurist/business strategist Jim Carroll]:

- 65% of pre-school children today will be employed in careers & jobs that don't yet exist;

- most people will find themselves not only in 4 or 5 different jobs in their lifetime, but in 4 or 5 different careers;

- the half-life of an engineer 's knowledge is about 5 years, & as low as 2 to 3 years for a computer pro (*);


(*) In a separate slideshare presentation available on the net, which I can't recall the source, the presenter has mentioned that "by 2020, 1/2 of what you know in the first year (of university) will be out of date by the third year".

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A QUICK LESSON ON PERSEVERANCE


Writing in his book, 'Building BrainPower: Turning Grey Matter into Gold', Dilip Mukerjea shares with readers a hand-crafted mind-map on 'People Who Persevered'.

Along with it, he relates "several instances of famous people who persisted determinedly until their efforts brought them success and recognition. These examples show us that, with persistent perseverance and indefatigable determination, all of us have the potential for great success."

He even throws in a brief story & a short poem to illustrate perseverance, as follows:

"There is a story of two frogs having fallen into a vat of cream. One of the frogs struggled for a bit, then gave up. Needless to say, he drowned.

The other frog, meanwhile continued struggling in his efforts to escape. His persistent struggles churned the cream into butter following which he was able to climb onto butter and jump to freedom."

"Two frogs fell into a can of cream -
or so I've heard it told.
The sides of the can were shiny and steep.
The cream was deep and cold.
'Oh, what's the use? said number 1,
' 'This fate - no help's around -
Good-bye, my friend! Good-bye, sad world!'
And weeping still, he drowned.
But number 2 of sterner stuff,
Dogpaddled in surprise,
The whole he wiped his creamy face
And dried his creamy eyes.
'I'll swim awhile, at least,' he said -
Or so it has been said -
'It wouldn't really help the world
If one more frog was dead.'
An hour, or two he kicked and swam -
Not once he stopped to mutter,
But kicked and swam, and swam and kicked,
Then hopped out, via butter."

I just thought of sharing some of my favourite quotations about 'perseverance', as follows:

"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no help at all."

~ Dale Carnegie, success motivator & author of the best selling book, 'How to Win Friends & Influence People';

"Before success comes in any man's life he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat and, perhaps, some failures. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit. That is exactly what the majority of men do."

~ Napoleon Hill, author of best-selling books of all time, 'Think & Grow Rich' & 'The Law of Success';

"I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature."

~ John D. Rockefeller, industrialist & philanthropist;

"Success seems to be connected with action. Successful men keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit."

~ Conrad Hilton, hotelier & founder of the Hilton Hotel chain;

"I learned about the strength you can get from a close family life. I learned to keep going, even in bad times. I learned not to despair, even when my world was falling apart. I learned that there are no free lunches. And I learned the value of hard work."

~ Lee Iaccoca, former CEO of Ford Motor Co., well known for his revival of the Chrysler Corporation in the 1980s;

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

~ Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister;

"A leader, once convinced that a particular course of action is the right one, must....be undaunted when the going gets tough."

~ Ronald Reagan, former US President;

"I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles."

~ Christopher Reeve, movie actor famous for his role as 'Superman', in four films from 1978 to 1987;

"I think I'd like to be remembered as someone who beat the odds through just plain determination . . . that I persevered. Because I think that being somewhat of a pest to life, constantly plaguing and pursuing, will bring results."

~ Sylvester Stallone, movie megastar famous for his 'Rocky' & 'Rambo' movies;

"Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength."

~ Arnold Schwarzenegger, 5-times Mr Universe, 7-times Mr Europa, movie megastar, & politician currently serving as the 38th Governor of California;

"Always continue the climb. It is possible for you to do whatever you choose if you first get to know who you are and are willing to work with a power that is greater than ourselves to do it. "

~ Oprah Winfrey, celebrated TV host;

"There were no shortcuts, I realized. It took years of racing to build up the mind and body and character until a rider had logged hundreds of races and thousands of miles of road. I wouldn’t be able to win a Tour de France until I had enough iron in my legs, and lungs, and brain and Heart."

~ Lance Armstrong, 7 times 'Tour de France' Champion;

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: 'THE IMAGINATION CHALLENGE', By Alexander Manu

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

I am always fascinated by the power of imagination.

With imagination, my mind becomes my playground. Coupling with fantasy, it becomes my amusement park.

Naturally, I love to read books about enhancing imagination.

On that note, several old classic books come quickly to mind:

- 'Applied Imagination', by Alex Osborn, the advertising guy who coined "brainstorming";

- 'Imagineering: How to Profit from Your Creative Powers', by Michael Lebouef (I love his premise: "You let your imagination to soar & then you engineer it down to earth.");

During my corporate days, I had even read 'Corporate Imagination Plus' by James Bandrowski, who asserted the importance of imagination in strategic planning.

A few months ago, I have read 'Turn Your Imagination into Money', which is actually a reprint of an old classic.

I reckon the most memorable personal experience in appreciating the power of imagination is my first visit to the Disneyland World Resort in Anaheim, California, during the eighties, to experience the imagineering masterpieces of the legendary Walt Disney.

The joyful encounter was followed by further visits to The Tokyo Disneyland in Japan & the Walt Disney World Resort (+ the EPCOT Centre) in Orlando, Florida. In fact, I had revisited the latter after a time gap of ten years in 2000.

Following a stumble-upon on the net, I have acquired & read 'The Imagination Challenge: Strategic Foresight & Innovation in the Global Economy', by Alexander Manu, a strategic innovation practitioner.

After perusal, I must say this book definitely ranks in a totally different league, when compared to all the stuff I have already read earlier.

It's almost a scholarly exposition, although I detect that there is a very playful streak in the writing, which is clear & succinct.

The first thing I got out of the book is the lucid distinction between 'imagination' & 'creativity' since most of us, including myself, tend to lump them together.

Also, I get a better understanding of the apparently subtle difference between 'strategic innovation' & 'tactical innovation'.

From the way I read it, the book is specifically written from a human user-centred design perspective. This has to do with the author's original design background.

Also, much of the material in the book is drawn from the author's professional experiences, while serving as Research Director in the Beal Institute for Strategic Creativity.

[Currently, I understand he is the Chief Imaginator with InnoSpa Consulting of Finland.]

I certainly appreciate the author's many key premises at the onset of the book's beginning chapters:

- creative & innovative thinking creates (or recreates) value in a product or service, but it is the power of our imagination that provides the quantum leap in our thinking as well as experimentation to help build & enhance the ultimate user experiences with our products & services;

- it's the ability to imagine without limits, & asking 'what if...?' questions incessantly that will allow us to create innovative products & services;

- to trigger imagination, we need to become real kids again, as serious play (to kids, play is never a task, in fact to them, play = work) is a powerful means to unlocking our creative & innovative potential;

- it's our imagination that give life & meaning to technology;

- the best approach to designing wonderful customer experiences is through the eyes of a kid, be curious about the world, about everything, experiment, reason everything before drawing up conclusions, don't jump on forms but rather define what the forms must do & how they interact with users before deciding how they look;

- in the words of the authors, strategic innovation requires an understanding of the underlying behaviours, desires & motivations of the ultimate design solution;

- interestingly, more questions will come from the play instinct, as play is exploring, searching, seeing things in a new light, communicating, interacting, & more importantly, be-ing what we are from day one - born with creative impulses;

- as organisations, we need to create an ecology of possibility or play space, so to speak, to allow our people to explore the possible & to come up with breakthrough solutions, & more importantly, to be play-wise & play-ready;

- hands do not initiate play; the mind must do it first, so I reckon what keeps our mind agile is how we use & stimulate it; The book is packed with inspiring stories & illustrative anecdotes.

What I like most is the author's complete set of 8 flexible steps that can serve as a framework for investigating viable opportunities, culminating into what the author has designated as 'The Strategic Imagination Circle' (Chapter 11):

1) signal discovery;
2) emerging signals mapping;
3) imaginative questions;
4) points of departure;
5) future scenarios;
6) experience opportunity definition;
7) economic opportunity modeling;
8) post-signal learning;

At first glance, it seems complicated. It has taken me quite a while to understand & digest how it works.

I can sense, to some extent, some of the stuff here, at least:

- in terms of "just playing around leads to great discoveries", correlates to Michael Schrage's 'Serious Play: How the World's Best Companies Simulate to Innovate', although the latter has a primary focus on prototyping;

- in terms of "reading signals", correlates to the work of George Day & Paul Schoemaker, who wrote 'Peripheral Vision: Detecting the Weak Signals that Would Make or Break Your Company', with the principal premise: how good are you in sensing, interpreting & acting on the signals?

[Please read my review in an earlier post.]

The adverse comments I am going to make here are, as follows: The suggested tools to be used at each stage of the 'Strategic Imagination Circle' are seemingly lacking adequate elaboration or amplification on the part of the author. Also, for me, I have this feeling that the link to strategic foresight has not been well addressed by the author.

Notwithstanding the above comments, I dare to say that this book is still worthwhile to be pursued. It's not just about the power of imagination & the wonder of play.

It's also about insight restructuring & opportunity finding.

By the way, readers can access sample chapters of the book at this link.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IN THIS SITUATION?


It was a still, moonlit night, and the tide was receding. The Korean War was in progress. An American destroyer lay at anchor off the Korean coast.

Whilst making his midnight rounds of the ship, the quartermaster noticed a black cylindrical object in the water. He was seized by fear. Recognising immediately that he had seen a live mine drifting towards the ship, he sensed imminent destruction. Panicking uncontrollably, he seized the ship's intercom, and called the duty officer and the captain.

They activated the general alarm, which pierced the still night air like a flaming arrow of shrill sound. Suddenly, the ship was abuzz with the entire crew stampeding into action. They frantically considered the options.

Could they weigh anchor? There was no time for that. Start the engines and run them in reverse? The propeller might attract the mine to it. Detonate the mine with artillery fire? It was much too close for that to be a safe option. The truth emerged with dramatic consequences as the ultimate fear of total destruction loomed before them.

However, in the midst of this paralysing fear, one of the seamen on the deck drew from his experience as a volunteer fireman.

"Get the fire hoses!" he bellowed.

"We'll drive the mine away by directing the water jet between it and the ship. We can then get it far enough away to explode it harmlessly."

A terrible tragedy was thereby averted by that simple and practical idea.

Knowledge, memory, a flash of inspiration brought on by perturbation. When faced with a problem, never give up. Draw on your experiences to determine the most practical options available to you.

[Excerpted from 'Brain Symphony: Brain-blazing Practical Techniques in Creativity for Immdiate Application' by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

Say Keng's personal comments:

In layman terms, the above anecdote is a superb example of "Thinking on Your Feet".

In scientific terms, it's an "accelerated logic" application, according to a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) coach, whose name I have long forgotten. In this case, one's entire inventory of lifetime experiences & working knowledge is brought forth instantaneously to bear on the problem, with the ability of resolving it.

I always hold the view that whenever one is confronted by a problem situation, even if it is an emergency, one always has three options:

- FREEZE!
- FLEE!
- FLOW!

with the latter as exemplified by the fast thinking seaman.

That's to say, we have this innate ability to access a higher order of problem solving, when under perturbation, with which we can draw upon our knowledge, memory & inspiration, as long as we don't simply give up, just as Dilip Mukerjea has concluded.

ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

Are you currently getting the right answers to the wrong questions or the wrong answers to the right questions?

What is at stake when we ask the wrong questions and come up with the right answers?

Everything, that is, everything that includes the interactions between people, organisations, and technologies.

These are the ingredients of systems within ecosystems.

It is far better to ask the right questions and get a stack of wrong answers, for they are markers that lead the way to solutions.

We learn far more when things go wrong than when they go right. We must welcome wrong answers so that we can understand them, relate them to past experience, and infuse them into the wisdom of an organisation.

When we refuse to recognise and acknowledge the importance of errors, we commit the most damaging error possible.

The right questions can lead initially to chaos. This is healthy. Our wrong answers churn away within us, much like a carburetor preparing a mixture for combustion . . . except that this is creative combustion, often leading to breakthrough innovations.

Psychologists point out that most of us have mind sets. That is, we tend to fall into ruts that limit our thinking. Turning the problem upside down may provide a novel solution. It is said that Ford’s invention of the assembly line was achieved by this type of inverted thinking.

Instead of the usual ”How can we get people to the material to work on it?” Ford asked, “How can we get the work to the people?”

With this fresh approach the assembly line idea emerged.

~ Auren Uris & Jane Bensahel, “On the Job: Quick Solutions to Job Problems,” Los Angeles Times, 1981.

Ideas are meant to be alive, dynamic, oxygenated through participation, experimentation,and cross-fertilisation. They are worthless unless they can be put to use, and continually grown, improved, destroyed, and reincarnated afresh. Their core remains the same, but their scope enlarges with successful use.

The inherent, dynamic nature of ideas inspires unexpected, often serendipitous, results. As long as we have a creative brain, we can never run out of ideas!

[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 expert comments:

I fully concur with Dilip Mukerjea.

One of the easiest ways to start questioning & to get it rolling is to apply the traditional Journalist's Questions:

- What?

- Who?

- Where?

- When?

- Why?

- How?


For example, say within the context of evaluating a problem situation - you can ask:

- "what has happened?";

- "who was involved?";

- "where did it happened?";

- "when did it happened?";


Next, you can in fact bring your line of questioning to the next level by asking:

- "what has not happened yet?";

- "who is not involved yet?" or "who is the perpetuator here?" or "who will benefit most from here?";

- "where did it not happened yet?";

With such exploratory questions, you definitely open up a lot of perspectives, giving you the opportunity to uncover "hidden truths", so to speak!

In fact, I am inclined to throw in a 'Which? into the questioning process, although I believe Dilip has some reservations:

- Which part of the problem is most critical or which part gives the most trouble?

- Which part of it is more trivial or inconsequential?

By posing questions from this perspective, one can probably can get down to the jugular of the problem more quickly.

You can also expand the line of questioning by making your questions more open-ended, like what Henry Ford had done? In that way, possibilities naturally popped up for him.

For example, you can rephrase many of your questions in this manner:

- "In how many ways can I . . .?";

- "To what extent can I . . .?"


Other expansion possibilities include:

- "what if . . .?";

- "why not . . .?";

- "how come . . . ?";


- "so what? . . . what's next?"

To me, the ultimate purpose of asking questions is finding where it leads you to.

Interestingly, the graphic symbol for a question is "?" & if you invert it, it looks exactly like a "fishing hook".

Questioning is fishing in the ocean. Fishing for abundant answers.

As a matter of fact, to drive home Dilip Mukerjea's principal argument:

Questions, especially the open-ended ones, can gradually move your thinking from a 'fixed mindset' into a 'growth mindset'!

From my personal as well as professional experience, I believe that a deliberate practice in asking many varied questions, as I have illustrated in the foregoing, will eventually lead you to asking the right questions!

Last, to concur with Dilip Mukerjea once again, especially his last point, we must always put our ideas to work.

Remember, Actions have Consequences! & Consequences create Change, to paraphrase my good friend.

Monday, February 23, 2009

CHANGE CREATES CONSEQUENCES, CONSEQUENCES CREATE CHANGE

The overriding observation that emerges from the process of evolution is that:

Should we permit change to overwhelm us?

Shouldn't we be proactive in anticipating change, then flowing with it, or better still, in effecting change, and having a flow with us?

Furthermore, if humans have emerged so dominant from an initial position of significant inferiority, we should consider: to be in business today, it is time for us to take up the business of imagination.

Imaginative thoughts led to action, which effected constantly improving change. This process drove the march towards civilisation. By thinking, feeling, and doing, we are able to continually change the architecture of the brain.

By constantly stimulating our brains, by seeking out novelty, according value, and imbuing passion into our endeavours, we begin to appreciate now dynamically kaleidoscopic our brains really are.

Here's a thought for you:

What are you clinging on to that is no longer relevant?

What must you give up in order to realise your destiny?

Answer these questions and enjoy a return on your imagination!

[Excerpted from 'Brain Symphony: Brain-blazing Practical Techniques in Creativity for Immediate Application', by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

Say Keng shares his personal experience:

The pertinent questions posed by Dilip Mukerjea were more or less the same questions that had confronted me during the early nineties, when I was contemplating what to do with the second half of my life.

I was then 43 years old, working in quiet desperation as a corporate rat, looking good, but going nowhere.

I then realised that for things to change around me, I got to change first. To be the change I wanted to see in my life, so to speak.

So, I left the corporate world, where I had spent twenty four years of my working life, to pursue my passion: reading. I started a small, but unique, book store - that's how I met Dilip Mukerjea; published a newsletter; & established a consultancy outfit for small business. The rest was history.

In retrospect, & with the wisdom of hindsight, I dare to say this: your life will change in direct proportion to the degree that you change.

Also, your personal rate of change must preferably be higher than the external rate of change in the environment. For me, this resonates well with management guru Peter Drucker's insightful advice:

'One cannot manage change; one can only be ahead of it!"

Frankly, in a nut shell, I want to conclude that change is all about you:

- knowing yourself;
- knowing what you want;
- exploring how to get what you want;
- studying & understanding your environment;
- developing a strategy & following it through;
- using whatever resources you have, e.g. imagination;
- managing yourself effectively & efficiently;
- paying attention to your own results;
- making your corrections, where appropriate; &
- connecting effortlessly with everyone else in your life;

A WISE QUOTE FOR MONDAY MORNING


"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

~ Dilip Mukerjea;

Sunday, February 22, 2009

TOWARDS A CARBON NEUTRAL LIFESTYLE

The following text has originally existed as an 'Example of a Radiant Thinking Essay on the Theme: BOOKS' on page 102 in the book, 'Taleblazers: Imagination to Imprint', by Dilip Mukerjea.

"Books as we know them, on paper, are transitioning into digital panels: electronic, flat screen displays, with cheap electronic memory large enough to store several hundred titles.

Consider their dominant benefit:

they save trees, by eliminating the need for printing paper and cardboard cartons necessary for storage and shipment of books. The absence of physical books equates with eliminating warehouses for their mass storage. There are massive savings on maintenance costs on vans and trucks, and associated costs on fuel needed to run them.

E-books also enable instant service at your keyboard, as you can download multiple titles into a single device, which can accommodate thousands of pages of text and imagery in a finite physical space.

A single, inexpensive, high-definition screen can display hundreds of books, magazines, and newspapers; the amount of material needed to produce one paper book far exceeds that needed to produce several hundred e-books.

Purists still prefer the feel of a paper book, but as haptic (pertaining to the sense of touch) technology gets more sophisticated, it is inevitable that e-books will soon have the look and feel of paper books…but not their limitations!

Clear-cutting entire forests for paper is a violation against nature!

This practice will be trumped by memory boosting technology: just a few years ago, we were amazed at storage capacities in megabytes, then gigabytes, and now terabytes (each terabyte is a thousand billion bytes).

The power sources for such amplified memory devices are getting cheaper and more sophisticated; perhaps we will realise that we should be collaborating, instead of competing, with nature.

After all, nature to be commanded, must be obeyed.

Modern consciousness is decorated by the images and imaginations of every age. Books must reflect this truth, and evolve with the times.

Creativity is multiplicity derived from the destruction of the original unity: the act of grinding destroys the corn but, at the same time, multiplies it by fragmenting it. This is the same with e-books, emerging from the digitizing of traditional books.

Cremation is creation: burning is learning.

We must keep moving ahead, or stay dead: all that stays put shall fall; that which is in motion, shall stay."

What Dilip Mukerjea has written, as a brief essay - in August last year - is essentially a personal reflection of 'sustainability'.

In the corporate world, we call it 'The Triple Bottom Line' (3BL) strategy.

For corporations, the 3BL strategy sets out a challenge to make themselves differentiated from their competitors, to increase their profitability, & more importantly, to improve the environment, as good corporate citizens.

That's to say, to make their businesses ultimate part of the global climate change solution today.

The ROI to the company as such comprises 'People, Planet & Profit', a term believed to have been coined by the Royal Dutch/Shell Company.

It is principally intended to expand the traditional accounting report framework to take into the social & ecological/environmental performance in addition to economic/financial performance.

In a nut shell, I can see that everything boils down to an endeavour by corporations - as well as consumers - to reduce the ecological footprint, & to avoid the endangering depletion of natural resources on the planet.

As we all know, books & magazines gobble up trees. Sadly, global climate change is driven by rising concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Trees pull carbon out of the atmosphere. Less fallen trees mean a carbon neutral lifestyle for all of us.

Interestingly, & come to think of it while drawing apt cues from planet Earth's friendly genius, also engineer, inventor & futurist R Buckminister Fuller, we are all crew members travelling together on the same old spaceship.

Actually, what I have just highlighted has been sparked off today by Dilip Mukerjea, when he suddenly realised that his earlier thoughts, while writing the essay part in Taleblazers, may have unwittingly entered into a collision course - somewhere in the universe - with the brilliant thoughts of Dr Winston Wei, who has created Smartt Papers, an environmentally friendly, world's leading compression & transformation technology.

For airlines & the publishing industry, & with the timely role of Smartt Papers technology, the carbon costs, so to speak, can be turned into business opportunities.

Please refer to my earlier post with regard to our meeting with Dr Winston Wei.

Is it a coincidence? No, not the way I see it. Great minds think alike. More likely.

GLOBAL OVERVIEW vs TRUNCATED PERSPECTIVE

I have taken the liberty of extracting this age-old story from the 'Goldenminds: Unleashing Baby Genius Ages 1 to 101' edition of The Ingenius Series of bookazines available on a subscription basis for parents & kids, by Dilip Mukerjea.

The story has been originally titled 'Is Feeling Believing?'.

Here it goes:

"One day, in a distant Asian land, three blind men bumped into an elephant. Not being able to see, they had no idea what they had walked into. Since they could smell the creature, and hear it move, they decided to check it out.

One man grabbed the elephant’s trunk, another its body, and the third, its tail.

Each man explored a different part of the elephant and described what he imagined the creature to be. Unfortunately, they soon started arguing about who had offered the correct description.

The man with the trunk in his hand believed he was holding a hosepipe for hot air.

The man with his hands spread across the elephant’s belly believed he was holding a huge bag.

And the man tugging at the elephant’s tail was convinced he was holding a special type of snake.

They all failed to see that these different descriptions were part of a grand jigsaw that made up the elephant. They failed to recognise the whole truth.

Just the tail, trunk, or body of an elephant does not make an elephant. All the parts need to come together.

Similarly, just knowing a little bit, and then closing your mind to the whole truth leaves you as blind as the three men in this story.

Stay open to many possibilities! It will help you see the big picture!"

Dilip Mukerjea certainly brings up a very pertinent point through the above story, especially as illustrated in his eventual exhortation.

In a nut shell, it's essentially about the significance of having an helicopter viewpoint, or a global overview or a bird's eye perspective about what's really happening around us.

Naturally, it's good to have also multiple perspectives about things, events or people that go around in our environment, but one shouldn't get stuck so easily to a single perspective, or worst still, to a truncated perspective.

From the standpoint of strategic thinking, I firmly believe that a global overview, plus multiple viewpoints, definitely enhances one's appreciation of the landscape, business or otherwise.

Interestingly, it was visionary taskmaster Philip Yeo, while serving as Chairman of the Economic Development Board (EDB), took an helicopter ride one particular day to survey the southern islands, which eventually gave rise to the ultimate proposition of merging seven small islands to form Jurong Island, thus securing big investors to pump money into the envisaged offshore petrochemical hub for our country. The rest was history.

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

Saturday, February 21, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: 'IDEA MAPPING', by Jamie Nast

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

Frankly, I regret to point out that this book is just another 'how-to' Mind-Mapping book.

Essentially, it's no different from what Tony Buzan or Joyce Wycoff had written earlier. Except for one: The author has now fully incorporated the use of MindManager software to go with it.

Undoubtedly, MindManager can expedite the mind-mapping process. [With all the available third-party add-ons, MindManager is really a godsend!].

In some way, you can say reading this book is like reading any of Tony Buzan's Mind-Mapping books, syntopically with the 'MindManager for Dummies' book!

In reality, this book is not ground-breaking & does not offer any new insights into idea generation.

I must add, however, for a beginner into techno-savvy Mind-Mapping, this book is still great stuff.

I also want to compliment the author for listing out a series of 28 Mind-Mapping applications & suggested practice activities in the Idea Mapping Menu at the end pages!

For beginners, this is obviously a very good place to start.

My only adverse comment about mind-mapping as envisioned by Tony Buzan & his staunch followers is that every topical idea must seemingly take a radial approach & commence from the centre. This book doggedly follows the same approach.

Nancy Margulies, in her debut book, 'Mapping Innerspace', during the early eighties, took a radical departure from the Buzan routine. She created 'Mind-scaping' - your topical idea can start from anywhere you like - which I thought is really great!.

To some extent, 'idea-mapping' as the book title is quite a misnomer. It is obvious to me that the author has a somewhat narrow perspective, arising from her only chosen exposure to Buzan's Mind-Mapping routines & the MindManager software.

A truly 'idea-mapping' book should provide readers with a smorgasbord of options to go beyond traditional Mind-Mapping & just MindManager alone.

To illustrate a quick point, 'Mind-scaping' routines appear exceptionally wonderful with SmartDraw Pro (with its abundant templates & cliparts) or even Microsoft Visio.

'Concept mapping' routines, with the topical idea starting from the super-ordinate hierarchy as postulated by Joseph Novak, & 'causal loop diagramming' routines (from the field of systems thinking) are pieces of cake with 'Inspiration' software.

'Fish-bone diagramming' & 'flow-charting' (which are other forms of idea-mapping) with either 'Inspiration' or 'SmartDraw Pro' softwares are some good examples, too.

There are too numerous other software examples to cover in this review.

[For readers who are visual thinkers with a high propensity towards conceptual modeling, I would even suggest the 'AXON Idea Processor'. It has an impressive 3-D modeling capability, with a 500-level depth migration. Incidentally, it's also a Singaporean thoroughbred!]

In the course of my work, I have come across a lot of followers who are simply indoctrinated by the mindsets of Mind-Mapping as envisioned by Tony Buzan.

I would like to share with readers the true power & value of idea-mapping:

An idea-map is just a visual tool to jot down & organise ideas, & then use it to generate insights, irrespective of whether they are from reading a book or just stretching your brain for a change.

This is the initial response.

Once, this map is drawn up - with or without software -, it's just an exploded-view (map) of what you have just captured. Period! Most kids at primary school level can do it very well.

After the idea- map is done, you step back, take an helicopter view & reflect on it, by seeing the bigger & broader picture as well as from the systemic relationships between what has been written or drawn on the map.

You can then add to or may even subtract from the map. A lot of thinking (& reflection) on your part goes into this stage. Tactically, you also cross-pollinate from what you have read elsewhere as well as from your own &/or other peoples' experiences in connection with your reflections (or memory jogs!) from the idea map.

This is what I call the reflective response.

Lastly, comes the final response, with which you readily integrate (or internalise) what you have done in the initial & reflective responses, into what you are thinking &/or planning to do.

The resultant outcome is your assimilative response. Using another lingo, this is your strategic model.

This is where the actual value of an idea map is primarily located! Not in the beautiful map - with or without software - you have drawn in the first place!

(I also note that a lot of Buzan followers simply love to spend time & effort in beautifying their mind-maps! This is really crazy!)

I love to call this end-point process the 'water logic' of idea generation, to borrow a phrase from Edward de bono.

The true value or ROI of an idea-map is WHERE IT LEADS YOU TO.

Of course, having a beautifully drawn or crafted idea-map is good for the ego - looking good, but going nowhere!

Just as I have said earlier, this book has really great stuff for the beginner into techno-savvy Mind-Mapping. But, please don't just stop here because life as well as business issues are never centralised.

So, keep exploring! The world is full of possibilities!

To summarise my review, the author, regrettably with all her good intentions, did not focus on the true power & value of idea-mapping in this book.

THE LEARNING ECONOMY

This is the Age of Competitive Intelligence! It has given birth to The Learning Economy.

And thus, the need for Human Resources, humans standing in reserve, waiting to be used, has been replaced by the need for Resourceful Humans!

In a globally interlinked world, business success is based on cognitive success.

Cognitive has two equally significant meanings: “to know” and “to beget.” When blended, these two meanings suggest that all birth is an awakening to knowledge. To know and to generate are inseparable.

RED ALERT!

Are the actions, transactions, and interactions of your business processes perpetuating the decaying status quo, or are they alive and infused with novelty, value, and passion?

Are your people able to convey unforgettably brilliant first impressions?

Does your organisation recognise that its lifeblood must be open communications of information: thoughts, feelings, and ideas?

Is innovation pursuing you or are you pursuing innovation?

If innovation is pursuing you it means that the rate of change outside your organisation is much greater than that within it. That spells trouble.

Today, innovation must trump bureaucracy, for red tape has morphed into red alert!

The choice is clear: innovate or disintegrate.

Is The Red Tape The ONLY Thing That’s Holding Your Organisation Together?

What are YOU doing about it?

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