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."

Thursday, April 30, 2009

CREATIVE INSTANCES & MODERN CONVENIENCES

Looking for an effective way to apply deodorant on himself, George Thomas found his mind drifting to a ballpoint pen in action.

Eureka! The idea for a roll-on deodorant was born!

When electric typewriters first appeared on the scene, their speed was the cause of an unwelcome increase in typing errors.

Executive secretary, Betty Nesmith, thought up a way of camouflaging these typographical flaws. She developed a mixture of water-based paint and a colouring agent that blended perfectly with the paper generally being used.

This was in 1951. The idea took flight and within a few years, Betty Nesmith was working all hours to deal with the avalanche of orders for her concoction.

She established the Liquid Paper Corporation, and eventually, in 1979, sold it to Gillette for $47.5 million.

Sylvan Goldman is credited with inventing a four-wheeled vehicle outnumbered only by the ubiquitous automobile.

In 1937, as the owner of two supermarket chains, he noticed that customers generally purchased no more than what could be carried in their two arms.

Ergo, the birth of the shopping cart, or four-wheeled trolley! An immensely more comfortable way to spend more money.

It was pre-World War 1. Clarence Birdseye was a fur trader in Labrador.

Whilst catching fish in sub-zero temperatures, he observed that the fish would freeze hard and fast as soon as they were pulled free from under the ice.

What amazed him, however, was that when thawed, the fish became tender and moist, not too different from fresh fish. This cursory observation incubated within him for a decade.

What emerged eventually was the frozen food business as a multi-billion dollar commercialised venture.

Quick freezing had actually been practised for centuries by the Northern Aborigine people, but Clarence Birdseye’s insights set off a chain reaction across the globe.

[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.]

RACK YOUR BRAINS!

Look at the two views of an object. What does the side view look like?


[Excerpted from the 'Igniting Innovation' edition of The Braindancer Series of bookazines by Dilip Mukerjea.]

A CHECKLIST FOR NEW IDEAS


To recap, with personal comments from Say Keng within the brackets:

- Define your problem (conceptualising your problem statement is a vital starting point!);

- Define & visualise the ideal solution (assuming you have unlimited power, resources, including money, & time to deal with the problem, beyond the given constraints);

- Gather the facts: specific & general (another vital function; recommend using the Journalist's Questions for a start!);

- Break the pattern (especially of current thinking, so as to see & explore other possibly hidden relationships - or reveal your own blindspots - to the problem);

- Go outside your own field (to explore how others, especially in unrelated spheres of activity, may have solved similar problems, or to draw useful analogies from other outside or disparate disciplines to solve your current problems);

- Try new combinations (to see what may come out of the new relationship, or mix & match to create new perspectives; after all, creativity is combining & recombining what already exists - just think of the 'Medici Effect'! &/or 'Innovation on the Verge');

- Use all your senses (not only your physical senses, but also your metaphysical senses, like intuition or gut feelings; remember, a pair of sharp "ears" can detect what's not said, & a keen "nose" can smell opportunities!);

- Switch off – let it simmer (incubate) (by indulging yourself in some mundane tasks, like day-dreaming, commuting, doing domestic chores, sitting in a park, loafing in a shopping mall, or just reading a book under a tree, etc., so as to allow raw ideas to gell or percolate in the mind on their own for a while);

- Use music or nature to relax (as we know, music, especially Baroque, Classical & New Age, soothes the mind, while nature is our most inspiring teacher! Japan's inventor extraordinaire Dr Nakamats often listen to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony as well as Jazz to spur his mind!);

- Sleep on it (while allowing the powerful unconscious mind to take over the final processing work - experts call it 'dreamwork'!); Do you remember the story of Friedrich Kekule & the Benzene Ring?;

- Eureka! It pops out! (it's the AhA experience, which is often beyond words to describe! According to creativity guru Edward de bono, we can make this act of illumination as a deliberate initiative through 'provocation' - I will probably talk about it in a separate post);

- Recheck it; Evaluate (it's time to test & verify! Sometimes, we may need a small prototype or pilot project to simulate!);


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

Wednesday, April 29, 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 dilipmukerjea@gmail.com for more information about pricing & delivery.

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

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: THE 3-D GRIDS

This is a method for establishing forced connections. All you need are three children’s cubic-shaped plastic or wooden blocks.

You can select any three main categories of attributes for their alternates to be chosen. Thus, each block represents a category and each face of a block will have written on it an element or feature relevant to that category.

For example, say we wish to come up with ideas for toys, games or other devices. We could proceed as follows:

The shapes enclosing selected words in the open grid below, give us sets of three options corresponding to the same shape for each category.

For example, upon throwing the blocks, we could make random connections such as:

Rectangles: Mirrors, fishing rod, drawing

Ellipses: Magnets, ball, travelling

Banners: Buttons, kaleidoscope, jogging


It is very important to note that the six words in each category (i.e. on each block) can be taken either literally and conceptually [the concept(s) associated with them can be considered too].

For example, if we took the last set: buttons, kaleidoscope, jogging, we could use them to make large buttons, or one large button, impregnated with an openly visible, luminous, glycerine-based kaleidoscope. This could be sewn onto a tracksuit, on the back of the upper half of the garment.

When jogging, the kaleidoscope would keep changing patterns. Since it is luminously visible, it would be a safety, as well as an eye-catching feature, for the jogger.

If we took magnets, ball, travelling, we could have a ball fitted with an internal magnet and object sensing feature. Movement would set off the internal magnet to rotate. This would keep the ball moving; if it hit a wall or another object, the “collision” would cause the magnet to redirect the ball elsewhere.

This could be used as an amusement device for children, adults, and animals. Perhaps it could be given as a corporate gift, with a motivational message written on it. It could be designed to help blind people too.

Now you try with mirror, fishing rod, drawing, and see what you come up with. Additionally, you could have many more combinations by mixing and matching the blocks.

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

DANGER IN THE COMFORT ZONE: MINDPOWER HAS REPLACED MANPOWER!


1st Worker: Is your job in jeopardy?

2nd Worker: No. My job is very secure. It’s me they can do without.”

The era of womb-to-employment is over. There are no longer any guarantees of lifelong employment. But you can guarantee lifelong employability.

Organisations are looking for executives who can make quantum leaps in speed, fluidity, responsiveness, precision, and agility.

We are now in a digital world. A supercharger has been attached to speed as a competitive business weapon. The safe routes of yesterday now lead to sterility and extinction.

So what’s to be done?

Take a sledgehammer to your business model . . . before someone else does it for you? Start re-skilling. Elasticate your possibilities.

Flexibility amplifies opportunities. Brain force has trumped brute force.

Start reading different books, meet different people, master different skills.

Keep creating value. You will enrich your actions, interactions, and transactions. Out of such relationships come products, services, and intangibles that will benefit you in the decades ahead.

[Excerpted from the 'Igniting Innovation' 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:

In a nut shell, what Dilip Mukerjea is talking about in the foregoing essay is: Break your Old Habits & Adopt New Habits!

I like to share an insight.

According to peak performance experts, there are three zones of existence:

- Comfort Zone: the realm of our existing old habits;

- Stretch Zone: where true change occurs!

- Stress Zone: where the challenges are far beyond or may overwhelm our current experiences;

Recent neuroscience research has discovered that when we consciously adopt new habits, we create parallel synaptic paths, & eventually new set of neurons, that can cause our pattern of thoughts to jump into novel tracks.

That's to say, the more new things we experiment, the more we step out of our Comfort Zone, & move into the Stretch Zone, . . . the more creative we become as a result, both in the workplace & in our own personal lives.

Interestingly, the new ingrained habits can create parallel pathways that can even bypass those old ones. How about that?

So, my humble advice - as well as Dilip's - is to do something different every day!

We believe, just by getting out of your normal habitual routines will make you more aware of the many possibilities that may come your way.

Come to think of it, I reckon these are the only few things you actually need to get moving: a sense of wonder & a willingness to explore, experiment & play!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

THE ART & DISCIPLINE OF REFRAMING

Although 'reframing' may have its application origins in neuro-linguistics programming or NLP, it is actually just a simple process of changing the context or representation of a problem or issue at hand.

In reality, it is "shifting the meaning of" or "changing the way we think about" the problem or issue at hand.

That is to say, the meaning of anything is found essentially in the mental frame within which we view it.

According to NLP experts, when we perceive something as a problem, that's the message we send to our brain.

Then, the brain produces states in our body that make it a reality.

When we change our frame of reference by looking at the same problem from a different viewpoint, we can change our response to it.

More precisely, we can change our perception &/or representation about anything – object, event or process, situation, circumstance, people, idea – by according it a different meaning, & thus, allowing us to take a different approach & giving us new possibilities for the actions that we might take & the responses we might execute.

This is what 'reframing' is all about.

For a better understanding, I like to point out that 'reframing' is about changing or shifting perception.

However, since I am not an NLP junkie, I will approach 'reframing' from a slightly different perspective.

I want to use 'reframing' as a strategy for problem solving & opportunity discovery.

Over the years, I have learned more than a dozen possible ways – remember, I rode on the shoulders of giants before me - to reframe a problem or challenge, & would like to share them with readers:

1) Personality Frame:

- Just imagine that you are the problem i.e. adopt the personality, & explore how you feel & act exactly like the problem;

- In the proprietary Synectics process, it's called the 'personal analogy' approach;

2) Opposite Frame:

- Look at contrasting possibilities of the problem;

- Our mind tend to look at only "similarities", & often "contrasts" can add another dimension to our viewpoint;

3) Flex Frame:

- Change the attributes of the problem to see how you can flex it at will, say with the help of SCAMPER;

- Explore the problem by shifting from pessimistic to optimistic, (or from "hell scenario" to "heaven scenario", so to speak) & then back to neutral, standpoints;

- Push the "foreground" of what you can see into the "background", & then bring the "background" immediately into the "foreground" - hidden possibilities often lurk in the "background";

4) Future Frame:

- Play with futuristic scenarios, say 5, 10, 20 years down the road, to see how the problem can be addressed, especially when you can own unlimited power, money, time, & resources;

- Your futuristic scenarios can take the form of global, regional, industry, market, product, organisational or personal levels;

5) Failure Frame:

- Approach the problem from the standpoint of “failing forward faster” [award-winning innovator Dr Jack Matson calls it "intelligent fast failure"], by viewing the potential consequences as "opportunities";

- Our mind tend to look at "success" only, whereas looking at "failure" brings many possibilities to the problem, often not recognised from looking the other way;

6) Fun Frame:

- Approach the problem from the standpoint of a curious child, or a circus clown, with joy of play & sense of wonder at your disposal;

- Just think of what Dr Seuss would do!;

7) Friends Frame:

- Get as many viewpoints as possible about the problem from your friends, especially those who aren't afraid to be honest with you, or even family members or colleagues; [do you have friends like those characters in the 'Friends' & 'Seinfeld' sitcoms?]

- This approach will certainly help to remove some of your own blind spots;

8) Fame Frame:

- Imagine you are Einstein or Edison or Tesla, & explore how your new self would solve the problem;

- You can also include celebrities &/or renowned thought leaders like Peter Drucker or even MM Lee Kuan Yew;

9) Fiction Frame:

- Imagine your are Sherlock Holmes or Dick Tracy or Peter Columbo, & then explore how they would tackle the problem;

- Try MacGyver or Jason Bourne;

10) Fantasy Frame:

- Go to the extremes, or out of this world, into 'Fantasyland', or to "where no man has gone before", to explore the problem;

- Just imagine how 'Alien' &/or 'Predator' or the two outerspace creatures in combination would tackle the problem & come up with a solution;

11) Flip-side Frame:

- Look at the upside & the downside or reverse side of the problem;

12) Whole-Brain Frame:

- Explore the problem by walking with the 'rational bottom-line', 'conservative procedural', 'emotional people-oriented', & 'intuitive big-picture', viewpoints;

- When looking at a problem situation, learn to expand your field of vision, from "focal" to "wide angle" view, to get that "soft focus", so as to allow more information to flow into your senses, especially the sense of sight [business innovation strategist Wayne Burkan calls it "splatter vision", a technique now practised by FBI/US Secret Service agents to spot potential risks in one broad sweep!]

13) Five Senses Frame:

- Explore the problem using all the five physical senses, e.g. seeing, listening, smelling, tasting & touching;

As you can see from the many resultant possibilities, 'reframing' actually enhances one's fluidity of perception, which, at least from my personal & professional experiences, is very critical to the onset of the creative &/or problem solving process.

I like to end this post with an apt quote from French novelist Marcel Proust (1871-1922):

"The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes."

[This post has been extracted & adapted from the 'Optimum Performance Technologies' weblog.]

FROM A FACE IN THE CROWD TO ONE THE CROWD FACES

As I begin to re-read the following essay in the 'Leadership, Learning & Laughter' edition of bookazines by Dilip Mukerjea, I just can't help myself laughing (actually, grinning) away.

"Select one line that you consider to be distinctive from the array below:


This may have been a difficult, if not an impossible, objective. All the lines are good within their own context. You could even declare that they are very good, or perhaps, excellent.

Different people will make different selections, based on their preferences. What is impossible to discern from the array is the one line that is indisputably distinctive; a global consensus on this individual line is not possible.

The point being made is that today, being good, very good, or excellent, is not enough. One must be distinctive. And consistently so. We need a renaissance of the brain, a reflection of the human spirit striving for continual distinctiveness in distinction.

Excellence is no longer adequate; an organisation must now be superlative in order to be sustainably different. In a world that is perpetually novel, organisations have to be incomparable at fundamentally reinventing themselves."

The reason why I am laughing away is because I have seen a catchy banner hung on the perimeter wall of the Singapore Chinese Girls' School (SCGS) on Dunearn Road.

In fact, I have written about it in an earlier post in the 'Optimum Performance Technologies' weblog.

What Dilip is talking about & what the SCGS is offering, in terms of the availability of unique opportunities for students, is differentiating yourself from the competition.

Differentiating is a proven powerful strategy to gain mind share of the customer.

In fact, top marketing guru and creator of the revolutionary concept of positioning Jack Trout, together with Steven Rivkin, has even written a book, 'Differentiate or Die: Survival in Our Era of Killer Competition' to show great differentiation in action with excellent case studies from around the world.

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S MINDMAP GALLERY


With the aid of his repertoire of Adobe softwares, Dilip Mukerjea has created this fun map of the popular SCAMPER technique.

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 dilipmukerjea@gmail.com for more information about pricing & delivery.

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

Monday, April 27, 2009

ARE YOU EXPERIENCING BREAKTHROUGHS?


Are you experiencing breakthroughs? or . . . have you broken down, irrelevant to the present, relegated to the past?

The concept of jobs is becoming obsolete. There will be work aplenty, and that will require incessant creativity. It is now well known that our counterparts at the end of the 21st century will see today’s struggle over jobs as a fight over deck chairs on the ‘Titanic’.

You may feel secure in your present situation. But only one thing is sure: the notion of a permanent job is an illusion.

Consider the story of Balmung, the magic sword. It belonged to Siegfried, the Germanic hero. Balmung was so sharp that it could slice an armoured warrior in two, from the top of his helmet to the soles of his iron boots. But the cut was so fine that the wounded man could not even feel it. Until he moved. And then he fell into two pieces.

You may feel likewise. But just wait until you leave your job. We live in perilous, gyrating times.

And the possibilities are exciting. New challenges are bringing us to the threshold of our minds.

The choices that dominate:

- Education or Extinction!

- Creativity or Catastrophe!

- Innovation or Incineration!

[Adapted & excerpted from the 'Igniting Innovation' 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:

While re-reading Dilip Mukerjea's foregoing brief essay, I am again reminded of this wonderful quote, which had often reverberated throughout my entire career span in the corporate world (attributed to American psychologist & physician Dr George Crane):

"There is no future in any job. The future lies in the man who holds the job."

With that note, I like to share 10+1 'Great Action Words' (adapted from futurist/change strategist Jim Carroll) for everyday use in the workplace, as transformational grammar to help you get into the right frame of mind to create your own personal future:

- OBSERVE trends as well as fads around you;

- Learn to THINK & THINK to learn;

- CHANGE your habitual routines;

- DARE to take some risks;

- BANISH killer &/or negative phrases from your daily vocabulary;

- EXPERIMENT with new concepts & ideas to create novel ways of doing things;

- EMPOWER yourself as well as everybody around you with new skills;

- QUESTION your assumptions & beliefs as well as your organisational code;

- GROW by tackling challenges & grabbing opportunities;

- D0 to renew yourself & others around you;

- ENJOY your passion & enthusiasm;

[Jim Carroll is the author of two superb guides, 'What I learned from Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin with Forward-Thinking Innovation' (2004) & 'Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast' (2007). I have already reviewed them on Amazon as well as in the 'Optimum Performance Technologies' weblog.]

A WISE QUOTE FOR MONDAY MORNING


"In this era of complexity, great enterprises are designed and carried forward by the kind of man who has a vision of what
might be and a practical strategy for getting there, a man with an idea in his head and a monkey wrench in his hand."

~ John W. Gardner (1912–2002), President of the Carnegie Corporation, as well as the author of numerous books on improving leadership in American society;

Sunday, April 26, 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 dilipmukerjea@gmail.com for more information about pricing & delivery.

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

WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE TO SEE? WHERE DO YOU DIRECT YOUR ATTENTION?

Look closely at the ‘imagery’ below; note down, or draw, at least ten different items that catch your eye.

Tip: Relax. Do not be judgmental. Just look at the square with “soft focus” and let your imagination drift into the surreal imagery of the scene. The answers will soon become obvious.


The mind is easily able to fabricate anything out of anything, whether conceptually or perceptually. When something is set before it, the mind responds to the creative potential of unconscious imagery, often with electrifying brilliance.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), “universal man,” and arguably the greatest genius of all time, hit upon the potential for creative magic when he stated:

“When you look at a wall spotted with stains, or with a mixture of stones, if you have to devise some scene, you may discover a resemblance to various landscapes, beautified with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, wide valleys, and hills in various arrangement; or again you may see battles and figures in action; or strange faces and costumes, and an endless variety of objects, which you could reduce to complete and well-drawn forms.”

~ Patrice Boussel;

Leonardo’s ideas equate somewhat with the modern-day Rorschach test, and provide a method for tapping into and exploiting the subconscious for creative accomplishments.

Leonardo often signed himself “disciple of experience” and acquired “experience” via the formidable use of his senses. His astonishing powers of observation led him to uncover many of nature’s secrets.

In “knowing how to see,” which he called sapere vedere, he understood and related to whatever it was that happened to be the object of his scrutiny. He believed that the only way to learn something by heart was by first learning how to draw it accurately.

Subconscious creative processes are propagated by starting with unformed stimuli. These could be random shapes on any surface, features on a person’s face, cloud shapes, wall spots, or patterns cast by shadows.

One simple way of seeing such fuzzy imagery is by squinting your eyes at things. The obvious then becomes ambiguous and permits your mind to drift into making new connections.

Now look at the adjoining page and see what I have seen for the exercise that has been set for you. What you see may or may not be different. Know only that images do exist and that there is no limit to them.

Important points to consider are:

The images perceived need not always be complete. Ideas come ready to refine, not ready to use.

The main benefit of this device is to expose your senses to the “trigger effect” of seeing images on a surface that is otherwise perceived as simply an uneven expanse of rockscape.

Creativity is the new combination of existing elements. Look for what exists, then mix and match as you desire. Finally, convert your perception into reality.


Squint your eyes at the text on this page and see what you can make of it. Shapes are created not just by the text but also by the spaces between the text. I see an entire wonderland of life teeming with activity. What do you see?

Now look at the marketspace: innovation happens at the fuzzy edges, then becomes the core.

The fuzzy edge is where the action is - in terms of growth, innovation and value creation. Master the edge, and you become the puppetmaster!

Four Realms of Human Behaviour That Determine Our Creative Outcomes:

· Social: the dynamic, complex relationships where we establish our individual identities and the forms of social interaction we engage in to shape these identities.

· Enterprise: the ways in which we organize ourselves in order to create economic value and how we construct, and de-construct, the boundaries of these economic entities.

· Market: how we compete and collaborate on local and global scales to create, capture, and deliver economic value.

· Learning: how we learn, applied to what we need to learn, in terms of individual, as well as group, learning.

These four realms overlap and interact with one another. The biggest opportunities will emerge from the interplay at the edges of these realms where tensions will surface and need to be resolved.

[Excerpted from the 'Catalysing Creativity' 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 touched on in the foregoing essay is, to me, one of the most profound as well as most potent aspect of the creative process I have ever learned: enhancing perceptual sensivitiy.

It is the same point which the Renaissance genius Leonardo da vinci had put forward more than five centuries ago. He said:

"All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions."

Likewise, creativity guru Edward de bono had argued about the perceptual aspect of thinking when he coined 'Lateral Thinking' in the late sixties. In fact, he once said:

"Everyone is surrounded by opportunities. But they only exist once they have been seen. And they will only be seen if they are looked for."

Other creativity experts like James Adams, Michael Michalko & Roger von oech, to name a few, have also done their individual part to drive home the same point in their respective great works.

Interestingly, even marketing & business innovation strategists have the same beliefs:

"You are surrounded by simple, obvious solutions that can dramatically increase your income, power, influence & success. The problem is, you just don't see them."

~ Jay Abraham, author of 'Getting Everything You Can Out of All You've Got';

"Successful opportunities for innovation & growth are right here, in front of us, & we often can't see them or don't act on them."

~ Erich Joachimsthaler, author of 'Hidden in Plain Sight: How to Find & Execute Your Company's Next Big Growth Strategy';

Most importantly, modern neuroscience research has also in fact substantiated this point, as argued brilliantly by Gregory Berns in his recent wonderful book, 'Iconoclast: A Nueroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently'. Please read my book review in the 'Optimum Performance Technologies' weblog. Here's the link to it.

I like to leave the following apt quote from internationally acclaimed peak performance & success coach Anthony Robbins as food for thought:

"The difference between those who succeed & those who fail isn't what they have - it's what they choose to see & do with their resources & experiences of life."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: THE TRUTH ABOUT PROFITING FROM SOCIAL NETWORKING, by Patrice-Anne Rutledge

Social networking on the net & on mobile has generated a lot of buzz in recent years. In fact, I have joined a few of the known outfits just to experiment for myself, e.g. Facebook, Flickr, LibraryThing, Linkedin, Lunch & Shelfari.

When I first saw this book on display in a local bookstore recently, I just grabbed it instinctively.

On the other hand, I was also curious to find out more about this technology-enabled phenomenon, especially on how to profit from its proper usage for personal & business advancement.

For me, the book is like a compendium, written in a quick-to-read, easy-to-understand perspective, with numerous examples, deep insights, good advice & easy-to-follow guidelines.

The author, apparently a reputable media consultant & eMarketer, with several books to her credit, has revealed 50 "truths" (as well as "myths") about real-world social interaction on the net.

Besides the usual networking basics, I find her treatment of the subject reasonably broad & deep, with ample advice about finding a job, recruiting the best candidates, launching a product or service, & supporting worthwhile social causes, all from the standpoint of networking.

I certainly like her clear insights into future trends, & also her exhortations to think strategically about the best ways we can leverage the new power of online collaboration & relationship building to enhance our career, business & life.

More importantly, she has also highlighted the potential dangers as well as the necessary precautions to undertake with regard to safeguarding our privacy online.

Like it or not, as the author has asserted, social networking on the net will expand exponentially in the next decade.

I reckon the author has summed up her book best through her last "truth":

"You don't have to follow the (networking) trends just because they're there", with 3 great suggestions:

1) Follow the (networking) trends as they relate to you - focusing on the big picture & then drilling down to the details that affect your world;

2) Don't be afraid to not to follow the (networking) trends - knowing what works best based on your specific goals, budget & target audience;

3) Start your own trend - instead of chasing (networking) trends - focus on creating your own innovations that meet your own or customers' needs;"

In other words, the networking must ultimately serve your purpose.

I also concur with the author that innovation is the first key to networking success; solid execution is the second. Be different. Be bold. Be first, & profit from the endless possibilities & unlimited potential of linking with more than a billion people around the world.

IDEAS BUILD ON IDEAS!

I am always fascinated by the phenomenon of "ideas build on ideas".

If you have been following my weblog, you probably can recall the reported "conversation" between the beaver & the mousedeer at the vicinity of a dam. Here's the link to the blog post, by the way.

I reckon readers should be familiar with the work of change strategist & futurist Joel Arthur Barker, who wrote his debut book, 'Discovering the Future: The Business of Paradigms' during the mid 80's.

He rode elegantly on the seminal ideas of scientist Thomas Kuhn, whose 60's classic & benchmark book,'The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions', had profound as well as irritating effects on a lot of people, including other scientists, as far as the concept of "paradigm shift" in the scientific world is concerned.

With clarity & succinctness, Joel Arthur Barker then brought that brilliant concept into the corporate world, within the context of business futurism. He has even built a highly successful proprietary series of wonderful training videos to go with it.

For me, the most productive learning experience from the work of Joel Arthur Barker is understanding - and applying - the power of paradigm pliancy.

In contrast, entrepreneur/researcher Frans Johansson drew his inspiration from the work of the Medici family during the Renaissance era to write his wonderful book, 'The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts, & Cultures' in 2004.

[For more information, readers can go to this link.]

In a nut shell, the book's fancy title actually refers to an explosion of creativity and imagination that occurred in Florence, Italy, during the Renaissance era. It stretched from the late 14th century where it started right up to the early 17th Century, where it had spread to the rest of Europe.

During that period, the powerful & influential Medici banking family funded artists, artisans, painters, sculptors, and even thinkers and scientists from many different cultures and disciplines to come together in Florence to debate, discuss, and discover new ideas.

[I was holidaying in Florence with my wife in November 2006 & had read that, out of 1,000 European artists, painters & sculptors during that period, about 350 of them had lived and/or worked in Florence, Italy.]

Through their generous patronage, we are able to speak of and admire the wonderful masterpieces & elegant work of Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Botticelli, Donatello, Raphael, Ghiberti and countless others.

The book is about how all or each of us can create our own "Medici Effect" by applying the concept of "inter-sectional ideas, cultures, disciplines & strategies in new & previously unexplored ways".

Dilip Mukerjea likes to call it, "Junction Dynamics"!

From my perspective, it's akin to making deliberate juxtapositions!

Nonetheless, for me, the most productive learning experience from the work of Frans Johansson is understanding the power of creating "inter-sectional moments of AhAs".

Very interestingly, in recent times, Joel Arthur Barker has come up with a new business concept which he calls 'Innovation at the Verge".

[For more information, readers can go to this link.]

He explains the "verge" as "where something & something different meet.

According to him, "Innovation at the Verge" is when two or more elements that are very different from one another are joined together to create a single idea that solves problems the separate elements could not.

He has given the example of a forklift that is also a weighing scale.

Do readers now see my point: "ideas build on ideas"!

Think about it:

- Ned Herrmann's "Whole-Brain Problem Walkabout" via understanding of his brain dominance profile instrument;

- Roger von oech's "Creative Whacks" - explorer, artist, judge, warrior;

- Michael Hewitt-Gleeson's "Seven Thinking Caps" - via multicoloured caps;

- Edward de bono's "Six Thinking Hats" - via multicoloured hats;

- IDEO's Strategies for Defeating the Devil's Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization via their process methodology as embodied in the "Ten Faces of Innovation";

So, who is the progenitor? In my view, any attempt will only be a purely academic exercise.

[As a matter of fact, there seems to be a "verbal jujitsu" revolving on the net between Edward de bono & his one-time protege & collaborator, Michael Hewitt-Gleeson, with regard to who actually had started the idea of multicoloured hats or caps. Readers can read debono's version at this link; Gleeson's version at this link.]

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: THE MONO MATRIX


This is a single line type of matrix that will help you get multiple ideas. There are also double and triple array types (to be described in subsequent editions of this bookazine series).

In this design, we witness interbreeding where every item connects to, and combines with, every other item.

In the above matrix, we have listed some items that could be considered as subjects for generating creative thinking in an institution.

The idea is for us to force connections between any two or more items and come up with a combination that is worth pursuing. Of course, all the items in this circumstance could be considered laudable on their own, but the objective is to create combinations that may never have been considered otherwise.

In the above situation, I have depicted each outcome with a circle, pentagon, or square so as to differentiate between the three different options that have been suggested.

It is essential to bear in mind that nuggets emerge from what might look like dirt and debris; just think of how much ore needs to be mined in order to extract gold or diamonds.

Of course, the options in the above example could be replaced by those of your choosing. For example, you may wish to invent a device that has the following attributes as combinational options:

wheels, mirrors, aerodynamic, light, user-friendly, ‘green’, and inexpensive.

You may use combinations that are paired, using only two options, as shown above, or you may increase these mixes all the way to using all stated options within a single invention.

Note that when you get an idea, it is an independent entity that needs a form and function, born out of an initial purpose. When this idea becomes a product, it metamorphoses into an invention.

If you can sell this invention, it is transformed into an innovation. If you can’t sell it, then it remains an invention! Thus, every innovation is an invention, but not every invention advances towards becoming an innovation!

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

CATS & YOUR POWER OF INNOVATION, VISUALLY SPEAKING


I told Dilip Mukerjea just a few days ago about the new book by Dr Stephen Lundin, entitled 'CATS: The Nine Lives of Innovation'. Dr Lundin is co-author of the bestselling Fish! series of business titles.

Last night, with the aid of his repertoire of Adobe softwares, Dilip has created a wonderful map of the key ideas from the book as shown above.

Personally, I have yet to read the book, but I have read several articles on the net [Readers can go to this link to read &/or download one of them] about the topic.

Nonetheless, in a nut shell, the author delineates four obstacles that limit creativity in all kinds of environments:

- negative feedback;
- habit;
- fear; &
- failure of leadership;

He then describes nine techniques for overcoming those obstacles, which include organizing, understanding creativity & the power of provocation.

[More information about the author & other stuff can be found at this link.]

Friday, April 24, 2009

THE STEPS TO POWER STUDYING X

[continue from the Last Post.]


STEP X: DISTILL & CONSOLIDATE THE MASTER MIND MAPS

If you have a third day available, you could take all eight Master Mind Maps, and interlink them into one Grand Master Mind Map!

Yes, everything does connect to everything else, no matter how different it all might seem. When you can do this trick, the world will see in you a magician of the mind!

Imagine, one Mind Map of eight books! You can do it!

A Note for School Students:

If you do this exercise with your school subjects, each group will be able to finish one year’s syllabus per subject in one week!

This is what I call A Learning Miracle!

How? Well, imagine that one of your subjects, say Geography, has 20 chapters in the text book.

Each person in a group of four can easily finish one chapter a day (I have seen kids do two chapters a day). This means four chapters per day between the four members of the group. Five days for 20 chapters!

Another two days to polish up and review. You will at worst have 20 sheets of paper each, that is, one Mind Map per chapter.

Of course, because you are smart, you will be able to consolidate the 20 sheets onto one LARGE sheet and voilahhhh! you’ve done it. This is rapid learning.

For lazy learning, all you need is to take two weeks instead of one; still top class! Go for it and claim your genius!

Note: It is a good idea to consult teachers and parents who can serve as ‘learning guides’.

[Excerpted from 'Unleashing Genius with the World's Most Powerful Learning Systems', by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

Say Keng's personal comments:

Although the proven power studying methodology as outlined by Dilip Mukerjea is apparently targetted at secondary school or junior college students, the entire systematic process is fully applicable to students in tertiary institutions as well as to entrepreneurs, managers & professionals, who are pursuing their MBAs, evening or otherwise.

In a nut shell, it's actually doing more with less. It's also leveraging on the synergistic brainpower of a group pursuing a common academic objective.

Just imagine: If a human brain contains the potential of a bazillion permutations of connections between synapses, two human brains, fully connected with a common objective, have a bazillion squared permutations. That's a lot more than double the brainpower!

In tactical terms, it is akin to the phenomenon of 'Knowledge Shared is Power Squared'. Please read my earlier post on this topic.

WHEEL OF WISDOM


The above diagram is a composite of wisdom from geniuses; I recommend you get to know them well. They are a sprinkling from the pantheon of stellar brains; feel free to make your own constellation of geniuses.

By studying the lives and thoughts of these creative role models, your own creativity will blossom resplendently.

The Wheel of Wisdom that I have created is a spark plug to detonate your own creative spirit. I have learnt much from the personalities within the wheel, and from many others that slot into their categories of creative brilliance.

[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:

The Wheel of Wisdom from Dilip Mukerjea is certainly a good idea for building what I like to call a 'Learning from the Masters' portfolio. It helps one to pick out all the salient aspects of the personal learning experience from a chosen "constellation of geniuses".

For me, I often use the MindManager software to capture my personal learning experience from my chosen "constellation of masters", so to speak.

Here are two examples of Mind Maps (overviews only, for the purpose of illustration) I have created during the nineties with MindManager along the lines which Dilip has outlined.

One is 'Tools for Enhancing Personal Effectiveness'; the other is 'Thirteen Power Tools to Help You Survive, Excel & Thrive in the Knowledge Economy'.




[I have since then expanded the repertoire of requisite skills in the first one, & have posted it in my 'Optimum Performance Technologies' weblog, under 'Are Your Killing Yourself . . . or Skilling Yourself'? Here's the link.

Readers can also access the 13 Power Tools in my 'Optimum Performance Technologies' webog. Here's the link.]

Thursday, April 23, 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 dilipmukerjea@gmail.com for more information about pricing & delivery.

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

THE STEPS TO POWER STUDYING IX

[continue from the Last Post.]


STEP IX: COLLATE THE 8 MASTER MIND MAPS

By the end of the second day, you will have 8 Master Mind Maps, one for each of the 8books covered by the four members of the group.

At this stage each person should have a good knowledge of the eight books; copies of each Mind Map should be made for everyone. This is so that the material can be reviewed (remember that it takes about 6 reviews to transfer information from short-term to long-term memory).

Because each book will have been mapped, the time for each review should be only a few minutes per book, as opposed to having to read all the books again. That would be unbearable, wouldn’t it?

[To be continued in the Next Post. Excerpted from 'Unleashing Genius with the World's Most Powerful Learning Systems', by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

MY PRIME DOLPHIN WORLDVIEW SURVEY REPORT

According to the Yo!Dolphin! Worldview Survey, created by Dudley Lynch of Brain Technologies Corporation:

"I am a Prime Dolphin thinker by nature, and I believe in potential abundance and potential scarcity. That is, I believe that we can have either—it is our choice. And I believe that we can learn to leverage what we have and can use our resources strategically and elegantly. Therefore, I make flexibility, innovating and doing more with less the cornerstones of how I create my world. Above all, I have little patience with or use for localities, organizations or individuals that are clearly and frequently dysfunctional. And I have even less tolerance for persons and entities that are ethically challenged and indifferent to people's real needs and fair share. I like new ideas, tools, technologies and opportunities, especially if they will help me solve difficult problems and produce breakthrough outcomes with win/win results."

If you are interested in securing one for yourself, you can go to this link.

[Dudley Lynch, thinkologist, founder & president of Brain Technologies Corporation, is also the author of 'The Mother of All Minds' & 'The Strategy of the Dolphin' (with Paul Kordis), among many other great books on accelerated self-growth. I read his first book, 'Your High Performance Business Brain, an Operator's Manual', now out of print, way back in the mid-eighties.]

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S MINDMAP GALLERY


This is a hand-crafted mind map by Dilip Mukerjea of the Creative Problem Solving (CPS) Process methodology as originally conceived by Alex Osborn & Sidney James.

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

INNOVATE OR INCINERATE IN TODAY'S WARP-SPEED MARKETSPACE

Better! Faster! Cheaper! The chant of the marketspace!

Earnings have become less predictable. The challenge is how to reconcile unpredictable earnings with predictable bills. Hard work is no guarantor of future security. No pundit, preacher, or politician can predict with any precision about profits, performance, and productivity. Income used to be directly proportional to rank and seniority.

Now you’re paid for your ideas and your ability to inform, communicate, and entertain – so that you sell!

A Financial Times investigation covering an eighteen months timespan from January 2001 has shown that the directors and executives of the 25 largest US companies to go bankrupt in this period managed to amass a US$3.3 billion fortune between them – in horrid contrast to their companies, their employees, and the millions of shareholders that lost all their investments in them. A mere 52 individuals emerged with US$2.95 billion in remuneration shortly before their businesses went bust – 89 per cent of the total!

Some of the huge entities guilty of previously unimaginable corporate scandals were WorldCom, Enron, and Arthur Andersen, to mention just a few. Of course, the personalities of such creative chicanery are now confronted with financial bankruptcy.

In this new learning economy, success equates most with connections, relationships, alliances, talent, creative ingenuity, continuous innovation, and the ability to project ourselves into the ever-contracting attention span of potential customers. Inventiveness and empathy are needed to remain in contention.

In the corporate ecosystem, selling out was once a stigma; now, the worst scenario is when you’re not selling! Net worth and self-worth are generally poles apart; in today’s frenetic marketspace, they meet on equal terms when your personality has become a marketable commodity so that it sells successfully.

Creative ingenuity enables you to nichecraft; it helps you to blaze your own career path and make a reputation in your field, not just in your organisation. Promotion comes from promoting yourself. Entrepreneurship has morphed into multipreneurship, and the new individual has to become an intricate web containing several different nodes of expertise. Demand for ingenious innovators is outrunning supply. Electronic communities and coalitions are coordinating themselves via the Internet.

Constantly morphing constellations of diverse disciplines, such as researchers, designers, manufacturers, financial specialists, marketers, shippers, and many others, are merging into conglomerates that function as if they were a single enterprise – only to disband once their united aims are achieved, to form fresh coalitions of creative collaboration.

Are you in? Are you out ? Choose. And act!

The clarion call of innovation has forced large organisations to rip out entire bureaucracies – replacing middle management with computer software to streamline activities such as billing, procurement, and inventory; leveraging the Internet for customer services, auctioning,sales, and advertising; and renting space and equipment instead of purchasing them.

In many instances, bricks and mortar have been extinguished, rapidly replaced by brains and wits!

Continuous innovation emerges from continual learning, much of which is informal, unplanned,serendipitous. These outputs shape outcomes when technical insights merge with marketing imagination. Intangible value from innovations has surpassed tangible value from the creations of these innovations.

When, for example, buyers purchase a compact disc, some medication, or a transistor, they are paying the bulk of the price tag for researching, designing, marketing, and advertising; the raw cost of the products themselves is a mere few cents in each case.

How are YOU capitalising on innovation?

Here is another choice for you: Innovate or Abdicate!

[Excerpted from the 'Catalysing Creativity' 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:

Posting the foregoing essay by Dilip Mukerjea - & rereading it - reminds me of our earlier conversation in his car, while travelling together to visit his printer in the Tuas area some time ago, during which I have mentioned about a wonderful book I have read, entitled 'Fast Strategy: How Strategic Agility will help you Stay Ahead of the Game'.

I have then shared with Dilip a particular comment made by the two consultants-authors, Yves Doz & Mikko Kosonen, of the book:

"Companies are often the victims of their own success. They die not because what they did was wrong, but rather they kept doing it for too long."

It resonates with what Dilip has so eloquently written.

From my perspective, to succeed - and thrive - in an environment of disruptive change, we will have to be more versatile, more ready than ever to anticipate and adapt. I have mentioned this point in an earlier post.

Creativity &/or innovation, as argued by Dilip Mukerjea, is just one avenue. We also have to stay agile & remain nimble, mentally as well as physically.

With greater creativity, versatility and agility, I reckon we can have more options to deal with a rapidly-changing, discontinuously disruptive marketspace.

THE STEPS TO POWER STUDYING VIII

[continue from the Last Post.]


STEP VIII: DISTILL & CONSOLIDATE THE 16 MIND MAPS:

It should now be 7:30 p.m. You are in the final session of the day. Each book now has four Mind Maps; the group crosses out the overlapping, duplicate information, and distills the essence onto one Master Mind Map per book.

As this is to be done for all four books, we are now back to four Mind Maps in total. At this stage, these Maps contain far more information than the original four Mind Maps, because they now have four perspectives as opposed to one at the start.

The time is about 9:00 p.m. Break for a light munch, relax, and straight to bed. You have an early start in the morning for the next four books, which you deal with in the same way as for the first four books.

[To be continued in the Next Post. Excerpted from 'Unleashing Genius with the World's Most Powerful Learning Systems', by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A VERY INSPIRING STORY ABOUT ONE MAN'S PERILOUS JOURNEY TO CONCEPTUALISE & BUILD ASIA'S BEST INTERNATIONAL CASINO RESORT!

Imagine you are enjoying the cool breeze while sipping tea with your good friends on a 1,500m mountain-top facility, which is some four to five hours drive away from where you are living.

Next, imagine there is a similar mountain, even higher at 1,800m, located about 58km away from where you are living.

Now, picture yourself as a hard-working contractor, but you are now in your 50s, with some money from your previous building projects.

Next, think about conceptualising & building a beautiful holiday resort on the mountain-top.

Experts from the Public Works Department confirms in writing that it would take 15 years just to build the access road to the mountain-top, because the mountain is surrounded with dense virgin jungle & inaccessible rugged terrain.

One more thing: you have got to go back to the sixties, where construction machinery & equipment were not what they are built today. Worst still, you speak no English.

Can you do it?

In reality, many Malaysian entrepreneurs could only see total madness & extreme foolery in undertaking such a risky endeavour, but one simple man, already in his 50s, eventually took on the arduous initiative of executing his dream project during the mid-sixties.

Cheating death six times along the way, & functioning as project manager, engineer, financial controller, labourer & trouble shooter, all rolled into one, he almost single-handedly built the access road to the mountain-top facility (on Gunung Ulu Kali, Genting Sempah) in less than four years, with all his own money, & without any financial aid from the Malaysian Government, except for their nod of official approval.

The first phase of the project with the hotel was eventually completed in the early seventies.

Today, the mountain-top facility is Genting Highlands Resort, Asia's Best International Casino Resort.

The man who took on the almost insurmountable challenge during the mid-sixties was the late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, founder of the diversified Genting Group, which today has a combined market capitalisation of US$14 billion as of 30th September 2008.

For me, his acumen was beautifully exemplified in his acute power of observation as well as his keen nose for smelling good opportunities. These are often the critical attributes of successful creators or entrepreneurs.

This book, 'My Story: An Autobiography', by Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, founder of the Genting Group, Malaysia, has captured Tan Sri's humble journey, starting with only US$175 in his pocket while coming to Malaysia as a young man from Anxi, China.

Written in the form of an autobiography, in a straight-forward, succinct & yet refreshingly original way, this book has documented:

- his early struggles during the Japanese occupation;

- his early business ventures during the post-war years;

- his friendships & relationships with people he cared about;

- his successful attainment & brilliant execution of government building & construction contracts;

- his perilous endeavour in building the Genting Highlands from scratch;

- his responsiveness, decisiveness & ingenuity in problem solving, at both strategic & tactical level, over the years;

- all the way to his diversifying of the group into other businesses during the later years, e.g. Star Cruises; - until his final handing over of the controlling reins to his second son, Kok Thay, in late 2002;

In a nut shell, this book offers many valuable entrepreneurship lessons, not so much from the 'high-tech/IQ' perspectives, which one would normally find in other books, but a lot from the 'high-touch/EQ' perspectives, which are more akin to Chinese entrepreneurs.

There is an ostensibly clear emphasis on building 'guanxi' (relationship), which is typical of most if not all Chinese entrepreneurs.

In fact, another useful entrepreneurial trait from Tan Sri is what the Chinese calls 'dan da xin xi', be bold but cautious. In fact, his pragmatism & steadiness were often seen by his peers as liabilities.

Another powerful trait is the power of conviction. Tan Sri said it best:

"When I make a decision & believe strongly that it is the right one, I will go head on with it, no matter what odds I am up against . . . Once a decision is made with sound reasoning, the rest is hard work, determination & perseverance to see it through to fruition."

You just got to read this book to get to know all about the author's entrepreneurship insights from the university of hard knocks.

Nevertheless, for the benefit of readers, I definitely like to pull out one last one from his book, which said it all, truly reflecting his power of vision:

"The Genting project basically fitted my idea of an ideal business: no one was interested in it, which meant no competition".

As Tun Dr Mahathir, former Malaysian Prime Minister, has confirmed in his Foreword:

"Tan Sri's struggle can be considered part & parcel of Malaysia's (economic) development experience." I fully concur.

Tan Sri's story is a very inspiring one for all of us: beginning with nothing to his name, turning adversities into opportunities, maximising his brain-power, taking calculated risks & confronting naysayers & skeptics through sheer audacity, tenacity, perseverance & more importantly, simplicity & humility.

I salute you, Tan Sri!

[This book was released in 2004 to coincide with the 40th birthday anniversary of the Genting Group. This book is still available in local bookstores. Otherwise, try Amazon.]