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."

Friday, July 31, 2009

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: STORYBOARDING, THE DISNEY METHODOLOGY

PURPOSE:

To help you imagistically integrate an entire scenario of ideas and plans. One view gives a complete overview; you see the sequence as well as the gestalt of your ideas.

There is a story about Walt Disney that I came across in the writings of Mike Vance and Diane Deacon.

Disney was in St. Joseph’s Hospital at Burbank, California. A journalist, knowing that these were Walt’s final days, had been persistent about interviewing the great man.

Unfortunately, the hospital’s nursing staff had repeatedly thwarted his efforts.

Eventually, the night before Walt passed away in late 1966, the reporter finally gained entry into the room. Walt was naturally very weak, and could barely speak above a whisper. He thus requested the man to lie down on the bed beside him, so that he could whisper into his ear.

Lying beside one another, the next thirty minutes were spent with Walt referring to an imaginary map of Walt Disney World on the ceiling above his bed.

As Vance and Deacon state: “Walt pointed out where he planned to place various attractions and buildings. He talked about transportation, hotels, restaurants and many other parts of his vision for a property that wouldn’t open to the public for another six years.”

What a way to live, fuelled by a powerful vision. Death was just a formality, because Walt would live on in his magnificent legacy.

The 10 Beliefs at the Heart of The Disney Methodology

1. Every member within an organisation must be encouraged to dream. Dreams are the reservoirs of creativity, and everyone should feel free to tap into them at any time.

2. Be resolute about your beliefs and principles.


3. Treat your customers like guests.

4. All employees should receive appreciation through various means: support, empowerment, and rewards. You can then never pay them enough, for they will give of themselves freely.

5. Cultivate long-term relationships with key suppliers and partners.

6. Innovative ideas need to be nurtured, and brought to fruition; dare to take calculated risks.

7. Keep learning, incorporating new knowledge in your work; remain in alignment with the company culture.

8. Match long-term vision with short-term execution.

9. Use the storyboarding technique to solve planning and communication problems.

10. Pay close attention to detail.

Adapted from: Capodagli & Jackson, 'The Disney Way';

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: THE ACTIONS GRID

[continued from the Last Post.]

PURPOSE:

To swiftly and clearly establish your priorities from a list of options. Once completed, you are on your way: Thoughts can now be transformed into action!

Please refer to the Actions Grid appended below. State your objective clearly so that you have a clear idea as to what you are specifically going to address. Then,

Step 1:

Write down your initial list of options for the task under consideration. This should be done regardless of the order of importance, in the centre column with the header ‘Initial Options.’

Step 2:

Once you have completed your list of options, starting from the top two options, choose one at a time, till you reach the last pair. This means:

Your first choice is between options A and B, which we can write as A/B; the choice is written in the box along Row B.

Your next choices are between options A/C and B/C, written in the boxes along Row C.

We then have A/D, B/D, and C/D, written in the boxes along Row D.

Followed by A/E, B/E, C/E, and D/E, written in the boxes along Row E.

And lastly, A/F, B/F, C/F, D/F, and E/F, written in the boxes along Row F.

As can be seen, columns A, B, C, D, and E, intersect with rows A, B, C, D, E, and F.

However, please note that there could be a greater or lesser number of options listed; this is simply an example providing for six options.

Step 3:

Now determine the level of importance you wish to give to your choice of options in Step 2 above. You will need to select a value from the Options Rating Scale, thus, 1, 2, or 3, depending on your preference in each case.

For example, when deciding between A/B, if we opt for B, and decide that it is ‘much more important’ than A, we fill in the appropriate box (along Row B, under column A) the selection B3.

In the next case, that is, along Row C, and under Columns A and B, we might fill in A2 and C1.

Similarly, we carry on until all the boxes have been completed. In our example, with provision made for a total of six options, we have 15 boxes to fill in.

Step 4:

Upon completion of the previous steps, find all the boxes marked ‘A’ and total the scores identifying each ‘A’ ~ thus, you might have an A3, A1, and an A1, which gives us an ‘A’ total of 3 + 1 + 1 = 5. This value is to be written to the left of ‘A’ under the column labelled ‘Sum of Scores.’

Similarly, write down the totals for all the other letters.

Step 5:

Finally, the options have become prioritised with the mostimportant having the highest score, down to the least important. They can be written in the bottom section titled ‘Final Analysis.’

Thus, say Option ‘C’ had the highest score; we would write this option alongside “My No.1 Option is ___________.”

If Option ‘F’ had the next highest score, we would write it alongside “My No.2 Option is ___________,” and so on.

We now have a method for us to make decisions and an effective Action Plan.

Notes

It is possible for two or more options to emerge with identical total scores in the left-hand column labelled ‘Sum of Scores.’

If this is the case, and say they are A and D with identical total scores: Simply check along Row D moving right, to the cluster of boxes labelled ‘Choices Between Options’ where these options for A & D intersect at the extreme left box (from the three boxes in that row, in our case), and see which option emerged dominant. Say it was A; then, even though A and D have identical total scores, A must precede D in the final listing.

It is also possible for neither of two options being compared to emerge dominant. Example, if C and E were being matched against one another, and it was not possible for you to choose between them, simply place an em dash (–) in the appropriate box (in our case, the one that is third from left in Row E).



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

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

UNDERSTANDING THE VENTURI EFFECT OF THE MIND

According to Tim Hurson, writing in his book, 'Think Better: Aa Innovator's Guide to Productive Thinking', the more ideas we have, the more ideas we will get.

The principle works much like a carburettor in an automobile engine.

Just as air flowing through a venturi tube in a carburettor creates a vacuum that pulls fuel into the combustion chamber of the engine, so too does the flow of ideas create a vacuum that is filled with other ideas.

In other words, the very process of articulating ideas create the conditions in which more ideas are generated.

Isn't it interesting?

GO AHEAD & FAIL! EMBRACE FAILURE! SEEK IT OUT! LEARN TO LOVE IT!

The foregoing exuberant exhortation in the form of my blogpost title truly reflects my personal sentiment about what this new book, entitled 'Celebrating Failure: The Power of Taking Risks, Making Mistakes & Thinking Big' by business coach Ralph Heath is all about.

Writing with warmth, sincerity & candour, the author has very skillfilly drawn from his own 31-year professional history of running Ovation Marketing, an award-winning advertising agency business, as well as "hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of personal failures to achieve outstanding or spectacular learning experiences", often interjecting pragmatic lessons from interacting with his own direct family members.

There are altogether 30 great chapters, totaling just under 200 pages, & with the 'Introduction: Failure Teaches You to Succeed', that makes 31, each artfully prefaced with a short but meaningful chapter title, e.g. #1: 'Starting Fires'; #30: 'Change is My Drug of Choice'.

What I like most about reading the book is that each chapter has an inspiring quote & a brisk preamble, which presents 'The Failure Factor', as well as a concise summary, which highlights the actionable insights from the author. Hence, reading is a breeze, & best of all, takeaways are right at your fingertips.

That's to say, in really no uncertain terms, the entire book has been thoughtfully crafted by the author, with all the cumulative chapter insights actually forming the jewels of the book.

For me, among many others, my favourite chapter is #27: 'Why Wait?'.

According to the author, the word 'Wait' is one of the ugliest words in the English Language. Surprisingly to me, he has even added that it is often used in advertising agencies as a call for inaction.

Nonetheless, the swift counterpoint from the author is "to take action, to move forward with your thoughts & ideas to accomplish something, instead of waiting for something - or nothing - to happen."

At the end of the reading endeavour, one can quickly use the book as a how-to manual on developing a culture of intelligent risk taking in any setting, organisational, professional or personal.

The author's account of failures, setbacks & triumphs is reassuring, joyful & motivating. His writing is succinct, concise & easy-going.

I highly recommend this book for any professional, especially if you are in sales & marketing.

As a matter of fact, people from every walk of life can learn something useful from Ralph Heath's 'Celebrating Failure'.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A WISE QUOTE FOR MONDAY MORNING

"When you're determined to use failure as a school of success, you'll find that it's easier to hold a strategic course & refine the plan, rather than constantly second-guessing yourself. Panic subsides, along with depression, humiliation, & all the other unhappy byproducts of perceiving failure as an unmitigated disaster."

~ Bill Walsh, American Football Hall of Fame coach;

Sunday, July 26, 2009

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: ATTRIBUTES GRID

[continued from the Last Post.]

Exercise:

Using the weighted rankings technique, determine which of the following personalities, dead or alive, are ideal role models for confronting the challenges of the new century:

Bill Clinton (USA), Nelson Mandela (South Africa), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Hellen Keller, Jack Welch (General Electric), and Mother Teresa.

Your criteria could perhaps be: leadership qualities, innovative abilities, global empathy, impact on humankind, high moral standards, and passion for living.

Whenever you complete such an exercise, perform what is known as a ‘sanity check’ before making any decisions.

If necessary, re-do the exercise.

Your intuition is a powerful force within you. Coupled with analysis, the cocktail can be formidable. Intuitive ranking invites catastrophe. You should determine your rankings using the weighted rankings procedure.

There is one exception: Where the outcome is of minimal consequence to you.

It is always rather intriguing to observe how the initial and subsequent rankings compare with each other. The outcome could make you feel uncomfortable, because our default mode is to be instinctive. Once we have got used to doing this technique, it will be almost instinctive.

Your intuition, as superlogic, will have merged with your analytical logic. In time, your level of intuitive accuracy will rise dramatically.

The next technique is called The Actions Grid. You can use it to follow up The Attributes Grid.

The format is different in appearance, but the logic flows along similar lines, giving you a quick and convenient way to sort out your priorities and get you moving along a correctly sorted list
of options.

[To be continued in the Next Post: The Actions Grid. Excerpted from 'Surfing the Intellect: Building Intellectual Capital for a Knowledge Economy', by Dilip Mukerjea.]

Saturday, July 25, 2009

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: ATTRIBUTES GRID

[continued from the Last Post.]

Exercise:

Pair rank the following list of leisure activities for your workforce:

picnic, movies, beach bar-b-q, dinner & dance, and group vacation

Percentile Weighting

When we addressed weighted ranking earlier, it was based on intuition. True weighted ranking, in its arithmetically correct form, is the distribution of percentile values amongst selected items (criteria, attributes, features, etc).

Their sum must equal 1.0. For example, let us consider the following criteria (list of attributes) that we would like to apply when ranking the leisure activities in the preceding exercise:

setting, bonding, relaxation, fun, and savings

We now pair rank these criteria (total votes = 10), and say, our rankings are:

fun, bonding, relaxation, setting, and savings, in descending order of importance. From this prioritised arrangement, we can make a shortlist for weighting; let us take the top three criteria, and give them percentile weights as follows:

fun 0.5
bonding 0.4
relaxation 0.1

TOTAL 1.0

We now construct a grid or matrix that allows us to tabulate our weighted rankings for the leisure activities.


Using one criterion at a time, pair rank the leisure activities. Let us say the outcome was as follows:


We now multiply each category score by its weight, total the scores, and then establish the final ranking, as shown below:


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

Friday, July 24, 2009

THE CRUX BETWEEN CREATIVITY & INNOVATION

I have stumbled upon the following interesting insight attributed to Hugh MacLeod of the 'Gaping Void' weblog:

"One of the buzzwords you hear a lot in the business world these days, is “Innovation”. Yes, it’s a genuinely worthy thing to aspire to. Genuine innovation creates lots of genuine value, every young intern knows this. Which is why people like to throw it around like confetti. It’s one of those words that sound good in meetings, regardless of how serious one is about ACTUALLY innovating ANYTHING.

Here’s some friendly advice for all you Innovation-buzzword fanboys:


You don’t get to be more innovative, until you make yourself more creative FIRST.

“Innovative” is an “external” word. It can be measured. It generally talks about things that have been tested properly and found to have worked in the real world.

“Creative”, however, is more of an “internal” word. It’s subjective, it’s murkier. It’s far harder to measure, it’s far harder to define. It’s an inward journey, not outward. Which is why a lot of people in business try to keep the word out of their official lexicon, preferring instead more neutral, more externally-focused language like “Value”, “Excellence”, “Quality” and yes, “Innovation”."


You can read the rest of it - plus many diverse viewpoints from readers - at this link to the 'Lateral Action' weblog.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: ATTRIBUTES GRID

[continued from the Last Post.]

Precision Weights for Accurate Decision Making

The Weighted Ranking Technique

Our species has a builtin preference for seeking preferences. We compare, match, liken, analogise, and compete, constantly. In the end, our decisions are based on preferring one option to another.

However, this is most often an instinctive response triggered by some primal software deep within us. We have a built-in tendency to categorise and rank options under scrutiny.

The Attributes Grid as described, permits us to come to a quick decision, even when applying ‘weightage’ in our calculations. This ‘weightage’ has been instinctive until now.

For example, if we had to spontaneously make a ranking of say, the top five cities in the world, out of the following options:

New York, London, Tokyo, New Delhi, Baghdad

we would all arrive at different arrangements in prioritising this list.

This is because we have not considered a range of criteria. Moreover, these criteria would also need to be prioritised, and given weights. The principal defect in our instinctive method for making choices lies in our tendency to view problems one-dimensionally.

When ranking diverse items, we are inclined to apply different criteria to the different items being ranked ~ it is not an apple for an apple situation, so to speak. We also tend to view all our criteria as being equally important.

Furthermore, we frequently tend not to rank every item individually against every other item in a listing.

Therefore, in order to be immensely more accurate, say, when deciding on some high priority issues, we must go deeper into the process.

The basic procedure is a simple choice between two items at a time. For example, say, we have to make a selection from the following alternatives:

Alternative 1, Alternative 2, Alternative 3, Alternative 4

Having listed down the alternatives as a first step, we now do a ‘round robin’ exercise. We ask ourselves, which alternative is better, 1 or 2?

If it is ‘1’, we place a tick against that alternative. We then match 1 against 3; if alternative 3 is better, we place a tick against that one.

In like manner, each alternative is matched against every other alternative, pair by pair by pair, until the process is complete.

In order to be certain that you have ranked every alternative against every other alternative on the list, use the following formula:

[N x (N-1)] divide by 2

(Where N is the number of alternatives or items on a list)

If you fail to arrive at the correct total number of votes, re-check your working.

Thus, in our example, we have four alternatives, so the total number of votes that must be assigned to all the alternatives when they have all been ranked against every other alternative, is:

[4 x (4-1)] divide by 2 = [4 x 3] divide by 2 = 6

We can check our accuracy. Let us say the outcome was as follows:

Alternative 1 ✔ ✔
Alternative 2 ✔
Alternative 3 ✔ ✔ ✔
Alternative 4

We could thus pair rank the outcome, based on votes, as:

Alternative 3 (three votes)
Alternative 1 (two votes)
Alternative 2 (one vote)
Alternative 4 (no votes)

The instinctive outcome may have been very different. You can do this with any number of items. You could sometimes have two or more items end up with the same number of votes. This could occur when the analysis is inconsistent.

Simply pit them head to head to break the tie.

Instinctive ranking is propelled by intuition, and is a hit or-miss method. It provides a ‘guesstimate’ whereas paired rankings give us assurance that we are as close to certain as we can be.

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: THE ATTRIBUTES GRID

PURPOSE:

Decision-making can be greatly clarified with the use of the Attributes Grid.

This can be used whenever there are several options under consideration, and they are
being matched against a list of attributes or criteria. What emerges is a prioritised list of options.

PROCEDURE:

1 Write the options in the first column of the grid provided on page 100. Use as many or as few as you need; the number varies from situation to situation.

2 Write the attributes down in the top row of boxes; in this example, there are five boxes, located between the “options” and “totals” columns.

3 Score each option against each attribute, using a Rating Scale ranging from 1 to 5.

To remain impartial, it is essential that you complete each column sequentially, i.e. complete the first column first, then the second, and so on. Thus, all the options arematched against an attribute, before proceeding on to the next column.

This way, you remain impartial in your scoring, and the results possess integrity.

The syntax for the attributes must remain in the same form.

‘Increased productivity’, for example, does not match ‘a decrease in employee complaints’ ~ it should read instead ‘an increase in employee satisfaction.’

Change all the negative statements into their positive components.

What finally emerges is a prioritised list of options, out of which the BEST OPTION is generally the one with the highest score.

In our example, the maximum total score for each option is 5 x 5 = 25, so it is very simple to work out the percentage values. However, you are free to use any other rating scale if you feel more comfortable doing so.

The highest scoring option may NOT always be the BEST option! It depends upon the attributes you consider to be the most important.

For example, when selecting the best candidate for a corporate position, the highest scoring individual may have a very poor rating for ‘loyalty’ ~ thus, despite the high score, the person’s value to the organisation is still questionable. Each attribute can have an identical ‘weightage,’ or you could vary the ‘weightage.’

"All decision-making tools are meant to be our guides, not our masters!"


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

Monday, July 20, 2009

DEVELOPING CREATIVE FIREPOWER

According to Earl Henne, author of 'Mining Your Mind. Do You Mind?,

"Questions are frequently more important than answers because they often define the quality of the answers, & answers often lead to further questions, & they sometimes help relate the seemingly unrelated".

I have often used the Phoenix Checklist of Questions, which has originally been developed by the CIA to encourage their field operatives & intelligent analysts to study a problem or challenge from diferent angles.

Here it is.

THE PROBLEM:

- Why is it necessary to solve the problem?
- What benefits will you gain by solving the problem?
- What is the unknown?
- What is it you don’t understand?
- What is the information you have?
- What isn’t the problem?
- Is the information sufficient? or is it insufficient? or redundant? or contradictory?
- Should you draw a diagram of the problem?
- Where are the boundaries of the problem?
- Can you separate the various parts of the problem? can you write them down? what are the relationships of the parts of the problem?
- What are the constants (things that can’t be changed) of the problem?
- Have you seen this problem before?
- Have you seen this problem in a slightly different form?
- Do you know a related problem?
- Try to think of a familiar problem having the same or similar unknown
- Suppose you find a problem related to yours that has already been solved. can you see it? can you use it’s method?
- Can you restate your problem? how many different ways can you restated it? more general? more specific? can the rules be changed?
- What are the best, worst and most probable cases can you imagine?


THE PLAN

- Can you solve the whole problem? part of the problem?
- What would you like the resolution to be? can you picture it?
- How much of the unknown can you determine?
- Can you derive something useful from the information you have?
- Have you used all the information?
- Have you taken into account all essential notions in the problem?
- Can you separate the steps in the problem solving process? can you determine the correctness of each step?
- What creative thinking techniques can you use to generate ideas? how many?
- Can you see the result? how many different kinds of results can you see?
- How many different ways have you tried to solve the problem?
- What have others done?
- Can you intuit the solution? can you check the result?
- What should be done? how should it be done?
- Where should it be done?
- When should it be done?
- Who should do it?
- What do you need to do at this time?
- Who will be responsible for what?
- Can you use this problem to solve some other problem?
- What is the unique set of qualities that makes this problem what it is and none other?
- What milestones can best mark your progress?
- How will you know when you are successful?

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: MAGIC MANDALA

[continued from the Last Post.]



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

A WISE QUOTE FOR MONDAY MORNING

"Innovation, any new idea by definition, will not be accepted at first. It takes repeated attempts, endless demonstrations and monotonous rehearsals before innovation can be accepted and
internalized by an organization. This requires courageous patience."


~ Warren Bennis;

Sunday, July 19, 2009

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: MAGIC MANDALA

[continued from the Last Post.]

History

I created this technique recently when my daughter asked me about inventing a helicoptering rubber duck! So I started off in the centre of a square and took off from there; two minutes later, we had not only an aerial rubber duck, but also other delightful ideas. The example given on the next page shows our thought processing.

NOTE:

This technique has no limits and one can keep on making combinations with newly emerging ideas. The examples are simply that, to show the process, but on a large sheet of paper, we could add innumerable ideas to those that have already emerged.

The arrangement of options in the four triangles (1,2,3,4) that enclose the central starting square, can be swapped around to give several options, e.g. the order of options could be 1,2,3,4 or 1,3,2,4 or 4,1,3,2, etc.

Each arrangement will give different outcomes from their unique combinations. This means that in one instance, 1 & 2 combine, as do 3 & 4. Alternatively, we could have 1 & 3, and 4 & 1, as the initial combinations.

From each of these outcomes, we can have numerous subsequent outcomes. Thus, several mandalas with identical starting themes, and identical initial (triangular) options, can have multiple possibilities when we have diverse permutations and combinations with 1, 2, 3, & 4.


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

Saturday, July 18, 2009

GNATS OF CREATIVITY, by Robert Alan Black

Gnats are little things that can irritate and cause pain when we least expect it, or simply distract us long enough to stop or stifle our creativity.

GNATS is an acronym that stands for Generally Natural Actions (Activities or Attitudes) that Threaten and Stop (or Stifle) creativity or innovation.

Because each of us is susceptible to a different collection of GNATS, I’ve developed a list of 26 of them, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet.

They may be caused by ourselves, by people who work with us, by people who we work for, by our clients, by total strangers. They can be real or imagined - true or simply believed to be true, either by ourselves or by others we deal with. GNATS can be physical, mental, emotional or social.

In the current climate that is constantly seeking innovations and creative ideas, we need to be able to deal with all things that can block or deter our creative energies and efforts.

First let’s look over a basic list of GNATS. Then we’ll take a look at a sample of them to explore how they can be prevented, or dealt with, when they come "buzzing" around our heads, externally or internally.

Age:
- fearing that you’re too young, too old, not young or old enough, or were not born in the right age, or that your company or organization isn’t young or old enough.

Background:
- you don't have the background to work on the problem, or to generate ideas for the topic area.

Culture:
- you live in the wrong culture, a dull culture, or you are not cultured enough to be truly innovative.

Dull:
- you’re feeling dull or are in a dull environment.

Education:
- you don't have enough, or have the wrong education to be innovative (no degrees, too many degrees, wrong degree-right school or wrong school).

Foolish:
- you’re too foolish to be innovative, or not foolish enough.

Gamble:
- people see your ideas as too much of a gamble before you work out the pitfalls and turn them into viable solutions and workable plans.

Hard work:
- you don't want to accept that innovative thinking is hard work or that you don't want to work hard enough.

Intelligence:
- innovative thinking requires more or less intelligence than you possess.

Jealousy:
- you’re always jealous of innovative people or you fear others will be jealous of you if you are innovative.

Killed:
- your ideas are always being killed by others.

Laughter:
- other people just laugh at you when you are creative and never take you seriously.

Money:
- you don't have the money to be innovative or you have too much money and don't need to be innovative.

Narrow:
- others are too narrow-minded to accept your innovative ideas.

Opportunities:
- you never have any great opportunities--these can be limited by your location, profession, age, etc.

Paradigms:
- yours, and theirs, always get in the way of innovation.

Quitters:
- you’re surrounded by people who quit trying too soon, or once they have a workable solution they stop trying.

Radical:
- your ideas are constantly being called "too radical," and because you prefer to be creative most of the time you are labeled as a "radical."

Stress:
- you’re under too much stress to be innovative.

Time:
- you don't have the time to spend on being innovative as you’re busy enough just trying to complete your assignments.

Unappreciated:
- you feel unappreciated; therefore you have quit trying to be innovative for others.

Vultures:
- you’re surrounded by "vultures", people who steal your ideas.

Wisecracks:
- people respond to your creative ideas with wisecracks, put-downs and put-offs.

Xerographic:
- people are always copying your ideas without giving you credit.

Yield:
- you stop or yield to others’ criticisms too easily and too often.

Zipped out:
- you have no energy to be innovative.

Now we’ll look at two of these GNATS, and examine how we may deal with them physically, mentally, emotionally or socially.

Zipped Out

Physically , check your recent sleep habits, each nutritious foods, take a nap, have a piece of fruit, do some stretching exercises, or go for a walk.

Mentally, take a few minutes to write in your journal to examine the potential cause for your low energy. Read or listen to some motivational material. Relax to your favorite music.

Emotionally, list positive things about yourself. List your recent successes. Call a positive friend and ask for a boost.

Socially, go to lunch with a friend or attend an upbeat meeting.

Opportunities

Physically, take a walk around a mall and ask yourself what opportunities the store owners have taken advantage of.

Mentally, list 12 potential opportunities that you see around you; ask yourself what opportunities you might have if you were somewhere else, if there were no limitations on you.

Emotionally, recall 6 to 12 opportunities you’ve had, and write down what was good about them.

Socially, ask 12 people what opportunities they see for you. Call some friends and ask them, especially friends you haven't talked with for a long time

Being creative is your choice; but it takes some effort. From these two examples, list your own physical, mental, emotional, and social solutions to the GNATS that buzz around you, keeping you from being more creative and innovative. And while you’re at it, see what you can do about GNATS that bother your staff.

Many thanks, Alan, for sharing!

[Dr Robert Alan Black runs his own workplace creativity consulting outfit. He is also the author of 'Broken Crayons: Break Your Crayons & Draw Outside the Lines'. The book is available from Amazon.

By the way, here's also a link to many of his other interesting Cre8ng articles.]

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: MAGIC MANDALA

PURPOSE:

To get a stream of ideas from a solitary seed. Rapid radiation of creative combinations emerge from a compact, easy to follow evolving map that shapes itself into a mandala. Very powerful for breaking out of mental blocks and coming up with utterly unexpected solutions.

The number of potentially progressive combinations of steps that make up the processes or components of products is virtually inexhaustible.

The origin of the mandala has been explained by Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

He points out that the original historical incidence of a mandala was in the form of a circle symbol (called mandala in Sanskrit). These symbols are originally associated with agrarian cultures.

Carl Gustav Jung was an expert in this domain, and throws additional light on the theme.

To quote Alan Watts: “A mandala is essentially a circle, usually divided into four quarters, or into multiples of four, and embodies, as it were, the general theme of integration of a community.”

I have amplified the concept to embrace the world of ideas, where continual integration of concepts, via say, the Magic Mandala, can lead to an infinity of ideas. The four-section structure keeps evolving towards greater emergence of new thought patterns, and thus, new ideas.

Procedure for Completing the Mandala

1 Write your objective in the centre of the mandala.

2 Then spin off four associations, ideas or attributes, each of which must be written (or drawn) in the four surrounding triangles, marked 1, 2, 3, & 4. These triangles have been created by the rotated square that surrounds the initial one.

3 Now combine the entries and place them in their surrounding triangles:

~ for 1 & 2, place it in the north-west triangle
~ for 2 & 3, place it in the north-east triangle
~ for 3 & 4, place it in the south-east triangle
~ for 1 & 4, place it in the south-west triangle

Then further combine, expanding as before:

~ for 1 & 2 with 1 & 4, so that 1, 2, 4 is placed in the west triangle
~ for 1 & 2 with 2 & 3, so that 1, 2, 3 is placed in the north triangle
~ for 2 & 3 with 3 & 4, so that 2, 3, 4 is placed in the east triangle
~ for 3 & 4 with 1 & 4, so that 1, 3, 4 is placed in the south triangle

Continue likewise for the last four (outermost) triangles, which will contain the combinations of 1, 2, 3 & 4.

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

Friday, July 17, 2009

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: THE LOTUS BLOSSOM MATRIX

[continued from the Last Post.]

KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY PRINCIPLES

The genesis of knowledge occurs in human minds. (This is different to information and data).

Sharing and dissemination of knowledge engenders trust, bonding, and openness.

Technopreneurs emerge from crucibles of knowledge ~ novel circumstances create interest and enable people to become able. A Knowledge Organisation also has a repository of
solutions to frequently encountered problems (FEPs).

Knowledge is a democratic commodity; its sharing is to be encouraged, inspired, and rewarded.

Across the board support from top management is vital for the release and proliferation of resources.

Knowledge moves, evolves, and grows via experiment-to experience pilot programmes. Dare to do!

Knowledge initiatives need to be constantly evaluated via quantitative and qualitative measurements. Creation of an Organisational Knowledge Map is invaluable for providing
better information about where exactly knowledge resides in the Organisation and how to access it. This can also be done elctronically, with on-line ‘Yellow Pages.’

Knowledge is a vital ingredient of creativity ~ it should be encouraged to evolve in unexpected ways. A collaborative learning organisation will inspire explosions of creativity.

The Lotus Blossom Matrix stimulated several insights for the Breakthrough Program as shown on p.148. Matching Knowledge Economy Principles show how thoughts can harmonise with actions for successful navigation towards breakthrough!

It is important to remember that Organisations today are differentiated by what they know. This knowledge is everevolving, never static. That is, they ‘never take know for an
answer’ but instead, keep on knowing, so that they remain relevant to the challenges of the Knowledge Economy.

A personal hard copy as well as communal on-line Knowledge Map keeps pace with growth in knowledge. Locations of expertise, inventories of resources, and the overall ingredients
of Intellectual Capital (brainpower), are invaluable entries in the Knowledge Map. This Map then serves as a strategic tool to maintain learning momentum, evaluate knowledge stock, and reveal strengths to be harnessed and gaps that need to be filled.

Note: This exercise was devised for the visionary staff at the Institute of Technical Education, Singapore.

[Excerpted from 'Surfing the Intellect: Building Intellectual Capital for a Knowledge Economy', by Dilip Mukerjea.]

Thursday, July 16, 2009

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: THE LOTUS BLOSSOM MATRIX

[continued from the Last Post.]

BREAKTHROUGH PROGRAM

Establish a Knowledge Community, with ‘learning circles,’ and link them via technology.

Build and enhance relationships via ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ meetings (face-to-face, physical and videconferencing)

Fusion of software and hardware addressing wetware (brainware) leads to enhanced communication and collaboration. Training replaced by coaching; emphasis on
goals and vision, individual and collective.

Top management endorsement and involvement initiates leadership for inspiring change.

Resources in the guise of time, equipment, money, people, and skills are facilitated by top management.

Teamwork should be restructured from its cliched perception to ‘teams that work’ ~ small, compact, groups shaped into Action Teams.

Focus is placed on both quantitative as well as qualitative aspects of the program. Monitoring, measuring, and documenting must be counterbalanced by good fellowship, heightened enthusiasm, and synergy. (These observations should, as much as possible, be captured in hard copy, on a Knowledge Map).

Whilst staying on course towards achieving all goals and the overall vision, leave space for serendipitous discoveries, and unexpected developments. Creativity must be permitted to
erupt outside any pre-determined schedules.

[To be continued in the Next Post. Excerpted from 'Surfing the Intellect: Building Intellectual Capital for a Knowledge Economy', by Dilip Mukerjea.]

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

INNOVATING IN BRUTAL MARKETS & BEYOND: YOUR SURVIVAL GUIDE

Frankly, I find it refreshing & illuminating to read the new book entitled 'The Silver Lining: An Innovation Playbook for Uncertain Times' by Scott Anthony, President of the boutique innovation consultancy firm, Innosight.

He is also the lead author of 'The Innovator's Guide to Growth', which I haven't read, & co-author of 'Seeing What's Next' (with world-famous innovation guru Clayton Christensen), which I had read several years ago.

The first thing that has struck me profoundly is his smooth way of capturing the essence of today's tumultuous business environment - 'Great Disruption', as an apt analogy of the 'Great Depression' of the 1930's - where change is ripping through marketspace at unprecedented pace.

On top of that, he follows up with a brilliant analysis, infused with numerous examples (in spite of his humble qualification: "Our sample is heavily biased, but still the directional results are interesting.") of how innovation can still flourish, even in the toughest of economic times.

I like the beginning part when he talks about "Abundance is actually the root cause of many corporate struggles with innovation... On the other hand, constraints are one of the great enablers of innovation."

The observation of Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame probably sums up that sentiment best:

"If you ever find yourself in a box, the best way to get out of the box is to invent your way out of the box. Either/or thinking is very constraining. Sometimes people say it is either A or B and you instead have to invent C."

So, with the foregoing as a prologue, so to speak, I believe that the author has carefully written, with incisive anecdotes, an excellent strategy guide to help us think about how to reinvent ourselves so that we have a right to have a future.

I also love the way the author has laid out his easy-to-follow game-plan for readers, with pragmatic frameworks & useful tools to instil a disruptive innovation mindset:

- 'Chapter 1: The Great Disruption' ("... innovating in uncertain times is actually... innovating in any economic climate. Tough economic times are going to force innovators to do what they should have been doing already... The challenge is reinvention, or transformation... Perpetual transformation is the only way to thrive during the Great Disruption". Well said, Scott.);

- 'Chapter 2: Prune Prudently' (the portfolio checkup is a great tool for determining the health of one's innovation/growth portfolio), describes THINGS WE SHOULD STOP DOING;

- 'Chapter 3: Refeature to Cut Cost' (as reconstituted offerings provide better value), 'Chapter 4: Increase Innovation Productivity' (this is an excellent chapter, as it helps us to identify capabilities, constraints, weaknesses, & structures), 'Chapter 5: Master Smart Strategic Experiments' (a good perspective on technical experimentation vs strategic experimentation) & 'Chapter 6: Share the Innovation Load' ("Entrepreneurs don't take risk; they manage risks."), describe THINGS WE NEED TO DO DIFFERENTLY;

- 'Chapter 7: Learn to Love the Low End' (a great lesson on how to turn the disruptive threat into an opportunity) & 'Chapter 8: Drive Personal Reinvention' (my favourite chapter; I like the author's apt use of F Scott Fitzgerald's test of mastering seemingly paradoxical demands, & also his exhortation on associational thinking [with tendencies toward discovery skills, such as questioning, observing, exploring & networking]; & acquisition of 'schools of experience or hard knocks';), describe THINGS WE ARE NOT DOING YET, BUT NEED TO GET STARTED IMMEDIATELY;

The last chapter, 'Chapter 9: What's Next for Innovation', is a good epilogue, which highlights ten specific disruptors, with parting thoughts from the author.

Interestingly, as the author argues, instead of trying to play the innovation game better than existing competitors, the disruptor changes the game. This is the brutal reality of the 'Great Disruption'.

Undoubtedly, the author is really good, as I can sense his mastery of subject & clarity of thought, substantiated with intellectual rigour, deep academic research as well as powerful lessons from successful real-world innovators.

Clayton Christensen's credit of him as one of the world's foremost authorities on innovating for growth is a worthy testimonial.

The fact that the author had been engaged by the Singapore Government about five years ago to lead "a multi-month project to help the govenment understand how to create an environment that fosters entrepreneurialism & innovation" certainly underscored his impeccable reputation as an innovation strategist.

This is because the Singapore Government is well known internationally for always picking the best overseas brains to push strategic thrusts that involve the country's economic survival.

To conclude my review, I must say that I have truly enjoyed reading & digesting the author's playbook as he calls it.

What I also like best is that it reinforces Peter Drucker's long-held philosophy with regard to innovation as a deliberate, repeatable, & sustainable discipline.

Also, one more fascinating thought, or more precisely, a stream of connecting thoughts, from the author, reflecting his keen sense of closure, before I sign off:

At the introduction, the author writes: "(history) suggested that there were clear rays of hopes. Of course, realising that hope required thinking and acting differently... "

At the parting thoughts, the author writes: "... Hope is not lost. Opportunity remains... The choice is yours."

Hi, Scott, a marvellous piece of work, Thank You very much.

[More information about the author, his consultancy work & his book is available at this link. He also writes a weblog on innovation insights at Harvard Business.

In fact, readers can also visit this link to download many free resources inspired by 'The Silver Lining'.]

LAUGHTER IS BEST MEDICINE

Laughter is one of the least understood of human behaviors.

Scientists have found that during a good laugh three parts of the brain light up: a thinking part that helps you get the joke, a movement area that tells your muscles to move, and an emotional region that elicits the "giddy" feeling.

But it remains unknown why one person laughs at your brother's foolish jokes while another chuckles while watching a horror movie.

John Morreall, who is a pioneer of humor research at the College of William and Mary, has found that laughter is a playful response to incongruities - stories that disobey conventional expectations.

Others in the humor field point to laughter as a way of signaling to another person that this action is meant "in fun."

One thing is clear: Laughter makes us feel better.

[Source: 'Top 10 Mysteries of the Mind' from 'Live Science'.

Readers can also go to this link to read Dilip Mukerjea's brief write-up on 'Laughter is the Food of the Soul'.]

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: THE LOTUS BLOSSOM MATRIX

[continued from the Last Post.]


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

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: THE LOTUS BLOSSOM MATRIX

[continued from the Last Post]

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

DEBUNKING 10 BRAIN MYTHS


From the book, 'The Sharp Brains Guide to Brain Fitness', comes this interesting debunking exposition on myths pertaining to brain health & brain training.

A quick one:

Myth 1. Genes determine the fate of our brains.

Myth 2. Aging means automatic decline.

Myth 3. Medication is the main hope for cognitive enhancement.

Myth 4. We will soon have a Magic Pill or General Solution to solve all our cognitive challenges.

Myth 5. There is only one “it” in “Use It or Lose it”.

Myth 6. All brain activities or exercises are equal.

Myth 7. There is only one way to train your brain.

Myth 8. We all have something called “Brain Age”.

Myth 9. That “brain age” can be reversed by 10, 20, 30 years.

Myth 10. All human brains need the same brain training.


Go to this link to read about it.

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

Monday, July 13, 2009

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: THE LOTUS BLOSSOM MATRIX

PURPOSE:

To brainstorm, either individually, or within a group, for solutions to problems, or simply to generate insights and ideas for conversion into products, services, or processes.

This is a springboard not only to creativity but also to innovation, with the technique often setting off a chain-reaction of diverse themes.

Start right in the centre of the 9 x 9 matrix (marked ‘start’ in the central box). Write down, as a key word, your issue under consideration (do this as a full sentence on the very top of the matrix sheet so that you articulate your complete intention). This is the main theme of the exercise.

Next, radiate outwards, and in each of the surrounding eight squares, coloured and marked A to H, write down an associated idea, or attribute, pertaining to the main theme. The main core of 8 squares that surround the starting square are colour coded to facilitate processing.

Having done this, transfer these eight associations to their respective squares (correspondingly colour coded) located outside the original eight boxes that surround the core. These outside boxes are also shaded for easy recognition.

Now repeat the original methodology, and surround each of these eight associations with eight of their own. These boxes are numbered 1 to 8, around each of the letters from A to H.

Once the matrix has been completed, see if you have enough material to arrive at a solution. If not, you can re-do the exercise, on a blank matrix, but this time, starting with any one of the original eight associations now in the centre.

NOTE :

Follow the rules of brainstorming; suspend judgment as you spin off associations in your quest for solutions.

In our specific example, ‘Breakthrough,’ one matrix was adequate for initiating an action plan, with insights available for subsequent fine tuning.

History

Yasuo Matsumura, president of Clover Management Research, originally developed this technique. The name comes from the way in which lotus petals radiate outwards from the centre, as of course, is the case with so much else in nature. Reflections of the central, starting, pattern subsequently act as the core of other similar patterns.

The range of possible associations is infinite wherein lies the beauty of all creativity.

I have modified the original matrix so that it is colour coded appropriately, and nine clearly demarcated boxes (one main and eight peripheral), with nine squares per box, make up the structure of the complete matrix. This is to facilitate processing and preclude any possibility of confusion, especially when working at speed.

Additional Notes:

The objective of the exercise is not just to make random associations. With the ‘issue under consideration’ clearly stated at the head of the page, we must at all times maintain the link between it and the associations being made within the one major and eight peripheral boxes.

The aim remains constant: strive for insights that are the seeds for solutions.

It is important to note that both the statement for ‘issue under consideration’ and the key word(s) in the centre serve the following purposes:

(a) the former represents complete articulation of the main theme

(b) the latter represents the distillation of this complete articulation


Both are necessary as they are twin pillars of powerful thought processing.

Any repetition of words at diverse locations of the matrix is perfectly normal and merely represents emphasis upon specific thoughts. These can have relevance in multiple areas of focus.



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

A WISE QUOTE FOR MONDAY MORNING

"Failure is not an option. . . Sometimes, it's a prerequisite of success."

~ A YPO (Young Presidents' Organisation ) advertisement;

Sunday, July 12, 2009

DEVELOPING DISRUPTIVE IDEAS

Here's a link to a whole gamut of wonderful resources on disruptive innovation strategies: guidelines, worksheets, scorecard, disruptometer, & brainstorming tool. The credit should go to Michael Urlocker of The Disruption Group.

By the way, 'Developing Disruptive Ideas', is actually the title of a chapter in the book,'Innovator's Guide to Growth: Putting Disruptive Innovation to Work', by Scott Anthony of Innosight.

It's available as a .pdf document from this link.

Actually, it costs US$6.95 from the publisher, Harvard Business Publishing, or Amazon, but I have found a link for free download as shown. Thanks to my Copernic Agent Pro!

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: REVERSAL

[continued from the Last Post.]



{Excerpted from 'Surfing the Intellect: Building Intellectual Capital for a Knowledge Economy', by Dilip Mukerjea.]

Saturday, July 11, 2009

SURVIVING & THRIVING IN THE AGE OF TURBULENCE WITH CHAOTICS

I have, not too long ago, & also as part of my evolving personal collection, the following apt quote from Philip Kotler at the forefront of my daily idea scratchpad:

“To prepare for the twenty-first century, companies need to imagine alternative scenarios for the marketplace of the future, and use these scenarios to stimulate their thinking about possible contingencies and strategies. My advice, therefore, is get busy building scenarios and determining what they imply in the way of strategic planning. Do not think business as usual.”

I can't recall where I have gotten it, but I have also adopted it as one of my 'Today's VIP (Very Important Pose'), as well as considered it as one of my 'Pragmatic Insights from the Experts' in my personal weblog.

To my pleasant delight, I am glad that it helps to set a profound preamble to this book review of mine.

The lead author, now 78 or so, but surprisingly still active, is undoubtedly recognised as an internationally acclaimed marketing guru; hailed by the Management Centre Europe as "the world's foremost expert on the strategic practice of marketing."

Naturally, I have been quite excited to approach in reading his new book, 'Chaotics', but my fascination begins to fade after reading several pages at the front portion of the book. This is primarily because the author has drawn excellent material from several earlier authors - which he has humbly acknowledged at the onset & within the chapters of the book - namely:

- Clayton Christensen ('The Innovator's Dilemma' & 'The Innovator's Solution');
- Jim Collins ('Good to Great');
- Peter Drucker (The Age of Discontinuity');
- George Day & Paul Schoemaker ('Peripheral Vision');
- Richard D'Alveni ('Hypercompetition');
- Arie de Geus ('The Living Company');
- Benjamin Gilad ('Early Warning');
- Andy Grove ('Only the Paranoid Survive');
- Gary Hamel ('Leading the Revolution');
- Peter Schwartz (''Inevitable Surprises');

[The only odd one I have not read, to my chagrin, is probably Hermann Simon's 'Hidden Champions'.]

I have, in fact, over the years, read the works of these authors not only once, but many times in order to personalise their many ideas for easy application.

So, specifically for me, reading 'Chaotics' is like doing a grand refresher course.

In fact, it also reminds of me of the great works of two Scandinavian consultants Yves Doz & Mikko Kosonen (with their masterpiece: 'Fast Strategy: How Strategic Agility will help you Stay Ahead of the Game') & innovation strategist/futurist Jim Carroll (namely, 'What I Learned from Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin with Forward-Thinking Innovation' & 'Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast').

However, in fairness to the two competent authors, this bold statement of mine is not going to diminish the value of the book.

Strictly speaking, I reckon, riding on the shoulders of giants, so to speak, is apparently a cool move on the part of the two competent authors, because they didn't have to spend time dabbling with fancy theories. All they need to do, is to give all the proven stuff a new spin, which they have done so marvellously in 'Chaotics'.

In that respect, I have found useful nuggets, in addition to the fact that the two competent authors have synthesised, within 200-odd pages, all the "borrowed brilliance" into a timely, disciplined strategy guide on building strategic robustness, market responsiveness & operational resiliency, as embodied in their 'Chaotics' Management System.

In a nut shell, I want to say that the book is all about developing organisational agility & prosperity, but first business leaders need a new view of the world, & a new framework for dealing with it.

[At this juncture, I am reminded again by this superb insight from Dudley Lynch, author of 'Strategy of the Dolphin' & 'The Mother of All Minds':

"When your mind changes its worldview, it changes the world! Not just the world-at-large outside you, but also your own interior personal world, writ large!"]

So, 'Chaotics' comes in real handy, because it provides a comprehensive roadmap to navigate the so-called interlocking fragility of turbulence, chaos, risk & uncertainty amidst globalisation & digitisation, as well as a practical operating manual for inculcating new strategic behaviours.

[Readers can also go to this publisher's link to download an overview document on 'Chaotics'.]

For me, the beautiful nuggets come in the form of abundant pertinent probing questions, which all managers of today should ask themselves, if they really want to survive & thrive in the 'Age of Turbulence', all interpersed throughout the book (& strategically segmented to suit finance, IT, manufacturing, purchasing & HR) , plus a myriad of thoughtfully-crafted checklists of recommendations & ideas to consider.

In terms of immediate takeaways or learning points, the foregoing stuff is already worth the price of the book. It's like having both competent authors at your side to guide you.

For reader's benefits, I like to fish out a handful of the worthwhile checklists:

- factors that can cause chaos;
- hypercompetition strategies for disruption;
- most common mistakes that business leaders make when turbulence hits;
- ten innovation mistakes a company can make during a turbulent economy;
- ten most common mistakes companies make relative to valued stakeholders during turbulence;
- one effective & efficient approach to scenario construction;
- ten practices to weather continually extended & heightened periods of turbulence;
- ten effective HR recommendations to help retain talent;
- four key changes in the marketspace;
- eight factors for marketers to keep in mind when embracing 'Chaotics' marketing strategies;
- three important recommendations for keeping margins above water;
- six key steps for sales executives to inspired the team;
- common characteristics of firms of endearment (endeared company);


Some of the authors' concepts like defending vulnerabilities/exploiting opportunities for sustainability, as well as dual vision/triple planning, though not entirely new, are worth reading, too.

To conclude my review, 'Chaotics' is still worth pursuing, especially if you are hard-pressed for time in seeking a lifeline while traversing uncharted waters. Best of all, to the credit of the two competent authors, their writing style is crisp, succinct & easy-to-read.

BRAIN BASED LEADERSHIP & INNOVATION


Writing in an article entitled 'Innovation in Turbulent Times', in the Harvard Business Review, consultants of Bain & Co., Darrell Rigby, Kara Gruver, & James Allen, have argued that the dearth of right-brain types in leadership positions simply would lead to unwise cost cutting during hard times.

According to them, decisions about slashing versus retaining projects are often made by analytic, left-brain leaders unsuited to evaluating innovation portfolios.

They have added that the fashion industry could be worth emulating:

Its businesses are "both-brain," run by pairs of powerful executives with complementary-creative and analytic-styles. They are structured to support left-brain/right-brain partnerships; hiring at all levels seeks a mix of cognitive styles.

As a result, innovation has become a way of business life, not a marginal activity.

Likewise, both-brain pairs have been found elsewhere:

Apple CEO Steve Jobs & COO Tim Cook; Procter & Gamble's chief of global design, Claudia Kotchka, & CEO A.G. Lafley; high-tech engineer Bill Hewlett & business leader David Packard.

In conclusion, the three consultants have painted a scenario:

A healthy organisation has a good mix of left-brain/right-brain partnerships, & therefore exhibit seven characteristics common to success:

1) Awareness of strengths & weaknesses.

2) Complementary cognitive skills.

3) Trust.

4) Raw intelligence.

5) Relevant knowledge.

6) Strong communication channels.


7) Motivation.


[Source: Publications of Bain & Co., All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: REVERSAL

[continued from the Last Post.]

Applying ‘Reversal’ as a Technique in Creativity:

We frequently find it extremely difficult to come up with solutions in a direct manner. In such instances, we look at the problem back to-front, upside down, right to left, inside out, any way that is the reverse of that which is direct.

Hence if the real challenge at hand is to consider “How might we motivate our staff,” let’s flip it 180 degrees and consider instead, “In what ways can we demotivate our staff?”

In what ways can we demotivate our staff? Now, consider the 180 degree opposite (Real Objective)

1. Slash their salaries.

2. Make them work longer hours.

3. Reduce social gatherings.

4. Remove incentive schemes.

5. Demote them.

6. Constantly supervise them.

7. Cancel all bonus payments.

8. Cut down on paid vacations.

9. Make the work zone unhealthy.

10. Eliminate all medical benefits.

The list on the left offers some direct answers to the reversed problem. By simply flipping this list 180º, the solutions to our ‘real’ problem emerge automatically! Remember, the real objective is the opposite of that stated in the problems.

Now try your hand at the following challenges:

Problem: How can you ensure that a terrific new product will fail in the market?

Problem: In what ways can you guarantee a collapse of your relationship with your best friend?

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

Friday, July 10, 2009

CAN WE FAIL? IF SO, HOW? & WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

While browsing the Amazon online catalog this morning, I have stumbled upon Jim Collin's new book, 'How The Mighty Fail: And Why Some Companies Never Give In'.

I haven't yet acquired the book to read, but I am certainly intrigued by several questions posed by the author:

- How do the mighty fall?

- Can decline be detected early and avoided?

- How far can a company fall before the path toward doom becomes inevitable and unshakable?

- How can companies reverse course?


From the product description, I have came to this passage:

"Decline can be avoided. Decline can be detected. Decline can be reversed. . . Decline, it turns out, is largely self-inflicted, and the path to recovery lies largely within our own hands. We are not imprisoned by our circumstances, our history, or even our staggering defeats along the way. As long as we never get entirely knocked out of the game, hope always remains. The mighty can fall, but they can often rise again."

"Decline. . . is largely self-inflicted. . ."

I like that, as it implies choice. It is analoguous to 'Misery is also an Option'.

Nonetheless, it is obvious that the same situation also applies in the personal perspective.

I reckon it would be interesting to read the book in terms of finding out how we can enhance our anticipatory prowess, & develop some sort of a personal early warning system to failure.

Looks like this would be something interesting too for award-winning innovator Jack Matson to think about, & to add another perspective on to his own Intelligent Fast Failure philosophy. Jack, are you reading this?

The book is now in my shopping cart with Amazon.

Upon reading it, I will then share with readers the author's exposition of the five step-wise stages of decline, & how we can substantially reduce our chances of failing all the way to the bottom. Please stay tuned!

FROM DILIP MUKERJEA'S ITINERANT TOOLBOX: REVERSAL

[continued from the Last Post.]


EAST WEST TIME PERSPECTIVES

Interestingly, the patron goddess of practical knowledge in classical Greece was Techne. From her name we derive the word ‘technique,’ and within its womb we see carried the idea of step-by-step scientific investigation.

However, techne is additionally one of the Greek words for art, in reflection of her also being its goddess. Her name, by extension, lent itself to the Greek word ‘tikein’ (to create’). Techne served as the polymathic inspiration for science as well as for art.

Today, we often see science and art as opposite attributes of human accomplishment, and as two different zones in the range of academic disciplines. However, there is much to be gained by keeping a flexible mind, in dancing between art and science, science and art. This reversal of perspectives is invaluable, and a technique that has immense value in the world of creativity.

Reversal of perspectives is also a feature when considering time.

Eastern and Western concepts of time are very different.

In the West most people believe the past is something we have left behind and cannot see unless we turn around, or reflect, while the present is where we exist momentarily as we stride forward into the future. But from another perspective, and perhaps as a more accurate metaphor, the Chinese equate time with a river. Human awareness is assumed to be someone standing on its bank facing downstream.

Contrary to the Western model, the future approaches him from behind and transforms itself into the present only when he is first conscious of it out of the corner of his eye, eventually arriving alongside where he is positioned.

Time, the river, moves on, and thus, before he can assimilate the present, it is past already. The present washes away to become history in front of the observer. The approaching future is nearer and it spans his consciousness more broadly than the receding present that is becoming an ever more receding past. The distant past is far away ahead of him, its features barely perceivable.

Instead of squarely facing the oncoming future as in the Western metaphor, the more accurate allegory prepares us for the future in a more opportune manner.

Our peripheral vision, in the Eastern metaphor, is made conscious at all times of the approaching future; this leaves us much better prepared than the blindsided perspective from the Western metaphor.

Applying this metaphor resulted in an evening diversion favoured by the royal families in Confucian China. Their creative technicians designed streams so that they meandered through the royal estates; benches were placed beside their banks, facing downstream.

After dinner, royal princes and their friends would sit on these benches, relaxing, yet happily tense with anticipation. Servants positioned upstream would periodically launch toy wooden boats containing alcoholic beverages.

Facing the past by looking forward, the royal entourage could never know what the future behind them was about to deliver. In this manner, many a pleasant evening was spent in ‘spiritual suspense’ among the members of the court as they blithely became inebriated by these surprises of the future washing up from behind.

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