"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."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


According to the Behance Team, which operates the leading online platform for creative professionals, as well as the 99% Conference, a major annual symposium on execution in creative industries, here are 10 laws of productivity consistently observed among serial idea executors:

1. Break the seal of hesitation.

2. Start small.

3. Prototype, prototype, prototype.

4. Create simple objectives for projects, and revisit them regularly.

5. Work on your project a little bit each day.

6. Develop a routine.

7. Break big, long-term projects into smaller chunks or “phases.”

8. Prune away superfluous meetings (and their attendees).

9. Practice saying “No.”

10. Remember that rules – even productivity rules – are made to be broken.

Readers can go to this link to read the entire report.

[For more information, read 'Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality', by Scott Belsky, founder & CEO of Behance. Their Action Method [with the apt tagline: "It's not about Ideas. It's about Making Ideas Happen!"] is interesting, & is worth exploring.]

BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE: A Planet Earth-friendly Essay from Dilip Mukerjea


A boy was crossing the road one day when a frog called out to him and said, “If you kiss me, I’ll turn into a beautiful princess.” He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket.

The frog spoke up again and said, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful Princess, I will stay with you for one week.” The boy took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to his pocket.

The frog then cried out, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful Princess, I’ll stay with you and do *Anything* you want.” Again the boy took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket.

Finally the frog asked, “What is it? I’ve told you I’m a beautiful Princess, that I’ll stay with you for a week and do *Anything* you want. Why won’t you kiss me?”

The boy said, “Look, I’m a major. I don’t have time for girlfriends, but a talking frog is really cool.”

So what do we understand from this anecdote? A few suggestions:

• temptations are always present

• being ugly has its uses

• having a fresh perspective stimulates opportunity-spotting

The boy had a fresh perspective. We too need a fresh perspective on serious issues. (Humour is serious business, ergo the anecdote with a purpose).

The major driver of economic growth in the twenty-first century will be REdeveloping our nations, REvitalising our cities, and REhabilitating and expanding our ecosystems.

The “RE” economy is here: pay attention to it, or become obsolete!

Restorative development is the key to becoming future-ready. It is the only wellspring of wealth and the fountainhead that can fuel our future towards continual economic growth without limit.

The ‘Restoration Domain’ comprises the largest new economic growth cycle since the
beginning of the Industrial Revolution (18th – 19th centuries).

We must focus not just on the successful management of urban infrastructure projects and power generation, but on restoring what we have already allowed to degrade!

Management is a side issue; what we need is LEADERSHIP, at all levels, to REsurrect the possibilities that are already within our grasp.

The Past: economic growth based primarily on the exploitation of new resources and territories must give way to:

THE PRESENT: economic growth based on expanding our resources and revitalising the domain we already occupy.

Our tendency to keep “piling on” rather than on ‘restoring’, can only end in collapse. This has been in the name of “new development” … all very good, to a point, but destined to end in the throes of THREE GLOBAL CRISES:

(1) The Constraint Crisis ~ The universe may be expanding but our planet isn’t. If we keep expanding our population on a planet of finite size, simple logic plots a clear path to Armageddon.

(2) The Corrosion Crisis ~ Most of our built (“developed” hah!) environments are antiquated and decrepit, dangerously decayed, and often based on irrelevant, dysfunctional designs. No ROI, but ROT (Returns on Thoughtlessness).

(3) The Contamination Crisis ~ (AA) the fragile immune systems of human beings and wildlife, and (BB) the ecosystems that produce our soil, air, food, and water, are victims of industrial, military, and agricultural pollution assaults on our lives.
Societies that are aware of, and are acting on, the precepts of “REstoration,” will contribute to the vast majority of harmonious development on our planet.

This is a new frontier of opportunity. The foremost leaders of this Millennium will be those who guide their nations and organizations towards REstoration.

If you think you can’t make money in ‘restoration’ just take your car into a workshop or your body to a doctor…or your face to the cosmetic surgeon.

We can use a Tripod Metaphor to depict the three modes (legs) of the development life cycle:

(1) New Development: whilst it launches most communities and civilizations, it turns virgin land into farms, highways, and buildings¬ ~ and irreplaceable virgin resources into products and waste. This process is reaching its natural terminus. It cannot go on ad infinitum.

(2) Maintenance & Conservation: This is a less turbulent mode; it is ever present, but seldom dominant.

(3) Restorative Development: This is an enterprising, dynamic, high-energy initiative that restores, redeems, and re-enchants our relationship with the existing built and natural environments…in construction, ecology, government, and business.

RENEW has dethroned NEW.

CONSIDER: almost every acre of arable land on our planet is either being farmed or has been paved into highways or homes. Meanwhile, the earth’s inventory of real estate is actually shrinking in real terms, due to rising sea levels. And much of the remaining land is losing its value due to

* desertification
* salinisation
* contamination, and other ailments.

What worked before is becoming irrelevant: the solutions of the past are becoming the problems of the present…unless we redesign our systems.

What systems? We are living in the ICE Age (Information, Communication, Entertainment).

Each of these three domains offers immense business opportunities, … and problems.

Redesigning with a restoration consciousness is needed…for every incarnation of architecture, in our travel systems, our habitats, and in the way we produce and consume energy.

We live in a hyperconnected world. Teenagers have become screenagers. Physical has become metaphysical. Visual has become virtual. Technology offers short-term novelties (we may call them “solutions”) with long-term costs.

We must REthink the architecture of travel, and the design and development of our ecosystems.


Energy is the raw resource behind “power generation.” We have focused primarily on fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas)…but at a high cost! Be it global warming, greenhouse gases, genetically modified foods, or geopolitical tensions, the problems and the solutions all point to energy…and ‘power generation’.

“Power Generation” cannot be “managed” without understanding ‘the flow of energy’ … and the logic of ecosystems:

BEWARE, AND BE AWARE: ecosystem services include “energy management” (that is, ‘power
generation’ and the uses of generated power) via:

• considerations towards air and water purification,

• genetic resource development and storage

• healthful aesthetics and

• carbon sequestration (turning atmospheric carbon dioxide into oxygen and non-gaseous forms of carbon, such as wood, in order to mitigate global climate change).


Science and technology are advancing at an exponentially rapid rate. Today, despite the pollution and waste created from the use of fossil fuel power generation, there is still hope in this area if we marshall our resources to (aa) use fossil fuels wisely (bb) create clean fuels that will be renewable and reusable.

The resources that are actually disappearing at a catastrophic pace are not our ‘power generation’ systems but what we have always taken for granted as being inexhaustible:

* topsoil
* fisheries
* fresh water
* clean air, and
* genetic wealth such as crop diversity

We are losing those elements that are produced only by complex living systems!!!

The Stone Age did not run out because we ran out of stones, but because we came up with better ways of doing things.

Thus, we need to switch to renewable, nontoxic sources of energy, raw materials, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals. Only then can we be assured of living healthier, more
enjoyable lives.

This topic is immense, but worth pursuing: it offers a new realm of unlimited economic growth, social revitalization, and planetary health.

Here is some wisdom from one of my role models, Anne Frank:

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

(Anne Frank, 'The Diary of Anne Frank')

A concluding anecdote:

The child comes home from his first day at school.

Mother asks, “What did you learn today?”
The kid replies, “Not enough. I have to go back tomorrow.”

And WE have to go back ….until we have the solutions to how we can move ahead, from harm to harmony!

Monday, June 28, 2010

A TRUE STORY: What are you missing out in your rush to get on with life?

Dilip Mukerjea has forwarded to me the following true story a short while ago.

A violinist stood at a metro station in Washington DC .

It was a cold January morning (in 2007).

He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes.

During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the child stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while.

About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected US$32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world.

He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth US$3.5 million.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theatre in Boston and the seats averaged US$100.

This is a real story.

Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organised by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people.

The outlines were:

In a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour:

Do we perceive beauty?

Do we stop to appreciate it?

Do we recognise the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

[Readers can go to this link to read the belated Washington Post report on the experiment.]


Dilip and I have often spent a lot of time together at my place in Jurong West to brainstorm business possibilities.

Last Saturday was no exception. He had wanted to explore how best to put his evolving portfolio of technical expertise & intellectual thoughtware "on a plate", so to speak, to showcase to a small group of potential investors, in a one-day fast-track session to allow them to have a hands-on feel of his offerings in terms of robustness & relevancy.

On Friday evening, while attending the funeral wake of my 98-year-old granny-in-law at the Singapore Casket premises, & during my time-out, I just jotted down some of my preliminary thoughts - in the form of ball-point diagrammatic notes - on two sheets of tissue paper. It took me about ten minutes or so to do that.

I could do it quickly, primarily because I already have an incisive insider's as well as outsider's perspective of his writings and teachings.

Please refer to the first two snapshots as appended below.

On Saturday morning, we met for our scheduled 'pow-wow' after a cuppa in my neighbourhood food-court. Using his faithful Mac Pro and Adobe InDesign software, & coupled with his own professional insights, plus also drawing on his vast digital library of conceptual symbols, Dilip painstaking transcribed my diagrammatic notes on the fly into very elaborate graphic illustrations in a montage.

From time to time, we also deliberated at length on how best to project the essence of each element.

Despite his artistic virtuosity, Dilip took almost twelve hours [including lunch & dinner breaks] to complete the montage.

The first one is what I like to term as a "mandalic display" of graphic illustrations, which essentially captured Dilip's generative portfolio to date. Dilip will print this out on a A0-sized fabric paper for display on the wall.

The second one is more of a lifescape, based on Dilip's 'lifescaping', with self-check questions, to allow the attending investors - through hands-on application - to chart out a possible course of action, based on their reflections & responses to the first one. It will be printed out in probably A3-sized paper for distribution.

The complete and elaborate graphic illustrations are appended below. Resolution-wise, they have to be reduced for easy web viewing.

On top of the foregoing work, Dilip had also completed a slide presentation, using his Apple Keynote software. Vital segments from the elaborate graphic illustrations were transposed into the presentation.

Dilip and I have agreed that the entire Saturday sojourn was worth the massive effort of putting our heads together. He can now use the two graphic productions for presentation to any investor interested in his generative portfolio of technical expertise and intellectual thoughtware, covering both corporate and educational domains.

As an epilogue, I like to sum up the foregoing synergetic outputs as physical manifestations of the following philosophies of ours:



“In the high velocity economy, talent, not money, will be the new corporate battlefront. Your ability to deploy the right skills at the right time for the right purpose will define your future success!”

~ futurist, trends & innovation expert Jim Carroll;

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I fully concurr with futurist, trends & innovation expert Jim Carroll, & also author of 'Ready, Set, Done' & 'Frogs in Texas' (already reviewed in this weblog), that the world today doesn’t need more administrators.

It needs more MBI’s – Masters of Business Imagination!

What are the attributes? MBI’s:

• see things differently

• spur creativity in other people

• focus on opportunity, not threat

• refuse to accept the status quo

• bring ideas to life

• learn and unlearn

• refuse to say the word can’t

• accept challenges with passion and enthusiasm

• thrive on diversity

• challenge assumptions

• are solutions oriented

Go & grab the author's Masters of Business Imagination PDF!

[Source: Jim Carroll]

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A PICTURE SPEAKS A THOUSAND WORDS: A Lifescape on How to Lifescape

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


I am taking this opportunity to recap the salient points from all the seminars & workshops currently conducted by Dilip Mukerjea. They are collectively known as 'The Brainaissance Program of i-CAPitalism Seminars', with the World's Most Powerful Learning systems for the Learning Economy.

The i-CAP programs are offered to corporate clients, as well as to the public under the auspices of the Singapore Institute of Management.

In a nut shell, the i-CAP programs are designed to provide participants with a triunity of benefits via: Insights, Techniques & Braintertainment.

Each i-CAP experience guarantees brain skills for immediate application and a continual ROI (Return on Imagination).

The i-CAP modules come in four main categories: L.I.F.T.

Here's a sampling of topics:


The Elements of Leadership
Insights on Leadership
Strategies on Leadership
Matrices of Leadership
Entrepreneurial Leadership
Mapping Leadership


The Elements of Innovation
Insights & Strategies on Innovation
Creating an Innovation Team
Creating a Culture of Innovation
Moving from Ideas to Innovation
Evaluating Your Creativity Quotient (CQ)
Instant Creativity: By understanding the elements of Fight,
Flight, Freeze, and FLOW
Smorsgasbord of Creativity Techniques for immediate impact:
Grids & Matrices
Systems Scenarios & Decision-Making
Metaphors & Analogies
Questioning to Quest On!
The Innovation Map: 14 Elements


Creating Rapport
From Aspiration to Action!
From Teamwork to Teams that Work!
Braintales: The Business of Stories
From Rupture to Rapture
Evaluating Your Joy Quotient (JQ)
The Soul-Smart Leader
Learning to Express, not Impress!


Insights on The Learning Brain
Your Brain is Your Business
Memory Magic
Reading Dynamics
Writing Right!
Elements of Concept Imagery
Mind Mapping
Splash Mapping
Flow Mapping
Visual Thinking
Strategic Thinking via Lifescapes
Peerless Presentations

Each i-CAP experience invites you to


By the way, a considerable number of the foregoing topics has been covered in the current portfolio of books by Dilip Mukerjea for the corporate domain.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


This is the beautiful and apt epilogue to the wonderful book, 'Unleashing Genius with the World's Most Powerful Learning Systems', by Dilip Mukerjea.

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans; that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, and meetings, and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would come his way.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
Begin it NOW!"

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), 'The Prince of the Mind', German poet, novelist, playwright, courtier, and natural philosopher, and one of the greatest figures in Western literature.

The LEARNING ERA is here!

Your womb-to-tomb journey is no longer predictable. Leading through learning is what it's all about.

The quality of your life depends upon the choices you make. Let them be such that you emerge as victor, and not victim.

LIVE passionately
LOVE ardently
LEARN feverishly
LAUGH joyously

and help others along the way!

If you live your life with integrity, open your heart to love, and reach into your soul to offer the world the truth that is you, then how can life refuse you its wonders?

Never say it can't be done,
For that's the way you miss the fun!
So commit to your commitments and enjoy the magic of 'Goethenticity'.

Say Keng's personal reflections on & responses to what Dilip has penned so eloquently: [actual hand-written marginalia from the two pages]

Our true identity is in our moment-to-moment experiences!

Living in the NOW is the finest path to joy, happiness and enlightenment.

I am always reminded of the following wonderful quote from internationally renowned peak performance coach Anthony Robbins, also author of 'Unlimited Power' & 'Awaken the Giant Within':

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

There are only two primary choices in life:

1) accept all the conditions as they exist;

2) accept full responsibility for changing some if not all of them;

I like to leave the following wonderful quote from Austrian psychologist Viktor Frankl, also author of the classic, 'Man's Search for Meaning', as P2P (Point to Ponder):

"Everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedom - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

[Interested readers who are keen to explore 'How to Leave Masterly Marginalia', please proceed to this link ~ 'The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life', by Steve Leveen.]


I read that Tom Kelley, GM of design consultancy IDEO, and the author of 'The 10 Faces of Innovation', always carries what he calls an idea wallet in his pocket.

It's just a simple folded card that lives in his back right pocket, ready at any moment to be the tabula rasa of those insights that come in a flash and often disappear just as quickly.

According to him, the ideas can be of any kind: small observations about things not quite right with the world, fresh metaphors that shed new light on an old problem, inventions he wishes someone would make, etc.

He just keeps a running list, and then every once in a while, he "harvests" the ideas for use in a conversation, a client project, even a book.

For Tom, the amount of creative output he generates directly correlates to the number of times he pulls his idea wallet out of his back pocket.

"I genuinely believe that keeping an idea wallet can make you a more creative person. Even if it doesn't increase your rate of creative idea generation (which eventually it will), it increases the percentage of those ideas that you can save and use later. So the idea wallet effectively increases your creative output. Who wouldn't want that?"

He adds, if a new idea relates to a book he's writing, he'll transfer it to a notebook — just one idea per page, so that there's room to later expand on it.

[Source: Well Read Life: Working with Ideas ~ The Online Literary Community of Levenger]

[Appended below is a sample of what Levenger designates as a shirt pocket briefcase & leather notepad, which is designed with a 3 x 5 card holder. It has 2 pockets for the cards, to keep fresh cards separate from completed ones, plus a centre compartment for receipts.

I own one myself.]

Monday, June 21, 2010


While taking the cue from Dilip Mukerjea, & with the help of my faithful Copernic Agent Pro, I have managed to trace the following fascinating story about sustaining aliveness in our life on the net:

The Japanese have always loved fresh fish. But the water close to Japan has not held many fish for decades.

So to feed the Japanese population, fishing boats got bigger and went farther than ever.

The farther the fishermen went, the longer it took to bring the fish. If the return trip took more time, the fish were not fresh.

To solve this problem, fish companies installed freezers on their boats. They would catch the fish and freeze them at sea. Freezers allowed the boats to go farther and stay longer.

However, the Japanese could taste the difference between fresh and frozen fish. And they did not like the taste of frozen fish. The frozen fish also brought a lower price in the market.

So, fishing companies installed fish tanks. They would catch the fish and stuff them in the tanks, fin to fin. After a little thrashing around, they were tired, dull, and lost their fresh-fish taste.

The fishing industry faced an impending crisis! But today, they get fresh-tasting fish to Japan .

How did they conquer the crisis?

To keep the fish tasting fresh, the Japanese fishing companies still put the fish in the tanks, but with a small shark in each of them. The shark eats a few fish, but most of the fish arrive in a very lively state.

The fish in the tank are constantly challenged, and hence, are always on the move in order to stay alive.

Transposing to the humankind: Have you realized that many of us are also living in a tank, but most of the time feeling bored, tired and spiritless?

So, we need a shark in our life to keep us mentally agile and kinesthetically mobile.

Basically in our mundane lives, sharks are the new challenges to keeping us in a lively state.

If you are steadily dealing with challenges, and tackling problems, you are on the ball. You think of your challenges and problems, and you get agitated & stay nimble. You are excited and eager to try out new solutions.

You have fun. More importantly, you are alive!

Don't create success, and revel in it in a state of "active inertia" (Thanks to Don Sull of the London Business School). You have the resources, skills and abilities to make a big difference.

Put a shark in your tank and see how far you can really go...

[By the way, do readers recall the classic advertising campaign of ESSO, now EXXON OIL, during the mid-sixties ~ 'Put a Tiger in Your Tank'?

The idea was that ESSO gasoline was so good & powerful than even your ramshackle car would roar like a tiger with "a tiger in your tank", so to speak!

Talking about challenges &/or problems to keep us staying alive, I am reminded of a great lesson from Dr Norman Vincent Peale, when I was a rookie sales engineer during the seventies: "If you want to find people without problems, we should go to a graveyard."

He said we could find plenty of people without challenges &/or problems, 6 ft down!]


What follow are actually some raw but rich ideas from Dilip Mukerjea's work-in-progress, tentative titled 'Innovation Ecosystem Lifescape', which form an illuminating perspective about business innovation, as he sees it:

The process of business innovation should seek enlightenment from that of evolution, leading from simple consumptive forms towards more efficient and creative ones… and often back again… distilled into a series of ecological principles.

These principles follow a sort of Karmic Logic, and are all related to one another, in a sequence of cause-and-effects.

Think of them as pinballs, the ten pinballs of evolutionary innovation as applied to business, each pinging into the next and often in the process leading to the creation of net gain… that is, profit.


The first pinball is entropy, the imposition of a loss or cost.

According to the second law of thermodynamics, entropy means that every conversion of matter or energy leads to a net loss of potential energy. Every use of a resource creates a cost. Without new infusions of fuel, systems will quickly expend all their energy and run down.

It often takes a long time for the cost of an action to induce change in the system that created it.

The second pinball is feedback, the effect of the action.

Entropy triggers feedback, and the system begins to learn. Feedback imposes a forcing function that ultimately prevents past behaviours from recurring, either because a customer changes a buying habit, an employee changes a production decision, an executive is fired, or a company goes bankrupt. The more effectively soft-feedback signals work to cultivate change gradually, the less likely more extreme changes are compelled later.

So feedback closes the open loop, helping turn a chain into a web, imposing a forcing function that induces change. That knocks into the third pinball.

The third pinball is adaptation.

When resources are abundant, business pioneers have the competitive edge.

But when constraints kick in, the survival strategy is to adapt to fit specific niches more perfectly, and consume resources more frugally, than when at the pioneering stage. This expands the carrying capacity and enables more life to co-exist on fewer resources.

Thus, we arrive at the fourth pinball: specialization.

As organizations (organisms) adapt to the imposition of environmental changes, they grow more refined, different from the pioneers. They become specialists, able to excel in more narrowly defined niches, or places with particular attributes.

Over time, successive waves of limits and adaptations create an ever-greater array of specialists within the innovation ecosystem (marketspace), each matched to the niche opened up by the predecessor species.

Every appearance of a specialist triggers a succession of further changes in the ecosystem. Not just one part of the system adapts; they all do. Every action has not just one reaction, but myriad reactions.

Actions diffuse along every strand in the system’s web, changing not one thing but every thing, and changing them in different ways.

Now the fifth pinball gets activated: diversification.

Every time you trade information, you can get more in return. Similarly, each increase in diversification can lead to more diversity, as emerging corporate species create space for myriad smaller establishments to fit into the niches being created.

Since each specialized innovation entity (organism) is a specific information set, each represents a new tool… a choice. Since diversity means choice, this increase in diversity generally increases the resilience of the playing field.

Why are diverse systems often more resilient in the long-term? Simple ecosystems have limited information content and limited choices. In the short term, they might seem to offer greater stability, but that’s because they have no choice. They rebound only so long as the system is not stressed too severely.

When a fire or other crisis is mild, a simple system remains as is, rock solid, enabling individual species to rebound to previous population levels.

But when a crisis is severe, the simple ecosystem can’t flex, so it may in effect crack, break down, and collapse completely, often with catastrophic results for all its members... a la the financial collapse of September 15, 2008.

The system grows more complex, and with it the sixth pinball gets moving: complexity.

So long as change is regulated but not repressed, a complex organisation can adapt to it continuously. Small, frequent challenges can wind through the living alleyways of trade zones, feeding only on deadwood. They act as cleansing organisms and leave behind them a healthy, diverse terrain with a mix of young and mature players, in the fractal structure that renews itself on many levels simultaneously.

At the level of individual players, even individual categories of players, the change may be catastrophic. But for the system as a whole, small challenges clear the way for the development of a richer and more vibrant ecosystem. If we look at the whole, the number of different parts becomes greater; there is greater variety.

And with every thing affecting every other, the relationships among them become ever more complicated. Diagram them, and what you see might resemble a computer-generated fractal, where simple yes/no instructions lead to the gradual emergence of recurring patterns.

Since every niche is shaped and sculpted according to its relationship to every other, all the elements of the complex whole are dependent on one another, creating the seventh pinball: interdependence.

In a system of increasingly interdependent parts, every thing is related to every other, dependent on every other for its very definition. Lines of relationship are drawn from everywhere to everywhere. Chains become webs.

In a sense, each element of the whole becomes more unique, more individualized, as it grows more specialized and focused on its particular genius, its core competence. Yet through this individuation, it becomes more drawn into a larger whole. It is more individualized and yet less complete.

Specialised to one place and purpose, it loses its capacity to fit other niches and relies on others better suited. Like it or not, it falls into a condition of cooperation, the eighth pinball. Not by choice, not necessarily because it “desires” to or is drawn to by some sense of altruism, but by nature.

Ultimately, parts join as pieces of a larger whole and find that in serving the whole, they serve themselves best.

As this larger whole becomes defined, something astonishing often happens: New properties often emerge, not just in the marketspace but in all complex systems. Not by an individual alone but by individuals in the context of their times and their whole communities.

This is the ninth pinball… emergence.

Something new is created… a parachute is unbound from its pack (a caterpillar has metamorphosed into a butterfly?). This is a potential, a choice, a source of power, a bank account of new value.

Hence, synergy, the tenth pinball, the principle in nature that accounts for its extraordinary ability to end-run entropy.

In complex systems, more is created than was spent to get there… not just quantitatively, but qualitatively. The “more” may include greater efficiency… a continuous improvement in our capacity to carry out an existing function.

But its most compelling form is breakthrough innovation, the creation of a new resource containing a new capacity not present in its parts. Thus we see the creation of net gain…a profit. So can all businesses.

We use this profit to create greater distance between ourselves and our limits, our ground zero. And in using it, we find that we have knocked into our first pinball again and begun a new process of creation that can lead to the creation of profit in a whole new form.

As the pinballs are set in motion, change is inevitable, but the path they take is not predetermined. These pinballs collide and ping off in unexpected directions.

The future is created by actions we take in the present; and every action taken, no matter how small and inconsequential it seems, can change wholly the shape that emerges.

Say Keng
's personal comments:

Dilip's foregoing illumination on innovation somehow brings back memory of the work of English historian James Burke [through his book, 'The Pinball Effect' (1996), which takes the reader on many different journeys through the web of knowledge ~ more precisely, history's most dramatic innovations] from where I got my first understanding & appreciation about the interconnectedness & the serendipitous interactions of all things around us.

Likewise, as a corollary to Dilip's key point, & drawing on James Burke's work, "Knowledge has many unforeseen & surprising effects. Like a pinball, a simple discovery in one area can - through necessity, intuition, or serendipity - connect with, bounce off, & redirect the course of another seemingly unrelated discovery made elsewhere in the world or at a distant time."

The larger picture I got out from here is that the fundamental mechanism of innovation, or change for that matter, is the same: the way all things come together & connect.


This spectacular snapshot of a sunset on the Indian Ocean was taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

[Source: NASA Earth Observatory]


"The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly."

~ Buddha;

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Here are some freebies from the net:

From the corporate website of creativity expert, Charles 'Chic' Thompson, also author of 'What a Great Idea!' (1992 & 2007), readers can go & download the following e-Book as well as e-Posters:

[Readers can go to this link to read the first chapter of the foregoing book, which I had already reviewed in an earlier post.

The book contains an interesting - though belated - interview with Japan's inventor extraordinaire, Dr Nakamats.

More interestingly, Harvard Business School had actually conducted a case study on the work of the author.]

"Yes, but..." :

This is an e-book of lighthearted cartoons & idea strategy tools you'll need to bulletproof your great ideas.

Top Ten Killer Phrases &
Top Ten Empower Phrases:

These visual reminders, in the form of e-Posters, will help you create a mindset of collaboration & big ideas.


I have taken the liberty of displaying the following thirteen action words from the InnovationIgniter Learning System, a creativity tool-kit from the InnovationNetwork.

Just play around with them, using each "action" as a fundamental kickstart process, & explore whether they can spur you to come up with novel & innovative solutions to your chosen problem.

By the way, they came apparently from the brains of 13 innovation experts, including Doug Hall & Roger von Oech!




- ACT;







- THINK 360;



Good Luck & Best Wishes!


Consider the questions that follow and decide whether you are en route to a black hole of oblivion... or???

Since you already know that the pace of change is accelerating, what are you doing about?

Since you already know that discovery and invention, creativity and innovation, are the new demands of society, what are you doing to not make yourself obsolete?

If the effects of change is that corporations are disappearing, what guarantees do you have about lifetime employment in your present organisation?

If you knew your job was to evaporate in a year, what should you be doing now that you have not yet started doing?

If you are one of those whose memory is declining with age, and you believe this is natural, what will you do to reverse this belief?

[Excerpted from 'Brain Symphony: Brain-blazing Practical Techniques in Creativity for Immediate Application', by Dilip Mukerjea.]

Saturday, June 19, 2010

CHAIR OF THE FUTURE, Designed by IDEO, Built by Steelcase Industries

I would love to have one or two in my home office. Besides the elegant design, its space-saving feature is definitely an asset.

Readers can go to this link to read a report by Fast Company. More pictures at this link.


A study of the major trends emerging in the world today suggests that Brains Breed Business.

Some knowledge about the brain and how it works is therefore imperative for us top make headway in our quest towards the acquisition of hands-on, practical, thinking skills. These can then be applied directly to anything, by anyone, at any age, in any profession.

Furthermore, we have to realise that there are times when conscious thought gives way to the superlogic of intuition. Our performances are often instinctive, swaying pendulum like between the extremities of unconscious intelligence and the intelligent unconscious.

We need to train ourselves in the deliberate use of our senses, so that they instinctively choreograph a dance of the intellect.

We must start looking with a fresh set of eyes at what we have come to take for granted. By "playing safe" and not venturing "out of the box" we develop ourselves with a false sense of security.

Total security is a myth, and not to be desired. The average mortal can only enjoy this illusion in prison or in a grave.

The word risk comes from the early Italian risicare, which means "to dare".

We must dare to step over the edge for only then will we experience the thrill of flight.

As a slogan on a T-shirt states:

"If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room".

We should ask ourselves:

How much we think in order to be relevant to the rhythms of change?

This solution rests with our extraordinary creative potential. Combined with the serenade of memories, our thoughts move like a ticker tape across the screen of consciousness. The new combination of existing realities gives birth to the creations of life.

[Excerpted from 'Brain Symphony: Brain-blazing Practical Techniques in Creativity for Immediate Application', by Dilip Mukerjea.]

Say Keng's personal comments:

Here's my quick summary of takeaways from the foregoing:

1) Understand your brain;

2) Trust your instincts;

3) Use all your senses;

4) Look with fresh eyes;

5) Take risks;

6) Get out of your comfort zone;

7) All business starts with an idea; ideas come from your brain ~ so, back to Square 1 to repeat!

To put all in one simple sentence, CHANGE YOUR IDEAS, CHANGE YOUR LIFE! (Your Life is Your Business!)

Friday, June 18, 2010


It never ceased to amaze me that each time I just pick out any of Dilip Mukerjea's books - at pure random: is it so? or is it synchronicity at work? - from my personal library, my mind starts to wonder about what fresh angle I can approach - & then present - his many musings & insights.

To me, the sense of wonder is always a curious as well as beautiful phenomenon.

Undoubtedly, coupled with ingenuity & imagination, it's the driving force of human progress as manifested in the many facets of our scientific & technological evolution.

All kids have this amazing sense of wonder. That's why they are so creative & innovative. By the way, all of us have been kids before. So, why is the sense of wonder so elusive for many of us adults?

How can we arrest the decline or loss for many of us?

Well, I like Dilip to help you in your search of a better understanding.

As typical of his eloquence & succinctness, he pens under 'Preliminary Thoughts' in his wonderful book, 'Building BrainPower: Turning Grey Matter into Gold':

"We enter this world, seemingly unarmed, unique amongst all living creatures on the planet. Our mind is our only weapon; a metaphysical instrument crafted by a physical brain that pulsates with the elements of infinite genius.

We were born with the tools, but lost sight of the skills.

Goethe said: "Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being."

We are capable of being so much, yet most of us accept mediocrity as the norm. This timid acceptance is a denial of our inherent potential, born out of an infinite capacity for genius.

The human brain is not an inert mass of protoplasm. We must revolt against the passive acceptance of pedestrian attitudes that utter "Well, I'm only human" to situations we perceive as too challenging. The human brain equates directly with infinity, not with limitation.

Your brain succumbs to limitations only when you grant it permission to do so. But it rises and soars beyond ordinary expectations when you release it from its bonds.

It is not possible to build a reputation on what you were going to do. You must do. It is not good enough merely knowing about something and claiming that you know "it". Go claim "it", and do. Only then you will know "it".

This book was written with the intellectual momentum generated by an evolving global consciousness about the immense value of human intelligence. It addresses the need to build brainpower as your path towards the pinnacle of human accomplishment. It explains the rudiments and intricacies of Mind Mapping, brainchild of Tony Buzan, protagonist extraordinaire in generating global cortical enlightenment.

We also go deeper into the diverse applications of Mind Mapping, Communication Skills, and Mental Gymnastics. My aim is to provoke your neurons into participating actively and interactively with one another... a dance of the intellect where learning becomes fun.

We are integrated units of matter and consciousness. The synergy created by mind and body soars exponentially when we use our brain in harmony with the way nature ordained it.

All of us have an infinite capacity for excellence. Genius is our birthright. May it light a beacon in your mind, for there is no light more dazzling than the luminescence generated within the working human brain!

I wish the reader of this book a life of infinite wonder.

Dilip Mukerjea"

That's it. Dilip has hit the nail once again.

It's our "timid acceptance of mediocrity as the norm & passive acceptance of pedestrian attitudes that utter "Well, I'm only human" to situations we perceive as too challenging".

Oftentimes, it is the lull in complacency that leads to the lassitude in mediocrity, which in turn & ultimately messes up our lives, personally & professionally. This is my personal belief.

As a matter of fact, consultant Judith Bardwick has often asserted: There is DANGER IN THE COMFORT ZONE! [By the way, that's also the title of her now classic work.]

This week's heavy flooding in the Orchard Road area - causing millions in losses to the really unlucky retailers & the handful of unfortunate but rich car-owners - & also, the recent unprecedented break-in at the MRT depot in Changi - where two foreign graffiti geeks had a gala time with their artistic prowess - are valuable lessons in complacency on the part of the respective government agencies.

As Dilip puts it, "All of us have an infinite capacity for excellence. Genius is our birthright...", but the harsh reality is that we still got to work at it.

On top of that, we also need to stay curious about our habitual shortcomings, as well as stay alert - by playing with new scenarios & anticipating alternate outcomes - to plausible, possible & probable contingencies from the far horizon.

For additional musings & insights from Dilip Mukerjea, go & read his wonderful book:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

ZINGFUL TENETS from Sam Harrison

Creative communications, marketing & branding expert, Sam Harrison, shares his 15 'Zingful Tenets' on his corporate website.

I like the first tenet:

1. Don’t stop with the first idea you spot. Even if it’s a good idea, it’s probably the same one everyone else would spot. And the good is often the enemy of the best. Put the first three ideas aside and dig deeper.

To me, this tenet somehow resonates with de Bono's First Law.

For the uninitiated, this is de Bono's First Law:

"An idea can never be the best arrangement of available information."

He argues that:

1) one cannot regard any idea as absolute as there is a need to try to restructure an idea in order to get a better one;

2) the arrangement of information is only one of several alternatives;

3) because the current arrangement of information can never make the best use of available information, it is necessary to try to restructure to bring the arrangement up to date;

By the way, I like to suggest to readers to pop into the corporate website of de Bono's one-time protege, Michael Hewitt-Gleeson, who happens to share another superb perspective about the foregoing phenomenon. He calls it the CVS/BVS equation, which is worth exploring.

Here's the link.

Nonetheless, readers can go to this link to read about the remaining 14 creativity tenets of Sam Harrison.

It is pertinent for me to point out that Sam Harrison is also the author of two popular books on creativity:

- 'ZING! Five Steps & 101 Tips for Creativity on Command'; &

- 'IdeaSpotting: How & Where to Find Your Next Great Idea';

His third book, 'IdeaSelling: Successfully Pitch Your Creative Ideas to Bosses, Clients & Other Decision Makers', is already out.

I have already read the first two, & will probably acquire the third shortly.

The first two books have been fun, easy & interesting read.