Re-emergence of Asian Management

First Discipline

Discipline of disciplines

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The Re-emergence of Asian Management 

Ancient Roots, Global Reach 

Analytics, integration, the three imperatives and six perfections 

Category: Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, Business, Development, Governance and Management 

Contents:  Foreword, Dialogue Development and CommunityNew LiteracyFirst Discipline FrameworkProcessMetaphoriaReflectionsFutureFAQs

Foreword

First Discipline (FD) is the discipline of disciplines, the base from which other disciplines are derived. Disciplines, art, science or religion, are but collections of maps of physical or virtual spaces. Literate or illiterate, we cannot survive without maps. We start with models and when results meet our expectations consistently, we elevate them to the level of maps. An example is the periodic table. At the highest level maps  connect meta-disciplines unifying them into knowledge and wisdom. The silos get connected. The self is the agent of learning and transformation of data to information creating sense, meaning and structure. It follows that FD is also the study of the self in relation to the whole, from the level of the personal to family, groups, organizations, and society.

Technological bandwidth increases at a frenetic pace. We also find instances of human bandwidth shrinking even faster. The paradox necessitates that we develop a framework, lens, that facilitates analytics and integration,  seeing and showing the deep structures to achieve much higher levels of integration

Growth is a process of resolving issues of identity, moving from dependence to independence and to interdependence. Individuals, teams, organisations and communities need to go through the process. Copying from less complex contexts will not suffice to stay ahead. It is essential to go far beyond imitation to create competitive advantages. FD offers an analytic and integration tool and methodology to address these challenges and disconnects. Through visual semiotics, it incorporates eco-literacy, the new spirituality of work, system thinking, cultural archetypes, continual renewal, mental maps, personal mastery and other unifiers to work together like an operating system of the self at different levels.  Transfer of learning and mastery of  competences are acquired at a faster pace in comparison to any other approach. If the world has turned out to be imperfect, it has more to do with these models of the world than the world outside. The visual semiotic tool, the new eyes,  show us a coherent whole giving us the new vision an essential prerequisite to creating a more desirable future. As in the case of a terrestrial journey, the approach incorporates positioning, measurement, feedback and reflection, functions that are carried out by the compass, clock and the feedback system that enables the traveler to be on course.

How and what we learn as individuals, communities and community will decide our common future. Targeted learning is context and problem specific and seeks to connect, reflect and catalyze- better, faster and deeper. The pace of learning is the differentiator in the race for market share. Technology and the internet have changed the paradigms of learning. The full impact is not felt since habits linger on. It is feasible now to leave rote learning to the memory devices freeing time and effort to more productive. Learning on a need to learn basis at the time it is required is feasible. Self mediates in the process of transformation of data to information and knowledge creating sense, meaning and structure in turn leading to learning and improvement. Mastery of this process, at the level of individuals, organisations, community and society at large is critical the developmental process.

Icons and symbols, like road signs and traffic signals, can function like a compass. The Graphic User interface accelerated the emergence of a connected world. Within the networks is silicon which has the innate quality of connecting and forming very long chains. Digital and other deeper disconnects of multiple dimensions slow down the journey toward the higher evolutionary potential in us, individual or collective, creating serious threats to the very survival of the species. Marshall Goldsmith tells us ‘What Got You Here Won’t Get You There‘. If we go by history and precedence we wouldn’t have made the moon shots. History is created when we make it history.

The nature of the common journey is that we move towards our completeness and to greater completeness. A parallel can be drawn for this journey too, similar to out other journeys. Let us say that the journey begins now. I am in Bangalore and the time is 10 AM, 31 May 2008. We need a compass/map and the clock to do this. I would like to go to Mumbai. The direction too is fixed. As I take every step on my journey to Mumbai, I need to make sure that I am moving in the right direction and not away from it. This is reflecting looking back and forth to make sure that the process is in control. The three keywords are Position, Direction and Reflection the basic essentials to take on the physical world. Given the other requisites one is certain to reach Mumbai. Without the first three all the rest will not take us to Mumbai.

Mapping the physical world has become very precise in our times. Between Galileo’s telescope   the Hubble and the Femtoscope, are the very large and the very small – farther and deeper. The observer connects the two attempting to comprehend the whole. Yet we will never comprehend the whole in its totality. At best it will always remain an approximation and there will always be unknowables. What we can comprehend of the physical world is so vast that a system is required to navigate. The journey of life is much more than a journey through external space since we are much more than our physical selves. How does one position oneself for this journey? It is the self which fixes the position, direction and reflect on itself as to the progress of the process. The observer and the observed are parts of the same system. Mapping the whole system, physical, nonphysical, external and internal and evolving a navigational tool is one of the basic requisites for the journey on that less travelled road. From 1981 to 1990, we worked towards evolving the FDF, the road map. Eco-literacy, the new spirituality, system thinking, cultural archetypes, continual renewal, mental maps, personal mastery, and many more unifiers are embedded in the tool.  Since then we have been using tool for dialogue in diverse contexts though dialogue is not in our habit. Politicians and priests preach, professionals prescribe, teachers lecture, parents advise. Dialogue needs adults, not leaders and followers or shepherds and sheep. The approach is process and dialogue based, in real time, stretching without burnout and improves alignment at deeper levels of the self for sustained high performance.  Dream work, re-framing of mental maps through storytelling/writing, envisioning, action learning in a simulated work environment are some aspects of the methodology. The context and details vary but the principles remain the same. Since going online from May 2008, the dialogue continues globally and in real- time.

This living document is the outcome of this continual dialogue. It gets written on its own. In the past, several thousands, bulk of them from the edges, have participated in the process.  I/we in the document represent any one or the community which includes me. Among others, I remain one of the facilitators to the process and I alone am responsible for the biases, errors, omissions and jargon that would have crept in, un-noticed.

Many dots remain to be connected.  Welcome to the dialogue and to connect more of them.

Joseph Manuel

Directioning: Where we should be going ?

Blue Ocean People at the Top of the Pyramid, BOP @ TOP

“If we are facing in the right direction, all we need to do is keep on walking.”—Buddhist proverb

Potentially, anyone of us could aspire to be one of them. Please see the wiki list of lists of centenarians to get a feel of what I have in mind. Most of these people would qualify to be there in the BOP@ TOP list that I am compiling.

Having worked for over three decades at the bottom of the pyramid and branded myself a low impact lifer, aka poor, much before the jargon was in vogue I am more fascinated with people at the top of the pyramid. It is for the TOP to make it lighter for those at the bottom. We have enough of them to show us that it is indeed possible. These people have taken the road less or not travelled. They show us the direction for the journey, milestones that point to further stretches of the road not taken, of the unrealised, unexplored territories, the blue ocean space of strategic directions for self-management or HRM, Human Resources Management, to use a B-School jargon. They give much more than they take. They are Low impact on inputs and very high impact on output. They bridge us with the past and point to us, the future

For me HRM is Hira Ratan Manek. Born in 1937, a graduate in mechanical engineering  who carried on with the family business, of shipping and spice trading till he retired in 1992. After working for 3 years, he re-discovered the secrets of sun gazing.   Since June 18th, 1995, HRM lives only on sun energy and water. Occasionally he drinks tea, coffee and buttermilk.  He had three strict fastings, during which he had just sun energy and only water and was under the control and observation of various science and medical teams. The first of these fasting lasted for 211 days which was followed by a 411 day fast from 2000-2001 in Ahmadabad. Indeed it is written “Man Shall Not Live by Bread Alone “

Another one is, Pandit Sudhakar Krishna Rao Chaturvedi, a vedic scholar, teacher, writer, translator and journalist was born in 1897. At 113 years he says in the Vedas it is said that a person of pure character can live for 300 years. He hopes to live that long. He has planned his work for another ten years.

PC Devassia, whom I knew from very close for over two decades, who is in one  of the wiki lists, lived for 100 years 6 months and 15 days. This by itself is not a feat but how those years were spent is. On the day he retired from  nearly four decades of work,  he talked on how he planned to spend his remaining 40 years. His magnum opus, Kristubhagavatam, a meeting point of two cultures was written in his seventies. All those forty years were exceptionally productive, even more productive than the first forty years of work. The decision to live for a 100 years was a conscious one taken very early in life which he had made known to his son when he was in school. The position was taken very early in life, the direction was set and reflection was a continuous process. His work was his spirituality and he was religious about it. Making work meaningful and fun is the best medicine to live long. Instead we wait for a day when nano-robots will make it possible for us to become immortal.

Dominic Chacko Kizhkemuri, DC,was born in 1914 .He worked as a teacher for over a decade, was involved in the freedom struggle and imprisoned, promoted SPCS, the writers’ cooperative which created history.   He retired   at the age of 60 and started his own publishing firm, the DC Books with a capital of less than $ 200 which became a market leader in the business by the time he died in 1999

I am grateful to my B-School education for introducing to me many in the following lighthouse people. Some of them continue to beacon us and would qualify to be included the list of immortals if there were one.  The immortality quotient, my fascination for the long term, was triggered by them

W Edwards Deming 1900-1993

Ludwig Vn Bertalanffy 1901-1972

William Ross Ashby 1903—1972

Peter F Drucker 1909-2005

Kenneth E Boulding 1910-1993

Russel L Ackoff  1919-2009

Anthony Stafford Beer   1926 – 2002

Ronald Coase, 1910-

Emanuel Revici, M.D, 1898-1998

Obviously living a long life is not the only qualifier to be in the list of BOP @ TOP. Warren Buffet or Bill Gates will not qualify in spite of the combined weight of their charities.

The Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim and Rene’e Mauborgne, is about uncontested market space, how market leaders continue to stay far ahead of competition without wasting their energy and effort on market wars. I draw my lessons from people not corporates having lost my faith in B-Schools and business with my four years of education in two Of them. Imagine the vast unexplored space that is available to move on and the spin offs if more of us decide to adopt a blue ocean strategy in our lives. That would set one of the coordinates for strategic HRM, the blue ocean space that each individual discovers around oneself is the major driver for growth and improvement, true of all of history and the drive behind all those in the Guinness book of records. Future is in the making when we see this collective blue ocean space that remains unexplored.

The seniors shall inherit the earth

Can one grow old and young at the same time?

Some people, a small minority, do it. They mature like old whisky and still remain young, challenging common wisdom that old dogs cannot pick up new tricks. New findings suggest the opposite. For some seniors growing old and growing young are parallel processes.  They challenge their brain with continual learning. The result, plasticity of the brain improves. Intelligence too has the same character.  It improves if one keeps challenging it against problems. When the brain remains young and one is driven by work that is motivating on its own merit, the body grows young renewing itself continually like a river which is not blocked from renewal by our ecological footprints. One grows old and young at the same time.

Olive Riley, the world’s oldest blogger, passed away at 108. She must have picked up blogging when quite old by our usual standards. I also know some very smart, much younger people who boast of not using the internet or the computer claiming that they are against too much of technology. I am afraid it is a camouflage to cover up the resistance to embrace the new.  In my search for the old and young I met Joseph Smith. He weathered many a storm on the high seas and on land for 82 years and graduated from the school of hard knocks. He is old and young, more active and concerned than most of us about the way the system works or does not. The ‘old and young’ need closer attention because they are travelling a different road which is likely to be a mega trend, gathering momentum.

Elsewhere there is a conversation going on the future of social enterprise. I am convinced that the future of business is in the enhancement of community, global and local.   I spent four years as a student in two B-schools. Both claimed to be teaching management but proved to be just business schools. Some of them have an identity crisis like many of their clients. I would prefer to  believe that every business, including the business of religion and non- profits, is about creating community within to connect to the community outside and business performance ought to be measured by the enhancement of community or net value addition to the community capital. Many of them very successful by conventional norms could be destroying community. They survive and grow by reinforcing the business of shadows and substitutes. Growth does not differentiate between real goods and services and shadows and substitutes.

Established religions have stood the test of time, but have a shadow side to their existence. They appear to be more successful than most business organizations in promising the most intangible with the lowest cost of production, manipulating masses on the fear of death and retribution in next life. Priests and politicians play god and peddle dependence. Many of them love to be worshipped and are on a drive to fulfil their own power drive distortions. Did somebody say that the earth will be revealed to us when heaven is destroyed ?

Will insurance companies   have any business if   people have no fear of death or the future? If people are anchored to their true SELVES how would the fashion and cosmetics business respond which often assumes that the cosmetic is more important than the content?

Would there be a fall in demand for big screen heroes if we reframe our notions of the hero to the real meaning of the term, conquering one’s own fear?

If people redefine work as self-expression, will they continue to suffer from boredom and consequently will the market shrink for entertainment products and services? The entertainment industry stretches itself to keep boredom at bay. The demand is a derived one from the inability to find a purpose in life and work that is motivating by itself.

How would lotteries and the stock market fare if more people put an end to the wait for a better day game and start living in the present?

More than economics distorted human drives drive the economy. Which business is not a social enterprise though most of them implicitly admit that they are antisocial.  What would be the role of charity, other than as a measure of guilt associated with wealth when every business redefines its mission as enhancing global community?

These are landscapes   that one might come across on the two roads, one by design and the other by default.

One can go on ad nauseum about the shadow side of every business, profit or non profit. I believe more than the religions, business will take the road to spirituality. I have experienced better community in business than in religious organizations. Business will be more pressed to reinvent itself as enhancing community within to connect better to the external community locally and globally in a   borderless world.

It is neither easy for business or for individuals to walk out of the shadows, because we will have to turn against our own vested interests, the shadow side.

The ‘young and old’ show the way. The most successful of them have no learning plateaus as they take their positions very early in life. They quit only when their mission is fulfilled. The others have successfully negotiated the learning plateaus at different stages of their life. They live a life of their own design and they are their own heroes.  They earn credibility with their life and walk the talk. They are not looking for a secure tenure   or driven by the need to perform in the marketplace where your future is as volatile as the stock market, where in the first 15 years of your career your fate is almost sealed whether you belong to the ‘top of the pyramid’ material or not. Demography favors the seniors. Thanks to the web more of them are finding their voice and we have enough of them in the public domain to listen and learn how to live a life by design.

‘The elephant rock declaration’

In one of our workouts, we, twelve 60 + couples, got together to discuss the trend, climbed the elephant rock and shouted out the elephant rock declaration – “The seniors shall inherit the earth”

Building Our Own  Ark, Living in Real-time

The Nature of Nature:Community/Social/Intelligence/Learning, A Metasystem Perspective

Accelerated Community Learning

Most of us live in  a black or white, flat world. What do we choose to see, black, white, black and white, grey, green, grey and green ?

What we see is what we get. Intelligence is about seeing all of them and beyond. Seeing in pairs (the ark had its pairs) is inevitable since black is black in relation to white. We make sense by comparing. The quadrants pair, reflect each other, Q1 with Q3, Q 2 with Q4, Potential with Performance and Old with New

Potential = Performance + Waste + an Unknown Quantity, our raison d’être

All systems are purposive and reduction in waste is the super ordinate goal of the system

Growth is a process of positioning, fixing the direction (finding true north) and metrics of the  reduction in waste.

Red stands for decay and entropy. Green stands for continual learning and renewal

Community is about the commons, what we collectively share, value, enhance and preserve

More: FDF,  Knowledge Visualization,  

suggested reading :  An Outline of General System Theory (1950) Ludwig von  Bertalanffy

The Shift

Life Outside the Box

Will the shift happen?

I pray to myself, everyday, that I may be proven wrong. The shift may not happen, even for those far, near and dear ones. I dont know. But in the long run there is no way out of it because the design will prevail.

What is this shift that you keep talking about?

Google it. You will find a whole lot of stuff.

It is about the two roads, the red and green. It is about a choice between the old and the new. It is also about understanding the basic design, that of nature and working with the design, not against it.

It is about the new physics, chemistry and biology and the other derived disciplines like medicine, engineering, psychology and religion, everything, consequent to the shift.

Is there an agenda for action?

If the shift happens, the action will follow and they will be quite different from what would otherwise have been.

Non action is better than ill informed actions. If you see the green road, everything else will fall in place.


Metaphoria of Transformation.

The Window to the Self – A Thought Experiment

Return to the Centre and the new beginning

Imagine yourself at the centre of a perfect sheet of rubber being inflated all around in the conflict between the old and the new, the ideal and the operational.   Being a perfect sheet of rubber it does not get torn but stretches perfectly. The centre of the sheet remains at the centre, undisturbed

Now imagine the sheet being transformed into a perfect football. What happens to the centre? The centre is shifted to the centre of the football and the football is being kicked around in the world-cup with no timelines.

It is a perfect football. Nothing happens to the centre. It remains at the centre absolutely centred, motionless and at peace. Sometime during the process of being kicked around the football becomes aware of what is going on.  Instead of being chased around it decides to chase the players!

Imagine your own self, the perfection and the conflicts and the process of becoming centred, taking the lighthouse position and the beginning of the journey of sustained continuous improvement.

Infographics – Return to the Centre, 

The Cloud Community College

Eagle’s gift

Continual learning is the path to continual renewal.

Nature is in a process of continual renewal but for the ecological footprints left by our interventions. It takes more than a year for nature to renew what we consume in a year and some damages are irreparable.

Learning improves our mental models. The frog in the well forms a model of the world. The eagle on the tree has a different model. When the frog is taken out by the eagle and brought back into the well these two merge together to form a map of the world. The world has not changed but the models of the world have changed. We had a flat earth model in the not too distant past. With better technology and tools these models have given way to maps with increasing precision. Though maps of the physical world have become more precise the mental models that went with them are not easily discarded.

The eagle represents the big picture and frog, the details. Both are connected just as the Hubble telescope sends us pictures from outer space and the femtoscope helps us see the smallest of the small.

The eagle represents the global and frog the local which are but different perspectives of the whole. Thus being GLOCAL – is an imperative.  So is the imperative of continual learning, leading to continual renewal. We are frogs in the well of nature

A brief history of learning/ renewal

Real work is the expression of a mature self

As a Dairy Technologist, I used to watch the huge butter churns in motion, waiting for that magical moment when the cream breaks out into globules of butter. This was my first project at work- to find a solution to mountains of cream that had accumulated over the previous surplus season. In the long hours that i worked towards reducing the bulk, I was forced to fight the boredom, visualising the mythical churning of the sea of milk by the Devas and Asuras to make amrit, the stuff that makes one immortal – knowledge.

Later on I had the privilege of observing a very sedentary ascetic centenarian for the last twenty five years of his pursuit of learning which had started at the age of nine. At 60 he had made it known that he had another 40 years of work left to complete. He completed his 40 years and went on for another six months and 15 days.

In developed nations the fastest growing segment of the population is centenarians.

While most “successful’ people in the ‘modern world’ (read top of the pyramid – sic) contribute in real terms for 15/20 years of their life span of around 75,  what goes into the making of the rare centenarian who remains productive many times  over ? If the product is in the process, what makes this process so rewarding in itself which keeps them relatively less mortal physically and immortal in the world of knowledge. Why are we not able to go beyond them as a community?

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.  – Max Planck (1858-1947)

Imagine the churning that preceded the above statement!

Nicolaus Copernicus (February 19, 1473 – May 24, 1543)

Proof: Galileo, (1564-1642) Strategy: Patience, non- action, out-wait competition

Ever wondered about the history of churning and the consequences?

We have a secret dread of being thought ignorant. And we end by being ignorant after all, only we have done it in a long and roundabout way. (From the short story – Once there was a King) Rabindranath Tagore, 1839-1941. The Parrots Tale develops this in much greater detail. Viswabharati, the university he set up, was the solution that he came up with for the problem.

There are only two ways to live: Either without thinking of death… or with the thought that you approach death with every hour of your life.  – -Leo Tolstoy, 1828 – 1910

There is a third way, the path of regeneration, living with birth/death, NOW, in real time, the path taken by the high performing centenarians and the path open to the next generation who would go far beyond them. Most of us live in linear time. Living in real time is living in eternity.

Tolstoy  was a prophets’ prophet, a link in the long chain from Buddha, Asoka the great and Christ who greatly influenced two of the heroes of our time and kept alive the idea of non-violence and non – action, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi   (1869 –  1948) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968).

Why did most champions of non-violence, have to  die violent death?

Tolstoy’s thoughts on How to live: (He appears to have founded the human potential movement much ahead of the new age messiahs of the movement)

  • The more upset you are with other people and circumstances, and the more satisfied you are with yourself, the further you are from wisdom.
  • Don’t compare yourself with others. Compare yourself only with perfection.
  • It is not the place we occupy that is important, but the direction in which we move.
  • When you want to escape from rage, do not walk, do not move, and do not speak. Your rage cannot be justified by anything. The reason for your rage is always inside you.
  • Speak only when your words are better than silence. For every time you regret that you did not say something, you will regret a hundred times that you did not keep your silence.
  • There are two ways not to suffer from poverty. The first is to acquire more wealth. The second is to limit your requirements. The first is not always in our power. The second is.
  • You do not have the right to be unhappy with your life. If you are not satisfied, see this as a reason to be unsatisfied with yourself.
  • The more strictly and mercilessly you judge yourself, the more just and kind you will be in the judgment of others.
  • Strive for goodness without any expectations for rapid or noticeable success. For the further you progress, the higher your ideal of perfection will rise. Yet it is the process itself, this striving, that justifies our lives.
  • Nobody knows where the human race is going. The highest wisdom, then, is to know where you are going.
  • The truth is that the State is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens … Henceforth, I shall never serve any government anywhere.
  • There can be only one permanent revolution – a moral one: the regeneration of the inner man.

He died on his way to become a wandering ascetic. Imagine the churning.

Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky,  1821- 1882 turned out to be more prophetic than Tolstoy –  Raskolnikov, the hero of Crime and Punishment  is the template for our current role models  who have perfected the art of committing the perfect crime and earn  their place in history as saviours of the world.

The product is in the process.

The seats of learning/ churning/clashes and the interplay of history, knowledge, power, religion, politics and culture

Taxila   6th century BCE to the 5th century CE

Nālandā  (427 to 1197 CE)

The Imperial Nanjing Institute, China, founded in 258, has perhaps the longest unbroken tradition

Budha , Christ, Ashoka 304 BCE – 232 BCE ,  all belong to this period.

Taxila was burnt to ashes in 1197. The fire went on for weeks.

Prophet Muhammad, 570   – 632

The University of Al-Karaouine, Morocco was founded in 859 by two well educated wealthy sisters. Played   a leading role in the cultural and academic relations between the Islamic world and Europe in the middle ages,

University of Bologna, Italy, 1150. The term university was coined at the founding of this seat of learning.  The University of Paris was founded even earlier, was split into 13 universities in 1970.

1167    University of Oxford, UK.  Exact date uncertain, teaching existed in some form since 1096

1209 University of Cambridge, UK

1440 the Printing Press

Martin Luther (1483 – 1546)

Harvard University, 1636

Karl Heinrich Marx (1818-1883), John Maynard Keynes, (1883- 1946)

W. Edwards Deming, (1900 – 1993), Peter Ferdinand Drucker, (1909-2005)

Drucker had personal experience of the Nazi regime, probably would have listened to Sigmund Freud as a child, and was a student of Keynes and Schumpeter. He foresaw the possibilities of the modern corporation and continuously reinvented himself. One might conclude that he also foresaw the need for a new paradigm of management with the focus on the self, managing oneself, for which he himself would remain, one of the best models.

Drucker started the study of General Motors in 1945, leading to the publication of the Concept of the Corporation and began his career as a consultant, teacher and writer. He remained at the forefront of the discipline he founded for half a century.

Deming started from where Drucker left off towards the end of his career. Had Deming been accepted in his home country as much as Drucker in his country of adoption, perhaps we wouldn’t have been in our current crisis. The prophet is seldom respected at home. One could argue that Japan had the cultural pre-requisites to accept Deming and the US ultimately had to give in reluctantly to the competition. Drucker could not save the corporation/s whereas Deming left a legacy which forms the foundation to the discipline that Drucker is said to have founded.

The Web. 1992. The parrot leaves the cage, the seats of learning move to the clouds. The internet has dematerialised learning from the seats of learning. Technology has become real time but people have not moved to real time. . We need new paradigms to bridge the gaps and transcend the learning plateaus in our journey of continual renewal and improvement

> a  new discipline and pedagogy > the first discipline>the discipline of sustained high performance

1. Context

The BRIC is broken

The tail wags the head

WMD – Destruction or Dialogue?

War on terror/ talent – WFT, Dream merchants and the revenge of the underdogs

Recession, Booms and Busts, the long cycles and the bubbles in between,

Is there a future?  The rise or fall of India, Indian = Global

The climate /energy crisis, water /food security and sustainability

Finance capital > Human Capital > Community Capital > Eco-system Management > Developmental Management > Rethinking Development

Reinventing the discipline of Management

2. Management Overview

Missing the wood for the trees – What we failed to see, Marketing Myopia, Theodor Levitt

Peter Drucker. The Bystander> End of economic man > to Managing Oneself

Beyond Competitive advantage

3 . First Discipline, SHPC :  A Map to the Future and the Road ahead

  • 1. Continual Renewal >  Regeneration Therapy
  • 2. Personal mastery and LLL, Life Long learning, learning plateaus
  • 3. System/s Thinking
  • 4. Accelerated Learning and Mental Maps, KM
  • 5. Positioning yourself, your business for SHP
  • 6. Community Intelligence
  • 7. The Singularity Perspective- the map of all maps

4 The Practice of First Discipline.

The tool kit – a backpack for the road

Dialogue and Storytelling

Analytics and Gap Analysis

Aligning with the Deep Structure

Conscious Dreaming,

Participative Action Learning, Research and Real Time Management Development

Sustained High Performance – Growth by Design

5.  Custodians of the Future

The Blue ocean people

Milk is white

God’s own country, Devils too – Between the devil and the deep-sea

The Eco-system people, fishermen/ tribal communities

The Fusion fuel and the Energy Challenge

6.Creating the future by design

Rethinking CSR, Wealth and Charity

7.  Strategy.

Animating the Learning Engine, Maintaining the LE for SHP

Appendix

Context: First Discipline?

The global failure of management as a discipline- Enron to Lehman brothers, recession, failure of IT , bubbles, poverty and conflicts. Thought leaders –  Peter Drucker over the years –  In spite of all the hype management in the west also has failed to deliver against the global context

Local failures: Failure to connect to the developmental management issues of India

Failure to define what is Indian (global) about management

Failure to attract management to governance and development

Academic work in India has failed to make a global impact

A dialogue between an academic and a development  practitioner

The  collapse of governance

The disillusionment with managers and academics, failure of leadership/intellectualism

The majority are left to fend for themselves –

TECHNOLOGY AND ACESS IN A CONNECTED WORLD

One man can make a difference

IT was entrepreneurial /technological/ learning breakthrough and not a product of management thought

Competencies of the new manager- Development practitioner?

The blogs explore these issues through dialogue

+

. Birth of the professional manager: the ethical /competency /community imperatives

Peter Drucker vs Amartya Sen

Stafford Beer vs. Peter M Senge

Prahlad vs  Porter

Chris Argyris vs. Maslow – End of Organisation man ?

Deming  vs. Drucker

Aurobindo  vs. Ken Wilbur

Management Development , Nurturing the new managers

Action learning – Reginald Revans

Schumacher vs Schumpeter

Kuhn

Sustained High Performance by Design

Facts, fiction and metaphor

Are we guided by facts or fiction?

We are guided less by facts and more by myth, fiction and fantasy.

9/11 is a fact, not illusion, so are the war 1, war, 2 and the war 3 now going on. We have democratized wars and conflicts, flattened it (The world is flat- Friedman) dispersed them all over the planet.

Bear Stearns, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Lehman Brothers, AIG, the pharaohs of financial pyramids walk away leaving their accumulated follies on to the public. When the same happens to the farmers the escape route is suicide for many

Facts do not take hold of our minds as myth, fantasy and fiction do. The superman, batman, hunks, WWF, larger than life heroes/heroines, science fiction, the star wars and particle accelerators are attempts at creating modern myths. We need more and more potent amnesiacs, analgesics and anti-BIOTICS – substitutes to do away with the grim reality of life. Older myths still survive and we continue to be driven more and more by shadows and myths. We wish to forget facts or sweep them under the carpet. In India, we have an ancient text by name Bavishya Puranam. Bhavisya means future and puranam is an old epic story. I hope you see the twist. It is time for us to rely on myths to create a more desirable future. This is why we are compelled to talk in metaphors, since we are in a process of creating something which does not exist .

As technological bandwidth and connectivity increase, human bandwidth and connectivity decrease. I see this all around me, with my own children demanding more and more bandwidth and becoming less and less concerned about broader issues. I have begun to suspect that their jobs are creating an occupational hazard to them and the society at large. The higher incidence of suicides in Bangalore, to me, is a bandwidth problem of the latter kind. So is the terrorist issue. The first step to the making of a terrorist is to narrow his bandwidth. The multitude of disciplines and the silos they create offers the best setting for the narrow bandwidths which in turn chokes the channels creating more noise than communication. We need a Meta discipline, the first discipline, which connects the scientists, priests and the artist to transcend these barriers to communication and community since all the three are in the same business – that of explaining reality to lesser mortals like us. The knowledge hole is more serous than the ozone hole.

The bandwidth problem is not exclusive to the younger generation. Institutions too pass through the process. The midlife crisis of the CEO is passed on to the organization he heads, that of the politician to the country and of the Guru to the disciples

I met Jo on the beach, in my time with the fishermen. We continue to meet on the beach, less frequently, since he has moved to another shore. He is a PhD in his area of expertise but you would not get these thoughts anywhere in his work or even in the class rooms when he teaches. There is a risk attached with a wide bandwidth. One could be ‘excommunicated’. He believes in many births/many lifetimes. He still has hopes of pulling me over to his position on birth and rebirth. I am tempted to do so when confounded by the recollection of childhood memories in our workshops. I am afraid that after the age of five there is a kind of growing down in the process of socialization. Much later one could reconnect with these memories and grow up. I am yet to make up my mind whether to join his school or not but I have gained a lot from his arguments

Here is a brief on our many sessions on the beach over many years, since 1985

He would watch the waves beating on the shore and would talk about the waves in the production of bio-mass in the sea and the consequent rise and fall in fish production, what it does to fishing, corresponding waves in farmers’ produce on the land, the waves in life, business, and markets. He taught me to see things as waves and cycles. He foresaw the present crisis in financial markets and the coming economic slowdown, the big crunch in demand driven by the inability to connect to the voice of the masses across the planet.He has a pet theory on why Jesus recruited Peter as his CEO against our current paradigms of selection, recruitment, training and development. He challenged my B-school education. “If you have any competencies that you claim to have, go to the bottom of the pyramids and prove it rather than skimming the cream and stamping them with Ivy League labels”. Christ made the choice since Peter would fit the bill in terms of his mental maps that go with a fisherman.

So next time you go head hunting check their mental maps!

He stripped me of my notions of an internal flatland which he told me is the inheritance of all land based humans, since the beginning of settled agriculture, some 10,000 years in the past. Prior to that, the fishermen and the people on the land had the same worldview. Both were hunting and gathering. He was born in a fisher family, used to go fishing with his father as a child, an outsider to the flatland, having lived on the coast and the sea for generations. A good fisherman has a different worldview closer to reality than the humans on land. He is pushed to the brink much more than the farmers. He produces much more than the farmer yet he is poorer. He is seldom driven to suicide and the spirit of community is more alive in the ecosystem people who survive on common property resources

He is the one who introduced me to the concept of digital, analogue bandwidths and the other bandwidth, of expectancies in human communication and how the net result has not been any better. He has a very wide bandwidth which you would know only at a personal level. He would go on how water is recycled on the planet, how everything is in a cycle or process, that there is nothing linear or ‘straightforward’ about nature and then take the quantum leap to conclude that we too pass through a higher order version of the process. If we want we can break out of that giant wheel of births and rebirths

He challenged me with some insights from his many life times

Of the time he was in Egypt and Joseph’s dream of the good years and bad years. How the natural cycles in primary production would hurt the farmers and how famines would result unless the state steps in to lend a helping hand when the cycles turn against the farmer and why left to themselves, markets will fail the farmers. More so in the case of fishermen who have no property rights other than common property and open access to resources.

Of the time he was in Jerusalem and how Jesus had been reinvented over centuries to suit the bandwidth requirements of different times. Low bandwidth of practitioners leads to creation of silos and pyramids in disciplines which kills community and would conclude with a sigh. “It is all about bandwidth, of people, technology and the interface”

The Process – Enhancing bandwidth

I was playing a game with 57 MBA students for two days. It went on from 9.00 AM to 9.00 PM on day 1 and from 9.00 AM to 6 .15 PM on day 2

Prior to the game, I talked to a local politician to understand the business he is in, that of development of the locality

I also talked to their professor to get some insights about these young men and women who are in the business of becoming businessmen

The game commenced with an assessment of their present position, globally and locally, in the context of the global meltdown and the situation of the locality

Both the politician and the professor were exceptional people who will not fit in with our perceptions of the run of the mill in this category

Then the game with the students began, simulating an organization working together as a community for two days and an open selection process of identifying a group who would be offered premium placements   on the basis of their mental maps. Then I checked their mental maps on many issues.

All of them had a map as shown in figure 1 deeply ingrained in them, the code for failure – BOOMS AND BUSTS. They will with those maps will build their towers of babylon and will be wall street smart.

Mental maps

Fig. 1 is about birth maturity and death. Fig 2 shows the shift to a dynamic one of continual improvement and renewal. Is such a shift possible?

The first set never goes beyond the level of a clock or a bullet leaving the barrel of the gun. The difference is only in the duration, time.  The potential to self-regulate or the potential to transform to a learning engine, a sustained high performance system, is not expressed. The claim to culture, civilization, evolution, improvements are but empty boasts

Why so?

Columbus reached America. He never wanted to go there.  We too are as good as our maps.

Can we have a better set of maps? I told them of the Eagle’s gift

Between before and after, it is not the world that has changed but the map of the world. This is all that we can do and that is good enough.

The problem is not with the world but our maps of the world

We did quite a few other things, more stories, team learning, dialogues, Buddha’s smile, discussed the First Discipline Framework

They presented their understanding of the framework, told me of their dreams on the morning of the second day. They were surprised to look at their own process. All of them came up with evidence and data about the shifts, each contributing to the community learning process

We can indeed observe ourselves 24/7, the first step to continual improvement.

We positioned ourselves, fixed the direction for the journey and reflected over our improvements during the process. The shared space expanded as we moved along with the work.  The map for a learning community was crafted and the process is on.

Simulating High Performance – Defying gravity

The Business Strategy Simulation: New University, Udayagiri, TN. Number of participants – 61 including the three facilitators. The System of Profound Knowledge, (Deming) helps us to see how complex organisations work.   Organisations   guided by SPK will be more effective and successful. We demonstrate this using the First Discipline Framework. We tell stories, about 15 of them. Every community need to tell its own stories and recreate old stories. We reflect every now and then and the participants develop the game. Harvard agrees with what we have been doing for twenty years. http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6119.html

The Simulation

  • How do we fix the true north (the true point)
  • The business, transformation of the crowd to a sustained high performance community
  • Choose the CEO , prescribe a process, Position him so that he positions the community and make sure that the community is on a path of continuous improvement – sustained high performance
  • The CEO selects a custodian of maps, CTO, Facilities Manager, other additional positions as required
  • Selection of VPs Marketing, HR , Finance, Learning and Development , timelines
  • Position them in the appropriate quadrant by consensus of the group
  • The CEO fixes the true north , describes his compass function
  • The VP marketing outlines the market potential, BDP and personnel requirements / product/market mix, pricing, targets
  • VP HR – translates the business plan and organize the human component
  • VP Fin – the controller of weights and measures – Metrics
  • VP L&D – his/her business is that we learn continuously
  • Other roles: Regulators/industry associations/venture capitalists , external public

In the mornings we recollect our dreams to check whether our unconscious is aligned with our conscious. The process goes on for six days from the beginning to the 12th evening. Everyone worked on their own during the two holidays in between and continued to add value.  We climbed peaks and took glimpses of the blue ocean space and at times fell down to the valleys like humpty dumpty but managed to gather ourselves together and continue on the journey.

The game continues… but we are back to our respective places of work. Are we back to the same place? Certainly not, we have moved ahead towards true north, 61 of us … a learning community.

The journey/process is on. We plan to meet again

Community Intelligence

Are we intelligent,  as a species?

Yes and no.

We are not intelligent going by many aspects of our performance. We are much more ‘endangered’ than any other species. We are a threat to our SELVES and the other flora and fauna.  We are more ill than the animals, we kill within the species without any reason which no other species does and we are the only threat to life. So we need an UNPROJECT – the new Noah’s ark – to protect and conserve the species.

But how will you identify a pair? What will be the criteria for selection?  If we pull it off the species and the environment will be very safe.

We have been asking (large groups of some very “intelligent people”, what is the unique differentiator between the human and the rest of the species.  We never got the answer right the first time and without some triggering and a process of creating agreement. Unless we agree we cannot achieve community.

If we are not intelligent as a species, how can there be intelligent people around?

We now understand intelligence so ‘much better’ – with different versions of it.  We claim that intelligence can be taught. Another business is in the making. Which parent wouldn’t want it?  Of all the ‘intelligences’ my personal favourites are the Gender and Community versions. Why are we not intelligent?  One reason is the way we understand intelligence, without seeing and relating the connection with the One and the Many, the whole and the parts, intelligence and Intelligences, the different or ‘differentiated versions’  and the undifferentiated. We need to integrate and differentiate simultaneously. We are intelligent, if we go by our potential to be intelligent, by design but not intelligent going by our history and performance.

The emperor has no clothes but claims very loud that he is The Emperor. What we think as great progress, an ascent and evolutionary progress is but a descent, the great fall.

So what makes us human?

The community learning engine

Community Learning Engine. Technology and markets are  levers to bring about improvement. Some communities have achieved remarkable progress is using them. But conventional measures of improvement fail to grasp the cost at which such improvements are achieved. Economic growth needs to be balanced with improvement in community. Some communities have achieved physical quality of life at a much lower cost to community and there are also communities like the eco-system people where in spite of improvements in growth, corresponding improvements in quality of life has not materialised. The focus here is how a particular community responds to the challenges of managing technology and markets along with improvement in communityOne way to assess the quality of community is to monitor the number of suicides, crimes, addictions of various types, mental illness and similar indicators.

The learning engine is capable of continually improving on its past performance against all odds. Focus of metrics need to be improvement on community as reflected in reduction in waste – conflicts, violence, illness, suicides, crime, infant mortality and in realising unrealised potential – quality of life and environment, longer life-spans, improvement in wellness.

It is the core which drives the process of improvement that reflects on its position, direction and corrects itself – ensure that the process is in tune.

Context – global or local but glocal-ness is recognised

Technology and markets need to be used as levers to enhance community

Vision – renewed continually and aligned for sustained high performance

Development is the most complex process that needs catalysts. The catalysts do not burn out in the process but in their absence the process is not initiated and sustained

Storytelling – Walking out of our shadows

Pygmalion coaxes Galatea out of stone and she comes alive. The Pygmalion position is that of the facilitator who catalyses performance, who has audacious expectations of performance, of sustained high performance, moving from peaks to still higher peaks. The expectation is not unfounded because Pygmalion has experienced the magic of sustained high performance. Every stone may not be good enough to be turned into a beautiful statue but every human has the potential to be an outstanding performer

How does Galatea respond to the hard knocks by Pygmalion in his efforts to coax her out of stone? If she can see the results of the hard knocks, she would certainly enjoy the process because she can see that between the caterpillar and the butterfly, the seed and the tree, there is the world of a difference. She knows that this is the moment of truth that she had been waiting for ages. Like what happens in the story of Ahalya and Rama. Ahalya has been waiting for that divine moment of Rama’s coming. The process is certainly complex and miraculous and the catalyst is integral to sustained high performance. Pygmalion and Rama play the role of catalysts, facilitators, in the transformational process.

People are waiting like Ahalya. Nations are waiting. Billions are waiting – like the farmers and fishermen, at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ (sic), essentially because the top is unable to connect with the bottom in the exchange and valuation process. It is debatable who is at the bottom and who is at the top. If you change the criteria of measurement, the bottom will become the top and vice versa. For example who leaves a larger ecological footprint? The cathedrals (Taj Mahal – Gurcharan Das) remain to be built.

Sergei Bubka, Isinbayeva. They do it over and over. They take the position – I can and I will do it. I will outperform myself, again and again. Can we take the same position, as individuals, a team and as a community? Nations have taken such positions. Kishore Mahubani asks this question to all Asian countries – Can Asians Think? , like Singapore has been thinking together since 1965

As individuals we don’t have to go on waiting, for miracles to happen or for another prophet to turn up. While billions are waiting we can have islands of sustained high performance around each one of us. The islands will eventually connect together for that defining era of collective transformation. We are in that transition phase of achieving critical mass and gaining take off velocity of the process, of more and more of us transforming our SELVES to catalysts for the tectonic shifts.

So what is your position?  Pygmalion and Galatea got to come together on this, the alchemist’s marriage. Later Galatea will take the Pygmalion position, and the process continues.

Back to Bubka and Isinbayeva, what is the pole that we are talking about, the lever? How long is the lever?  Where is the fulcrum? How does a community of practitioners ALIGN and LEVERAGE themselves for sustained high performance. Longer the lever more is the mechanical advantage.

MetricsThe Community Consciousness Quotient

Less is more. At 61, I am not a gadget geek. Yet I love my mobile and the way it has been shrinking over the few years that I have been using it, accommodating more and more of my requirements. I have accumulated a lot of electronic waste over the years like my compass, VCP, music player of progressively smaller sizes and better quality,  the desktops. . Very soon my notebook too will join the list. We are consuming less of the material and deriving much more. Small is beautiful and smaller is still better.  The tangible is shrinking and the intangibles are scaling up becoming more tangible than the tangibles. Capital too has been shrinking being substituted by intellectual capital, brawn by brains. My wants (not needs) too have shrunken, at least most of those that I considered important in my thirties and forties, like a gas guzzling SUV. Being glued to my LCD screen and not travelling to work I have earned a few carbon credits, not using my car except for the weekend shopping trip. (It would be much better to dispose it off and hire one when I really need it) But all needs do not vanish with age, perhaps they grow with age. The need for community (to be connected), quality and richer experiences, need to learn and express myself.  Sometimes more is less. Intelligence has evolved into intelligences, multiple intelligences, emotional, gender, social and in the process we have become less intelligent in community consciousness. So the metrics need to take into account improvement in community within and without along with conventional measures of improvement in performance.

Community Consciousness Quotient (CCQ) is an imperative for Sustained High Performance. The absence is killing us in many ways which we don’t need to go into. The blasts keep us reminded.

The Path

Abstract to concrete – Imagination, Intent, Manifestation (IIM)

Where are you?

Nishtha asks, “JM, Where are you?  “

Where am I NOW?  I am 20 years into the journey with Nishtha

In Sanskrit, Nishtha means,

Assiduity, great and constant diligence and attention,

Firmness

Steadiness

Firm devotion

Application

Position

Discipline comes very close to it. The question is about my position then, what is your “nishtha”, position,   in space and time, now?

My profile gives the location as Bangalore. So the question is not about my physical location. She must be referring to my growing up as a person, my journey. We need to ask more questions to give an answer to the question, Where am I ?   The first question on any journey- outside, inside, inside out, outside inside.   The second question is where do I want to go – the direction of the journey. The third is how do I make sure that I am on course – am I moving in the direction that I wanted to go and not speeding towards disaster. This is what a GPS or compass facilitates in our regular journeys.

So where am I now? I need to look back – where was I?  1949, physical birth, bullet that left the barrel of the gun – have written about it earlier, a low level system without self regulation. 1981, takes the lighthouse position, the invariant one, the Facilitator. I am my position (Peter M Senge) I have not shifted from this position since.  But I have other variant positions like the ship in relation to the lighthouse. 1981-90, I was busy making a map for the journey, a tool that help me answer the three questions, ‘The Map of Everything’.  From 1990, I am on the journey with that tool and a methodology to make the journey faster.

We are on  course, we believe.

That leaves room for more questions. Where were you before? Where will you be in 2049? – Centenary of the bullet?

Thank you, Nishtha. The universe must have conspired that we meet and you ask me this question.

The journey continues with nishtha – Discipline

The Path

The Path

Nature is perfect, beyond improvement. Nurture follows from history, institutions, assumptions, and habits- the knowledge hole.

Being from and of nature we too are complete and whole. From completeness arises completeness – being and becoming.

Why all the Ps ?

It was nothing but (was it?) synchronicity. It just fell in place. There are volumes  written on each of the Ps but the volumes will not give us the perspective that the visual gives.

Position, Align and Leverage

Sergey Bubka is my mental map for being positioned and ALIGNED for continual improvement.  http://www.sergeybubka.com/ The site has a visual of Sergey standing poised with the pole for the leap. We also have a female version of Sergey Bubka in the making in Yelena Isinbaeva. http://www.yelenaisinbaeva.com/ Sergey is not just another sports person. He continues to do what he did in the field in other realms. The pole vaulter leverages the pole against the threshold to cross over and does it over and over to set new heights of performance. He is positioned and aligned to perform.  Every pole vaulter does the same, but Sergey is the exception. So what goes into positioning and alignment and leveraging is much more than a question of mechanical advantage.We take our cars to check for alignment. One could think of a similar service for people, organisations, communities and community (for the species)..The top left quadrant represents the internal system, where perfect alignment between all the levels is feasible. The levels are that of Compass (Position), map, clock, thermostat, cell, plant, and animal, human, organisational and knowledge

The right down quadrant represents the external system, the world of results and performance – metrics. In an ideal situation levels will mirror each other in both the quadrants. Results will depend on how well the internal and the external are aligned across the different levels. The threshold level of performance is the benchmark against which positioning and alignment are tested and the proof of the pudding is in the eating – better and better results.

We can learn a lot from the animals about positioning and alignment. It is natural to them
http://www.physorg.com/news138902073.html http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061021115811.htm For us it is not natural, it is a matter of choice. Freewill has its disadvantages too.

The home position

Home

What is your home position? 6y4 ii3q qn320w3

I got the above gibberish when I shifted from my home position on the keyboard, F and J where I rest my index fingers.  When I move away from the home position, this is the result that I get. When I am at my home position, I can use appropriate levers- leverage me- to make improvements.  If I am not positioned, I create waste, a lot of hard work, stress and burnout and no improvements

Even if we are homeless we have homes on websites.  When we go off course, we can refer back home and navigate. We understand reality through our tools. It is a long time that I have used a pen or pencil and paper. I spend most of my working time in front of the monitor and the keyboard, PC, is my most used tool. When we were hunting and gathering, we would have used more of our hands and feet and less of these tools. With settled agriculture, we became more attached to a physical location so did our mental maps of the world. The fishermen are quite different since most of them gather and they use tools for gathering.  Their mental maps are different from that of the farmer. They use the compass or GPS since it is much more disastrous if they cannot locate their home position. They could drift off and never find the shore. When we got ‘educated’ we became language and ‘English centric’

Wanderer, see http://wanderer7.gaia.com/blog/2008/6/being_english-centric

The paradigms are changing as text is on the way out to the visual. Technology helps one to see reality as it unfolds. Reading gives way to browsing and if one wants to capture the flea span of attention of the reader, one has to use more of the visual, and you tube it.   Yet the deep structures influence comprehension of reality and to connect across divergences and barriers created by language and tools we need a ‘Babel fish’ which would reduce the noise and help navigate the semantic swamps.

In the last 100 years we have become less earthbound in our internal horizons as well as external. We cover much more distance in a day than ever before and this possibility continues to expand leaving behind a static linear world. Technology leverages these collective leaps of learning. Perspectives change with the position. The visibility is much more from the top of the mountain but the details get blurred.  Products and solutions are designed and positioned to meet the global and local requirements  of the users or a segment of the users.     Personal and organisational positioning precedes and influences the process.  The transformation of communities requires a critical mass of catalytic material – individuals and organisations.  Positioning is about those life changing decisions, the raison d’etre, like choosing a vocation and deciding to be best in that vocation, willing to sacrifice one’s life for it, work against all odds, make great sacrifices for a cause.

The child in the womb is blissfully unaware of its position. The terrorist is firm in his position that the enemy deserves death (you or me) The negotiator takes middle ground (yes and no, you and me) The catalysts take the fourth position, the home position or the lighthouse position. We feel at home and centred. One’s calling or vocation becomes expression of one’s self and work is transformed to fun. Here is the birth of the fully functional self, beginning of conscious evolution, characterised by dynamic mental maps, flow, synchronicity and continual renewal. Now, one can fix the direction for the journey (continual improvement) connect with the home position to the current stage (reflect) and be certain that one is on course. True community is in the making.

We check the design, when we are confronted with problems. If problems have no recession, we need to go back to the design and check our understanding of the design.

Nature has a design, a deep structure, which we have to live with. We continue to pay a price for our ignorance of the basic design. Our designs are but improvisations of bits and bytes of the basic design. Imagine billions of people continuing with a flat earth worldview and the reality we collectively create!

While we have ‘progressed’ a lot we have also ‘regressed’ in our connectedness with nature. Deep down we still hold on to the flat earth static models.  Better maps would facilitate faster and sustained improvements, accelerate the process of co-creating a more desirable present and future by leveraging technology and markets which work in real time and help us to make more intelligent use of these levers with lesser damage.

We have very sophisticated tools for navigation over the planet and beyond ranging from the compass/ GPS to satellites and communication systems and mapped our immediate environs to greater and greater precision.  We have managed to connect machines to communicate with each other across the planet in real- time and for the first time we can see the world as one in real time. Though machines can communicate to each other the man and the machine interface and communication within the human slow down the common journey ahead.  A real time evolutionary model of wholeness is one the requirements to bridge the divides and disconnects.

Slumdog Billions and Leap Frogging the Recession


The miniature ecosystem, see figure, has an eagle, a vulture, a small community of frogs, a tree and a very deep well.  The eagle and the vulture come to perch on the tree.  The frogs always lived within the deep well from which they had never gone out nor can they move out of it on their own, other than dream about it. Every night the granny frog tells bedtime stories to the young ones in the well, most of them passed down over generations with an occasional improvisation here and there. The eagle could hear the stories.

One morning when the thermals had begun rising in the air, the eagle swoops down into the well, grasps one little frog in its claws and rises up with the thermal. The heights and the fear of death grip the little one. The eagle stayed with the thermal circling for some time and when it finds that the little one has calmed down a little, releases it from its claws from above the well.  The vulture waits in the hope that the frog will turn carrion. But the frog lands back into the same well, unhurt, still afraid and probably elated. While circling in the sky with the eagle the frog had opened its eyes for a brief moment to get a glimpse of the world outside the well.

The eagle went back to the tree waiting for the sun to set, to hear the new stories.

The Oscars.

The curious case of Benjamin Button and the Slumdog Millionaire

The Slumdog Millionaire swept the first Oscar since the recession. It is perhaps more than coincidental that we dream up another version of the rags to riches story when billions vanish in the stock market and the market caps reach rock bottom. There is no greater fantasy to beat a recession when the ‘developed world’ reels in its flames. ‘Developed’, stands for the ‘top of the pyramid’ within the context of this post and has no geopolitical connotations.

The kids from Dharavi, the Bombay (Mumbai) slum, flew up to Oscar heights, shedding their slum maps of the world to the eagles view from the top, for a fleeting moment. or was it the vultures view? When they come back to the same old well, the well wouldn’t have changed much. Yet some things will never be the very same again. For fleeting moments the bottom and the top connects and the media goes into overdrive vying with each other to generate our daily dose of adrenaline.   The Slum dogs and the dogs in Beverly Hills (or Malabar Hill) have the same DNA – the same potential. So does the human. Other than the cosmetic, the dog’s potential is not far behind in terms of its performance. It is still a dog’s life. Some might quarrel for morsels while the lucky ones, the adopted ones, don’t have to.

The story of the human is not the same. We could be much better than the dogs, wherever they are. The bottom and the top of the pyramid are connected through fantasy and fiction. The Oscar jury sits in judgement to decide which story is the best.

We need a design to make this leap-frogging to happen on a regular continual basis. The recession is a brief window of time to grab wider attention to mull on it. Mobility accelerates learning. Dreams, celluloid or lucid, connect better to our deep structures and at times can help us to awaken into a better future.

In 2008, 2, 90, 000 candidates appeared for CAT, the common admission test to the IIMs, Indian Institutes of Management. The process is not far different from the Dharavi kid turning into the Slumdog millionaire though the chances are less than 0.6 %. Another 100,000 will join US universities to pursue their dreams of flight. Some of them will join the $ Million league and work towards reaching the top of the pyramid, now capped at $, 500,000 if you have taken the bailout. Others will trail behind and wrack their brains how to beat them in the race.  A few of them would turn entrepreneurial or find other ways to win their millions. Some will completely opt out of the race to move to the bottom of the pyramid. Bose, one who  opted out of the race from one of the IIMs, tells me that the b-school days still bring back memories of street dogs fighting for their morsels, for whom the bell tolls, and Pavlov’s dogs. The CEO of a bank walks away with a lifetime pension of over £ 6.50,000 /annum leaving the ship he was captaining to sink, a  typical role model for the participants of the race. But things have changed overnight. With the slow down, governance is back in fashion, and many of them would join the public sector companies this year. The champions of free market will take a voice rest till things warm up a little. Most of those who fail to make it, along with a larger number, less ambitions or unfortunate than them, would aspire to join the sunshine sector of IT that emerged during the India shining phase of the growth story. Many of them would keep flying between the top and bottom in delivering outsourced solutions to the top of the pyramid. These dreams have turned sour now. Much of the shine has vanished with the recession.

Around 30,000 Indians will return from the US every year to settle down in their home country for various reasons, people who successfully chased similar dreams.  The story is a much better version than Danny Boyle coming down to Dharavi. Within an individual life span, a critical mass of people have flown out of their individual wells, fulfilled their dreams  and return to the same well. The well has not changed much but many of them see new possibilities in leapfrogging at a larger scale, bringing together the best of both the worlds. 27 % of the world’s poor are in India. The bottom suffers from abject poverty and the top from intellectual poverty, the two sides of the same coin.  The challenge is to see the third side, the side/s that connect the two. The farmer who feeds the bottom and the top hope and pray for the monsoons continue to be favourable, that the government will increase the procurement prices, that the loans will be written off ( As in  the case of the bailout billions, the relatively non-performing are more likely to end receiving such relief)  or perhaps in an election year, the procurement price will be higher than the cost (which includes the share of the rats and lions too) at which the government builds up a buffer stock.

Climbing Mount Everest, (Hillary and Tensing), Wright brothers and flight, the moon shot, in short every human achievement has a common thread that connects to the whole. At one end of the continuum is the well, the local and at the other is the very large, the global. To learn is to connect between the two, a bolt of lightning from the blue connecting to the earth.

Once we take the invariant position, that we are here to learn and learn continually, then it is a journey of connecting the small with the large, the local with the global. What we see changes with the variant positions we take during the journey. Something new comes into our perspective improving the old maps.  Development is a process of connecting potential to performance and narrowing the gap between the two. The eagle/frog frames are joined together to produce the movie of our individual lives.  Do we direct it on our own or get directed is what matters most! If we learn the lessons right and shed our preoccupations with the maps of change and quantitative growth over quality, we could leverage it to come out of the recession, out of the booms and busts to a phase of continual improvement in the quality of life, community and sustainability.

Prahlad reinvented the pyramid for our time. There is a fortune at the bottom of the pyramid! It has always been a trend with the top of the pyramid coming down to the bottom in search of the treasures for different reasons. Warren Buffet and Bill Gates connect to connect to the bottom. We hear academics wondering now, a bit too late perhaps – Is business ANTI social that wealth needs to be balanced with charity? What does charity beget? The circle is now complete! Until creation of wealth and business turns pro-community, charity seems to be the dominant paradigm by which we connect to the bottom, the current version of the missionary zeal of the colonial era. Some of them were in for a surprise and those who connected in a spirit of learning to the bottom brought to light many a treasure. Mohammad Yunus showed the way in more recent times – the royal road to beating the recession which the white revolution had demonstrated in an earlier phase of the India growth story.

The moral is more important than the story. Be a frog, be an eagle and keep switching positions continually to connect between the local and the global, the big and the small, the telescope and the microscope, Hubble and the Femtoscope and the myriad connections in between. The devil is in the details, the well and God in the heavens and at times like a bolt from the blue the two connects and there is a leap in learning. With every leap of the frog there is a collapse of an old world and a new world takes birth. Yet we are in the same well, the well – of Nature, which we will never fully comprehend. It might make us a little more humble and help us realize that we cannot reinvent the basic design.  Meanwhile there is a lull. No thermals seem to be in the make to those who reel in the flames of the recession. The eagles wait on the tree and the frogs continue to be in the well.  The recession is raging on and the vultures have a feast.  But the thermals are always in the making, some place or the other.

The original story of ‘The curious case of Benjamin Button’ was published in 1921, the same year that Einstein received the Nobel Prize. We cannot age back like the protagonist of the story and meet Scott Fitzgerald to find out why he wrote the story or he would agree with the film adaptation of the story which begins with a curious clock maker which goes well with the overall theme.  Let us also hope that he wouldn’t find objection to colouring the story to suit our present context. The extreme geriatric, the process of his aging back and the curious clock that goes back in time triggers one to reflect on our present reality.  The clock is a simple machine without self-regulation. The technology that we have developed remains mostly at this level of maturity. While we are no doubt scaling up the ladder to higher levels of technology with increasing self – regulation, as a culture we are no better than a non-self regulating, self-destructing clock work system, a product of the Newtonian world-view. (1642-1727) Extreme geriatry has come to be our collective illness. Benjamin Button is turned out of Yale because he ran out of his cosmetics to hide his age. The gates of knowledge is closed to him though later on when he grows younger, he makes a second attempt to make it to Harvard but fails to graduate as he loses his learn-ability to the pace of his growing young.  The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life was first published in 1859.

We have three different sets of maps but we fail to connect these maps together and evolve a common one, unable to grow out of the Newtonian maps. Darwin was in a way ahead of Newton and Einstein to deal with emergent qualities between classes of life. Even to the untrained eye, these qualities are discernible that no machines come anywhere near a cell, that from the unicellular to the multi-cellular is a giant leap and within the multi-cellular, plants, animals, human and community have higher levels of complexity and potential that the lower levels do not possess. Still our collective reality has not moved ahead from the level of the clock.  We are caught up in what is fashionable, the world of machines.

Even after 150 years of the origin of species, the essential learning remains outside our collective understanding of reality and makes us a less favoured species in the struggle for survival. The curious case of BB captures all the limitations of the Newtonian paradigm. While humanity moves ahead on the path of decay and ageing to self-destruct itself, the hero goes against the flow, but the ultimate destiny is not altered.

Cosmetic solutions will not gain us admittance to understanding but they contribute significantly to the bubbles  and busts.   Real learning would help us design real solutions. Between the positive and negative flows of time, is emergence, the bolt from the blue that negates entropy and decay. Accumulating real learning helps us to beat the fate of the tragic hero. The curious case of Benjamin Button proved predictive, prophetic, of our current reality.

Conflict is part of the story of evolution. We have reached the apex of the pyramid of conflicts. Yet another emergence is in the offing.