Employability and the War for Talent (WFT)

India is the top remittance receiving country in the world with annual remittances of 1, 28,500 Crores which is even more than the defence expenditure of the country. Kerala and Tamil Nadu account for half of the total immigrants. The bulk of remittances are from West Asia contributed by semiskilled and unskilled labour. The demographic profile of immigrants is in transition and the next generation of new entrants to the job market need skills and competencies of a different order to leverage the demographic dividend of the country and to move up the value chain Enhancing employability and quality are major issues to be addressed expeditiously.

Over 6, 00,000 B.Tech/ MCAs and 20, 00,000 other graduates pass out every year from colleges in the country. The number of engineering graduates is more than double that of graduates who pass out of all US universities. For many of these young people the lure of employment rather than aptitude influenced the decision to choose the course of study.  Even a professional degree is not always a passport to a certain job, more so in the global context that increasingly compels to focus on quality and productivity of human resources.

Employment in the government and public sector is down from 19.6 million in 1997 to 19.1 million in 2001.  Employment in the organised private sector increased marginally from 7.58 million in 1990 to 8.65 million by 1998. Corporates are shedding jobs and the potential for job cuts is increasing. Jobs in the service sector, hotels, tourism, financial services, insurance, trade, BPO and telecom, is increasing and the trend is likely to continue. The software sector, for example, is projected to grow at around 20-25% (?) and BPO at 70%. BPO alone is expected to account for around 2 million new jobs by 2010. But these new jobs are insignificant when compared to the 16 million people who are expected to join the workforce by this time.

Employability is the capability to gain initial employment, maintain employment and obtain new employment if required. The war for talent (WFT) model is elitist in character. It is assumed that there is only a limited pool of outstanding talent that becomes even more important as companies compete on innovation, knowledge and ideas. Employability is a measure of individual contribution.  It celebrates the Darwinian struggle for success and sees income in equalities as a fair reflection of market contribution. It assumes that organizations are driven by small elite of leaders that stand head and shoulders above the rest of the work force. It also supports the view that elite should be identified and developed at an early stage. Once selected their mobility is sponsored within the organization in preparation for the leadership roles they are expected to assume. The liberation of talent model is based on a different set of assumptions of the knowledge economy. It recognizes that the problems of intelligence and knowledge have changed. There is not a limited pool of innate talent. But rather the major problem today is how to utilize the capabilities of the work force. This calls for new ways of approaching the management of talent given the fact that the majority entering the job market will be university graduates, technical or non-technical.

From the perspective of employability of fresh graduates, there exists a wide gap between what industry wants and what educational institutions offer. The requirements of firms vary depending on their business areas.  No educational institution can meet the full complement of such dynamic and fluctuating requirements. While striving to meet the academic requirements of a particular programme, some other skills that are essential to survive and succeed in the work environment are left out. Though not deliberate, this emphasis on technical excellence alone ignores the human aspects that are increasingly becoming essential in the new workplace.  Employers usually have the following expectations from new recruits.1
Work ethic, including self-motivation and time management.
* Physical skills, e.g., maintaining one’s health and good appearance.
* Verbal (oral) communication, including one-on-one and in a group.
* Written communication, including editing and proofing one’s work.
* Working directly with people, relationship building, and teamwork.
* Influencing people, including effective salesmanship and leadership.
* Gathering information through various media and keeping it organized.
* Using quantitative tools, e.g., statistics, graphs, or spreadsheets.
* Asking and answering the right questions, evaluating information, and
applying knowledge.

* Solving problems, including identifying problems, developing possible
solutions, and launching solutions.

However during the selection process it becomes quite obvious that some of these basic, ‘soft’ skills are wanting in many new graduates. Industry sources point out that only 6 out of every 100 applicants finally make it through to jobs in the ITES sector, and that too only when the selection process is conducted in cities such as Bangalore, Mumbai or New Delhi!

For people working in technology the ‘hard’ skills include the technical competencies the individual possesses, skills that are obtained through formal education and hands-on learning which are measureable and learnable and need to be constantly renewed. ‘Soft’ skills on the other hand are generally interpersonal competencies that are more difficult to define and measure. While one may, for example, learn to make a bomb, even get some practical training in this respect and also get certified to the effect, no consideration is made as to the mental framework of the student. But it is the mental framework, the ‘soft’ skills and attitudes together that decide whether the bomb adds value or adds costs. (September 11).

Besides all this, there are the cultural aspects, embedded in each one which often stands in the way of creating and sustaining a high performance system. Consider for instance, something as simple as the ability to ask questions, a competence that is essential if one is to add value in a professional high performance organisation. Over a decade of working with B- School students, we have found them extremely reluctant to ask intelligent questions. The engineering graduates and graduates from the humanities stream who do not receive much of formal training in these areas are still down the ladder. There is a world of a difference between what students  are exposed to and what they are expected to deliver when they join professional organisations. And this difference can be quite a shock. Bridging this gap and reducing the impact of such shocks is essential to be globally competitive.

Competencies and Skills

Competency is the state or quality of being adequately or well qualified to perform a task. It is synonymous with ability. A person gains competency through education, training, experience, or natural abilities. Competencies are observable or measurable Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA) that stand out in comparison to superior and ordinary performers. Performance is the accomplishment of a task in accordance with a set standard of completeness and accuracy. While a person may have the skills or knowledge (competency) to perform a task, does not mean he or she will have the desire (attitude) to do so correctly (performance). In other words, competencies give a person the ability to perform, while attitudes give a person the desire to perform.

To generate superior performance, job holders need core competencies that allow them to transition into other jobs, and distinctive competencies to perform in specific positions. This requires the development of a mix of several competencies:

  • The first is a set of core or essential competencies. These are the organizational competencies that all individuals are expected to possess. These competencies define what the organization values the most in people. For example, an organization might want each individual to possess teamwork, flexibility, and communication skills. The goal of the core competencies is for individuals to be able to perform in a diverse number of positions throughout the organization.
  • The second set is the professional or individual competencies. These distinctive competencies are grouped for each job within the organization. For example, a trainer requires a different set of competencies than an accountant, and a teller requires a different set than a maintenance worker.
  • Some jobs also require a third set of specialty competencies. For example, managers require the core and professional competencies discussed above, plus a set of leadership competencies since they occupy a leadership position.

Good generic qualifications such as a B. Tech or MCA are excellent starting points. Some students will acquire additional ‘hard’ skills, for example do a course in mainframe technology or pick up similar additional skills sets to increase one’s options.  Some of these skills are relatively more stable, but others are not as the industry requirements vary from time to time and from firm to firm. But the ‘soft’ skills are more or less set in the sense that all employers look for these skills. Outstanding success is related to these skills. With a combination of these two, the candidate’s chances of securing a job is enhanced.  We will certainly find that we have more growth opportunities in the context of a growing domestic economy and greying population in the developed economies.  It is necessary to hone ones aptitudes since the preliminary screening procedure most often, is based on these aspects and skills  such as verbal ability, logical reasoning, mathematical aptitude, data interpretation, details complexity, visuo spatial aptitude and so on, in addition to developing skills to handle GDs and interviews where the ‘soft’ skills come to play a decisive role.  Hard’ skills change from time to time especially with the rapid pace of change of technologies. There are obvious limitations to students being trained in technical skills that match the requirements of industry.  At the same time ‘soft’ skills do not find a place in the curriculum, and these become critical in the selection process and later success in the career

The strategy, therefore, should be to have the maximum options available – have a good professional degree, consistent performance and good marks, have one or more ‘hard’ skills that are currently in demand and simultaneously strengthen and develop your ‘soft’ skills. Over and above the technical competencies, organisations look for the following competencies at some stage of the selection process. These are skills that will decide the longer term career prospects of employees.

  1. Communicating ideas effectively: Most job openings today seek candidates with strong communication skills, especially public speaking skills.
  1. Team-orientation and emotional intelligence.  How well can one get along with others in the workplace? Most often it is not one’s intellect, experience or skills that make one successful, but the ability to connect reflect and be a catalyst in the process of continuous improvement that makes the difference.
  1. Creative problem solving. Is one a problem solver or worse a problem creator?
  1. Multi-tasking.  Can the aspirant perform a variety of separate tasks at the same time and do all of them well?
  1. Life Long Learning (LLL). Are you willing to keep on learning: How open are you to new knowledge and continuous self-renewal?
  1. Mental maps/ models: Each of us carries a mental map of the world with us. These internal maps are the software that influences performance.  In the context of the learning organisation or continuous improvement these maps are perfected with every improvement. There is also the possibility of being stuck in-between when there is no new learning and concurrent improvement.
  1. Active listening
  1. Managing time

Given the above context, it is an imperative to develop an accelerated learning and competency development framework and methodology to address these issues on a war- footing to ensure that the demographic dividend does no turn into a demographic liability. Over the years the ALCD approach has been tested and it appears that it is certainly feasible to evolve a fast track model with the involvement of all stake holders.

Beyond the Waves

Reinventing Work, Technology, Community and Governance*
A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be. Abraham Maslow (1908 – 1970).What India (world) can be it must be, if it has to be at peace with itself. We need to reinvent technology, management and governance in the Indian/global context. if we need to be what we must be. We have come to a fork on the road wherein an informed choice is imperative.
When the Tsunami struck the southern coast of India on 26, December 2004, many fishermen on the high seas did not notice what was happening till they returned to the shore. They were awestruck with the devastation, an unpleasant surprise. The recession which is officially recognized as recession now, a year later, is something similar. It was in the making much before. The IT revolution that was driving much of the shine in the country and elsewhere was a similar wave. Many of those who were riding the wave failed to notice the eventual breaking up of the wave. The Enrons, Fannie May, Freddie Mac, Lehman brothers, Morgan Stanley, Madoff and Satyams should prompt us to reflect and go ahead with renewed vigor anticipating the future much better than in the past. What happened after the Tsunami was even more tragic. The relief measures were even more disastrous than the disaster itself, another wave which washed away the developmental lessons painfully accumulated over the years by new dependencies created in the wake of misplaced relief. Much of what we do in the name of bail outs will most likely be creating a similar impact.
The developed countries have been riding a wave for centuries. The emerging markets follow the trend. Since 1991, India has come to be reckoned as one of them. During this phase, bulk of the talent in the country gravitated to the IT sector at the cost of other equally or more vital sectors. Since most of them were riding a wave it was difficult to notice the eventual downturn of the wave and be prepared for the next.. The going was good, and adrenalin packed. By the time floodwaters find the level many will find it difficult to climb down and join the new wave to come, since in the first place they were not trained to climb up. We need to learn from the pitfalls that were swept under the carpet during the earlier waves. Only those fishermen, who manage the ups and downs, reach the shore with the catch, which is also true of farmers, institutions and communities.
The new India was born in 1991. She is past 17 now. As a child which stepped out of the confines of an over protected joint family, she took a few steps which gave it a feel of the world outside. During this adolescence, there has been some groundbreaking learning essential to face the challenges on the new road. We have a National Adolescence Education Programme (NAEP) which recognises the criticality of transcending the learning plateau during adolescence when young people acquire new capacities against the new challenges. A successful resolution is very critical to transformation as an adult. The country now needs to grapple with the issues of adolescence. The learning plateaus are different at different stages of life, as a child, adolescent, adult, the expert and the seniors. Lifelong learning (LLL) is even more relevant to communities, since continual renewal is the key to sustained improvements and performance, which decides the lifespan. Work is love expressed, (Kahlil Gibran). Peter Drucker continued at the forefront of management thought into his late nineties. Many of the corporations ‘built to last’ did not survive even the first wave that came up. Most MBAs do not survive one recession. If we have been expressing our love, through our work, do we stop loving during a crisis’?
There is no better time than a recession to plan for adulthood beginning 2012. Historians will call the period, 2008-12, as The Great Transition, if we do it right. I would like to believe that the country will do it though many adults do not do it. If we manage to pull it off that will be because of a rare maturity in the current leadership in politics and governance who went into these vocations when both were noble causes to fight for. Good politicians are better than bad bureaucrats in dealing with recessions since they go through a recession every 4-5 years. Let us not forget that all of them are in their late fifties to seventies. The recession and the terror strikes should remind us about the role of talent in governance which need to become fashionable once again. Branding is essential for IT, IITs IIMs and governance. There is a greater relevance for it in primary production, at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ (Sic). The recession and the terror strikes keep us reminded of the role of good governance and developmental management. The shift needs to happen at the individual and the collective levels so that the paradigm of survival of the unfit changes to survival of the fittest

Re-Imagining an Indian/global Future
Nandan Nilekani’s Imagining India, is his portrait of the emerging India, from the vantage point of one of those who foresaw the future. To be an Indian is to be a global citizen. If there is one country which resembles the Noah’s Ark, that is India. Every species, every religion and every language is represented here in sufficient measure. It has the size and numbers in all dimensions that it is a veritable Noah’s Ark. It has withstood all the floods in the past and when one digs deep enough, one will find that what has been worth preserving over the course of history is very much alive here. This may not be true of other cultures and communities which have hardly any history to talk about at a large enough scale since nature does not go by our current human scale of time which seldom goes beyond five years. Solutions that emerge out of this context will have global relevance in addressing the single most important challenge of development and quality of life, as reflected in the Millennium Development Goals
More than economics, the demographic dividend is at work behind competitiveness. Whether this dividend turns into a liability or not will depend on how we respond to the challenge of learning and competency development.. While we are well aware of the state of our physical infrastructure and the recession might compel us to revisit the issue, we are yet to address the challenges of the people infrastructure which form the foundation to all other infrastructure. It is only recently that we have begun to see people as resources than a problem. The transformational issues involved in leveraging the advantage remain unaddressed. There is extreme urgency to resolve the challenge to make sure that the dividend does not turn out to be a liability.
I get weekly mail from the transition team of the US President elect. I fail to get a reply from the Head of Organisation Development in one of these ‘IT giants’ when I send them this mail, just to test the waters. The same is true of the NKC, the National Knowledge Commission. All four of these ‘IT giants’ from India put together would perhaps touch 20 % of IBM’s or HP’s global revenues and some of the domestic software outsourcing contracts that went to IBM India was roughly the same size as their individual revenues. My electricity bill is issued every month with a handwritten note on it by the service provider stating if there is any advance paid, pay the bill after deducting the advance and I am a resident of Bangalore city, the IT capital of the country. I am just giving a few examples of how people and institutions leverage technology. Obviously those who use technology as a lever will continue to move the world. For technology to be leveraged people behind the lever need to be in alignment with technology. To cite another example, much before the security agencies began deciphering the GPS, the ‘illiterate’ fishermen on the south coast of the country started using the GPS. Same was true of mobile phones too. Let us also remind us that IT did not save us from the recession, which is but a limitation of how we use technology which has by and large come to be understood as IT by our graduates in technology and the mainstream. Captains of Indian Industry with Ivy League MBAs who have the wherewithal to access the best of technology or management globally have more faith in their astrologers, an obsolete technology which did not do any good to the country for over tw0 thousand years, than in these disciplines. Most engineers too have more faith in the astrologer than in their own designs. In general we have more faith in default than in design. Even when there is a design and strategy, we would like to say “I have been lucky to be successful”. Design is still an infant discipline in the country and ambivalence rather than strategy appears to be a cultural handicap.

The human resource function became synonymous with recruitment and in a recession redefined as retrenchment or pink slips, and development came to be understood as software development. Till now an Infosys or TCS could afford the luxury of learning and competency development, stretching over years that would transform raw graduates to billable resources. The gates are now likely to remain closed for over three lakhs of engineering graduates, most of whom spend 4 years and over 7 lakhs in loans to earn an engineering degree without any assurance that they are employable – the ability to obtain and retain employment when the same is challenged during a recession. In place of the housing sub-prime we are likely to have a sub-prime in educational loans, though this may not be significant enough to cause similar repercussions. We have a system where the brilliance of the IITs and IIMs are outwitted by successful coaching shops which sprouted and established themselves as more successful business models than the IITs and IIMs without the huge investments to create such institutions. Most often, learning and competency development, the core of HR, came to be addressed at a very cosmetic level with theories and models of building the pyramid without a theory about the brick, the basic building unit. The function went through an inversion as reflected in the coinage of terms like hard skills for soft skills and vice versa sweeping aside the Moore’s law and the imperatives that follow from it. People who rode to iconic status on the upswing who had never survived a downturn came to don the hats of venture capitalists, mentors and management consultants. Management consultants downgraded themselves to client interfacing for IT services and software service providers attempted reinventing themselves as management consultants. Consultants talked about people process maturity in their thirties even before facing their own mid – life crisis. The shelf life of most managers came to be established as around 15 years, quite unlike a good professional who is governed by a code of conduct and practices his discipline for life. People who designed product obsolescence and product and organisational positioning could not walk their own talk. Graduates from professional courses could not answer the question as to what is it to be a professional. The cosmetic was taken care of but the content was not.
Finance Capital > Human Capital > Community Capital
Settled agriculture, followed by industrialisation and the information technology revolution were the prominent waves in history which lasted for around 10,000, 500, and 50 years. The fishermen and tribal communities, the eco-system people, belong to an earlier phase who live on community or common property resources. They have been pushed to the boundaries of ‘modern society’ which failed to recognise their silent but essential role as guardians of the eco-system against conventional norms of ROI. Most ot the fish we consume flow from the eco-system people, milk from the farmers, bottled water from industry and the software that keeps me connected from a proto knowledge community which has emerged  out of  the last wave. The fish and milk are cheaper than bottled water sums up the accumulated distortions in the system. While the meltdown continues, Ivy League B- Schools discuss ” If you are smart, why aren’t you rich?” and “How to Build a Professional Image” as if money is the only measure of intelligence and a professional image is more important than being a true professional. We don’t need lot of proof as to the degree of professionalism of the ‘smart managers’ who bothered more about their bonuses than the safety of the ships they were in charge of. As the product is in the process, it is time to revisit the B- Schools and the process through which managers are churned out. I pay $ 50, the equivalent of a month’s income at the “bottom of the pyramid’ for a best seller by an author who has been thrice on the New York Times best seller list. on application of systems thinking in an area of my interest to relearn  that the author’s understanding of the discipline is equivalent to that of a physicist who has only two dimensions to deal with physical reality. He is smart and he will be rich, but next time, I will be wiser. For two weeks, most of my time has been spent on dealing with two MNCs – global giants – to get some support for two of my gadgets that have failed. I keep getting calls to find out  the quality of  my service experience from some agency to which the work has been outsourced ,while I continue to deal with the agony of not able to work without these gadgets. The right arm does not know what the left arm does.
A recession offers a spell of time when we might listen well than when we are riding the waves. The four worlds need to come together as one, as a single eco-system, if we are to transition to the next phase of conscious and continual improvement / renewal, an economy of love’ (?), maturity and the highest respect for each other)
We now know the limitations of the overemphasis placed on finance capital when the paradigm had already shifted to human capital and now to community capital. Yet most of us are still stuck with the maps of these bygone phases, with obsolete maps and tools for a new generation of problems.
The demographic dividend of India is unmatched. The accumulated learning from all three waves need to be leveraged and aligned  for tthe emergence of a knowledge community to recession and future proof  against all the waves to come and to transition into a phase of  sustained continuous improvement. The metrics need to be against emergence of global community and achieving the MDG, decline of cross-border conflicts and terrorism in addition to conventional metrics of growth and development
One success story which demonstrated a very high degree of such integration has been the White Revolution in India though the learning could not be leveraged any further in other contexts. This is also the time to revisit the white, green, blue and the other ‘revolutions’ to bring them together into a rainbow of sustainability for the emergence of better ‘community’. The value of a new generation business plunges to insignificance when the last employee in the graveyard shift walks out of the campus. Microsoft or Infosys were founded more on human and community capital, leveraged by technology than on finance capital, by people who saw the emergence of the new wave three decades ago. Those of them who uphold community, the real value differentiator over short term profitability, will ride the next wave in the making. Most of the talent, who joined the tail end of the wave, went in for no other reason than that it was the in thing to do. There is no need to be perturbed by the recession, if we are able to visualise the unmatched opportunity that it offers. This is the time to move up the value chain as well as to address the challenges of employee productivity. Tools that could address these issues of leapfrogging the downturn could secure the competitive edge that would enable us to ride the next wave. The pink slip holders is an opportunity, not a liability, if we realise that, if we have the tools, they can be turned into resources with the least investment of time and resources because they had the benefit of some real context specific learning. It  is  ironic to use the term real learning, as we use the term real economy and toxic assets. A toxic human asset forms the best recruitment ground for terrorists. With an appropriate strategy, tools and methodology, designing a more desirable future would become feasible. Alternatively, the ‘Troubled Assets Rehabilitation Programme’ could easily become a TRAP. The ground is getting levelled and it is time to visualise the foundation and the superstructure that would be built.
Reality can be sliced in infinite ways. We show miniscule slices of this reality on the post mortem table or on the X, Y axis to the learner on the assumption that she would put them together into a whole. Had the approach been effective the present reality would be altogether different. We cannot expect that more of the same would lead to resolution of the crisis. What brought us here will not take us to where we must be.
The imperative is to evolve an integral pedagogy and practice to address these issues against challenges at the bottom, middle and top of the ‘pyramid’, a technology for Accelerated Learning and Competency Development (ALCD) for SHP. To the man who only has a hammer in his tool kit, every problem looks like a nail. (Abraham Maslow). We certainly need better tools than hammers and screwdrivers in our tool kits.

Limits to Growth OR Limits to Learning?

I would like to play god for a few minutes and in those few minutes I would globally find and replace the word teacher with student facilitator from the soft tissue memory banks of all humans and then go to sleep with the satisfaction of having done a good day’s work. The collective amnesia would make sure that the word is not revived from the storage devices, be it the computer hard disk or the hard copies of books and documents.

I wish teachers stop being teachers and bring back learning to the centre stage.  I thank the teachers who did it for me. I also thank those who drove me to write this piece. But for them I wouldn’t have. When I look out, I can see the Bangalore campus of the National Dairy Research Institute, which was once the Imperial Dairy Research Institute, started in 1923 by the British.   Mahatma Gandhi had been there, a student for a week. That was much before my time (1971-73). What he learnt in one week, I wouldn’t have learnt in two years. He would have foreseen the white revolution that would sweep over post independent India. The first learning point, the most important turning point in my life happened here. I discovered the fun of learning which had gone out during my formal education.  Having got disillusioned with the world of work I came back to Bangalore as a B-school student for another two years, 1981-83. What was then the outskirts of the city is almost the heart of the city now. I am once again in Bangalore, my third time. Where I live, the National Games Village used to be a marshy swamp. The locality around, Koramangala, is more than home to the techies in Bangalore.  In between, the IT revolution took off and reached its peak paving way for the next revolution in the making. I visualize Bangalore driving that revolution, emergence of a learning community which renews itself continually where work, learning and leisure come together as one so that work becomes its own reward. (Goodbye to incentives and stock options?)

Every time I am back in Bangalore, I get a fresh lease of life and at 60, it is happening once again

There is a campaign going on in Bangalore – ‘Teach India’. I wish they call it “Learn India Learn”. We put on our teacher’s hat all too often, at home, at work, on the road and even in our dreams

Often we kill the joy of learning when we set out to teach, more the teachers less the learning. (For me learning is purposive. It should lead to improvement. Otherwise it is not learning). The best of my teachers did the least teaching. They created the conditions for us to learn.  We had a wonderful pair, in B-School, who did the least teaching. We called them Laurel and Hardy. They allowed us to put on the teaching hats and listened to us. I was hooked to system thinking (not systems thinking) which was another learning /turning point in my learning curve. Habits seldom die. It took me three years of teaching to say goodbye to my ‘teaching career’- in 1984. I found myself unfit for the job, fished out my learner’s hat and got wedded to LLL, lifelong learning. When we do that growing old is something to look forward to. Julia Roberts, the pretty woman actress echoes it.

http://en.ce.cn/entertainment/gossip/200809/08/t20080908_16738880.shtml Growing old is becoming free. Development as Freedom (Amartya Sen) is true in this context also but it is dependence for those who do not, stuck at the learning plateaus.

I remember the learning plateaus during my formal education, adolescence, at work and after work. I am not one of those Rushdie’s midnight’s children. I was conceived and born in a free India (1949) a baby boomer. Like most baby boomers I too grew up/down as a confused child. My early reading only added to that confusion.  Those writers have now grown old and changed their positions many times over. Not many returned like the prodigal son to be connected to the roots. Most remain still confused and they go on confusing others.  The revolutions died very young leaving many casualties in the process. The orthodox Christian religious atmosphere, at home, school and all around also contributed to the making of the prodigal son. I was lucky to break out of that stifling world to rediscover the fun of learning, to get unstuck and move ahead from the plateaus of learning that came over the years at intervals.

The process is not always very pleasant. Bangalore is also the suicide capital of the country and the incidence is the highest among those in the age group 15-44.There is pain and suffering while we are stuck and the joy and freedom of getting unstuck from the plateaus are abundant compensation for the pain. Having gone through the process, it was a logical next step to take position as a student/facilitator of learning. One can certainly make the process easier for those interested in transcending the barriers to learning.

We started with facilitating children in schools and moved up the levels to the ‘top of the pyramid’ with our facilitation tools. Our prevalent notions of intelligence encourage and support the notion that a few are exceptionally gifted and fit to survive. For those who fail to be recognized as such the school can be a torture machine which kills the joy of learning, creating the first learning plateau. It is also the stage when adolescents are assumed to turn adults.   When the species in general does not encourage adult behaviour and maturity, transformation to the adult is a near impossibility.  The emphasis on teaching as against learning arises from the position that majority cannot learn and they need to be taught. It is self-fulfilling and the adult is less likely to take birth. The first and basic distortion of the meaning drive is already seeded which gives rise to the primary learning plateau

When we moved to the world of work with the facilitation process we found that the first plateau is instrumental in creating other barriers in the world of work. The formal educational system seldom meets the expectations of the employer. The employer has to create the conditions for continual learning, more so in the context of a ‘knowledge society’ in emergence. Work is seldom perceived as learning or expression of one’s self with the result that most get burnt out in the process. Once again it is only a minority who manage to break through the glass ceiling. For the majority another plateau is in the making. Meanwhile our young man/woman has become a parent and bogged down by more responsibilities and expectations at work and home. The context is ripe for the classic symptoms of the mid-life crisis to surface. Some transcend the plateau and continue to be productive beyond their fifties. The individual and society suffer from the consequences. In large hierarchical governance systems, it is tragic to see young bright outstanding individuals progressively grow out of touch with reality creating more plateaus /barriers to the collective journey of improvement and renewal.  The circle is complete

One can go on ad nauseum (the teacher is still alive). I would like to sum up

We have created a Giant wheel. A few drive the wheel.  They promise better and better rides. A few refuse to be taken for a ride.

Habit is thus the enormous fly-wheel of society, its most precious conservative agent (William James-1890)

Our suggestion is simple. Limits to growth = Limits to learning

IPR, Intellectual POVERTY Rights?

The Chosen Few

Hitler is not dead. He has been renamed Intelligence. Fishermen and the tribal, the ecosystem people, are outliers to the mainstream society. The developing countries and the Slumdog Billions are outliers to the modern, industrialised, post industrial society. None of my success stories would pass an IQ test with flying colours nor would they be reckoned as success by the prevalent norms of success.

The Rosetto mystery challenges mainstream beliefs about health, points out Gladwell (The Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell, 2008, Penguin).  It is the quality of community among the Roseto that contribute to their health. If so, why are we not focusing our attention on successful communities rather than individual successes? The latter need not necessarily take us to the former.

Success in history is equated with aggression. Asoka’s choice of ahimsa over aggression changed the course of history for India.  After a very long interlude the country got into history through non- aggression in the struggle for political freedom under Gandhi.

Bill Joy, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs,  the ‘success stories’ of the current generation had many other things going in their favour in addition to above average IQ, advantages of an early start, practice, the time/location factor and opportunities. These are  the typical American success stories and when we put them together we have what we call the grand dream that celebrates the success of the individual rather than quality of the community.  What does it do to the collective human dream and the community at large? Has community been improving in sync with our other achievements?

Gladwell certainly debunks some of the popular myths. But the real myth is we attribute a few of the factors to conclude that we have a recipe for success.  The investment bankers who took the global community for a ride would have scored very well on a conventional IQ test and many of them would qualify to be in the Mensa club. The notion of the chosen few, that some are more equal than the rest, that some are infallible, that some can save the world is the grand myth to be debunked. Every prophet is a product of the community in which he lived and to believe that another prophet or a set of prophets will save the world is the grand myth that we have come to believe in. The CEO of an MNC, faculty of an Ivy League College or the supervisor on the shop floor attempts to create and continually reinforce the notion that you are something very special which has become integral to the motivational tool kit. If you are something special, I am something more special and I need to be rewarded more by the community, seems to be the prevalent logic of being civilized.  We have stretched the use of the tool way beyond sustainability.

The problem with metrics such as IQ is that they are blown out of proportion without regard to the limited context in which they remain valid. Most often we devise very complex filters to establish the superiority of a few to justify that they deserve very special consideration, to establish that they add much greater value than the rest. Abraham Maslow was said to be the second ‘most intelligent’ person in the world. He said “When the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail.” IQ is one of those hammers. IQ has evolved over time as in multiple intelligences, gender intelligence, and community intelligence and so on.  Nature has given all of us the same potential but the context varies widely. The Infosys founders or others heading the IT industry in India were born a decade later. The lag of ten years is the price one pays for taking birth in a developing country, ceteris paribus, in a flatter world in our times.

Are the fishermen or the farmer potentially less intelligent than the investment banker? We would like to create such a make-believe which goes into the valuation of their contributions. The same logic works for what we are prepared to part with in the exchange of goods and services. The more myths we create around them we are able to squeeze more out of the market.   This logic which has been stretched too far goes into the making of unreal goods and services, the bulk of the market and the value propositions behind them. The unreal has become more real than the real. There is no ‘connect’ between the head and the tail. During a recession these disconnects become too obvious. For some time, the tail wags the head and we come to believe in the shadow as the substance.

So is there some merit in the origin of castes – the four varnas- child labour and the craftsmens’guilds, the communities of practice?

When everybody is appropriately selfish and we celebrate it we don’t realise that this is at the cost of community and survival of the species, where we are stuck now. How much is too much?  Has success need to be in terms of market cap? Would Keynes be interested in Robinson Crusoe, who does not produce or sell, though he leaves no ecological foot prints, the key to sustainability which is still not part of the metrics of our collective IQ or ‘growth’?  Are we measuring growth or decay?

Your ideas are not your ideas

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. – Kahlil Gibran

Our thoughts are not our own. We gathered them on the way, picked pockets, robbed people of what that they wanted to say, did not or could not. We could  pick their minds.

Wright brothers took us flying and we have a DEBT TO PAY OFF in terms of IPR. They gave expression to a collective longing – Life’s longing for itself, our collective longing to take off, fly, and go out into space as expressed in our dreams.  Most of us had dreams of flight when we were children.  I still do. Last night I was travelling with Lizzie in our first car. We had a flat and then we were flying together to take a look at how bad the tyre was. The car went on and we kept on with it, flying.

If what we think is not our thinking but the universal mind thinking through us how do we OWN them, bottle them up, label them, and hire an agent to market them.  Change Masters!  Some say, change is the only constant and let us make a difference as if all change and all difference are in the right direction.

Changelessness too is a constant. (Values, thou shall not kill…). When we do not mean what we say, the intention is good but the effect is bad. More of the semantic swamp but appropriate to create “IPR and Knowledge Assets”. Those who walk and talk Kaizen, continuous improvement, surprise us, the ‘change masters’. We need to globally Find /Replace “change and difference” with IMPROVEMENT and walk the talk , paying  attention to improvement, so that real improvements happen because what we pay attention to GROWS

The words we use reflect the internal software, the deep structure and we don’t communicate – connect, improve, when the intent and the words are not in alignment.  We need a new language of performance and improvement.  We have gone to the extent of monetising the value of an additional year of life and medical expenses make sense if the returns are more than the cost! We need something similar for books, other IP too, that adds to the semantic swamp and contributes to global warming that only if they lead to net improvements, they be published. Most often they are a rehash of what you already know at the core of your own being which is always connected to the mind of the universe.  The rights if any should go to Nature – the source of all learning. Thanks to the web, by the above logic, this would never have been published.

Charity begets charity. “Guilt lubricates the economic engine and charity is the measure” – overheard.

News, Facts and Fiction

New IITs and IIMs and the Toyota Recall

(IITs, Indian Institutes of Technology. IIMs, Indian Institutes of Management)

I am anchoring a workshop on Accelerated Learning in one of the B – schools when the reports appear in the media that Toyota   recalls of 688,314 vehicles produced in China though no injuries or accidents have been linked to the recall. The recall amounts to more than a year’s sale of vehicles.

Dream:  I am waiting in front of my B-school which I graduated from in 1981. There is a huge crowd of alumni waiting for registration. The b-school has a great reputation and has discovered that there have been some major glitches in all their graduates throughout the school’s history. The graduates have been responsible for systemic failures of grave dimensions affecting the very survival of the planet. They are waiting to register for a remedial programme. Their licences to practice have been revoked.  I wake up from the dream with the fear of losing my job to realise that I do not have a job to lose and I don’t need a license to do what I do for a living. Thank god, it is only a dream.

We share our dreams and news in the morning. We will soon have more IITs and IIMs. We are wonderful when it comes to numbers.  The Toyota quality issue is pales in comparison when we look at what the top of the pyramid does to the bottom. (It is part of our programming to think of the world in terms of pyramids, or sometimes as a flat reflecting our own inner landscapes. We perceive ourselves to be standing  on the apex of the pyramid and from where we are rest of humanity are down there). We don’t just leave it at that. More questions follow: What is Indian about the Indian Institutes of Management? Are they B-schools or M- schools? If they are catering only to business why are they called management institutes? Is business not capable of meeting their own demand for managerial talent or otherwise?  Why should government indulge in this business where it has no competence to talk about? Why do we want more of them when they have failed in meeting our technology and management challenges ? Do US seeds germinate and take root in the Indian soil? Can copies be better than the original? Which Indian academic in management working in India has the highest recall rate? Why is it that we don’t even have a single technology or management breakthrough of world class scale and size in proportion to the scale and size of the country? Why are we so hung up on numbers and blissfully unaware of quality? You said quality, quantity and time goes into setting of standards and that standards though essential can also breed conformity and compromise on outstanding achievements, when you don’t have any standards of your own?

Is there a moral to the story? Accelerated learning and making people to ask questions is a tightrope walk? One cannot indulge in it without taking a position on some of these issues.

On August 25th 2008, we were witness to a different kind of Olympic event. Around 300 very young people, average age 25, were celebrating their outstanding achievements and performance at work in the Trinity hall of Taj Residency, Bangalore where I heard the following dialogue

“We are meeting here a day after the Olympics, an Olympics where China made its century and we got away with the ‘holy trinity’. It is appropriate that we meet in the trinity hall and discuss our performance, be it in Olympics or in our work. We need to celebrate performance even if they are not grand victories and we need to celebrate such winnings in the context of the community that made it possible. I congratulate all of you and those who have shown such a brilliant planning of the event that we could discuss these issues in the most appropriate context. I thank you for making it possible for me to be part of this celebration of community and performance. It is also the most appropriate time for us to discuss and envision, as a community of practice, the heights of performance that we would scale in the coming years

The average age of billionaires is 61. The Face book CEO, Mark Zukerman is the youngest of the lot at 23. Two out of every three of the billionaires are self made like the welfare mom JKR who made it to the list at 42.  So it is not always an inheritance of wealth that takes us to the heights but how we leverage our inheritance that nature and history has given us that take us to the history book. Our own Anil Ambani was the one with the fastest rate of growth. More of them from China and India are making it to the history book. The combined worth of around 1100 billionaires is around 3 trillion dollars.

Many of my millionaire classmates who were many times smarter than me are not around to talk about their performance.  I am sure each one of us would have a dream other than making it to the list of billionaires. If all of us have only billionaire dreams, it would be better to start looking for another planet.   This brings us to the issue of metrics and criteria by which we measure success, performance and achievements. Is wealth the only measure of success or should we have multiple criteria? While we celebrate performance we also need to remind ourselves that personal success needs to be balanced with lot many other aspects. One very important aspect among them is the improvement in community, which in the first place made these achievements possible, as this alone will guarantee sustained high performance (SHP)”
Abhinav Bhindra, 25, the lone gold medallist from > 1 billion Indians has been drilling holes on paper for twelve years. He was seven when he proved himself to be a sharp shooter. From taking the position to be a shooter to reaching the summit of achievement spans a journey of 18 years, many a set back and smaller wins in between. For Michel Phelps, focused effort started at 13 and the crowning event happened at 23. Mastering of the process takes ten years or even more. It is most often a lonely journey. What would be more interesting to watch will be how these people continue to perform and rewrite the story of human potential? Sergei Bubka continues to perform off the field. Mapping the human potential would require a closer study of the exceptions, not just in athletics, but from as many perspectives as possible at different levels, individuals, institutions, communities, globally, at the level of the species.

We will remember the events and forget the process. We have a built in bias to our birthdays, floods, festivals and feasts.

How did China top the 2008 Olympics? India too has a comparably large population. China won by design, India won by default. It is ironic that the same is true of performance in other areas too. If India does not perform, the world will not, because one in every six is an Indian and one out of every three of the poor in the world also is an Indian. While individual performance may happen in isolation, performing as a community involves complexity of a much higher order. Some communities have a history of continual improvement while others do not fare as well.

India offers complexity of the highest order which makes it all the more interesting to students of performance/ achievements. No other country has the same kind of complexity of colour, religions, languages and dialects. For over two thousand years it has remained in a slumber very often basking in the glory of a far too distant past.
Personal growth to performance as a single community is a continuum and at some stage in the process, the critical mass and velocity is achieved for the collective transformation. A small minority takes position as individuals. They decide early in life as to their purpose of being here. The direction of their journey is clear to them and they hang on tenaciously. Once they achieve that some of them redefine their goals to the next phase in the journey. Some others take a position much later during the course of the journey. Many do not take a position at all. They leave it to the astrologer, fate, destiny or default. As a nation, India prefers the astrologer to the management consultant.

Global standards apply to the metrics of performance as in the Olympics though the same is realized within the local context. The gardener needs to know the soil. Gardening skills from Silicon Valley would need to be localized for better results in Bangalore. Unless it performs better than Silicon Valley, it does not get into the metrics. Once you get in to the record books, there is the problem of continuing to outperform the competition. We have outlined the problem of SHP. The two B- schools that I attended and the work that I was involved with kept me reminded of the Indian and the developmental complexity, that one cannot imitate and compete with the competition since a copy can never be better than the original. Each one of us is in a unique situation or context and each one has to find choose his/her road. That applies to community too, regardless of the scale, be it organizations or nations. Yet some universals hold good which could accelerate the process. We are all trying to build a Cathedral or Taj Mahal. The story is all too familiar and with every retelling it could take in new perspectives. In the latest version, the supervisor on the spot is beheaded by the emperor. The logic had the supervisor been effective in his role the emperor would have heard the same answer from all the masons. (More on leadership in the Indian context http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/5992.html) The challenge of creating community necessitates taking a common position, a coming together based on a shared vision. How do you create such a vision? Do we have something, a non-controversial reference point, around which communities can emerge?
We have very sophisticated systems to navigate the planet and beyond. Navigating through life is a more complex process where each one of us is left with multiple tools. For some it may be the astrologer or their particular brand of belief system. The multiplicity of the maps is one of the blocks to a common journey. I remember a starlit night, by the bank of the river. Looking at the sky my teacher asked me “What is the meaning of all this”? I had no answer but there was a wish at the time that someday I would find it out. It took 25 years to resolve the issue of making sense of the world, to make a map

The Chinese seafarers had better maps than Columbus. A good one will not take you where you never wanted to go and need not be revised too often. The FDF is a map to reduce the complexity of the developmental process across multiple levels and contexts. A map has to hold good at the local as well as global levels, something similar to the periodic table. The FDF has been in use since 1990, to accelerate personal and community learning
The 5 Ps of making sense of the world: Purpose, Positioning, Potential, Performance and Process, paying attention to improvements.
We are born like bullets going out of the gun. Who fired the shot? We did not unless you are a mystic who would say that you chose your time, parents and place of your birth. We have inherited a body, mind from our parents and the past, the product of a process as old and as young as the universe. How does one convert this inheritance – make it our own, own it? This is where the 5 Ps come in.

Can a 100 year old regenerate his body? Prior to regenerating the body one should regenerate the spirit, the meaning. The spirit is about the purpose. Why are we here? Is it just because we were born – by default? Or is there a design? One should be able to recognize the design, the purpose. The GOI has a department of Ayush, to my knowledge, the only one of its kind in the world. We had a science of life, Ayurveda, an inheritance from our past. The department deals with the science of life! The purpose is to live; defeat death the basic premise of Ayurveda. The philosophy is in stark contrast to the mainstream understanding of health and healing wherein to fall sick is an exception, the current mainstream belief being to fall ill is the order which is self-fulfilling. Once we have a purpose for which we are ready to die, take a position, we will not die unless the purpose is achieved. This is what it means to take a position. So have an impossible dream and take the position that this is the purpose of my being here if we want to outperform the competition, live longer, defeat death, gain market share, whatever. What do we learn from people with exceptional longevity, centenarians? Why do they go on? Many of them are healthier than the 20 + some things I mostly work with. They seldom go to the doctor and still have that sparkle in their eyes.

When the purpose is absent the potential of the body is not challenged and unless we challenge, stretch, we do not create the conditions for the potential to be expressed – Michael Phelps, Bubka, Isinbayeva, Bhindra – as individuals. Next step is to challenge these limits as a community of practice and pay attention to the process, the improvements that happen and the metrics. Improvements follow from new learning, LLL. The self, individual or community, is the learner, hence the first discipline.  The 5 Ps are in place. There are more Ps. The more perspectives we take we are in better touch with reality and our solutions are likely to be more effective.

True North

Animals align themselves to the magnetic poles of the earth

http://www.physorg.com/news138902073.html
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061021115811.htm. They have a built in compass/GPS function, courtesy of nature, to keep them aligned and tuned to nature. The human situation is more pathetic than that of the animals. We need to work at developing some of these skills, an obvious disadvantage in exchange of freewill and choice. It took us long to develop the compass to navigate the world. The technology has become very sophisticated and our maps of the planet and immediate neighbourhoods are near perfect. We can cover much more in a day than our previous generations, can even go for a deep dive into outer space and come back with pin point precision.
Though mobility has improved rapidly vast majority of us still do not move out of our places of birth. There is a different kind of a journey which all humans undertake, the one of personal and community growth and development. How well equipped are we for this journey which is many times more complex than a journey over space? Let us run a reality check.

What is the first requisite for a journey over space? We should make certain of our current position. Ask any number of people, you are not likely to get this answer. First things first- goes the saying but seldom does this happen. Let us ask the same question about the other journey that we discuss here, where are we now? What is our current position? Any error in estimating the position takes us on the wrong course. What makes us, the Human, uniquely different from the Animals, as a class? Ask yourself and arrive at the answer. Ask the same to another 100 people you come across. We play this game in our stretch workshops. We seldom get the right answer even with groups of people known for their brilliance. Quiz them on anything else under the sun you would get an answer though one can as well get these answers through a web search. It takes much more time to get the group to agree that our uniqueness as a class which makes us distinct from the animals is our ability to IMPROVE ourselves, the environment and community around us. If we don’t improve and improve continually, can we claim ourselves to be human, that we learn and evolve? If we do not we would be sub animal. The human is the most threatened of all species. S/he is a threat to he/r/self, to the environment and other life forms. The World without Us would be much better off.  Animals do not kill within the same species without any reason but we do. They don’t have cancer wards, asylums and old age homes. If we are to learn about community it is much better that we look at them than at us. So what has gone wrong with us? Is humanness / community improving or on the decline?
Are we civilized? If the emperor says he is the emperor we have reasons to disbelieve what we hear. Same holds true of claims of being civilized and developed. As a child I remember that most of the adults in my village used to carry a dagger with them, not to fight wild animals but to protect themselves from others. Hardly a week would pass without some news of a murder on some silly reason. Today they don’t but in some ‘more civilized, developed parts of the world’ nearly every other man owns a gun. Who is more civilized / developed?
Who performs and what are the criteria for measurement? The southern coastal state of Kerala in India, unlike many other parts of the country, has more or less the same quality of life as that of a developed country like Sweden, the major differentiator being it has a much lower per capita income. Should we measure development by eco illiteracy or eco literacy? Who leaves a bigger ecological footprint, the rich or the poor? Do we recognize performance? Farmers commit suicide in some parts of India. Fishermen of south India are probably the best of primary producers but even poorer than the farmers. Drinking water has become costlier than milk. Farmers and fishermen are poor not because they are not productive but because the markets and those on top of the pyramids respect and listen to those with muscle and not the unorganized. No wonder that we have a crisis of food security in the making.

Are we better off than the animals in terms of community?  Are we mature, adults? Hitler is not dead. He still lives in us. Listen carefully to the new age messiahs, gurus, change agents and leaders. Adults need only data, information and they can lead themselves. Compare the salary structure of CEOs in Japan vs. USA in comparison to the shop floor worker, which shows that we are willing to entrust our fate to the commander in chief, rest all our hopes on a small number of men and women. We have very little faith in the wisdom of community. We still would like to have leaders and followers, than self-manage. The result is Hitlers in camouflage. So do we learn, if we do there should have been improvements across multiple facets which ultimately will lead to oneness, better community, environment and the assurance of a secure future.
What is progress if in 2500 years we could not go beyond Buddha and Christ and in over 5000 years we could not improve on the wisdom of the Upanishads? From similar antiquity if we have to translate the Kama Sutra, a treatise on sex and sexuality into many languages what have we understood about sex and sexuality?
WANTED – A new language of Improvement
“Change is the only constant”. We have more change masters than masters of improvement. Change can be good or bad, superficial or substantial. Look at the semantics. If one observes the language one can see the positions which give rise to such views from which the language originates. From such positions improvements cannot happen. To cross over the semantic swamp we need a new language, a LANGUAGE of improvement and PERFORMANCE which we might call Inglish. Inglish is more than Indian English, which, thanks to the British, is spoken by more people than in Britain and USA combined. When one learns a language other than one’s mother tongue, every word is vey new whereas for the native speaker the very same words have lost their depths of meaning. Familiarity takes away the depth and might even breed contempt. Inglish is a requirement because we have used up the communication potential – most of it has been used up as advertising by-lines to promote shadows and substitutes (Brand X makes you a complete man and brand Y makes the complete woman) – of languages to connect people across the planet as a community. So we communicate yet do not enhance true community. Such communication is the noise, the major barrier to connect and build bridges. We need a common language to connect the world as a single community. We could make machines talk to each other across multiple platforms. Next step is to do the same with the human so that man and the machine are aligned. The graphic user interface took the computer to the masses, transcending the barriers of language. The visual has more bandwidth than any other stimuli and the NOW gen views rather than read. Inglish has to be a visual language.
This is just to trigger and continue the dialogue. This work is not meant to be full-fledged with self contained arguments. These are some very random thoughts on why we need a compass/ GPS to fix our position and direction for the journey – to show us the TRUE NORTH, one for each one of us, since we cannot use somebody else’s.

Sustained High Performance by Design

The Graphic User Interface (GUI) contributed significantly to the pervasive use of computers, PDAs, mobile phones and various other gadgets transcending barriers to the use of technology and thus accelerating the emergence of a more connected and flatter world. The GUI attenuated the complexity of the black boxes, hardware or applications software and facilitated self-navigation. A similar interface to the discipline of management would go a long way in bridging the even more challenging issues of transcending the divides and barriers to the emergence of global community

Management is relatively a young discipline with the potential to emerge as an integral Meta system to bring together various disciplines. However the student is often perplexed by the profusion of jargon resulting in a semantic swamp. The crossover seldom happens. The current context, of business, environment and development, raises serious concerns as to the relevance and validity of the practice. General Motors which provided the context to the Concept of the Corporation, (Drucker) has filed for bankruptcy. GM is not an isolated example. The best of talent which headed to the investment banks took decisions which they would have thought to be in the best interests of its stake holders which came to challenge the very foundations and premises of the discipline. Major growth stories of the IT era were mostly entrepreneurial and technology driven. This growth has peaked and in scouting for fresh growth the emerging markets have become the focus of attention. While China has more or less followed an aggressive path of taking on the competition, the Indian position still remains unclear and out of focus. For the student of developmental management India is unique in its level of complexity. It is what Galapagos was to Darwin in deciphering the story of evolution.  Solutions that emerge out of this complexity have universal validity that could meet the challenges of creating a more desirable future, both local and global. The GUIID is a map to make sure that we don’t miss the woods for the trees since in the final analysis we are as good as our maps since we know physical world through our maps of the world.

Reading the Map

The observer self at the centre attempts to make sense of the world looking inside and outside to fix its own position and evolve a map for the journey. The self can be the individual, organisational or community self. The map has four quadrants, directions, as in any other geographical maps. N stands for true north. The quadrants on the left are internal to the self and the right, external to the self.

At some stage in the process, the self positions itself for improvement and takes the invariant position, anchored at the centre. P is the present position, variant in time and F, the direction for the journey. Between the three, the common ground for all metrics is defined which can be made specific to each context, practitioner and domain. This is the solution space, the gap between potential and performance, the blue ocean space for the onward journey.

Quadrant NW is a map of the ideal, the deep structure, the conceptual, pure potential, design and the world of ideas .The order, hierarchy, complexity and potential increase with each level. The alignment and interdependence need to be recognised to understand the performance issues in the external world mapped in the bottom right Quadrant, SE. The four quadrants are analogous to the four wheels of a car, a learning engine, which continues to improve its past performance as it moves to true north. The eye at the centre represents the self, the observer and the driver of the car. The wheels must be aligned for the car to move on

There exists a conflict, misalignment, between quadrants NW and SE, ideal and the operational. The same goes for quadrants SW and NE, between internal self and the external social system. It is for us to create the alignment so that the car moves on. The first step is to see the interconnections and see the whole as one in process, evolving, in emergence from completeness to more of completeness. What makes the human unique as a class of systems is the potential to improve. There is ‘no’ gap between potential and performance up to the level of animals (see quadrant SW)

The gap begins after the level of animals. The gap can also be seen as the waste in the system, the unrealised potential, the root cause for problems. In terms of potential vs. performance, the human is sub animal. Corresponding to the total potential/performance gap, there exist a gap in every one of us which forms the personal sphere for improvement which would lead to the question, what are my potential and my performance?

Quadrant NW is the ideal, perfect, conceptual, pure potential in perfect alignment at all levels, from the maps to Meta systems.  Quadrant SE is the physical world of measurement, performance and mirrors NW, till the level of animals. The knowledge gap is the major reason for the gap. There will always be a gap but it is feasible to narrow the gap and bring about sustained and continual improvements.

Quadrant SW is internal to the self and NE represents the external social system. While learning is a pre-requisite to improvement, history and habits encourage conformity. This is both a challenge and an opportunity. Self could be the individual, team, organisational or community self. Complexity increases with levels, potential too.

The map facilitates positioning, fixing the direction for the journey and measurement of progress.  It is possible to visualise the nature of the journey as an ongoing process of continual improvement and renewal. The problem/solution boundaries help reduce the search effort, accelerate learning and reduce the risks of futile search. A map is a pre-requisite to any journey. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Confucius. To take that first step we need to know where our position is and the direction in which to take that step, to be on course.

The ideal of an integral and problem focused metrological pluralism suggests that we reflect on the way we use developmental metrics, in order to make principled decisions about which types of metrics are appropriate for which purposes. In order to do this we need to build validity and reliability profiles for existing metrics and begin to dialogue about the implications of what we have to work with. This rigorous reflection on metrics should be supplemented with reflections on the problem-spaces we face. What are we trying to do with the metrics we have? For example, it is likely that clinicians and coaches need different metrics than researchers, while educators require measures that differ from those used by organizational consultants. 2.  It is precisely this logic that has brought us to the current stalemate. All measures need to converge on the common ground of taking us closer towards true north rather than lead to greater chaos.

Using the map: A Simulation

Teaching is dead. Long live the Teachers – A Journey to the Centre for Accelerated Learning and Competency Development.

GS is driving.  Sree and Dinesh are new to the dialogues. JM and Sree are in the back. The mood is one of excitement. We feel as if we are going back to school. All of us had some experience in the past as regular teachers. Sree has recently taken up a teaching assignment in one of the B- Schools in Bangalore.  We are to meet forty Professors in one of the best seats of learning in the south. The University has around 14,000 students including a significant number of foreign students and 800 teachers on the faculty. We are to facilitate a dialogue on Accelerated Learning and Competency Development (ALCD), for eight hours.

Who said what is not very relevant. What is important is that the dialogue continues.

Welcome on board, Sree and Dinesh. First things first, the journey of 440 KMs starts with a single step

Confucius was wrong. There is something which is even more basic to the first step.

What is that?

Where are we now? Without knowing our position, we will not know where to point our first step to.

We are in Bangalore and we will be in Hosur soon and in another three hours we will be in Vellore, one of the earliest seats of learning, in the history of new India

What are you hinting at?

What is our position, I am talking about the invariant one? Are we teachers or students?

Students, yes, Teachers, not.  All of us gave up our teacher’s hats long long ago. We take the common position that we are facilitators, not teachers. This is what brings us together. Senge is right, we are our positions. The paradigm has already shifted. Teaching is dead, only learning matters.

But for your teachers you wouldn’t be here now. True. I hated most of my teachers and never wanted to be one.

But that is what you have become. Resistance creates resistance. You have become what you have hated most.

Yes, in a way. I was teaching for three years and I was burnt out. I walked away from the job.

That was because it was a job for you. What made the turnaround?

The bad teachers taught me the most, how not to teach and the best teachers did the least teaching. These were the ones who brought us to what we are doing now, accelerating learning and competency development. They facilitated. They did not teach

So teaching is not dead. Long live the teachers.

Hold on, there is a call from the University.

They are waiting for us. We are running late, stuck in the traffic. A garbage truck has had an accident, a multiple collision. The average effective speed of traffic on the road to Hosur is around 15 Kms, sans accidents like this.

GIGO, Garbage in Garbage out. In my hometown, the municipal tractors are on the road even at ten in the morning reducing the speed of traffic to the speed of the tractors.  Nobody seems to be bothered because things haven’t improved much in the last forty years of my flitting in between. The garbage inside is more serious than the garbage outside. The garbage is a toxic asset, we too need a toxic assets rehabilitation programme, TARP.

It could be a TRAP. You touch toxic assets and you too would turn toxic.

We will develop technology to handle it without getting toxic. If that is the case doctors would fall sick more than the patients.

Who says doctors are healthier than the general population?  There have been studies.

This is an occupational hazard. Once should know how to take care of themselves.

Hold tight, not to your hand rests but to your own positions. There will not be any risk. Risk is when we are not sure footed in our invariant position. Doctors fall sick when they shift from their invariant position, that of healers.  Catalysts are not burnt out in the process.

We will be late; the morale scale shows a low.

6.00 PM, we see the grand entrance and pass through the gates of learning.

A very lively campus, boys and girls crowding around the food courts …float over the magic carpets …walkways. There is an incredible feeling of lightness all around. We recollect the child in us.

The morale scale is up. We are transported back to our student days and memories of all the campuses we have been through, some of the best in the world. This too is a beautiful one, one of the very best. We are in awe of the grand vision reflected all around the campus.

The CAL team is waiting, patiently.   We have a wonderful dialogue. They have a great team and some veterans in the same domain. The morale scale registers VH, very high.  We present our game plan, agree and move on to the guest house, refresh our selves, impatient to move around and get a feel of the campus.

JM has a call from Shillong from Das whom he had met there during his last workshop on ALCD. Das wants him to meet his daughter, Madhu, a student here.  He lights up at the possibility of some market research, first hand. He promises to meet her after the workshop, the next day evening.

The dialogue continues late into the night.

9.00 AM.  The game is on

There is only one rule for the game. You are the prophet, I am not the one, and we are not the ones and perhaps the other way too.

Dialogue is possible between adults, in humility with the highest respect for the other. It implies that you respect your own self too.

We are 49 in all, professors, CAL facilitators and the four of us

GS presents the game plan. JM presents the framework. We do a simple metrics of where we are.  Activities and the process begin. Time shifts to timelessness. It is 4.30, time for the post metrics. The game is up at 5.00 PM. A good number of them would be interested in further dialogues. We sit together with the CAL team for stock taking.

We certainly learnt quite a lot and decide to meet again. The morale scale goes beyond VH

Madhu calls. She is coming over. JM has a long walk with her. His intuitions are validated. This indeed is the seat of learning in the south. He returns to the guest house.

The four of us take stock once again. We look at the times when we slipped from our invariant positions, a few, and retire for the night, pleased at a good day’s work.

Sreepuram is 6 Kms from Vellore. The temple is a very large magnificent structure, built at a cost of over Rs. 400 crores, a physical representation of the self on the ground, in the shape of a Sri Chakra. Sri Chakra and the Star of David are very similar. Sri is prosperity, goddess Lakshmi. There is a wait of three hours for the free darshan. We take the short cut option paying Rs 100 which still takes an hour. The sanctum sanctorum and the structure at the centre of a pond are plated in gold.   We attempt to connect our SELF to the structure and our own centres to the physical representation of it, the lotus flower on which the female principle of Lakshmi dwells. The soft music is pushed away by the silence at the centre. We return, more silent than when we went in

We drive back to Bangalore. The silence gives way. The dialogue picks up

So who is the driver of the car?  What drives us?

Are you referring to our car or the learning engine?

Even the car is not driven by GS because the CAL team were driving us to Vellore and now Giri is driven by his family because he steps on the accelerator to reach home by his regular dinner time with his kids before they go to bed.

If the car were a learning engine, which is defined as a system which continually improve on its past performance, I would say that the living matrix or the Meta framework is driving it

Why are you stuck up with frames and framework?

A movie is a designed collection of frames to evoke a deeply moving experience. This can work only if the design connects with embedded frames in the mind of the viewer.  The success of the movie will depend on how many are touched and to what depth they are touched. When one encounters a new situation, or makes a substantial change in one’s view of the present problem, one selects from memory a structure called a Frame. This is a remembered framework to be adapted to fit reality by changing details as necessary. (A Framework for Representing Knowledge, Marvin Minsky, MIT-AI Laboratory, 1974). He adds A Frame is a collection of questions to be asked about a hypothetical situation; it specifies issues to be raised and methods to be used in dealing with them.

The FD framework is an attempt to reach the common ground of such remembered frameworks.  That would accelerate learning and competency development so that we could achieve in three days much more than what may or not happen in the best MBA program in two years. Remember, some of us went through more than one.

Minsky further clarifies the distinction between the magician and the audience. For there exists a great chasm between those, on the one side, who relate everything to a single central vision, one system more or less coherent or articulate, in terms of which they understand, think and feel–a single, universal, organizing principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance–and, on the other side, those who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory, connected, if at all, only in some de facto way, for some psychological or physiological cause, related by no moral or aesthetic principle.”–Isaiah Berlin {the Hedgehog and the Fox}

The difference between the magician and the audience is in their positions. The positions lead to a point of view.

Minsky goes on.

Questions arise from a point of view–from something that helps to structure what is problematical, what is worth asking, and what constitutes an answer (or progress). It is not that the view determines reality, only what we accept from reality and how we structure it. I am realist enough to believe that in the long run reality gets its own chance to accept or reject our various views. –A. Newell {Artificial Intelligence and the Concept of Mind}

What we are attempting through the framework is a Meta theory of problem solving to show the problem space which reduces the extent of the search effort and accelerate the pace of real learning.

The matrix, meta-framework points to the blue ocean space. Every achiever, manager, leader seek to grab a slice of this space.

Are you suggesting that the teaching paradigm has shifted to the learning paradigm?

It is just semantics. Chris says, the Welsh have only one word for teaching and learning, Hwyl!

Let us not forget Kuhn. Major changes result from new “paradigms,” new ways of describing things that lead to new methods and techniques. Eventually there is a redefining of “normal.”

We are in Bangalore. We have completed the circle. We are entering the dragon, back to the well.

We are not coming back to the same well. It is a different well. The ends will not meet since we are on a path of progress. It is not a recurrence to call it a circle.

Dinesh and JM get down, heading to the bar. GS and Sree head homeward. Both will make it to their dinner in time.

Designer Lives (3)

Perfection and Psychodynamics

After Xmas and New Year we wait for the next feast /festival, Easter?

We need to celebrate them on the same day, reinventing time. Every moment, day, is a birth, death and resurrection.  Celebrating the new decade makes better sense. We would like to wish you a new decade of real progress and sustained continuous improvement. Given the pace at which we improve, a decade makes a better time horizon to put all the improvements and disappointments in perspective.  When we make the shift to REAL from linear time, time does not run out, it stretches out.

You have always been a champion of laziness and you have invented another jugglery to substantiate it.  So wish you a still slower decade to laze around. Hope you cross the decade setting a new record of doing NO thing and continue to haunt us.

I am not lazy. I work very hard to remain a contrarian. I work very hard to improve my Jowar count and am very pleased with my progress, improvements.

Jowar?

It is a specially designed exercise for seniors, a combination of jogging, walking and running. I hope to join the veteran’s Olympics, post 2020. I also work very hard not to make any money, not to leave any foot prints including the carbon one, to consume less and stretch myself at the physical, mental and the spiritual planes.  I fight very hard not to go in for a new car. I give more than what I take; live more with less and make sure that my output is always more than the inputs.  I work on the fusion mode. I had to work very hard to make that shift from the fission mode. There is always a tendency to slip back and I have always to be on guard.

Let us continue from where we digressed. It is time to look at the other two wheels, quadrants.

You always talk in pairs, at least two balls at a time.

That is true of everything. A photon is a particle and wave. Black makes no sense without white. So here is the counter pair to Potential and Performance. We have Perfection and Psychodynamics to juggle with.

Psycho – dynamics, why the jargon after using the language of the shop floor so far?

Just to impress you!

We started with the assumption that if it takes an Einstein to understand reality, we don’t want any part of that. We have been accused of being too thin, un-academic, unsubtle etc. etc.  Google it, if you want a definition.  We don’t attempt definitions and we don’t have any institutional memory other than our personal ones. I have freed my memory banks of all data available by a simple search so that there is no clutter within.  In the post Google age, forty hours or even less of learning is all it takes to pick up the essentials to be really successful in life. We have been testing the hypothesis for two decades now.

How do you define success?

We don’t know.

I wish I hear this more often.

Each one will have to do that according to his/her standards. For us, if you haven’t got into accidents of any kind, on the road or off the road (relationships), not been ill but improving in heath, making as much money as you have decided to make, your family and friends are also doing equally well, we would say that one is successful.

What about perfection?

Perfection is embedded in us but we don’t want to accept it. Most businesses would go out of business if we accept it including the business of education. Guardians of knowledge, custodians of the keys, the gate keepers would not relish it.  Take a look at the list of gate keepers (the four classes of programmers) in the top right quadrant.

You would be thrown out at the gates itself!

There is this alignment problem between the two wheels of the learning engine. Paying attention to this will be worth the effort. This defines the learning requirements for the journey. Once we recognise the issue, the system, over time, will move towards a dynamic steady state.  It is good to be confused   because ultimately there will be a resolution. We will not have butter without churning the cream. It is said ask and ye shall be given.

Make it clearer. I have a low tolerance for ambiguity.

There is the ideal and our understanding of the ideal, perfection and our understanding of perfection. It is like god created us in his image and we recreate him in our image. Our image is that of the God who art in heaven, a master slave relationship which forms the master template for all our relationships. No dialogue is possible from these positions.  The adult will never be born.

Should we bring in god here?

If for most people god stands for the ideal, perfection, quality, love, order, life, negentropy why not bring in God? I am yet to come across a non-believer. The atheist too is a believer since he believes that there is no god. I am yet to find an Indian who does not believe in his astrologer! For him his astrologer is god. The astrologer works on the premise that there is order and predictability not only in the case of clockwork systems, but similar order and predictability exists in the case of higher level systems too and in the very long run perfection will prevail.

In the short run all of us will be dead!

If god stands for life and we stand for death, this pair certainly needs our attention.

More juggling?

Not yet, we are getting ready for the real juggling.

What do you mean by lighthouses?

Newton (1643- 1727) continues to be our lighthouse since we are, collectively,  yet to move from the clockwork paradigm. Einstein (1879-1955) ought to have stood on Darwin’s (1809- 1955) shoulders.

But the lighthouse industry is extinct. R L Stevenson (1850 – 1894, Jekyll & Hyde) foresaw the demise of the industry and left his tradition in time. His   fiction was brought under the lens by Jung  (1875- 1961). The artist always SEEs ahead of the scientist.

We don’t need lighthouses anymore. The new technologies mimic the metaframework of nature, much better.  The second coming is that of the common Buddha, who will SEE directly without intermediation by the gate keepers.  Visual literacy, not language, helps us SEE together as a community.

The basic divide is between clocks and living systems, chaos and order, Life and death, default and design?

The map shows that there is no divide but we still believe that there is a divide or unity still remains beyond our collective experience.  Reality is what we belive to be true. We are co-creators of death, not life. We see inheritance in place of emergence because of the positrons we take. To co-create life we need to shift our positions for good.

There is more Ps, to be explained.

Problems. From our position, they are opportunities; the more complex they are, the more challenging. It is fun.

Prophets. Take the vision bury the dead.

Peters.  The guardians of lighthouses sans the vision of the prophets drive us away from climbing up the lighthouses to take a peek. That too is in the fitness of things.

Programmers.  We come preloaded with a programme to fail. The winner stakes all which includes all the past programming.

Parrots.   A copy can never be better than the original but copies do come in handy. Why reinvent the wheel?

Power. There is power which makes one free and also power that leads to the making of slaves.  The path to spirituality is through the thick forest of sex. Most get lost here. Narcissus to Pygmalion and Galatea set  the direction of the path and we are yet to go beyond Narcissus. Sex drives the economy and the markets.  Sex and power come packaged in the same container.

What about the bird and the semi dark circle in the bottom left quadrant?

This is what happens when we learn. There is a bolt of lightning that connects the small with the big, local with the global, micro with the macro, like the proverbial apple that fell on Newton, sparking the connect with that very local event with the grand design of the physical world.

What about the Red book?

The book is a pointer to the solution not the solution itself.

Why so?

All the reason, logic and analysis which have given us the technology/ Google, will not help us, if we are primarily driven by the unconscious.  The unconscious will drag us down and we will never achieve take off velocity.  Myths, fantasy, fiction, and hyper reality will rule us rather than reality.  Artificial intelligence will continue to be more fashionable than intelligence and intuition. Magicians and pipers will continue to fool us with substitutes in place of real magic and real miracles. We need to bring back magic and miracles to our daily routine.

Real magic and miracles!

A miracle is something which is unexplainable by the known laws of nature. When we admit that there will always be unknowables but they are not our enemies, the complete system will be working with us.  When the entire nature is working for us the true potential is unlocked. There is nothing hiding in the dark to pounce on us. This is freedom from the unknown. The drag is killed.  There is nothing super-natural when we understand the nature of nature. We need better keys to align with the unknown and that is how we got into designing dreams.

Can we really design dreams?

Yes, if we can get rid of all the accumulated garbage. Look up Shalini here. She has been doing it for the last two years. She had very little garbage to get rid of.

When we align our SELVES / SELF, with the unconscious, we have the best ally and we are no more driven by the unknown which is a huge step to mastery of the self.  We are not driven but we are on the hot seat in charge of driving the learning engine.  We become the magicians, moving to the centrestage from the spectators. We are responsible to ourselves and the journey is about continual learning and improvement.We are here to learn.

There is two more Ps

Peace. If we find it within we will find it outside us too

Process.  Nature is in process. We too are. Let the process go on… There are no full stops, a destination, the journey continues. The direction is fixed, the true north .

Go with the process?

Which process are you talking about, process of inheritance or emergence?

We need to see both together and the outcome , net improvements, progress ( one more P) towards true north.

It is much more complex than a Rubik’s Cube.

It is. But, there is a solution and always a still better one. and then the perfect one .We are on the path to perfection.We may never reach the perfect solution.

Are we through with the wheels? What about the engine and the driver?

We are through with the rough design. We will need to get into the detailed design of the engine and the driver.  That is for another time.

We have covered the generics, not the specifics which are personal and situational.It takes some time to become comfortable with the rough design.

P.S. To our Wordsmith. If the word is your sword what is your battle?

Between the Haiti earthquake and the day of the max eclipse, it is a journey of > 1000 years to the next one of a similar kind. See you there ?   ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 🙂

Sustained High Performance By Design

Designer Lives (2)

Potential and Performance

The dog is in attendance and we continue.

“The world is chaotic, disorganized and vexing. Medicine is no exception “says one of my dialogue partners and friend, the surgeon. He advises government on health policy issues in addition to his hectic and often punishing routine.  The only issue on which we come together is our morning routine and on all the rest we take the polar opposite positions.

This is why inner ecology is important. If we don’t find order in our own self, what we see in the world outside is chaos, disorder and when you advise the world, you could be contributing to more of the  chaos and disorder. The intentions are always good but the effect is disastrous.

Since you come at the end of the assembly line in the health system where surgery is the only option, most of what you see influences your world view.

That is ridiculous.

The more you see the conflicts, violence, absence of harmony outside, you are more likely to be caught up in it. You become what you pay attention to and come to believe that this is the nature of reality. The opposite also is true, the more you look for order and organization, one becomes more ordered in one’s own SELF. You will then be contributing more to order than chaos. The choice is yours. What you see depends on where you stand, your position.

What are you driving at, change my career/ position at this stage?

I am not suggesting anything.  I say that this should not be your invariant position which would emerge from a larger perspective of the true potential, a better understanding of the design, so that when the system goes out of order, one can restore order without resorting to extreme measures. These extreme measures are contingent on taking such a position and nothing but belated inferior solutions.

When our car or the net book does not perform, we go back to the design to put it right. Our system doesn’t come with a User Manual which helps us diagnose and bring back the system to order.  Without understanding the design we cannot decide whether the system is true to the design. Most of our expectations are based on ill- informed assumptions about the design and we pay a heavy price for it.

To repeat, our most well meaning intentions create the most disastrous results.

You are getting ready for more jugglery.

Simplicity is a noble goal but it should not be at the cost of truth. What I suggest is that we go up together and get the lunar perspective. Perhaps we might come to share the dog’s perspective.

Shoot.

We will first take a look at the potential quadrant, the left front wheel of the learning engine. Though when we drive the four wheels move together the car is  now at rest and we are looking at each of the wheel assemblies in isolation. In juggling all the balls should be in the air but we are just studying the ball which is  at rest. The eye at ground zero stands for the compass perspective.  The compass is hidden here. To use the compass one has to climb up the 10 storey lighthouse.  Or we assume that within the potential ball there are 9 more balls and we start from the small to the large. If we  miss any one ball or storey, potential is zilch.  These are the 10 heads of the Asura King, Ravana in the epic journey of Rama, the Ramayana. (In spite of the ten heads Ravana fails and in spite of defeating Ravana, Rama fails to win the heart of Sita. Men better take a cue from the feminists. The other epic Mahabharata is all about our inabilithy to SEE in which the leader is blind, both in terms of light and the light that enlightens the blind)

Start climbing?  We step in to the ground level.

1. The compass is buried in the foundation of the lighthouse.

2. The ground level is the repository of all existing maps, results from all previous climbs what other climbers have left for us which might make the climb a lot easier.

A map could be on almost anything, not just a map of the terrain. It could be  a story  a myth, music, dance, art, science, technology, religion, from any discipline or aspect of knowledge. The periodic table is a good example.

These maps might as well create a bias. We will look at them on our way back.  Let us move up the stairs to the next level.

3. We come to the world of simple machines. Clocks, compasses, guns. All of those machines which have no ‘mind’ of their own. The bullet does not come back to the gun nor does the clock change its pace to suit our whims.or haste.They dont do any regulation on their own. They are on the path of entropy.

4. We have all the advanced machines with a ‘machine mind’ here.  The compressor in the fridge works only till the desired temperature is reached.

5. The world of the unicellular. A cell in our body, a diatom, an amoeba, bacteria, virus. No machines come anywhere near in terms of its degree of self regulation.

6. All the plants

7. The animal

8. The human, individual.The cell is to the body what the individual is to the organisation.

9. Groups, organisations, communities, community

10. Perfect knowledge

We are on top. We SEE from horizon to horizon, the past and the future. The view is complete. We stand on a 10 layered sandwich. No single layer stands on its own. If any step of the ladder is amiss we don’t reach the top. All the levels are indispensable for the emergence of true potential which is infinite. No limits here, in time or in space.

This is why we need all the ten heads / avatars to realise the fully human, the ideal, perfect, conceptual human.  Here everything is perfect, heaven.

We climb down. We check our new map with the old maps. All of them are correct in some ways but not complete as the one which is fresh in our memory. We start checking our new map against the physical world (hell?) represented by the rear right wheel of the learning engine.

We are in for the surprise of our life! NONE OF US HAVE  EVOLVED BEYOND THE LEVEL OF THE CLOCK ! and we claim outselves to be civilized and cultured ! We need to revisit Newton, Einstein and Darwin at the same time. Have a webcon !

All the levels match one to one in terms of their potential and performance till the level of the animal. The gap begins at the level of the human. It widens as we move up the level of groups, organisations, communities and community. The waste, unrealised potential becomes visible. We SEE and we can SHOW. This is the first step to the first step of the journey of the learning engine, the shift in direction to TRUE NORTH.  Before we take the first step in that journey of a 1000 x miles we need to make certain that we place that step in the right direction.

The design and delivery do not match. The system is not in order. There is no alignment between the two wheels. ( forget the other two for now) We could run the diagnostics to set right the alignment between the two wheels at various levels. .

When we set right the alignment, all the four wheels need to be corrected at the same time, because any small change in any one affects all.  To do that we need to understand the design of the other two wheels also.

What about the metrics?

The process involved in  metrics comes first. It is about reflecting over performance with the design in mind and that the system is designed to continually improving on its previous best performance, in terms of quantity, quality and time. All metrics are approximations and is not an exact science. The actual indicators, criteria of performance, could be quite simple which shows us the progress to true north and reduction in   WASTE. We will come back to the issue of metrics after an overview of all the sub- assemblies.

It is becoming dense. Let us take a break.

You claim to be a virtual Perma – Culturist?

My father was the original. He believed that doing nothing is Doing Everything. It took me a lifetime to understand what he stood for. By the time all the land was gone and I could  only be a virtual Perma ‘culturist’ !

Perma culture is about understanding the design of nature and allowing the design to express itself, not to stand in the way of nature. The templates of nature are perfect and beyond improvement. Our best efforts to improve them most often fail. We need to live with them.

Learning has no cost. It always fetches the best ROI. The metrics need to take  into account the future savings of costs associated with not learning.(eg: savings from avoiding a cardiac arrest)

We need to start with culture before we get into Perma – Culture.

What is common to the Amazon forest dweller and the Wall Street investment banker is the basic template? One stakes his claim to be civilized and from  the first world while . the other does not make any such claims. One is blissfully unaware of the design whereas the other claims to have all the keys to unlock the potential.  We need to strike the miiddle path between the two.

When Vasco Da Gama reached Malabar, he was shocked to find the women going topless. Now when the tourists come to the very same beaches and bare themselves,  they are ogled at. The wheel has come back full circle in just around five centurires!It is not even two centuries since we abolished slave labour. We abolished it when we found better ways to achieve the very same purpose ‘in style’. Same goes for dictatorships.

Why does the emperor shout that he is the emperor?

The emperror is not certain that he is the real one !

You have a Freudian fixation with the Ps

My professor (Ramaswamy) was much better at it. He would juggle with 100s of Ps and make them dance in the air while my professor of maketing was juggling with just 4 Ps. I am told that he has gone up to 7 now. I am just using around 40 Ps, the very minimum to show you what I want you to see. This is a minor fixation, synchronicity at work.

Why do you always take recourse to myths?.

Beware of  myths because they will survive all the mass wipe outs. It is better to understand them so that we go beyond them. The myth is the key to our unconscious, the silent sub-surface driver of the engine, a source of mis-alignment. We will get to this much later.

Where do we go on from here?

We take a look at the other two wheels, the engine and the driver of the learning engine.

It is getting complex.

Complexity is the best challenge to stretch your self. It is a headache but I peddle a ‘one minute cure’ for headache. Complexity feeds me.

Continued

Designer Lives ! Greening Our Selves

I did a search on Google India when I started this post and abandoned it when I saw

Designer lifestyle – 26,400.000

Designer life coaching – 14.400,000

Designer Sarees – 8,69,000

Designer Sarees pic – 22,80,000

I also spent some time finding a coach to air  these ideas. I was not successful because I had modelled my theory on my understanding of two of my role models who could be life coaches. One was over 100 years when he died (he ran out ot work) and the other is 113 years and still going strong. So all that search amounted to nothing?

Not really because now I know that Indians are slightly more interested in  design than designer sarees and designer jewllery. The last time they were looking for somebody to head the national centre for design they approached one of my neighbours who dabble in jewellery design

I turned my attention to the Times of India and the interview with Malcolm Gladwell. He says we are information rich and theory poor.  If the dogs can ‘see’, what they ‘see’ will be worth a look.

My search had to be abandoned because most theories, in the long run have not  even helped the proponents other than getting some flea span of attention.

Many gods die very young! At my age, I cannot afford to be taken for many more rides.

Why don’t you stop theorising and get to the issue? Do you have a set of principles? Where do we begin?

Get ready for some mental jugglery.

  1. We need to make a SHIFT
  2. We need to approach Potential ,Performance, the WHY and How  of  the potential performance gap, simultaneously
  3. We need to take an informed position and be our SELF
  4. We need some simple metrics to be certain that we are on the PATH

Well that is juggling with too many balls at the same time?

It is now established that juggling improves your intelligence. More the balls, bettter it is. Most of us can manage just one or two at the same time.

Moreover, we have the four wheels, the engine (self) and the driver in place to begin the journey.

Wow. It is a DIY Manual !

Yes, it is.

It is another day.

Which dog are you talking about?  There are 162 dogs, the slum dog type, in our gated community and another 36 luckier (?) ones  owned by dog lovers who have taken permission from the management committee of the community headed by an animal rights activist.The dialogue happens after our morning walk. There is this one dog which seeks us out and joins our company  on a regular basis.

Of the 162 dogs why is it that this one finds it worthwhile to join us?

It knows that you are a recruitment manager who knows the difference between dog-ness and human-ness! It sniffs the difference between the rest of us and the one who knows what it is to be human!

Wow. That’s an idea. Dogs could be used in recruitment. It would be more effective than most of our metrics. Perhaps I could patent the idea and leave my job to the dogs!

Well it is coming to that very soon. There are agencies that teach us to mimic animals or the rest of nature as if they hold the key to human-ness?

Why mimic?

  • Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
  • It is such a headache to think, know, understand

But mimicry is a kind of pathetic humour that comes out of help – less – ness. When we don’t have the original we make do with copies.

When we hear the next guru talking of inner ecology, take it that the inner desertification (or interior decoration?) is complete!

What does this dog, the other dogs and the pet dogs see?

Well dogs, as a community, seem to believe in the steady state theory since at the last count too we had around 160 dogs. They know what dog-ness is all about.With every one out of three of us likely to get cancer, one in ten to get  a heart attack and with all the other odds taken together shows that dogs are healthier than humans. We live a dog’s life !

Somebody  I knew was chased by a pack of dogs on a beach. He had no option but to get into the water. The dogs stood howling on the shore and were chased away by his friends. He lived for another six months and took the exit route on his own.The dogs knew, it seems.

Well what does this ‘special dog’ in the visual see?

This dog sees the two paths. It sees that most of what we see as progress is a fall and together we are heading in the wrong direction. It also sees the path that we should take, the path of human-ness, continuous improvement, real progress.

It would probably not join us  if we start imitating the other 161 dogs!

This dog knows. Most facts are stranger than fiction.

The Pipers of Hamlin, Wall street.

We are back at it again with the special dog in company.

The master said, be the child. Where on earth are the children? They have vanished with the Pipers from Wall Street!

The children are so ‘well informed’ these days that I feel myself an ignoramus. They know what is in and what is out and I am certainly out by those standards.

How do you take an ‘informed position’ and be my SELF?  How can I be my SELF when there is such a well- intentioned, charity driven,  messianic attack on our collective SELF, the most threatened and endangered entity in our current context.

I am not complete in my SELF without a fan following (my twitter count of followers is zilch) or following somebody in sincere flattery.

Is there a gold standard certification in these things? I see that every guru of the day, self – certifies his /her claims ! Most of them are younger than me, never been married, never raised any children.Another set of pipers ?

I am afraid I would prefer not to follow anybody and drive away potential disciplies who would rob me of my silence.

Well in that case you can not be a GURU.

How long will gold be the standard?  When everything else is of no value can gold have any value? If everybody does a Gandhi or Thoreau what happens to the economy?

You have’nt cotributed much to the economy. You are taking more than what you give to it. You have not been ill for a long long time which means you are contributing to the recession. You dont use any cosmetics. How will the economy recover ?

Are we getting to the age of The Descent of Money ?

The ‘piped music’ is so enchanting that i don’t want to unplug and listen to my SELF which is under attack from all the four directions, from the bottom and the top. 24x7x 720. Perhaps what we consider music is noise which has silenced the silence, the real music from a dog’s perspective.

We wonder where all the children have disappeared. They have lost their innocence and with it the wise men too have vanished.  The Pipers have been doing a very good.

Look at all the exercise freaks. They are all plugged in, connected, wired to their i-pods, i-phones, i-touch, i-book, i-spouses. It is a connected world ! There is very little else to be connected and be taken over by the machines. Sci-fi has become the reality.

In spite of all the stretching many of my one time friends vanished in their forties.

The problem can be abstracted as:  i > I  or self> SELF

We cannot solve the puzzle without a decision compass which would help us to find the directions and fix our position.  The four directions are the four P balls that we juggle around – Potential, Performance/metrics, Perfection and Psychodynamics (Continual renewal/ Continual Learning/ Continuous Improvement, Kaizen,  whatever you choose to call this wheel of the car / the learning engine)

What is a learning engine?

A learning engines improves on its pervious performance. II feeds itself on waste. If is a fusion engine. There is no cost for learning. The ROI is always positive.

I hope you will stop with the four balls!

I was about to pull out more smaller balls from each of the four big balls

That is enough for the day. Time for a break.

(B…s to you. I could almost hear it)

The next day:

What is the gap between self and SELF?

This is the space between the two paths, what we call the blue ocean space, the solution space or the problem space depending on which position one takes. This represents the unrealised potential, the gap between best of individual realisation of potential to the  best of the collective potential of the human.

KISS !

Example: PCD lived for > 100 years while the life expectancy for males in this context was 72, the normality of the time. The potential / performance gap is 28 years if we just take this one dimension. To make it simple we adon’t take into account the quality of life of the masses against the quality of life that PCD enjoyed or any of his other achievements.

If we consider the case of SRC, 113, who is still working and hopes to work for more years, we get an idea of what potential is and where the masses are! We cannot really fix an upper limit to potential but we can chart out the broad contours of the direction of the path.

I get a rough idea of the direction that we are talking about.

As we move forward we will be able to see what is beyond the next bend on the road.

The visual also suggests that a good part of our behaviour is sub-animal!

This is our shadow side, the porn that greases the web engine, the medicines, drugs, cosmetics, the years wasted in asylums, prisons, lives lost in conflicts, suicides, terrorism, so on and so forth. Unrealised potential is  the root cause of all our problems.

When we say be myself, what we mean is be my true SELF as distinct from what we have come to believe as dictated by the noise around us.

WHY this gap exists and HOW to bridge it or narrow it  are the other two balls.

It is in relation to these four directions that one can fix the position  just as a compass or GPS would deliver what they are designed to.

There are two kinds of positions as in the case of the lighthouse and the sailing vessel, the invariant and the variant.  The ship has to change course in relation to the lighthouse.

Be more specific?

As a surgeon I take the position that I am a professional which means I have a set of competencies which I practice in a specific domain which I continue to perfect over a life-time.  I am also bound by a code of behaviour which expects me to hold my client’s well-being as my overriding principle which provides the context in which my performance becomes measurable. The standards are the most challenging. In case of non-delivery, the surgeon will not be able to go scot-free as the Pipers of Hamlin, Wall Street.

I hope you see the invariant postion and the variant postions in the journey of the professional. The invariant is, come what may, even at the cost of my life,I would remain a professional. it is a do or die postion. The variant is as I move ahead on the journey I continue to improve my competencise and scale higher and higher levels of perfection.

It is time we pull out the balls within balls. The journey from our animal self (i)  to the human (I) begins here.

You are a pain. Enough for the day

I believe in the PIA theory of motivation.

Good day, JM

My Inglish style sheet says, “break the container and get the content”.   What Sanskrit is to Prakrit, Inglish is to English.

Hope you too see what the dog sees or ‘god’ sees the big picture. The headwind is strong. It is better for a take off than sailing.

Continued

Man meets Woman

Man meets woman, Adam and Eve

Since their parting outside the gates of paradise

They had lost their selves

At the beginning of time or even before

Together they saw the road they came

That they thought was the wrong one

Or was it the right one?

Why did he tell us not to eat from the tree of knowledge?

Now we know

He wanted us to eat from the tree, crafty old fox that he was

And continues no less to be

Now that the lesson is learnt the wrong one has become the right path

The pain gives way to a silent growing pleasure

Together they went back in time over the ages

Seeing how they were reduced to their shadows

Empty cages from which the parrots had escaped , long long ago

Now the parrot has come back to its nest

No more the cage that it thought it was

No more the parrots that they thought they were

But eagles waiting for the thermals

To take them up into the new sky over the blue oceans

The world will never be the same again.