Community Intelligence

Are we intelligent,  as a species?

Yes and no.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what makes us human?

The community learning engine

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

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

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

Context – global or local but glocal-ness is recognised

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

Vision – renewed continually and aligned for sustained high performance

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

Storytelling – Walking out of our shadows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MetricsThe Community Consciousness Quotient

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

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

Advertisements

The Path

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

Where are you?

Nishtha asks, “JM, Where are you?  “

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

In Sanskrit, Nishtha means,

Assiduity, great and constant diligence and attention,

Firmness

Steadiness

Firm devotion

Application

Position

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

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

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

We are on  course, we believe.

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

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

The journey continues with nishtha – Discipline

The Path

The Path

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

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

Why all the Ps ?

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

Position, Align and Leverage

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

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

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

The home position

Home

What is your home position? 6y4 ii3q qn320w3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slumdog Billions and Leap Frogging the Recession


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

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

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

The Oscars.

The curious case of Benjamin Button and the Slumdog Millionaire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.