Built to Last

Built to Last

Why FD?

  • We have too many disciplines and it has become impossible to navigate through the semantic swamp created by these disciplines
  • Learning begins at birth, may be even earlier and lasts till death, LLL, or we die when we stop learning. Learning is the core, the first, and other disciplines can only be secondary
  • Self is integral to learning and the discipline covers self-learning as individuals to organizational and community learning. The concept of self / identity at these levels and approaches to learn as groups, organizations and community are critical to our common future.
  • The only real competitive advantage is to learn faster than the competition
  • The very survival of the species depends on whether we learn as a single community as well as diverse specific local communities without compromising identity and interdependence of each other.
  • FD is an umbrella term to bring together the concepts, tools and methodologies relevant to this context

What is the learning outcome of FD?

Development / Sustained high performance. Development is the process by which we realize our personal and collective potential conserving and enhancing our commons to produce sustainable and justly distributed improvements in our quality of life consistent with our own aspirations.

It sounds a lot like David C Korten.

Yes, almost, except that we are not external to the process.  We also learnt it from experience while working with artisanal fishermen for over two decades.

Why did you go to two B-Schools?

I went to those two schools as a student to learn whether they mean business or not. Now we frequent B-Schools as part of our work. We believe that it is business that makes or mars development.

What was the best learning from the B- Schools?

That they don’t mean business or they only mean business depending on how you define the term. But this was the best learning, which took us to the new curriculum

You also worked closely with governments for over three decades. Did you learn something?

Yes, primarily how not to manage. That governance will always be done by businesses directly or indirectly.

What is the process of your learning?

We offer a nano MBA on one to one basis. We also offer 3-5 days’ short duration organizational workshops and seminars designed to meet their specific requirements. Other than the tool and methodology, everything else varies with each student/client to meet his /her/their learning requirements.

Tell us something about the tool

It is a meta map, a map of all maps. We work with you to understand this map and customize it to your requirements.

What about the methodology

We have a large inventory. Some of them are storytelling, dream design, activities, games, projects, dialogues, action learning and so on

Who can join?

Anybody whose business is REAL sustained high performance /improvements

Any age preferences?

Older, the better.

Do you award degrees certificates, diplomas?

None whatsoever!

Why should I join?

No reasons whatever other than if you want sustained high performance/improvements and live a life of your own design.

What are sustained High performance competencies?

1. Positioning

2. Directioning

3. Reflecting

4. Personal Mastery

5. System/s Thinking

6. Community Intelligence

7. Accelerated learning, Stretch

8. Continual Renewal

9. Mental Maps

10. Aligning with the unknown

In short the practice of three imperatives and six perfections

What does it cost to me?

Nothing, other than your time. Real learning has zero costs. This is the only real investment that invariably gives you the highest returns.  We guarantee that the benefits far outweigh the cost of time and money.

Are there any scholarships?

Yes. You need pay only a small part of the incremental returns to you and as decided by you just to meet our very minimal overheads when you can afford to pay.

How long have you been doing this?

Since 1990.

Do you have case studies of successful alumni? We have had only successes.

Give us some examples

I refuse. You might meet some of them and it is up to them to divulge

Less FAQs

What is the first step to a journey, physical, virtual or the journey of life the second step and then the third? What differentiates the human from the animal?

What is our most basic need even more basic than the physiological? Guess what? We are yet to get the right answer at the first shot over a period of two decades from  groups of some very intelligent people and their gurus !


Romancing the impossible / The ultimate pragmatist

Do not

Wish for it ever, it might come true

To be immortal and die the perfect death

To be the perfect master and the perfect slave

Wish for perfect madness and perfect sanity

Meet the perfect partner, commit the perfect crime

Lose your voice and find it in its pristine clarity

Meet the fire in those eyes haunting you for ages

Hear the mountain brook of your childhood sleepless nights

And the chirping of the crickets deep within the concrete jungle

Do not

Wish for it ever, it might come true

To sing for you while you dream those impossible dreams

Do not

Wish for it ever, it might come true

You live the complete fullness /complete emptiness

Every moment of your seamless flight

And it comes true.

The denial of work/love

Stones waiting for Pygmalion
Ahalya waiting for Rama

Frozen and numbed in the loveless cold

To regain the paradise lost

Come, the catalyst and the moment of truth prevails

Pygmalion sculpts the stone

In love and hope that both will come back

He gives like the Jersey Cow

What he gives comes back to him

The stones at times complain

Why the torture?

Love and hope prevails cold reason

Coaxing the stone to come to life

Of the three masons in the Cathedral/ Taj Mahal story

One is a Pygmalion and others just ‘workers’

When was the last time, you were lost in love / work and how long did it last?

In my case it was just yesterday, believe me; it went on non-stop for 23 hours.

Did you get paid?

Not in money. But what I gave will come back to me in abundant measure

And i will fall in love head over heels

When work comes beckoning again and again

Did the miracle happen?  Yes and NO. It doesn’t really matter.

Yes, one has to agree with Gibran. Work indeed is love expressed.

No ‘managers’ and no ‘workers’

Never a manager and never work

We are just, LOVERS

Because denial of work is LOVE denied

Fall in love all over, again and again

Then get up and GO
Bon Voyage.


Galatea comes to life, falls in love with Pygmalion

To realise that within him Pygmalion is dead

The sculptor is dead.

Galatea turns Pygmalion to bring him back to life

The perfect woman that she is

She fashions the perfect man from her memories

And brings him back to life from the world of dreams

To the world of the living. keeping each other alive

The Will to Stretch

“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you are good but the thing that you do that makes you good” – Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers.

It is just practice and nothing but practice.

I just reviewed one of my practices for over six months which I call Jowar, for jogging walking and running. I stretched myself by doubling my output today to find that I could do much better, if I wanted to. The numbers were 2 Hrs 30 minutes – 18 Kms in place of my regular 9 Kms in 70 minutes.

Why do it?  Unless we challenge the  present we would never transcend any of our limits and no history is made?

There is nothing great about my walking performance  and I am not out to create a new record. I know that my performance can improve three fold or more. I maintain my interest in these numbers as a test of my will to stretch mySelf. For a lazybones champion of idleness  for over six decades, to beign something of this sort and to stick to it certainly needs some rudiments of that thing called will. More than stretching myself physically it also involves my mind and spirit. I talk to myself while I am at it, ” you are not doing it just for yourself, you are running for all the seniors and the would be seniors and you are much more than your 58 kgs of clay .”

It is spiritual since in many ways it has become the ‘most meaningful’ – the anchor activity – of my routine.

I don’t keep any metrics of far more worldly important aspects of my performance as I have little faith in most popular metrics

I was ‘walking the Brigade’ in Bangalore with one of my students, a practice that goes back forty years to my student days. I remain a student and continue to walk the same road.

He has been ardently working on converting me to a vegetarian and as usual I have been resisting. I hold the view, in arguments, that being a vegan is no big deal and the perceived benefits derive from the bias created by randomness of being born in a vegetarian family with me falling in the opposite camp.

There is a whole array of my other argumentative missiles that I keep in stowage to be deployed when required, some of them so effective that I have done my share of conversions in the opposite direction. I take one of them out

Come, let us do a KFC. Show me that you can do it. I can any day turn a vegan but can you become a non ? I am more evolved  since  I have  more options to choose from. In a game those with more options than the opponant  comes out the winner. Survival of the fittest. You are a vegetarian because you have no other options!  As a one-time (circus?) trainer, at times,  I do a little bit of arm-twisting.

Your  treat?


I ‘m game.

My student proved smarter than me. He went on for a second and third helping and I was flabbergasted. This was a first for me. And  that was not the end of it.

How could you pull it off ?

Sir I have made it a practice to walk your talk.

What is that?

Do the most difficult. I just did that. That is all. Sir, can I ask you something?


How long have you been smoking?

Over 40 years

How many a day?

Used to be 30-40, now 6,7.

Why don’t you quit smoking?

It is been a friend of my lonely days and sleepless nights. I don’t see any reason to quit. The most well-known of them do not appeal to me.  Why should I quit?  May be this is an expression of my death wish! (This was a major insight. We all have it. We only are responsible for death. Nature or god has nothing to do with it. Our best efforts at defeating death is what accelerates  it !)

Sir,  it is your advice.  Do the most difficult.  Why don’t you quit?       ………….NOW!

This was a moment of truth, the bolt of lightning from the blue. There was  thunder and  silence. That was on 23 Feb 2010 .5.36 PM.

I threw my death wish down and stamped on it. I haven’t smoked since then.

Would you become a vegetarian now?

No way, I will eat less and practice non-eating. Vegetarians also kill to eat. Besides the non-vegetarian food is more advanced in the pollution chain which means it undergoes a further processing in the animal system. They die for us in advance.

So what is the learning?

Cut the crap.

Manipulate if you are ready to be manipulated

End of teaching. Learn together. Practice the Will to stretch oneSelf

Profit, not for profit, for love and the problem of metrics!

If you are smart, why is it that you don’t have your not for profit foundation, NFP?

Smart people ought to become rich, super rich and further down the road they ought to start their own NFP. The next lower version of the smart ones, with a flair for the ‘philosophical and the academic’, (this has nothing to do with the truly philosophical or truly academic) move to these NFPs to churn out the intellectual fodder essential to keep the business going!

Is business so ‘anti-social’ that we in business seek to counterbalance the evils/ or our guilt of making money (or is it creating wealth?) by creating NFPs even in emerging markets, where the business agenda still remains green and virgin. Most of us work towards retirement as if what we have been doing was so unpleasant, unlike good professionals who would practice to their grave.   If what we do is enriching we will not be retiring from work which points to the problem of work-life balance.

We need some fresh perspectives on the issue.  The more perspectives we have, closer are we to the real. It is something like designing a learning Gestalt as we did during the last weekend. The trekking, walking up the ancient forest path, the walkabout along the tank bunds, playing in the mud with the children, dancing in the rain with the musical fountain in full blast of sound and water, the rare uncluttered flow of traffic, all of them together wreaking out something powerful, an upheaval/awakening of the collective consciousness towards the transformational.

Upheaval, whispered the breeze

Upheaval, murmured the leaves

Coming on stage said the stars

Flow said the fountains

Sing said the dancers

Dance said the musicians

Let the symphony begin

Remember the dance?

Remember the song?

It is time again

Upheaval whispered the night

Upheaval echoed the wind

Snoosh, said the setting sun.

Upheaval is the breath of life, learning and love. Work that tires is the breath of death. The gestalt is complete.

Let us create another gestalt of perspectives on work itself. Before we look at work we need to look at the nature of business because it is primarily business that defines the work agenda.

“The language of business is money and the language of love is barter. This is the difference between work and work expressed as love. One is work as most of us understand it, something from which we run away on week-ends. We cannot have quality work without bringing in the love element to work” says my mentor.  The first helps us pay our bills and the latter keeps us healthy like the proverbial apple that keeps the doctor away.

As a onetime academic, I work for money to meet my essential survival requirements.  I moved out of academics to work hands on for most part of the week and found some time on weekends to teach. The latter seemed to offer some stimulation to write since I need to talk it out with somebody before I can put something down on paper.

As I grow a little more mature with age (this is not an imperative) I don’t find it as essential to keep up with the joneses. Just as I yearn to realise more of my transformational needs what I seek from work too undergoes a transformation.  I move from making money to creating wealth.

I find that my teaching does not offer all the stimulation that I look for. Very often it is about meeting some academic norm which is obsolete. I move on to work as a consultant and coach. with a small circle of students/professionals  who provide me with the stimulation that I was missing in academia.

I would say that I work with them on the barter mode because it is mutually rewarding and both the parties learn from the process. This work satisfies the transformational – meaning, emotional, spiritual. Most people understand work in the language of money, some understand work as love expressed and the significant few, understand work as learning and creating.

At times we get in touch within the circle when we get stuck with the routine.

Here is one such incident.  One of my best students, a significant one from the talking circle, calls me up. I just light up as I am sure it is going to be something of a new challenge.

J. How s your love meter going?

(The love meter is slang for how are you at work. Assumption is, work is love expressed)

S.  I wanted to discuss a problem with my love metrics.  Here is it, I am sending my metrics sheet. Please take a look

J. I was looking forward to it. We have a problem more or less a generic one and you need to break free of it. We need a one to one. When can we meet?

S. Sure, I am out of the place already. See you at the musical fountain. I hope we create another gestalt

J. We meet in about 30 minutes. That was real fast and out of the blue. We start of from where we left. There are two types of metrics, one is operational or transactional and the other is transformational. The difference is between the ‘significant few and the insignificant many’. Most metrics do not go beyond the operational to the transformational as they focus mostly on the insignificant many.  Your metrics sheet is no different.

S. What do you mean by the significant few and the insignificant many. Sounds like the chosen few.

J. The logic is simple. Focus on those few things that take you closer to the designed transformational outcomes. It is not about the talented few. Everyone is talented and is in wait for the transformational. Or if you want a crude example, in over two millennia the significant few that we remember are a handful, Buddha, Christ/Judas, Gandhi/Godse, Hitler, King. It is pathetic that we haven’t gone beyond them. We need to look at them as a gestalt and distil the essential learning to go beyond the mediocrity of the insignificant many. Once the transformational agenda is designed the operational focus will be of a different order quite unlike what you already have brought into your metrics.

S. How do we take it forward?

J. I don’t know really. I think each one of us is in a unique situation.  We need to evolve what is appropriate to our specific context and at the same time keep working on our own personal transformational agenda. When both are in balance, there is nothing to worry. So go back and rework your metrics. Remember the keywords

Operational to transformational

Insignificant many to significant few

Reconfigure the Gestalt Matrix

Do you get the gestalt?


The transformational do not wait to happen. It just happened. We go on working hard to communicate what really happened. Meanwhile we have moved from conceptualizing to creating the upheaval and awakening on ground, giving birth.

Design of the Learning Engine

J.  The learning engine (LE) is any system that continually improves on its previous performance.

S. Am I one?

J. You can be one. It involves taking the position that you are one knowing what it means to be one. In the same way if a team, an organisation, or a community decides to be one, it certainly qualifies to be a LE.

S. Besides taking position what more does it involve?

J.  It involves understanding the design of the  LE and using this understanding when the going gets tough.

S. Let us get to know the design in detail

J. Quadrants Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4 of the learning engine are analogous to the four wheels of the car and the eye at the centre (self) is the engine.

The four quadrants are also directional.


Q1, North West,

Q4, South West,

Q2, North East, and

Q3, South East)

S. Who is the driver?

J. Us, depending on whoever identifies with the system. Q1 and Q 4 are internal to the observer or the driver/s of the LE.  Q2, Q3 are external to the observer. Q 3 is the physical world.   At the centre, where the four quadrants meet is a lighthouse with nine levels. When you climb to the top you get the eagle’s perspective, see everything, have a map of everything. The level 1 has all the maps, level 2 maps of all the simple machines similar to the clock, level 3 the maps of advanced machines with self-regulation, level 4 the maps of the unicellular world, level 5 that of the world of plants, level 6 that of all the animals, level 7 the maps of the individual  human, level 8 that of the organizational and level 9 that of all accumulated learning, meta- systems – religion, science, philosophy etc

The gap is the waste, unrealised potential, road not travelled, blue ocean space, the domain for Metrics.

A Map of Everything

From the top of the lighthouse, we can see where we were, prior to the climb, at the end of the line going up (or down?) from the level of animals in quadrant SE. Now, one knows the light house position (invariant) and the ship’s position (variant)

The direction for the journey can now be set, the compass function – towards bridging the gap between potential and performance. Had there been no gap we would have had a straight line in quadrant SE, a mirror image of NW. The gap is the waste, unrealised potential, road not travelled, blue ocean space, the domain for Metrics, inputs for course correction, to make sure  that the journey is one of improvement rather than speeding towards disaster.

SW is about learning and renewal, the process, improvement and revision of mental models to maps

Quadrant NW is the external social system, history, barriers to transcend, opportunities which conflicts with SW in terms of the challenges to learning and improvement. There are more  P s —-Position , Process and so on.

Perfection, Problems – every single time is a time of crisis. a crisis of the spirit of the time taking its birth, arising from resisting the perfection in us, not a crisis or a problem but the greatest opportunity of the time

Prophets, Peters. Parrots – Christ‘s vision was the foundation for the church and Peter the institution builder. Sans vision institutions become empty drums. In the age of the common Buddha, vision and action go hand in hand. Pyramids and hierarchies collapse. Parroting, rote learning, helps to pass on accumulated learning but is not sufficient to lead to improvement

Programmers, Parents, Pedagogues, Priests, Politicians – Even children are trained/ programmed to be terrorists- parroting. Why not programming for sustained improvements?  The major programming influences, family, religion, politics groom to conform. It  is for the individual to discern between the chaff and the grain in his journey of improvement.

Progress – Many a measure of progress fail to capture net improvements in realising the unrealised potential of the human. What we might think as progress may not be an improvement as suggested in quadrant SW. We might believe us to be above the level of animals as a class, but when it comes to realising potential we fall below them.

Power, Peace – Aggression begets aggression. Authentic power follows from facilitating others to discover their power, voice, potential, anchoring and connecting to peace within for peace outside.

Process – The focus on events, outcome and results need to go hand in hand with process dimensions. The product is in the process. If output and results do not meet expectations and standards, revisit the process.

Position – Taking a position calls for multiple perspectives, variant and invariants, the lighthouse position vs. the positions that the ship takes on its course.

The core at the centre is the engine and the four quadrants the wheels

The learning engine is capable of continually improving on its own performance against all odds creating invincibility

Continual Renewal

Continual learning is the path to continual renewal.

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

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

The eagle represents the big picture and frog, the details. Both are connected just as the Hubble telescope sends us pictures from outer space and the femtoscope helps us see the smallest of the small. The eagle represents the global and frog the local which are but different perspectives of the whole. In a connected world – being GLOCAL – is an imperative. So is the imperative of continual learning, leading to continual renewal. We are frogs in the well of nature

Ref: Idealised Design, Russel L. Ackoff

Designer Lives

Matrix and Matrix Thinking

The sun rises in the east.  The coin has two sides, Change is the only constant. Time runs out, Time is money. Death and Illness are essential. It is true or false, yes or no. It is destiny. Oh my God, what the Devil, Black and White. I need 2000- 3000 calories/day from food. Let us vote for change.  Resources are limited and wants unlimited.  These little programs, cookies, were rejected by the matrix for incorrect logic. The programs reflect the logic of the programmer, the way they are internally organised. These programs were sent back to the recycling facility in Bangalore India. They were bangalored. Programs compete with each other. Every program, good or bad has life and the life-span varies with the quality of the logic. One with better logic prevails over the others. Such programs evolve and coalesce into maps. It appears to us that the sun rises in the east survives over the one which says the sun rises in the east. The one which says the coin has many sides over ‘the coin has two sides’. Resources are unlimited and needs limited take precedence over the old paradigm of scarce resources and unlimited wants. The neo-logic was that the creative intelligence is unbounded, the prime resource which transforms/catalyses the other resources.  The unlimited wants were found to be derivatives of some of the primal survival drive distortions. The realisation was found to have survival value since it appealed to the selfish gene

English > Inglish

COBOL> COPOL (common purpose oriented language)

The logic for the new language was that the syntax of one’s mother tongue went against the purpose of connecting – building bridges. It works like an empty parrot’s cage or the classic golden mouse trap where rats were extinct for a very long time. The syntax of the mother tongue promoted imperialism (read, version Anglo-Saxon). With an emergence of the syntax of viewing the syntax of text which promoted linearity became redundant

The programs are stacked into levels beginning with maps to Meta systems.

Science is a meta- system. So are art and religion. The matrix holds nothing to everything together.

While all programs have life a very small set of programs (+) have material form.

The current version of the matrix has been in existence since 1990 (PME 0). A new skin has been added in the version PME 19, the only improvement in 19 years

The project had begun with a class room discussion during 1981. The case study was ‘IT or MIT’. (MIT, read Misinformation Technology). JJ had taken the position that the critical issue in IT is the issue of standardisation of the observer matrix. Since every observer sees with a different internal matrix the resultant complexity would be unmanageable and IT would turn into MIT. Others stood for the remaining mostly hardcore technological issues. JJ took the position that what they see as hard is really soft and what they see as soft is hard. The entire class went against JJ’s arguments. JJ stuck to his guns and walked out of the discussion. The project had begun.

We see what we choose to focus on. What we choose to focus on is limited by the program which runs us and the positions we take which most likely has nothing to do with the common good. We could be charging full steam towards our own destruction. This possibility no more exists with the emergence of the matrix which has taken over the collective unconscious. Since the year of the matrix, 1990, 5169 Neos have been trained in the matrix. Somewhere in between, the 100th monkey effect took over and the program now exists in everyone. The Neos are conscious of the existence of the matrix. Others are not. Some Neos work as teachers and healers, in food and livelihood security, software engineering, and in medicine.

If you come across a neo-doc, s/he is more likely to ask you in his diagnostic foray what your work is or what you do for a living is in sync with your purpose of life. The data shows that this is the MFQ among Neos, what the purpose of the program is.  Another MFQ is about the fabric/quality of community that support our lives or about the quality of relationships outnumbering other questions on smoking,  exercise or number of calories that go into the  system. One is less likely to be asked who your employer is, a question often loaded with the hidden agenda of finding out if he can go ahead with all the diagnostic tests without worrying about your ability to afford

It took eight years for the matrix to fall in place. The cardinal frameworks had to pass the immortality test. The levels and hierarchy were to be assigned.  Example:- Christ is relatively more immortal than Shakespeare.  The matrix went through innumerable tests to pass through all possible contexts, past, present and future.

Successful centenarians work for over ninety years .Many of them have never consulted a doc. For them work is self-expression. These at the other end of the immortality continuum were studied in the formulation phase of the matrix. The single major challenge they faced for further extension of life-spans was the absence of community, as most fellow travellers had taken the exit route. More than anything else it was concluded that the quality of one’s work decides health and life spans and quality follows from the purpose. When one is ready to die for it death will be afraid to approach such.

What are you suggesting?

We are over deterministic in our assumptions and more often than not end up with the wrong diagnosis of our problems. We need a new way of looking, a set of new eyes if we want to craft a new vision

In the matrix trilogy, the Frenchman says, it is my business to know. Yet he wants the eyes of the oracle

The key maker is a meta- programmer. His business is to architect the meta-program, key to all programs, to make keys for all possible variety of programs

The matrix is a perfectly balanced equation

It is our business to know because knowing is doing. Doing without knowing is not doing

Black and White > Grey

Day and Night > Dusk and dawn, the in-between, gaps to fill, to connect

We have a pair of eyes, but we see as one

Ravana had 10 heads and 20 eyes. Still he could not see, avoid defeat or win the heart of Sita

Dritarashstra, the king, was blind, inside and outside. The queen / advisors had eyes but they opted to keep them shut or could not see the conflicts in the making.  They were myopic blinded by their selfishness.

One can have forty heads- levels – thinking hats/positions, take in 40 different/variant perspectives and bring them together into one vision. Each level has infinite elements that form the class. It is for us to choose the specific ones relevant to our specific context/s. When one is ready to die for what one sees others have no option but to come round to what such people see.  Community is in the making when more and more agree to the immortality of the program. Ideas also follow the norm, survival of the fittest.

Nature is not impatient, in a hurry. For nature time does not run out.

Meanwhile the pearl material accretes around the nucleus. The clusters which continually do this progress on the path reducing the waste in the system, a self improving program, the only metrics being how much of the garbage, waste, has been recycled, transformed to organic manure. Non-physical garbage took priority over the physical.

In comparison with the successful centenarians, most of us squander nearly half a century of our lives. The centenarians do not experience any recessions.

Multiply with the billions to visualise the total waste, the unrealised potential. The list could be pretty long. Add poverty, illness, infant mortality, terror strikes, and wars in the name of peace………..

Quality and Quantity is the count. Quantity without quality is waste

We can go on ad nauseum, but if you got it, you got it – explanations are redundant. If you didn’t, ASK

Is this fact or fiction?

It is fact and fiction. Fiction is more powerful than fact.. Myths live on, facts are forgotten. Leverage both, facts and fiction; tell a future story (?)

Matrix thinking is thinking with nature, co -creating……….. No need to go out to fight any wars …………… a home improvement project,

Let the noise die down

The Glass Bead Game

“All the insights, noble thoughts, and works of art that the human race has produced in its creative eras, all that subsequent periods of scholarly study have reduced to concepts and converted into intellectual values the Glass Bead Game player plays like the organist on an organ. And this organ has attained an almost unimaginable perfection; its manuals and pedals range over the entire intellectual cosmos; its stops are almost beyond number.” – Herman Hesse

This organist plays in real time. He is one with all understanding of the past and the future too. He makes perfect music. We work with limited information, knowledge and much less of wisdom. Though we have great faith in our decisions and they are invariably taken with the very best of intentions, most of them turn out to be not very wise.

The DC is a tool that enables the user to appreciate the complexity of the decision making process and to improve the outcomes in terms of quality, sustainability and community.

Decision Compass and the Blue Ocean

The DC reduces the search effort involved in managerial problem solving, points to the solution space (blue ocean), accelerates learning and brings the woods and the trees together without missing either of them.

The tool and methodology were evolved in the context of working with very challenging developmental issues and communicating these issues to the stake holders, over two decades.

The Game

The decision compass (DC) is at the apex of a series of frames which together form the First Discipline Framework.

Mastery of the DC frame is achieved through accelerated learning and competency development work shops by simulating a high performance work environment.  The participants work together (play) with specific roles corresponding to the levels and functional expectancies of the DC.

The duration varies from 16 – 40 working hours for an introductory workshop.  The duration varies with the level of participants and the mix of the facilitation team.

Participants: 50 – 60.

The First Discipline Framework is broken into its component frames numbering 60 cards in VIBGYOR. Red cards are six in number and green four. Other colors are ten each.   Red and Green represent governance and sustainability issues and are external to the organization. The organizational groups are positioned at the centre and at the centre of the four quadrants. They change positions anti-clockwise after each round of discussions and presentations.

Time:  16 – 40 hours in 2 to 5 days.

Round  1

Step 1- Pre process metrics

Step 2 The facilitators explain the DC (60 minutes)

Step 3 Each participant picks up a card. In case total number of participants is less than 60, some participants may have more than one card. These participants will perform the additional roles implied by the extra cards. Each participant on his/her own prepares and presents a brief understanding of his /her role. The facilitators supplement clarifications if necessary. As the process picks up extent of facilitation comes down. At the end the learning from round one is summed up and shared (45-60 minutes)

Step 4 Participants group into each color and assume their roles.  They work towards connecting the learning from the exercise and its strategic implications.  Presentations follow at hourly intervals. Further clarifications are provided by the Facilitators at the end of each presentation (4-5 Hours)

Step 5 Post metrics.

Further briefing with organizational data or using data from sample case studies

Round 3

Step 1 The groups work with organization specific / case study related information to demonstrate the application of the model and the implications

Step 2 Summing up

Step 3 Post metrics

More rounds will be required in the case of new recruits. The rounds are repeated till the facilitators are certain that the participants have reached the required level of proficiency as reflected by the metrics, quality of the presentations and proficiency with the language of sustained high performance.

Perfection vs Psychodynamics

Nature is perfect by design. Our understanding is not and we refuse to accept our inherent perfection. This is the barrier to be transcended for the fuller expression of performance.

Psychodynamics is the interaction of conscious or unconscious mental or emotional processes influencing   behaviour and attitudes. The following story explains the problem and also points to the solution space.

The eagle lived on the tree beside a deep well and in the well a community of frogs. None of them had ever been out of the well. Every night the granny frog told her bedtime stories to the young ones in the well. The eagle could hear the stories. One morning when the thermals had begun rising in the air, the eagle swooped into the well, grasped one little frog in its claws and rose up with the thermal. The heights and the fear of death overtook the little one. Then the eagle let go of the frog from the heights above the well. While falling back, the frog had just a glimpse of the world outside. The eagle went back to the tree and waited for the sun to set, to hear the story of the day. What will be the story of the day? Tell us?

We have been collecting these stories for over 19 years now. Initially everyone connects it in their own ways.

Some identify themselves with the eagle and some with the frog and the fear of death. Not many with both, eagle and the frog, the big and the small, telescope and the microscope, Hubble and the Femtoscope, Global and local and the  connections in between, how mental models are formed and revised to become  mental maps – knowledge

How best to continually learn and how an old world of the frog collapses or the new frames come to sit on the older versions of our mind ware.  A new world is born. Yet we are all in that well – of Nature

We will never see all of it, but we can see much more now than any time in the past and ‘there are miles to go before we sleep’.

Potential vs Performance

We take the two panes together so that the contrast helps us to grasp the nature of the problem, like black vs. white a duality. We hold the view that a duality is nothing but a gate to learning.

Without black we cannot make sense of white. When we put it in black and white, we put only the black. White is the context. Meaning is contextual – relative, in comparison.  Same goes for good and bad, true and false, war and peace. In the same way if performance need to be  put in perspective we need to hold potential with performance together and make sense

The potential quadrant is of a conceptual nature whereas the performance quadrant is the tangible physical world as in design of a car and the car.

In the potential quadrant

  1. Ground zero is the meeting point between all quadrants the position of the observer symbolised by the eye/ self.
  2. Level of maps
  3. The level of the clock – all simple machines, a bullet leaving the barrel of a gun
  4. Systems with self – regulation
  5. Level of the unicellular.
  6. Level of the plant
  7. Level of the animal
  8. Level of the individual human
  9. Level of groups, organizations, Community

10.  Meta – all accumulated and potential future knowledge

Potential is emergent from positioning and alignment with all levels.  InRamayana, the journey of Rama, Ravana, the anti- hero has ten heads (nine more heads within) corresponding to all the levels, yet he fails to win the heroine.

In the performance quadrant the gap between potential and performance begins from the level of the human. We can improve, but do not in aggregate terms. The blue ocean space is the collective unrealised potential of the system or in other words, the waste.

Metrics deals with the reduction in waste (pollution, illness, suicides) the measure of net improvements, real progress, the reduction in the gap between potential and performance. The journey is in the right direction if continual renewal / improvement results.