New Literacy

“Dawkins Delusion
Rhymes well, no better reason
A leadership delusion ?
Driven by what  he attempts to debunk
His own definition of God
Some are born to lead, explain
Show the way, we are the sheep
Psychopaths, wolves in sheep’s clothing
If we were adults, we wouldn’t be led
Information would rule the world
Horses would have wings
Dawkins Haw Kings wouldn’t ride
Admit a few things unexplainable
That makes it worth getting up in the morn
Dawkins and Haw Kings wouldn’t sell
If they spare a Spinoza or Einstein
That’s where they would love to be 
Saints in the church of reason 
Galileo is in Da Vinci is out 
In their court of inquisition 
Too crowded for art and the mystic 
The world is flat, hot and crowded 
And we are fried 
The twain shall never meet 
Let the parrots flourish,
Thank God, we have an economy 
Don’t kamplain 
Says the New Inglish Dictionary
Any thoughts?
On the therapeutics of FB 
Don’t hear the shrinks’ kamplain 
Of the palace of delusions”

“The purpose of science is not to cure us of our sense of mystery and wonder,” Stanford’s Robert Sapolsky famously noted, “but to constantly reinvent and reinvigorate it.”

The Piper of Hamlin

Do you hear the music?

Seductive ‘ringing little bells ‘

Day and night

He is singing for the rats


Pay him his due

“Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s,

And unto God the things that are God’s”

Else he will sing

The child in you will be stolen

None left to say “The Emperor is naked”

The doors remain barred, for

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children

You will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Infographic Thinking

Map is not the territory. But without maps we are helpless to deal with the territory. Imagine thinking of the planet before the space missions. The process that we document here began in 1980 when some of us took our invariant position as Facilitators. The visual is a map of this journey that we have taken which we share with those who joined us on the way.  The text assumes meaning only in relation to this map.

Hacker Way

Text is used   a means to create an internal image as above in the Piper of Hamlin to create  a map that we need to learn to learn all over again, be like little children.

“You may be a PhD but you are illiterate!”

In 1981, Rob my painter friend, shocked me with the opening statement. I would have come across to him as one of those arrogant MBA types. He tested me with a few simple questions and proved to me that I am visually illiterate.

Later on I came to know that I am illiterate in many other modes too.  Post Wall Street, he would have framed the question differently.

“You may be a Wharton (or some such) MBA, but you are illiterate”

“What were those questions?”

“Making them public would destroy the mystique that I have created around my IP, intellectual property/poverty, depending on the positions we take. I have sent a whisper note. If you don’t grasp it you may be illiterate on some other scale.

People should not be unsettled from their comfort zones. It might do them good but spoil your reputation. So I play the diplomat but diplomacy came after many hard knocks, over three decades.

“But I am a PhD” responds, Dr. Nazki over FB. I first met him in 1976. We re-connected on FB a few years back.

He is a black swan, a retired professor of veterinary science; but not tired, yes a PhD but better and more widely known for his literary pursuits. I believe poets and painters are literate in a far different way. In an earlier era they would prefer to be in Paris than in the company of the likes of me. Dr. Nazki was the first multimodal person I met. Thanks to him I was already prepared in some way to learn from the shocker from Rob.

Thanks to social media, I can continue in my well (need not go to Paris where I would be even more illiterate) and yet remain in touch – at a distance – without being a victim of the porcupine logic.

Most learning happens at the edges.

Farmers and fishermen are insulated from each other by different versions of literacy. There is a perception of stability on land but very little on the high seas. Fisherwomen are not that insulated as men. When the mobile phones came on the scene the illiterate fishermen were ahead of their literate agent in getting them.  Vasco da Gama was more literate than Columbus. He reached where he wanted to go.

Literacy has to be judged against the outcomes.

Edges go beyond the geographic. There exist a divide between the biologist and the physicist as with the farmer and the fisherman, poets and painters and the fictional average goose. Newton continues to influence the metaphors and paradigms of the literate (read, my doc) much more than Einstein or Darwin. The Trouble with Physics (Lee Smolin) or Cosmology is that the proponents are illiterate about Biology. Physics is more in fashion than Biology. Both perhaps are illiterate about the lens with which we see the world. We are not talking about seer scientists like Einstein who come closer to poets and painters who are more in alignment with their deeper selves.

Literacy in a traditional sense is the ability to manipulate symbols and make sense, in other words, read, write and think critically.  I wish it had been read, write and reflect.  Literacy is often equated with modernity and culture. In the beginning was the word and now that we are nearing the end of the word as we knew it, will we turn out to be more literate in the non-traditional sense of the term.  The printing press and the East India Company are often perceived as landmarks to beginning of the ‘modern age’. The oral traditions which relied on memory gave in to technology and to those who could leverage technology. The digital frees up much more memory and opens up space for creative endeavour which could also lead to a void taken over by digital noise in no time. Closed is even better than open at times!

What is the literacy that we are talking about?  I was delighted to see the issues discussed in a classic academic sense by Carey Jewett of the London Knowledge Lab, in Multimodality and Literacy in School Classrooms. I shared the link with the tribe but there were no takers. Contagiousness is king, rather than content. I would have learnt something if I had some feedback rewarding my experiment in community learning and participatory writing would have paid off.   For my tired senior eyes the article was not multimodal. I played Hitler for a while and forced my children and a few members of the tribe to take a serious note of the article.  They appreciated it but I had to face questions as to why academic writing cannot be simpler sans the mystique. But for my tryst with illiteracy about livelihood security among the top of the pyramid I would not have played Hitler. Meanwhile Carey writes to us, so kind of her. Participatory is working. Sankar mails, pointing to some related issues in his post, The slow life.  Aby and Sarah comment. I only have to report the process, the output is combinatorial

What we already know is the blinder to further knowledge? The belief that we are conscious is the worst barrier to our consciousness. (We don’t know who said this)

What if there are faster more efficient and effective ways of direct knowing addressing multiple triggers simultaneously?

In a world that visually unfolds in real time, how long can plain linear static texts compete with much higher bandwidths?

“If you are a champion of the text, you would do well to migrate to Indian Universities where they lament about employability and the very same people who create the problem are entrusted with the responsibility of solving the issue. The digital divide results in no small measure from the preference to viewing than manipulating text. If both sides appear to be morons to each other, do not be surprised.”

There is more to the argument that the more literate we are in the traditional sense, the less literate we are from a developmental perspective. The new literacy is about making sense and meaning of the world around us, physical or virtual; reduce the complexity of cues, symbols and noise which facilitates navigation rather than wandering around without purpose or speeding up without knowing where we are heading.

Sankar sends me the link on slowing down, The joy of quiet Pico Iyer. Amitabh shares the same on FB. We have a conversation as to why we should or not slow down. As if by synchronicity I receive a mail from aphoristic cocktail.  Nature never hurries, yet all is accomplished.”~ Lau Tzu

Nature is ‘over’ designed to be perfect.  We work (?)  by default, not by design. Rahul asks what is your default setting? We are the only species which comes with the default setting to fail, self-destruct. To be literate is to realize this. When the pace is too fast one fails to see what happens around us. it is all a blur. Slowing down has no intrinsic value unless the slowdown helps us to see what happens around us. The farmer is slow but the fishermen cannot afford to be slow. Not all farmers see and not all fishermen are fast enough.

There are craftsmen writers and scientists for whom writing/science is a career and seer scientists like Einstein who thought about relativity for 10 years and special theory of relativity for another 10 years. The attention span of the career scientist could be limited by the next paper to be pushed out if he has to stay in circulation.

Read The Trouble with Physics for more and better.

We have mastered navigating the physical world. The maps are near perfect though the means could be improved. The virtual remains to be mastered.  More often it is noise and the ability to make noise that prevails.   Captain Sparrow with the broken compass is an apt metaphor of our times. Even Pirates have their code. “The code wins arguments”, silence is restored.  Managers are yet to develop one.

Adult education is a mockery of education, proof that the long years of ‘educating ourselves’ in schools and universities don’t turn us into ADULTs, teach us to self-manage instead of mass produce a new version of slavery which certainly appeals to born again Hitlers !

Lifehacking was not coined in those days.

Nazki the poet, Rob the painter and Professor PC Devassia, Indian Sanskrit scholar and poet were our touch stones for deciphering the literacy code. I met PCD in 1981, 75 at the time. He passed away in 2006 at over 100 years fulfilling all his goals that he had declared himself when he was 60. He could see for forty years.

Passing the lie detector is no proof of truth and truth detectors are not yet in the market.  Time will prove whether all the noise has any substance. Has literacy, the real stuff, got anything to do with longevity or sustained high performance? Wiki has a list of lists of centenarians which comes close to our population of literate people. There are 19 categories in this list of lists. Here is the one that relates to literacy.

There is no exclusive list for economists, physicists or physicians. Their theories do not help themselves. Poets, painters, musicians, mathematicians and business men appear to be more literate.   The man and his work: 

The literacy matrix

Smoking causes cancer? Most of the cases around me are people who have never smoked from families with no history of smoking. Smoking can at best be just one of the many factors that would have gone into the making of cancer. But this one statement turns us myopic to more obvious reasons other than smoking and the cocktail effect of all those unrecognised factors. For the same reasons, we need to approach literacy from multiple perspectives and with the outcomes  in mind rather than the input or intervening variables. The one outcome that we desired was literacy should take us to adulthood, enable us to self-manage and enhance community which involves

Reading and viewing to seeing

Positioning oneself

Directioning, where am I / are we going?

Reflecting, to be human is to self-reflect?

Seek, asking questions, digital literacy, going beyond the tools

Bridging the conscious unconscious divide, aligning with the unconscious and the unknowable

Sustainability Less is more, living without stealing from the future and not leaving any footprints. Poor – rich. Community, Commons

Shifting from sprint to marathon, from shooting stars to light houses

Learning from doing

Time literacy

Science literacy

Community intelligence (includes gender literacy)

One thing we learnt in B-School (from all those case studies) was not to look at anything with a single lens. Use as many as possible and if there is agreement between most of them we are more likely to fare better than most.

If the lens itself is broken, we see everything as fragmented.

” How much time does it take to repair the lens?”

“24 working hours or even less”

” Why all the schooling ?”

” Your parents have to go to work, come home from work and in between they have to pretend that they work. They also do not know what to do with you if you are not sent to school.”


Our Models of the World

The Eagle’s Gift

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 eagle could hear the granny frog telling bedtime stories to the young one. 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 since the very beginning. Initially everyone connects it in their own ways. Some identify themselves with the eagle and some with the frog and the fear of death, nott many with both, the system A and B (Kahneman), 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.

How best to continually learn and how an old world of the frog collapses or the new frames come to sit on the older version of the software. A new world is born. Yet we are all in the same 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 is a long way to go on that road.

Knowledge architecture

Meenakshi :  “Explain knowledge architect”

Wanderer finds the word “awesome”

Knowledge Architecture is Knowledge + Design

Designed to?

Accelerate community learning

Creating a more desirable future

Targeted at problem specific solutions

Deliver sustained improvements

Facilitate dialogue

Most often, solutions do not lead to net improvements. The provider turns myopic to the issue out of a natural bias to one’s own baby, driven by selfishness than appropriate selfishness (Handy), create leaders and followers, teachers and students amounting to more of dependence than independence and interdependence.

Knowledge is the sum of all that we know, will know and can know and the process is learning. To learn is to connect, reflect and catalyse- better, faster and deeper and improve together. Parents and teachers desire that children learn faster. Managers desire that they learn faster than the competition. Citizens wish that the country positions itself as a learning community and improve faster.

Do we really learn? If the outcome is improvement towards the true normal, we don’t.

There is extreme urgency for rapid learning in the context of environmental concerns, social divides, growth vs. inequity, war for or liberation of talent, inclusiveness and the role of corporations in creating a more desirable future. Technical connectivity enhances the possibility of real time collective and purposive learning. Complexity of these issues demands a new pedagogy, tools and processes. More of the same would not suffice. It is not that we may not know. It is also equally important to design new ways of prioritising, showing, experiencing, comprehending what we already know at a greater scale and pace.

Knowledge architecture addresses issues of crafting new ways of seeing, a prerequisite to creating a more desirable future.

Architecture is about spaces, KA is about virtual spaces. There are many ways to achieve this.

‘Visemiotics’ is one.

Symbols facilitate easier navigation than written text as in the case of GUI of computers and software applications. A picture is worth a thousand words is an understatement. More often there is no substitute for a visual symbol as in the case of road signs. Some aspects can only be communicated through visual symbols and text often hides the big picture. The younger generation is more visually dependant than on any other stimuli for learning. The visual stimuli have the highest bandwidth too. Yet one cannot ignore any one since each one has their own preferences. Stories, storytelling, scenarios, dream work, models, experiential leaning, open space, real time management development, dialogues, a plethora of tools are available to take care of the process.

The integral FD framework is a visual tool, a product of knowledge architecture to accelerate learning and mastery of a set of high performance competencies

Limits to Growth OR Limits to Learning?

I would like to play god for a few minutes find and replace the word teacher with 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. It is hard to 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. We kill the joy of learning when we set out to teach, more the teachers less the learning. Learning can now be outcome based on need to know basis. 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.

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.     – JM, Autobiography of an Indian Manager.

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).  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)

The conclusion is simple. Limits to growth = Limits to learning 

The Burden of Normality

Our perception of normality is abnormal. This is the burden that we carry. The understanding of the true normal liberates us from this burden.

The Burden of Normality

The Burden of Normality

Explain. .

On 12 October 1492 Columbus arrived in America. The day is celebrated as Discovery Day in the Bahamas. Vasco da Gama reached Calicut, Kerala, in South India on 20 May 1498. It was a happy coincidence that Columbus reached America. It took six more years of effort for the map to be completed and the mission accomplished.

Ancient Chinese sea farers probably had better maps but history was shaped elsewhere. Galileo was struck by the bolt from the blue but complete acceptance came centuries later.

We need a new set of maps for the next phase of the journey. Most maps waste our time and effort. If we have a unified map, it would point us to the solution space. The ship is ready but the captain is waiting for the map.

Maps are many and they multiply exponentially. Aggregation and synthesis within domains and disciplines do happen but less so between disciplines.

Meta maps reduce the search effort to choose the appropriate map/s for one’s journey as individuals, as members of particular communities and for the collective journey of human progress

Environment, development and sustainability are critical and complex concerns that call for concerted community action across the planet. Simple solutions and quick fixes aggravate the problems.

Every scientist faces the problem of communicating his work within the shortest span of time to the widest audience which points to the complexity of communicating science to the masses in contexts where there is no substitute for reason and collective action.

The GUI, essentially a map and a pointer to possible virtual journeys, took   computers to the living rooms across the planet. The web and the cloud open up vast libraries of information and knowledge.

The visual framework discussed here was evolved in the process of addressing the environmental, developmental and sustainability challenges in the state of Kerala while working with livelihood and food security issues in primary production (livestock and fisheries) to evolve institutional systems to address them.

The framework was later put to use in addressing similar issues in one of the largest information technology infrastructure projects to connect local communities for development and governance and   in schools, industry and academia as a tool for facilitation of accelerated organizational / community learning.

Beyond the Burden of ‘Normality’

December 26, 2004

We were rushing to Cape Comorin, the southern tip of peninsular India, two families on a holiday.

Fishermen on the high seas were casting their nets.

People in other parts of the world were asleep, dreaming good and bad dreams

The Tsunami was wreaking havoc on the Cape Comorin shore, on other shores

We knew when we were blocked on the road by the police.

Most fishermen on the high seas knew when they returned to the shore.

Many never knew

When we ride much bigger waves spanning centuries, we are most likely to take them for granted.  It is Procrustean to catch a giant wave into the bell curve in the time span of a snapshot sans the ripples that the wave creates. So is writing a book about it, the damage is permanent. The trees are already dead.

A blog post is better because I can come back and correct this when I know better and if I am alive. Time is a better judge of our power trips.

Copy CATs do not catch mice

Black or white, intelligent or idiots, they should catch mice. They do, in China, it seems.

This happened here in India, the Biggest Bazaar, apologies to KB

Why do we have to clone cats when we make the best mousetraps?

Let us clone the very best cats, go for a bio-tech solution rather than a manufacturing one. It was decided that we will have the Indian solution and the CAT came to be. The first centre was so successful that beating the CAT became the ultimate dream of the slum dog billions. Every panchayat wanted to have one such center. A task force was constituted to decide the exact number to be set up.

There was this farmer from pre ‘territorial independent’ days who had four sons and 4 + daughters. The female numbers do not really count. One from the + side had only daughters and Nuthan was the youngest of them.  Of the four idiots, three went to the IITs and one took a short cut to one of the CAT centers. He wanted to prove that he was a better idiot than the rest.

One cool January morning Nuthan calls.

Hi, I cleared the CAT and am called to all the centers

Congratulations, you will soon be the newsmaker 2011

Why ?

You are one among 206,000, almost a Black Swan.  We need to wait before concluding that we are getting mature going by the 15% drop in numbers from the previous year.

You deserve the Miss India talent crown. To the best of my knowledge you never went to school or college but spent most of those years in indoor stadia all over the country, having a ball. You never picked up any quant other than balancing the financial statements in your B. Com finals. Yet you did better than the best of the astute and studious.

What was your percentile?


Nuthan, you are the cutest of all the cats. All the top cats with a perfect 100 belong to the male of the species, went to IITs, went to school every single day, did their coaching circus and most of them took more than one shot to make it. You don’t figure anywhere here and you have a work ex of three years playing for the oil company which you claim to have been working for and getting paid for it.

Thank you.  I am scared whether I will convert the calls or not.  Will you give me some tips to make it to the finals, clearing the GDPI (for the uninitiated this expands to, Group Discussion and Personal Interview)

If you can bell the CAT without going to the circus you can as well do this without me. You should be scared that they will make you conform.

I know you have helped some to beat the CAT

Ok. Let me run a small test for you

What is the scope for more CAT cloning centers in the country?

13 more


We already have 13, and there are only 26 letters in the ‘Inglish’ alphabet. Taking the UID route will kill the unique value proposition of the brand. One should not kill the golden goose.

Good, you are already half way there to half the centers

What is Indian about the Indian Institute of CATs

I don’t know

Very good, that is why you are going there. You are almost there for 75 % of the centers

Next one, if they ask what if you don’t make it this year?

I will show them my GRE score which is even better than my CATS and tell them that you will have to face me next year with a still better CATS

Congratulations Nuthan, you will convert all the calls

Here is the last one. Suggest a few titles to the passage above

Normalization and the True Normal

Copy cats Do not Catch Mice

The Bell Curve in Indian Life

The Fourth Idiot

Talent Mania and The War For Talent

What is Indian about the Indian Institutes of Management?

MCPs and the Revenge of the Underdogs.

Great, don’t go back to school. They will make you conform to the other idiots, crucify = normalize you on the Procrustean bed. Gates and Zuckerman and the other natives of the connected world graduated from the market, nothing but a different version of the same. Copy cats do not catch mice.

Nuthan:  What is Indian about the IIMs?

I don’t know dear

Thanks. (Thank God, I didn’t go to school)

Similitude to living and dead CATs is intentional

Thou shall not Judge…but

The procrustean is the bedrock of modernity (mediocrity), the generator of pyramids and the hierarchical.   Procrustus is a monomaniac, a Narcissus who sees that he fits his frame perfectly and uses the same to sit in judgment. I am intelligent and the other is less intelligent. I am normal and the other is fit for the madhouse.  I am civilized and the other is primitive. I am a native and you are an immigrant. Mine is the only faith that guarantees salvation. He is the economist who says the American is 35 times more ‘developed’, since the Indian has an average income of 1000 dollars against 35000 for the American. Has anybody met the average Indian or the average American?    The happiness index is outside his frame of reference.

Our Mr Talent does not take to fools easily. He thinks the mainstream media is trash. To reply to the fools who read his books is not worth his time, the real resource, according to his own frame. He finds his dollar worth pocketing since that is the price he fixes himself for his intellectual accomplishments. He declares himself a flaneur, a Black Swan, Prophet in the making.

Prophets ‘normally’ come from the east.  Lao tsu, Buddha, Christ, Mohammad, Sankara (from Kerala) Our Mr. Talent could be a candidate for the elite corps of Black Swans. The rest of us are white swans. That sums up the HIStory of 2500 years.

Prophets can be understood only against their contexts. Christ and the society which created him are so interdependent, that to strip them and to judge them in isolation is procrustean. So is Lao Tzu, Buddha, Prophet Mohammad and Shankara. Black makes sense only against the white.

Mr Talent the immigrant rides the American wave better than the natives beating the natives in their own game and nearly transforms himself to a bridge figure.   Uprooted by the Procrustean and forced to flee, let us hope that he will not sacrifice himself on the bed of Procrustes. Gladwell starts on a very promising note highlighting how community contributes to the health of the Rosettto but very soon succumbs to the compulsions of conforming to the recipe to make it to the best-seller list and goes after what constitutes the success cocktail.

All of them are male?

This is part of the reason why we have the silent unseen wars between,  the female against the male,  the unconscious against the conscious, the revenge of the underdogs,  and why the Built to Last fall apart no sooner than they are built.

Black Swans or Black Sheep?

Throughout these posts we refer to people, not books. The books take us to the people since work defines the person. In the same spirit we look at the living rather than those long dead and still not buried.  What we see depends on where we stand, our positions. One could take the Wall Street perspective or the Bangalore Perspective. The Black swan from the New York perspective turns out to be a Black Sheep from the Bangalore position.

Some books, people and books yet to be written J

The Fifth Discipline, 1990, Peter M. Senge

If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him, 1974, Sheldon Kopp

The Bell Curve, Intelligence and Class structure in American Life,1994, Richard  Herrnstein, Charles Murray

Outliers, 2008, Malcolm Gladwell

The Black Swan, 2007, The Bed of Procrustes, 2010, Nicholas Nassim Taleb

Can Asians Think?,1999,Kishore Mahubani

Three Idiots,2009, Movie from India

Tunnel Vision, TV. Yet to be published

WFT , the Future History of the Modern Pyramids, 2111. Yet to be published – it takes a gap of around 100 years to normalize our achievements and to put them in perspective.

The above passage was circulated to the tribe. The comments:

Does normal exist?  Yes, when we are true to the design, we are truly normal. It has nothing to do with the fleeting ‘normality of the time’.  The compulsion to conform to this stupid normality is the burden of normality

Based on the ‘normal’ perspective Nuthan would not get through CAT. She did not tread the beaten path.  Exceptions point to the truly normal and only the truly normal can aspire to be super normal.

P.S. 19 April 2011. Nuthan calls again. She did make it to the one she wanted.

Placebos and Power Lies

Power Lie = Placebo + Potency!

“How can we enhance the potency of placebos?”

Ceremonial magic, illegibility, infusion of extreme technology, semantic profligacy, misinformation overdrive, the printed word, the war for talent, intellectualese, all the Ps in marketing, Pyramids, heightened threat perceptions, disciplinary silos………. Creativity is the limit.”

“Is this by design?”

“Partly by default, partly by design and mostly driven by what could euphemistically be termed as appropriate selfishness. One might even justify it with the adage – The road to hell is paved with good intentions”

“If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a somewhat different world.”  –Wittgenstein

“Language is not the only culprit. Each one of us has a different position and what we see from that position is our personal truth which creates a world of one’s own in us. There is also a part of this world that fits with those of others in bits and pieces and a lot that we agree collectively.    We have maturity metrics that do not fit with a consensus maturity rather than.  But for the semantic confusion that follow from our variant positins, art, science, philosophy and religious texts would have dematerialised and we would have seen more in common than in isolation”

“Is it possible to take a common position so that the members of the community or the species see the same and talk the same?”

“It is possible but it hurts. People might come to know that the most powerful medicine is just a placebo”

“The container has become the content, media the message and the massage! “ When everything is a lie, lie detectors are akin to mousetraps where rats are extinct. What we need is a truth detector.

Philosophy ought to be that touchstone to detect truth.

pic of philosophy

                                                 True normality  

  • When one’s inheritance is from the cloud every one is a prnce or a princess.
  • Will Durant tells the Story of Philosophy in over 600 pages and Kant takes 800 pages for the Critique of Pure Reason. Yet the story is far from complete. Schopenhauer laments,  “ I could not find a shorter way of imparting it than this book, The World as Will and Idea.
  • Philosophy has gone out of fashion. We should  not expect the princes  to wade through the semantic swamp of philosophy and the other disciplines and  come up with a new synthesis.
  • The shorter way, a new synthesis,  is an imperative. A picture is worth thousand words is an understatement which discounts the value of maps, and mapping. Text can never be free of slipperiness and linearity. We need more maps and pictures to avoid killing more trees, more so when reading has given way to viewing. Visual literacy has become a critical competency.
  • The perceived normal is the abnormal. We can now see the truly normal
  • History is Philosophy in motion (Croce). Pull down the tent poles of space and time, history and philosophy collapse to the present and the two meet. The true historian (all history is lies and it is always His story not hers and western philosophy is no different) and the true philosopher would meet at this  moment of truth. The  artist,scientist, theologian and the pursuers of other paths too would meet at the same cross roads if the synthesis  is effective. We would be saving a lot of wasted effort when all of us use the same philosopher’s compass.
  • Most of our partners in dialogue had  their background in business, governance and developmental management. We worked together to arrive at the common ground since it  is from here that accelerated community learning  takes off.
  • Less is more. “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

> Connect > Occam’s razor

Philosopher’s stone

Intelligence > Problem Solving> Continual improvement

Why AI? > Modeling natural intelligence, Gainful Compression of Knowledge

Learning plateaus: The teachers’ day out

S: Good morning, happy Teachers’ Day. No classes, hurray!!

T: Thanks, I didn’t know. You seem to be very happy that you don’t have classes. If teaching is about learning you wouldn’t celebrate it this way. Learning itself ought to be the best fun.

S: The teachers threw a party for us and let us off for the day

T:  How can teachers not teach? It is unethical, against nature to strike work.  A farmer cannot strike work, the cow cannot. How can a few take such freedom?

S: Hmm…. Do you think…teaching in class is the only way to teach. I have learnt much more from my dreams than from class.

T Why should there be any teaching? Chris says they have only one word ‘hweil’ for teaching and learning. We should have only learners and no teachers.

S: One thing…quite weird… about the dreams

T: Shoot straight. Do not beat around the bush, in your usual style.

S:  I see dreams… where people only die  or dreams that revolve only around my world
T You never told me about these deaths other than killing your father and grandpa
S:  Yeah. Last night I saw two babies killed, I did not kill them, but they died, one of them as soon as it was born and the other after a few months

T:  What was the dream?

S:  I forgot if I was the mother or not. All I remember is that children died. I was sad though I did not cry. I don’t remember any more

T: You are stuck at 13. That is the reason for the killings, grow up. You are not yet an ADULT to have babies
S: I saw that someone said these children would have survived if you were 26
T: It shows.

S:  Yeah, very right, amazing.

T: Great learning, now take a break, here is a story that came in mail right now, synchronicity?
A Turkey was chatting with a bull.

‘I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree’ sighed the t turkey, ‘but I haven’t got the energy.’

‘Well, why don’t you nibble on some of my droppings?’ replied the bull. They’re packed with nutrients.’
The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree.

The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch.

Finally after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree. He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree.

Moral of the story: Bull poop might get you to the top, but it won’t keep you there.

T: So how do you move from 13 to 22?

S:  I don’t know

T: You are stuck at a learning plateau, like most of us. We are all stuck at different plateaus when we are on the well travelled road, the red road in the visual. Take the green road if you do not want to get into highway pile ups. According to the model, the other plateaus are around 35-40 and 55-60 years, the midcareer and senior levels.  There may be exceptions who take the green road very early.
S:  As I study, I see my competitors. Earlier I saw myself studying. It is different now. I see killing or trying to murder them. That is evil, isn’t it?
S: Why the smile?

T:It is easy to see physical aggression. There is a more dangerous version that goes unnoticed.   You are in the process of killing the Hitler in you.

Time for another break, here is another story.

An eagle was sitting on a tree doing nothing.

A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, ‘Can I also sit like you and do nothing?’
The eagle answered: ‘Sure, why not.’

So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

T: You are killing because you are stuck. You are killing yourself, refusing to be an adult. What should be the trajectory under ideal conditions from 13 to 21, teens to the adult? I am not talking about chronological aging.

S: Yeah, mm, physical changes, changes in thoughts and perception.
T: What about the most basic drive, meaning or purpose in life?  Has it been resolved? Why are you here? This is the first plateau.

S: Yeah, I think we discussed it when we discussed Maslow and I am fairly clear about it. I know why I am here.

T: Physical changes will happen even without our consent. Nature is good at that but we are more than our physical selves. The mental and spiritual growth challenges need be resolved if you are not to be confused and remain stuck at perpetual adolescence.

S:  Hmm…You tell me. I am clueless I guess

T: Most of us are confused about the role of sex and sexuality to resolve the emotional challenges at this stage of one’s growth. The distortion stays till the end.   Even before Christ we had the Kama Sutra. After 2200 years we are not ready to discuss it, sex and sexuality, in schools or families or even between ‘adults’

S: Hmm. That is right; I wish I were wiser

T: Sex is the most difficult drive to be managed. First and foremost it is a spiritual thing. If you accept the spirituality of it, it cannot do any damage and it will eliminate the commoditization of sex. It is a natural drive. It is not for just reproduction. Reproduction is not such a big issue. Anyway we have more numbers than we want for survival of the species. Had it been just for reproduction, nature would have designed it the animal way. Earlier we had mentioned trisexual men and women

Si: Yeah, in Homo Novus

T: One cannot be sexual with somebody else if one is asexual with oneself.  This is like Christ said; love your SELF to love your neighbour. So the first step is to accept and appreciate the drive in itself so that one can express the same to the other. The other could be from the same sex or the opposite. Now you know what tri-sexual is, self, the other, male, female
T What about marriage? The young ones of the species take the longest time to grow up. In addition this meets the learning requirement for humans. One can learn only in relationship with another person who will not run away from you.

S: Hmm…..I did not get it exactly, I am confused.

T:  If you are not in such a relationship you will never know your blind spots, like I know how immature or mature I am only when I look at my relationships at home because we cannot take such liberties in our outside relationships. So marriage and family is for learning and adulthood and once this is achieved (?) the institution is redundant. For a long time to come this is quite unlikely. Marriage is for mortals.

T: This is the seeding for future dreaming and for transcending the adolescence plateau so that the bonsai becomes the tree

S: But, you know, I think…I felt it very comfortable to remain a baby.
T: Now the dreams should change. The bonsai is happy, people would admire it but the design is not for that. This is why we don’t have adults in this world, in spite of all the teachers, including Christ and Buddha.

T: So wallow, more bulls poop, remain a baby?

S: Gosh. No….well, I don’t know many…who are adults the way you ask them to be, I guess.
T: Probably there are no adults when we look from the position of the species.  We are very immature as a species and more threatened than the animals. When the species is not mature how can any one of us be an adult?

S: Once I thought, It is disgusting and a pain to remember my dreams.
T: I know and you resisted very strongly. The cows align north south when they graze even when they sleep.

S: Hmm. Why do they do so?

T: They have a built in GPS. They know the direction; they are more comfortable when they are in alignment, in tune.  Animals are always in tune. You are a singer and a guitarist. You should know.
S: Why is it that we don’t know how to tune ourselves, SELVES?

T: This is the problem with free will. Animals have no choice. We have options and we need exercise choice. We have to choose the direction. They are naturally tuned, as far as we guess, and we don’t know how to choose. We too have a compass but just having it does not mean that we use it.

S: I: hmm….then… We are worse than animals, it seems they are more intelligent, or may be luckier?
T: What makes us different from the animal?

S: Brains. As everyone says or may be sense of humor?

T: This is tragic…  You know everything but not this simple thing. People are very smart, they are quiz masters, know everything under the sun, or we can Google it and get the information. But we are bad about such simple stuff. None has answered us within 10 seconds. So smarty, give me the answer or admit defeat

S: I admit defeat!!   Surrender. Well… one more guess…  we choose to go the way others have not gone…while the animals keep going on

T  : I want the unique difference between animals and the human. We don’t choose is what I am saying. To choose we should know and we don’t know, non ADULTs, how can u choose then? You had so many teachers, hats off to all of them on the Teachers’ Day. They did not teach you this!!
S:  May be they did not choose to teach this.

T  We are the only species that can improve, others cannot, and animals cannot improve, we can but we don’t.

S: Yeah, right.

T: Ok. Happy dreaming. Now you will see the dreams evolve and the alignment with the internal and external will follow. Bye. Take care

S: Thank you. Bye.

War for Talent vs. Liberation of Talent?

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 Enhancing employability through investments in skill training is assigned a very high priority in turning the demographic liability to a demographic dividend.

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.  The lure of employment rather than aptitude influences the decision to go to college. Even a professional degree is not always a passport to a certain job.

Employability is the capability to gain initial employment, maintain employment and obtain new employment if required. The war for talent (WFT) model pre-supposes that there is only a limited pool of outstanding talent. A few can make a larger difference and that they are more fit to survive. They flock to IITs and IIMs on the assumption that these few as part of their strategy to outsmart the competition.  Media create headlines when IISc secures a global ranking of 35 in employability. Nobody is keen to know their ranking in science- ability.

The liberation of talent model is based on a different set of assumptions. It recognizes that the problems of intelligence and knowledge have changed. There is not a limited pool of innate talent. The major problem in a developing context is creating the conditions for the liberation of talent of the masses in agriculture and the un organised sectors of the economy leveraging the potential of new technologies  which for new ways of approaching the management of talent

A case is often made out to establish that there exists a wide gap between what industry wants and what educational institutions offer though both sides are equally illiterate of the different positions and perspectives that goes into the noise.

The terminology of hard and soft skills best illustrate this ambiguity about skills, competencies and performance. It is said that for people working in technology the ‘hard’ skills include the technical competencies,  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).

The truth is hard skills are soft and soft skills are hard and once the soft skills are in place learning and acquisition of skills to suit the requirements of performance is the responsibility of the employee in an environment where adulthood and responsibility are in demand.

There exists are cultural aspect, 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.

Competency is the state or quality of being adequately or well qualified to perform a task.  While a person may have the competency to perform a task one need not have the desire perform.

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

The Misinformation Overload and another Snake oil Cure ? oldand new

It is the same wine, in a larger bottle

Packaging is everything in a cosmetic culture

You seem to be at your humorous best

It is not humour, call it pathetic humour.

The best packaging, container, will not take care of poor content in the long run. Snake oil salesmen will make only quick bucks.

That seems to be what business is all about! How do you separate the chaff from the grain?

We will first arrive at the essential content, the ideal, that which renders real value not the kind of value that marketers   create out of ‘appropriate selfishness’. When we club all our appropriate selfishness we get what we see.  Osama is less dangerous than Obama

What do you mean?

The enemy within is more dangerous because all our defences are pointed towards the one outside. And though we might have all the equipment we will not be equipped to pull the trigger when it is called for because of this internal squeamishness. The emperor is naked though fully covered up by the most elaborate and intricate ornamentation

Is there an enemy outside?

It depends on the position. From a variant position, yes and from the invariant, no. There is no enemy out there. All deaths are suicides and all conversation a soliloquy.

The ideal is an internal dress code, the bare minimum to cover up our nakedness. The day we were discussing the issue one of our participants had a dream of a beautiful tomb. She could also see the rotting body of the emperor inside.

She must have been a good Christian?

She had overheard her parents reading the bible

The ideal is pure potential, perfection, reason, will, design, internal, conceptual, god for ordinary mortals, the grand design  for Hawking, in essence the same content in different packaging. Re-packaging is what creates the best sellers.  The semantic swamp that results appears to be information at first glance.

Let us get back to the roots. Sanskrit means, processed, civilized, cultured as against, Prakrit, the primitive, unprocessed. The essential content is the output of this processing that goes on, something which is perennial, universally relevant, beyond time and space, ‘akshaya’, immortal, culture or the ideal. We need to be clear on this to master separating the chaff from the grain.

This is the most essential competency to survive today.

Why flout all the rules of grammar and convention?

Sanskrit was the language of processing at one time. We need a new language of processing and our language experts suggested, Inglish. Inglish does not have the worldview that goes with English nor most of its rules of grammar. It is a common purpose oriented language which retains the essence. Most memories and conventions keep us tied down to the past.

So how does this competency take care of the information overload?

Information overload is a misnomer since the very character of information is that it kills variety and reduces the overload. It increases the order, fights decay and death. It is life giving.  We might call this data overload which is a boon to the storage industry and those who put all their faith in more power to the machines and less to the humans in general but not necessarily to an elite few.

We need some kind of meta information about information itself.

‘Ravana’, the emperor, has ten heads, quite a burden for most practical purposes.  The ideal is mapped under ten heads in the call out in the top left quadrant of the map.  We have ten balls within that one ball.

You are making it more complicated? All those ten heads didn’t really help him.

All complexity is not a curse. Requisite complexity and variety are unavoidable. Miss out on anyone of the recipe, the dish goes to the garbage dump.

Why ten?

Ten is the minimum requisite variety to understand the basic design, the master templates of nature.

What do these ten heads stand for?

Let us take the information head. The information head is information about information. In the absence of this information one will not be able to transform data to information and reduce the complexity. Misinformation overload is the result

Another example

2×2 = 4, 4×4= 16, 16×16= 256, 256 x 256 =?

The multiplication table ceases to serve the purpose at a certain stage of increasing complexity. All tools reach this limit and at some stage the wheel needs to be reinvented. Reinventing is a new synthesis. It is relevant in other contexts too. When one has a major accident, on the road or off, it is time for a new synthesis. There are always better solutions and the best is always yet to come. Even health and healing is more about information than about medicines.

Now a little more meditation on the ten will give you all the clues. You are on your own.

Why always leave a large part of it unexplained?

We need to break from treating others as children, like all governments do, and relate as adults so that the adult emerges.  We point to the issue and one has to figure it out for oneself if it has to be of any use.

 Knowledge Visualisation

Visualizing Knowledge

Visualizing Knowledge

From the lowly perspective of a dog’s eyes, everyone looks short – Chinese proverb

From knowing to SEE ing

All dogs do not see the same

Stray dogs see better than domesticated dogs

The latter become less intelligent in the process.  Levelling?

They may not be very ‘lowly’ as the Chinese say

We haven’t fared any better than them

On Community Intelligence!

Even the dog sees that we have gone astray!

Maslow revisited

Maslow Revisited

“If you have built your castles in the air your work need not be in vain, for that is where they should be. Now build foundations underneath them.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Root wilt meets bunchy top

M: We have a 26/11, the Indian version of 9/11, and you are still digging?

J: Recessions, terrorism and religious fundamentalism have many things in common. It is very much part of the syndrome that we discuss. We were digging from 1981 to 1990 when the synthesis happened and the FDF fell in place.  Without looking back, digging deeper into oneself and also into our collective past, we cannot go ahead. We can see ahead as much as we can see into our past. Since 1990, more than digging, we have been facilitating the process of digging and integration, one to one, in groups and for organisations.

M: “Root wilt and Bunchy top”?

J: When the soil is dying the flora and fauna come to suffer from these attacks. The malady advances like an invading army, acres and acres of crops surrender to the advance and vanish year by year. Scientists continue to work for solutions but none have been effective. The science that we use is most often is not science because the bits and bytes do not come together to address the complexity of the issue in sufficient measure. It is not only plants that suffer from bunchy tops and root wilts. We find hardly a family which has not been touched by suicide, psychiatric illness, heart attack or cancer – mostly more than one of these. A suicide is very much like root wilt because the individual fails to find his roots and grow up. Psychiatric illness is another kind of root wilt because the person’s effort at making meaning out of existence leads to a crisis. The terrorist is just another version of it. Other illnesses too have a link with the primary distortion in meaning which is at the heart of the issue

Bunchy top is the syndrome that goes with power and hierarchy – the emperor is naked.

M: The monarchy is not dead?

J: Hardly. There is a change in style and fashion, superficial and cosmetic. The monarchy of Indian origin ended with emperor Ashoka. The west took it over beginning with Alexander. He was too young to pass through the identity crisis that Ahsoka had. The west has been celebrating its success since then and success corrupts more than power. When the monarchies started weakening, they got into strategic alliances with the clergy giving rise to the wave of conversion / colonisation. The great learning from this wave was that territorial control is no more critical to stay ahead, that competitive advantage is embedded in the intangibles, concepts, design, technology, standards, market and to be more specific capital markets. The brain mattered more than the brawn. Nations shrunk to give way to MNCs, the corporate multi ‘national’ ‘nations’ often much bigger than nations. The emperors put on different clothes. Attila the Hun, Genkis Khan, Charlemagne, the Vikings were all reinvented to be icons of fashion of the day. There is now a great rush to save the pyramids and not enough time to go digging
When we are in a great rush we fail to see what happens at home. The seniors could help because they are in no great rush. They can go digging and might come up with some treasures. Or you could outsource it to India. They are better at digging because of the greater diversity in terms of the plurality of religions, languages, color, and myriad other differentiators. It is like the Galapagos to Darwin. We might come up with a new theory of human evolution. This is the unique competitive advantage of the country that China and the US should be worried about from an obsolete leadership perspective.

The pyramids continue to attract us. They have stood the test of time and are not out of our collective psyche. We now have other forms of multinational pyramids with the bottom and the top out of alignment. Recessions are the result of the tectonic shifts between the top and the bottom.

The self is to the organisation as the cell is to the body. Our maps of the cell are yet not complete. We are yet to decipher the ‘junk DNA’. If we don’t understand something we junk it. We don’t have a map of the self but we have so many working models of mammoth organisations.

We need to really dig deeper to come out of the crisis. History seldom helps because most of it is about glorified aggression. Moreover it cannot give us solutions since the same logic that created the problem cannot be of relevance to craft solutions to the issue

M: The central issue is a perennial one. You might get a glimpse of it between the logic gates

Tower of Babel vs leaning tower of Pisa

Ashoka vs Alexander

The Flood and the Ark

Pyramids vs Networks/ Communities of continual self –renewal

Change vs Sustained transformational improvements

Affluenza vs Influenza

David vs Goliath

Freemarket vs Bailouts

Creating wealth vs Philanthropy – Behind every great fortune is a crime.”

– Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850)

If change is all that we need the President elect has already achieved it. He did connect extremely well with more parts and bottom of the pyramid and won a landslide victory. Now when he moves up the largest pyramid, he will lose sight of the bottom. Take a look at You cannot write to the President elect unless you are a US citizen or you need to lie that you are one. While he is much more than the President of the US and presides over a larger world, he could fail to connect with the larger human issue. When we are on top of the pyramid we cannot see the bottom. Even at a much lower level, there are very few families with a sustained trajectory of improvements. One generation makes it and the next generation squanders it – is a norm. We are discussing a design problem as to how this trap can be circumvented since the issue is not change but sustained continuous improvements – building the new tower of Babel. This time we need to bring in the spirit/nature to the centre of it which is not likely to happen, going by the history of collapses. The frog will be blissfully unaware that it is turning into frog soup.

J: A recession is nature’s way of bringing you back in touch with the bottom?

M: It is much more than that. We are taken hostage by the pirates occupying the top of the pyramids, much like the Saudi Oil tanker Sirius Star with its $100 million cargo. The pyramid could be an academic discipline, a cult, a religious sect, in short wherever the ADULT and the dialogue is blocked, perhaps unintentionally

J: How do you differentiate, the adult from the dictator

M: Watch the language. If it is one which the man on the road fails to connect to, we have reasons to worry. Leader ship is not about having followers. Christ gave us a model of servant leadership, washing the feet of his disciples. Ashoka turned into a servant of the masses. Gandhi did the same. The church could not hold on to the model for long- it has become the oldest surviving pyramid. Respect for diversity. When we don’t respect the diversity of the flora and fauna nature dies. When we don’t respect the diversity of the human, the species is at risk. When we put all our money in GM we are risking our financial future. It applies to faith too. The NICs showed that they could follow the path taken by the US. China has already proven that they are much better at it at a much larger scale. India will not be able to do it because of its greater complexity, diversity and the unlikelihood of the emergence of a similar leadership.

J: I am reminded of a metaphor on leadership. Mumbai has one of the largest abattoirs in the world. When sheep are unloaded from trucks, they are lead by leader goats whose job it is to go to the trucks and lead the sheep, show them the way, through the maze of barricades. It is a long wait as the lines are very long. When the leader goats reach the butcher, they move ahead and the followers get slaughtered under the butcher’s knife

At times absence of leadership is a blessing in disguise

M: But there has also been an unprecedented improvement in the last 100 years in real terms. We are more connected and we can see in real time much more than any time in the past. There has been a lot of shift from the static to the dynamic, more of openness and transparency, opportunities for the individuals to express her SELF

J: The major aphorisms of the connected world are:

The number of transistors that could be built up on the same size piece of silicon would double every eighteen months. (The power of the chip doubles every eighteen months.) Gordon Moore

Value of a network rises exponentially relative to the square of the number using it. Robert Metcafe

Power of creativity rises exponentially with the diversity and divergence of those connected into a network. John Kao (Chinese American Business Thinker)

The first two are already part of our experience but the last one is the most powerful. Here lies the competitive advantage of India. Globally here is the opportunity to leverage ourselves out of the recession and move into an altogether different phase of sustained continuous improvements as against discrete, random and isolated improvements.

M: So the imperative is to connect at a much larger scale and transform the pyramids to continuous learning engines

J: A learning engine is capable of continuously improving on its previous best performance so that there will be no booms and busts as in the past. Continuous improvement implies continual learning.

M: Why have you come up with an addendum to Abraham Maslow?

J: This is something which the participants came up with. They said the model is more complete if the hierarchy of needs are placed on the foundation of the spirit. For a man who finds suicide to be meaningful, the hierarchy does not matter! It sounded very right. Probably we may have to revisit the great man

M: What else have they come up with in your digging workshop?

J: I have a mail to our dream archives from one of our participants. He had it the night after the process workshop which was about digging deeper into our selves – part of it was to connect with the male and the female in us.

Recovery of Sita: The dream

Huge crater, mouth of the volcano, Sita takes him very close to the bottom of the crater walking down over the soft greyish golden sand to the spewing spurting jets of yellowish molten lava accumulating as fluffy sand They stand together watching  the lava turning into soft sand. Though they are very close to the mouth, it is not hot at all

They walk away from the mouth of the crater through the twilight zone holding each other close, at peace and in harmony with each other. He moves to kiss her on the lips. She too wants to but gently restrains him   leading him across the shadows to light. She stops facing him and plants the gentlest kiss on his lips. He returns the kiss. He feels truly at home and experiences a peace that he has never known before

Sita ends her life requesting mother earth to swallow her: Myth/ History

Rama exiles Sita to the forest   doubting her fidelity on a similar logic as that of Julius Caesar, “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.”  Sita was pregnant with Rama’s twins They  grow up in a hermitage in the forest. Rama meanwhile performs the horse sacrifice to enlarge his empire (expanding market share?) sending out a horse accompanied by a huge army. The twins tie up the horse and defeat the army. Rama realises that the two are no ordinary children,  goes to the hermitage and meets his sons for the first time.  When the sons are grown up, Sita ends her life by asking mother earth to open and swallow her. She has had enough of it

M: Why are you digging into dreams, fantasy and fiction once again?

J:  they are more real and we are driven by them more than facts. Because the feminine is more difficult to connect to. We buried her long long ago in our distant past. Since the feminine is buried the male too is a shadow of the real. The result is that the self functions like an engine with half the cylinders not firing. Moreover the Hummer is running in reverse gear with the accelerator stuck to the floor. Somebody had played a prank with the driver’s seat, fixing it in the opposite direction. The driver believes that he is doing wonderful blissfully unaware of heading in the wrong direction. The bystanders applaud and go on watching the feat

Recessions have been the outcome of typical male macho linearity.  More of the same will take us faster to the doom, such as the bail outs. This is the time for the non-linear, waves, cycles and the spiral.  The male would say let us cut down on the head count, on travel, training or let me get out taking my bonus. The female would say let us cut down on our perks and salaries, let us not kill the community,  let us transform the pyramid into a learning engine which improves itself continually, bring in radical improvements in productivity and meanwhile I would take the largest cut.

The US is the typical male. To me, the Japanese are a better blend of the male and the female

M: Why look for another source of energy?

J: We are running out of the dirty fuels. The mixture – dirty fuels + dirty spirituality + mean business + poor governance – form the worst explosive cocktail, threatening the survival of the species and the planet. The recession is a golden opportunity to take stock and reposition ourselves, to focus on the real economy of real improvements, real growth and true community. We understood the atoms and molecules and connected with one source of energy. This was no doubt a huge step in mastering the machine logic. We deciphered the DNA which was an improvement in terms of understanding the bio-logic. We understand distant space better than the deep space within us which is turning into desert. If the desserts on land are to bloom we need to turn the desert in us to bloom, bringing back nature to our centre from which we had moved away, sending Sita underground. The rock logic needs to be balanced with the water logic.  This will be the mother of all revolutions to happen, connecting to the perennial source of clean energy. Please do not confuse this with NAN, new-age nonsense, or another version of feminism. This is about evolving a new language of performance and the Dia-logic, going beyond the clichés and jargon

M:  Another one of your obsessions seems to be about the centre

J:  When you put some weight in one of the pans of the common weighing balance, it tilts and when counterbalanced moves in the opposite direction. But there is no shift at the centre of the beam. When the football is being kicked around the centre is not disturbed though a pin prick can disturb the equilibrium. The earth, other planets and the sun too have centres. There is a relationship between the centre of the earth, other planets and the centre of the sun. There may be tectonic shifts happening on the planet but if the relationship between the two centres is broken, try to imagine the situation. The solar system has a centre which in turn is connected to the centre of the galaxy and so on. We understand this relationship and make use of it to propel our spacecrafts to the outer reaches of space. We are talking about small and big systems of a particular class. The human is much more than such clockwork systems because we are much more than our physical self. The physical self like all other objects has a centre. What about the mind and the spirit?  Do they too have a centre and if so how are they connected together in the self? We need to connect to this centre to keep us in balance. This is what real recession proofing is all about

M: Why bring the spirit into it. We are getting into unfamiliar territory

J: It is very simple. How many sides, has the coin?

M:  Two……….., three………….., many

J: How many sides for time?

M: Three – past, present, future, may be more

J; What about the day?

M: Day, Night, Dusk and Dawn? So what?

J: Body and mind alone are not sufficient to describe the self. It is just like the coin with two sides which cannot exist in physical reality. All the talk about the two sides of the coin will fail to materialise it. How can you describe Gandhi without mention of what he lived and died for? So where you focus your energy is what the spirit is all about, what you find meaning in is an integral dimension of the self. Self is born when this is recognised by the self and it matures when it connects to the community self which brings people together around such people. Obama did it better than Mc Cain. He focused on the unfocused blue ocean space whereas Mc Cain went for the conventional. Obama could connect to more and I wish Mc Cain could be the number two bringing all of ‘US’ together in tackling our common issues.  May be the USA should have two vice presidents so that the loser can be one of them

M: Are you suggesting that the self is seldom born?

J Well let us see this as a process. We may not be far from truth to make such a conclusion going by the degree of community among us and the hyper inflation in our problems. We deny needs to the majority and glorify the wants of a minority. The pyramids tumble down in the tectonic shifts because the foundation and the top are not aligned, a part of the truth about recessions and meltdowns, booms and busts.

M: An extension of the logic would mean that one might find killing someone to be spiritual?

J:  Well many have found it to be so and many continue to believe in such spirituality. Established religions have not gone much farther from this position. It is dangerous to leave spirituality to religions which have become another version of mean business. Spirituality is primarily about transcending work to play which will unleash quantum improvements to human productivity and quality which is a kind of clean energy and energy saved is energy produced without carbon

M: Are you pulling Mr. ‘Freidman’s legs?

J: Flat hot and crowded is a typical linear statement though most of the book is focused on the SW quadrant of the FD framework.

He would do well to dig deeper into his self taking his own prescription for the malady. He touches on the need for non-linearity.  Linearity is short run and very local. Non-linearity is process thinking, thinking in waves, cycles and the spiral. The waves will have ups and down. We cannot go completely against the cycles of nature.   We need to work with them.

He claims to be an American and sees the issue as an American issue, not human or global though he can legitimately claim only to be a US citizen. We are first humans, then Americans, Chinese or Indians. Freidman seems to be first an ‘American’ and then a human. In Friedman’s reckoning China is worth a chapter, India is worth a few names and the rest of the world does not count at all. The book seems to be timed well with the US elections.

M: I think we will be least affected by the meltdown. We know how to live like royalty with $ 2 a day under the shade of what they call the poverty line

J: Balu wrote from Silicon Valley that I should be discussing Krugman and not Freidman. The scale and size of any of the IT ‘biggies’ from India would not even touch the size of the R&D budget of Microsoft and by US scale even Microsoft is not all that big. Here nobody understands scale and size. So India doesn’t really figure when we discuss the global

It also means that the masses fail to catch up with the process of reckoning. The bottom of the pyramid is out of reckoning against the metrics of markets and money. We would soon be bottling sunshine and brand it Sun spirit. Drinking water from an unpolluted river has no economic value but when you bottle it and sell it, it adds to the GDP, if the sale is in $ still better. If I am in the bottled water business, polluting the river appeals to my shadow self.  If one is a hunter or gatherer he does not count. Taking care of the forests and water bodies, and living lightly on such resources have no economic value since it is beyond current systems of metrics. The more aggressive we are in our   consumption the more developed we are.

M : When we dig deeper we may not like all that comes up

J: The participants in one of the workshops came up with some foot prints   left by subsequent waves of globalization. Here is an excerpt:

“Jews Synagogue – 700 BCE –

The Ashoka Pillar 304 – 232 BCE

The first teak plantation in the world 1842-44

The tropical forests and the tribal eco-system people retreated over the last one century in the march of the “developmental process” – the onward march of teak, tea, sugar cane rubber and other plantations. The original green was replaced by the plantation green which also brought along fertilizers, pesticides and weedicides to the source of the major rivers, killing off flora and fauna.   The natural processes – cycles of renewal – were broken and the soil is dying. The farmers showed us how the death of the soil march ahead year by year   as the markets expand and the crops come to suffer from “rootwilts’ and “bunchy tops’. People too come to suffer from root wilts and bunchy tops, fall ill, as they fail to connect to the roots through their head and heart”

M What is happening now is quite different. The opportunity is directly in proportion to the size and scale of the crisis

J: May be, May be not. This will depend on how we respond to the crisis as individuals and as a community. Digging deeper helps, if it leads to a new synthesis.

M: That was a long break. When is the next post?

J: We will wait till the views touch a certain number. I mailed an early version of this part of the conversation to friends.

San says that recession proofing at a material level is feasible if one is competent to add value continually (implies continual learning) and at a spiritual level if one knows oneself. As I see it, knowing oneself and continual learning is one and the same. He adds that facilitators and trainers are but scavengers

Dev wrote that most of this dialogue is Greek and Latin, pointing to the issue of language and communication in our search for the common ground. He also asks a hard hitting question – When the species is yet to reach its adulthood, where are the adults to have a dialogue?

M: Recessions must be good for many; economists, psychologists, priests, newsmakers of what is wrong with the world and the illness specialists, in general. At times this could lead to a spiritual problem to the practitioner. When you pay attention to entropy you come to suffer from it unless you experience negative entropy of a higher order. If illness is perceived as an opportunity the practice is but glorified scavenging. Waste recycling of any kind, physical, mental, spiritual, could also be equally good investment opportunities. I should review my portfolio and take a position in some of these while I transition to a more stable system.

I do not want to cash in on such opportunities but I am in it just to take care of my responsibilities. If those are taken care of I would just quit the game and just BE what I am. Why should I become anything? I don’t want to be empowered. The very word suggests that we are powerless

J: The tragedy is we don’t see the economic value of BEING one self. The flower out there is being itself. It is not putting up a show that it is improving the world, nor does the Jersey cow which gives many times more milk than what the calf needs. All we say is that being oneself is the best economic proposition too. Let the design express itself and do not stand against it. This is the only way to bring in net improvements. It is when we go against the design that we end up in problems. If the clock gets stuck we would check the design to make it work. It is when we come across problems that we need to understand the design better. So this is the best of times to take stock of what we have done with our SELVES

M: But how do you know what you know about yourself is all there is to know or what we know is knowledge. I could be wallowing in the mud and claiming that all is well with my world

J: We need a compass for map making as in the case of a terrestrial journey to fix the home position and the variant positions of the journey. When we reflect over the home position with the variant positions we should be able to make sure that we are on course, that there are net improvements. Without reference to that centre and anchoring to the centre we will continue to be afflicted by the bipolar syndrome. When the species itself is afflicted, there is only a degree of difference with the normal and the abnormal in their polarities.

M: So what next after principles, people and positions?

J: We are not through with People, Position, Positioning and Positions. We need to clarify our common position, the invariant one, the lighthouse position or the home position, where we really belong, the centre in each one of us where all of us are connected which could lead to the emergence of community. This is something like a foreign body inside the pearl oyster around which the pearl material accumulates

M: You are suggesting that community does not exist now and that we are centre less.

J: When the sheet of rubber is pulled evenly in all directions the centre remains at the centre as far as the sheet remains one. When the sheet becomes a football the centre shifts to the centre of the football. There is no rubber at the centre. It remains as such even when kicked around the field. All it takes is a pin prick to throw the centre out of whack.

We are yet to get rid of the flat earth maps. The popular metaphor is flatter, hotter, crowded and so on.

M: If there is something like a home position that all of us can agree to what would that be?

J: The central issue is what is to be human, the unique differentiator, from other categories of life? Over the years many have come to agree that the differentiator is our Potential to improve and improve continually. Would you agree?

M: There goes one more of your Ps, Potential. You have some kind of fixation with Ps. My psychologist friend of the Freudian school has a different name for it
I agree tentatively so that the dialogue continues as I don’t see continual improvement anywhere around. I see only booms and busts and sporadic improvements. On the whole I am tempted to conclude that net improvements have been negative.

J: It is not wrong to have some fixations, invariance, where people too often preach that change is the only constant. Values and principles are immortal. Another one could be, to be human is to improve and improve continually to realise more and more of the Potential, both personal and collective. Not to improve is sub- animal. This is where we are a class apart from the animal. The root cause of our Problems (another P) is the unrealised potential which drives us to all the substitutes, the bulk of our products and services. One reason why the markets are shrinking is that people eventually come to know that these were substitutes and might choose not to consume more of them as they mature. Recessions can be partly explained by this logic.

From a different perspective, there has been no recession as to our problems, in spite of all the solution providers, total and partial, the common position taken by Priests, Politicians, Pedagogues and Parents. The truth is that we have a hyper inflation in the scale and magnitude of our problems in spite of all the Progress which brings us to the issue of what is true progress, improvement or Performance. When you sum up, net improvements might be negative over centuries. The ecological footprint is a pointer to this.Business takes the position that they have either a product or service or a mix of both as the solution to a problem. The issue is what your business is. If one is in the business of shadows and substitutes, one will not be free from booms and busts whereas if one is in the business of continually creating net improvements continual growth follows. The same holds good at the level of individuals too.

The sub- animal is much worse than the animal. Animals have better community and they don’t kill within the community without rhyme or reason. They are true to their potential whereas though we have the potential we do not realise it. If we are unhappy about our collective behaviour the central reason is we seldom connect to our true potential nor do we have any clues as to our true potential, not that any of of us want not to improve. In the process we turn sub- animal in our behaviour. Animals sense it whether we are human or sub- animal. In extreme cases, they express it too. Somebody I knew was chased by dogs on the beach. His only option was to get into the water. The dogs waited on the beach, howling. He was rescued by the guards on the beach but committed suicide shortly thereafter.

M: So where are we now?

J: We need to go back to the map, the FD framework, which is a grand abstraction of the essentials of sustained high performance, how the flywheel of sustained high performance of the few works against the flywheel of common wisdom.

We are looking at the cardinal directions for the journey, from the centre, and the principles involved. We started with people and positions because what we see depends on where we stand. To fix our positions we need some kind of reference points, the sun, moon, the stars or use a compass or a GPS for a terrestrial journey. Same principles hold good for the other journey that we are discussing. The fixed position is our own centre, the home position, that we have the potential to improve continually. Having done that, we turn our attention to the NW, the potential. The SE is about performance and the gap between potential and performance which sets the direction for the journey of continual improvement, the process of recession proofing

M: What about NE and SW

J: It is the conflict between what we know and we need to know to go ahead with the journey. If NE is the garbage in us SW is about developing a technology to convert it into organic manure.

M: I certainly need another cup of coffee

J: I need one of those injurious to health poison sticks. Let us contribute to the GDP and ward off the recession to some extent

M: I am afraid that I will have to take a break from this dialogue. I have an interesting offer which I am accepting

J: Congrats, for recession proofing for another stretch of the journey. We can continue the dialogue through mails

We need to take a closer look at the architecture at the core.

Some more FAQs

J and M were cafe-hopping in Bangalore for the past many days
J is a retiree after working for 34 years. M is between jobs and waiting for the next call from the head hunter. He had been a country head of an MNC, one of the Fortune 100, till recently. Between coffee, lunch, clouds of smoke, coffee again and beer, the dialogue continues.

M:  How do I make my business, recession proof? Is there a secret? (J had borrowed the CD of The Secret from M, the previous day)

J:  Correction, how do I make myself recession proof? The secret is that there is no secret. It is pretty obvious. For most of us the code is to fail, go up and come down, boom and bust, birth and death, big bang and big crunch. They test the code and confirm that the code holds good and wait for their incentives, stock options and Nobels. The more elaborate and grandiose the project (Hadron?) more is the competitive advantage.   The economics of scale is in your favour (Krugman?)

M. I saw it coming every time on all six jobs spanning a career of nearly two decades. Got out at the nick of time when the down turn hadn’t begun. This is one thing good about the managerial career. In the medical profession or a captain of the ship would be sued for dereliction of your responsibility.

You seem to have done quite the opposite; you were stuck on your last job for 24 years!

J: Your planning horizon was 3 years for your business and 15 years for your career. Mine was 40 + years, since I decided to be a Facilitator. I did not differentiate between my career horizon and my personal one. I think I have enough steam left to go on for more than the remaining 13 years.  I have retired but nor retired from work, that would be another kind of suicide. So if you want to recession proof yourself you need to visualize your career over a longer planning horizon. If you want to recession proof your business, the minimum planning horizon shall be 10 – 14 years, covering a boom and bust, a complete cycle. In addition you need to get rid of all those codes that they planted in you over the years, at home, in the church, at school/ college and by the democrats and republicans, all taken together, over time, at least since the industrial revolution

M: That is indeed a tall order. I don’t have that kind of patience, period.

J: I think we are stuck here. But anyway since you have time on your side, recession proofed yourself for another two years; let us go ahead with the dialogue. It is better than going back to the same channels where they spread more gloom about the future of free markets and governments rushing in to bail out the pyramids. We are turning pro governance overnight!

M: Where do we begin?

J: Let us begin from the beginning, First Things First (Covey?). Where are we now?

M: We have moved down from the heights of irrational exuberance to the depths of depression?   Change is the only constant. It is like a roller coaster, a giant wheel for the grown ups

J:  Mind your language! It shows your code. In that case, changelessness also is a constant. Better debug your code for change and making a difference to, MAKING IMPROVEMENTS AND MAKING CONTINUAL IMPROVEMENTs    if you really want to recession proof yourself and your business.

You are no better than your code, your maps and tools.

M:  So where do we begin, with the clock or the compass?

J:  We go back to principles, always the compass first not the clock. They don’t change like you change into casuals and formals depending on the context.

Making a difference, my foot….. We need better maps for the journey ahead, a language of performance and improvement

M: Yet another model?

J: Not another model, a map of principles, that hold good for all the journeys of improvement, terrestrial, mental and or spiritual, whatever kind of journey that is ahead

M: Tell me more

J: Let us look at the Ps Map

M: The 4 Ps? , 7 Ps?  Product, price, promotion, place, people, process,

J: All those Ps together will not recession proof you or your business. But they will be useful when the missing Ps is taken care of, like the PHYSICIST from PHYSICS. I should be loyal to a good friend who is now one of the co- authors of the bible on marketing

M: You mean the one who copied your Ps map into his book on Organizational Behaviour and claims that he has developed it

J:  You are dead wrong there. This is someone you are yet to come across. He was a student of mine at one time and is now a Professor of Management. He copied a bad copy with the mistakes included. We are digressing; Let us come back to the map and assume that you are the traveller. What will be the first step, before the first step, to any journey? For seventeen years, I have been asking this question to mostly students of business, managers or business men and I am yet to get the right answer within a minute. Probably this was the first time they were confronted with it?

Most of them position products and organisations, yet seldom apply the same logic to their careers/personal lives

So after Principles, the next two Ps are PEOPLE and their POSITIONS. The first step to the journey is to answer the question. Where am I now? Where are we now? Fixing our lighthouse position, the invariant one, and then the variant positions in the direction of the journey and keep reflecting on the course in relation to the lighthouse position

M: Let us take a P break?

J: What is that?

Joan meets Devassia- Stages of Man 

“In my father’s house, there are many rooms.” John 14:2

Ten gates

Ten gates

“Stories are not about words. Stories are about pictures.”

Joan Erikson and PC Devassia, in a tete a tete

“Congrats Joan, both of you were born in 1902 but you outlived him by three years and added one more stage to his eight though I would not fully agree with you there. I lived to be a 100 and six months more and gave up my life because I had completed my work here. The last six months were my preparation to quit. I would not call it old age. What strikes me most about the two of you was Erik was very open in acknowledging your contributions to his work and admitting that it is impossible to separate who did what. You certainly will continue to be exceptional examples of family dynamics and professional growth “

“You don’t agree with our nine stages of man”

“I decided what to do with my life when I was nine and continued doing it for 91 years. So it is not the chronological age that matters but whether you take position in life as to the meaning and purpose of one’s life. Some might do this in their midlife and many will never even pass through the first of the ten transformative gates from the human animal to the human. Most people are dead in their thirties and forties though they manifest some symptoms of life, going by the laws of motion. Another problem is time in the west is perceived as linear.  For us a 6000 year old story is as much in the present as it is 6000 years in the future. We have a different way of perceiving time.”

“What would you propose in place of our nine stages of life?”

“We resorted to an ingenious way of crafting stories to carry content. Our philosophy is packaged into stories and transmitted through generations and they are perennial.  We have two of the all-time best story tellers, Valmikiand Vyasa.  Valmiki gave us the Ramayana and Vyasa, the Mahabharata. Between the two stories, the stages of man are elaborated.  The two stories are complementary to each other, the first one is more about family dynamics and the second one has a global canvass. “

“Can you explain the stages of man using these stories?”

“Let us take the character of Ravana. Valmiki draws upon his own life prior to his transformation to create this character. Ravana has ten heads, is very accomplished and he is an immortal, a boon he received for his austerities for 10,000 years. The ten heads symbolises ten stages, avatars, of evolutionary growth. Yet he is considered a primitive,prakrit.  He is juxtaposed against the protagonist Rama, the icon of the transformed man. He has the qualities of a catalyst. In his presence Ahalya, a petrified woman is transformed into her completeness. Though he has passed through many of the gates of transformation he fails to do justice to his wife.

“Ravana despite all his powers falls to win over Sita.  Rama recovers Sita from captivity and Ravana is killed. Ravana is our man of the day.”

“I am more curious about what happened to Sita.”

“That part of the story needs a re-telling in our context.  We had female philosophers, like Gargi and Maitreyi,  but no female versions of Valmiki or Vyasa. In ‘The Palace of Illusions’, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, re-tells the story of Panchali, the central female character of Mahabharata, from a feminine perspective”

“Despite all this noise, silence and the feminine will prevail. Men are such empty drums devoid of their feminine. May be I will work on gender intelligence in my next lifetime.”

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. “

“The camel is in a better position.“

A User Manual to the Self


“Yes, Johnny”

“My PC is not working”

“Look up the user manual”


“Yes, Johnny”

“The UPS is not working”

“Look up the User Manual”


“Yes, Johnny”

“I can’t figure this out. Where is my User Manual?”

“Ask Panditji”. (Panditji is the neighbourhood astrologer and dad a Professor of Strategic Human Resource Management in an ivy league B- School.)

Machines and gadgets come accompanied by a User Manual. But we do not come across a User Manual to the most sophisticated system that we own and use, the self.  We use it in very different ways and pay very heavily for our ignorance of the design of the system.

There must be some principles that one cannot do without for achieving better outcomes. These posts focus on them.

Self is the system through which we ‘see’, create meaning and make choices. The choices decide whether our actions lead to improvement or otherwise.

With more and more options available to each one of us the opportunity could as well be a threat, how the interface is aligned will decide whether it will lead to greater good or havoc.

One thought on “New Literacy

  1. Pingback: Re-emergence of Asian Management | First Discipline

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