Dialogues – 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 http://www.Change.gov. 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. Nonlinearity 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?


Community Intelligence

Are we intelligent,  as a species?

Yes and no.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what makes us human?

The community learning engine

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

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

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

Context – global or local but glocal-ness is recognised

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

Vision – renewed continually and aligned for sustained high performance

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

Storytelling – Walking out of our shadows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MetricsThe Community Consciousness Quotient

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

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

The Path

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

Where are you?

Nishtha asks, “JM, Where are you?  “

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

In Sanskrit, Nishtha means,

Assiduity, great and constant diligence and attention,



Firm devotion



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

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

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

We are on  course, we believe.

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

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

The journey continues with nishtha – Discipline

The Path

The Path

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

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

Why all the Ps ?

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

Position, Align and Leverage

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

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

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

The home position


What is your home position? 6y4 ii3q qn320w3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Limits to Growth OR Limits to Learning?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IPR, Intellectual POVERTY Rights?

The Chosen Few

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your ideas are not your ideas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News, Facts and Fiction

New IITs and IIMs and the Toyota Recall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

True North

Animals align themselves to the magnetic poles of the earth

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

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

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

The denial of work/love

Stones waiting for Pygmalion
Ahalya waiting for Rama

Frozen and numbed in the loveless cold

To regain the paradise lost

Come, the catalyst and the moment of truth prevails

Pygmalion sculpts the stone

In love and hope that both will come back

He gives like the Jersey Cow

What he gives comes back to him

The stones at times complain

Why the torture?

Love and hope prevails cold reason

Coaxing the stone to come to life

Of the three masons in the Cathedral/ Taj Mahal story

One is a Pygmalion and others just ‘workers’

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

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

Did you get paid?

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

And i will fall in love head over heels

When work comes beckoning again and again

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

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

No ‘managers’ and no ‘workers’

Never a manager and never work

We are just, LOVERS

Because denial of work is LOVE denied

Fall in love all over, again and again

Then get up and GO
Bon Voyage.


Galatea comes to life, falls in love with Pygmalion

To realise that within him Pygmalion is dead

The sculptor is dead.

Galatea turns Pygmalion to bring him back to life

The perfect woman that she is

She fashions the perfect man from her memories

And brings him back to life from the world of dreams

To the world of the living. keeping each other alive

Design of the Learning Engine

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

S. Am I one?

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

S. Besides taking position what more does it involve?

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

S. Let us get to know the design in detail

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

The four quadrants are also directional.


Q1, North West,

Q4, South West,

Q2, North East, and

Q3, South East)

S. Who is the driver?

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

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

A Map of Everything

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continual Renewal

Continual learning is the path to continual renewal.

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

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

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

Ref: Idealised Design, Russel L. Ackoff

Designer Lives

The Glass Bead Game

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

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

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

Decision Compass and the Blue Ocean

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

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

The Game

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

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

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

Participants: 50 – 60.

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

Time:  16 – 40 hours in 2 to 5 days.

Round  1

Step 1- Pre process metrics

Step 2 The facilitators explain the DC (60 minutes)

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

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

Step 5 Post metrics.

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

Round 3

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

Step 2 Summing up

Step 3 Post metrics

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

The First Discipline Framework

We are as good as our maps. These maps decide where we end up. The map above is a map of maps that sits on top  of a stack of frames.

We will be looking at the map and the frames step by step.

The map acts as a window to the world both internal and external. The window has four panes


Potential                           Perfection

Psychodynamics           Performance

The potential and psychodynamics quadrants refer to the internal. Perfection and performance quadrants refer to the external. The four perspectives together point to the direction to be taken for the improvement process, the journey inwards and outwards.

The scope for improvement is defined by the current performance against potential of the system. Improvement is constrained by gaps in understanding / internal competencies that define the learning requirements to realise such improvements. The roadmap and metrics to narrow the gap between potential  and performance emerges.

Poverty in the world is an artificial creation. It doesn’t belong to human civilization, and we can change that, we can make people come out of poverty and have the real state of affairs. So the only thing we have to do is to redesign our institutions and policies, and there will be no people who will be suffering from poverty.” – Muhammad Yunus

When breakdowns are pervasive it is time to go back to the design. We have many – poverty, the recession, illness, crimes, suicides, terrorism, climate challenge, enough reasons to go back to the basic design, the template/s of nature, the system of systems

The unknown is a rabid dog without its master. When it finds the master it turns into his/her most faithful ally. It is the submerged portion of the ice-berg of our self, personal and collective. The prodigal son returns to his father. It is time to celebrate, being reconnected to the roots. Farther we move away from the basic design and it remains unknown and unconnected, the scale and complexity of our challenges assume gargantuan proportions.

How do we understand the basic design, our collective inheritance, and connect it to our challenges to fix the direction for a life by design – personal and collective?

Quadrant 1 – A conceptual understanding of our personal and collective potential which follows from the basic design

Quadrant 3. The physical world of tangibility, performance and metrics

Quadrant 2. The social system as it exists now

Quadrant 4. The process of continual renewal, learning and improvement

The four quadrants are akin to the four wheels of the car. What drives the car, the process, is the process of the self – personal /community – as the case may be.

Understanding the basic design, Q1

Let us look at the body as a system and try to connect the map. In general it can be any system, small, large, very large or the largest

Back to storytelling

Ravana is a mythical character with 10 heads (from Ramayana, the Indian epic narrates the journey of Rama). Which are these 10 heads?

How can one have 10 heads?

At the centre is the self, the observer in us – a compass – purpose of the compass is to fix the position in relation to some  reference points prior to starting the journey. Let us take this dialogue as a journey to illustrate the issue

The second head is having a map/plan as to the direction of the journey. In this case let us say we want to understand the basic design. It could as well be designing the future.

The third head is the clock. One needs to keep some measure of the progress, keep counting, have some tools, technology, etc to go on the journey. Without tools where would we be? We could at best walk 20 miles a day and that would be the limit of our potential to travel for a day. In the last one decade, our internal landscapes have broadened much more than in any time during recorded history.

The thermostat. With every step that I take I need to check back with the starting position – reflect –to make sure that the step is in the right direction and correct myself if i have gone wrong

Level of the cell, the basic unit of the body, a virus or bacteria, a higher level system than a clock, or thermostat, beginning of life as we understand it . (There is no beginning/end as such since we are talking about a continuum)

Plant – the plant world

Animal – All the animals

Human – the individual human

Community- organisations, teams

Learning / Knowledge. Learning is equated with improvement, accumulated wisdom. Our collective wisdom has evolved through our understanding of all these levels through history and various disciplines. The journey is towards more of it in sufficient measure so that we are not victims of the unknown. There will be unknowables and room for surprises and miracles so that life does not fall into monotony and meaningless repetition, eternal recurrence.
We need all the ten heads to be fully functional. Think of it as a ladder with 10 steps. Take away any one, potential is a myth. Being positioned /anchored is to place the ladder on firm ground and go up to take the eagle’s perspective. Another way to visualise it, is to see it as a lighthouse with ten levels each level corresponding to the steps of the ladder. The lighthouse does not change its position, but the sailing vessels do have to if they are not to perish. “ Dasavataram “ stands for the ten avatars of Vishnu, the ten stages of evolution of the human.http://www.scribd.com/doc/2310279/Dasavatharam.It is also the title of a recent movie by Kamal Hassan, the south Indian actor, who acts in ten different roles, avatars. Ramayana is the epic journey of Rama. (Ayanam is journey). The anti hero – is Ravana (An Asura) with ten heads who abducts Sita (the feminine) wife of Rama (masculine, an avatar of Vishnu). The choice is between turning into a 10 headed monster or to the truly human positioned to realise the design, the higher unrealised human potential. One needs to take a conscious choice to by the design than against it. Knowing is the design is a required condition. Who wants to grow into a monster intentionally? Not even Hitler would!.

Quadrant 3 is the performance quadrant. In an ideal situation we would have had a straight line beginning from the centre and going to the opposite corner. This is the fall of man which we often view, as ‘Progress’. One can now see the gap between potential and performance – the waste in the system, the unrealised potential, the root cause of all breakdowns.

To illustrate at the personal level, what is the potential vs performance of the body? Since we are all selfish this would be more appealing.

I knew somebody from age 75 till he died at the age of 100 years, 6 months and 15 days. Life-expectancy in the context in which he lived is 74 years. There is a gap of 26 years when one compares his performance against what is considered to be normal. He was abnormal in a positive sense because he achieved many times more than the normal individual and was healthy and cheerful, till the very last. But for an accident towards the end, he never had to go the doctor or take medicines. Other than the last few weeks he continued to work.
Why is it that there is such variance? If we visualise a future society with 100 yrs as the norm, there is a waste of 25 years. Why do such variances occur and how do you explain the gap between potential and performance?

The problem is not with the potential of the body or the design, but with our understanding of the design. First problem is the knowledge hole, much more serious than the ozone hole! The human potential is something like an iceberg. We see only a small part of it. What is hidden is much more than what is revealed, far beyond all that is known to us, beyond all those who are in the Guinness book, all the great ones who have passed away or the person whom I was referring to, who lived a meaningful life for 100 years . Nothing about the past gives us any clues to this unrealised potential other than perhaps the myths. There is plenty of room for miracles to happen because a miracle is something which is unexplainable by the known laws of nature. What we know of nature is so fragmented that it does more harm than good and precedence will not take us to Mars.

The model is about understanding the design in nature. The second step is to use this design to check whether the performance matches the design. It doesn’t. The gap between potential and performance as shown in Q 3, helps us to visualise this gap. How do we connect to that potential in us that is hidden, connecting to an infinite source of power ( at the time when we face an energy challenge) change course for good to the totally positive, never to return to the road by default. The moment of truth! The alignment needs be right for the car to move. The known and the unknown, conscious and the unconscious, are to be in alignment if the full potential is to emerge, If not they work at loggerheads. The unknown is our enemy which fights/plots against our own selves. Dreams and myths offer a bridge to the unconscious. During the time of Hippocrates, the patients had to dream that they are healed prior to the physician commencing his medication

In Quadrant 3 the potential performance gap begins from the level of animals. What we see as a rise in the line from the diagonal is a fall, the great fall of man turning himself to the sub- animal in spite of our “ progress’ which goes into the sorry state of affairs that we have created for ourselves. For animals there is hardly any gap between potential and performance but from the level of the human there exists this gap. Human is the only species that can improve itself, the unique differentiator about humanness. And when we don’t improve as a species, we turn sub-animal. It is not that we don’t want to improve, but there has to be a method by which we differentiate between real improvements and pseudo achievements

Q 3 is the physical world, the tangible and material

Quadrant 2 deals with the external world, the accumulated wisdom or ignorance of the social system which influences the self and the barriers created by the external world in realising one’s higher potential

In the last post, ‘Beyond the Waves’ , we were discussing the four different worlds , the eco-system people, farming communities, the industrial world and a post modern knowledge community in the making. There are lessons to be integrated from all the four worlds to create a more desirable future. The first world lives or used to live in harmony with nature living off on nature without hurting sustainability. Agriculture in the developed world has become industrialised. Farming communities in developing countries, though not industrialised to the same extent, are compelled to compete with industrialised agriculture. Industrialisation brought about major shifts in the way we think because the tools we use influence our thinking and leads to behavioural modifications. With emergence of connectivity and communications, paving the way for the emergence of global community, the possibility of another paradigm shift is emerging

However the dominant thinking, the mental models of our opinion makers – politicians, economists, engineers, medical professionals – essentially follow the machine logic.

It is not an unfounded fear that in some distant future, robots or artificial intelligence will take over humans. It has already done so because we are driven by the machine logic, a product of industrialisation, as our prevalent paradigm, the internal map. Are we turning into Pavlovs dogs ?

The machine logic is focused on entropy. No machine can regenerate itself, reproduce itself or make a copy of it. It is not a self –regulating system though advanced machines have some limited capacities to self regulate. Economists visualise the economy as an engine and the allopath sees the body as a machine.

The biologist has a better model guided by the bio-logic, in stark contrast to the machine logic. The bio-logic is about creating order, increasing self regulation as we move up through the different classes of beings. That humans do not often self-regulate does not mean that there is no potential. Entrenched habits block this potential form emergence and conscious choice is a pre-requisite to self – regulation. The cell, the basic unit of life, is negentropic with increasing order and evolution. 200 years since Darwin, the biologist does not influence our thinking to the extent that other more fashionable professions do, the engineers, managers, economists, or those in the medical profession. These are essentially derived disciplines emerging out of our progress in knowledge and there will always be a lag between new understanding and such understanding influencing mainstream thinking. One has to take position against the limits of mainstream thinking, the burden of normality, if one has to move beyond the average, a perceived normality rather than true normality.

The cardinal illness is a thought disorder and other problems are derived ones from this fundamental distortion, the original sin?
Quadrant 2 More Ps

Q2 comes in between, the blocks/barriers to transcend to narrow the gap between potential (Q1) and performance (Q3)

Nature is perfect, beyond improvement. Nurture follows from history, institutions, assumptions, habits and positions. All of these together create the knowledge hole, barriers to realising the unrealised bur realisable potential, personal and collective.  This is the learning imperative, the syllabus for graduation from the school of life.

Being from and of nature we are complete and whole (by design) but we seldom take such a position. We take the position that we are incomplete, sinners and wait for the second coming of the prophet, to be redeemed.

What we see depends on where we stand, our position. The individual, organisation, community or society at large could be positioned for improvement or otherwise. Some take the informed choice, goes by the design and others take the road by default. The two options are by design or by destiny and the answers could be yes, no and yes and no. There is enough room for dialogue

Positioning is the first step to progress or continuous improvement whether personal, organisational, community/ communities. Clashes arise from the differing positions and finding common ground is essential to bring in peace. Power comes in between, sometimes genuine and authentic and at other times, distortions of power that arise from the primary distortion in the meaning of power. (Hitler vs. Gandhi)

Nature is always in process, of continual renewal. The ecological footprints of human interventions block renewal and we come to suffer from our own actions. It takes more than a year for nature to renew what we consume in a year and some damages are irreparable.

The body is in the process of continual renewal which depends on what we pay attention to. Pay attention to entropy, decay is the result. From completeness arise completeness, growth from acceptance, being to becoming.

Programming – socialisation- of the individual thorough its institutions of politics, religion (priests) , education (pedagogues) parents,   influences progress.   To the better or the worse depends on the position one takes.

Peters and Parrots – the effectiveness would depend on the vision with which they are driven. Rote learning is parroting not real. Real learning leads to real improvements. Sometimes parroting helps. But for parroting we wouldn’t have any myths, folklore, culture. We would have lost our roots and become impoverished,

Problems could be perceived as problems or as opportunities.  Complexity is a challenge to those who enjoy it and a puzzle for those who are perplexed by it.   The solution focus would accelerate progress and the opposite to compounding of the problems.

Quadrant 4 addressing the learning imperative

The eagle lives on the tree near a deep well in which lives a community of frogs. None of them had ever been out of the well. The granny frog has her bedtime story telling session. The eagle could hear the stories. On a sunny day when the thermals had begun rising, 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. The eagle let go of the frog from the heights above the well.

During the fall back into the well, the frog had just a glimpse of the world outside. The eagle returned to the tree, waited for the sun to set and to hear the story of the day. What will be the story of the day?

We have been collecting these stories since 1990. Initially everyone connects it in their own ways. Some identified themselves with the eagle and some with the frog and the fear of death.

Not many with both, eagle and the frog

The big and the small

The telescope and the microscope, Hubble and the Femtoscope

Global,  local and the connections in between

How mental models are formed, revised and improved to mental maps

How best to continually learn, not to stop with any of the new maps

How an old world of the frog has collapsed, how a new world is born

That we are all in that well – of Nature and that we will never see all of it

But we can see much more now, than it used to be

Continual learning is the path to continual renewal.

Learning improves our mental models. The frog in the well forms a model of the world. The eagle on the tree has a different model. When the frog is taken out by the eagle and brought back into the well these two merge to form a map of the world. The world has not changed but the models of the world have changed.

We were inhabitants of a flatland in a not too distant past. With better technology and tools these models have given way to maps with increasing precision. Though maps of the physical world have become more precise the mental models that go with them are not easily discarded. The eagle represents the big picture and frog, the details. Both are connected just as the Hubble telescope sends us pictures from outer space and the femtoscope helps us see the smallest of the small. The eagle represents the global and frog the local which are but different perspectives of the whole. In a connected world, being GLOCAL is an imperative. So is the imperative of continual learning, leading to continual renewal

With a little facilitation everyone comes to share the common ground, the foundation, for a Taj Mahal, an ashram or a lighthouse to be built.  We have looked at the four wheels of the learning engine. We now need to move to the centre, the observer and driver of the learning engine and what drives her. It is also time to move away from orbiting, repetition, to join the dynamic conscious evolutionary spiral of continuous improvement /renewal

More: The Picture of Philosophy