Positioning: Where are we?

Visualizing Knowledge

What the dog sees and we don’t. Who has gone aSTRAY?

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

IF  

Just as we forget phone numbers and multiplication tables with cell phone memories and calculators we have forgotten to check our positions and some whiz-kid has hacked into all the GPSs to show the wrong position

THEN  

We will all be rushing madly to where no one really wants to go

WHAT IF

This is the truth with or without GPS?  

The corruption in our thinking is at the very source itself!

So how do we debug the source code? 

For us the dog’s is a lowly perspective. But we can prove that the dog’s position is above us and ours is the lowly perspective. All dogs do not see the same. Stray dogs see even better than their domesticated fellows. The latter become less intelligent in the process of socialization with the humans who cut them to size to suit their unfulfilled needs and wants of relationships and community. We are far inferior to them on Community Intelligence and I have reasons to conclude that the stray dogs see that we have gone astray! This is what the visual above shows. The top left quadrant shows the increasing potential of simple to complex systems. The bottom right quadrant shows the corresponding performance at each level of systems. We don’t see a gap between potential and performance till the level of animals, the level which also includes the dogs. From the level of animals we see a fall, which we take it as great progress. What we see depends on where we stand.  In the case of the human and still higher systems, performance is below that of animals. The fall is so steep that it is just on par with simple systems similar to a clock. What we see as great progress is a myth and we are firing on all cylinders heading towards disaster without even realising it.

Where are we ? The Chandrasekhar Limit

This has nothing to do with the famous scientist and the phenomenon that goes by his name. This is about another limit more closer home and this Chandrasekhar is a friend of mine. One morning too early in the day for most of us, I found him in front of his regular bar frantic and searching for a familiar face. He wanted to go home but he didn’t know where he was. Imagine his relief to meet me. He could not hold on and it just popped out of him “Where am I?”  He was greatly relieved. I was not. It continues to haunt me that we know far better about the unreachable stretches of space than what is closest to us and we go around creating a world outside to fit the garbage inside us. That also includes the cosmologist who attributes his fear of death to the universe seeing it breaking down like a clock.

The Position and Positions

Without answering where we are as a species, we cannot have an answer to where I am as an individual.

The first step to a common journey, to go home or elsewhere, virtual or otherwise, is to know where we are now .The GPS or the compass eases the complexity of the task in our regular journeys. Progress is a different kind of a journey and we are yet to agree on this first step. Each of us has a different position on this and the proverbial babble of Babel is the corollary. When we have different positions it is imperative that our perspectives do not converge. Unless we agree on a non-controversial reference to the starting point there will be no common journey

When our basic assumptions about the home position, the reference point,  are wrong it is certain that we will reach some place where we never wanted to go. Any process of improvement calls for fixing a starting position, deciding on the direction and reflecting/review with reference to the starting position.

For over two decades we have been asking people what our basic needs are. The first response is invariably the text book answer, “food, shelter, clothing”. For someone who has decided that life itself is meaningless and suicide is a better option, none of these matter. When we ask “How many sides the coin has?” the answer is always the same,two.  With a little bit of prodding around they will shift their positions and see better.

  1. For a moment let us take position where the four lines meet and take in the common perspective that collectively we are no better than a clock in terms of our performance against our collective potential to perform.
  2. Now it becomes possible to fix a direction for improvement and on this journey of improvement there will be variant positions as we move forward
  3. Now it is also possible to position myself (example: a professional or a facilitator to the journey) and see the variant positions, milestones in that long journey
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The Burden of Normality

The Burden of Normality

What is the First Discipline?

The first discipline is about map making. Disciplines are but collections of maps of physical or virtual spaces. Art, Science or Religion cannot do without maps. Child or grown up, literate or illiterate, we cannot survive without maps.

What is the process of making maps?

The self mediates in the process. We start with models and when the results meet our expectations we elevate them to the level of maps.

What are Meta Maps?

Meta maps connect disciplines. The FDF is an attempt in this direction.

Is there a hierarchy for Meta Maps?

Yes, at the highest level, they connect meta-disciplines, science, religion and art, unifying them into knowledge. The silos get connected.

Explain. .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The GUI, essentially a map and a pointer to possible virtual journeys, took   computers to the living rooms across the planet. The web and the cloud open up vast libraries of information and knowledge. The visual framework discussed here was evolved in the process of addressing the environmental, developmental and sustainability challenges in the state of Kerala while working with livelihood and food security issues in primary production (livestock and fisheries) to evolve institutional systems to address them.

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

Beyond the Burden of ‘Normality’

December 26, 2004

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

Fishermen on the high seas were casting their nets.

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

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

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

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

Many never knew

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

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

Copy CATs do not catch mice

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

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

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

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

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

One cool January morning Nuthan calls.

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

Congratulations, you will soon be the newsmaker 2011

Why ?

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

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

What was your percentile?

99.2

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

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

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

I know you have helped some to beat the CAT

Ok. Let me run a small test for you

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

13 more

Why?

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

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

What is Indian about the Indian Institute of CATs

I don’t know

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

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

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

Congratulations Nuthan, you will convert all the calls

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

  • Normalization and the True Normal
  • Copy cats Do not Catch Mice
  • The Bell Curve in Indian Life
  • The Fourth Idiot
  • Talent Mania and The War For Talent
  • What is Indian about the Indian Institutes of Management?
  • MCPs and the Revenge of the Underdogs.

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

Nuthan:  What is Indian about the IIMs?

I don’t know dear

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

Similitude to living and dead CATs is intentional

Thou shall not Judge…but

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

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

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

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

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

All of them are male?

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

Black Swans to Black Sheep?

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

Some books, people and books yet to be written J

  • The Fifth Discipline, 1990, Peter M. Senge
  • If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him, 1974, Sheldon Kopp
  • The Bell Curve, Intelligence and Class structure in American Life,1994, Richard  Herrnstein, Charles Murray
  • Outliers, 2008, Malcolm Gladwell
  • The Black Swan, 2007, The Bed of Procrustes, 2010, Nicholas Nassim Taleb
  • Can Asians Think?,1999,Kishore Mahubani
  • Three Idiots,2009, Movie from India
  • Tunnel Vision, TV. Yet to be published
  • The WFT and the Future History of the Modern Pyramids, 2111. Yet to be published – it takes a gap of around 100 years to normalize our achievements and  to put them in perspective.

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

  • Does normal exist?  Yes, when we are true to the design, we are truly normal. It has nothing to do with the fleeting ‘normality of the time’.  The compulsion  to conform to this stupid normality is the burden of normality
  • Based on the ‘normal’ perspective Nuthan would not have been able to get a CAT call since she did not tread the beaten path. She had meaningful answers for the sort of absurd questions that are asked at GDPI, questions tailored to fit the standard profile of those who clear CAT. Despite not being on the conventional bell curve Nuthan was able to crack everything designed to fit the standard CAT profile.
  • Exceptions point to the truly normal and only the truly normal can aspire to be super normal.

Thou shall judge… but keeping in mind the other 51 posts in the series.

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

What the Dog Saw…Did not See

Visualizing Knowledge

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

From knowing to SEE ing

All dogs do not see the same

Stray dogs see better  than domesticated dogs

The latter become less intelligent in the process.  Leveling?

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

We haven’t fared any better than them

On Community Intelligence !

Even the dog sees that we have gone astray !


The Window to the Self – A Thought Experiment

Return to the Centre and the new beginning

Imagine yourself at the centre of a perfect sheet of rubber being inflated all around in the conflict between the old and the new, the ideal and the operational.   Being a perfect sheet of rubber it does not get torn but stretches perfectly. The centre of the sheet remains at the centre, undisturbed

Now imagine the sheet being transformed into a perfect football. What happens to the centre? The centre is shifted to the centre of the football and the football is being kicked around in the world-cup with no timelines.

It is a perfect football. Nothing happens to the centre. It remains at the centre absolutely centred, motionless and at peace. Sometime during the process of being kicked around the football becomes aware of what is going on.  Instead of being chased around it decides to chase the players!

Imagine your own self, the perfection and the conflicts and the process of becoming centred, taking the lighthouse position and the beginning of the journey of sustained continuous improvement.

Infographics – Return to the Centre, 

A User Manual to the Self

“Dad”

“Yes, Johnny”

“The PC is not working”

“Look up the user manual”

“Dad”

“Yes, Johnny”

“The UPS is not working”

“Look up the User Manual”

“Dad”

“Yes, Johnny”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Self is the observer and also the observed. Reality is perceived / created by our inherited mental models that evolved over the history of humanity. If the world has turned out to be imperfect, it has more to do with our models of the world than anything else.

Being the instrument of all knowing and learning, study of the self is the first discipline, the foundation/unifier of all other disciplines.

The practice evolved through a process of dialogue since 1990 using the First Discipline Framework as a tool to create  convergence through  a process of discovering, enhancing and strengthening the individual, group, organisational and community self. The approach facilitates the emergence of a roadmap for unification, continuous improvement and renewal,  transcend barriers created by different disciplines bringing the various perspectives together into a coherent whole – a new way of looking at reality.

The approach incorporates positioning, measurement, feedback and self correction – the functions of the compass, clock and the feedback system which enables the traveller to be on course.

Getting started

I have a new DP, dialogue partner.

He is new to Bangalore and spent quite a long time reaching me and the opening sentence when he met me was

I have a problem with my GPS

Thank god you know that you have a problem with your GPS. Most people think they don’t have a problem with their GPS

What do you mean?

What is the first thing that we need to know if we want to reach my destination?

As usual we get a wide set of answers except THE FIRST which is where am I now.

So where are we now?

We may have to ask more questions before we come to the answer to that question?

When were you born?

dd.mm.yyyy

That was the birth of your body. You didn’t have anything much to do with it and you are much more than the physical.

Or is it that I am yet to be born?

WE, the community self is yet to be born ?

Birth of self and community self

Birth of selfWe were not born when we were born since physical birth is not synonymous with birth of self.

The Community Self is yet to be born.

The system at birth is comparable to the bullet that leaves the barrel of a gun. The bullet is helpless to influence its trajectory. Most systems do not go beyond this level though the duration could be much longer.

Self regulation is the differentiator to qualify to be a higher level system, evolving to become aware of the position, direction and regulating itself to influence the outcome, creating a more desirable future.

The key words are birth of self, position, direction,reflection and self-regulation

Another question- what are our basic needs?

Are they the physiological?  – Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; food, shelter, clothing , reproduction, social, self actualisation and so on. We will revisit Maslow some time later .

For those who commit suicide, life is no more meaningful, not worth the trouble.

If so the most basic need must be the need for MEANING.  If life is meaningful, then food has meaning – to keep the body and soul together

Soul is the unifying principle that, which connects, the glue, gives meaning, spirit. We have’nt really started. We are already getting mired in the  semantic swamp.

The semantic swamp contributes to global warming, cutting down more trees and creates more intellectual poverty rights.

Symbols make it easier than all the text and discourses.

The philosophy and the maths are very simple – the new maths

New or the very old, I don’t know

0, 1, 2, 3, ∏

Where

0 = nothing

1 = everything

2 = duality, the linear, static, partial truth

3 = connecting, the linear is transformed

∏ = synergy, whole > the sum of parts, dynamic, continual, real time, unending, quality of being connected, centre and the periphery

When the setting is right, the intent is expressed, the seed turns into the tree, caterpillar to the butterfly and the bullet becomes aware of its self, takes birth to eternity.

The journey begins here, that of transformation. “Well-nigh two thousand years and not a single new god”- Nietzsche.

We see the light at the end of the tunnel and walk out of the dark hole, the prison that we built for our SELVES

Oneness is the quality of the whole – the child in the womb is one with the mother and at birth is confronted by the separation, a perceived duality which is the quality of two, a linear world of many, day and night, good or bad, true or false, yes or no – the domain of problems.  The prodigal son revolts, eventually reconciles. The self evolves to resolve the contradictions, duality and recognise the connectedness – oneness. Not a return in the sense of going back since the self has moved to a higher level in terms of growth and maturity from the level of yes or no, true or false to the level of yes and no, true and false , good and bad.

This is the quality of three – trinity, the third position from which agreement, improvement and solutions are possible. The shift from the static and linear to the dynamic happens.

Intelligent choices and conscious evolution follow.

So where are we now ?

Other Less FAQs

Which is true north, the direction for the journey ?

How do WE make sure that WE are on the path?

Do we have a map of everyTHING to make it easier and foolproof?

The Map of Everything

The First Discipline Framework is a map to attenuate variety, reduce the babble among disciplines to facilitate positioning, fixing direction and self-correction for the process of continual renewal and improvement at different levels – individual, institutions, communities and community.

The map makes it possible to hang our different hats as practitioners of various disciplines, ‘social programmers’ – parents, pedagogues, priests, and politicians connecting the various disciplines and put them in perspective, SEE and SHOW (the visual has the highest bandwidth) how everything, living, nonliving, internal and external- is ONE, a continuum, in process and evolving.

The framework helps the observer self, to connect with the observed SELF, position, visualise the gap between potential and performance, fix the direction for the journey and make sure that we are on the path of continuous improvement/renewal.

Metrics, measurement, of true progress becomes possible.

The map has four quadrants and the observer is at the centre. The observer could be the individual, a group, an organisation or the species.

NW  is a map of the ideal, the deep structure, the conceptual, pure potential, design and the world of ideas .The order, hierarchy, increasing complexity and potential with each level, alignment and connectedness need be re- ‘cognised to understand the performance issues in the external world mapped in the bottom right quadrant, SE.

The four quadrants are like the four wheels of the car, a learning engine which continues to improve its performance as it goes forward

The eye at the centre represents self, the observer, and the driver of the car

The wheels must be aligned for the car to move on

But there exists a conflict between quadrants NW and SE, ideal and the operational

Between internal self and the external social system, quadrants SW and NE

It is for us to create the alignment so that the car moves on

First step is to see the interconnections and see the whole as one system in process, evolving

What makes the human unique as a class of systems is the potential to improve. There is ‘no’ gap between potential and performance up to the level of animals (see quadrant SW)

The gap begins after the level of animals. The gap can also be seen as the waste in the system, the unrealised potential, the root cause for problems. In terms of potential vs. performance the human is sub animal

Corresponding to the total potential/performance gap, there exists a gap in every one of us which forms the personal sphere for improvement which would lead to the question – what is my potential and my performance?

Quadrant NW represents the ideal, perfect, conceptual, pure potential, internal to the self and in perfect alignment at all levels starting from the maps to Meta systems (represented by the umbrella).  Quadrant SE represents the physical world, measurement, performance. Mirrors NW up to the level of animals. The knowledge gap is the major reason for the gap. There will always be a gap but it is feasible to narrow the gap and bring about sustained and continual improvements

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

The map facilitates positioning, fixing the direction for the journey and measurement of progress.  It is possible to visualise the nature of the journey as an ongoing process of continual improvement and renewal. The first step is having a map for the journey. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Confucius. To take that first step we need to know where our position is and the direction in which to take that step, to be on course.

The potential performance gap is illustrated by life expectancy vs. longevity of exceptional people. Life expectancy in developed countries is around 75 which is an indication of performance. Potential is reflected in the exceptions, people living beyond their 100. The gap or the waste in terms of unrealised potential is 25 years, though life expectancy is not the only aspect to be taken into account. There are exceptions who achieve much more than average people with shorter life spans and those who continue to be much more productive in their second careers than in their first.

We need to visualise human potential if we are to realise it.  On a global scale the aggregate waste is astounding. The estimation has to be on multiple factors to illustrate the issue better. A corporate would attempt to look at the issue from many different perspectives, in terms of market potential vs. performance or the human potential vs. performance. The same could be attempted at different levels- individuals, institutions, communities, nations, global

Metaphoria of Transformation

“Connecting with Consumers Using Deep Metaphors.

Famous brands have an emotional meaning that taps into thoughts and feelings related to the positive aspects of transformation, according to Gerald Zaltman and Lindsay Zaltman, authors of  Marketing Metaphoria: What Deep Metaphors Reveal about the Minds of Consumers (HBS Press 2008). Transformation is just one metaphor that finds expression in products that satisfy deeply held consumer needs and desires. Other metaphors they notice include balance, journey, and connection”. Martha Lagace,  http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/5871.html

To learn is to connect.  To connect is to solve a problem, recognize or see the pattern and in the process the solution emerges. The learning resultant from problem solving, accumulated knowledge, catalyzes development and growth.

Some learning is possible only through parables or stories.  Stories synchronise brains. The story outlines that follow can be used to develop the connecting, catalyzing and reflecting skills. A story acts like a map, a metaphor and can be used to connect the internal and external territories to unearth something that people already know at deeper levels.

E.g. connectivity and the structure of silicates, maps and meta maps, programs and meta programs, competencies and meta competencies, archetypes and design

More metaphors

1. Story of One , Differently Abled Child and the Teacher

2.Mental maps – Eagle’s gift

Thinking about what we can’t think about

The eagle nests on the tallest tree

The tree is by the side of a very deep well

In the well is a community of frogs. The well is so deep that the frogs have never been out of the well.

As the sun sets and the darkness rushes into the well, the little ones in the community crowd around the nanny frog pestering her for stories.  May be she will repeat one of those stories, yet it is still very comforting at the time when the shades of grey drives out th world of light darkness takes over.

Darkness is yet to take over the tree tops. It is very rare that it happens, once in a while when the sky is completely clouded and stars are invisible.

At times the eagle listens to the familiar stories. Over the years of its immortal life, it has heard them many times over, many versions of the same stories over many generations. There is nothing new about the stories other than it is almost a ritual that disturbs it in some way.

It is another day

The thermals are forming. The eagle is waiting for the thermals to gather force.  It is quite strong now.

The eagle swoops down into the well, grabs the nanny frog with its claws and rise up from the well into the sky assisted by the thermal moving up at a frightening pace.

The heights and the fear of death overtakes the frog. It shuts it’s eyes tight and wait for the inevitable.

The eagle has reached the heights and hovers there circling in the sky. It goes round and round for a long long time. It senses that the frog has quieted down and has opened its eyes. The thermal is waning. It gently floats down once again into the well and gently leaves the frog from where it has been taken for a ride.

On the return journey the frog had just a glimpse of the larger world outside the well.

The eagle goes back to the tree and waits for the sun to set waiting for the story of the day.

What will be the story of the day?

The participants are to write down a story and the trainer gives the feedback based on participants’ stories. Switch the roles of Eagles and trainers so that trainers don’t come to assume that they are the eagles. One has to be an eagle and at times a frog depending on the context.

The human condition is like that of the frog in the well. The mental maps are influenced by the ‘well’ we live in. They are improved with every bit of learning. The developmental process involves revision and improvement of the mental models or maps. Facilitators play a very critical role and to fulfil these roles they need to have the necessary competencies.

3. The Chandrasekhar Effect.

Chandrasekhar is a very saintly soul who has a weakness for     liquor.  One morning we found him in front of his regular hangout. Chandrasekhar was relieved to meet some familiar faces. He came out with a question which he wanted to ask somebody who is familiar. Even at this stage he was aware that his condition might make him ask stupid questions and he did not want to be humiliated.  The question was “Where am I?” We take the most fundamental for granted which takes us farther away from reality. When our basic assumptions, the home position, are wrong it is certain that we will reach some place where we never wanted to be. Any process of improvement calls for fixing a starting position, deciding on the direction and reflecting/review with reference to the starting position. A large number of people were asked this question as to what our basic needs are and the first reply is always the text book answer, “food, shelter, and clothing”. But for the person who has decided that life itself is meaningless none of these matter. If they are asked to respond to a question like “How many sides the coin has?” the answer is always the same – two, though with a little bit of clarification they will soon shift their original positions.   One of the obstacles, as old as history and symbolized in the story of Babel, to reaching a solution to the issue is the semantic confusion and that there is very little convergence between the domains that have the potential to offer solutions.

4. Blind men and the elephant

5. Don’t shoot the messenger

6. Mahabali and Vamana

7. Taj Mahal / cathedral Building

Emperor Shajahan asked the same question to the three stonecutters.  “What are you doing?”

The three answers are:

“I am earning a living”,

“I am polishing stones, and I am the best stonecutter available”

“I am building a monument which is an expression of the love of the emperor to his beloved and this stone that I am polishing will be the corner stone of the monument”

It is obvious that the third mason is more likely to meet the standards for quality and quantity and that if all the three are to meet these and other standards – of effectiveness, excellence and zero defects – the third mason’s vision is to be shared. When we work more and more with intangibles and the slave driver is replaced by one’s own self this becomes all the more difficult but essential to keep the network as one, connected.

9. Indra and the pigs – Resistance to change.

Indraonce transformed himself into a pig just to find out why   pigs enjoyed wallowing in the mud. He remained there till Narada searched him out and compelled him to go back to his former self.  It is quite possible that we get stuck with poor performance and come to accept that this as the limit of our possibilities till a compelling experience/crisis or vision might lift us out of the situation.

10.  Frog soup

A frog is placed in a bowl of cold water.  Turning on a heater     gently warms the water.  The frog initially enjoys the warmth and feels comfortable.  The increase in warmth is so gentle that the frog does not notice it.  The warmth gradually increases; the frog falls into a stupor and eventually turns into frog soup. The opposite possibility is that of continual renewal, to respond creatively to the process on a real time basis.

The story is quoted in two of the popular books on management, The Renewal Factor (Waterman) and The Fifth Discipline (Peter M Senge).  The frog in the cold water initially enjoys the increasing warmth of water in which it is immersed and by the time it is unbearable it is immobilized and incapable of escape from death.  The process of continual renewal is the opposite of this whereby individuals, institutions or a community continually respond to the environment and improve their contexts.  The process is qualitatively different and most often ignored in the preoccupation with the short term.  U.S. companies now lose half their employees every four years, half their customers in five, and half their investors in less than twelve months[ii]. The returns on investment, yield rate of stocks, market capitalisation   or increase in value of ESOP by themselves are not sufficient measures of success.  Corporates need to be concerned about the internal as well as the broader external community also, other than the shareholders and the targeted market segments.

11.  The Cannon Shot/The Two Roads

The road by design and by default

The two roads, one by design and the other by default and the  moment of truth.

What we believe as maturity, normal, is a HABIT, history, the roadblock.

The system at physical birth is comparable to the bullet that leaves the barrel of a gun.

The bullet is helpless to influence its trajectory.

Most systems, individuals or institutions seldom go beyond this level without that choice, a conscious decision to evolve, becoming aware of the position, direction and reflecting on the progress.

When it happens the bullet goes into orbit.

The linear is the road by default, the road to death, accidents, burnout and the road on which time runs out.

The other is the road to eternity, continual renewal and timelessness by CHOICE, the conscious decision to be on the road to continual IMPROVEMENTs, creating the future NOW, by DESIGN,  a future better than the present.

The cannon shot does not have the potential to become aware of it’s self. Individuals and organizations have the unique capability of self-observation and self regulation which implies the possibility of improvement.   This is what qualifies us to be termed human. The cannon shot that goes out of the cannon has no possibility of becoming aware of itself and the outcome is already determined at the moment of its departure from the cannon.  But the more advanced of human creations like those of sophisticated machines do have more and more of self-regulation built into them.  Thus in the case of space vehicles and satellites, extent of self-regulation and the possibility of controlling the behavior of the system from outside the system increases.  The extent of self-regulation, the possibility of reflecting on one’s behavior and even laugh at it, is what draws us apart as a class, from the rest of the systems.  In the case of the cannon shot gravity operates mercilessly and ultimately the shot is overtaken by it when the shot reaches terra firma.  In the case of individuals and organizations, it is the vision that keeps them going.  The vision is liable to be corrupted and needs to be renewed continuously.  Just as gravity operates continuously, the forces of decay too is natural to all systems.  In nature decay and renewal are continuous and it follows that for organizations to sustain growth, the effort at renewal too needs to be continuous’.

12. Ashram and the prophets– Leadership, Creating and Renewing Vision and Shared Values.

There is an ashram in which four sanyasins struggle to make both ends meet. There has been a golden time for the ashram when crowds used to flock together to the ashram but now the ashram has fallen on bad times with no visitors and no income.  One of the sanyasins hit upon the idea of visiting another sanyasin in a distant place to seek help.  They set out on the journey together, meet the sanyasin and present the problem. The sanyasin sends them back with just one piece of advice – One of you is a prophet. The sanyasins are not able to find out who   the prophet is but over time the ashram renews itself and recovers the lost glory.   ”.

13.  First monkey – Creative communities

There live a community of monkeys in an island. They had never eaten the nuts of a particular tree.   A curious little monkey picked up one of these nuts, dips it in seawater and eats it.  It finds that the nut is very delicious.  Rest of the monkeys slowly follows the little monkey one by one. Eventually the nut becomes a common meal for all the monkeys and when a critical number of monkeys pick up this habit, the behavior spreads all throughout in no time, all over the world. The group soon emulates the behavior of the first monkey.  When the group size crosses a certain critical mass, the new behavior is manifested globally without any apparent interconnections.  Something, which was beyond the realm of possibility, has now become possible and collective learning results. The phenomenon is observed in many other situations also.  Fostering individual creativity within the organizational community is integral to continual renewal.  Besides, the context now offers the possibility of creative individuals to make much larger global impact.  The typical examples are the emergence and growth of startup IT ventures during the last two decades.

14. The Imperial Chill – Daniel Quinn

15. Sheet of Rubber and the Football – Centralization and decentralization, Yes and No, Static / Dynamic

16. Caterpillar and the Butterfly, Seed to Tree, Cream to Butter, Ahalya, Pygmalion and Galatea , Rama and Ahalya

17. Less is more

18.  Complex vs simple

2×2=4

4×4=16

16×16=256

256×256= ?

19. Blindness, Seeing, Jose Saramago

20. Magister Ludi, Herman Hesse

21. Time

Mastery of time involves going beyond the ordinary or common to the transcendental experience of time. The common understanding is very essential to deal with the day to day world but this is never the complete story. It is only a partial truth (illusion). Time /timelessness is another duality, gate, to learning the direct (mystic) experience, freeing one from the entanglement of a linear experience of time.There is nothing linear about nature. Linear time kills in many ways. Timelessness, eternity, is a common experience if one reflects over those experiences when time stood still, while you were in love vs. waiting for a P breakts

22. Timelessness/Real time

Real time

What black is to white is time to timelessness, as memory is to forgetting

Linear time meets memory at ground zero

To beget the NEW

As the eagle soars up in the sky details get blurred

But the essential is not lost

It swoops down faster to the goal.

Knows when to strike and when to sail

To switch between time and timelessness

What to gather and to leave behind

Complete the learning so as to forget

Learn history so that history is not repeated

Both personal and collective, for the flow of life to go on

Bury the dead so that renewal rules, not death and decay

Free the ground for the dance of eternity – timelessness

23. Habit/New habits

New habits

Transcend habits by more powerful habits.

Habit is history that keeps us stuck. Even death is a habit  and fear of death is the mother of all fears which drives many businesses. Resistance creates resistance. If the child wants to touch fire we can tell her don’t do it – a sure fire way of achieving what we never wanted. Instead show her the butterfly. Her attention is shifted to something beautiful. Big time improvement strategists play the latter game. They don’t preach change. They play the game of radical improvement through which people come together as one, in relationships, internal and external alignment, creating history. In the process we move forward, get unstuck. Everyone wins and none loses.

Amor is the Roman god of love. The root from Sanskrit ‘amar’ means immortal and ‘amrut’ is that which makes one immortal – knowledge. Work is love expressed – Kahlil Gibran. The path to immortality, exceptional performance, is possible only through transformation of work as expression of the self, an expression of love

24. The Light House Position. What is your call?

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is then not an act but a habit – Aristotle

Juggling with P’s – The Picture of Philosophy

Further :

Our Models of the World

The Eagle’s Gift

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

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

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

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

We will never see all of it, but we can see much more now than any time in the past and there is a long way to go on that road.

Knowledge architecture

Meenakshi asked, “Explain knowledge architect” and Wanderer found the word “awesome”

Knowledge Architecture is Knowledge + Design, as we see it.
Designed to?
• Creating a more desirable future.
• Learning faster as individuals and communities
• Targeted at problem specific solutions
• Deliver sustained improvements.
• Facilitate dialogue and learning
Most often, solutions do not lead to net improvements. The provider turns myopic to the issue out of a natural bias to one’s own baby, driven by selfishness than appropriate selfishness (Handy), create leaders and followers, teachers and students amounting to more of dependence than independence and interdependence
Knowledge is the sum of all that we know, we will know and can know and the process is learning. To learn is to connect, reflect and catalyze- better, faster and deeper and improve together. Parents and teachers desire that children learn faster. Managers desire that they learn faster than the competition. Citizens wish that the country positions itself as a learning community and improve faster. But do we really learn?
There is extreme urgency for rapid learning in the context of environmental concerns, social divides, growth vs. inequity, war for talent, inclusiveness and the role of corporations in creating a more desirable future. Technical connectivity enhances the possibility of real time collective and purposive learning. Complexity of these issues demands a new pedagogy, tools and processes. More of the same would not suffice. It is not that we may not know. It is also equally important to design new ways of prioritising, showing, experiencing, comprehending what we already know at a greater scale and pace. Knowledge architecture addresses these issues of crafting new ways of seeing, a prerequisite to creating a more desirable future. There are many ways to achieve this.

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

+ Manish Agarwala, the Mac Arthur Grant 2009