The Cloud Community College

Eagle’s gift

Continual learning is the path to continual renewal.

Nature is in a process of continual renewal but for the ecological footprints left by our 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 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. Thus being GLOCAL – is an imperative.  So is the imperative of continual learning, leading to continual renewal. We are frogs in the well of nature

A brief history of learning/ renewal

Real work is the expression of a mature self

As a Dairy Technologist, I used to watch the huge butter churns in motion, waiting for that magical moment when the cream breaks out into globules of butter. This was my first project at work- to find a solution to mountains of cream that had accumulated over the previous surplus season. In the long hours that i worked towards reducing the bulk, I was forced to fight the boredom, visualising the mythical churning of the sea of milk by the Devas and Asuras to make amrit, the stuff that makes one immortal – knowledge.

Later on I had the privilege of observing a very sedentary ascetic centenarian for the last twenty five years of his pursuit of learning which had started at the age of nine. At 60 he had made it known that he had another 40 years of work left to complete. He completed his 40 years and went on for another six months and 15 days.

In developed nations the fastest growing segment of the population is centenarians.

While most “successful’ people in the ‘modern world’ (read top of the pyramid – sic) contribute in real terms for 15/20 years of their life span of around 75,  what goes into the making of the rare centenarian who remains productive many times  over ? If the product is in the process, what makes this process so rewarding in itself which keeps them relatively less mortal physically and immortal in the world of knowledge. Why are we not able to go beyond them as a community?

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.  – Max Planck (1858-1947)

Imagine the churning that preceded the above statement!

Nicolaus Copernicus (February 19, 1473 – May 24, 1543)

Proof: Galileo, (1564-1642) Strategy: Patience, non- action, out-wait competition

Ever wondered about the history of churning and the consequences?

We have a secret dread of being thought ignorant. And we end by being ignorant after all, only we have done it in a long and roundabout way. (From the short story – Once there was a King) Rabindranath Tagore, 1839-1941. The Parrots Tale develops this in much greater detail. Viswabharati, the university he set up, was the solution that he came up with for the problem.

There are only two ways to live: Either without thinking of death… or with the thought that you approach death with every hour of your life.  – -Leo Tolstoy, 1828 – 1910

There is a third way, the path of regeneration, living with birth/death, NOW, in real time, the path taken by the high performing centenarians and the path open to the next generation who would go far beyond them. Most of us live in linear time. Living in real time is living in eternity.

Tolstoy  was a prophets’ prophet, a link in the long chain from Buddha, Asoka the great and Christ who greatly influenced two of the heroes of our time and kept alive the idea of non-violence and non – action, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi   (1869 –  1948) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968).

Why did most champions of non-violence, have to  die violent death?

Tolstoy’s thoughts on How to live: (He appears to have founded the human potential movement much ahead of the new age messiahs of the movement)

  • The more upset you are with other people and circumstances, and the more satisfied you are with yourself, the further you are from wisdom.
  • Don’t compare yourself with others. Compare yourself only with perfection.
  • It is not the place we occupy that is important, but the direction in which we move.
  • When you want to escape from rage, do not walk, do not move, and do not speak. Your rage cannot be justified by anything. The reason for your rage is always inside you.
  • Speak only when your words are better than silence. For every time you regret that you did not say something, you will regret a hundred times that you did not keep your silence.
  • There are two ways not to suffer from poverty. The first is to acquire more wealth. The second is to limit your requirements. The first is not always in our power. The second is.
  • You do not have the right to be unhappy with your life. If you are not satisfied, see this as a reason to be unsatisfied with yourself.
  • The more strictly and mercilessly you judge yourself, the more just and kind you will be in the judgment of others.
  • Strive for goodness without any expectations for rapid or noticeable success. For the further you progress, the higher your ideal of perfection will rise. Yet it is the process itself, this striving, that justifies our lives.
  • Nobody knows where the human race is going. The highest wisdom, then, is to know where you are going.
  • The truth is that the State is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens … Henceforth, I shall never serve any government anywhere.
  • There can be only one permanent revolution – a moral one: the regeneration of the inner man.

He died on his way to become a wandering ascetic. Imagine the churning.

Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky,  1821- 1882 turned out to be more prophetic than Tolstoy –  Raskolnikov, the hero of Crime and Punishment  is the template for our current role models  who have perfected the art of committing the perfect crime and earn  their place in history as saviours of the world.

The product is in the process.

The seats of learning/ churning/clashes and the interplay of history, knowledge, power, religion, politics and culture

Taxila   6th century BCE to the 5th century CE

Nālandā  (427 to 1197 CE)

The Imperial Nanjing Institute, China, founded in 258, has perhaps the longest unbroken tradition

Budha , Christ, Ashoka 304 BCE – 232 BCE ,  all belong to this period.

Taxila was burnt to ashes in 1197. The fire went on for weeks.

Prophet Muhammad, 570   – 632

The University of Al-Karaouine, Morocco was founded in 859 by two well educated wealthy sisters. Played   a leading role in the cultural and academic relations between the Islamic world and Europe in the middle ages,

University of Bologna, Italy, 1150. The term university was coined at the founding of this seat of learning.  The University of Paris was founded even earlier, was split into 13 universities in 1970.

1167    University of Oxford, UK.  Exact date uncertain, teaching existed in some form since 1096

1209 University of Cambridge, UK

1440 the Printing Press

Martin Luther (1483 – 1546)

Harvard University, 1636

Karl Heinrich Marx (1818-1883), John Maynard Keynes, (1883- 1946)

W. Edwards Deming, (1900 – 1993), Peter Ferdinand Drucker, (1909-2005)

Drucker had personal experience of the Nazi regime, probably would have listened to Sigmund Freud as a child, and was a student of Keynes and Schumpeter. He foresaw the possibilities of the modern corporation and continuously reinvented himself. One might conclude that he also foresaw the need for a new paradigm of management with the focus on the self, managing oneself, for which he himself would remain, one of the best models.

Drucker started the study of General Motors in 1945, leading to the publication of the Concept of the Corporation and began his career as a consultant, teacher and writer. He remained at the forefront of the discipline he founded for half a century.

Deming started from where Drucker left off towards the end of his career. Had Deming been accepted in his home country as much as Drucker in his country of adoption, perhaps we wouldn’t have been in our current crisis. The prophet is seldom respected at home. One could argue that Japan had the cultural pre-requisites to accept Deming and the US ultimately had to give in reluctantly to the competition. Drucker could not save the corporation/s whereas Deming left a legacy which forms the foundation to the discipline that Drucker is said to have founded.

The Web. 1992. The parrot leaves the cage, the seats of learning move to the clouds. The internet has dematerialised learning from the seats of learning. Technology has become real time but people have not moved to real time. . We need new paradigms to bridge the gaps and transcend the learning plateaus in our journey of continual renewal and improvement

> a  new discipline and pedagogy > the first discipline>the discipline of sustained high performance

1. Context

The BRIC is broken

The tail wags the head

WMD – Destruction or Dialogue?

War on terror/ talent – WFT, Dream merchants and the revenge of the underdogs

Recession, Booms and Busts, the long cycles and the bubbles in between,

Is there a future?  The rise or fall of India, Indian = Global

The climate /energy crisis, water /food security and sustainability

Finance capital > Human Capital > Community Capital > Eco-system Management > Developmental Management > Rethinking Development

Reinventing the discipline of Management

2. Management Overview

Missing the wood for the trees – What we failed to see, Marketing Myopia, Theodor Levitt

Peter Drucker. The Bystander> End of economic man > to Managing Oneself

Beyond Competitive advantage

3 . First Discipline, SHPC :  A Map to the Future and the Road ahead

  • 1. Continual Renewal >  Regeneration Therapy
  • 2. Personal mastery and LLL, Life Long learning, learning plateaus
  • 3. System/s Thinking
  • 4. Accelerated Learning and Mental Maps, KM
  • 5. Positioning yourself, your business for SHP
  • 6. Community Intelligence
  • 7. The Singularity Perspective- the map of all maps

4 The Practice of First Discipline.

The tool kit – a backpack for the road

Dialogue and Storytelling

Analytics and Gap Analysis

Aligning with the Deep Structure

Conscious Dreaming,

Participative Action Learning, Research and Real Time Management Development

Sustained High Performance – Growth by Design

5.  Custodians of the Future

The Blue ocean people

Milk is white

God’s own country, Devils too – Between the devil and the deep-sea

The Eco-system people, fishermen/ tribal communities

The Fusion fuel and the Energy Challenge

6.Creating the future by design

Rethinking CSR, Wealth and Charity

7.  Strategy.

Animating the Learning Engine, Maintaining the LE for SHP

Appendix

Context: First Discipline?

The global failure of management as a discipline- Enron to Lehman brothers, recession, failure of IT , bubbles, poverty and conflicts. Thought leaders –  Peter Drucker over the years –  In spite of all the hype management in the west also has failed to deliver against the global context

Local failures: Failure to connect to the developmental management issues of India

Failure to define what is Indian (global) about management

Failure to attract management to governance and development

Academic work in India has failed to make a global impact

A dialogue between an academic and a development  practitioner

The  collapse of governance

The disillusionment with managers and academics, failure of leadership/intellectualism

The majority are left to fend for themselves –

TECHNOLOGY AND ACESS IN A CONNECTED WORLD

One man can make a difference

IT was entrepreneurial /technological/ learning breakthrough and not a product of management thought

Competencies of the new manager- Development practitioner?

The blogs explore these issues through dialogue

+

. Birth of the professional manager: the ethical /competency /community imperatives

Peter Drucker vs Amartya Sen

Stafford Beer vs. Peter M Senge

Prahlad vs  Porter

Chris Argyris vs. Maslow – End of Organisation man ?

Deming  vs. Drucker

Aurobindo  vs. Ken Wilbur

Management Development , Nurturing the new managers

Action learning – Reginald Revans

Schumacher vs Schumpeter

Kuhn

Sustained High Performance by Design

Facts, fiction and metaphor

Are we guided by facts or fiction?

We are guided less by facts and more by myth, fiction and fantasy.

9/11 is a fact, not illusion, so are the war 1, war, 2 and the war 3 now going on. We have democratized wars and conflicts, flattened it (The world is flat- Friedman) dispersed them all over the planet.

Bear Stearns, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Lehman Brothers, AIG, the pharaohs of financial pyramids walk away leaving their accumulated follies on to the public. When the same happens to the farmers the escape route is suicide for many

Facts do not take hold of our minds as myth, fantasy and fiction do. The superman, batman, hunks, WWF, larger than life heroes/heroines, science fiction, the star wars and particle accelerators are attempts at creating modern myths. We need more and more potent amnesiacs, analgesics and anti-BIOTICS – substitutes to do away with the grim reality of life. Older myths still survive and we continue to be driven more and more by shadows and myths. We wish to forget facts or sweep them under the carpet. In India, we have an ancient text by name Bavishya Puranam. Bhavisya means future and puranam is an old epic story. I hope you see the twist. It is time for us to rely on myths to create a more desirable future. This is why we are compelled to talk in metaphors, since we are in a process of creating something which does not exist .

As technological bandwidth and connectivity increase, human bandwidth and connectivity decrease. I see this all around me, with my own children demanding more and more bandwidth and becoming less and less concerned about broader issues. I have begun to suspect that their jobs are creating an occupational hazard to them and the society at large. The higher incidence of suicides in Bangalore, to me, is a bandwidth problem of the latter kind. So is the terrorist issue. The first step to the making of a terrorist is to narrow his bandwidth. The multitude of disciplines and the silos they create offers the best setting for the narrow bandwidths which in turn chokes the channels creating more noise than communication. We need a Meta discipline, the first discipline, which connects the scientists, priests and the artist to transcend these barriers to communication and community since all the three are in the same business – that of explaining reality to lesser mortals like us. The knowledge hole is more serous than the ozone hole.

The bandwidth problem is not exclusive to the younger generation. Institutions too pass through the process. The midlife crisis of the CEO is passed on to the organization he heads, that of the politician to the country and of the Guru to the disciples

I met Jo on the beach, in my time with the fishermen. We continue to meet on the beach, less frequently, since he has moved to another shore. He is a PhD in his area of expertise but you would not get these thoughts anywhere in his work or even in the class rooms when he teaches. There is a risk attached with a wide bandwidth. One could be ‘excommunicated’. He believes in many births/many lifetimes. He still has hopes of pulling me over to his position on birth and rebirth. I am tempted to do so when confounded by the recollection of childhood memories in our workshops. I am afraid that after the age of five there is a kind of growing down in the process of socialization. Much later one could reconnect with these memories and grow up. I am yet to make up my mind whether to join his school or not but I have gained a lot from his arguments

Here is a brief on our many sessions on the beach over many years, since 1985

He would watch the waves beating on the shore and would talk about the waves in the production of bio-mass in the sea and the consequent rise and fall in fish production, what it does to fishing, corresponding waves in farmers’ produce on the land, the waves in life, business, and markets. He taught me to see things as waves and cycles. He foresaw the present crisis in financial markets and the coming economic slowdown, the big crunch in demand driven by the inability to connect to the voice of the masses across the planet.He has a pet theory on why Jesus recruited Peter as his CEO against our current paradigms of selection, recruitment, training and development. He challenged my B-school education. “If you have any competencies that you claim to have, go to the bottom of the pyramids and prove it rather than skimming the cream and stamping them with Ivy League labels”. Christ made the choice since Peter would fit the bill in terms of his mental maps that go with a fisherman.

So next time you go head hunting check their mental maps!

He stripped me of my notions of an internal flatland which he told me is the inheritance of all land based humans, since the beginning of settled agriculture, some 10,000 years in the past. Prior to that, the fishermen and the people on the land had the same worldview. Both were hunting and gathering. He was born in a fisher family, used to go fishing with his father as a child, an outsider to the flatland, having lived on the coast and the sea for generations. A good fisherman has a different worldview closer to reality than the humans on land. He is pushed to the brink much more than the farmers. He produces much more than the farmer yet he is poorer. He is seldom driven to suicide and the spirit of community is more alive in the ecosystem people who survive on common property resources

He is the one who introduced me to the concept of digital, analogue bandwidths and the other bandwidth, of expectancies in human communication and how the net result has not been any better. He has a very wide bandwidth which you would know only at a personal level. He would go on how water is recycled on the planet, how everything is in a cycle or process, that there is nothing linear or ‘straightforward’ about nature and then take the quantum leap to conclude that we too pass through a higher order version of the process. If we want we can break out of that giant wheel of births and rebirths

He challenged me with some insights from his many life times

Of the time he was in Egypt and Joseph’s dream of the good years and bad years. How the natural cycles in primary production would hurt the farmers and how famines would result unless the state steps in to lend a helping hand when the cycles turn against the farmer and why left to themselves, markets will fail the farmers. More so in the case of fishermen who have no property rights other than common property and open access to resources.

Of the time he was in Jerusalem and how Jesus had been reinvented over centuries to suit the bandwidth requirements of different times. Low bandwidth of practitioners leads to creation of silos and pyramids in disciplines which kills community and would conclude with a sigh. “It is all about bandwidth, of people, technology and the interface”

The Process – Enhancing bandwidth

I was playing a game with 57 MBA students for two days. It went on from 9.00 AM to 9.00 PM on day 1 and from 9.00 AM to 6 .15 PM on day 2

Prior to the game, I talked to a local politician to understand the business he is in, that of development of the locality

I also talked to their professor to get some insights about these young men and women who are in the business of becoming businessmen

The game commenced with an assessment of their present position, globally and locally, in the context of the global meltdown and the situation of the locality

Both the politician and the professor were exceptional people who will not fit in with our perceptions of the run of the mill in this category

Then the game with the students began, simulating an organization working together as a community for two days and an open selection process of identifying a group who would be offered premium placements   on the basis of their mental maps. Then I checked their mental maps on many issues.

All of them had a map as shown in figure 1 deeply ingrained in them, the code for failure – BOOMS AND BUSTS. They will with those maps will build their towers of babylon and will be wall street smart.

Mental maps

Fig. 1 is about birth maturity and death. Fig 2 shows the shift to a dynamic one of continual improvement and renewal. Is such a shift possible?

The first set never goes beyond the level of a clock or a bullet leaving the barrel of the gun. The difference is only in the duration, time.  The potential to self-regulate or the potential to transform to a learning engine, a sustained high performance system, is not expressed. The claim to culture, civilization, evolution, improvements are but empty boasts

Why so?

Columbus reached America. He never wanted to go there.  We too are as good as our maps.

Can we have a better set of maps? I told them of the Eagle’s gift

Between before and after, it is not the world that has changed but the map of the world. This is all that we can do and that is good enough.

The problem is not with the world but our maps of the world

We did quite a few other things, more stories, team learning, dialogues, Buddha’s smile, discussed the First Discipline Framework

They presented their understanding of the framework, told me of their dreams on the morning of the second day. They were surprised to look at their own process. All of them came up with evidence and data about the shifts, each contributing to the community learning process

We can indeed observe ourselves 24/7, the first step to continual improvement.

We positioned ourselves, fixed the direction for the journey and reflected over our improvements during the process. The shared space expanded as we moved along with the work.  The map for a learning community was crafted and the process is on.

Simulating High Performance – Defying gravity

The Business Strategy Simulation: New University, Udayagiri, TN. Number of participants – 61 including the three facilitators. The System of Profound Knowledge, (Deming) helps us to see how complex organisations work.   Organisations   guided by SPK will be more effective and successful. We demonstrate this using the First Discipline Framework. We tell stories, about 15 of them. Every community need to tell its own stories and recreate old stories. We reflect every now and then and the participants develop the game. Harvard agrees with what we have been doing for twenty years. http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6119.html

The Simulation

  • How do we fix the true north (the true point)
  • The business, transformation of the crowd to a sustained high performance community
  • Choose the CEO , prescribe a process, Position him so that he positions the community and make sure that the community is on a path of continuous improvement – sustained high performance
  • The CEO selects a custodian of maps, CTO, Facilities Manager, other additional positions as required
  • Selection of VPs Marketing, HR , Finance, Learning and Development , timelines
  • Position them in the appropriate quadrant by consensus of the group
  • The CEO fixes the true north , describes his compass function
  • The VP marketing outlines the market potential, BDP and personnel requirements / product/market mix, pricing, targets
  • VP HR – translates the business plan and organize the human component
  • VP Fin – the controller of weights and measures – Metrics
  • VP L&D – his/her business is that we learn continuously
  • Other roles: Regulators/industry associations/venture capitalists , external public

In the mornings we recollect our dreams to check whether our unconscious is aligned with our conscious. The process goes on for six days from the beginning to the 12th evening. Everyone worked on their own during the two holidays in between and continued to add value.  We climbed peaks and took glimpses of the blue ocean space and at times fell down to the valleys like humpty dumpty but managed to gather ourselves together and continue on the journey.

The game continues… but we are back to our respective places of work. Are we back to the same place? Certainly not, we have moved ahead towards true north, 61 of us … a learning community.

The journey/process is on. We plan to meet again

Dialogues – Aging out of life

Meenakshi asks, In our time do we age out of life?

Like most questions, the answers are yes, no, and yes and no

“Death is not essential’, said The Mother

Reading this, has been a milestone in my learning.

Life begins when we resolve our issues with death and ageing

We are not designed to die but to live

Death is a habit and we are breaking more and more out of this habit – people are living longer.

What is time? Is it linear, a one way traffic, an arrow that moves from birth to death?

This cannot be natural since nothing in nature is linear. There is an arrow of time that goes in the opposite direction, memory – how we RE-collect our past.  The sun we see  is around 9 minutes old but our  thought does not take nine minutes to reach the sun  we see, the sun that was nine minutes ago.

Yes thought is faster than light.

As we talk our cells die and new cells are born, two more arrows, to put it in a very crude way. In place of the first arrow we have four arrows of time now.

When this is experienced, birth and death become simultaneous, not a journey from point A to B, birth to death. One transcends linear time and steps into eternity, become ageless.

So we age out of linear time, not out of life, and start living in the NOW, – eternity.

When was I born?  MM DD YYYY? That was the birth of my body.

Did I have anything to do with it?

The real me was born much later when I  RE-collected all that scattered stuff and put them all together and I walked out of the shadows of death, linear time, my unconscious and took that first step to the birth of myself , eternity and continual renewal.

How old are you?

I have multiple choices to suit the questioner

I am 61, for the straights

I am 39 when I count from the birth of my SELF

I am 29  if I count from  when I decided to live life on my terms ( It took ten years for the self to become mature enough to make that decison)

15 billion (in arrow terms) years.

The logic is I am as old as the Universe and everything  that went on is mapped in me in many ways

> 15 billion years – something in me will go on living for ever.

< 2 years – age of the oldest cell in my body ?

Take your pick or all of it.

Have some more of your own answers.

It is always better to have as many answers, perspectives, than anyone single answer.

NAN?

What is NAN?   The Indian bread?   New Age Nonsense?

Well I could have been dead yesterday. I haven’t. What greater miracle do you need to make life wonderful?

So what is the answer, without beating around the bush?

In “our times “, we can age out of time itself.

We can age out of life too.

It is a Choice.

Building Our Ark, Living in Real Time

In the beginning was the word and before the beginning, we lived in real-time.

Most of us live in linear time and some in real-time. Those living in real or relative real time live longer, the blue ocean people. Those living in linear time die early.

Noah, Aaron and Abner are kids around us. We are fascinated as to why we go back to the Old Testament to dig up these names? History and myths chase us when we don’t understand them?

Books can be written only in linear time. So is history. In real time all of past and all of future are NOW. From now we connect to a history of the future.

In linear time, we and the world were born at some distant past. We and the world will die at some far away future.

Wright brothers were right. They gave expression to our collective longing to fly. Buddha, Christ, Mohammad and Gandhi voiced our longing to break free in a different way. We played with technology to break free from the confines of the planet driven by some distant memories of longer flights. In the beginning, was oneness and the longing for oneness took us to transcending the barriors of time and space. With the emergence of the web and the cloud, when we are stuck in the clouds for hours we have a semblance of what it is to live in real-time.

In real time the flood is now, not in some distant past. It calls for all our skills to craft an ark to survive the flood. One such skill is to transcend the linear to dynamic and real time.  The ark is the symbol of the self. Everything of the past is embedded into it, a new synthesis of all that has happened in the past, the sum of all improvements in the evolutionary journey, plants, animals, and a select few from the millions who are ready for the transformational voyage, crafting an accumulator to collect everything with a survival value and stepping into a new future of rainbow promises.

The old fisherman took me to the shore, pointed to the horizon, some distant waves and the shoal. I could not see any fish. I pretended that I could,the coward that I was. Then on I started watching the waves, and to learn to see beyond the waves. Gradually it fell in place how all the waves, together, tangible and intangible, come together to create what we create.

It is against our programming to think in waves. Unlike fishermen, men on land have come to think in straight lines which leads us to booms and busts rather than waves and cycles which are but  natural But we are always taken by surprise. The captains could not see beyond the linear,   waves and cycles.

Dev complains, the dialogue brushes past too many issues and leaves everyone of them unexplained

Dialogue is for ADULTs. They need no advice. You can at best draw their attention or perhaps provoke them to ask questions. Once this is achieved they need be left to make the rest of the connections. (If there are gaps one can always Google it). There has to be enough space for the adult to find itself and mature.

Now that the context is set and the flood is more than a myth, choice is between building your own ark or a community one. The latter happens only in myths and is beyond our scope.

There is no substitute to building a personal one. We need as many arks as possible rather than waiting for another Noah. Each one needs to build an ark for oneself. Without learning to ride the waves, one can not lend a helping hand. That would be catalyzing suicide

The pyramids were built when the valley was fertile and the soil supported the community. The floods used to keep the soil fertile. When we were young we celebrated the floods which were a rare event. It was a time for celebrations, taking out the canoes, go frolicking. Now they have built embankments to the river. When the river swells, the currents are stronger digging the bottom of the river further down. The embankments get washed away but are strengthened continuously, further accelerating the death of the river. The forests were replaced by a wide portfolio of crops which more or less acted like natural forests which gave way to the plantations, fertilizers, pesticides and weedicides. Now the soil is dying. Floods when they come spread the pesticides and weedicides all over, further accelerating the rot.

The other flood is more difficult to see. The most endangered species is the Homo sapiens and not the others in the list. History tells us that the collapse takes more than 100 years for the full cycle to be completed. When our span of attention is less than 15 years, we fail to see the flooding that takes a century or more.

The crisis could be the birth pangs of a new species. Nature is ruthless when it comes to the survival of the fittest.

One of the participants had this dream of the pied piper and the giant wheel. We get into the giant wheel and the driver decides when we need to get out. The music is so enchanting that we merrily join the flow, the flood. We become the frog soup – drowned in the flood

Either we dream of a glorious past or a glorious future. Neither helps, the flood/ crisis is a perennial one , taking place here and now. We pray to our father who art in heaven. Just as we push him up  (push HER underground) out of our lives we dream of a golden past or a future. This is the problem with stimulus selectivity. We would like to listen to our favourite music and shut out the inconvenient and the unpleasant, out of focus.

Are you suggesting that we don’t wait to save the planet but be selfish enough to save our own skin.

That may be the best that one can do., appropriate selfishness – Charles Handy

Nature will see that in spite of floods and plagues there will be enough left for the show to continue. One can choose which fork to take. The crowd will always be behind by at least 20 + years behind the lone walker. Nobody is going to build a Lexus, reading the Toyota Way

We can learn from the people on the edge. The African proverb, a favourite of Al Gore and quoted in The Hot, Flat and Crowded by Fried man, “If you want to go quickly go alone but if you want to go far, go together” may at times turn out to be suicidal.

For Galileo it was much longer. Had he gone with the crowd, we wouldn’t have him in the history books. The crowd and the pyramid dwellers took a long long ime to reconcile with his personal vision. One can not always go with the crowd. One has to learn to hunt with the hound as well as run with the hares.

What about the Gurus, Best sellers, the secret, the law of attraction, the self improvement industry – NAN

There are enough saviours/ pied pipers who promise salvation. The crutches help till you learn to walk. Once you have learnt to walk, it is time to dump the crutches and listen to the guru inside. One cannot see through the other’s eyes. We need new eyes to see a new vision NOW to create a desirable future

What is the visual about ?

The new eye, window to the self/reality’.  We have attempted to map, create a visual of what we have been discussing. Perhaps one could meditate on it for some time. We were talking about a learning engine.

The Ark is the learning engine which continually outperforms, beyond booms and busts, floods, feasts/festivals.

It is about our self and selves.

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?

Year 2065

Creating the future now/Remote seeing  !

At times, on certain roads,  we can see to the front as much as we can see behind us if we look back. I am over 60 years and can ‘see’ into my past rather well for 55 + years. Assuming 55 years to be the radius of my mindscape I can see 55 years into the future too.

Due to prevalent mental models I do not see farther than 2024, life expectancy being 74 years in my context.  If I subscribe to this my planning horizon need be just another 14 years which in turn would certainly be influencing my decisions, the prime reason why managers tend to believe in the sprint rather than the marathon.

We believe we can ‘see’ even much farther. If we can see through our DNA  and our collective mind we can see much much farther. Everything about the past is mapped into us in so many different ways and we are as old as the universe. There is something immortal in all of us.

We have been using the following exercise in ‘remote seeing’ mostly with young MBAs in the age group, 22 – 26 years, since 1990 and this gets revised every year.

The mental horizons keep on expanding but what we see hasn’t changed much.

The trends became more pronounced. The majority was taking the exit and the new generation, homo novus, was taking over. The flooding started much earlier but was not recognized by many. The minority could not influence the general flow. They found it more sensible to conserve their energy; certain that time would solve the problem.
The markets were collapsing. Longer life-spans and decline in births changed the very character of demand. The seniors influenced the markets much more. Most products and services could not hold on to market share. People found them not giving any more satisfaction, that many of these were just substitutes, products of survival drive distortions and had no basis in reality. The gold and bullion markets had become part of history. The chemicals and fertilizer industry was putting up a stiff fight to stay afloat. The stock markets too were on the brink of collapse due to the upsurge of loosely held voluntary business associations of real stakeholders. The cities were facing a crisis giving way to communes and virtual communities living a life in communion with nature, part of a loose network of similar ones elsewhere. People often shifted residence from one to the other. People in the communes lived a different life in contrast to the majority who failed to grasp the philosophical backdrop behind such lifestyles.

The shift could, now, no more be ignored.
Marriage and family seemed to be the most affected. With adults freed of the long years of responsibility and investment of their time and effort on child rearing, marriage itself lost most of its relevance. People of similar interests seemed to band together into communities of practice for reasons of professional and personal growth. These networks were more like extended families. Life expectancy had crossed the 100-year mark but people were, surprisingly in much better health for their age than at any time before. The communities were self-sufficient in meeting most of their needs. Products and services were by-products of life rather than ends in themselves. Work, fun, learning and leisure merged to become an indivisible whole and expertise in various aspects of knowledge accumulated in specific communities. Established religions were giving way to a new spirituality focused on conscious evolutionary growth by design.

It appeared that Homo sapiens was being overtaken by Homo novus.

Whether you agree or disagree, future is influenced now.

We can choose the world that we want to be in.

Homo Novus

Is the species of the future?
Gathering the scattered remnants of humanness,  building the Noah’s ark of vestigial human qualities
To salvage Homo sapiens from extinction, the most threatened of all species
Sapiens worshipped the dead, never really buried them fully
Oblivious that they were stuck in the mud
They chanted Buddha and Christ for millenniums
Not wanting to go beyond them
Found immense pleasure in wallowing in the mud
Homo erectus never evolved fully
Never really walked erect, mentally or spiritually
Just another of nature’s game of dice
Now vanishing in the millennium flood
Killing each other in the name of God and Satan
By-products of ignorance, another gate to learning

Homo novus is the human of the future
To be one or not to be is one’s conscious decision
THE CHOICE
Homo novus is androgynous, trisexual
Building islands of sanity in the midst of chaos
Islands of love and connected-ness
Networked beyond borders
Of those who by choice, select the road not travelled,
The Road by Design

Potter at the Wheel

The river of life flows forever – renewing itself.

A drop from the ocean has the ocean in it

The body is a drop from the ocean of nature.

We are much more than our physical self.

The spirit clothes the physical, animating it.

Soul , the unifier , is yet to take birth, the second birth, more real than our first birth.

It is both a personal and COLLECTIVE CHOICE for true community to emerge.

The soul is the unifier that bridges the divides within and without, in us, amongst us.

Beyond time, without before or after and as ‘old or young’ as the universe.

The body, the physical, is just the potter’s clay, soul the potter and ‘time’ the potter’s wheel.

Potter fashions the pot in tune with his internal map

If the map is of death we die and if that of illness we become ill

We have programmed our – SELVES to die, to fall ill (what a fall?)

Life is anti-death and its only purpose is to defeat death

It is not the food or the medicines but the maps that make the difference

–         The biology of our belief

–         What we believe together is the reality we create

If the map is of health, renewal, the river of life, the body regenerates

In the flow of life, wrinkles vanish, skin glows, old cells flow out, new cells flow in.

Re- collecting the body that we had at 25 and improving it further

Perfect health is so natural and our ‘efforts’ make it unnatural

RE – ‘COGNISE’ the possibility allowing nature to express itself

Not standing against the flow of life, continual renewal
Eat just for the fun of it, fact is you don’t need to (see the blue ocean people) Eat what brings joy to you, drink what you feel like

For it is the soul that fashions the body

The unifying principle, the glue of life, that connects and binds everything together,

That which re – NEWS continually

(Context in which grown 50 + Couples)

I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don’t want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen. I want to live on in my apartment.”    Woody Allen

The singularity perspective

The Singularity Drive

The Singularity Drive

What drives the learning engine is the Singularity Drive.

How do we accelerate (CHANGE) continual improvement and align our SELVES to PERFORM?

Over 100 would be warriors wait to be tested in their skills of using the bow and arrow. The teacher asks the same question, what do you see? before they are allowed to let the arrow leave the string of the bow. All of them see different things. Arjuna is the only one who sees the bird’s eye, the target. He is poised to shoot and there is absolute silence.   Arjuna shoots and hits the bird’s eye. He only passes the test.

When we talk about singularity, the singularity is broken. The artist knows it which drives him to the visual medium. The silence is not broken when the painter or the sculptor achieves IT.

The child in the mother’s womb is in singularity. The singularity is broken at birth, oneness to duality. The newborn becomes more and more aware of its self , the process of taking birth of the self and grows into maturity (do we?) when it reconnects with the whole , Trinity, Singularity ‘ (singularity and singularity ’ !  ?  )

Up to the animal level there is a singularity, akin to that of the child in the womb

Freewill   comes with responsibility, informed choice, between the two arrows that branch out from the level of the animal in Q 3.  The animal pulls us down and the human attempts to break out of the ‘gravitational’ pull, to go into orbit something similar to a space vehicle. Once it goes into orbit it strives to break out from the monotony of repetition, being bounded like a clock.  The linear and static is transcended to the dynamic and real time.

BETWEEN THE TWO ARROWS IS THE UNREALISED POTENTIAL, THE WASTE IN THE SYSTEM, THE BLUE OCEAN SPACE.

Real improvements lead to narrowing the gap. Yet there will always be a gap like a road which unfolds as one move forward. The invariant lighthouse position (reference point), the direction of the journey, where we are now and true progress in relation to these three become measurable. The problem of metrics is resolved.    We now have the map for accelerated continual improvement.

If the periodic table is a map of the world of matter, this map is a navigational tool for the journey of life.

The singularity drive makes us leap for the impossible. It drives Bubka and Isinbayeva, to take those leaps again and again.  It drives us to sing, paint, sculpt, and create history

The singularity drive

That which drives the mystic

That which drives us to stories, folklore and myths

That which drives us to outperform, from our previous best

The fusion fuel for the learning engine that drives science, religion, art

That which drives us to take the leap into deep space, science fiction

That which drives us to aspire for community, immortality

That which will drive us out of the recession, from booms and busts, to the road of continual renewal and improvement.

What leadership is all about

What managers/institutions are expected to deliver but consistently fail to achieve. The disappointment comes when we park our trust and money elsewhere, much more than in our own SELF, in stocks, gold, god men/women, the consultant, prophets, the new President, at the top of the pyramid.

The foundation and the top needs to be in alignment for continuous improvement to prevail, the new habit, over the habit of precedence. Such alignment transforms the pyramids to continual learning communities.

The world is flatter but not flat.

A Nano to Immortality

David did a nano to Goliath

The Vietnamese did a nano to the US

Chandrayan did a nano to NASA, perhaps Virgin Galactic too.

Ratan Tata did a nano to automobiles

India did a nano to China in auto exports, by default

Raymond Kurtzweil is the champion of technological singularity who Bill Gates endorses as the smartest futurist around and Intel CTO, Rattner says ultimately machine intelligence could match human intelligence.  I wonder whether it would match the average intelligence of sapiens or the smartest human around, perhaps that of Ray. In both cases I am not very thrilled because the average and the exceptionally intelligent equally fail to trigger my curiosity.

http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/092109-intel-cto-interview.html?hpg1=bn

Ray predicts this to happen around 2029 when those who are 60 now will be able to live forever with the help of technology available by then. Perhaps nano robots will do the scavenging of your system and continually keep it in shape for ever. I am 60 now and had decided sometime in 1990 that singularity always existed and will continue to exist. Perhaps, ultimately when technological and human singularities are aligned we could design an ideal future and translate this into reality?

What would you choose?

Wait for 2029 or start living now on the assumption that eternity is now and whether you make it to 2029 or not I want to have the most of now?

Even if technological singularity arrives sometime in the future, I could be run over by a BMTC bus on the least walker friendly roads of Bangalore during my daily grind of 9 Kms in 70 minutes and take the exit route. It could be today or tomorrow. Since I believe in human singularity rather than technological singularity I would have lived my days till that inglorious exit with the satisfaction that I lived a full life

I wonder, assuming technological singularity to be a reality in 2029, what would Ray be doing for an eternity to keep boredom at bay. I have never been bored since my shift to human singularity and every one of my decisions since were governed by the eternity time scale rather than my bonus at the end of the quarter.

POSITION, FOCUS and the LEVER: Do you see all the three as ONE?

“Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.”

– Archimedes.