Saturday, September 15, 2007

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What have I accomplished today?

Did I accomplish what I intended?

How am I going to improve for tomorrow?

What are my strengths and weaknesses?

What's my profit? What's my loss?

How far have I come in my long-term goals?

What's holding me back from growing?

ULTIMATE SUCCESS FORMULA (USF)

The Investor's Business Daily (IBD), the premium business information newspaper in the United States, has spent years analyzing leaders and successful people in all walks of life. Most have 10 traits that, when combined, can turn dreams into reality.

IBD's list is compiled from the results of thousands of case studies & biographies of what famous and successful people did to get where they are now - from Ben Franklin to Bill Gates to Mother Theresa to Babe Ruth to Martin Luther King.

Not simply the rich, but people who truly did extraordinary things with their lives.

1. HOW YOU THINK IS EVERYTHING: Always be positive. Think success, not failure. Beware of a negative environment.

2. DECIDE UPON YOUR TRUE DREAMS AND GOALS: Write down you specific goals and develop a plan to reach them.

3. TAKE ACTION: Goals are nothing without action. Don't be afraid to get started now. Just do it.

4. NEVER STOP LEARNING: Go back to school or read books. Get training and acquire skills.

5. PERSIST AND WORK HARD: Success is a marathon, not a sprint. Never give up.

6. LEARN TO ANALYZE DETAILS: Get all the facts, all the information. Learn from your mistakes.

7. BUDGET YOUR TIME AND MONEY: Don't let other people or things distract you.

8. DON'T BE AFRAID TO INNOVATE: Following the herd is a sure way to mediocrity.

9. COMMUNICATE AND DEAL WITH PEOPLE EFFECTIVELY: No person is an island. Learn to understand and motivate others.

10. BE HONEST AND DEPENDABLE, TAKE RESPONSIBILITY: Otherwise, No.'s 1-9 won't matter.

POINTS TO PONDER: INTERNET MARKETING

I was intrigued when I happened to read an article about Igor Shoifot in Venture Beat of the Financial Times on the net.

Igor Shoifot is a co-founder and COO of Fotki.com, one of the largest of the least touted sites used for photo -- and other types of sharing and socializing by millions of users all over the world (http://about.fotki.com/testimonials/). He also teaches digital media management at NYU. In the past, Igor ran a top 5 Microsoft WebTV site, Epsylon Games, and co-founded Sundera, an early distributed spreadsheet company. He holds an MBA from Boston University and a PhD from the Russian Academy of Sciences.

He made this unpretentious remark, which somehow struck me:

"There are really no silver bullets as far as the success of an Internet start-up is concerned – what works magically for one situation fails in another, and those entrepreneurs/investors with most trophies on their fireplace mantles usually have more horror stories of their own to hide or tell than anybody else."

However, he revealed three ingredients to success in today's brutal Web 2.0 world, all in a nutshell:

“If A is a success, then A equals x plus y plus z where work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.” (Albert Einstein)

In other words, if you want to be successful:

1. Work: get customers by resolving real pains, listen to them, create what they really want/enjoy, more importantly - co-create with them, address technological issues;

2. Play: give customers real and compelling reasons to come back, and often, get their creativity going, make them enjoy (better: compete) expressing themselves, turn them into your best marketers by honestly serving them better than anyone and by passing as much value onto them as you can (or even more!);

3. Shut up: Forget about everything else in life and concentrate on what you’re building, that is, yes – on #1 (working) and #2 (playing);

A wake up call or inspiration?

TEST YOUR PERSONAL CREATIVITY

I have found a free online creativity test, and it has been very enjoyable to go through it.

Check it out: www.creax.com/csa/

It is really very interesting to test your personal creativity (although I believe it cannot be objectively measured).

The test nevertheless contains great questions though, and it’s fun to do.

POCKET GUIDES: CREATIVITY, INNOVATION & PROBLEM SOLVING

This is my treasured collection of pocket guides to creativity, innovation & problem solving in my personal library.

1) The Basics of Idea Generation, by Donna Greiner

Comments: "A 57-page book. Explains 20 tools that help ensure your team consistently generates new ideas and learns how to implement them effectively."

2) Technique for Producing Ideas, by James Webb Young

Comments: "A 64-page book, written primarily for the advertising industry. Simple and yet powerful!"

3) The Manager's Pocket Guide to Creativity, by Alexander Hiam

Comments: "A practical, compact guide to applying your creativity in the workplace."

4) The Creativity Tools Memory Jogger, by Robert W. Peach

Comments: "An industry-strength pocket guide to creative solutions, from the wonderful Goal/QPC people."

5) Creative Problem Solving, by Donald J. Noone

Comments: "A 96-page book. Shows you how to train the mind to free up its problem-solving capabilities."

6) Awaken Your Birdbrain: Using Creativity to Get What You Want, by Bill Costello

Comments: "A fully illustrated, fun, and ground-breaking book that describes a proven method that enables you to actively produce creative ideas instead of passively waiting for inspiration."

7) C and the Box: A Paradigm Parable, by Frank A. Prince

Comments: "An enjoyable little story focused on creative thinking within an organization. Illuminating!"

8) Idea management: How to motivate Creativity and Iinnovation, by Charles Hutchison Clark

Comments: "A management briefing from the American Management Association. This little book can really revv up your creative juices."

9) The Problem Solving Memory Jogger: Seven Steps to Improved Processes, by Goal/QPC

Comments: "An industry-strength pocket guide to improved processes, from the wonderful Goal/QPC people."

10) Creating Brilliant Ideas, by Alice Steinbart

Comments: "This small book gives you the tools to create brilliant, new, valuable ideas. You no longer need to wait for an idea to strike you. There are 24 proven idea triggers."

11) Instant Creativity: Change the Way You Work Now, by Brian Clegg

Comments: "Full of simple, proven techniques that will help you find fresh ideas and solutions, the book, with only 128 pages, offers over 70 approaches to creative thinking."

12) 52 Ways to Nurture Your Creativity, by Lynn Gordon

Comments: "Feed your creative muse with these 52 little bites of inspiration. Funky and stimulating!"

13) Get Out of Your Thinking Box: 365 Ways to Brighten Your Life & Enhance Your Creativity, by Lindsay Collier

Comments: "This 119-page book has only 365 one-liner idea triggers, which should boost your creativity. Read it jointly with the author's other book, 'Whack-a-Mole Theory.'"

14) Crisp: Innovations, by David Sorenson

Comments: "A simple set of guidelines (or best management practices) from the heart of 3M, a company thought of as among the most inventive. A very consice guide with only 71 pages."

15) Handbook of Creative Problem Solving Techniques, by Julie L. Ellis

Comments: "This user guide to creative problem solving has only 44 pages - with very simple, yet very powerful stuff!."

16) The Creative Edge: How Companies Support Creativity and Innovation

Comments: "A management briefing from the American Management Association. This little book can drive your competitive edge to business success."

17) Blueprints for Innovation: How Creative Processes Can Make You and Your Company More Competitive, by Charles W. Prather

Comments: "A management briefing from the American Management Association. This little book can become your guidebook for helping your organization become more innovative."

18) Mind Jogger: A Problem Solving Companion, by Hal Zina Bennett

Comments: "A simple system for expanding the way you look at/resolve problems. It really does get your mind running more effectively (in rational and intuitivel ways). Have a go as it's worth your time."

19) Sphericles: The Business Oracle, by Joanne Black

Comments: "A quick user guide to tap into your intuitive wisdom to resolve issues or discover possibilities. Comes with a companion bag of thirty four crystal-like spheres. A bit esoteric, but worth exploring!"

20) Roger Von Oech's Ancient Whacks of Heraclitus: A Creativity Took Based on the Epigrams of Heraclitus, by Roger Von Oech

Comments: "It's filled with stories, anecdotes, exercises and provocative illustrations that will stimulate you to think in new and different ways, drawing on ancient wisdom."

21) Creative Whack Pack, by Roger Von Oech

An illustrated deck of 64 creative thinking strategies (or whacks!) to enhance your creativity through the 4 process stages: Explorer, Artist, Judge & Warrior."

22) Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Deck, by Michael Michalko

Comments: "A excellent companion toolkit to the Thinkertoys book, using a proven technique that goes back to the advertisng world of the 1950's."

23) Creating Something from Nothing: A Guide to Unleashing Your Creative Self a Primer for Those Wanting to Master the Art of Innovation and Problem-Solving, by Bob Erickson

Comments: "A 108-page primer with one powerful theme: once we learn to do our own thinking, ideas will flow effortlessly & will become part of our natural thinking process."

24) Idea Power: Time Tested Methods to Stimulate Your Imagination, by Morris O. Edwards

Comments: "This 62-page dictionary of 57 time-tested methodologies (with some European variations) can really stimulate your creative juices! The bibliography itself is a gem, too."

25) The General Pattern of the Scientific Method, by Norman W. Edmund

Comments: "Introduces the author's Scientific Method. He is the founder of Edmund Scientific, which supplies all kinds of interesting stuff for your science/invention projects. His method is quite potent."

BACK TO THE GARDEN: AN 8-STEP PROCESS FOR CREATING A CULTURE OF INNOVATION

Mitchell Ditkoff, a well-known and popular speaker on innovation, and leader of creative thinking seminars for major corporations around the world, is the co-founder and CEO of Idea Champions.


He has recently contributed the above interesting article in the Innovation Tools website.

His opening tagline is eye catching & yet splendidly relevant:

"Companies are actually living organisms, not machines. We keep bringing in mechanics, when what we need are gardeners." (Peter Senge).

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"From joy springs all creation;
By joy it is sustained;
Towards joy it proceeds;
And unto joy it returns."

(The Upanishads)

TOP 5 TREND WATCHING TIPS

I have found this great primer on trend spotting & tracking, especially for consumer trends, while surfing the net.

Mitch Betts, a journalist and researcher, in his Corporate Intelligence blog, has recently made a condensed, paraphrased version as follows:

1. Know why you’re tracking trends.

It’s probably to help you dream up profitable new goods and services, i.e., “profitable innovation.” Successful innovations often satisfy existing, dormant consumer needs in new and attractive ways. Trend-watching isn’t futurism; it’s about observing and understanding what’s already happening, the major and the minor, the mainstream and the fringe.

2. Have a point of view.

Be a generalist, looking for context. Develop a view of the future of consumerism. Look across industries for insights. Ask why something is appealing to consumers, instead of being judgmental.

3. Weave your Web of resources.

“[C]elebrate the incredible wealth of trend resources at your fingertips, many of them free or dirt cheap!” Examples of info sources: Web sites, blogs, books, news, newsletters, Google Alerts, trade shows, customers, ”eavesdropping, chat rooms, conversations…”

4. Fine-tune your trend framework. Three levels:

Macro trends. Categorize them using the STEEP approach: Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental, Political
Consumer trends
Industry trends


The three levels of trends affect each other. “Just remember that industry trends, which firms are so keen on understanding, are at the mercy of macro and consumer trends, not the other way ’round.” Look for connections among the trends you’re tracking — the matrix. Come up with creative names for the trends, which makes them memorable and interesting.

5. Embed and apply.

Create your own, in-house trend group, with executive support. Tap a network of colleagues as trend-spotters. Have weekly or monthly discussions and distribute the results. Ultimately, the goal is to turn the trends into innovations for your company:

Influence or shape your company’s vision
Come up with a new business concept, venture or brand
Add something new for a certain customer segment
Speak the language of those consumers already ‘living’ the trend: show them you get it (via marketing, advertising, PR);


Be sure to read the whole original entertaining essay at TrendWatching.com, if you are interested in it!

Friday, September 14, 2007

ULTIMATE SUCCESS FORMULA (USF)

I came across this USF while surfing the net.

In a cover story in the Men's Journal, February 2004, Clint Eastwood, one of my favourite movie stars, had shared these '10 Rules A Man Should Live By':

1) Call your own shots;

2) Be fearless;

3) Keep moving;

4) Love your job:

5) Speak softly;

6) Don't be predictable;

7) Find a good woman;

8) Learn to play the piano;

9) You are what you drive;

10) Avoid extreme makeovers;

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

Do I feel lucky today? Why?

(Inspired by Inspector Callahan, played by Cint Eastwood, in 'Dirty Harry')

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Know what you love & do what you love. If you don't do what you love, you're just wasting your time."

(Billy Joel)

STRATEGY: A PERSONAL MUSING

"Strategy, at its heart, is always about positioning for future competitive advantage."

I can't recall who had said this or defined it as such.

Nevertheless, I have found it to be a valid statement.

Moreover, I know one thing for sure: 'Strategy' implies "thinking strategically about the future".

Let's see whether I can dissect it & explore where it will lead me to.

Strategy:

In military jargon, this is "generalship" or science of planning, directing & maneuvering large scale military forces into the most advantageous position, prior to actual engagement with enemy forces.

For me, it's actually a "mental model" for thinking about what I want to do in the future.

Dr Karl Pribram, of Stanford University, calls it an "image of achievement". Dr David Ingvar of Lund University in Sweden terms it as "memory of the future". These findings from the two eminent brain scientists imply that man has the innate ability to "see" the future.

I strongly believe that whatever I think & do always happens thrice:

- first, as an "idea" or "concept" inside my head - psychologists call it "mental construct";

- secondly, as a plan when I write it down so that I can crystallise my thoughts about the "idea";
- thirdly & finally, as a physical reality when I put my "idea" to work according to the plan in the real world;

That's why it's always important to formulate a strategy in life.

For lay persons, it's "goal setting". For corporations, it's "strategic visioning".

Come to think of it, I reckon 'daydreaming', particularly in the case of kids, is also a form of strategy formulation, even though they don't actually understand it. Surprisingly, adults do that too, even though they don't realise its power.

I also believe very strongly that everything is possible in life; it's just a question of strategy.

To formulate a strategy, I know these are the first things first:

- what do I want?
- where am I?
- where do I want to go?

Positioning:

For me, there are two important issues here.

First, there is this issue of currency: what do I have or possess at the moment?

To understand it, I need to do an internal audit of myself. A SWOT, to be more precise. A SWOT will generally provide me with information about what I would need as additional resources or support.

Next, there is the issue of relativity - a position relative to the confluence of various external forces acting on me as well as other people in &/or around my space, in one way or another.

A good way to look at external forces is to use the acronym TEMPLES to determine exactly what can affect or impact my strategy:

- technology;
- economics;
- money;
- political;
- legal aspects;
- ethical & ecological aspects;
- social-demographics;


To look at people in &/or around my space that have the greatest impact, strategy-wise, the best way is first, determine my particular role in each instance as I interact with them.

There is also the issue of perception in the eyes (& the mind) of people around me. This one is a little bit more complicated.

Future:

For me, this is a "time frame" or "scenario" some time - near or distant - ahead. It generally denotes an "unknown territory" - a place where I have not been before. I recall the tag line from the Star Trek TV series: "... to go where no man has gone before."

It's always important to think about the future. There is nothing much I can do about my past, although I can learn quite a lot from it. There is, nevertheless, a lot of stuff I can do in the present. This where my strategy - & plan of action - can come in.

Naturally, I would need insight about myself, my personal aspirations, my SWOT i.e. all the inputs from my understanding of 'Positioning'.

I also need some hindsight about what works well before, what resources I have, as well as foresight about what's out there, what's possible. Also, what-ifs, why nots. I also need a better view of the situation (BVS).

To have a better future, it's always important to explore it, think about it, plan for it & then put the plan to work, right now. In other words, I have to invent it.

Having a future scenario set in my mind, I reckon it's much easier for me to anticipate a lot of stuff that goes with it.

If I don't do that, some one else will do it for me, & I may not like it at all.

A "future" can also be the "edge" of my personal comfort zone. According to Judith Barker, there is always danger in the comfort zone.

Sometimes, I need to push myself to the edge i.e. to stretch myself - to enter the stretch zone, so to speak.

Opportunities - more specifically, possibilities to grow, to learn, etc. - are abundant in the stretch zone.

Competitive:

This term naturally has some negative connotations.

For me, the best way to look at it is to always consider doing things better than what I have done before, instead of comparing myself with others.

It also means I should always leverage on what I know & what I have. A lot of personal creativity is needed here, too.

I think it was Billy Joel, a famous singer, who said something like this: "We don't have to be better than anybody; we just have to be the only one doing what we do."

Therefore, I must constantly strive to build on my existing competency. Life-long learning, especially learning new things, is one.

By the way, what are the personal as well professional competencies for the 21st century?

Advantage:

For me, this is, in essence, creating distinctions so that I am visibly different from the others.

Advantage can also mean "one step ahead of the competition". It is important to take note that the competition does not sleep.

Stretching it further, advantage can also denote "putting myself on the toes" all the time. Be prepared - for oportunities as well as contingencies. Continual improvement, too!

In fact, if I practise strategic thinking - with active & fluid use - all the time, I reckon I can sustain my competitive advantage in the long run.

I think it's also important to practise strategic foresight or future-casting.

That's all, folks!

NOTES FROM MY SCRATCH PAD: OPPORTUNITY MAPPING

1) What I offer that others aren't offering?

2) How can I position myself in aw ay that is different?

3) Where is the niche that hasn't been dveeloped?

4) How can I add value to the products or services I now produced?

5) Where is the market ineffciency?

6) What would make this process or procedure more convenient?

7) How can I do this less expensively?

8) What would people pay for that isn't available now?

9) What might my customer group want if it were available?

10) What do I really enjoy doing that I'd like to do more of?

11) How can I make a living from doing what to me is fun, challenging & never boring?

12) What trends will change the assumptions my colleagues & competitors are presently making about my field?

13) What is next for 'Me, Inc.'?

[Source; Robert Tucker's 'Winning the Innovation Game'.]

Thursday, September 13, 2007

SYNTOPIC BOOK REVIEW: PROBLEM MANAGAMENT & PROBLEM SOLVING

Appended below is my syntopic review of two classic books on problem management & problem solving:

1. 'SUCCESSFUL PROBLEM MANAGEMENT', by Michael Sanderson;

2. 'MANAGERIAL PROBLEM SOLVING', by Charles Margerison;

These two books had been my constant companions since the 70's when I first embarked on a managerial career in engineering & production operations. They were also my very first books on the subject.

What I like about the first book is the more than 1,200 checklist questions that have been formulated hierarchically in helping me to understand & build, in stages (the author prefers the term `strategic elements'), my problem solving model. The questions are also flexible enough to apply to a wide range of different problems & still be engineered to the details of specific applications.

Additionally, the book also presents some basic skeleton strategies for such situations as:

- diagnosis for problem definition;
- getting organized for a project;
- generating & developing a new idea;
- operating in an entrepreneurial situation;

In contrast to a lot of other problem solving books, I find that the second book focuses essentially on group interaction & interpersonal behaviour in managerial meetings. The author's fundamental premise is that a manager's working day is punctuated by meetings, formal or chance, to resolve problems (including identifying & exploiting opportunities).

This book, written in clear & simple language, provides expert guidance in how managers can improve results in such meetings. It is targeted primarily for the world of production, marketing, finance & other managerial functions, fully backed by well-designed case studies.

Very seldom does one come across such a problem solving book that draws such a fine distinction between problems, solutions & managerial actions.

I also find the last few chapters of the book very insightful. The chapter entitled `Getting Cornered' illustrates the pitfalls of the manager who is cornered by colleagues & subordinates who disagreed on a particular issue, whereas another chapter, entitled `Conversation Seduction', examines the problem in a meeting where the discussion is seemingly going nowhere.

Over the years, I had learnt a lot from the above two authors as I moved on progressively to tackle varied problems & exploiting abundant opportunities in my managerial career path.

Even today, after having left the corporate world for more than two decades, I still make effort & time to `chat', from time to time, with the two authors through their wonderful work.

I would like to sum up my syntopic review in this manner:

- if you want to understand the fundamental principles of problem management, with an easy-to-use building block approach, start with the first book;

- if you want to move into managerial problem solving involving group dynamics, the second book is the right book;

Why don't you get both books?

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What is the best use of my time right now?

What is the best use of my time tomorrow morning? afternoon? evening?

ANNOUNCEMENT: Global Mind Map Conference 2007 in Singapore

Global Mind Map Conference 2007


“A BRAIN New World”14-15 Nov 07 @ Singapore


Date

14 & 15 Nov 2007, Wed-Thu

Time

8.30 am to 6.00 pm

Conference Fee

SG$ 590.00 Early Bird SG$ 480.00 (register before 15 Oct 2007)
(Fee excludes 7% goods & services tax or GST. See Notes 2b. For bulk tickets under one order, please contact the respective Ticketing Agents.)

Conference Venue

Singapore Institute of ManagementHeadquarters (Clementi Campus)461 Clementi Road Singapore 599491

How to Register

Please provide your personal information to Nancy / Leister in order to reserve a seat:
Phone : (65) 6248 9409/ 419 / 295
Fax: (65) 6467 4401
Email: pdconferences@sim.edu.sg
Web: www.mindmapconference.com (coming soon)

Conference Outline

It all begins with your brain, the core of your creative intelligence. Many people know the great importance of creativity in ensuring survival, competitive edge and success, but very few know how to unleash this power within them. Great artists and geniuses like Leonardo Davinci, Thomas Edison, Picasso, Mozart and William Shakespeare were amongst users of creative techniques.

Ushered into the “Brain New World” as we lined up over 20 dynamic speakers, including Dilip Mukerjea, from around the world for the first time to celebrate Mind Mapping in the 21st century. Hear from these experts as they share how Mind Maps has impacted their lives and their respective professional domains – medical doctors, researchers, human resource managers, business entrepreneurs, international authors, motivational speakers, educators and special need learning teachers.

[For more details, please check out the Buzan Centre Asia website.]

NOTES FROM MY SCRATCH PAD: CREATIVITY vs INNOVATION

I had compiled these notes from an original article written by Ned Herrmann during the nineties.

He argued that it was important to distinguish between creativity & innovation, because the processes were different in terms of risks, starting points, climates & consequences:

CREATIVITY:

- origin from 'creare' - to cause something to come into being, as something unique;

- process that created the product in the first place or produces an original outcome or product;

- the product is original, unique & usually novel;

- Boeing 747 is largely the result of creativity in design & manufacture;

- conceiving & making the first Post-It Notes - result of a creative process;

- requires a different executive mindset than innovation, particularly in business applications;

- requires tolerance of mistakes; an acceptance of risk; a commitment of time & resources; acceptance of possible failure; must be thought of as an investment; much more of a formal event (taken together, these requirements affect the management culture of an organisation that aspires to be creative);

- much more of a formal, ongoing & complex process;

- it's a risky business (automobile industry as an example - completely new models are rare);

- because it is a process, it can be taught & learned;

INNOVATION:

- origin from 'innovare' - to renew; to introduce something new, make changes;

- adding something new to an existing product or process;

- the change, modification or improvement of an existing product;

- Boeing 747 stretch version, cargo version, model that was modified to carry space shuttle are innovations;

- Post It Notes - making them in different sizes, shapes & colours are innovations;

- businesses are more comfortable with it than with creativity;

- it's a lot safer, it's incremental; it's building on an already existing product or process; it's far easier t achieve success than starting from scratch;

- requires a much lower level of risk; since it's incremental, it can be terminated at any desired level; the levels of approval are lower; less of a need for long term commitment of money & resources; & a less sophisticated management culture;

- often a random event;

- since its starting point is the modification of an existing product or process, it is much easier to make meaningful progress toward improvement compared with starting from zero & not knowing the outcome;

- it's much more informal; there is no specific body of knowledge that could serve as a basis of teaching & learning;

- many, if not most, innovative techniques are derived previously from what we know about creativity;

The end analysis by Ned Herrmann: Both creativity & innovation are needed. Successful leaders of the future would likely make creativity & innovation a strategic priority in their organizations.

[If you want to read the original article, try here.]

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"A creative idea or product arises from the synergy of many sources & not just from the mind of a single person. It is easier to enhance creativity by changing conditions in the environment than by trying to make people think more creatively."

(Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi)

TAPPING INTO YOUR CREATIVITY II

In an earlier post, 'Tapping into Your Creativity', I mentioned about the test results in creativity from the research findings of the American Management Association (AMA).

Here is another set of test results in creativity from George Land & Beth Jarman, in their book, 'Breaking Point & Beyond', published in the early nineties:

among 3 to 5 years old kids : 98% are creative;

8 to 10 years old kids: 32%

13 to 15 years old teens: 10%

same test given to 200,000 adults: only 2% are creative;

Again, very depressing news!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: 'CREATING A THINKING ORGANISATION: GROUND RULES FOR SUCCESS', by Rikki Hunt

I was initially attracted by the book's cover title, and also by the fact that Tony Buzan had a part in it.

Although it was refreshing to follow the author's career path and some of his strategic decision-making processes, using a host of tools including mind-mapping and de Bono's stuff, I end up quite disappointed with the book.

In fairness to the author, there are some small parts I really enjoyed.

Let me start with the good points:

The use of a "natural landscape" by the author to put de Bono's 'Six Thinking Hats' in a total perspective is a very innovative and visually appealing approach. For example, this is how he illustrates de Bono's concept:

Sun, to represent 'Yellow Hat' - for positives; Open Field to represent 'Green Hat' - for creative ideas; Blue Sky, to represent 'Blue Hat" - for overview; White Clouds, to represent 'White Hat' - for facts; Black Clouds, to represent 'Black Hat' - for negatives; Earth Fire, to represent 'Red Hat' - for fee!lings & emotions;

This approach reinforces the argument that man has a natural proclivity towards visual metaphors. Kudos to the author!

On page 115 of the book, the author shows a flow chart of how to use a combination of his own favourite thinking tools - mind-mapping, forced field analysis, cluster, brainstorming, 6 Thinking Hats - to solve a problem. The surrounding pages describe the step-by-step process in detail.

Another kudos!

Now, the not-so-good points:

I feel that the 'leadership and change management' part in the book lacks intellectual depth. The author was too perfunctory in these important aspects. A bit more research by the author would have made it more palatable for serious readers.

It was good that the author lists out a good number of other thinking tools under the Appendix to Chapter 7. Unfortunately, I feel he does not do justice to those tools by adding sweeping personal statements of one or two-liners to each tool.

Worst of all, he even adds that mind-mapping does it better, without a proper explanation (or compare & contrast). This to me reflects the author's vague understanding of the tools. e.g. cognitive mapping, flow chart and rich pictures.

Even his one or two-liner description of 'scenario planning' is somewhat flawed in conceptual terms.

A quick browse of the author's scanty bibliography tells me that the author has not done enough homework and research.

There were a lot of glaring mistakes in the book. Let me highlight a few.

On page 80, under 'Some Facts about the Brain' which reads 'The brain contains approx. 1 billion cells i.e. equivalent to 150 times the population of the planet.' Any 7-year-old internet-savvy kid can easily tell you that the numbers don't match!!!

Also, on page 207 to 208, under 'Final review by Tony Buzan:

'Leif Edmunsen' is a wrong name. The correct name is 'Leif Edvinsson', who at one time was the Chief Intellectual Officer of Skandia, mentioned in that paragraph.

The (former) Prime Minister of Singapore is not Mr Ton. He is Mr Goh Chok Tong.

Such silly mistakes reflect very poor editing work on the part of the author and the publishers.

On the whole, I can only sum up that this book is still useful to any first-time manager, looking for a systematic approach to organisational decision making, with a hands-on feel.

This book reminds me of another book, John O'Keeffe's ‘Business Beyond the Box: Applying Your Mind for Breakthrough Results’, from which I can draw a parallel here. In quite a similar vein, the author had built a successful career path through Procter & Gamble in Europe when he wrote the book. Likewise, the book offers a field-proven set of 8 thinking strategies, including mind-mapping.

For serious readers, looking for solid leadership and change management strategies with an entrepreneurial perspective, it will be worthwhile for them to pursue 'The Individualised Corporation' by Sumantra! Ghosal & Chris Bartlett, as well as 'First, Break All the Rules' by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman.

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)


What have I been reading recently?

What am I reading now?

Is there a strategic fit between what I have been reading with what I am doing today?

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"It is no longer enough to be smart — all the technological tools in the world add meaning & value only if they enhance our core values, the deepest part of our heart. Acquiring knowledge is no guarantee of practical, useful application. Wisdom implies a mature integration of appropriate knowledge, a seasoned ability to filter the inessential from the essential."

(Doc Childre & Bruce Cryer, 'From Chaos to Coherence')

A TRIBUTE TO ANITA RODDICK

I am saddened to hear about the sudden demise of Body Shop founder, Anita Roddick, from today's Straits Times. I had read her book, 'Business as Unusual', many years ago.

I also remember she had written a wonderful article in the Sunday Times, December 3rd last year. After some digging through my clippings, I manage to trace the article.

Her article was entitled: 'Real Entrepreneurs Don't Do MBAs'.

She shared ten vital lessons that aspiring business owners would need more than what they taught in business schools:

1) Tell Stories:
Telling stories emphasises what makes you & your company different. Business schools emphasise how to make you toe the line;

2) Concentrate on creativity:
It is critical for any entrepreneur to create a conducive environment that encourages people to have ideas;

3) Be an opportunistic collector:
Open your eyes & absorb the world - to evaluate how what you see can relate back to what you are doing;

4) Measure the company according to fun & creativity:
Business schools are obsessed with number crunching. What is most important in a company - or anything else - is unquantifiable;

5) Be different:
If you are different, you will stand out;

6) Be passionate about ideas:
When accumulating money drives out the ideas & the anger behind them, you are no longer an entrepreneur;

7) Feed your sense of outrage:
Discontentment drives you to want to do something about it;

8) Make the most of the female element:
This one advice is more of an encouragement to all women out there to set up businesses;

9) Believe in yourself & your intuition:
There is a fine line between entrepreneurship & insanity. Crazy people see & feel things that others do not. But you have to believe that everything is possible. If you believe it, those around you will believe it too.

10) Have self-knowledge:
You do not need to know how to do everything, but you must be honest enough with yourself to know what you cannot provide yourself;

Peace, Anita.

POINTS TO PONDER: POWER OF OBSERVATION

I was intrigued by what I read about the great British writer, Rudyard Kipling, (1865-1936), while surfing the net recently.

Most readers should be familiar with him, especially his writings in the form of novels, poems & short stories, which are mostly set in India & Burma (now known as Myanmar).

This was the intriguing part. He won the Nobel Prize in 1907 for Literature in consideration of the:

- power of observation;
- originality of imagination;
- virility of ideas; &
- remarkable talent for narration;

which often characterized his intellectual creations.

Why did he struck a chord with me while surfing the net?

I actually learned from one of his writings that 'oont' is another word for 'camel'. (The double "o" is pronounced like "u" in "bull".)

In fact, I often used the word 'oont' in my training workshops to demonstrate the knowledge acquisition process.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: 'STEPS TO READING PROFICIENCY', by Peter Sotiriou & Ann Phillips

Reading has been - and will always be - my passion, and I read voraciously. It is now my life-long learning pursuit.

Hence, I am always scouting for - and pursuing - high-performance reading techniques. I approach them with an open mind, as my primary focus is on what works for me, with playing, exploring and experimenting as my evaluation tools.

This is one book, I must say, contains the best and most comprehensive collection of text organisational (writing) patterns I have seen so far.

In a nut shell, understanding and mastering text organisational (writing) patterns at the onset after your initial preview allow you to navigate the given text at very high speeds. In reality, they enable you, the reader, to determine quickly the author's thought path, as reflected in the text.

In total, this book introduces eleven (11) patterns:

- enumeration pattern (listing);
- time sequence;
- example pattern;
- cause & effect pattern;
- problem & solution pattern;
- compare & contrast pattern;
- spatial pattern;
- definition pattern;
- process pattern;
- classification pattern;
- description pattern;

In any kind of reading, a quick preview is a prerequisite. This book also introduces you to a variety of preview techniques, just like any other reading technique books.

Understanding the text organisational (writing) patterns makes your preview much more efficient and effective.

All information has shape. Just take a close look at the word INFORMATION. The root word is FORM.

So, if you want to read fast, you must first learn to shape or form your understanding quickly.

If you can anticipate & see this FORM at the onset, it becomes easier for you to understand how the information in the given text is organised.

With this understanding, it will become easier and also faster for you to pick out the key ideas or details.

The authors have done an excellent job in illustrating all the eleven text organisational (writing) patterns. There is also a lot of reading exercises or practices for you to play, explore and experiment with the patterns. They are really worth the cover price of the book.

From my own personal and professional experiences, I have come to conclude that the purpose of reading is to GATHER INFORMATION & then, FORMULATE IDEAS.

In my training workshops, I always advise readers to apply Pareto' Law or the 80/20 Rule: 20% of the words in a given text often contain 80% of the meaning - these are the key ideas!

(In fact, I had read from somewhere, that an empirical study had confirmed that 4 to 11 % of any given text often contains the key ideas!)

Knowing how to discern text organisational (writing) patterns in the first instance gives you the turbo boost to locate the key ideas very quickly and eventually navigate the reading texts at very high speeds.

If you combine these reading techniques with mind-mapping or using graphic organisers and/or other visual tools, your ability to organise and synthesise ideas - and generating insights - from all your reading become very powerful.

So, if you want to be a masterful reader, just like me, this book is a must read!

HIGH PERFORMANCE READING

In an earlier blog, I had reviewed the book from the Barron's Business Success Guide Series, 'Maximising Your Memory Power' by Danielle Lapp.

In that review, I mentioned about Bettina Soulez, a French expert in high performance reading.

What I had gotten out of that book, since the early nineties, are the following research findings apparently based on her work:

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HIGH PERFORMANCE READING:

1) The eye moves by leaps & bounds;
2) The brain, or rather the mind, is faster than the eye;
3) Reading faster means better understanding;
4) The brain can grasp up to 15 words at a glance - especially with the aid of peripheral vision;
5) It's OK to sift & select what to read - be active & selective!;
6) The printed word is not sacred - it's there to be challenged!
7) Understanding takes less time than reading;
8) The mind move spontaneously from synthesis to analysis - always get the big picture first!; 9) Reading is a personal activity: our past determines what kind of reader we are;

WHAT YOU NEED TO AVOID IN HIGH PERFORMANCE READING:

1) Sub-vocalising - this is a fact: 'tongue' speed can never match 'mind' speed;
2) Regressing - this is probably part of the 'kiasu' syndrome & is counter-productive;
3) Feeling guilty for not reading everything - in today's context, it's not feasible to read everything; we need to read what we need;
4) Reading only one type of text - different text calls for different strategies;
5) Reading without a reason - starting with a purpose for reading sets the tone;
6) Arriving neutral before a text - this explains the significance of prior knowledge;
7) Reading everything at the same speed - this is counter-productive as, again, different text calls for different strategies;
8) Neglecting practice - it's important to read regularly;
9) Neglecting reading the end of a text, especially the end summary or questions, if any;

Knowing these interesting findings is one thing, but you still need proven techniques to put them to work.

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce readers to my 'High Performance Reading Pack':

1) 'How to Read a Book', by Mortimer Adler;
- among other goodies, the syntopic reading methodology is a real gem;

2) 'Breakthrough Rapid Reading', by Peter Kump;
- many wonderful tips for reading business books;

3) 'Super Reading Secrets', by Howard Berg;
- more useful tips for reading faster, from world record holder;

4) 'PhotoReading', by Paul Scheele;
- this intuitive whole-brain approach to previewing can blow your mind! Have an open mind, play, explore & experiment with it!

5) 'Steps to Reading Proficiency', by Peter Sotiriou;
- a smorgasbord of techniques for recognising text organisation patterns & signal words - eleven to be exact - they quicken your reading comprehension & expedite your information gathering, too;

6) 'Summarisation', by Rick Wormeli;
- a smorgasbord of summarisation techniques - fifty to be exact - they assist in your review & consolidation of learned information;

7) 'What Smart Students Know', by Adam Robinson;
- the 12 'cyberlearning questions' are the real gems - they aid your speedy navigation through text, & ultimately your mastery of subject;

BOOK REVIEW: 'MAXIMISING YOUR MEMORY POWER', by Danielle Lapp

This is essentially part of the Barron's Business Success Guide Series, which also included 'Creative Problem Solving', 'Conquering Stress', 'Speed Reading for Business', 'Speed Reading for Professionals', & 'Time Management'.

Each book under this series is designed for no-frills quick reading, easy digestion, & yet packed with useful expert advice.

I had owned quite a good collection of the books under this series, since the early nineties.

As a matter of fact, besides understanding the strategies to prompt memory recall, I got out a lot of good stuff about high performance reading from this book when I first read it during the nineties.

My favourite parts & chapters from the book:

Part II: Attention Management;
Chapter 5: Selective Attention;
Chapter 6: Power of Verbalisation;
Chapter 7: Power of Visualisation;

Part III: Organisation Management;
Chapter 8: Principle of Association;
Chapter 12: Reading Retention;
Chapter 14: Strategies to Prompt Recall;

In terms of learning points, Chapter 12 gave me the most return of investment.

In this wonderful book, the author had introduced the work of French reading expert, Bettina Soulez. It was from here that I began to synthesise the research findings with the work of many other authors & realised the power of the human mind during the process of reading - I understood what I need to know exactly & what I need to avoid exactly in order to achieve high performance in reading.

To end this review, I would say this: Memory is integral to reading, as well as to our daily lives. This book has most of the answers.

The author's writing style is crisp & concise. Best of all, it's high content information.

QUICK NOTES: PLANNING YOUR GOLDEN YEARS

[QUICK NOTES are just my personal responses of key issues raised or expert advice given in articles written by industry experts in the local newspapers or magazines.]

1) Recognise that today 65 is merely middle-aged; many are likely to live till 95;

2) Embrace your new non-retirement by staying active in your career beyond 65; throw your self into community activities; begin a new career or extend your current work commitment;

3) Understand your risk tolerance & review your investment exposure on an annual basis;

4) Execute dynamic forecasting with simulations based on alternative scenarios; prepare for worst-case scenario;

5) Adopt a life cycle mentality as you will live into our nineties;

6) Create a health balance sheet & assess the longer term financial implications of cancer risks;

7) Limit financing of your children' education;

8) Be proactive in planning your financial future - stay disciplined in savings, flexible in adjustments & positive in outlook;

[Source: Sunday Times, Invest page, September 9 2007; contributor is Kathleen Connell, President, Connell Group, an investment advisory firm, & author of 'Moving Up to Millions: The Life Calculator Guide to Wealth']

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"The secret joy in work is contained in one word: EXCELLENCE. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it."

(Pearl S Buck)

A SALUTE TO CARMEE LIM

Former RGS Principal Carmee Lim is certainly an excellent role model for all those reaching their golden years.

She says her so-called retirement from RGS when she was 60 is a period in her life she is enjoying best as she is “doing what I love & loving what I do.” That’s music to my ears!

I am very impressed with her indomitable spirit.

Imagine she is proficient with a Blackberry; has obtained a masters in early childhood education at 64, composed songs for institutions; taught gymnastics to little tots; painted in oil; wrote books; & founded two early childhood education companies.

The sprightly mother of three & grandmother of eight now juggles three main roles:

as mentor principal of education training organisation, MindChamps, as well as founder of two multi-sensory education programs for preschoolers, Jumpstart KidSports, & Aoede Music Enterprise.

Yet, she still has time to go for her thrice-weekly aerobic sessions at Singapore island Country Club. In fact, she also has tennis, golf, & pilates to keep her busy.

As for her next goal: “I’m hoping to start a kindergarten – rather, help someone start a kindergarten that teaches everything through the arts, like theatre, drama, music, movement & gymnastics.”

“I don’t think I’ll ever retire,” she declares. Wow!

Viva, Carmee!

BOOK REVIEW: 'THE INNOVATION FORMULA: HOW ORGANISATIONS TURN CHANGE INTO OPPORTUNITY', by Michel Robert

I would rank this book side by side with Edward de Bono's "Opportunities: A Handbook of Business Opportunity Search". I had read both books in the late 80's.

In the field of deliberate opportunity search, these are maybe only three or four books that had been written on the subject, as far as I know. This is one of them.

From the standpoint of strategic implementation, this book has an edge over the other two or three books in this genre.

The theme of the book is making innovation a learnable, repeatable & disciplined business practice.

The author argues that innovative companies always use innovation as a strategic tool for systematically anticipating, recognising & exploiting change in the business landscape.

Additionally, he has also identified the ten “changes” that generally fuel innovation in a company:

- Unexpected successes;
- Unexpected failures;
- Unexpected external events;
- Process weaknesses;
- Industry/market structures changes;
- High growth areas;
- Converging technologies;
- Demographic changes;
- Perception changes;
- New knowledge;


He has also outlined, with clarity, the following four distinct steps as the proven innovation process methodology, drawing on his consulting & research on the business battlefield with winning companies:

- Searching opportunities;
- Assessing opportunities;
- Developing opportunities;
- Pursuing opportunities;


In many respects, the author has done a great job in explaining & illustrating the strategy of redeploying assets & resources from low yield/low productivity to higher yield/higher productivity. This is what innovation - in the real business world - is all about.

In reality, he has expanded on what Peter Drucker had covered earlier in the latter's book, 'Innovation and Entrepreneurship'. Drucker had argued very strongly that the search for changes would produce potential opportunities.

Business opportunity search is a proactive, assertive, even aggressive step that involves systematic examination of the environment out there for potential opportunities.

If you are looking for a proven process methodology to implement a business opportunity search, please read this book!

[It is pertinent to point out that this book is now superseded by the author's 'STRATEGIC PRODUCT INNOVATION, PURE & SIMPLE: CREATING NEW-TO-THE-MARKET PRODUCTS THAT BREED COMPETITIVE SUPREMACY', although the intellectual contents remain intact as well as unchanged. The latter is apparently published by the author's own consulting company, Decision Processes International.]

Monday, September 10, 2007

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

‘Since changes are going on anyway, the great thing is to learn enough about them so that we will be able to lay hold of them & turn them in the direction of our desires. Conditions & events are neither to be fled from nor passively acquiesced in; they are to be utilized & directed.’

(John Dewey)

FINDING YOUR OPPORTUNITY SPACE

For more than four decades, I have studied & learned a lot of good stuff from Edward de bono, through his many published works, starting with the ‘Mechanism of Mind’. I have already written about some of his good stuff in my blog.

In the field of developing lateral thinking skills, building perceptual sensitivity & initiating opportunity search, I strongly believe much of his thoughtwares is original & unsurpassed.

In this blog, I am going to write about ‘opportunity space’.

As far as I understand, he has coined this term in his book, ‘Opportunities: A Handbook of Business Opportunity Search’, to denote the visual-spatial relationship between the “observer” & the “opportunity” out there in the space.

He has identified the following major causes or reasons as to why most of us, as observers of daily life, do not see an opportunity even if it is right in front of us:

- We are not looking at it at all;
- Our gaze is directed in the wrong direction;
- We are looking at the right direction, but cannot identify the opportunity because we are looking at it in the wrong way;
- We do not see the opportunity but we cannot immediately see its value;


He has offered the following expert advice:

1) Decide to spend some time & effort in a deliberate & systematic search for opportunities;

(Read Michel Robert’s ‘Innovation Formula’ for an exact method of initiating & implementing a deliberate opportunity search process)

2) Use a scan approach which allow you to broaden the direction of search instead of being too eager to pursue one direction in depth;

(This resonates very well with the thinking of Wayne Burkan, who talks about “splatter vision” in his book,Wide Angle Vision’; also, George Day & Paul Shoemaker’s ‘Peripheral Vision: Detecting the Weak Signals that will Make or Break Your Company’. Both books offer very good suggestions.)

3) When something comes into your view, make an effort to look at it in many different ways;

(‘Herbert Leff’s Playful Perception: Choosing How to Experience Your World’ is a good book to explore this perspective; The Private Eye: A Guide to Developing the Interdisciplinary Mind by Kerry Ruef, is worthwhile, too.)

4) Spend some time on a deliberate search for benefits in a situation instead of always expecting the benefits to be self-evident;

To expand his concept of opportunity space, he has introduced several “idea-sensitive areas” to serve as possibilities for deliberate opportunity search, in both the personal & organisational settings:

AT THE PERSONAL LEVEL:

- Self-growth;
- Self- actualisation;
- Career Promotion;
- Job Mobility;
- Job Status;
- All various things leading to your personal advantage;


AT THE JOB LEVEL (within the job environment):

- Time management;
- Delegation of tasks;
- Collaboration;
- Consultation;
- Simplification of procedures;
- Changing work habits;
- Developing new strategies;
- Learning;
- Putting aside time for opportunity search;


AT THE MANAGEMENT LEVEL (executives within the company):

- Restructuring;
- Financial control/accounting;
- Leasing;
- Personnel policy;
- Cost cutting exercises;
- Setting up opportunity audit structure;
- R & D operations;
- Sales force organisation;


AT THE CORPORATE LEVEL (the company & the world outside):

- Acquisitions;
- Mergers;
- Diversifications;


I reckon the above “idea-sensitive areas” are just a broad brush by Edward de bono.

It is very obvious that the opportunity space available to all of us is unusually huge & virtually unlimited.

To conclude this blog, just remember what I have written in an earlier post about enhancing your perceptual sensitivity:

- What do you choose to see?
- Where do you direct your attention?


Good Luck & Best Wishes.

BOOK REVIEW: 'YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE', by Joe Dominguez & Vicki Robin

This is the one & only book on achieving financial independence in my personal library that I have fully subscribed to the working principles as formulated by the two authors.

I also own the original audio-cassette/workbook home study course from them. The two authors came with excellent credentials, in spite of their new-agey connections.

The principal focus of the book is to teach how to adjust your spending priorities, break the compulsive cycle, & use your time & energy for what's really important to you.

I have acquired this book at about the time I was charting out the second half of my life during the early nineties. Most people would call it 'mid-life crisis' but I love to call it 'mid-life transition', a pragmatic term I had picked up from Dr Layne Longfellow, a psychologist, after watching one of his training videos. Prior to that period, I was a very successful corporate rat - looking damned good, but actually going nowhere.

Since reading the book, I have fully embraced the nine step process as formulated by the two authors. You can access the Your Money or Your Life website to read a detailed summary of the process.

What I like very much about this book, among many other goodies, is this simple philosophy:

“The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half & put it back in your wallet.” (i.e. minimising spending)

as well as the many soul-searching questions:

1) Do you have enough money?
2) Are you spending enough time with your family and friends?
3) Do you come home from your job full of life?
4) Do you have time to participate in things you believe are worthwhile?
5) If you were laid off from your job, would you see it as an opportunity?
6) Are you satisfied with the contribution you have made to the world?
7) Are you at peace with money?
8) Does your job reflect your values?
9) Do you have enough savings to see you through six months of normal living expenses?
10) Is your life whole? Do all the pieces -- your job, your expenditures, your relationships, your values -- fit together?


At about the same time, I have also acquired two more marvellous books along the same vein, i.e. 'Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life that is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich' by Duane Elgin.

The other is 'Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood' by Marsha Sinetar.

For me, the two additional books make excellent companions to the earlier book under review. They had enabled me in putting all the concepts together into a larger perspective, which made more sense for me to implement.

To continue my story, during that period, I started a small retail store, aptly called 'The Brain Resource', specialising in learning & creativity books & other resources. I love to read & so I thought a book store would help to fuel - & bankroll - my reading pursuits. In conjunction, I also started a strategy consulting firm on optimum performance technologies as well as published a newsletter about brain/body fitness.

I have retired completely from retail operations in mid-2005 with financial independence, of course, after spending more than fifteen years of doing what I love & loving what I do.

I now continue to run my strategy consulting business, but on a smaller scale, from my home. If I am not executing any consultancy jobs, I will be spending most of my current time in reading, researching, environmental scanning, surfing the net, exchanging ideas with friends, blogging (I have made a lot of new friends on the net) & globetrotting. Together with my wife, I also lead a very prudent lifestyle.

Coming back to my review, I strongly recommend reading this wonderful book on financial self-sufficiency, as well as the two companion books, especially if you have the desire to seek the same ideals which I had pursued relentlessly & achieved ultimately.

[More information about the nine-step process in transforming your relationship with money can be found on The New Roadmap Foundation website.]

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

How can I maximise what I am already doing?

What are my suboptimal tasks that I can get rid of?

How can replace them with high-performing options?

(Inspired by Jay Abraham)

POINTS TO PONDER: SEVEN POWER POINTS FOR SUCCESS

1) POWER OF INFLUENCE:
- Who or what has been the greatest influence in your life?

2) POWER OF PERCEPTION:
- How do you perceive the world around you & your place in it?

3) POWER OF PERSPECTIVE:
- How do you relate to the people & events around you?

4) POWER OF PARDON:
- Have you forgiven yourself for your past? Are you able to forgive others?

5) POWER OF PAIN:
- Have you discovered the origin of your pain? Have you begun the healing process?

6) POWER OF PARTICIPATION:
- Are you fully participating in your life?

7) POWER OF PRIORITY:
- Are you a priority in your own life?

[These were originally recorded as notes in my scratchpad while surfing the net. In haste, I had inadvertently left out the source of information. If you are the original contributor, please advise me & I will accord you the credit accordingly.]

Sunday, September 9, 2007

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What do I have in my life right now?

What am I grateful for right now?

MEMORABLE QUOTE FROM THE MOVIE


"Failure is not an option."

(by Gene Krantz, Flight Director at Mission Control, played by Ed Harris in the action movie, Apollo 13 - based on the true story of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission bound for the moon during the early 70’s. It was just another routine space flight - until these words pierced the immense void of space: "Houston, we have a problem." Stranded over 300,000 km from Earth in a crippled spacecraft, astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise & Jack Swigert fought a desperate battle to survive. Meanwhile, at Mission Control, astronaut Ken Mattingly, flight director Gene Kranz & a heroic ground crew race against time - & the odds - to bring them home safely. This was a true testament of the ingenuity & heroism of the scientists at NASA & the astronauts in space & on the ground.)

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

I Am Your Master

I can make you rise or fall.
I can work for you or against you.
I can make you a success or failure.
I control the way you feel and the way you act.
I can make you work, laugh, love.
I can make your heart sing with joy. . . excitement. . . elation.
Or, I can make you wretched . . . dejected . . . morbid.
I can make you sick . . . listless.
I can be as a shackle . . . heavy. . . attached . . . burdensome.
Or, I can be as the prism's hue . . . dancing . . . bright . . . fleeting . . .lost forever unless captured bypen and purpose.
I can be nurtured and grown to be great and beautiful . . . seen by the eyes of others through action in you.
I can never be removed . . . only replaced.

I am a THOUGHT!

Why not know me better?

(By Bob Conklin, Creator of 'Adventures in Attitudes')

BOOK REVIEW: ‘THE POWER OF PURPOSE: CREATING MEANING IN YOUR LIFE & WORK’, by Richard Leider

I had read many of Richard Leider's books, & among them, I would consider 'The Power of Purpose' as the most influential on my personal growth.

I had read this particular one, a paperback, in the late eighties/early nineties - that was about the time I had just started to ponder about what I wanted to do with the second half of my life. I was then a successful corporate rat, working in quiet desperation - looking damned good, but actually going nowhere.

Frankly, the 'Power of Purpose' is not another book about goal setting. It's a workbook to help you think through & decide whether you want to choose to lead a purposeful, productive & meaningful life.

In fact, the parts that attracted me most at that time were these provoking questions posed at the beginning of the book:

- Is your work rich & purposeful?
- Do you see yourself, through your work, as making a difference in the world?
- Do you view most work days with a sense of enthusiasm?
- Have you developed your won philosophy of life & success?
- Do you feel a sense of meaning & purpose for your life?
- Are you living your life now - or hoping that life will work out someday?

It comes complete with superb self-assessment questionnaires (especially, the 'Aliveness Questionnaire' & the 'Working on Purpose Questionnaire'), checklists, & exercises. I recall I had spent considerable effort & time in using them to probe my life history & my future aspirations during that period of time.

Together with a few other books (including Frederic Hudson's, Richard Bolles', Marsha Sinetar's & Joe Dominguez's), this book has been instrumental in creating abundant opportunities for doing what I love & loving what I do.

Many thanks to you, Richard!

Since then, one of the tools that I have picked up from the book for continuing ultilisation till today is the purposeful reflection: soloing & journaling from Chapter 19. This one is a real gem!

Also, from this particular chapter, I have made use of &/or adapted all the strategies as outlined in the author's 'Other Strategies for Self Management'. They had really helped me in realising total satisfaction & continual fulfillment in my life!

To end my review, I want to say this: This book is a must read!

If you are going through a mid-life transition, just like what I had gone through during the early nineties, I can guarantee this book is definitely a very helpful guide!

[More information about Richard Leider & his series of books can be found at his corporate website, under The Inventure Group.]

BOOK REVIEW: ‘NAME YOUR PASSION: A USER’S GUIDE TO FINDING YOUR PERSONAL PURPOSE’, by Paul Kordis

This is an excellent book. It is printed in a large book format, almost the size of a phone book.

My attraction to this book came firstly from two perspectives:

1) The book had been written by Paul Kordis (& his wife). Paul's earlier works, namely, 'The Code of The Monarch: An Insider Guide to the Real Global Business Revolution', & 'The Strategy of the Dolphin: Scoring a Win in a Chaotic World', (plus the companion workbook, 'DolphinThink'!) with Dudley Lynch, have been my long-time personal favourites.

In both books, the authors enthusiastically shared their cutting-edge technologies & innovative strategies in dealing with a constantly chaotic world. Both titles have been published by Brain Technologies.

2) I had perused 'The Power of Purpose: Creating Meaning in Your Life and Work', by Richard Leider, which has also been my long-time personal favourite. In fact, this latter book had played a pivotal role in helping me to negotiate my mid-life transition during the early 90's.

There are two parts to ‘Name Your Passion’.

The first part, Part I, is Michael's Story, which details the saga of an early baby boomer as he struggles with his life. I have only browsed this part very quickly as I generally don't like to read stories.

The second part, Part II, with some 280 pages, in the form of a guidebook as well as workbook. The authors have designed this part as 'The Explorations'. This is the part I have enjoyed reading - & thinking about - it most. It consists of an unique seven step model to help readers in exploring the following key life questions:

- why am I here?
- where am I now?
- where do I want to be?
- who's going with me?
- how will we be with each other?
- how will I get there?
- where have I been?

When compared to Richard Leider’s 'The Power of Purpose', this book gives a much broader coverage as well as relatively deeper treatment. There are more penetrating questions to ponder about. It also has larger emphasis on the crucial role of relationships in one's life.

On the whole, & after having read several other books in this genre, I must say that this book has the best collection of models, checklists, resources, exercises, explanations on the subject of creating a purpose-driven life.

If you are looking for solid answers to life questions on purpose, vision, mission, values & relationships, this is it!

QUICK NOTES: UNLEASH YOUR GENIE

[QUICK NOTES are just my personal responses of key issues raised or expert advice given in articles written by industry experts in the 'Straits Times CATS Recruit' Page.]

According to Paul MacCready, entrepreneur & inventor extraordinaire, there are four categories of geniuses:

1) Universal Geniuses: icons like Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci & William Shakespeare;

2) Officially Designated Geniuses: Nobel Prize laureate;

3) Prodigies or Idiot Savants: Stephen Hawkings comes quickly to my mind; Marilyn vos Savant, too, although I tend to remember that little boy in the movie, 'Mercury Rising', starring Bruce Willis; also, the character played by Dustin Hoffman in the movie 'Rain Man' with Tom Cruise;

4) Everyday Geniuses: include You & Me - our intellect may not match Einstein's, but we can still become outstanding in our chosen field;

According to Thomas Armstrong, author of 'Awakening Your Child's Natural Genius' & '7 Kinds of Smart', the word 'genius' is closely related to the word 'genesis', which comes from Greek/Latin words meaning 'beget', 'be born', or 'come into being' (that's creativity!). It is also related to the word 'genial', meaning 'festive' or 'jovial'. In the Middle East, the term has been linked to the word 'jinni' or 'genie', the hidden magical power in Aladdin's lamp.

Combining all these roots leads to: 'giving birth to joy'. My good friend, Dilip, calls it the 'Joy Quotient'.

In this sense, 'genius' represents our latent potential. It also includes the process of discovery & taking action. But the first step is believing in the certainty that we have greater capabilities than we thought, & a responsibility to develop them.

So, let's get to work on our Aladdin's lamp Now! [I recall a personal observation from Carl Jung: For a few of us, the flame on the Aladdin's lamp is alway flickering; for many others, we got to keep on rubbing it. Good Luck!]

[The original contributor is Dr Tony Alessandra, a widely published author. More information about him & his series of books can be found at his corporate website.]