Saturday, August 9, 2008

RETIRE EARLY, LIVE LONGER?

As I was just doing spring cleaning of my emails, I reread an email invitation from Pamela McLean, CEO of the Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara. It was about the institute's 'ThirdLaunch: A New Stage of Life' Program.

The program is intended for professionals in their late 50's, 60's, 70's & beyond, who are at that crossroads when the work role is shifting in importance.

In other words, these people are likely to be ready to create their own version of retirement.

Incidentally, Pamela McLean, is also the co-author of the classic, 'LifeLaunch: A Passionate Guide to the Rest of Your Life', together with Frederic Hudson. I will review it in the next post.

It's a great book about how to design the second half of your life.

Prompted by the foregoing email & out of curiosity, I went back to trace an old research article about creativity, retirement & longevity, which I had read several years ago.

Here's the link to the research article, entitled 'Optimum Strategies for Creativity & Longevity', by Dr Sing Lin.

One particular finding in the article rekindled my immediate attention, with the following revelation:

". . . indicate that for people retired at the age of 50, their average life span is 86; whereas for people retired at the age of 65, their average life span is only 66.8. An important conclusion from this study is that for every year one works beyond age 55, one loses 2 years of life span on average . . ."

In a nut shell, it seems that if you want to enjoy life & live longer, you need to aim for early retirement.

I take the opportunity to recap the conclusion & recommendation of the research:

"The most precious, creative & innovative period in your life is the 10-year period around the age of 32. Plan your career path to use this precious 10-year period wisely & effectively to produce your greatest achievements in your life.

. . . However, when you get older, you should plan your career path & financial matter so that you can retire comfortably at the age of 55 or earlier to enjoy your long, happy & leisure retirement life into your golden age of 80s & beyond . . .

. . . if you are not able to get out of the pressure-cooker or the high-speed battleground at the age of 55 & “have” to keep on working very hard until the age of 65 or older before your retirement, then you probably will die within 18 months of retirement . . ."


Food for thought?

WHAT IS A MACROPODIDA?

Further to my two earlier posts, I like to offer readers another creative challenge, as well as another lesson in knowledge acquisition:

He first saw a macropodida during a trip to Australia. He had just arrived from India and was exhausted. Looking out at the plain, he saw a macropodida hop across it. It was a typical marsupial. While he watched, the animal pranced to and fro, intermittently stopping to chew on the surrounding plants. Squinting because of the bright sunlight, he noticed that a young macropodida securely fastened in an opening in front of the mother.

If you are still not sure of the answer to this post, please proceed to the Next Post.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"I learn that the repairing or rebuilding of an airplane, or of a man, doesn't depend upon the condition of the original. It depends on the attitude with which the job is
taken."

~ Richard Bach, writing in his book, 'Biplane', with the wonderful metaphor, "Finding Ourselves is Like Flying An Ancient Biplane Coast To Coast: There Are Storms Ahead, But Once We've Started, It's Too Late To turn Back."

In a nut shell: To discover that time is not a straight line aimed toward infinity, Richard Bach undertook a magnificent journey. 'Biplane' is the story of that solo flight into the American skies - a flight that became a personal quest to discover everything that lies beyond the ordinary.

THE POWER OF INGENUITY & IMAGINATION AT WORK

Last night, my wife & I spent more than 3 hours glued to the television set. We were watching the opening ceremony - captured live - of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Just imagine some 15,000 musicians, acrobats & trapeze artists in lavish costumes staged a dazzling celebration of China's 5000 year history in front of 91,000 spectators & 10,500 sportsmen from 204 nations. All in one night.

The theme was great: 'One World. One Dream'.

My wife & I were mesmerised by the spectacular multi-media show with bursts of glitzy fireworks, notwithstanding the panoramic view of the iconic Bird Nest National Stadium as well as the nearby Water Cube National Aquatics Centre.

Credit must certainly go to the legendary Chinese film maker, Zhang Yimou, & his reportedly 100,000 volunteers, for giving the world a fascinating & memorable opening ceremony.

Well, the reportedly almost S$60 billion pumped into the 29th Olympic Games & ten months of real hard work by all involved have finally paid off, in a grand way, too.

Too bad, Steven Spielberg withdrew his personal participation as this would have been a feather to his cap, too.

For me, this is seeing the power of human ingenuity & creative imagination of the Chinese people at work.

I recall Napoleon once said, "Let China sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world."

My personal favourite of the show was the taut ensemble of 2,008 musicians beating ancient Chinese drums with perfect timing.

I just love to hear the sounds of drum rolls. Maybe, I am influenced by Kitaro, who happens to be one of my favourite musicians.

Interestingly, as I was in Bugis Junction the other day, I popped into the Kinokuniya Bookstore on the 3rd floor.

A book with the title 'China's Creative Imperative: How Creativity is Transforming Society & Business in China', by Kunal Sinha, caught my immediate attention. Instinctively, I bought it without even browsing it.

I will be reading the book over the weekend.

Friday, August 8, 2008

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

“No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your Knowledge. The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness. If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.”

~ Kahlil Gibran, 'The Prophet' (1923);

PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE

I love to read books about preparing for the future.

In my book review in this weblog, I have mentioned about a book, 'Futuristic Leadership A-Z', by futurist Frank Feather. He introduces 26 action verbs to serve as action steps to prepare for the future.

According to the author, 'to prepare' means to 'see' & 'map' the future.

Great minds obviously think alike.

In the closing summary of his book, 'Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast', futurist Jim Carroll has more or less the same idea.

First, he poses an interesting question:

"What's the best thing that you can do to turn the future into opportunity, & accelerate your efforts for creativity & innovation?"

He then suggests that we adopt ten simple words to get going.

The first word from him is OBSERVE.

"Take the time on a regular basis to look for the key trends that will impact you, the industry you work within or the career you have established . . ."

The other words, with my brisk comments, are:

- THINK
(by analysing & learning from your observations);

- CHANGE
(by abandoning routines & doing things differently);

- DARE
(to take risks);

- BANISH
(killer phrases);

- TRY
[I would have preferred using the word 'ADAPT' or even 'IMPROVISE'];

- EMPOWER
(everyone around you with moments of truth);

- QUESTION
(old modes of thinking & doing);

- GROW
(by continually enhancing your capabilities & opportunities through innovative thinking);

- DO
(with renewed purpose);

Well, for the fun of it, he even throws in his 11th word, ENJOY (=PASSION).

The book is a very good book to read as the author touches on velocity, agility, innovation & action-mindedness.

His other book, 'What I Learned from Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin with Forward-Thinking Innovation', is also worth pursuing. Also, his frog analogy is perceptive & refreshing.

I like the author's succinct writings as well as his brilliant insights. As a matter of fact, he poses a lot of questions for introspection.

Best of all, he loves to write in short staccato bursts, which to my great delight, make my reading a real breeze.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"What you possess in the world will be found at the day of your death to belong to someone else. But what you are will be yours forever."

Henry van Dyke, 1852-1933, American author, educator & clergyman;

STRATEGIC NIMBLENESS, FROM MOTHER NATURE

After I have written an earlier post on "strategic nimbleness", I somehow thought of this story I have heard or probably read about before.

It's a story about the law of the jungle as a backdrop.

Imagine a lion on a bright new day.

As he scans the open savannah, he spots a pack of gazelle. He watches the scene very carefully from a distance. One of them will be his breakfast or maybe lunch for the day.

Deep in his heart, the lion knows it very well. He has to be very agile, & to run very fast, even faster than the gazelle in order to get his breakfast or lunch for the day.

Otherwise, he will end up grouchy, & worst still, hungry.

In the same vein, the gazelle also scans the open savannah while having his breakfast or lunch for the day. In fact, he is very alert to sounds from or movements in the bushes.

He is in fact sensing his predators.

From experience, the lion has proven to be one of his most formidable predators.

Deep in his heart, the gazelle knows it very well. He has to be very agile, & to run very fast, even faster than the lion, or he will end up as the latter's breakfast or lunch.

To me, this is agility at work. We can draw valuable lessons from here.

In a nut shell, we have to run faster than the competition.

As a country, Singapore knows it very well, too. I remember vividly PM Lee Hsien Loong's advice to NTU graduates during the mid-nineties:

"Singaporeans must run even faster, to stay ahead of the competition coming from neighbouring countries & emerging economies. It is a marathon & we have to run fast & run without end."

Mother Nature is certainly a great teacher.

STRATEGIC NIMBLENESS

According to Gary Hamel, writing in his new as well as interesting book, 'The Future of Management', which has a primary focus on new ways of mobilising talent, allocating resources & building strategies to cross new performance thresholds & build long term advantages:

"To thrive in an increasingly disruptive world, companies [also read 'individuals'] must become as strategically adaptable as they are operationally efficient . . .

. . . they must become gushers of rule breaking innovation . . . out-invent & out think a growing mob of upstarts . . . learn how to inspire their employee [also read 'yourself'] to give the very best . . ."


Our most celebrated management thinker is essentially talking about "strategic nimbleness", which I have synthesised from the author's description [". . . to be strategically nimble, restlessly innovative, or highly engaging . . ."]

In a nut shell, from the standpoint of management, to be better, faster, quicker & cheaper than the competition.

"Strategic nimbleness" is seemingly the new corporate buzzword.

Interestingly, in the new book, 'Fast Strategy', the two authors, Yves Doz & Mikko Kosonen, have come up with the term "strategic agility" to describe a new way to stay ahead of the game.

It's also an interesting book to read, with great stuff about how to become strategically agile, more specifically from the organisational standpoint.

Incidentally, "strategic agility" is also the favourite catchphrase of two other reportedly leading proponents in the field, namely Prof Don Sull of the London Business School, & Prof John Wells of the Harvard Business School. You can watch some of their video clips on the net.

Actually, the way I see it, all these new buzzwords boil down to developing "change readiness", which I have been talking about in earlier posts, based on my influences & learning exposures from many authors of earlier works, e.g. Dudley Lynch, Robert Kriegel, Price Pritchett, just to name a few.

In other words:

"strategic nimbleness" = "strategic agility" = "change readiness";

I would even add "anticipatory management".

A reasonably good book to read, despite the transpiration of time as it was written in the mid-nineties, is 'Anticipatory Management: 10 Power Tools for Achieving Excellence into the 21st Century', by William Ashley.

Mercier Consulting likes to call it "strategic anticipation".

A good book to read is 'Profit Patterns: 30 Ways to Anticipate & Profit from Strategic Forces Reshaping Your Business', by Adrian J. Slywotzky & others.

As I have talked about in earlier posts, "change readiness" is just the ability to quickly & easily adapt to changing conditions in the environment & continue to perform at a high level.

It's also the ability to demonstrate a knack for anticipating & preparing for changes.

How to go about it?

Here's a quick roundup of things to do:

1) Read widely as well as purposefully, covering all mediums, both mainstream & fringes;

2) Look out for patterns &/or trends in the information;

3) Ask questions - what do they mean? how do they apply to me?

4) Scan your environment regularly, with eyes wide open - what's really out there? what's coming up soon? where are the unknowns?;

5) Engage in conversations with people at & across all levels, & listen carefully, what's bugging them? what keeps them awake at night?

6) Identify or sniff out opportunities - where's the gap? what's missing?;

7) Play & evaluate different possible scenarios - what's the worst case? what's the most optimistic case? what is the most realistic case?;

8) Understand the implications, personally & professionally, &/or organisationally, if you are running a business,

9) Connect the dots, so to speak, from different as well as distant ideas or scenarios in your exploration;

10) Marshall all your available competencies & resources, & do what you can to be prepared for the challenges of tomorrow;

11) Make a decisive move, by starting with baby steps;

12) Monitor your progress, experiment & adjust as you learn;

13) Keep an eye or ear on any early warning signals or any anomalies in the incoming information;

14) Exercise a tolerance for uncertainty, ambiguity & paradox, & also a willingness to work through them quickly & correctly;

15) More importantly, embrace life-long learning: keep unlearning outmoded processes, relearning better practices & learning new approaches to thinking about & doing things;

16) Last but not least, stay focused on your vision & purpose, but remain flexible in your approach;

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

THE FEELING OF SATISFACTION

As I write this post, I just can't help getting the following lyrics from The Rolling Stones' smash hit, 'I Can't get No Satisfaction', from the sixties, reverberating inside my head:

I can't get no satisfaction
I can't get no satisfaction
'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can't get no, I can't get no

Satisfaction is a pleasant feeling.

We feel satisfaction when we do something successfully.

The online dictionaries I have consulted come up with the following interesting definitions:

1) gratification of a need;

2) fulfillment of a desire or obligation;

3) happiness with an arrangement;

4) remuneration or compensation for a loss or injury;

However, on a slightly different note, I have read recently - I just can't recall from where, as I didn't realise that I would be relating it here - that "satisfaction" is more than a "feeling" thing.

It's really a "physical" thing.

The writer has pointed out that, in order to get satisfaction out of life, we got to do something "physical".

He has pointed out 3 perspectives of the word, 'satisfaction', (based on my total recall):

- the first 5 characters, "satis", which means "enough";

- the 3 characters in the centre, "fac" (from "facio"), which means "to make, do, create";

- the last 5 characters: there is obviously "action";

So, "to satisfy" means "to do enough".

Now, with the foregoing elaboration, I interpret "satisfaction" as a end result of producing "enough action".

That is to say, to get satisfaction, we just can't sit there; we got to move our butts.

That's an interesting revelation.

Somehow, I reckon, this whole affair has to relate to "action-mindedness" as a prerequisite for anyone who wants to pursue contentment in life.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do, & you've done it."

~ Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister (1979-1990), often referred to as the 'Iron Lady' in the light of her tough-talking rhetoric;

MAKING DISTINCTIONS: SELF ESTEEM vs SELF WORTH

I have always been impressed by the thoughtwares of Stephen Covey, starting with his debut '7 Habits for Highly Effective People', which I had read in the late eighties, followed by 'First Things First' & 'Principle-Centred Leadership', around the mid-nineties.

The most productive assimilative experiences for me from his success philosophies are essentially the first three habits:

- Be Proactive;
- Having the End in Mind;
- First Things First; plus the last one:
- Sharpen the Saw;

Because of my strategy work with teens, I have come to appreciate also his son (Sean Covey)'s debut book, '7 Habits for Highly Effective Teens'.

In my strategy consultancy work, plus creativity classes with adult professionals & also, training in the schools with secondary students, I have often recommended '7 Habits for Highly Effective People' & '7 Habits for Highly Effective Teens', respectively as mandatory reading.

The feedback I got from them has always been tremendously positive.

In this post, I like to single out one important insight from Sean Covey's newer book, 'The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make: A Guide for Teens'.

In his book, the author makes a fine distinction between 'self esteem' & 'self worth'.

He says, "self esteem is your opinion of yourself. It goes by other names, including self image, self confidence or self respect."

He obviously prefers the term 'self worth' best because he thinks "it says something the other terms don't.

What is your self worth? Get it?"

He even offers an appropriate quote to drive home his point:

"Although how you esteem yourself may rise & fall, what you're really worth never changes!"

I certainly like that distinction.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"If money is your hope for independence, you will never have it. The only real security that a man can have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience & ability."

~ Henry Ford, 1863-1947, American Industrialist, Founder of Ford Motor Company;

METAPHORICALLY SPEAKING: BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD

We often use the expression 'back to the drawing board' to denote a situation where a planned course of action is unsuccessful & needs to be changed.

More precisely, a situation where we have or probably somebody else has messed things up.

By the way, 'back to square 1' is another common expression in the same vein.

For me, the drawing board - more precisely, a design & drafting table - brings me sweet memories of my early professional life as a mechanical draftman during the late sixties.

I don't know who invented the drawing board, but I am certainly curious to find out, before the drawing board was invented, what did the person who messed things up go to?

An interesting point to ponder?

PRAGMATIC INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS

In answer to the question by World Champions: How did you become a World Champion:

"Intention, vision & a lot of practice, practice, practice, until I had mastery & could demonstrate competence."

as interviewed by Alan Walter, in his book, 'The Secrets to Increasing Your Power, Wealth & Happiness';

He defines a Champion as one who demonstrates mastery, competence, creativity, responsibility, ownership & control over a specific are, endeavour or subject;

THE POWER & VALUE OF KNOWLEDGE

The following stories - or their variations - have probably been told many times, but for me I reckon they are worth repeating here one more time to drive home a point:

Picasso:

The story goes that Picasso was sitting at a cafe enjoying the summer morning sun, when a lady came up to him and asked him to sketch a portrait of her.

"Oui Madam" he replied, reaching for his drawing book. Within a matter of minutes he had finished the rendition of his subject, and turning the page to show her, scribbled his price for the portrait on a napkin.

She exploded! "You must be crazy, asking that much! It took you 3 minutes to draw my portrait!"

"Yes Madam" Picasso replied in a slow drawl, "but it took me 40 years to learn how."

One Nail:

A man had a squeaky floor board in his living room. The squeaking would not stop, No matter what he tried.

He called in many, many carpenters, and they all failed to fix the squeaky floorboard. Some drilled holes in the floor, others ripped up and replaced different floor boards; others tried more obscure and esoteric methods to alleviate the problem - they poured water and burned candles.

But to no avail. The floor still squeaked whenever he walked across it.

He was reaching the point of accepting that he would just have to live with it, when a friend suggested that he try just one more carpenter. Not seeing what difference one more try would make, the man called a carpenter that a builder had recommended to him.

The carpenter came in, walked across the room and stopped at a point just short of the far corner. He stooped over, pulled out a nail, and with one stroke of the hammer that appeared in his hand, drove the nail all the way into the floor. He walked back to the door without a single noise from the floor. The owner was amazed!

He was even more amazed when he read the bill that appeared in his hands.

"What?! $200 for a nail?"

"No" said the carpenter "$1 for the nail. $199 for knowing where to put it"

[Source: Knowledgism - the corporate website of Alan Walter, a coach of champions & his Advanced Coaching & Leadership Center; it's a goldmine of information nuggets, especially for those who aspire to become knowledgists - a knowledgist is one who will always be the best he can be;]

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What would thrill me more than anything in life?

Monday, August 4, 2008

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!"

~ Dr. Seuss

METAPHORICALLY SPEAKING

Whenever we describe one thing in terms of something else, we are engaging in metaphorical speaking, or more precisely, thinking.

When we speak metaphorically, we are making connection between two conceptual domains that, at first glance, don't appear to have much in common with each other.

A metaphor is a kind of magical intersection, where one thing, for a moment, becomes another, & in that moment is seen in a whole new way.

Comedian Paul Reiser (from the critically acclaimed 'Mad About You' television sitcom series; also, that slimy company guy in the 'Aliens' movie;), as a first time father, once looked over at his wife breastfeeding their first child & thought to himself:

"What was once an entertainment center has become a juice bar."

I vividly recall a live interview of a famed gynaecologist by a Straits Times woman reporter. The doctor gleefully told the reporter:

"Your playground is my work area."

Humour aside, metaphorical thinking is one of the most useful activities, particularly when it captures our most creative insights.

As Robert Frost once said:

"An idea is a feat of association, & the height of it is a good metaphor."

Interestingly, William Shakespeare is believed to have written:

"All the world's a stage . . ."

I just wonder: where is the audience going to sit?

DELL, I HAVE A PROBLEM . . .

Last Thursday evening, my 1-1/2 year old DELL desktop got a bit cranky. It shut down on its own, & I could see a blue screen with a lot of funny error messages.

Using the knowledge of an earlier experience with DELL Customer Service, in connection with my brand new DELL Inspiron laptop, I could reboot the system from safe mode.

Unfortunately, it was unstable. After a while, before I could even do a system restore, it conked out.

On Friday morning, I called up Dell Customer Service. The response at the other end was quick, after I had keyed in my express service tag number.

The technical support on the line, a young lady by the name of Natalie, guided me through the trouble-shooting sequence. She suspected it was a Windows problem.

With her help on the phone, I was able to do a system restore. Unfortunately, my system was still cranky.

She requested me to do a hard drive diagnostics & promised to call me back to check. It passed with flying colours, after a protracted period as my drive is 320G.

Natalie called back after 6pm - passed DELL's service hours. My system was still cranky. Worst still, I could not do another system restore.

I was asked to do a memory test. Again, it took some time. It finally failed at one point towards the end sequence.

For me, the good news was that I was able to do another system restore - to a much earlier date.

Also to my pleasant delight, my system was then found to be more stable, but the bad news was that it could only recognise half of my total system memory of 2G.

With Natalie's phone guidance, I went through some physical grokking with the memory cards.

By now, Natalie concluded that my system had a mother board problem. She promised to send a technician on Monday to change it.

Meanwhile, I was glad that I could still work with my desktop.

The DELL technician - Salman was his name; he was a young foreign talent from Pakistan - came at about 1.30pm after prior appointment was made this morning.

He changed the mother board, did all the requisite tests, & off he went, all within half an hour.

To DELL, thank you very much for the patient & prompt customer service. You are great!

WHAT IS AN OONT? THE ANSWER

[Continue from the Last Post]
Got it?

I often use this exercise as a creative challenge to demonstrate how our brain acquires knowledge in the real world.

It works on the principle of selective:

- encoding;
- combination;
- comparison;


In a nut shell, our brain:

- selects the relevant cues;
- organises the cues to make a meaningful whole;
- integrates the cues with our prior knowledge;

Incidentally, I read that 'oont' is a very old term with probably Sanskrit origins to denote 'camel', & it was once or first used by Rudyard Kipling in one of his poems.

WHAT IS AN OONT?

There is no question that the oont is the king of the Asian and African deserts. Despite its strong, unpleasant odour, its loud braying, and its obnoxious habit of viciously biting, spitting when irritated, and quitting on the job, the foul-tempered oont is widely used as a beast of burden by desert travellers. Perfectly suited to the desert conditions, it can store vast quantities of water in its body tissues.

If you are still not sure of the answer to this post, please proceed to the next post.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing."

~ Agatha Christie, 1890 - 1976, the world's best-known mystery writer; her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language & another billion in over 45 foreign languages -outsold only by the Bible & Shakespeare; creator of two world-famous sleuths, the shrewdly inquisitive & elderly Miss Jane Marple (English), & the eccentric Hercule Poirot (Belgian);

THE UNIVERSAL TROUBLESHOOTING PROCESS

I have stumbled onto this interesting website, Troubleshooters.com, which seemingly has everything at your fingertips to become a better troubleshooter.

I wish I had such a ready access to their 'The 10 step Universal Troubleshooting Process', when I was a young engineer. Here's the link.

Enjoy your exploration!

THE MACGYVER TOOLKIT



If you had ever watched the 'MacGyver' television series - still available on StarHub Cable Television's FX Channel - you would have been amazed by the ingenuity & prowess of the super secret agent in getting out of sticky as well as dicey situations, without the aid of high-tech weaponry, fast cars &/or fancy gadgets.

No scantily-cladded damsels to distract him, either.

Just imagine he could often disarm a nuclear warhead with a toothpick, survive a 10 storey free fall without ever breaking a sweat, create a satellite phone from a banana & a hairpin.

In other words, he would always make something useful or functional out of inconspicuous &/or otherwise overlooked elements in his immediate surroundings.

Hence, the MacGyver Factor: Do the Best with What You Have!

In a nut shell, his improvisational toolkit generally consists of one or more of the following everyday stuff:

1) a Swiss Army knife;

2) duct tape;

3) twines;

4) paperclips;

5) hairpins or toothpicks or matchsticks;

6) household chemicals;

7) miscellaneous condiments, such as salt, ketchup, etc.,

[Please read my earlier post on 'Lessons from the Movies: The MacGyver Factor'.]

080808

I read in today's Sunday Times that we would have to wait until 3008 for another "080808" phenomenon.

Wow! I won't be around. That's for sure.

No wonder, Singapore Pools is offering its Triple 8 Toto Draw with a jackpot prize of S$8 million. The draw date is of course the 8th of August.

I hardly buy Toto - my wife does regularly - but I am definitely going for it in the next few days.

SCOUTING THE FUTURE & SURVIVING THE FITTEST

By now, readers are fully aware that I am a raving fan of futurist Joel Arthur Barker's work, after having read his debut book, 'Discovering the Future: The Business of Paradigms', during the eighties, while I was still stuck in the corporate world.

Here's a link to his 'Institute for Strategic Exploration' website, where he shares his brilliant insights about scouting the future & surviving the fittest.

I like his fascinating analogy of the role of the wagon master of the American wagon trains of the 19th century to the key skill of a leader in the 21st century.

That historical example certainly reminds me of my very first western movie, 'Westbound' starring Randolf Scott, while I was a young teenager in Yong Peng, Johor, West Malaysia.

To me, the scouting metaphor offers great lessons for enhancing change-readiness in today's managers & professionals alike.

I am confident readers will also be surprised by his pointed question:

"What if I told you that some of our most basic assumptions about competition have been wildly wrong? That the premises we have been operating with, which have been sanctified by references to Darwin, are mostly in error."

Come to think of it, some of the stuff I was taught or had learned in early school have been erroneous.

A good example is the Mercator global map, which shows the land mass greater than the ocean mass.

On it, Greenland appears to be three times its relative globe size & Antarctica appears as a long thin white strip along the bottom edge of the map. Even the popular Robinson Projection, now used in many schools, still contains a large amount of area distortion with Greenland appearing 60 percent larger than its relative globe size.

Distinguished scientist, engineer & architect R Buckminster Fuller, also planet Earth's friendly genius, has rectified that error with his innovative Dymaxion global map, which shows only 1% distortion.

I had this awakening during the early nineties.

No wonder, futurist Dudley Lynch, another favourite author of mine, has always been talking about constantly upgrading the chip in our head since the late seventies.

I reckon readers, like me, should realise by now the critical importance of paradigm shifting & paradigm pliancy, as well as the urgent need to be a strategic explorer.

WHY EVENTS HAPPEN & HOW YOU CAN ANTICIPATE THEM

I have always been intrigued by the foregoing title, which is actually the secondary title of the book, 'Destiny's Design', by mathematician John Casti.

Unfortunately, I have not been successful in acquiring the book from various online sources.

I had in fact ordered it from Amazon.com when it was first listed on their online catalog. After several months, they came back with the sad news that the book was unavailable.

According to the author, events don’t just “happen”. There is a structure & pattern to the unfolding.

As a mathematician, he believes very strongly that these patterns can be identified, understood, & used to give insight into what might happen next.

[Generally, mathematics is about the recognition of patterns, be they in numbers, geometrical objects, abstract higher-dimensional spaces of whatever. So is historical analysis.]

I certainly like to concur with what he has once said:

"It’s manifestly evident, I think, that the successful management of any type of business hinges critically upon being able to foresee that kind of world that the business will have to operate within over some appropriate time frame, generally a few months to a few decades."

To me, the same phenomenon applies to us as individuals, & this falls precisely under my purview of interest.

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What if change cannot be anticipated with any degree of certainty?

What if change is so complex that its effects & implications can never be fully understood, much less anticipated?

What, if anything, can I do to become more strategically prepared for unexpected change?

~ inspired by the book, 'Everyday Strategic Preparedness: The Role of Practical Wisdom in Organization', by Matt Statler & Johan Roos;