Saturday, May 2, 2009


1. Devote themselves to their true purpose;

2. Follow their heart's passion;

3. Believe in themselves and their ideas;

4. Prepare for challenges;

5. Ask for help and build a support team;

6. Seek creative solutions;

7. Persevere, no matter what the challenges;

[Source: 'Unstoppable: 45 Powerful Stories of Perseverance and Triumph from People Just Like You', by Cynthia Kersey;]


“You can’t get any good new ideas without having a lot of dumb, lousy, & crazy ones. Nobody in my business is very good at guessing which are a waste of time & which will be the next . . .”

~ Brendan Boyle;

[He was the founder & head of Skyline, a group of toy designers at IDEO in Palo Alto, during the late nineties; it sold & licensed ideas for toys that were made, distributed, & marketed by big companies like Mattel & Fisher-Price.

According to Bob Sutton, author of 'Weird Ideas That Work':

Skyline generated about 4000 ideas for new toys, drawing on a real 1998 case history:

Of these 4,000 ideas, 230 were thought to be promising enough to develop into a nice drawing or working prototype.

Of these 230, 12 were ultimately sold.

This “yield” rate was only about 1/3 of 1% of total ideas & 5% of ideas that were thought to have potential.

Boyle pointed out that the success rate is probably even worse than it looks because some toys that are bought never make it to market, and of those that do, only a small percentage reap large sales & profits.

No wonder Nobel laureate Linus Pauling was fond of saying: "The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas."]

Friday, May 1, 2009


"To live is to risk dying.
To do is to risk failure.
To laugh is to risk appearing a fool.
To love is to risk not being loved in return
To cry is to risk appearing soft and sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement or rejection.
To place your ideas, dreams, and desires before people is to risk ridicule.
The greatest omission in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing gets nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering, pain and sorrow, but he does not learn, grow, live, or love.
He is only a slave - chained by safety - locked away by fear.
Only a person who is willing to risk, not knowing the results, is alive."

- Anonymous




"If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through chinks of his cavern."

~ William Blake (1757 – 1827); English poet & painter; largely unrecognised during his lifetime as he was considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views; held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness & creativity;


Last night, while watching the romance comedy movie, 'Sleepness in Seattle', starring Tom Hanks (playing Sam Baldwin, an architect who had lost his wife to cancer) & Meg Ryan (playing Annie Reed, who was about to get married to someone else) on StarHub cable television, I was intrigued by one particular dialog which went as follows:

Jay (played by Rob Reiner as Sam's construction buddy): ". . . what do they call it when everything intersects?"

Sam: "The Bermuda Triangle."

In a nut shell, the movie was about Sam's son Jonah, who was looking for a new mother. So, when Jonah put his father on national radio, hundreds of women wrote to him. One of the women was Annie, who went to great lengths to meet Sam, who had meanwhile started to re-enter the dating game. Sparks flew when they met.

What has caught my fascination is not so much the movie, which of course has been entertaining to watch, to say the least, but a new perspective of creativity, which I would never have thought of.

That's to say, I did not see the Bermuda Triangle as an "intersection of ideas", metaphorically speaking.

I reckon Sam's response as I have outlined above brings me back to what I have written earlier: the 'Medici Effect' or "intersection of ideas".

'Innovation at the Verge' is also the other thing which is invariably connected to the foregoing topic.

Please read my earlier post on it - entitled 'Ideas Build on Ideas' - in the Braindancing Smorgasbord weblog.

As I have always maintained, watching movies can really carry a dual-benefit: entertainment & learning/creativity.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Have I failed enough?

Have I learned from my mistakes & failures, emerging sharper & better prepared for the road ahead?

Have I stayed inside the comfort zone or ventured forth into the stretch zone?

Am I willing to fail fast & early in pursuit of a better future?


[continue from the First Post.]

This quick map, of the major principles of brain-compatible learning & teaching based on the work of Renate Caine, done with the aid of VisiMap Pro software, comes from my personal collection of maps, which dates back to my early years of exploration.

[More information about VisiMap Pro is available at this link.]


[continue from the First Post.]

This quick map, of the proficiency dimension & its progressive level from "ignorant" to "grandmaster", done with the aid of VisiMap Pro software, comes from my personal collection of maps, which dates back to my early years of exploration.

[More information about VisiMap Pro is available at this link.]


"The world isn't set up to accommodate every new idea that comes along. As a matter of fact, there is a lot of competition out there. If you want your idea to succeed, you'll have to take the offensive. So, you become a warrior & take your idea into action."

~ creativity consultant Roger von oech; also author of 'A Whack on the Side of the Head' & 'A Kick in the Seat of the Pants', among many other wonderful creativity stuff;

[Please refer to my earlier post about his many creativity stuff. More information about him & his work is available at this link.]

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


In a nut shell, the Innovation Number is a benchmark score for your organization’s cultural, behavioral, and mechanical abilities to innovate.

To know your benchmark score, the first step is go to the following link to take an initial short assessment online that provides a very high level ranking. This is only a general assessment of where you stand relative to the entire population of organizations that have already been assessed.

The second step is to take a much more detailed version of the assessment and to work with Thomas Koulopoulos, author of 'The Innovation Zone: How Great Companies Re-Innovate for Amazing Success', to delve deeper into the factors and the dynamics that result in your ranking and to identify ways to improve it.

Are you game?

[More information about the author & his work can be found at this link.]


“People who believe in the power of talent tend not to fulfill their potential because they’re so concerned with looking smart and not making mistakes . . . But people who believe that talent can be developed are the ones who really push, stretch, confront their own mistakes and learn from them.”

~ Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”;

According to her:

- Those who believe they were born with all the smarts and gifts they’re ever going to have approach life with what she calls a “fixed mind-set.”;

- Those who believe that their own abilities can expand over time, however, live with a “growth mind-set.”;

In response to managers who believe that hiring the best and the brightest from top-flight schools guarantees corporate success:

“The problem is that, having been identified as geniuses, the anointed become fearful of falling from grace . . . It’s hard to move forward creatively and especially to foster teamwork if each person is trying to look like the biggest star in the constellation,” Dr Dweck says.

But Ms. Dweck does not suggest that managers ignore innate talent. Instead, she suggests looking for both talent and a growth mind-set in prospective hires — people with a passion for learning who thrive on challenge and change.

People with a growth mind-set tend to demonstrate the kind of perseverance and resilience required to convert life’s setbacks into future successes.

That ability to learn from experience was cited as the No. 1 ingredient for creative achievement in a poll of 143 creativity researchers cited in “Handbook of Creativity” in 1999.

[Source: New York Times report]

[Readers can also go to read my earlier post on the topic, 'FLUENCY, FLEXIBILITY & FLUIDITY: PREREQUISITES TO BRAIN POWER'. I reckon these factors of creativity can give you another perspective of the "growth mind-set".]


Here's an interesting, though belated, article by John Ivanko on the concept of 'Intelligent Fast Failure', as originally envisaged by award-winning innovator Dr Jack Matson. Here's the link.

Dr Matson has coined the term which is captured in his irreverently titled book, 'Innovate or Die: A Personal Perspective on the Art of Innovation'. I have already reviewed this book in an earlier post.

The article had been written within the context of "ecopreneuring" or "green business".

I like to extract the following passages from the article to highlight the salient aspects of 'Intelligent Fast Failure':

". . . the goal with intelligent fast failure is to move as quickly as possible from new ideas to new knowledge by making small and manageable mistakes — intelligent failures. By moving quickly, we can determine what works, and what doesn’t, without draining the bank account and energy devoted to developing the idea.

With the increasing variability in climate and rapidly changing global marketplace and social fabric, ecopreneurs are creating new business models, products and services that defy common conventions. Some will fail. The key is to keep learning and try to avoid letting your intelligent failures negatively influence your emotions and self-esteem. And by all means, fail falling forward . . ."

". . . we need to trust our personal experiences, intuition and creative inspirations more while embracing failure as an integral part of the learning process. Harnessing failure can improve your business. As it turns out, nature is most innovative when under stress and must adapt . . ."

I reckon the crux of 'Intelligent Fast Failure' is not just to embrace mistakes & failures, but more importantly, how to learn quickly from the mistakes & failures, & capitalising on all the lessons gained during the learning process.

[Incidentally, another good book to read along the same lines is 'Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success', by John Maxwell. The author wrote the book from the perspective of self-leadership, while Dr Matson originally wrote his from the perspective of creativity & innovation within the realm of engineering design.

By the way, readers should also read an earlier post of mine about the invention of the WD-40. It's a true example of putting 'Intelligent Fast Failure' to work!]


The following valuable tips were passed on to me by one of my social buddies, David Tang, today.

I thought it would be great to share with readers, who may or may not have known about them:

There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies. Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival.

Check out the things that you can do with it:


The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile; network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked.

Try it out.


Does your car have remote keyless entry? This may come in handy someday. Good reason to own a cell phone: If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their mobile phone from your cell phone.

Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object.

You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other 'remote' for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk).

Editor's Note: It works fine! We tried it out and it unlocked our car over a mobile phone!'


Imagine your mobile battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370# Your mobile will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your mobile next time.


To check your mobile phone's serial number, key in the following digits on your phone!: * # 0 6 #, a 15 digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset.

Write it down and keep it somewhere safe.

When your phone get stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless.

You probably won't get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can't use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.

This is the kind of information people don't mind receiving, so pass it on to your family and friends.

[Source: Chevron]


"New ideas do not necessarily live within the border of existing intellectual domains. In fact, they are most often at the edges & in curious intersections."

~ Nicholas Negroponte, 66, American architect & computer scientist, best known as the founder & Chairman Emeritus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab; also, known as the founder of The One Laptop per Child Association (OLPC).;

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Learning - irrespective of whether it is from attending a powerful seminar/workshop or reading an excellent book, or following instructions from a good coach/mentor - is easy & fun, but putting the lessons to work in your own life takes a lot of hard work.

I have already written an earlier post on this topic. Here's the link to it.

In reality, with the wisdom of hindsight, drawn essentially from my own personal & professional experiences, I reckon it takes more than hard work initially.

First of all, to recap, I reckon the most important task to do is to get 'The Big Picture', with the following pertinent questions to deal with:

- Where am I now?

- Where do I want to go?

- How do I get there?

Then, a handful of pre-requisites is necessary to set the right frame of mind, to get 'The Big Picture' in motion, so to speak:

Here they are:

1) Clarity:

You need to be crystal clear about what you want out of life . . . what you want to have, to do, to change & to improve.

Without this clarity in the head, the mind get fuzzy. Hence, the image of achievement gets vague too during the course of execution.

2) Strong Intent:

You must have a very strong intent. A burning desire, driven by your passion & enthusiasm, to get what you want, so to speak.

A fire in the guts, as some coaches like to call it.

Remember 'Rocky III', & the 'Eye of the Tiger'!

Put it in another way, you got to be prepared to burn all the bridges to your past, & get ready to move forward, relentlessly & fearlessly, in the pursuit of your dreams.

That's to say, you are prepared to do whatever it takes to get what you want.

Without this intent in you, it is very easy for inertia to set in. Once that happens, you are stuck in square one or on the launch pad, so to speak, with your booster engines idling.

3) Focus:

Once you have got 'The Big Picture' in mind, & with purposeful intent all raring to go, you got to focus on your line-up of strategic objectives in pursuing what you want.

Staying focused on your objectives doesn't mean staying rigid in your pursuit. You can always remain flexible in your approach, by making the appropriate changes to obstacles or setbacks as they come along the highway of life.

There will always be distractions, whether you like it or not. So, focus on the end in mind is vital.

4) Follow Through:

I reckon this is the most important prerequisite of the four I have outlined.

Action speaks louder than words is an understatement.

Nothing beats determination, persistence & perseverance in seeing & following through what you have set out to do in getting what you want.

Obstacles & setbacks will often knock you down, but the immediate response is to get up & keep moving forward. This is paramount.

There will also be a tendency to quit early, especially when faced with seemingly surmountable difficulties or challenges along the way.

This is where your crystal clarity, strong intent, & supreme focus will come to play their part to keep you on the ball.


[continue from the First Post.]

This quick map, of a systematic approach to examining a problem situation, done with the aid of VisiMap Pro software, comes from my personal collection of maps, which dates back to my early years of exploration.

[More information about VisiMap Pro is available at this link.]


[continue from the First Post.]

This quick map (collapsed version), of a systematic approach to high performance reading, done with the aid of VisiMap Pro software, comes from my personal collection of maps, which dates back to my early years of exploration.

[More information about VisiMap Pro is available at this link.]


1) Sense of Direction;

2) Clarity of Expectations;

3) Results-Oriented Leadership;

4) Initiative, Responsibility, Accountability;

5) Know Your People;;

6) Inspiration & Support;

7) Involvement;

8) Feedback & Recognition;

9) Managing Priorities & Time;

10) Effective Communications;

11) Building Competence, Confidence, & Growth;

12) Commitment;

[Source: The Herman Group]


"During the next decade many people will be coming around blind curves yelling things at you. They will be too busy to stop and explain, so it will be up to you to figure it out.

If you have paradigm paralysis [i.e. unable to think in new ways], you will be hearing nothing, but threats.

If you have paradigm pliancy [i.e. being pliant or tolerant of new ideas; be tolerant of people who are suggesting those new ideas, and have tolerance toward people who see the world differently], you will be hearing nothing, but opportunity.

I would submit, in the context of all that I have said, that the choice of which you hear is entirely up to you."

~ Joel Arthur Barker, 'Paradigms: The Business of Discovering the Future';

[In the book, the author relates a great story about 'The Pig & The Sow', which illustrates beautifully the concept of 'paradigm pliancy' vs. 'paradigm paralysis'. You can read a version of the story as outlined in my earlier post.]


"For the past years I have been describing three keys to the future for any organization, profit or nonprofit, that wants to participate fully in the twenty-first century.

They are: anticipation, innovation, and excellence.

Excellence . . . is the base of the twenty-first century.

Innovation . . . is the way you gain competitive edge.

However, excellence and innovation are not enough.

Anticipation provides you with the information that allows you to be in the right place at the right time."

~ Joel Arthur Barker, 'Paradigms: The Business of Discovering the Future';


"To have high level of creativity & innovation, you have to have sex, passion & desire."

~ Louis L'Amour (1908-1988), great western fiction writer, in response to a question 'What do you think are the keys to having high level of creativity & innovation?' during an interview by Mike Vance & Diane Deacon on 'Men at the Top' TV talk show;

Monday, April 27, 2009


Internationally recognized leadership expert, John Maxwell, has formulated ten powerful questions to guide us in our dream quest, in his latest book, 'Put Your Dream to the Test: 10 Questions that Will Help You See It & Seize It'.

I reckon they readily serve as wayfinding signposts for us to follow our dreams.

Here they are:

1. The Ownership Question:

Is my dream really my Dream?

2. The Clarity Question:

Do I clearly see my dream?

3. The Reality Question:

Am I depending on factors within my control to achieve my dream?

4. The Passion Question:

Does my dream compel me to follow it?

5. The Pathway Question:

Do I have a strategy to reach my dream?

6. The People Question:

Have I included the people I need to realize my dream?

7. The Cost Question:

Am I willing to pay the price for my dream?

8. The Tenacity Question:

Am I moving closer to my dream?

9. The Fulfillment Question:

Does working toward my dream bring satisfaction?

10. The Significance Question:

Does my dream benefit others?


[continue from the First Post.]

This quick map, of the characteristics of an entrepreneurial mind, done with the aid of VisiMap Pro software, comes from my personal collection of maps, which dates back to my early years of exploration.

[More information about VisiMap Pro is available at this link.]


[continue from the First Post.]

This quick map, of the characteristics of little kids, done with the aid of VisiMap Pro software, comes from my personal collection of maps, which dates back to my early years of exploration.

[More information about VisiMap Pro is available at this link.]


“The winner’s edge is not in a gifted birth, high IQ, or in talent. The winner’s edge is all in the attitude, not aptitude. Attitude is the criteria for success. But you can’t buy an attitude for a
million dollars. Attitudes are not for sale.”

~ peak performance coach Denis Waitley, paraphrasing Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States (1923–1929);

Sunday, April 26, 2009


[continued from the First Post.]

This quick map, about a problem solving process, done with the aid of my VisiMap Pro software, comes from my personal collection, which dates back to my early years of exploration.

[More information about VisiMap Pro is available at this link.]


[continue from the First Post.]

This quick map, produced with my VisiMap Pro software, about the 7 ways to seeing strategically, as a strategic thinking methodology - based on the seminal work of Prof Henry Mintzberg - comes from my personal collection, which dates back to my early years of exploretion.

More information about the methodology is available in the author's excellent book, 'Strategy Safari: A Guided Tour Through The Wilds of Strategic Management'.

[More information about VisiMap Pro is available at this link.]


Last night, I had watched the sci-fi thriller movie, 'Jumper' on StarHub cable television. It starred Hayden Christensen as one of the 'Jumpers' & Samuel Jackson as the bad guy who hunted & killed 'Jumpers'.

In a nut shell, the story revolved around a shy young man who could sort of teleport himself anywhere - all the exotic places on earth - instantaneously & at will, on account of a genetic anomaly.

He realised that his unusual gift had in fact existed for centuries - in other words, there were others like him - & he was unwittingly caught in a war that had been raging for thousands of years between 'Jumpers' & those who sworn to kill them.

What amazes me most is the concept of 'jumping' via some sort of worm hole, from one point to another point in space.

So, there is this start point or jump off point, end point, & entry point.

As I look at it, changing the entry point, at least from the standpoint of jumping as depicted in the movie, is a great way to look at a problem situation.

We can even jump into the endpoint of a problem situation, & work backwards.

We can just jump to make as many entry points as we fancy - as a result, I am sure, we can get to see many different perspectives of the problem situation!

So, each new entry point is a new viewpoint. I can sense that each entry point is likely to entail different results.

We can also jump high, like the smart dolphin, to get that superior view of the problem situation. A bird's eye view, so to speak. Wow!

We can also jump into the ground, beneath everything, & get to see the root causes & underlying factors which could not be seen above the ground. Isn't that great!

Instead of jumping forward & maybe backward - to look at the past, - can we jump sideways? Why not?

I am sure Edward de bono will like that. It's like lateral thinking.

How about jumping beyond, into the far horizon . . . into the long term future, 10, 20, 30 years down the road . . . & then we look back? What a great view, don't you think so?

I reckon all we need in our jumping endeavour as a metaphor is our curiosity & imagination.

Also, the sense of wonder of what may come from that new viewpoint.

With a little bit of wisdom from hindsight, jumping as I have described so far certainly drives home a valid point from creativity consultant Michael Hewitt-Gleeson who founded the School of Thinking, that we will definitely get a better view of the situation (BVS), as compared to the current view of the situation (CVS).

Now, I also fully understand what the greatest sportsman of all times, Muhammad Ali, truly meant when he once said "The man who has no imagination has no wings."

In reality, as I see it, jumping jogs the mind, out of its habitual routines of perception & thinking.

As depicted in the movie, "jumpers", while evading their hunters-killers (also known as "paladins"), sometimes jump into unexpected spatial "scenarios", from where they get to escape safely.

[Sad to say, the movie did not explain the origin of "jumpers" or delve into the hows & whys the "paladins" were so obsessed with them. Well, room for sequels? I guess.]

Putting it into the creativity perspective, I see those spatial "scenarios" essentially as the "stretch zones" - zones of possibilities!

Undoubtedly, the jumping metaphor is great for creativity!

So, to conclude this post, I like to say that, watching the movies - even if they were "no-brainers" - can be fun exercises in "killing two birds with one stone" - entertainment & learning/creativity.


"You cannot have innovation unless you are willing & able to move through the unknown & go from curiosity to wonder."
~ Dawn Markova, author of 'The Open Mind:Exploring the 6 Patterns of Natural Intelligence';


Have I Made the Most of the Life I Have?

Am I where I thought I’d be at this stage of my life?

Have I ever had a sense of “calling”?

How did I hear that calling?

I my work a fulfillment of my calling?

Do I go home at night with a sense of meaning, purpose, & accomplishment?

If nothing changed in my life over the next five years, would that be okay?

If I want different results next year, what am I willing to change about what I am doing now?

~ inspired by Dan Miller's 'No More Mondays: Fire Yourself -- and Other Revolutionary Ways to Discover Your True Calling at Work';