Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Secret Power of Emotional Fields

Around every person there is a field of emotional energy. Some people always look and feel radiant and everything in their life flourishes and grows. They have a positive energy field around them. Some people, on the other hand, always feel and look morose and tense, everything in their life seems to fade and die. They have a negative energy field around them.

The positive field is created by positive emotions and the negative field draws sustenance from negative emotions.

Excerpts from 'The Happiness Quotient'


The word ‘yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit word yuj which means ‘yoke’ attach or ‘join’. It means the joining or uniting of the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness, or self-realisation.

The science of yoga was systematised by Maharishi Patanjanli in 285 yogasutras.

There are eight components of yoga. These are:

1. Yama: Our attitudes towards our environment.

2. Niyama: Our attitudes towards ourselves.

3. Asana: The practice of body exercises.

4. Pranayama: The practice of breathing exercises.

5. Pratyahara: The restraint of our senses.

6. Dharana: The ability to direct our minds.

7. Dhyana: The ability to develop interactions with what we seek to understand.

8. Samadhi: Complete integration with the object to be understood.

Their respective meanings are:

i) Universal moral commandments.

ii) Self-purification by discipline.

iii) Posture.

iv) Rhythmic control of breath.

v) Withdrawal of the mind from the domination of the senses and exterior object.

vi) Concentration.

vii) Meditation.

viii) Thoughtless state in which one becomes one with the object of his meditation.

Excerpts from 'The Happiness Quotient'

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Physical Wellness

Your Happiness Quotient is directly affected by your physical condition. Health is the foundation for a feeling of wellbeing and joy. It is very difficult to be full of enthusiasm if you are not in a state of positive health. The absence of disease is no indication of this state of perfect health. It is a hygienic factor for improving your HQ.

There are many steps that will take you to a state of optimum health. A complete medical check up once a year can provide accurate information about the state of your body to your physician. Make sure this becomes an annual habit.

Just as you would not tolerate a minor malfunctioning in your car, so too, you and your doctor should be vigilant for the slightest disturbance in your state of health. Minor problems, aches and pains should be dealt with immediately, rather than be endured with gritted teeth.

Listen to your body. If you are tired, rest. If you are hungry, eat. If you are lonely, communicate, ask for a hug. If you are angry, deal with your anger constructively, resolve it.

The body is our vehicle for the journey of our soul in this world. You may be an immortal soul who happens to own a body, but the body-vehicle has to be maintained in good condition, so that we may achieve the goals for which we were created.

Excerpts from 'The Happiness Quotient'

Friday, March 25, 2011


Enlightened Masters have also shown that meditation produces beneficial effects such as reduction of tension, lowering of blood pressure, relaxation of muscles, increased concentration and work efficiency, and increase of immunological resistance to diseases. As a result, some form of meditation has become an essential part of most holistic health programmes.

Service to others, music, prayer—all are forms of meditation—make the blood flow with serotonins—the happiness chemical. Hindu scriptures enjoin five types of service known as pancha-mahayajna—service to gods; service to sages; service to ancestors; service to humans, guests and the poor; and service to animals. A traditional Indian home, at dawn, feeds ants with the rice-flour rangoli drawn near the threshold, and crows and cows with leftover food.

Eating should be regarded as a sacred act. In an orthodox Hindu home, food is offered to the family deity first and is then consumed as prasad or offering with the diety’s blessing. There is a basic similarity between the rituals involved in offering food to the deity and those involved in eating oneself. In both cases, food is offered as oblations to the five pranas regarded as five fires. Even if one does not follow this ritualistic concept, one should make eating a fully conscious and peaceful act. Hurry, worry, anger, distractions and chattering should be avoided while eating.

Excerpts from 'The Happiness Quotient'

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Health is wealth and critical to happiness

Health is a state of physical, mental and social wellbeing, not merely an absence of disease or infirmity. Really speaking, health is not a state but a continuous adjustment to the changing demands of life and the environment. Positive health implies perfect functioning of body and mind in a given society.

Ayurveda defines health as ‘svasthya’—to be one’s own spiritual self. It is the state of equilibrium of the three doshas or mind-body energies that govern our external and internal environment―vata (wind); pitta (bile); and kapha (phlegm), along with a contented state of the senses, mind and soul.

All the ancients believed that no attempt should be made to cure the body without treating the mind and soul. To be healthy is to have the ability, despite an occasional bout of illness, to live with full use of your faculties and to be vigorous, alert and having a joie de vivre, even in old age. This concept of operational health has been termed ‘wellness’. It is a sense of all-round wellbeing.

Excerpts from 'The Happiness Quotient'

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cultivating Happiness

Focus on cultivating happy people and avoid toxic people. Build protective walls against toxic events that threaten your tranquillity. Too much television is tele-visham—tele-poison. Too much stimulation, a mindspace crowded by fantasy, people and events, distracts you from working on your own home and backyard to create a healthy self. Some days we seem to live a fantasy life dominated by daydreams while reality tugs at our heartstrings for attention, like a neglected child. There is no use focusing on Aishwarya Bacchan’s beauty while neglecting to do the most basic things to maintain yours. This is the only body, mind and soul you will be given. Take care of what is yours and enjoy it.

Let the cells of your body be gently bathed in happiness, positive thoughts and healing energies. Run from, toxic people and build protective walls against toxic events that threaten your tranquility. The Vedas speak of the self as a beautiful lotus growing in the muddy waters of life. With its roots in the muck it rises above it, in perfect beauty and bliss.

Excerpts from 'The Happiness Quotient'

Monday, March 21, 2011

Enjoy the day

. Each new day holds out a chance to create a whole new beginning, a sparkling new field of possibilities. At dawn, sweep out the toxic waste of hatred, anger and petty disappointments from your life. Sprinkle the pure waters of prayer on your soul and prepare afresh for a brand-new day. Go peacefully amidst the noise and the haste. Enjoy the sweetness of everyday things. Practice swayambhu―a word that describes happiness welling out of you, like an underground stream in the mountains.

Very rarely will an event or a person crash-land to disturb your life. We all have a choice to make every moment, through our senses, our thoughts and our actions. We can choose what we want to see, hear, touch, taste and smell, think, feel and do. Most of the time, we are responsible for our decisions―for our happiness and unhappiness. We can decide how we want to feel even in the worst-possible situations. To a jealous mind, an innocent smile is proof of adultery. A prisoner can choose to keep the flame of freedom alive within him and maintain a cheerful disposition. Events or people around us are not under our control. But our reactions, our responses to them are. Respond with love and peace.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


The king of Bhutan coined the term: Gross National Happiness. He believed that the wellbeing of a country does not depend on the figures of the Gross National Product, and that more education, youth or income, do not naturally translate into happiness. He wisely understood that the real measure of a country’s prosperity is the feeling of happiness and contentment among its people. Happiness is a gift, not a commodity. Even the poor have the ability to cultivate and share happiness. There is joy to be found in the small things we take for granted—a smile, a helping hand, a kiss, a wave, a pat on the back, a glass of water, a promise kept. Some of the poorest countries have the highest levels of happiness—Philippines and Nigeria are on top of the list. This has been verified and published in the World Happiness Survey conducted every year. Next few blogs will focus on this subject.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The winning Model

Deccan Airlines created a disruption in the Airlines market. They created flights to smaller destinations not previously served like Vijayawada. The customer got low fares and at the same time lost:

  1. Free food and drinks
  2. Tolerance for more baggage
  3. Premium seats
  4. Convenient timing of flights

The Winning Model was a result of: Fewer aircrafts, faster turn around times, arriving early mornings and late nights when airports were less utilized by the premium airlines. It became profitable for the airlines, cheaper for the customers.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Slimmer than the best – the competitive edge

‘It cannot be done!’ said the Swiss watch makers. In the watch industry, the Swiss are the ultimate court of appeal. The way the Titan Edge, the world’s slimmest water resistant watch was produced, is a lesson in persistent and patient problem solving, innovations. It was an example of an Indian company’s refusal to give up.

It all began in 1994. Mr. Xerxes Desai, then Managing director of Titan said, ‘Create a 3.5mm, water resistant watch – a watch as slim as a credit card. It took the Titan team four years and when they started in 1984 they were just a decade old…

What were the challenges?

  1. To instill self confidence in the team.
  2. Ensure buy-in from key people.
  3. The engineering challenge. When everyone heard that the Swiss could not-do it, the virus of self doubt was rampant. This was overcome by the infectious confidence of top management.

Watch manufacturers in the past had been copy-cats. Since the 1950’s Indian companies had never manufactured a watch all by themselves.

Titan attempted this from 1992. The Edge was an answer to the reigning lifestyle mantra, verbalized by a famous Hollywood queen who said ‘You cannot be too rich or too thin!’ It was a close collaboration between manufacturing, technology and research. Marketing took three years to embrace it. Between movements, cases and assembly, the challenge was to create a delicate watch, which was tough enough for the challenges of daily wear. They needed a slimmer battery with a longer battery life and less power consumption. The war had to be carried to the supplier’s tables and this meant a global search. The solution was a silicon chip which was developed to extend the battery life. Part of the manufacturing was out-sourced to Switzerland. All the tools required for the assembly were supplied by Titan! Even the glass had to be of .03mm thickness or as thick as three sheets of paper – a 75% reduction in thickness.

It is one of India’s major product innovation, putting us on the world map!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cleaning up the Planet

CEO of Thermax, Unnikrishnan leads a company which cleans up corporate waste and returns the purity to water and air. Innovation seeks to make a science of what is essentially an art form.’ he says. As I searched for the truth in books, events and people, I realised that maths and logic will take you so far. There was a quantum leap that needed a totally different approach…..to spawn innovation. Training in Thermax included working on the shop floor and interacting with mentors who included the best brains in the country. Converting an enthusiastic student into a mature manager included training in communication, effective listening, interpersonal skills and mental mobility - the ability to move smoothly into different role,’ he explained. 'Mentors need a reservoir of mental and spiritual fullness before they can really develop others. Mentoring in this fast moving world, the changing value systems make this a much tougher job. The replacement of life time’s employment, with the transience of job hopping is a real challenge.

He admires his company. ‘This company trusts people. They have a lot of freedom to succeed or fail. Even in the formative years, new ideas get supported by the profit making parts of the company. Heat recovery was an idea sparked off by the company. Mr. Rohinton Aga supported the idea for five years with no sign of profits. Water treatment took 7 – 8 years to be profitable.’ He enunciates one of the core principles of innovation. ‘Top management need to handhold managers through the dark night of innovation. People who work on anything for the first time need to be supported through a testing gestation period and even initial failures.

Unni is very clear as he enunciates the principles at Thermax, ‘Most of us believe that business is a set of numbers. But we at Thermax, believe that business is a set of values. Compassionate policies will create values and innovation. Emotive bonding of the employee with the company will encourage people to stick their necks out and take risks.' One of their landmark innovations was in the 1970’s, when the textile industry was using the hot oil system. 'We replaced it with electrical heating through our product, 'thermo pads’. Our structure encourages innovation. We have an Executive Vice-president- Innovation and Technology – Dr. R.R.Sonde, who leads a team of innovation heads from every division’.

Process innovation is imparted along with product innovation. The process is consistently encouraged by

v Annual innovation awards

v Consistent Technology Innovation

v We involve customer at the centre of our innovation process

'Our customers, for example, did not like to have us assembling our 350 tonne boilers at their site. So we hired a facility at the Bombay port where the thousands of components were assembled and transported on barges or project vessels to Dubai. We really listen to customers.'

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Consistent Innovation

Consistent, long-term commitment and long-term implementation is key to making the climate of innovation a way of life. The benefits of an innovation intervention in very early phase are intangible. Long-term top-management participation and commitment is a key to success. A critical mass of participants in a company practicing the innovation tools (IT) is essential to demonstrate financial and process quality impact. Innovation champions are critical to carry through long-term initiatives.

Innovation comes from people. Technology is only a tool that may enhance it. People and their invisible minds are keys. Thinking tools are a mechanism to teach creativity. Innovation is a customer-based and employee-respecting philosophy that has benefited many modern organizations. It is also a tool that can shape organizational culture into a happier, more humane, friendly place

Re-innovation or renovation becomes important when an old, traditional company goes into decline. It provides the ‘inflection’ necessary to leapfrog over the downhill phase.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Innovation Melas

This is a one-day event to showcase the ideas developed during the innovation initiative.

Innovation melas celebrate corporate innovation and honour the imagination. It is a great way to provide a holistic view of events, while celebrating innovation publicly. Inviting a customer to provide his point of view could create a special wave of excitement. It is a banquet for imagination: well-loved, proved ideas rub shoulders with exotic new imports. Everyone rolls up their sleeves to tame wild ideas.

Top management should provide recognition rewards and support during this day. The most interesting wild new idea, which does not, at the moment, seem implementable, is chosen for taming. This is a mega event which involves the whole company. It is a chance to showcase the best ideas, while revisiting all the thinking tools. The innovation Oscars and the Innovation Hall of Fame can flow out of this event.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Course Correction

No innovative idea can be perfect when it is conceived. It has to be refined and perfected on the run. The only certainty in this endeavour is uncertainty. More than 80 per cent of germinal, out-of-box ventures start off by following the wrong strategy. Like a kite adjusting to gusty winds, adjustments have to be made, based on customer feedback. Some companies spend so much time working on the ‘perfect’ product in their laboratories that all their funding runs out. Others find that the ‘perfect’ moment for the launch never comes.

Idea shaped in the market, in response to changing customer aspirations and fashions are very difficult to copy because of their dynamic, changing character. The best time to do this is of course when everything is going really well. Organizational energy is high and innovation is like a kite we fly just because we are in high spirits and want to know if we can be even better than the best.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Make sure that a logbook is maintained by every innovation spiral. Weekly meeting minutes can ensure a smooth flow of information. Regular reports from each spiral ensure that the activities planned are moving smoothly. Monthly reviews can help provide valuable feedback and opportunities for expanding participation. They also ensure top managements’ attention to projects.

Formal feedback should be provided to problem owners, who bear the brunt of implementation in unfamiliar territory.

Rewards should be an integral part of the system. Innovation should be part of the individual’s measurable job description, not just something he does if he feels like it.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Execute, Communicate and Train

Implement like an innovation star. This is the day to make a final presentation to all the teams in the presence of top management. Get feedback from all stakeholders and respond to concerns. It is a good idea to leave the plan to be studied by all participants. Each can peacefully reflect on it, internalize it. This is the time to get the resource budget cleared.

All participants and stakeholders must now receive a clear communication on what to expect. Here it is important to note the process – communication has to be long-term, continuous and consistent. Human resources professionals and problem owners must ensure that the necessary training modules are implemented and their efficacy measured.

Management systems implementation should now kick in. The management information system to ensure clear measurement of action should be available to all players. The website and other Internet support systems should be properly administered by a webmaster to ensure the seamless flow of information where possible. A regularly produced e-bulletin would help.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Review the Outcome

During implementation review the outcome. Be aware of the end before you take the first step. Unify your teams by hitching them to the ultimate goal.

Top management should inspire and empower the teams to action. A team-bonding exercise getting everyone to see bird’s eye view of the exercise is critical.

Review the resources being used are adequate. Study the impact on the expected outcome. Ensure that the process is moving towards, the final outcome: reducing costs, increasing revenues, improving customer satisfaction and ensuring greater employee participation..

The Resource Map (6M)







Implement with Action Teams

The problem owners should review activities of the action team members and plan how to gradually involve all members of the unit in the plan.

Each of the team members now have a chance to understand what the endeavor will involve. Informal sessions to discuss the plan and to become comfortable with it must be planned, including a grand launch to win buy-in from stakeholders.

Help each team member to be comfortable with their activities. Handhold and enhance links between different departments. Studies show that turf protection prevents efficient implementation. Organizational energy should be carefully focused on the task.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Nurture the Culture of Innovation

Company wide innovation is not about nurturing solitary genius in sterile laboratories but requires the bubbling enthusiasm of innovation spirals.

To internalize innovation tools, use them. Teach them to others. The new IT is Innovation Tools, install them in your mind’s computer. Present the tools with examples from your company. Encourage questions. Teach the tools to your friends and your family. This is the best way to make it a part of your every day life.

While stimulating the process is now in place providing daily stimulus is the problem owner’s job. This can be done by asking the team a provocative question everyday. The question could be ‘What are the non-value adding activities in your daily work? How can we help to eliminate this?’

Think for a long time. Look at several alternatives, a hundred futures, before deciding on the best one for the moment. Remember the market place will be the best place for complete refinement of your product.

Start small. Keep over heads low. Be lean and learn. Don’t spend money on swanky offices, first- class travel, hotels and the Mercedes Benz.

Pursue areas with high entry level barriers, which competitors avoid like the plague. Test market in a small way. Experience the results; look into the customer’s eyes. Don’t just keep talking and making presentations. Review, tweak and go back to the market. Course correct, move. Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. There is no guarantee of success.

Nothing is an instant success. Every successful product is the result of a hundred corrections in response to customer reactions, changing aspirations. There is no time, when you can rest on your laurels because you are so perfect.

Let your solutions be bold, what no one has done before. Don’t take shelter in incrementalism.

Deccan Airlines created a disruption in the Airlines market. They created flights to smaller destinations not previously served like Vijayawada. The customer got low fares and at the same time lost:

  1. Free food and drinks
  2. Tolerance for more baggage
  3. Premium seats
  4. Convenient timing of flights

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Switch on the Analytical Mind

The ‘reality test’ should now be ruthlessly applied. Once implementation starts, every move costs money. This is the last step in the thinking process and all ideas should be carefully studied. Implementing creative ideas and turning them into innovations is a special challenge. It is a process that requires a clear road map and the organizational will to stick to the path. This is where many organizations fail.

An ounce of action is worth tonnes of e-mail, paper and speeches. Implementation is the key to innovation.

Here is a format for the preparation of a blueprint for the implementation process.

Implementation Map (5W/1H)

1 month

3 months

6 months

1 year

5 years







De-risk the risk: Spot the gold nugget in the coal field

‘Innovation is not a gamble. It is a considered, calculated risk. When you take a risk, measure the downside, and make sure the upside is obvious’ says Uday Kotak, M.D. of Kotak Mahindra Bank.

I ask him about the need to take risks. ‘I don’t believe in betting the firm. I will not get into a deal where I do not have a handle on the downside. Thinking can be wild. Acting has to be based on ideal analysis of the risk. Be ready to accept mistakes, but don’t blow up the firm’.

My dream was to create a global financial institution like Merrill Lynch.’

‘What stands in the way of India becoming a global leader’ I ask. Uday Kotak says ‘India may have won political independence in 1947, but we have not yet earned emotional independence and confidence. We are still overawed by anything foreign.’

‘I try to develop professional entrepreneurs in this company. We think of our business not as lending money but avoiding inconvenience and offering a total solution. We want to be an advising desk, a mentor. Someone who helps our clients to network with all available resources’.

‘We try to create professional entrepreneurs internally. We provide equity for employees. We encourage speed, while providing entry support to teams to ensure safety and quality. We focus on spotting the golden nugget in the coal field and going after it first and gaining first mover advantage.’