Tuesday, March 27, 2012

THINKING TOOLS: Turn it Upside Down (T U D)

1. Normal belief: A hospital is a place for sick people.

2. T U D: A hospital is a place for people who are healthy.

When we looked at a hospital as a place for people who are healthy,

1. Our base of customers increased to include a vast number of healthy people who come for positive health programs. The positive health theme included the “Well Woman” program, which involved a health and beauty focus: yoga experts, beauticians, and women’s health practitioners helped create a vastly successful program. Preventive health care became a positive activity. 15 check-ups including the heart check, the diabetic check and the child health check were part of the wellness check portfolio.

2. The relationship with customers, which traditionally started on a note of pain, anxiety, and death, began on a happy note. The focus was how to remain healthy and how to face problems. The lifetime relationship, which is the bedrock of direct marketing today, started on a happy, positive note, with wellness as the key.

Since then we realized that, thinkers from Plato onwards have developed hundreds of thinking tools which are as easy to learn as the 3R’s - Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. The simplest tools include checklists ranging from Rudyard Kipling’s famous “Five good serving men” (The questions Why, Where, When, Who and How) to Alex Osborne’s 9 Word Checklist.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Metaphors - Origin and Significance

Ideas imported from other fields can totally transform your company. In a Creativity Lab conducted for an internationally acclaimed company dealing in printing of tea bags, the problem was maintenance of delicate machines. The expensive machines were often handled clumsily, resulting in damage, breakdowns and loss. To counteract this, the ‘Metaphor’ tool was used.

Metaphors can be applied to gain fresh perspectives on the situation under analysis. A metaphor is a term or phrase that is applied to another, unrelated term or phrase to create a non-traditional relationship. For example, “All the world’s a stage.”

Metaphors can be used to examine various situations. For example, an organizational environment might be the topic of analysis. One might ask, “How do people in my organization resemble animals in a jungle? How do different animals manage their interactions with each other and how do we translate them into the different leadership styles that are used?” Answering these queries might allow new insights into the situation.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Nothing Grows Under a Banyan Tree

There is a beautiful tree outside my gate. It is strangely human – it sleeps. As dusk approaches all its leaves droop and hang limp and drowsy. People here call it the ‘sleepy face’ tree.

After a long day at work I feel a special kinship with it. I’m frankly enchanted by its wide spreading branches which reach out umbrella like to provide an oasis of dappled shade; by the way its leaves are darkly outlined against the sky when I look up. Its furry pink flowers and even the dry leaves that crackle under my feet as I go up the cement walk before our house, please me.

I could find no fault with my tree until I saw what it was doing to my jasmine bush. The flowers of this particular plant are my favorite. They emanate a lush fragrance from their heavily petaled blooms.

The shrub always seems to flower with great reluctance – just one or two flowers a day, during the summer months.

This year the tree has grown mightily. Spreading its branches and embracing the ground beneath in cool shadow.

But now, the jasmine has stopped flowering. All my ministrations will not persuade it to throw out a single bloom.

So many great and overwhelming personalities are like my tree. They grow tall and powerful, providing shelter for the multitude. But they invariably destroy the sensitive, quiet soul from whom they cut off the sunlight.

Remember, nothing grows under a banyan tree.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Mirror Image

Each of us develops an image of self, based on how significant others or those whose opinions we care about look at us. Cooley’s Mirror Image says “I am what I think, you think I am.” This is connected to the ancient Greek legend of Pygmalion, where a sculptor falls in love with a statue. The statue responds by becoming a beautiful girl. Each significant ‘other person’ calls for the best or worst in each of us. For within all of us dwell the highest and lowest. Those who are not significant in our lives may not have any impact on us.

Instead of pouring knowledge into people’s heads we need to help them grind a new set of eyeglasses so that we can see the world in a new way.
− J.S.Brown

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How to Deal with Threats and Conflicts

Sometimes, the words of the other person immediately switch on the ‘danger button.’ The fight or flight response is triggered by verbal, tonal, non-verbal cues. If you intend building a long-term relationship with the person, imagine pouring soothing oil on the troubled waters. Through verbal cues, inject soothing, peaceful and supportive words into the field. Then soothe yourself, telling yourself that the negative field will not harm you up to a point. Go with the person’s ideas while soothing yourself. Springboard, Ping Pong and make yourself totally ‘available’ to the person.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spectators and Participants

Most people are spectators on the banks of the river of life. They miss the point of life, by not being mindful, by not experiencing every moment. The participant dives into every moment, and experiences life in every cell of his being. Such a person cares about the company, the family, his work. His intimacy with the domain enables him to find pathways through the tangled thickets of the problem, which are invisible to the spectator.

To be a spectator is not to know the details of a plan. Chief executives who are not in touch with the grassroot level realities are bound to fail. Their mental distance from the problem ensures that they miss the key elements that decide the difference between success and failure.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Install uncertainty, abandon certainty

To be open and vulnerable even to ideas that seem threatening is the key to creativity. Convert yourself into a total listening self; your determination to support another’s idea will create a field that can yield richly creative ideas. No part of your self should be involved in finding fault, creating obstacles, or developing reasons why the idea will not work. Your mind should flow with the others, lend your heartfelt imagination and support the other’s idea. Use verbal cues to create a positive, listening, supportive field: avoid words that can poison the field and turn it negative; words that prevent the bubbling up of new ideas are strictly prohibited.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A sanctuary for wild ideas

For the lush growth of creative ideas, it is necessary to create a space which is very supportive of wild ideas. Let us build a sanctuary for wild ideas. Just as a game sanctuary protects wild animals, let us place wild ideas in a protected area where they can wander around in peace.

The group is not to stop till they have 100 ideas. No one is allowed to shoot down any idea however irrelevant; only building is allowed. Ping-Pong and springboards are allowed. Impossible ideas in a sanctuary are allowed to grow unmolested. No one is allowed to attack them, only grow and develop them.

As C.K. Prahlad put it, every company has before it a 100 alternative futures. Every person has before him a 100 alternative futures; creativity enables you to explore these alternatives in your mind.

These explorations cost nothing. They could save you millions.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Positive Productive Team

 The individuals in the team have a fixed amount of potential energy.
 Each individual uses as much of his energy as is necessary to ensure his emotional survival.
 He tries hard to avoid getting hurt and to lick his wounds or takes revenge if he is hurt.
 Only the balance of energy is available to devote to the task.
 Energy available to the group dramatically improves as the team climate improves.
 More energy is put into achieving goals.
 Less is spent on safeguarding emotional well-being.
 You achieve a team atmosphere where colleagues are a pleasure to work with, the boss is a good guy, there is excitement in the air and laughter too; and success is within hand’s reach.
 The positive field is the foundation of highly productive and innovative teams.

The Nava Rasas of the Positive Field

Emotions and the way you deal with them, create the positive field. The Mind is a field, which is filled with positive and negative emotions. The nava rasas can be your guide to understanding the nine emotions. The nava rasas are a 2000 year old Indian concept on emotions. The nine emotions have been built into a system of dance called Natya Shastra by Sage Bharata. Rasa means rapture or relish and 37 chapters of the Natya Shastra are devoted to eight of them, as Bharatha does not consider ‘Shantha’ or peace a major rasa. Bharata’s Natya Shastra even described each rasa with a different color.

The positive emotions create a positive field, which fills your blood with the chemicals of happiness and well-being, which are conducive to the building or rebuilding of a healthy body and mind. The negative emotions create a negative field, which fills your blood with the chemicals of unrest and unhappiness. It is important to have a closer look at the nine rasas.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Building teams and generating ideas

The value system of a company can provide the environment for creativity. People can do their best if their work is good for the employees, customers, and the country.

“The essence of creativity is a willingness to play the fool, to toy with the absurd, only later submitting the stream of ideas to harsh critical judgment. The application of the imagination to the future therefore requires an environment in which to safely reflect, in which novel juxtapositions of ideas can be freely expressed before being critically sifted. We need sanctuaries for the social imagination.”
− Alvin Toffler
During meditative practices, the chemicals of peace and tranquility like serotonins and endorphins flow into the blood. Breathing, heart rate and pulse rate stabilize. The mind is able to function calmly and freely. An alert and relaxed attitude is required for the teamwork involved in building ideas and analyzing them. Self-awareness of your state of mind can help you get the most out of life and help others to do the same.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Enhancing the relationship with Self

Validation by the self and others, particularly ‘significant’ others, is essential for the creation of a positive field. Everyone needs to be validated. People who retire from busy lives, feel the lack of validation strongly in their now empty lives, which they had not planned for. A plan that provides validation for one’s existence is critical to wholeness.

My relationship with myself is critical. How do I talk to myself? Holding, sustaining environments, nurturing and supporting fields, foster happiness. Building competence with coaching is an option. However, when one converts one’s management style from self-punisher and merciless critic to a loving coach, one creates an ever-present holding environment that nurtures one’s continuing movement towards growth and creativity.

Friday, March 2, 2012

All things with reverence and sraddha

Decide to approach all events, all people, and all things with affection, reverence and ‘Sraddha.’ This reverence is due to all, because of the divine spark that dwells in everyone whether he is a legend or a failure. Sometimes it is obvious. It is the silent flame of consciousness that reaches out to you from a flowering creeper or a healthy pet. Sometimes this life force has lost its vitality and is dimmed by dirt, lethargy and lack of care. Clean the glass of your Life’s lamp. Make the light shine through.

When you consider yourself sacred, you will treat yourself well. You will wear clean, fresh clothes, ironed and starched, mended if torn, but clean and fresh. You will smile at yourself, encourage yourself. Just as you put on clean fresh clothes, you will also clean up the mental space or field around you. Sweep out all ill-will, anger, fear and anxiety. Let there be the fragrance of incense, divinity of prayer and mantra, the smiles of loved ones, laughter and joy, the smell and taste of good, nutritious food. It is as important to clean the field around you, as it is to have a bath. Sweep out the sad baggage of the past. Take into that field only what is bright and elevating, fine and happy.

Elevate everyday experiences to the level of sacredness!

When work is done with such love, it fills the body and mind with bliss and transforms any place into a sacred space. As Khalil Gibran writes in The Prophet, “What is it to work with love? It is to weave the cloth from the strings of your heart, as though your Beloved were to wear it.” What is required to fill your blood with the chemicals of bliss is an attitude transplant. Soar on your positive attitude.
Here is an example:
I first met Reg when he was in his late seventies in Pondicherry. He was running the ‘Good Guest House’. Hidden behind high walls,, it is a lovely guest house surrounded by a green garden. It was a pleasant surprise, to step in from the dusty, noisy street behind high walls, through a wooden door into that secret, perfect place. The floors gleamed, sparklingly clean; paintings hung on the walls and it was silent inside. Reg, once upon a time, was a French chef. He met the Mother and stayed behind ‛forever’, to look after the ‘Good Guest House’ for Her! ‘Who keeps it so clean?’ I asked. ‘I do it’, he says. ‘I love to keep it gleaming, because when I clean the floor, I feel I am wiping Mother’s feet’.