Entries from October 2006 ↓

Purpose, Creativity and Innovation

I cannot insist enough with our entrepreneurs who will take hopefully our economy to a new height, of the importance of Purpose and Innovation. Nikos Mourkogiannis, in his book, “Purpose and Innovation”, cites generously Microsoft and Toyota in their quests in focusing relentlessly and consistently on their Purpose to bring Innovation in their ventures.

“Innovate or Evaporate”, you will recall, was a campaign brought some 2 years ago by NPCC. Since what has happened? Have we experienced an evaporation of our innovative spirit? I understood that NPCC is following up with an Incubator program. Well done!

Micheal Porter, who I admire and regularly search for his great thinking puts: “Innovation has become perhaps the most important source of competitive advantage in advanced economies.”

Are we nurturing a culture of Innovation in Mauritius? Wrong question, my friend Watson would dare say! We cannot afford not to create and not to nourish such a culture. It is a necessity full stop. The question would rather be: “How to we create a culture of innovation?”

I do not know if we have a department of “creativity and innovation” at our University of Mauritius or any of our tertiary institution. I feel that we could start off with one. Mauritian, like any human being, is endowed with a creative mind and ingenuity; what is lacking, is the awakening of the creative mind. Creativity, according to E. De Bono, world renowned “Creativity” author, now based in Australia, states that is a process which can be taught and learned.

Creavitity should be taught at all stages of schooling. The development of the habit of “lateral thinking” will enhance the creative spirit of the individuals. Could we introduce creativity in our school curriculum at all levels?

I had the chance of meeting some Malaysians who are interested in the subject of Creativity and Innovation. We could well learn from Prof. Augustine Ong, who has been recognized by his country, bestowing him wih the title of “Tan Sri Datuk”, for his forward- looking mind and for his great innovative work in the field of Palm oil cultivation and industry.I was honoured to have met him and to have had a glimpse of his wonderful achievement first hand.

Prof. Augustine Ong, to maintain the spirit of creativity in Malaysia, has created and is now driving an organization called “Minds”. Why can’t we do likewise?

MASTERY Above all

Last night, for some reasons or other the word “Mastery” kept popping up in my mind. Was it the vibrations from the book Modeling on Jesus our Master of Fr. Luis Gonzalez which I keep on my bedside from which I read a couple of pages daily to let his thoughts seep in me or was it, the reminisences of the last article titled “The mystery of Mastery unveiled” I read from Geoorge Torok or was it,  from the older lessons learnt from the Kevin Cashman ‘s writing on “Mastery from the inside out.”

All told, this has become the subject of my blog today.Some of you may know the wonderful story which I have often use to illustrate how our mind and thoughtful purpose bring “mastery” to our action.Someone came near a stone quarry and found three craftsmen working with their chisels and hammer cutting the hard breaking basalt stones under the harsh and hot sun.The person asked the same questions to each hard working craftsman in turn.

What are you doing now and why?

In turn each one replied. The first one said: “Don’t you see what I am doing? With the chisel I am cutting the stone and chipping off the unwanted part”.

The second fellow replied: “In this hot sun, I am sweating, working hard to earn a living to raise my family thus providing for the needs of my children”.

The third guy replied: “I am carving in the stone with the greatest care to erect a Cathedral”.

According to you, which one of the three has a “Mastery” mind set?

Kevin Cashman attempts to answer the question:”What does mastery means to you?” In an under quoted article I would like to share with you  Kevin Cashman’s 7 pathways to Mastery which  applications have been most helpful to me

Mastery from the Inside Out


Our ideas about mastery tend to be externalized. Our educational heritage is focused on learning about things. We learn what to think, not how to think. We learn what to do, not how to be. We learn what to achieve, not how to achieve. We tend to fill the container of knowledge but rarely expand it.

In organizations, the external pattern continues. As leaders, we are recognized for our external mastery. Our success tends to be measured by the degree to which we have mastered our external environment. Revenue, profit, new product breakthroughs, cost savings, and market share are just some measures of our external competencies. Few question the value of achieving and measuring external results. That isn’t the issue. The core questions are: Where do the external results come from? Is focusing on external achievement the source of greater accomplishment? Could it be our single-minded focus on external results is missing the underlying dynamics supporting peak performance?

I’ve often met with a CEO, business owner, or corporate executive who has lost touch with the inner dynamics supporting his or her achievements.

Many leaders today are like naturally gifted “athletes” who have mastered their external performance capabilities, but the inner dynamics supporting their success and fulfillment are a mystery to them. What happens to natural athletes who become coaches? They usually have a very difficult time because they have not comprehended from the inside out how they became great. And so it’s difficult to mentor others to greatness.

When our lives are defined only in terms of the fruits of action, the circumstances of our lives define us. In this externally-driven state of identity, life is fragile, vulnerable, and at-risk. Our core identity and passionate purpose are overshadowed by the events of our lives. Success may even be present, but mastery has escaped us. Unintentionally we have chosen to “major” in the minor things in life.

Many of us are in a slumber. We go about our business and relationships much the same way day after day. Most of us rarely question where we are going and why. Unfortunately, it often takes a traumatic external event–a death, a termination, a divorce, a disease or a crisis–to bring us out of our slumber. But why wait to get shocked awake? Why not choose to wake up now?

Effective leadership begins with self-leadership, mastery of oneself.

Seven Pathways

Over the years we have identified seven pathways to awaken mastery from the inside out.

• Personal Mastery. If knowledge is power, then self-knowledge must be the source of real power. To do more, we first need to be more; to be more, we need to comprehend our being, our personhood. Understanding who we are and what we have to offer is the prerequisite for leveraging our capabilities. Sadly, many people are barreling down the freeway of life without comprehending the owner’s manual. Can we really achieve optimal performance if we’re not sure of our performance potential and performance limitations? Take time to study your owner’s manual: Where’s your horsepower? What areas need some fine-tuning? What areas need an overhaul? Solicit the input of others to more objectively evaluate yourself. It may not be easy at first, but beginning the process of reconciling and integrating your strengths, weaknesses and development needs is a great start toward personal mastery.

• Purpose Mastery. If we lack purpose, our immediate circumstances dominate our awareness and overshadow our reason for being. And, our life tends to lose connection to its true nature. As Teilhard de Chardin wrote, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Purpose is spirit seeking expression; it transforms everything it touches. It converts average organizations into exceptional ones; it transforms employees into co-partners; it creates leaders out of managers. Purpose is our inner home within where our spirit and principles reside. It’s always there waiting for us, but we are often too busy “living outside” to notice. To get in touch with purpose, identify the three most fulfilling experiences of your life. Then ask: What unique, meaningful contributions was I making during these experiences?

• Change Mastery. Our personal evolution can be directly measured by our ability to adapt and to change. As Lao Tzu wrote, “Whatever is flexible and flowing will tend to grow; whatever is rigid and blocked will wither and die.” While it’s not possible to master change, we can master ourselves through change. Since all significant change begins with self-change, we may need to shift some personal paradigms. Our focus may need to move to opportunity; our perspectives may need to shift to the longer term; our tendency to be absorbed in immediate circumstances may need to move to a more purpose-filled context; our need to be in control may need to become more flexible and adaptable; our doubt may need to be transformed to a more trusting, more open attitude.

Begin your mastery of change by thinking about the times when you faced major crises or challenges. What qualities arose during those times? What qualities would you like to develop during those times? What did you learn during these times? Change Mastery begins by embracing the purposeful learning in the creative flow of life.

• Career Mastery. As Studs Terkel put it, “Most of us have jobs too small for our spirits.” Are our current jobs big enough for our spirits? If they are, each task, responsibility, and challenge can be a new opportunity to engage our purpose. If not, we may be successfully earning a living but losing a life. Unfortunately many people sacrifice their career fulfillment on the altar of security and practicality. To get on the path to Career Mastery, explore the most enjoyable, fulfilling “peaks” in your career. What were you doing? What skills were you using? Who were you working with? Why were these experiences so fulfilling? How can you connect with these career experiences consistently? Career Mastery is not merely about achieving things, it is about how to be fulfilled in everything we do.

• Balance Mastery. Regardless of our external success, our life is precarious in the absence of balance. Without balance, every new opportunity or change could upset our gyroscope. When high-performance people are combined with high-performance organizations, the chance for imbalance is particularly great. Exceptional people want to achieve more; exceptional organizations have an insatiable desire to accomplish more. But what are the human limits to ensure consistent, long-term achievement? There’s no pre-set, mechanistic formula. It’s always an individual inside-out equation. Each of us must find our own way to the dynamic balance supporting enhanced effectiveness and fulfillment.

What are some ways to sort out our own unique balancing act? Ask yourself: Are your personal and professional lives congruent with your principles and values? There’s no greater imbalance than to be disconnected from what is really important to you. Be purposeful but be careful; purpose and passion are great balancers, but too much of them and you’ll fall off the high wire. Take a real vacation; go to a health spa or a retreat to recharge. Listen to the wisdom of the mind-body connection; your body will give you immediate feedback to “Do more of this” or “Do less of that.” Find physical activities you enjoy; if your current form of exercise requires discipline, you are probably mastering rigidity versus balance. Since all of nature achieves balance through cycles of rest and activity, consider adding more rest and reflection to your lifestyle.

• Interpersonal Mastery. Our relationships always begin with our self-relationship. It’s an inside-out process. We can only give what we have. If we have a lot, we can give a lot. Interpersonal Mastery begins by building our internal balance sheet. Once we have increased our inner value through self-mastery, we can further build our emotional equity with others by focusing on the needs of others, becoming more adept at questioning and listening to sort out people’s real needs and motivations. We can then ask: What can I draw from within myself to meet these needs? Help people to uncover purpose: Instead of giving people advice focused on your needs or opinions, assist people to discover what is meaningful and important to them. Instead of judging others, appreciate the unique differences in people. Could it be that your discomfort in accepting something unusual about someone is really an expression of your own lack of self-mastery? Solicit feedback from others. Understanding the gap between your intentions and the perceptions of others is at the core of Interpersonal Mastery. Other people may hold some keys to your self-knowledge. Build trust in relationships by genuinely revealing your hopes, dreams, fears and limitations — you may be surprised to discover how much Interpersonal Mastery is really about personal authenticity.

• Being Mastery. Descartes wrote, “I think, therefore, I am.” Being Mastery has a different view: I am, therefore, I think. To be more effective, to be more successful, to be more fulfilled, to be more alive, all require first a state of Being. Sadly,our fast-moving, never-catch-your-breath, externally-focused culture is “perfectly” designed to avoid the silence of Inner Being. The background and foreground “noise” of our lives is so dominant, we rarely get a chance to connect with the silence deep within us. We have become human doers who have lost connection to our heritage as human beings. Connection with Inner Being provides us with the inner restfulness and peace to more effectively live in the eye of the hurricane of life. As Blaise Pascal wrote, “All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.” How well have you mastered the art of turning within to connect with the silence of Being? Culturing our ability to do so is the foundation for more effective performance and living. Consider learning how to meditate; connecting with the vastness of nature; relaxing to beautiful music–there are as many ways to reconnect with Being as there are human beings.

By beginning the masterful journey, we can advance from a single-dimensional focus on external achievement to the multi-dimensional effectiveness and fulfillment of Mastery from the Inside Out.

Kevin Cashman is president and CEO of Market Share Inc. and the Executive to Leader Institute, a leadership coaching consultancy based in Minneapolis, MN (612) 375-9277.

On the other hand, if you can afford the time I would encourage you to go to George Torok website to capture some of his insights on the subject.

An extract from one of his numerous articles:

What is mastery?

The first thing that comes to mind is technical skill in the job. And taking that skill to the next level where it becomes intuitive and natural as opposed to preconceived.
Jeff Mowatt, CSP

Mastery is reaching the top of one’s craft. Masters really know how to do what they are doing, having truly integrated all the components. Others look to the master for counsel, help or guidance.
Linda Tarrant, CSP, HoF

We get to a stage of mastery when all of the basics and most of the refinements are second nature, at the level of unconscious competence. Only the minute refinements require conscious effort.
Warren Evans, CSP, HoF

Mastery in life and business is reasonably simple to understand but difficult to apply. People resist following the simple principles of mastery because they look too simple.
Peter Legge, CSP, HoF, CPAE

How does one become a master?

No one becomes a master, although we might strive toward that. In a Zen way, we never arrive at the goal. The feeling that we have arrived leads to complacency. If we are consistently working toward the goals that line up with our values despite any frustrations, then we are definitely working toward mastery. But we don’t become masters. Rather, we are trying to improve in mastery, striving for the next level.
Jeff Mowatt

Build on your passion or strength; understand your own innate strengths. That is a good start. Study books or watch others in the field. Practise. Include good feedback loops in the forms of mentors, coaches, self-observation, audiences and/or customers.
Jim Clemmer

Be in the presence of masters. Watch others. Practise, practise, practise.
Linda Tarrant

You have to recognize what mastery is for you. Next, research those that you believe have reached mastery and then use them as your mentors. Have a real passion for continuous improvement. Attitude is the fuel and the motor. If there is light in your eyes and a bit of coal in the furnace, there is nothing you cannot accomplish.
Larry Pearson

Every time we speak, we need to believe, mentally and emotionally, that we will change the world with that speech. Maybe we won’t, but if we believe we can, imagine the energy we will bring to the platform.
Peter Legge

Work hard, take risks and be open to people. Masters want to learn more. The game is to really connect with people. Search your soul. Be congruent with what you were born to do. When your true purpose lines up with what you are doing, the universe will acknowledge that you are doing what you were destined for and reward you. However, I worry that some might think there is a formula. There are pieces, but you can’t scheme to do it. It has to be part of who you are.
Ian Percy

What was common among these masters?

They wanted their answers to benefit others. They were all committed to continuous self-improvement. They were working toward their next challenge to elevate their level of mastery. They fully understood the relationship between mastery of the craft and that of the business, although they approached that in different ways. Each conveyed the simple conviction that they are doing what they were meant to do.

Enjoy reading the blog and Have a nice weekend….

Up to speed Leadership

You will recall that I did mention in my previous blog The Three legs of Persuasion the wonderful works and writings of Chris Widener. Today I just finished reading his e-book “Up to speed Leadership. 52 Lessons and Actions to Get You Up to Speed and Make You an Extraordinary Leader”. Easy reading as many e books can be, of only 100 pages; this book focuses on the essence of the subject and gives very practical, hands on advices and action points. I would consider the book more as a work book. It took me hardly more than one hour to read through the book. I love these types of books: to the point and a minimum of blablabla and fillers. Then it is then up to you to note, reflect and action on the points raised.One of my teachers, my physics teacher, a jesuit seminarist, Bro. Thomas, with a wierd indian accent, from my days in Form I (1958) use to sound in my ear drums: Hindsight reflexion is the (v)Way to (v)Wisdom.

More over it is possible to obtain a copy of the e-book free of charge!

An extract of 2 chapters might well excite and motivate you to get your copy:

1. Establish Your Goals

The key to any achievement is goal setting. You have to know what it

is that you want and how soon you want to have it. Whether you want to

save a certain amount of money, lose a certain amount of weight, or yes,

even become a certain kind of leader.

Let’s face it, “I want to become a better leader,” is relatively

ambiguous, isn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to become a better leader? If you

were to ask almost anyone whether or not they would like to become a better

leader and have more influence on those around them, they would almost all

say, “Yes!”

The question is: What does that mean in actuality? What does a

“better leader” look like?

Action Point: Spend some time answering for yourself the following

questions, then setting goals according to your answers:

Q. What does becoming a better leader look like to me?

Q. In what specific ways do I want to grow as a leader?

Q. What specific areas do I need to grow in?

Q. How much time am I willing to put in each day or week to grow in

my leadership?

Q. What resources do I need to take advantage of in order to increase

my leadership skills?

Q. What specific things can I do today and this week to begin my

leadership growth process?

Q. What time frames am I looking at when I think of becoming a

better leader?

Q. What people would I like to spend more time with who would

challenge me to grow as a leader?

10. Skills – Part IV – Communication: Writing

If you are going to lead you are going to have to write. Only when you

get to be the CEO of a huge company can you even begin to think about

pushing that off onto someone else and even then you would be wise to keep

writing yourself!

So how can you use writing to increase your influence? Here are some


Become a good writer. There are lots of ways to do this, but the top ways

are to write often, get feedback through a class or writers club, and to write

in various venues.

Write often. Write often so that the law of repetition takes over and people

begin to get the message. This doesn’t mean the same thing every time. You

have to change it up a bit or people will just stop reading.

Let your writing support what you are saying. If you are communicating

effectively through speaking, then your writing becomes something that

supports what you are saying. It says it in a different way, it says it at a

different time, and it says it through a different venue. All of this will help

you get the message across and support your vision.

Write through different venues. Write a book. Write a newsletter. Write an

article. Write a memo. Write an email. Write a PowerPoint presentation.

Send them at various times.

Write the same message using different words. Try writing a sentence out

and then rewriting it in three different ways changing the words and

structure. You have to change it up or they will stop listening.

Write using stories and examples. This was one of the best lessons I

learned as a leader and as a professional speaker. People like stories and

examples. I am more of a facts and figures guy, but stories and examples

move people!

Action Point: Sit down and write as soon as you can. Try to write the same

thing in three different ways. Try to write it for three different venues. Try to

use a story or example for each one.

Enjoy!The content which is not mine but Chris Widener’s!to whom I am very grateful.

Now you understand the reason of my blog writing. The more, I write, the better I shall become! Wishful thinking may be! Feedbacks from others could possibly enhance my writing skills,provided I use the feedbacks and comments to hone my writing. Dear readers, I thus invite you to comment on my blogs not only on the content but also on the style. Hopefully I shall improve:Thank you.

Ten Practices for Making Innovation

After Lean Management which is a “Toyota” much acclaimed management system to be model from for our busineeses, I take much pleasure in sharing the practices of Toyota in making Innovation happen.

Mathew E. May showcases the following Ten Practices that Toyota has adopted on its core principles towards making Innovation happen:

1. Let Learning Lead
“Learning and innovation go hand in hand, but learning comes first.” Education and Learning can drive substantial innovation.

2. Learn to See
“Elegant solutions often come from customers — get out more and live in their world.” The key is to unearth the latent needs of the customers, and perceive the emerging needs.

3. Design for Today
“Focus on clear and present needs, or your great ideas remain just that.” Innovation that drives business in today’s market is likely to get funded and succeed.

4. Think in Pictures
“Make your intentions visual — you’ll surprise yourself with the image.” In Six ways to find innovation, we talked about the need for visual imagery.

5. Capture the Intangible
“The most compelling solutions are often perceptual and emotional.” This is where the product manager needs intuition and the ability to read their customers’ minds.

6. Leverage the Limits
“Restraining forces rule — resource constraints can spur ingenuity.” It is critical to know what you can deliver, how you can deliver and by when.

7. Master the Tension
“Breakthrough thinking demands something to break through.” In Failures and Stumbles driving innovation, we talked about the five takeaways stimulating innovation. Accept that mistakes will be made.

8. Run the Numbers
“Think for yourself — temper instinct with insight, focus on facts, and do the math.” A sound technical analysis is critical before you begin a new product innovation. This should take into account such factors as risks, probabilities of success, and lessons learned from past projects.

9. Make Kaizen Mandatory
“Pursuing perfection requires great discipline — create a standard, follow it, and find a better way.” A process is a must have. Think Six Sigma. Think Rigor at Intuit.

10. Keep It Lean
“Complexity kills — scale it back, make it simple, and let it flow.” Innovation happens when you can simplify the intended application and make it so easy-to-use that it becomes a no-brainer.


Toyota has become the dominant car maker today based on large part due to the Innovation Factory. A Factory based on a foundation of creating elegant solutions through three guiding principles, avoiding three “temptations” and driving ten production practices.

“Toyota is becoming a double threat: the world’s finest manufacturer and a truly great innovator . . . that formula, a combination of production prowess and technical innovation, is an unbeatable recipe for success.”

* Fortune, February 2006


Matthew E. May: “The Elegant Solution: Toyota’s Formula for Mastering Innovation”. Free Press. 2006.


You may be wondering who was Shen Kuo (1031-1095)? Shen Kua as some of the western authors also called him, was a mathematical, scientist, diplomat,astronomer, engineer, inventor a meteorologist, of the like and attributes given to past western geniuses as Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446). Most importantly, the world attributed the discovery of the difference between true north and the magnetic north to the genius Shen Kuo. He had in his time, a thousand years ago, worked out the mathematical difference with such precision that made navigation then,much more reliable.

Today I would like to share with you an extract of a paper presented, by a very dear friend of mine Dr, Leo and his son, both of them, university academics, at an international HR forum some years ago.

I remembered that I had this document for a while and was reminded of it when, to my great joy I received last week, from the author, the latest publication of Dr.Leo Ann Mean entitled “On Creat!vity Awakening the creative Mind”. I encourage you to get hold of his book to read and I am most grateful to him Dr. Leo.”Brain power is the engine that drives today’s economies” he states in his book.

I quote below the said extract on Shen Kuo for your enjoyment:

A number of common themes may be gleaned from the life and career of Shen Kuo. Researchers such as Sivin and Forage have dealt with factors such as the social, political, intellectual, and even spiritual climate as a means to assist in explaining the phenomenal life he has lead. This paper proposes to deal with the personal attributes of the man himself as a basis for his creativity and achievement. Shen Kuo was a creative individual not primarily due to the circumstances in which he existed but rather due to particular attributes that we too can learn to emulate in the present age.

The eight lessons on improving creativity are not listed in order of importance, as all of them operate concurrently and work together synergistically. From Shen Kuo we may learn lessons on Curiosity, Experience, Perception, Openness, Balance, Cultivation, Fortune and Unity. These lessons are as relevant today as they were during the time of Shen Kuo.

1. Lesson On Curiosity

The first and foremost lesson, a key component to developing creativity, is the trait of curiosity. Shen Kuo had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Not only did he traverse his quest for knowledge with a keen desire for more, he also armed himself with the habit of taking notes. It was noted by one researcher that wherever Shen Kuo went, he noted down everything of scientific or technical interest (Ronan, 1978). This habit never left him, as he published various works throughout his lifetime, and his greatest, The Brush Talks From The Dream Creek, was written in his twilight years based on the personal notes and jottings he compiled.

In his curiosity, Shen Kuo was unfettered with intellectual or social tradition. He did not place restrictions on his thinking and reasoning. This was very beneficial, as he found himself able to combine all sorts of insights and understanding, coming up with new ideas and perspectives. Often these innovations were not only beneficial to himself, they were also beneficial to society as he had made it a habit to share his knowledge, especially by way of publishing.

In his wisdom, Shen Kuo realised that alone he could not possibly hope to satisfactorily plumb the depths of knowledge so he always tried to learn from others. Mote (1999) noted that throughout his active life, Shen Kuo was always surrounded by individuals from all walks of life, elite and commoner, with whom he explored all avenues of knowledge.

2. Lesson On Experience

Shen Kuo’s works were markedly different from other literature published during the Song Dynasty. His was remarkably fresh and contemporary. According to Sivin (1995), Shen Kuo’s most characteristic contribution was his emphasis on his own experience. Though he did give credit where it was due and made references to other great works, Shen Kuo’s writings were predominantly based on his own observations, intuition and reasoning. He placed a great premium on discovering facts for himself, witnessing things with his own eyes and reasoning out explanations in his own mind. Only after careful investigation and consideration against his own high standards did he take steps in sharing the knowledge in his publications.

Combined with the necessity of personal experience, is the ability to demonstrate his reasoning and findings. He had a reputation for delivering comprehensive explanations. Whether showcasing his medical methodologies as a boy in 1048, conducting presentations of barrage technology in 1061, or demonstrating the superiority of his newly designed astronomical instruments to the emperor and his host of ministers in 1074, the man was always prepared and thoroughly convincing.

His many breakthroughs in understanding were largely due to his brilliance and curiosity but like a large proportion of historical innovations, they frequently came from juxtaposing insights that did not conventionally fit together. Shen Kuo was able to visualise concepts and often toyed with a multitude of ideas at once. An example of this was his use of physical laws, geographical, chemical and geological knowledge to innovatively dredge the Pien Canal in 1072. Sivin (1995) thought that Shen Kuo was able to do combine multiple concepts from various fields of knowledge due to his remarkable breadth of experience.

3. Lesson On Perception

Shen Kuo was highly appreciative of his senses. Combined with his experience in various matters, he not only trusted his own reasoning and deduction, he was also in tune with the various senses he utilised in his perceptions of the world around him. He thought that his sight, smell, hearing, tasting and touch could be constantly improved and refined to enliven his everyday experiences. Many moments of contemplation would be spent thinking, processing all the sensations his perceptions accorded him.

Shen Kuo was always on the lookout for ways to improve himself, honing not only his mental capabilities but his sensing faculties as well. His involvement in music was an example of this. As Pian (1967) noted, Shen Kuo immersed himself in music such that he wrote much about it, from the origins of many popular pieces of music, playing various musical instruments, singing and writing music, to the technical aspects of instrumental design, audio mechanics and pitch regulation. Further evidence of his desire to improve his senses would be his practise of the Taoist discipline of breath control. He found it highly satisfying in terms of improving his appreciation of the everyday processes of life.

Needham was mentioned by Ronan (1978) that Shen Kuo’s descriptions showed he was a very fine observer. Mote (1999) found that Shen Kuo was very perceptive of natural phenomena. The refinement of his senses to hone his perception had much to do with the way he conducted his daily life. He was never inactive all throughout his lifetime, whether in body or mind.

4. Lesson On Openness

Openness refers to Shen Kuo’s willingness to be open to the discoveries unleashed by his tremendous curiosity, as well as the acceptance of ambiguity and the unknown which his curiosity inevitably led to. Despite the unknowable nature of some of his ponderings, such as the supernatural, Shen Kuo thrived in the face of it all. Given the scientific mind of the man, just looking broadly at Shen Kuo’s life it would seem strange that he was so open to that which logic and science would deny. However, this was a hallmark of his genius, as his openness was an integral support to his great curiosity.

There would be times that Shen Kuo made a discovery or noted something of interest, that seemed a paradox or a mystery. He noted his thoughts and observations of the matter, and pondered upon them, yet did not deny or cast them aside as foolishness. He did not view the ambiguities and paradoxes of his understanding as problematic. As Sivin (1995) noted he did not view his enthusiasms with fate and divination as in conflict with his scientific knowledge. Looking through the two lenses of openness and curiosity however, it comes as no surprise. Shen Kuo believed that being able to thrive in the midst of ambiguity and uncertainty was very important, especially with regard to mental undertakings.

5. Lesson On Balance

Nobel prize-winning researcher Roger Sperry popularised the terms left-brained and right-brained with his discovery that the left hemisphere of the cerebral cortex processes logical, analytical thinking while the right hemisphere processes imaginative, creative thinking. Shen Kuo excelled in both, being a whole-brained thinker not only famous for his left-brained achievements in the sciences but also his right-brained achievements in the arts. In actuality he combined both, as exemplified by his astronomical treatises that combined intricate mathematics and exceptionally imaginative visualisation. Shen Kuo balanced science and art, logic and imagination.

In the sciences and the arts, Shen Kuo excelled in his mastery of both, not only gaining recognition for his treatises on scientific topics such as mathematics, physics and biology, but also for his treatises on the arts such as calligraphy, music and poetry. His Brush Talks illustrates this, as it features an abundance of both scientific as well as artistic information.,

Logic and imagination were equally important to Shen Kuo, as most of his work featured both intertwined. They can also be seen separately with his logically oriented writings in the sciences and his imaginatively oriented writings in the arts. While his writings showed an keen sense of logic, they also portrayed an extraordinary imagination.

6. Lesson On Cultivation

Cultivation in this lesson refers to the idea of continuous improvement, the nurturing of all positive aspects of life. Shen Kuo was a cultivated man, not just in taste and manners, but in his habits of constantly improving himself. Ever since childhood, Shen Kuo lived the belief that cultivation, the constant improvement of the positive aspects of his life, was not only possible but a necessity for living life to the full.

A number of examples from his life illustrate Shen Kuo’s adherence to his habit of cultivation. In terms of his mental faculties the man never ended his education. He believed that the intellect was infinite and therefore infinitely able to be improved. Shen Kuo cultivated his physical attributes in various ways all his life, from military training and techniques to breath control and meditation. He cultivated his senses by practising calligraphy, painting, music, poetry and taking time out in the quiet serenity of China’s beautiful and varied environment. Shen Kuo cultivated the social aspects of his life by mixing with as many people as possible. Even in religious beliefs, Shen Kuo cultivated the various aspects of religion available to him at the time, be it Confucianism, Taoism, or Buddhism.

Shen Kuo’s cultivation was a very important part of his life and career, as in his undertakings Forage (1991) noted that Shen Kuo attended to his work tirelessly. No doubt the reason he was able to do such a thing was the result of the constant improvements he had made throughout his lifetime in helping sustain his thoughtful yet busy lifestyle.

7. Lesson On Fortune

Fortune in this lesson relates to the quality of maximising available opportunities. Shen Kuo knew how to recognise the available opportunities and make full use of the situations at hand. As Sivin (1995) noted, Shen Kuo had to rely on his striving and the full use of his talents, unlike his colleagues who came from the ancient great clans and could afford a life of leisure and luxury. Shen Kuo’s family was representative of a new class of small land-owning families from southeast China with several members of his family occupying important positions in government.

Shen Kuo travelled with his father to successive official posts in various parts of China. Thus as Sivin (1995) noted, from an early age he was exposed to the geographical diversity of China in addition to the broad range of technical and managerial problems in public works, finance, agriculture and waterway maintenance. Forage (1991) added that Shen Kuo may have also been influenced by the variety of new and cosmopolitan ideas in the international harbours such as Quanzhou. Shen Kuo also took the opportunity to study the military writings of his maternal uncle Xu Dong (976-1015), the author of the Huqian Jing. Thus even as a young lad, he made full use of the opportunities available to him. The rest of his life featured similarly wise choices of making his own fortune by grasping the threads of available opportunities.

In a later stage of his career, when Shen Kuo was appointed to the imperial library, he helped himself to the vast resources of knowledge in one of the largest libraries of all time (Forage,1991). A lifetime of records and evaluations, juxtaposed with ideas across the fields of knowledge and experience resulted in Shen Kuo’s many innovations and documented discoveries.

8. Lesson On Unity

In this eighth lesson of creativity, unity refers to the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. It is thinking in terms of the systems within systems encompassing every facet of existence. Shen Kuo thought this way and indeed thrived on not only the quest for understanding, but also knowing how everything was connected. He knew that mankind was not the only thing that mattered in the universe and that there was much more to the existential equation. Forage (1991) noted that Shen Kuo, being a realist believed that man is an active agent who can bring about positive change through investigation or intuition.

Shen Kuo believed in a universal system of knowledge which united intellection, imagination and intuition (Sivin, 1995). Forage (1991) adds that to Shen Kuo, the unity of experience did not require the discrete categorisation of intellectual activity. He did not confuse introspection and observation, drew no lines between them and did not even need to compare the importance of those two ways of knowing.

Thinking in terms of unity helped unleash his creative potential by providing a viable mental map for concepts across the fields of Shen Kuo’s understanding about various areas of knowledge. Acknowledging the interconnectedness of every phenomenon meant the validation of that observation as an intellectual construct able to be mentally manipulated and pondered upon in relation to other constructs. This juxtaposition was a precursor for historical innovations, of which Shen Kuo has been accredited many.


How can the lessons be applied in the world of business today? The rest of this paper attempts to sum up the findings obtained from studying the life and career of Shen Kuo by summarizing and indicating the relevance of each of the eight creative lessons for Chinese entrepreneurship towards global growth and prosperity.

1. Curiosity

The key point of the Curiosity lesson is to never stop wondering and asking “why?”. To assist in the journey of questioning, it is worth developing the habit of taking notes as a practical means of tracking thoughts and fleshing out details. In taking mental flights of fancy, past mental chains of tradition or taboo may be broken especially if they prevent progress. Today’s managers and leaders need to share the journey of curiosity to increase the potential for growth and discovery. Curiosity opens more doors to better management skills and practices.

2. Experience

The lesson on Experience encompasses the measures of testing knowledge through experience, being able to demonstrate understandings, combining insights across disciplines under the unity of experience, and finally utilising the experience of others in providing unique insights. Present day managers and leaders have an advantage here as they have a wealth of experience accumulated over the years by their predecessors as well as a rich pool of human capital to depend on. The desire to gather more experience in various fields must be pursued.

3. Perception

Perception involves the use the senses of sight, smell, hearing, tasting and touch. These senses assist in enlivening everyday experiences and inspiring creativity thus the lessons here would be to refine the senses, look deeper – not being satisfied with an object’s face value, and finally to gain multiple perspectives in perception. Through a continued process of self development, managers and leaders will be able to heighten their senses and become even better in managing and growing their business enterprises, public institutions or professional practices.

4. Openness

Openness refers to a willingness to be exposed to the unknown and being able to operate amidst change and uncertainty. The lesson involves the embracing of ambiguity, being open to possibilities and developing confusion endurance to increase the level of creativity. This lesson is crucial in the context of a fast changing world. Managers and leaders of today, more than at any other time, have to have an open mind, to take risk and to grab opportunities when they arise. This is especially true in an age that is undergoing rapid political, economic, social and technological changes.

5. Balance

Balance is about the idea of pursuing a harmonious arrangement of life elements. It entails obtaining a broad holistic education and learning and not succumbing to self-imposed restrictions; pursuing whole-brained thinking while combining logic and imagination, and finally to practice moderation and maintaining psychophysical equilibrium. Balance is essential for a manager or leader to survive or thrive in a world that is full of uncertainties and changing constantly. Managers and leaders cannot be efficient and effective unless they have balance in their professional and personal lives.

6. Cultivation

Cultivation speaks of continuous improvement and the nurturing of life’s positive aspects. The lesson involves taking time and effort for personal development, making ample preparations for the rigours of everyday living and lastly to banish the mental limitations of performance and enhancement. Captains of industry and managers need to constantly prepare themselves to compete in the era of the K-economy by consciously cultivating themselves to be better entrepreneurs and leaders.

7. Fortune

Fortune pertains to the quality of maximising opportunities. This lesson entails the looking out for opportunities, maximising time, giving credit where it is due (integrity counts) and respecting achievement. In the context of business in the third millennium this lesson is vital for there are ample oportunities that will come the way of Chinese entrepreneurs in the global economy. Creative managers and leaders will grab the opportunities arising from the globalization and liberalization of world trade.

8. Unity

The final lesson, on Unity, refers to the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. It involves the measures of thinking big-picture in observing systems within systems, understanding that everything has its place, and finally realising that something must first be recognised for it to be utilised. Ultimately it is unity that brings everything together for a prosperous and successful worldwide human enterprise combining the commercial with the political, social and cultural aspects of mankind. Today’s managers and leaders need to be fully aware of the total environment in which they operate.


The eight lessons are not in order of priority or importance. They work together and simultaneously, as in the life of Shen Kuo. These lessons are workable by anyone desiring to emulate the creativity, energy and zest for life that the man possessed and displayed. Shen Kuo was a universal genius, an able statesman and an accomplished human being. Managers and leaders all over the world today can learn a great deal to enhance their performance by learning the lessons from China’s eminent all-rounder who lived a millennium ago.

The Gift of the Sun

On the 11th October, The Egyptian tourism authorities revealed its new advertising and publicity campaign titled “The Gift of the Sun”. Whilst it is true that RA signifies the Sun god which according to E. A. Wallis Budge was the One god of Egyptian Monotheism, of which all other gods and goddesses were aspects, manifestations, phases, or forms of the god.

The Sun is our main source of light and energy for which we, in Mauritius are especially blessed being in the tropics. We have longer or at least more even daily lighting throughout the year. As a renewable source of free energy, I wonder what stop us from maximizing on the technologies available to benefit fully of God given free energy. Is it lack of imagination? Is it lack of foresight, will power and laziness from us and our leaders? I read an article on Malta where it was stated that over 60% of household are equipped with solar panels for their hot water needs. In Reunion Island, where I visited a few months ago, subsidies and incentives are provided to owners of new houses equipped with solar panels.

On the 19th October the BBC reported that a Swiss is taking the challenge to cross the Atlantic in a catamaran powered only by Solar energy. I would imagine that most of our Catamarans used to cruise our Tourists around our island could be solar powered. Less dependency on fossil fuels and above all much less pollution would be achieved.

I mentioned earlier, that experiments and tests in Colorado US and many other places are being carried out to sell back to the power generating supplier the excess energy generated by the private home. The authorities, political leaders we pray, must have the foresight, vision, guts and will to drive these changes. Could Mauritius be chosen as a scientific pilot site scaled to a village or town?

Whilst, we always hear on foreign radios or Medias the need to look into renewable form of energy, it would seem that in our country we are timid about it. I would see a newspaper dedicating at fixed interval, say weekly, and publishing an update of the technologies available on renewable energy. I personally read bogs on the subject and find it most interesting.

We could declare that use of fossil energy is “MUDA” for the country and wage a battle to the reduction of its use. Meanwhile I rejoice as the theme of the Egyptian Tourism authority The Gift of the Sun has aroused a renewed interest in “my green bias” for the future of our world.

Entrepreneurs of Mauritius , this may be an area to investigate and to turn into a lucrative business project.

Lean Management

Through a common friend, I got introduced to Andrew Cheah a “Lean Management” specialist who is presently in the country, sharing his skills and helping Mauritian enterprises to improve their productivity. His tour of Mauritius is under the aegis of Enterprise Mauritius.

As it was last Friday, the eve of Diwali, my friend very appropriately, hosted the meeting at Indra the Indian restaurant where we had a delicious dinner. The Indian music and the north Indian cuisine, though not so lean created the décor for discovery of Andrew Cheah’s knowledge and competences.I thus was enlightened on Diwali

I found common grounds with his expertise and the experiences. It reminded me of the time, I went through in 1997 and there after when I was given the task to redress ailing companies. In Socal, the then Renault car agency and Sunquick bottling plant, my team applied Gemba Kaizen systems to streamline our processes and to bring in higher productivity and performance. As far as I can recall, our net productivity gain in the first month after the Gemba kaizen’s initial implementation, was calculated to be 20%. Stunning isn’t it? Gemba Kaizen is the essence of lean manufacturing, and some experts name the Japanese based systems as the TPS( Toyota Production System).

You may be interested to read the 14 management principles detailed by Jeffrey K Liker in his book entitled “The Toyota way.” I am willing to share the documents I have on the subject,

The success formula in any business or enterprise is conceptually simple: increase your output and reduce the cost of your input cut all wastes. Easily said isn’t it? The devil is not in the “What”, it is in the “How”. Execution is the key. Lean Management, TPS, Gemba Kaizen, Six Sigma, and others are system tools that give the methods. Lean Management can be and should be applied through out what we do. It then becomes a habit, a way of life,

You will recall under the impulse of the NPCC which was then lead by Nikhil Treebhoohun, a vast popular campaign was launched to cut waste in everything that we do. “Muda” was used as the buzz word. It would seem that we as a nation have lost the benefit of this movement because after the spark there has been no sustained action. The campaign was short lived because it did not become a way of life of Mauritians. Just like to live in a clean environment has become a way of life for the Singaporeans. I can tell you on my ever first visit to Singapore, way back in 1967, I can vouch that Singapore was a filthy, smelly, dirty seaport infested with flies and mosquitoes. No focus, no persistence, no follow through, equal no success!

We discuss at length with Andrew, precisely on the sustainability of the “Lean Management” which integrates a follow through and ensure that the enterprise continuously remain Lean. “KAIZEN” is the magic word.

Thanks Emmauel for the introduction of Andrew.


La lecture de ce dimanche à la messe, m’a donné ce matin, une nouvelle dimension et une réflexion approfondie du mois de Ramadan que nos frères musulmans ont vécus ce mois passé. Pourquoi se sont ils privés de nourriture et de boisson pour un mois ? Pourquoi faire pénitence et pourquoi cette pratique de privation qu’ont subi également nos frères hindous pour la fête de Diwali ?

Is 53,10-11.

Broyé par la souffrance, il a plu au Seigneur. Mais, s’il fait de sa vie un sacrifice d’expiation, il verra sa descendance, il prolongera ses jours : par lui s’accomplira la volonté du Seigneur.

A cause de ses souffrances, il verra la lumière, il sera comblé. Parce qu’il a connu la souffrance, le juste, mon serviteur, justifiera les multitudes, il se chargera de leurs péchés.

De même que vous ne pouvez pas imaginer la joie et le bonheur que vous, bien portants, avez dans l’utilisation de votre main droite ? J’ai perdu pour l’instant cette faculté, momentanément, je l’espère. Je vous partage la joie et satisfaction, dans me rêves pour l’instant, de frapper avec force une balle de tennis de ma raquette, et de la placer à la ligne, comme je le faisais autrefois.

Ainsi, la mortification volontaire et la privation nous font réaliser que nous prenons comme normales et acquises trop de choses. Ce n’est que dans la disette ou le manque que le bonheur absent de l’abondance prend sa plus grande valeur d’appréciation.

Pensez vous à l’instant que vous n’avez pas d’air ou d’oxygène ? Jamais ! Vous n’appréciez donc pas votre bonheur de respirer les poumons pleins et d’être en bonne santé.

Ainsi la pratique de la mortification deviendrait –t- il une voie vers une plus grande sagesse ou vers la sanctification ?

Il me semble que nous sommes dans l’ère du « plaisir instantané avant tout, effort après » et que « jouir du fruit subséquent des efforts fournis » soit rétrograde. « Enjoy now pay later ! » c’est le motto du jour ! « Delayed Gratification » dirait Scott Peck dans son livre « The Road Less Travelled »

Bonne et sainte fête à nos frères musulmans qui pratiquent cet esprit de mortification durant le Ramadan et que la fête EID devienne le fruit de leur efforts. EID message d amour et de paix.« Dieu est Amour »,les musulmans « accordent beaucoup d’importance et d’espace à l’amour, à la compassion et à la solidarité », mais que « l’amour, pour être crédible, doit être effectif », notamment dans le « service de tous dans la vie de tous les jours » et « au service de la recherche de solutions justes et pacifiques aux graves problèmes qui assaillent notre monde ». EID MUBARAK !

Happy Diwali

Living in our dear multi-cultural island, I feel compel to wish to my blog readers, especially those to whom this auspicious day is meaningful a Happy Divali. “The celebration of the victory of light over darkness” has always been the general theme of Diwali, I have always been taught. As I understood, unlike other nations in India, the people make no distinction between a religious celebration and a cultural feast.

To enrich my cultural knowledge, I have ever since my youth always sought to understand the celebrations of my fellow Mauritians. Today, is an opportunity to deepen our understanding of meaning Diwali or Deepavali as expressed by Indians of southern states, Tamil Nadu and others.

“The Festival signifies the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, justice over injustice and intelligence over ignorance. The goddess worshipped at Divali is Mother Lakshmi or Lakshmi Mata. Lakshmi Mata is the goddess of light, wealth and beauty and is also associated with prosperity, luck, riches, abundance, financial well being, and generosity.”

A Toronto based Hindu religious personality Shri Gyan Rajhans gives his 10 reasons for celebrating Diwali:

The Festival of Lights is for All

Why do we celebrate Diwali? It’s not just the festive mood in the air that makes you happy, or just that it’s a good time to enjoy before the advent of winter. There are 10 mythical and historical reasons why Diwali is a great time to celebrate. And there are good reasons not just for Hindus but also for all others to celebrate this great Festival of Lights.

1.Goddess Lakshmi’s Birthday: The Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi incarnated on the new moon day (amaavasyaa) of the Kartik month during the churning of the ocean (samudra-manthan), hence the association of Diwali with Lakshmi.

2. Vishnu Rescued Lakshmi: On this very day (Diwali day), Lord Vishnu in his fifth incarnation as Vaman-avtaara rescued Lakshmi from the prison of King Bali and this is another reason of worshipping Ma Larkshmi on Diwali.

3. Krishna Killed Narakaasur: On the day preceding Diwali, Lord Krishna killed the demon king Narakaasur and rescued 16,000 women from his captivity. The celebration of this freedom went on for two days including the Diwali day as a victory festival.

4. The Return of the Pandavas: According to the great epic ‘Mahabharata’, it was ‘Kartik Amavashya’ when the Pandavas appeared from their 12 years of banishment as a result of their defeat in the hands of the Kauravas at the game of dice (gambling). The subjects who loved the Pandavas celebrated the day by lighting the earthen lamps.

5. The Victory of Rama: According to the epic ‘Ramayana’, it was the new moon day of Kartik when Lord Ram, Ma Sita and Lakshman returned to Ayodhya after vanquishing Ravana and conquering Lanka. The citizens of Ayodhya decorated the entire city with the earthen lamps and illuminated it like never before.

6. Coronation of Vikramaditya: One of the greatest Hindu King Vikramaditya was coroneted on the Diwali day, hence Diwali became a historical event as well.

7. Special Day for the Arya Samaj: It was the new moon day of Kartik (Diwali day) when Maharshi Dayananda, one of the greatest reformers of Hinduism and the founder of Arya Samaj attained his nirvana.

8. Special Day for the Jains: Mahavir Tirthankar, considered to be the founder of modern Jainism also attained his nirvana on Diwali day.

9. Special Day for the Sikhs: The third Sikh Guru Amar Das institutionalized Diwali as a Red-Letter Day when all Sikhs would gather to receive the Gurus blessings. In 1577, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar was laid on Diwali. In 1619, the sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind, who was held by the Mughal Emperor Jahengir, was released from the Gwalior fort along with 52 kings.

10. The Pope’s Diwali Speech: In 1999, Pope John Paul II performed a special Eucharist in an Indian church where the altar was decorated with Diwali lamps, the Pope had a ‘tilak’ marked on his forehead and his speech was bristled with references to the festival of light.

What I found most interesting was his 10th reason which gives this day its universal peace dimension.The above message seems also to calls for the unity of the different factions of Hinduism: AryaSamajist, Jainism and Sikhs.

I wish that Diwali be a day where all Mauritians would look up to and work towards our common heritage, our common goals and our need for unity.A day from when on, we take the resolution to stop our differences from dividing us. A day, when we become conscious that our differences enrich our Mauritian Nation and that because we are different, together we can do far better. Diwali, the festival day of Synergy over Division!

How to Derive a Well-Formed Outcome

  1. What do I want?

Ask this question about the context you are considering. State what you want in positive terms, ie what do you want, and what do you want it to do? Where do you want it? When do you want it? Eg ‘I want to be, do or have X’. If the answer forms as ‘I do not want…’ then ask, ‘What do I want instead of …’.

  1. Is it achievable?

Is it possible for a human being to achieve the outcome? If it has been done by someone, then in theory it can be done by you, too. If you are the first, find out if it is possible.

  1. What will I accept as evidence that I have achieved my outcome?

What evidence will you accept that lets you know when you have the outcome? Ensure that your evidence criteria are described in sensory based terms ie: That which you can see, hear and/or touch that proves to you and/or third parties that you have done what you set out to do.

  1. Is achieving this outcome within my control?

Is it under your control, ie can you, personally do, authorise or arrange it? Anything outside your control is not ‘well formed’. Instructing your broker is within your control. So is buying in expertise. Asking your employer for time off is not. The time off will only become well formed if it is granted.

  1. Are the costs and consequences of obtaining this outcome acceptable?

Ensure that the outcome is worth the time, outlay and effort involved in achieving it, and that impact on third parties or the environment is accounted for.

  1. Do I have all the resources I need to achieve my outcome?

Do you have or can you obtain all the resources, both tangible and intangible that you need to achieve your outcome? Resources include knowledge, beliefs, objects, premises, people, money, time.

  1. If I could have it now, would I take it?

Are all costs and consequences of achieving your outcome, including the time involved, acceptable to you and anyone else affected by it? This is known as ecology. Consider the costs, consequences, environmental and third party impact of having the outcome.

This is an NLP version of SMART goals.You will recall on my earlier blog Practice Practice Practice where I write on goal setting.