Entries from August 2007 ↓

Tacit Knowledge & Knowledge overflow

Dr Karen Stephenson has been capturing my reading attention for the last 2days. Her anthropology back ground tints her understanding of human networks and render her work very interesting. She suggests ways of using human networks to increase our power of leadership and to leverage our man management skills. You can understand how excited I could be, as these are precisely themes of my prime interests.

Knowledge and understanding it from her point of view is the starting point. From the documents, I have come across the term “tacit Knowledge” which she defines very explicitly, also rank very highly in my need to understand and to master. I shall summarize daily, my understanding for her papers as I note them for my memory’s sake.

In a nutshell, this is what I have retained today from her:

Knowledge economy, knowledge organization, knowledge networks, knowledge by any other name I call a fad. After listening to knowledge gurus spout less and less about knowledge, I have come to the conclusion, that we are going ‘knowhere’ with knowledge. Too much knowledge without integration tears us apart. The wisdom to integrate knowledge by assembling key people and skills remains the ancient art.

Experience has long been considered the best teacher of knowledge. Since we cannot experience everything, other people’s experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge. ‘I store my knowledge in my friends’ is an axiom for collecting knowledge through collecting people. ‘A friend of a friend is a friend’ or ‘an enemy of a friend is an enemy’ are two more axioms for knowledge transfer through people via their entrusted relationships.

We can summon knowledge from ourselves, but how do we elicit knowledge on demand or ‘just in time’ from others? This becomes salient in knowledge driven organizations where critical knowledge is not only stored in computers, database, facilities, files, etc. but in people. A major obstacle for organizations is that of linking the knowledge stored in people to that in organizational processes. Why? Process knowledge can be transferred on demand and does not necessarily depend on the presence or absence of people. Thus the employee is free to take that needed vacation and the organization is able to go about its business. This knowledge transfer is not well understood for tacit knowledge, the subject of our discussion here.

Tacit Knowledge

When you teach a child to ride a bicycle, there are certain inexorable truths that you convey about the skill, such as where to put your feet (on the pedals, not the handlebars), where to put your hands (on the handlebars, not the pedals) and where to sit. There is much more to riding a bicycle that cannot be adequately articulated – balance, control, the sensation of riding, etc.

The same could be said of alpine skiing. The basic premise of putting your feet in your boots, your boots on skis and pointing downhill is a fearsome scenario that would hardly suffice as advice for anyone learning how to ski. When you can’t define what you know, how do you teach it? I watched on a DVD with awe, the lessons given by Erik Decamp, on the transfer of knowledge in an alpinist context.

Not being able to define what you know usually comes from embodied experience – ‘felt knowledge’ – and is often called tacit knowledge. The adjectives ‘felt’ and ‘tacit’ are meant to convey the ineffable and unarticulated forms of knowledge which come from experience, such as learning to ski or cycle. As we experience life, we store our learning as tacit knowledge in memories and intuitions. What we don’t experience or learn, we can glean from others. Thus, people become knowledge storehouses from whom we can ‘indirectly’ learn, making them our surrogates for direct experience.

In rapid, radical change, this form of knowledge becomes a critical resource for innovation. We don’t realize what we know until the immediacy of the moment forces to the foreground knowledge we weren’t aware we had. If business could methodically and efficiently mine this type of knowledge from its people, then managers and executives could more strategically steer the evolution of innovation. Since business is only as good as its next new idea or suite of ideas, this know-how is essential in a knowledge economy.

Bouillon de Culture Mauricienne

‘Quand on est polyglotte, on a plus de chances d’être ouvert d’esprit’ écrit Chin Lee Choo Foo dans la presse québécoise.

Ainsi, avoir vécu dans ce bouillon de culture mauricienne, et de posséder plusieurs langues sont indéniablement des atouts qui trouvent des valeurs appréciées hors de notre île.

A lire dans la parution de La Presse du 26 aout 2007.

Karen Stephenson

I recently discovered the works of Karen Stephenson. She advocates that “Too much knowledge without integration tears us apart. The wisdom to integrate knowledge by assembling key people and skills remains the ancient art.”

It will take me sometime to digest what she teaches about knowledge and more importantly how to  make good use of knowledge which abounds today.


Karen Stephenson, Ph.D. is president of NetForm, Inc, recognized as one of the top 100 leading innovation companies by CIO in 2001. She is internationally recognized for her pioneering work in detecting, diagnosing and designing human networks to solve a variety of problems: (1) engineering tipping points in open markets and communities of practice (CoP), (2) remediating acquired organizational deficiencies within large-scale public and private organizations and, (3) developing novel techniques for building trust and collaboration among communities (interagency cooperation in the U.S. intelligence community and with NGOs and local governments in the United Kingdom).

She has been featured in the media and press, most notably, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The New Yorker, The Financial Times, The Guardian, Strategy+Business, CIO, Fast Company and Wired. She has taught at several universities including but not limited to the UCLA School of Management, MIT’s Sloan Management, Imperial’s School of Management and most recently at at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology at Harvard University, an M.A. in Anthropology at the University of Utah, and B.A. in Art & Chemistry at Austin College, TX.

Civil Disobedience

I read on the last edition of the Mauritius Times the action of the ‘Forum Citoyen’ led by Dick Ng Sui Wa. The first affirmation was:  “Effecting civil disobedience in the Gandhian manner cannot be illegal”. Without being legalistic, as I have no pretensions to be nor have I the  legal competence to do so, I am of humble opinion that civil disobedience can only be illegal else it will not be a civil disobedience.  

Have we reached in this case the limits of democracy? How do we get over the apparent tyrannical act of the lawful authority? Is there some legal or otherwise mechanism that would save us from this situation?

This situation has given me the opportunity to rethink of Civil Disobedience with its legal and morale aspects. In the world of today, at least in the western world, the education inculcated to our youth makes them more and more individualist freethinkers. This accrued importance of individual conscience could well be confronted to the majority rule causing more cases of civil disobedience. I wonder whether the relationship of individuals to authority is evolving in new forms that would require new understanding of society.  Is not the best authority being the authority one does not need to avail of? Is not the abusive use of authority  itself an act of violence? How can we be a ‘civil disobedient’ without causing violence to the other parties and ourselves?

An essay comparing Thoreau and Gandhi on the theme has retained my attention.

Civil Disobedience in Thoreau and Gandhi

Ashu Daftari*, Davis, USA

Henry David Thoreau’s classic essay, “Resistance to Civil Government” developed ideas that eventually became influential to thinkers and reformers of the twentieth century.  Thoreau’s tract not only serves as a social commentary on the governments’ support Of slavery and its participation in the Mexican War, but also as a treatise on the individuals’ relationship to government.  Much of Thoreau’s ideas are similar to the moral and political writings of Mohandas K. Gandhi.  Both writers advocated the superiority of the individual conscience and stressed the need for individuality.  Both writers not only conunented on the duty of the individual to lead a life of principle, but also argued for the right to resist an unjust authority.  However, it was Gandhi who adopted Thoreau’s ideas into a system that stressed political rebellion through individual self-suffering and bir non-violent means.

Throughout much of Thoreau’s essay, the idea of individual conscience accumulates into the centrepiece and foundation from which most of his ideas are built upon.  Thoreau often displays a distrust in the actions of a government based on majority rule.  Thoreau maintained that the majority have access to the most power “not because they are more likely to be in the right… but because they are physically the strongest”.  He further explains that government “in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice…… Essentially, the author’s inability to trust the actions of the majority rule further leads him to believe in conscientious superiority.  In the beginning of his treatise, he asks : “Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right or wrong, but conscience?”.  Thoreau, without leaving the question unanswered later remarks that ‘we should be men first, and subjects afterwards.  It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.  The only obligation which I have a right to assume, is to do at any time what I think right”.  From this point of view, Thoreau maintains that the individual conscience inherits a morally superior characteristic than the government of the majoritv.  Thus, Thoreau establishes his entire political philosophy on the idea that the conscience is ultimately the most trustworthy criterion of what is politically accurate.

The ultimate consequence of Thoreau’s belief of the superiority of the individual conscience is its assertion for radical individualism.  Thoreau maintains that the individual relying on his selfconscience, rather than the majority, will attain a better understanding of moral truths.  Thus, “any man more right than his neighbours, constitute a majority of one already.” Thoreau also proclaims that the individual living by conscience will not only understand moral truths, but will also attain the ability to lead a “life by principle.” For Thoreau, this form of existence is the most ideal state of living.  Furthermore, it becomes an important step in rebellion against the State.  He states that action from principle creates a strong impact in political rebellion because it “not only divides states and churches, it divides families; aye, it divides the individual, separating the diabolical in him from the divine.” In this passage, Thoreau implies that an individual must be free thinking in order to develop his own ideas and understand clearly the unjust practices of the State.  Action from principle, as Thoreau maintains allows the individual to understand that to ‘ commit actions, supposedly against the State, based on fundamental principles would have a stronger impact on the values of society than any other form of resistance.  He maintains that action from principle would force society, as well as the individual, to re-examine its values and compare them to the moral truths.  Thus, action from principle becomes a powerful force in the process of civil disobedience.

In the various writings of Mohandas K. Gandhi, the idea of the importance of the individual conscience and its influence on a life stemming from principle is often similar to the viewpoint of Thoreau.  Gandhi, also had a distrust for the majority rule and believed in moral growth through the dependency of the individual conscience.  Like Thoreau, he also felt that this form of growth would lead to individualistic tendencies that would be morally beneficial for the individual and for society.  His distrust for the majority stemmed from the belief that the majority rules without conscience and without regard for the minorities.  By doing this, he believed that numerical strength savors of violence when it acts in total disregard of any strongly felt opinion of a minority” (quoted in Iyer, 142).  Thus, Gandhils vision of the State of majority rule is one that not only remains unsympathetic to the minority, but builds a foundation built on violence.  Because of Gandhi’s belief in the non-violent State as the ideal, he ultimately rejects the notion of the majority rule.

Like Thoreau, Gandhi also believed that conscience living would eventually lead to a life of action from of principle he also stressed the importance of individualism in order for the process of spiritual and moral growth to occur.  However, Gandhi distrusted the more radical form of individualism that separated the person completely from society.  In 1939, he stated “Unrestricted individualism is the law of the beast of the jungle.  We have leamt to strike the mean between individual freedom and social restraint.  Willing submission to social restraint for the sake of well-being for the whole society, enriches both the individual and the society of which he is a member” (quoted in Iyer, 115).  For Gandhi, individualism meant the ability to place the conscience in a higher priority than the State and still remain an active member of society.  By combining “individual freedom” and “social restraint” the individual would attain the ability to influence the ethics of society within the confines of law and order.  Gandhi’s vision of individualism slightly differed from Thoreau who argued, in Walden, that “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.’ Thus, Tboreau’s idea of individualism sought an existence that could potentially disregard society completely, while Gandhi sought ‘ an individualism that simultaneously remained a morally responsible member of society.

From his essay, Thoreau implies that action from principle germinates into the beginning seeds of civil disobedience and later expands his argument in order to show its deeper significance in society.  He attempts to display how ideology should eventually transform into practical application.  As stated earlier, Thoreau believed in the superiority of the individual conscience over the rule of the majority.  He further states that if the individual’s morally conscience beliefs conflict with the beliefs and practices of the State, then that person must consider it a duty to disengage from the injustices committed by society.  He states the individual bears no responsibility in eradicating all the injustices of the State, but must “wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support.” He further states that not only must the individual refuse his allegiance to the State, but must also “withdraw their support, both in person and property.” For Thoreau, the individual existing by conscience would attain the inability to conform to a inhumane society.  By the very act of living from principle, it would not allow a person to harmonise a conscientious life while being a member of an unjust State.  Thus, the individual must live according to his nature even if it means a complete removal of oneself from the State.  This idea becomes the central point in resisting the civil goverrunent.  In one particular passage, Thoreau states: “I know this well, that if one thousand, if one hundred … if ten honest men only-aye, if one honest man, in the State of Massachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to withdraw from this copartnership, and be locked up in the county jail therefore, it should be the abolition of slavery in America.” Through this proclamation, Thoreau implies that the mass of individuals who practiced the right to disengage from society would not only resist the immorality of the State, but would coerce the reevaluating its ethical procedures and forcing them to reform.

In this matter of refusing allegiance to the State, Gandhi hardly differs from Thoreau’s convictions.  In his philosophical worldview, Gandhi also embodied a distrust for the State.  He viewed the State as a inhumane infrastructure of individuals that 11 represent violence in a concentrated and organised form.  The individual has a soul, but as the State is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from violence to which it owes its very existence” (quoted in Iyer, 254).  Gandhi, like Thoreau, implies that a State that exists as a “soulless machine” does not have the ability to exists as a moral and just institution.  In this case, he, like Thoreau, believes it to be the duty of the morally conscience individual to resist the corrupted authority.  In fact, he states that “an evil administration never deserves such allegiance.  Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil.  A good man will therefore, resist an evil system of administration … Disobedience of the laws of an evil state is, therefore, a duty” (quoted in lyer, 257).  In this system of thought, both men imply this form of resistance as the obligation of the conscience minded individual.

In general, both writers would agree that the moral violent manner and absorbed physical and spiritual individual disengaging from an unjust State would be an ideal form of civil disobedience.  Thoreau believed that this form of action would eventually influence the conscience of other individuals and ultimately lead them to disengage from society (Iyer, 268).  Gandhi, however, did not completely embrace Thoreau’s convictions and also felt such actions to be a limited form of resistance.  In 1931 he discussed Thoreau in an written essay and stated : “…Thoreau was not perhaps an out and out champion of nonviolence.  Probably, also, Thoreau limited his of statutory laws to the revenue laws, i.e., payment of taxes.  Whereas the term Civil Disobedience as practised in 1919 covered a breach of any statutory and unmoral law.  It signified the resister’s outlawry in a civil i.e., non-violent manner” (quoted in Iyer, 275).  Essentially, Gandhi felt that he was extending Thoreau’s ideas on civil disobedience.  He felt that the individual conscience ultimately influencing the conscience of mass individuals could lead to a violent rebellion against the State.  He also felt that this type of action was an appeal to reason.  Gandhi felt that reasoning to an individual conscience was sometimes ineffective because an “appeal to reason does not answer where prejudices are age-long.  ” ” (quoted in lyer, 289).  Thus, in order to embrace T’horeau’s ideas of disengaging from society without causing a violent resistance, Gandhi developed a system of civil disobedience, which he called Satyagraha.  In this system of resistance, Gandhi believed that the resister could reform individuals in an unjust State by undertaking a process of selfsuffering.  In 1932 he stated : “Suffering is the law of human beings … the penetration of the heart comes from suffering.  It opens the inner understanding of man” (quoted in Iyer, 287).  Gandhi felt that self-suffering would lead to a non-violent form of disobedience that would change the attitude of society by appealing to their emotions rather than reason.  In this system, Gandhi stressed a form of civil disobedience that would not violate the unmoral laws of that particular institution.  He believed that the individual that acted in a non-suffering without violence would be practicing the ideal form of civil disobedience.  Through the suffering of the resister, Gandhi argued, the individuals of society would realise the injustices of the State’s laws, thereby causing reform in an unanarchistic manner (Iyer, 276).

Comparatively, the philosophy of Thoreau and Gandhi to the relationship between the individual and  to the relationship between the individual and the State.  Both advocated individualistic free-thinking and the importance of individual conscience over the belief of a majority ruled State.  Both, also believed that conscience individuals could only prosper in a State that contained minimum intervention.  Gandhi’s vision of an ideal State was one where ‘everyone is his own ruler … In the ideal State, therefore, there is no political power because there is no State.  But the ideal is never fully realised in life” (quoted in lyer, 254).  Thus, his belief in a limited government very much coincides with Thoreau’s idea that “government is best which governs not at all.” However, the difference between the two writers falls mostly on emphasis.  In Thoreau’s case, he not only held the individual conscience as the highest test of truth, but also felt it “would culminate in conduct that would arouse and ppeal to the conscience of others” (Iyer, 268).  This form of arousal could lead to a state of anarchy and a violent form of resistance to a unjust authority, an idea that Thoreau does not deny in his essay.  Gandhi, however, felt that an individual following his own conscience could not be ‘dependent on social recognition” (Iyer, 268).  He envisioned a form of resistance that would not lead to violence and anarchy.  While Thoreau discussed the end and the means, Gandhi placed heavy emphasis on the means. While Thoreau discussed the rights of the individual to rebel against authority, Gandhi expressed the duty of individuals to reform an unjust authority while maintaining law and order.  Thus, through his political system, Gandhi was able to use Thoreau’s ideas in a non-violent manner.

Pacelli Pius XII

Does the name Pacelli ring a bell to you? Pacelli brings back to me a horde of souvenirs of my childhood. I still can see in my mind’s eyes, up to now, the copies of Paris Match magazine clued to the wall of the class room in the attic of my primary school where I used to attend classes with Monsieur Laval. There was this picture of Pope Pius XII born Pacelli in company of the famous celebrities of the day and head of states. He was dressed up with his papal tiara and seated on his throne.

With great pomp and reverence, Monsieur Laval told us that the pope had passed away and we were given the details there of and procedures that had to be followed by the church for the election of the new pope. I must have been very impressed by his story as up to now I can relive this moment vividly and with very great details. The cardinals will be assembled in a conclave in Vatican to pray, to discuss, and vote for a new Pope. After each meeting, if no consensus was reached a dark smoke will be released from the chimney of the Vatican. White smoke would be released only if the new Pope was elected.

There are many reasons to my very special interest to the life of Pope Pius XII:

-Pope Pius XII was born on the same date as I did: 2nd March;

-He was made Pope on the 2nd March 1939;

-The Pope of my early childhood and post 2nd world war reconstruction;

-He moved for the church to allow the moral use of family planning through the rhythm method;

-and was an energetic proponent of the theory of the Big Bang.

Pope Pius XII leadership of the Catholic Church during World War II and the Holocaust remains the subject of continued historical controversy. Before election to the papacy, Pacelli served as secretary of the Department of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, papal nuncio and cardinal secretary of state, in which roles he worked to conclude treaties with European nations, most notably the Reichskonkordat with Germany. After World War II, he was a vocal supporter of lenient policies toward vanquished nations, including amnesty for war criminals. He also was a staunch opponent of communism.

Pius is one of few popes in recent history to exercise his papal infallibility by issuing an apostolic constitution, Munificentissimus Deus, which defined ex cathedra the dogma of the Assumption of Mary. He also promulgated forty-six encyclicals, including Humani Generis, which is still relevant to the Church’s position on evolution. He also decisively eliminated the Italian majority in the College of Cardinals with the Grand Consistory in 1946. Most sedevacantists regard Pope Pius XII as the last true Pope to occupy the Holy See.

Listening, Learning, Leading

The unprecedented rate of change that we are experiencing today has resulted in making the future more uncertain. How will the entrepreneurs cope with this new situation? What skills will be needed?

‘The uncertain future we all face demands that executives develop the ability to listen, learn, and lead’ said Vincent P Barabba, Author of Meeting of the Minds: Creating the Market-Based Enterprise and more recently ‘Surviving Transformation’.

You will recall in the 70’s the most sought persons of the corporate world were IT technology wizards. After the burst of the internet bubble, the financiers took over the control of the corporate boards. The ‘Enron’ scandal pushed further the control of lawyers and financiers to have a strong hold on the world of business. The world business leaders are now backing the human aspects for growth of their enterprises. We are back to basic leadership skills.

I found that the 3L’s: Listening,Learning,Leading, coined by Vincent P Barabba to be a very worthwhile motto that all leaders, entrepreneurs or managers could be reminded of. More importantly, one has to be mindful of the sequence of the 3L’s. Listening is the first.

William E. Halal, professor of management at George Washington University, and author of ‘The New Management’, is of opinion that Leaders are above all great listeners. In an article he wrote towards the end of the 90’s, he insisted on the development of listening skills by managers to strive in this ever fast changing environment.

Here is an extract of the article which is today still pertinent and valid:

When visiting a major American corporation recently, I was privileged to witness a vivid demonstration of the leadership that is so badly needed today. Seated at a conference table were managers, labor leaders, suppliers, distributors, and officials from the local government. What was most striking is that the president of the company did not seem to be a particularly imposing person. He had no commanding presence, was clearly not a genius, and showed little charisma. How did he manage to pull this diverse group of big egos together into a harmonious team?

As the meeting progressed, it became clear that he saw his role as encouraging the talents of others, and so he rarely spoke himself but was more intent on asking people for their views. What was most remarkable is that he really listened. Unlike most leaders, this man was genuinely humble. He focused on understanding the reality of the situation. It was like a breath of fresh air! A leader who cares what people really think? Who wants to hear the messy truth? Who does not impose his solutions? Surely this was either a ruse or it didn’t work, I thought.

But it did work. It energized the meeting. People brought out their problems, their ideas, their doubts, their misunderstandings, and all the other hidden agendas we normally keep contained within us. The president simply asked an occasional question, made a few suggestions for their consideration, and tried to clarify what they were doing. Otherwise, the group controlled the meeting. Most importantly, the meeting affirmed that this was their organization. They were responsible for its success or failure, so they did whatever was needed to make it work.

Okay, this humble approach really works, but what about the leader, I worried. He was obviously not “in charge,” and in fact he seemed a bit uncomfortable at times. Little wonder when people would say harsh things to him, such as complain about some aspect of the company and criticize his behavior. Occasionally they even called him by his first name! How could he maintain his dignity and self-respect, much less the power needed to be effective?

Beneath this appearance of casual disregard was a deep sense of respect and affection. Not because this leader held the power of the president, but precisely for the opposite reason. He had voluntarily yielded his authority. The heart of this relationship was that the president was genuinely concerned about others, and he provided a subtle, supportive guidance that helped them find the way ahead. Ironically, by giving up his formal power, he was given far more real power as a “servant leader” rather than a boss. They would do things for him that no ordinary boss could even ask for.

A Key Principle

This highlights a key principle of leadership today: in a world of escalating complexity and empowered people, leaders must cultivate the art of helping others to share the responsibilities of management. But the price of their support is to relinquish that old sense of control while patiently listening to others for understanding.

The knowledge revolution is creating a world in which teams of skilled workers must manage complex business ventures, solve technical problems, and probe the boundaries of a global economy. Not only are economies becoming complex, a more educated knowledge worker is appearing, who is motivated by achievement, creativity, and control over the work.

A historic upheaval in power structures is underway. Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric, summed up the need: “In a world where we must have every good idea from every man and woman, we cannot afford management styles that suppress and intimidate.” This power shift comprises a peaceful revolution. Employees are gaining control over their time, have access to the financial records, determine how to perform their jobs, choose co-workers and suppliers, and even evaluate their superiors. Customers make new demands for quality and service. Major investors replace CEOs.

The problem is especially visible on the communication networks that are penetrating business. It is somewhat like the “flaming” that goes on over the Internet. One CEO convened an “electronic meeting” to spur open discussion, only to see top management attacked so viciously that he had to pull the plug.

Obviously, leaders will have to be far more skillful to direct this raw energy into productive directions. The most unsettling change is that they will have to shed their mask of authority to meet people directly, facing all the stinging criticism and outrageous demands that have been suppressed by authority. And employees will be equally unsettled at seeing that leaders are not demi-gods with all the answers but fallible humans; they will then have to assume the responsibilities that managers are being asked to relinquish. With both leaders and followers stripped of their old illusions, both may then settle in for the hard but realistic task of learning to work together.

Today’s leaders must facilitate a shared decision-making process by encouraging open discussion, clarifying issues and resolving conflicts, summarizing key themes, and drawing out a satisfactory conclusion. The most crucial requirement is to listen to understand the messy complexity of problems and the different ideas others hold about them.

The art of listening is seldom practiced because it is a demanding discipline. Most people feel chronically deprived of being heard in a way that fully appreciates their unique views and struggles. When some caring soul comes along to listen, the average troubled individual will so eagerly unburden themselves that the listener may have a hard time disengaging. If the leader gives up prior expectations and listens with a careful, receptive mind to capture subtle meanings, the most outlandish points can prove to be nuggets of good fortune.

For instance, there is no better way to confirm an argument than to be challenged by a strong objection, and then to turn that objection into support. If one can listen carefully and ask probing, honest questions, a resolution usually appears. The role of a wise leader is to nurture this greater truth and present it as a gift to his or her followers. The resulting sense of their gratitude and heightened trust can be palpable.

How little we understand the wisdom of traditional sayings, such as “The meek shall inherit the earth.” The very thought seems ludicrous in today’s high-stakes power games. But the real message is not that “weakness” will become widespread, but that a gentle, trusting humility is more realistic than self-pride for coping with a world that is too mysterious to comprehend. Rather than a sign of weakness, humility is a virtue of strong people who do not need to prove their might, so they are open to new understanding.

In a knowledge society, leaders will have to reverse what was once considered admirable. Rather than acting with bold determination and extending a brilliant vision to guide others, leaders must direct attention away from themselves to focus on their followers. They should certainly offer their own ideas. But if they can unite their vision with the many other visions also waiting to be realized, the resulting synthesis of views is invariably far richer and more powerful.

We are all creatures of belief, and we are usually trapped inside of our own heads by limited, outmoded beliefs. The first responsibility of leaders today is to understand that it is okay to admit we are ignorant. Let’s make the search for understanding not only acceptable but praiseworthy, and show the way by modeling this ability to learn through honest interaction.

If this painful exploration can be sustained through its twists and turns, a new clarity of awareness, or a “vision,” may be given us to guide the way ahead. Leadership must be nothing less than a creative process by which isolated souls can touch one another to set off sparks of insight, initiative, and social energy to cope with a far more demanding world. For all its pain and peril, coming to grips with unpleasant realities and with each other is essential to create the needed breakthroughs in awareness for managing a complex world.

Reflexion Dominicale

Lc 13,22-30.
Dans sa marche vers Jérusalem, Jésus passait par les villes et les villages en enseignant. Quelqu’un lui demanda : « Seigneur, n’y aura-t-il que peu de gens à être sauvés ? » Jésus leur dit : « Efforcez-vous d’entrer par la porte étroite, car, je vous le déclare, beaucoup chercheront à entrer et ne le pourront pas. Quand le maître de la maison se sera levé et aura fermé la porte, si vous, du dehors, vous vous mettez à frapper à la porte, en disant : ‘Seigneur, ouvre-nous’, il vous répondra : ‘Je ne sais pas d’où vous êtes.’ Alors vous vous mettrez à dire : ‘Nous avons mangé et bu en ta présence, et tu as enseigné sur nos places.’ Il vous répondra : ‘Je ne sais pas d’où vous êtes. Éloignez-vous de moi, vous tous qui faites le mal.’ Il y aura des pleurs et des grincements de dents quand vous verrez Abraham, Isaac et Jacob et tous les prophètes dans le royaume de Dieu, et que vous serez jetés dehors. Alors on viendra de l’orient et de l’occident, du nord et du midi, prendre place au festin dans le royaume de Dieu. Oui, il y a des derniers qui seront premiers, et des premiers qui seront derniers. »


Contrairement à mes habitudes de fin de semaine, ce dimanche, j’ai assisté à la messe de 9 heures 30 au lieu de l’office du samedi. Quelle merveille d’avoir eu le père Georges Chung comme célébrant ! Pour mon bonheur, son homélie était axée sur « la porte étroite ». Plus d’une fois je  me suis interrogé dans le passé, sur la teneur de ‘la porte étroite’ et n’ai jamais était bien convaincu du sens que j’ai pu en tirer.  « Efforcez-vous d’entrer par la porte étroite, car, je vous le déclare, beaucoup chercheront à entrer et ne le pourront pas. » Merci Georges Chung tu m’as donné aujourd’hui des pistes à creuser. Pouvons entrer par une porte étroite les mains chargées et encombrées de bagages ? L’image qu’a donnée Georges : n’avons nous pas déjà vu  ou imaginé le singe qui, ayant rempli sa main des cacahuètes, tente en vain de sortir sa main pleine du goulot d’un bocal ?

Eh oui ! Pour passer par la porte étroite, il va falloir nous délester de tout ce qui nous encombre. Il nous faudra n’avoir que ce qu’il faut pour entrer dans le royaume. Ce qui importe, c’est d’être reconnu par Lui pour qu’Il nous accueille.

Comment serions nous reconnus ? Ou alors, comment ne serions nous pas reconnus ?

‘Je ne sais pas d’où vous êtes. Éloignez-vous de moi, vous tous qui faites le mal.’

Comment serai-je reconnu par quelqu’un que j’ai ignoré toute ma vie ?

A également retenu mon attention ce dimanche la prière suivante :

Dieu qui peux mettre au cœur de tes fidèles un unique désir, donne a ton peuple d’aimer ce que tu commandes et d’attendre ce que tu promets ; pour qu’au milieu des changements d ce monde, nos cœurs s’établissent fermement là ou se trouvent les vraies joies.


Eventful August Day

Wow! I had such an eventful day yesterday that I did not have the time to log in my blog. It all started in the morning when I could not log in my website in spite of several attempts. Luckily I could retrieve my mail from my .mu address. Was it something wrong with the international network as it sometimes happens? I gave up for the moment hoping to go back later.

To my surprise, I learned from the mail of the demise of Carol, my cousin’s wife and read through the eulogy written by my cousin Molly for the Requiem mass in East London, South Africa, for her life celebration. Two earthly departures in the span of three months in the same Chock family, I thought. I took a good half hour backtracking in my mind the good times I had in the company of our South African folks, both in the days I visited them in East London, and whilst they were in Mauritius. May God receive them in His eternal love.

The 23rd August is a very special day for my family, not only because it is the crossing day between the Leo to the Virgo, more importantly, it is the day to feast with long life noodles for my wife’s birthday. Damn me if I had forgotten this august day! Olivier, very late in the night from Toronto, graced her Mom with a Happy Birthday song in his hoarse voice. Stephane also conveyed her best wishes through the mail. That made her day!

She had for this special day, arranged for her friends to gather home for a mah-jong party and lunch. The banging of the mah-jong on the table and the laughter created indeed a rejoicing atmosphere which added to the sound of oldies music of the 60’s and 70’s.

Kristel called in with a lovely birthday cake and her good wishes. Her presence and irresistible smile conquered my wife’s cronies.

The day followed with few more visits from a neighbour, Sabine, who presented her with a beautiful flower arrangement in vase. Marie Helene surprised her with gifts and a lively bouquet of white roses.

In the evening we set off for dinner at Hoy foong restaurant for a typical Chinese birthday dinner with Popo, the close relatives and friends. I was very contented for my day before Mr. Sandman took me to my dreams.

Executives pursuit of Happiness

For years now I have been signing off my emails with “Be Happy”. This morning I was thinking how the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment has been an essential driver through out my working life. Book Author Roderick Gilkey is of opinion that Executives can find happiness by cultivating perspective, balance, resilience and a sense of humour. I concur with Roderick Gilkey views on the subject and was lucky to have with the Covey leadership courses attended, been able to build up on the four characteristics mentioned by him.

Roderick Gilkey in article he wrote in 1986, which I found still very much relevant today, stated:

While many of today’s corporate fast-trackers may be too immersed in the day-to-day grind to reflect on their levels of happiness, such reflection is legitimate and even constructive. Studies from The Center for Creative Leadership describe an ideal corporate performer as one whose strivings are based on a healthy, even passionate, drive to achieve a form of success that includes both measurable results and personal well-being. Such individuals thrive in work environments where people participate on the basis of desire more than duty, and where creativity is more valued than compliance.

The executive who is motivated by corporate incentives is being replaced by the executive whose contribution is based on a personal quest for fulfillment and happiness. For example, at one point in its history, IBM expected executives to relocate when offered a promotion in the corporate hierarchy and an increase in salary of at least six percent. In contrast, IBM now gives its managers a questionnaire to take to their families. It helps them to consider all possible pros and cons associated with making a move to anticipate the impact of relocation on family health and happiness, and to avoid adverse outcomes. (Incidentally, the questionnaire is not returned to IBM; it stays with the family and is used only as a tool to help them make an informed and optimal decision.) This practice suggests that while the search for happiness may not be publicly acknowledged, the best corporations are aware that it is a primary motivator for many executives who are balancing individual, family, and corporate interests in an attempt to achieve a more broadly defined form of success.

Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that the more individualistic search for happiness is not only a legitimate source of motivation, but that it also promotes higher levels of contribution to the corporation. Dr. George Vaillant found strong correlation between high levels of achievement in the workplace and personal happiness in the marital and family life of his Harvard subjects. Happiness, then, strengthens other capacities that ultimately increase an individual’s ability to make significant contributions to the workplace and develop the potential in others to do the same.

Through my clinical work with executives and my consulting activities with a variety of organizations, I have observed a number of executives who have achieved exceptional levels of success and happiness. While there are no easily grasped universal truths that can be learned from their examples, there are four characteristics these exceptional executives share.


1. Perspective. A consistent capacity to keep ultimate goals and objectives in view, especially when the level of stress and demand is high. Such perspective contributes to the ability to evaluate complex, and even turbulent, situations and make optimal decisions. One high-ranking executive in the airline industry is affectionately referred to by his subordinates as “the Zen Master.” When asked to explain, one of his subordinates commented, “I guess we call him that because in spite of all the chaos around here, he never seems to lose his cool. It’s not just imperturbability, though. He keeps his sense of purpose; he knows why he is here and what he wants to accomplish; and he seems to be able to do it no matter what.”

2. Balance. The ability to prioritize the demands of work and family so that the most important tasks get done at the right time. Executives who are “balanced” avoid problems that are not theirs to solve, dilemmas that will not change, and virtually all unnecessary commitments. They also make appropriate trade-offs between present and future demands and between work and recreation, thus gaining both immediate and long-term gratification.

A prime example of balance is seen in the life of a very effective executive, Paul, who successfully developed a new marketing campaign for his corporation while taking several afternoons to go to his daughters’ ballet recitals. Known for his capacity to be self-sacrificing, Paul had attained a balance between narcissism and altruism. He was able to serve his own needs for advancement in the corporation and still have time to devote to family interests and community service.

3. Resilience. The ability to rebound from failure. Many very successful executives have experienced major setbacks in their careers. The Center for Creative Leadership found that what separates the “arrivers” from the “derailed” is, in part, the capacity to rebound from failure without losing confidence and motivation. The fact that there are significant failures among the most successful executives is not surprising, since these individuals have the courage and vision to set extremely high goals for themselves. Having the strength of character to deal with the inevitable disappointments associated with high standards and expectations is a cornerstone of the successful executive’s personality.

4. Humor. A lively sense of humor appears to be both a prerequisite for psychological health and an outcome of it. Good humor is a sign of perspective, balance, and many other qualities associated with the highest levels of personal and professional achievement. And yet amid the seriousness of boardrooms and stockholder meetings, executive humor can be as elusive as happiness itself. Oscar Wilde’s dictum that, “life is much too important to be taken seriously,” may well describe a form of constructive detachment that allows the best executives to maintain purpose and perspective through turbulent times.

Other Common Characteristics

There are many other more specific characteristics shared by executives who have attained personal success. I would include among them:

  • The ability to take genuine pleasure from the accomplishments of others, both superiors and subordinates.
  • The desire to serve, mentor and develop others.
  • The strength to compete effectively and derive appropriate pleasure from winning.
  • The energy to maintain a broad range of interests despite the pressure to narrow one’s focus in response to the demands of the workplace.
  • The capacity to take interesting vacations that provide periodic renewal.
  • The ability to maintain rewarding marital and family relationships.

While it is not in the power of organizations to grant happiness, the best executives recognize the legitimacy of the quest for personal happiness and respect it as a laudable endeavor with several side benefits to the organization.

Measuring the impact of your blog posting!

Got this one from Bulldogreporter.com and thought to share it with you guys. Guess some of you do not give a damn to the impact of your postings. Is it true? I do want to keep track of my readership.

There’s an old business adage that if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.

Most marketing campaigns have some sort of measurement and ROI parameter built in. But social media marketing is so new and ’wild west’ that in many cases measurement goes by the boards.

Michael Brito, Senior Marketing Manager at Yahoo! offers some ideas on how to measure a social media marketing initiative:

These are the yardsticks for general engagement

  • Unique visitors
  • Page views per visitor
  • Time spent on site
  • Total time spent per user
  • Frequency of visits
  • Depth of visit
  • Conversions
  • In addition he advises you look at these statictics:

  • Content Contribution – monitor the number of visitors who are actually commenting and interacting with your content.
  • Social Bookmarking – who is actually adding your site/article/blog posts to sites like Del.icio.us, Reddit, and Stumbleupon.
  • Subscribing to a RSS feed – how many of your readers are subscribing to your RSS feeds.
  • Who is talking about you – there are a couple of different ways you can do this; and it’s not an exact science.
  • Profile Engagement: If you have a profile on Myspace, Facebook, or Mybloglog you can monitor the number of friends that you have, total profile visits, etc. Each social networking site offers some type of vitality metric to see what’s going on in your communities.
  • And here are a few more ways you could measure the buzz created by your social media efforts:

    • Traffic from your RSS feeds
    • Track where your content is being republished
    • Traffic from sites such as digg and del.icio.us
    • Monitoring the mentions of your idea/product/company/campaign with Technorati and BlogPulse

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