Entries from October 2009 ↓

The Medici Effect


I was fascinated in reading the mind map of the book ‘The Medici effect’ by Frans Johansson last night. I guessed by the name Medici that it had to do with the intersection of culture as it happened in middle age 14th – 16th century in Florence Italy. I had read about Catherine de Medicis who was a Queen of France and I recalled that France had retained la ‘Villa Medicis’ in Rome as a venue for developing Creativity & Culture at ‘L’Académie de France’.

I wonder with the confluence of cultures and ethnics Mauritius could be a nexus point to further develop creativity. Already, a new fusion cuisine is finding its way. Nowhere in the world have I eaten a Mauritian fried noodle, a dhal puri or a roti Manillal. Marlin fumé could well be promoted as an innovative product. Papaye tapé & Pickled Pineapple, green mango & cucumber are gourmet dishes to be developed and promoted.

‘Metissage’ is the term I would promote as the intersection of the ingenious background of our population. Our cooks in Mauritius are using a paint stripper heat torch to darken and render the crust of their crème brulé!

I am happy to reproduce the introduction to the book.



Frans Johansson

Pe t e r ’ s c a f é sits on a hillside in Horta, a port city on one of the Azores islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. By the time you reach the docks in the harbour, you can tell that this place is special. Bright, colorful paintings of sailboats and flags line the piers—hundreds and hundreds of them, drawn by visiting captains and crew members from every corner of the globe. Horta is the one place between the Americas and Europe where world-traveling sailors stop to take a break. Some are heading toward Fiji, others to Spain. Some are on their second tour around the world; others are simply resting before the last leg to Brazil. They come from different backgrounds

and cultures. And all of them converge upon the rustic-looking Peter’s Café. Here they can pick up year-old letters from other world travelers or just sit and talk over a beer or a glass of Madeira.

When I saw this place for the first time, I realized that the serene environment of the café actually concealed a chaotic universe. The café was filled with ideas and viewpoints from all corners of the world, and these ideas were intermingling and colliding with each other.

“Get this, they don’t use hooks when fishing for marlin in Cuba,”

one visitor says.

“So what do they use?” another asks.

“Rags. The lure is covered in rags. When the fish strikes the rag, it wraps around the fish bill and won’t let go because of the friction. The fish don’t get hurt and can be released, no problem.”

“That’s pretty neat. Maybe we could use something like that. . . .”

The people here participate in what seems like an almost random combination of ideas. One conversation leads into another, and it is difficult to guess what idea will come up next. Peter’s Café is a nexus point in the world, one of the most extreme I have ever seen.

There is another place just like Peter’s Café, but it is not in the Azores. It is in our minds. It is a place where different cultures, domains, and disciplines stream together toward a single point. They connect,

allowing for established concepts to clash and combine, ultimately forming a multitude of new, groundbreaking ideas. This place, where the different fields meet, is what I call the Intersection. And the explosion of remarkable innovations that you find there is what I call the Medici Effect. This book is about how to create it.

Creating the Medici Effect

The idea behind this book is simple: When you step into an intersection of fields, disciplines, or cultures, you can combine existing concepts into a large number of extraordinary new ideas. The name I have given this phenomenon, the Medici Effect, comes from a remarkable burst of creativity in fifteenth-century Italy.

The Medicis were a banking family in Florence who funded creators from a wide range of disciplines. Thanks to this family and a few others like it, sculptors, scientists, poets, philosophers, financiers, painters, and architects converged upon the city of Florence. There they found each other, learned from one another, and broke down

barriers between disciplines and cultures. Together they forged a new world based on new ideas—what became known as the Renaissance. As a result, the city became the epicenter of a creative explosion, one of the most innovative eras in history. The effects of the Medici family can be felt even to this day.

We, too, can create the Medici Effect. We can ignite this explosion of extraordinary ideas and take advantage of it as individuals, as teams, and as organizations. We can do it by bringing together different disciplines

and cultures and searching for the places where they connect. The Medici Effect will show you how to find such intersectional ideas and make them happen. This book is not about the Renaissance era, nor is it about the

Medici family. Rather, it is about those elements that made that era possible. It is about what happens when you step into an intersection of different disciplines and cultures, and bring the ideas you find there to life.

Surprising Insight

Mick Pearce, an architect with an interest in ecology, accepted an intriguing challenge from Old Mutual, an insurance and real estate conglomerate: Build an attractive, functioning office building that uses no air conditioning. Oh, and do it in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe.

This may, on the face of it, seem ridiculous. After all, it can get pretty hot in Harare. But Pearce, born in Zimbabwe, schooled in South Africa, and trained as an architect in London, was up for the challenge.

And he achieved it by basing his architectural designs on how termites cool their tower like mounds of mud and dirt. What’s the connection?

Termites must keep the internal temperature in their mounds at a constant 87 degrees in order to grow an essential fungus. Not an easy job since temperatures on the African plains can range from over 100 degrees during the day to below 40 at night. Still, the insects manage it by ingeniously directing breezes at the base of the mound into chambers with cool, wet mud and then redirecting this cooled air to the peak. By constantly building new vents and closing old ones, they can regulate the temperature very precisely.

Pearce’s interests clearly extend beyond architecture. He also has a passion for understanding natural ecosystems, and suddenly those two fields intersected. Pearce teamed up with engineer Ove Arup to bring this combination of concepts to fruition. The office complex, called Eastgate, opened in 1996 and is the largest commercial/retail complex in Zimbabwe. It maintains a steady temperature of 73 to 77 degrees and uses less than 10 percent of the energy consumed by other buildings its size. In fact, Old Mutual saved $3.5 million immediately because they

did not have to install an air-conditioning plant. Eastgate ultimately became a reference point for architects—articles and books have been written about it, and awards have been given. Mick Pearce is known as a groundbreaking innovator for launching a new field of architectural design—one that “copies the processes of nature.”

How did Pearce come up with such an innovative design? Was it luck?

Maybe; luck is part of everything we do. The more intriguing question is, what did Pearce do to affect his chances of accomplishing this breakthrough?

Did he, in effect, make his own luck? The answer is yes, and the reasons why lie at the heart of this book’s message. Pearce had stepped into the Intersection, a place where he could combine architectural designs with processes in nature. It was his willingness to explore these combinations that made it more likely for him to successfully break new ground.

The Intersection is certainly not the only place to uncover new ideas, but I’ll argue that it is the best place to generate and realize extraordinary ones.

A Place for Everyone

Mick Pearce is one example of a person who found the Intersection and made successful discoveries there. From this example one might get the impression that the Intersection is a placeonly for designers and artists. It’s easy to associate creativity with art, but creativity includes new ideas in every field, from science and business

to law and politics.

Consider, for instance, the seeming antithesis of the idealistic artist, George Soros, one of the most respected investors of our time.

He is perhaps best known as the man who broke the Bank of England in 1992. Soros made a profit of over $1 billion in one afternoon by betting that the pound sterling was overvalued. Although he has also had some stinging losses, Soros’s track record as an investor is astonishing, having generated billions for his fund.

Perhaps his most important legacy, however, will not be the money he accumulated for his limited partner but his ideas about democracy, his philosophy concerning capitalism, and his approach to philanthropy.

Soros pulled together ideas from the fields of finance and philosophy to create an innovative philanthropic strategy. That strategy, which was unprecedented in its audacity, focused on transforming nations into societies that are based on the recognition that nobody has a monopoly on the truth—what he calls “Open Societies.” Michael

Kaufman writes in Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire about the exploratory journey Soros took to understand the world this way: “In the process, he digressively took up dozens of themes, among them the limits of knowledge, the development of modern art, the flaws of classical economics, the value of fallibility, and even the prospects of fundamental reforms in the Soviet Union.”3

George Soros found the Intersection. He found a way to connect completely separate fields and he managed to do so in a meaningful way. Just like Mick Pearce.

Connections Everywhere

This may all sound somewhat improbable. Can great innovative breakthroughs, those that can create a Medici Effect, be explained by the intersection of disciplines and cultures? And if so, is it possible to understand the nature of this intersection and to harness its power? The answer is yes, on both counts. In writing The Medici Effect I have three objectives:

1.The first is to explain what, exactly, the Intersection is and why

we can expect to see a lot more of it in the future. You will see

how three critical forces are working together to increase the

number of intersections around the world.

2.The second is to explain why stepping into the Intersection creates

the Medici Effect. You will see why it is such a vibrant place

for creativity and how we can use intersections to generate remarkable,

surprising, and groundbreaking ideas.

3.Finally, the third objective is to outline the unique challenges we

face when executing intersectional ideas and how we can overcome

those challenges.

You will see how execution at the Intersection is different from within established fields, and you will

learn how to prepare for those differences. In order to fulfill these three objectives, I have relied on the work of

leading researchers in creativity and innovation, such as Dean Keith Simonton, Clayton Christensen, Teresa Amabile, and Robert Sutton, and on a range of psychologists, economists, and sociologists. My most interesting

discoveries and conclusions, however, have come from numerous conversations and interviews with people who live and operate at the Intersection. The stories of how they found their way to the Intersection,

and how they created the Medici Effect, contain enough surprises and valuable insights to easily fill two or three books.

You will, for instance, meet a mathematician from Seattle who stepped into the intersection of games and collectibles to create one of the world’s fastest-spreading recreational activities. You will learn how

he did it and why those lessons hold true for anyone at the Intersection.

You will read about an entrepreneur who steps into the Intersection every time he starts a new company. His story will show you how we can find courage at the brink of uncertainty. You will encounter a physician who made the connection between violence prevention and health care. No one else understood the link at the time, and her struggle to bring her ideas to life demonstrates the challenges anyone will face at the Intersection.

During this journey you will also meet a woman who hiked through a snake-infested prisoner island off the coast of Colombia while gathering lava rocks for her research. You will read about a chef who surprised the world with his food concoctions at the age of twenty-four and learn about a team of researchers who discovered how to read

the mind of a monkey.

These individuals and their remarkable acts of innovation help us understand the power of the Intersection. They have all managed to connect fields we thought were unrelated. When they did, they generated

ideas that changed them, their organizations, and, ultimately, apart of our world. From these examples, we can learn how to do the same. Their stories answer the central questions this book poses: How do we create an explosion of extraordinary ideas, and how do we make those ideas happen? The answers may surprise you

Bottom line with Mind Mapping

Most people don’t normally associate mind mapping software with making money. But the fact is, it can have a real impact on your bottom line – because it enables you to think more clearly and completely, make better decisions, envision the future of your company, and more. Here’s a partial list of ways that mind mapping software can (indirectly) help you to make more money:

  • Map your customers and identify the most promising ones for targeted sales campaigns
  • Develop new products to sell
  • Create a map to clearly and more completely understand the evolving or unmet needs of your customers.
  • Analyze and improve your company’s business model
  • Identify opportunities to reduce waste in your business – the savings go straight to the bottom line.
  • Map your current market segments, and identify adjacent ones with similar needs into which you can expand your marketing and sales.
  • Brainstorm the content of a white paper or information product (e-book) that will help you to dramatize your product’s or service’s unique selling proposition to potential customers.

In what other ways are you using mind mapping software to grow your business?

I read regularly the blog of Chuck Frey on Mind mapping and owes to him the above idea!

The Change Acceptance Cycle


The purpose of this post is to review The Change Acceptance Cycle shown in Figure 1 and to extract from it some pointers for managers caught up in organizational change.

The Change Acceptance Cycle

Let’s start in the upper left, with a common form of change, the introduction of new ways or arrangements at work. This might be a new process, a new system, a new policy, a new organization in the wake of a merger, acquisition or a just plain old reorganization.

It is rarely the case that changes are welcomed with open arms; they are almost always seen by some people as having losses attached. The losses might include a position, a title, a personal sense of comfort, a sense of competency, the disruption of personal and working relationships, a fiefdom, or even employment itself. The negative reactions people have to changes, then, aren’t to the changes but to the losses they create.

The initial reaction of many people is one of shock, disbelief, and even disorientation. Their world has been or is about to be turned upside down and they are discombobulated to use a good old-fashioned word.

From there, people try to quickly restore some semblance of rhyme, reason and order to their world, which for some, has been turned upside down. They do this in various ways; by denying the change will occur or will affect them; by dismissing it as inconsequential or irrelevant; and by simply disconnecting from what is going on around them, hunkering down and pretending it isn’t happening.

But reality sets in. Then people have strong emotional reactions. Some get angry, really angry. Some become fearful and are paralyzed by that fear. They don’t know what to do and so they do nothing. Others aren’t necessarily fearful but they do become anxious about what the future holds and this anxiety saps their energy and dominates their thoughts. They wallow in “what if?”

Another stage of emotional reaction is marked by sadness for the loss of what was; perhaps for friends co-workers who have been moved to other areas; perhaps for a loss of confidence rooted in mastery of the old ways that has been displaced by a lack of familiarity with the new ways; and perhaps for the loss of an organizational culture that was once highly valued. Sadness is not far from depression and people can and do become depressed. Often they become passive, like victims awaiting their fate.

Some bog down in one or more of these stages but, sooner or later, most begin to look toward the future. They get their heads up and start looking around. They also start jockeying for position in the new order, bargaining for their personal situations and scrambling to find a place for themselves.

As they begin making their way out of this cycle, they begin to accept whatever they’ve viewed as losses and they begin to accept the new ways, too. They see hope in the future and they begin to commit to the new ways.

Thus it is that people accommodate, adjust to and accept change.

Some Pointers for Managers

The first thing to know is that change and accompanying losses are inseparable. People see what they see and if they see loss there is a loss involved – at least for them. Moreover, people don’t resist change per se; instead, if they resist at all, they resist what they see as loss.

Not all is doom and gloom. Not everyone has a negative reaction to change and the intensity of the reactions people have varies with the change, the person and the perceived loss.

People go through this cycle in very different ways. Some scoot right through it; some plod along one stage at a time; some bog down in one or more stages; some seem to make their way through and out of it but then something knocks them right back into it; and some people seem to move back and forth between one stage and another. The point is that you have to deal with your people as individuals; there are no one-size-fits-all approaches to helping people accept change and its associated losses.

Chances are, in addition to helping your people get through this cycle, you have to go through it yourself. Who will help you? How do you get help? Where are you in the cycle and how do you move on? More specifically, what losses do you and others see as attached to the change? Are they real or imagined? Can you compensate for them or are they givens?

People can and often do help each other. Co-workers can be just as effective as bosses in helping each other make their way through the change acceptance cycle.

So what can you do? Well, for one thing, you can talk about it – with your people, with your peers and with your boss. You can use the cycle diagram in Figure 1 to focus the discussion and to examine the current state of affairs. You need to know where your people are in this cycle. They need to know where you are and where their co-workers are. You need to know where your boss is and your boss needs to know where you and your people are. The diagram gives you a framework for examining, discussing and dealing with the reactions to change and for facilitating the acceptance of change.

A blog post is hardly the place to set forth detailed descriptions for dealing with the many specific techniques for helping people through the cycle of acceptance but it is a perfect place to point you to some very helpful resources. One of the best in this regard is William Bridge’s best-selling book,

About the Author: My name is Fred Nickols.  I am a writer, an independent consultant and a former executive.  Visual aids of one kind or another have played a central role in my work for many years.  My goals in writing for SmartDraw’s Working Smarter blog are to: (1) provide you with some first-rate content you can’t get anywhere else, (2) illustrate how important good visuals can be in communicating such content and (3) illustrate also the critical role visuals can play in solving the kinds of problems we encounter in the workplace.  I encourage you to comment on my posts and to contact me directly if you want to pursue a more in-depth discussion.

I thoroughly enjoyed the above and would like to share it with you.

Reflexion Dominicale

Evangile de Jésus-Christ selon saint Marc 10,35-45.
Jacques et Jean, les fils de Zébédée, s’approchent de Jésus et lui disent : « Maître, nous voudrions que tu exauces notre demande. »
Il leur dit : « Que voudriez-vous que je fasse pour vous ? »
Ils lui répondirent : « Accorde-nous de siéger, l’un à ta droite et l’autre à ta gauche, dans ta gloire. »
Jésus leur dit : « Vous ne savez pas ce que vous demandez. Pouvez-vous boire à la coupe que je vais boire, recevoir le baptême dans lequel je vais être plongé ? »
Ils lui disaient : « Nous le pouvons. » Il répond : « La coupe que je vais boire, vous y boirez ; et le baptême dans lequel je vais être plongé, vous le recevrez.
Quant à siéger à ma droite ou à ma gauche, il ne m’appartient pas de l’accorder, il y a ceux pour qui ces places sont préparées. »
Les dix autres avaient entendu, et ils s’indignaient contre Jacques et Jean.
Jésus les appelle et leur dit : « Vous le savez : ceux que l’on regarde comme chefs des nations païennes commandent en maîtres ; les grands leur font sentir leur pouvoir.
Parmi vous, il ne doit pas en être ainsi. Celui qui veut devenir grand sera votre serviteur.
Celui qui veut être le premier sera l’esclave de tous :
car le Fils de l’homme n’est pas venu pour être servi, mais pour servir, et donner sa vie en rançon pour la multitude. »


Une expression est un oxymore (ou dite « oxymorique ») lorsqu’elle met côte à côte deux mots ayant des sens opposés et aboutissant à une image contradictoire et frappante pour la représentation comme dans « un silence assourdissant ». En exprimant ce qui est inconcevable, crée ainsi une nouvelle réalité poétique qui suscite un effet de surprise, en ajoutant de la force à la vérité décrite. Celui qui veut devenir grand sera le plus petit ou celui qui veut être le premier sera le dernier de tous.

Le Seigneur semble nous prendre à contrepied. La transition de notre vie terrestre vers notre vie éternelle nous demande t il une logique différente ? Etre petit nous rendrait encore plus grand ? Servir et non être servi ! Jésus est autant plus grand qu’il s’est fait le dernier de l’humanité. Nous mériterons notre vie éternelle que dans le service et non en étant servi !La vraie vie commence avec notre mort!

Je vous livre ce jour la réflexion de Saint Augustin sur le texte de cet Evangile :

« Celui qui veut devenir grand sera votre serviteur »

Quelle nécessité y avait-il à ce que le Fils de Dieu souffre pour nous ? Une grande nécessité, que l’on peut résumer en deux points : nécessité de remède à l’égard de nos péchés, nécessité d’exemple pour notre conduite… Car la Passion du Christ nous fournit un modèle valable pour toute notre vie… Si tu cherches un exemple de charité : « Il n’y a pas de plus grand amour que de donner sa vie pour ses amis » (Jn 15,13)… Si tu cherches la patience, c’est sur la croix qu’on la trouve au maximum… Le Christ a souffert de grands maux sur la croix, et avec patience, puisque « couvert d’insultes il ne menaçait pas » (1P 2,23), « comme une brebis conduite à l’abattoir, il n’ouvrait pas la bouche » (Is 53,7)… « Courons donc avec constance l’épreuve qui nous est proposée, les yeux fixés sur Jésus, qui est à l’origine et au terme de notre foi. Renonçant à la joie qui lui était proposée, il a enduré, sans avoir de honte, l’humiliation de la croix » (He 12,1-2).

Si tu cherches un exemple d’humilité, regarde le crucifié. Car un Dieu a voulu être jugé sous Ponce Pilate et mourir… Si tu cherches un exemple d’obéissance, tu n’as qu’à suivre celui qui s’est fait obéissant au Père « jusqu’à la mort » (Ph 2,8). « De même que la faute commise par un seul, c’est-à-dire Adam, a rendu tous les hommes pécheurs, de même tous deviendront justes par l’obéissance d’un seul » (Rm 5,19). Si tu cherches un exemple de mépris pour les biens terrestres, tu n’as qu’à suivre celui qui est le « Roi des rois et Seigneur des seigneurs », « en qui sont cachés tous les trésors de la sagesse et de la connaissance » (1Tm 6,15; Col 2,3) ; sur la croix il est nu, tourné en dérision, couvert de crachats, frappé, couronné d’épines, et enfin, abreuvé de fiel et de vinaigre.

Re-Branding Mauritius


If the country brand strategy is able to bring benefits to the economic, social and cultural aspects of Mauritius, then why not?

I overheard some guys saying 30 millions of rupees to produce the logo? Any gifted child could have done better!

I had the opportunity of reading a 39 page document that was produced for the Country Brand Strategy. Admittedly there has been much work and research done.


The Brand Strategy describes the platform for all future communications

for Mauritius. As the first initiative, a new Mauritius Country Brand Logo

has been created along with a special purpose strap line to be a symbol

of the Positioning: “Generosity of spirit” and the Proposition: “Mauritius

Nurtures”. An example of this new Logo appears at the bottom of this

page. The rules for the use and typography of the new Logo are set out

in a separate book entitled “Brand Mauritius Visual Identity Guidelines”.

I quite like “Generosity of spirit” and “Mauritius nurtures”.

I read through the papers thereon last week. The comments I saw are so typical of our lot.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I hope that a monitoring is in place to pursue the branding exercise, its roll out and more importantly to measure the value derived from it.

Company’s Culture

I found most interesting the article produced by Fred Nickols. I recommend you to read his blogs. We in Mauritius are anyway a country where monkeys abound. I  imagine myself as a monkey with low cultural inhibition. I hate people telling me that are the ways it is being done here. I would react by saying: why is it so, or is the method still valid? Are not we getting out of the knowledge economy to enter the creativity economy?

Did you ever wonder how your company’s culture – that set of beliefs, traditions, and behavioral norms that determines “the way things work around here” – came to be? Or why, when you try to change it, it seems so resistant? Well, here’s a little story about a scientific experiment that shows how culture comes into being and why it is so resistant.

The experimenters began with a cage, a set of externally enforced boundaries. Inside the cage, they hung a banana on a string and placed a set of stairs under it. They then introduced five monkeys into the cage. Before long, one of the monkeys started to climb the stairs toward the banana. As soon as it touched the stairs the experimenters sprayed all the other monkeys with really cold water. When another monkey made an attempt to get the banana they again sprayed the other monkeys with cold water. After a while the monkeys prevented any of their group from going after the banana.

After the cultural prohibition against “going for the banana” had been established the experimenters put away the cold water. They took one of the original monkeys out of the cage and introduced a new one. Upon spotting the banana the new monkey went after it. To its surprise and dismay all of the other monkeys attacked it. After another attempt and attack the new monkey learned that if it tried to climb the stairs and get the banana it would be assaulted and so it stopped going after the banana. It had been acculturated, assimilated into the cage’s “don’t go for the banana” culture.

Next the experimenters removed another of the original five monkeys and replaced it with another new one. The second new monkey went to the stairs and predictably it was attacked. The first new monkey took part in this punishment with enthusiasm! Similarly a third original monkey was replaced with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.

Every time the newest monkey took to the stairs it was attacked by the other monkeys. Most of the monkeys that were beating it had no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they were participating in the beating of the newest monkey. After all the original monkeys were replaced none of the remaining monkeys had ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever approached the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they knew: “That’s the way it’s always been done around here.”

And that is how a company’s culture is formed: Acceptable and unacceptable behaviors are initially established in response to important external events but, over time, all that remains are strongly-held notions about what is and what isn’t acceptable behavior. The origins of these beliefs vanish with the departure of the members of the group who were present when the patterns and standards were initially established. In a long-lived organization, there might be no members left who know why a given behavior is considered acceptable or unacceptable. Yet all members of the organization are quick to enforce whatever the cultural standards might be.

So how do you break out of this culture trap? Well, you start by trying to find out what’s behind those cultural do’s and don’ts. Why is this expected or required? Why is that prohibited? And don’t accept “That’s the way things are done around here” as an answer. In some cases, you might find there are very good reasons for this or that prohibition or requirement. In others you won’t. In all cases, what you’re out to accomplish is to eliminate blind adherence to behavioral norms.

If you want to prevent hardening of the cultural arteries, try this: Every two or three years, conduct a simple cultural audit (see the decision tree below). Identify whatever behavioral norms are at work and determine why they are in place. See if they are still valid. None of this means that all or even any cultural standards will be eliminated; what it does mean is that if they no longer make any sense you can probably do away with them and, if they are to stay in place, people will know why – and your company’s culture will make sense instead of simply being a case of monkey see, monkey do.

About the Author: My name is Fred Nickols.  I am a writer, an independent consultant and a former executive.  Visual aids of one kind or another have played a central role in my work for many years.  My goals in writing for SmartDraw’s Working Smarter blog are to: (1) provide you with some first-rate content you can’t get anywhere else, (2) illustrate how important good visuals can be in communicating such content and (3) illustrate also the critical role visuals can play in solving the kinds of problems we encounter in the workplace.  I encourage you to comment on my posts and to contact me directly if you want to pursue a more in-depth discussion

Le GOUT par Jean Verget

Lors d’un brillant exposé par un expert en goût et œnologie, Jean Verget, que j’ai eu l’occasion d’y assister mercredi soir à l’hôtel School Gaëtan Duval, j’ai retenu parmi une mine d’informations nouvelles, un élément simple et important en matière de goût. Simplement je ne peux distinguer avec mes papïlles que quelques saveurs :

· salé comme le sel

· amer comme la quinine

· acide comme le citron

· umamie comme les glutamates

· calcium comme dans le chou

· sucré comme le sucre

Ce qui semble important c’est une harmonie de goût pour rendre l’expérience agréable. Comme chaque individu à son propre instrument gustatif calibré pour soi, l’harmonie ne peut qu’ être personnelle.

Comment faire l’harmonisation ?


Qui est Jean Vegert et quel est son parcours en la matière ?

Certificat d’œnologie et de législation viticole

Ecole supérieure de commerce de Montpellier

Certificat d’économie viticole de la fac de droit de Montpellier

Directeur technique de la maison Brocard (vins de bourgogne) de 1966 à 1971

Directeur général des Compagnons Gourmets de 1971 à 1977

Directeur générale Président de Laplace, le chemin de la propriété jusqu’a sa retraite.

Conférencier et formateur sur l’œnologie et le goût,

Formation auprès de groupe comme :

Accor, Hilton, Sodexho, Elior, Holiday Inn?.

Conférencier dans des clubs du Rotary et des Lion’s

Formation sur la dégustation, la vue, l’olfaction, le goût, les influences climatiques, l’harmonie des mets et des vins, les régions de production vinicoles?

Lucky! It is a skill to learn.

A decade ago, I set out to investigate luck. I wanted to examine the impact on people’s lives of chance opportunities, lucky breaks and being in the right place at the right time. After many experiments, I believe that I now understand why some people are luckier than others and that it is possible to become luckier.

To launch my study, I placed advertisements in national newspapers and magazines, asking for people who felt consistently lucky or unlucky to contact me. Over the years, 400 extraordinary men and women volunteered for my research from all walks of life: the youngest is an 18-year-old student, the oldest an 84-year-old retired accountant.

Jessica, a 42-year-old forensic scientist, is typical of the lucky group. As she explained: “I have my dream job, two wonderful children and a great guy whom I love very much. It’s amazing; when I look back at my life, I realise I have been lucky in just about every area.”

In contrast, Carolyn, a 34-year-old care assistant, is typical of the unlucky group. She is accident-prone. In one week, she twisted her ankle in a pothole, injured her back in another fall and reversed her car into a tree during a driving lesson. She was also unlucky in love and felt she was always in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Over the years, I interviewed these volunteers, asked them to complete diaries, questionnaires and intelligence tests, and invited them to participate in experiments. The findings have revealed that although unlucky people have almost no insight into the real causes of their good and bad luck, their thoughts and behaviour are responsible for much of their fortune.

Take the case of chance opportunities. Lucky people consistently encounter such opportunities, whereas unlucky people do not. I carried out a simple experiment to discover whether this was due to differences in their ability to spot such opportunities.

I gave both lucky and unlucky people a newspaper, and asked them to look through it and tell me how many photographs were inside. On average, the unlucky people took about two minutes to count the photographs, whereas the lucky people took just seconds. Why? Because the second page of the newspaper contained the message: “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” This message took up half of the page and was written in type that was more than 2in high. It was staring everyone straight in the face, but the unlucky people tended to miss it and the lucky people tended to spot it.

For fun, I placed a second large message halfway through the newspaper: “Stop counting. Tell the experimenter you have seen this and win £250.” Again, the unlucky people missed the opportunity because they were still too busy looking for photographs.

Personality tests revealed that unlucky people are generally much more tense than lucky people, and research has shown that anxiety disrupts people’s ability to notice the unexpected. In one experiment, people were asked to watch a moving dot in the centre of a computer screen. Without warning, large dots would occasionally be flashed at the edges of the screen. Nearly all participants noticed these large dots.

The experiment was then repeated with a second group of people, who were offered a large financial reward for accurately watching the centre dot, creating more anxiety. They became focused on the centre dot and more than a third of them missed the large dots when they appeared on the screen. The harder they looked, the less they saw.

And so it is with luck – unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. They go to parties intent on finding their perfect partner and so miss opportunities to make good friends. They look through newspapers determined to find certain types of job advertisements and as a result miss other types of jobs. Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there rather than just what they are looking for.

My research revealed that lucky people generate good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.

I wondered whether these four principles could be used to increase the amount of good luck that people encounter in their lives. To find out, I created a “luck school” – a simple experiment that examined whether people’s luck can be enhanced by getting them to think and behave like a lucky person.

I asked a group of lucky and unlucky volunteers to spend a month carrying out exercises designed to help them think and behave like a lucky person. These exercises helped them spot chance opportunities, listen to their intuition, expect to be lucky, and be more resilient to bad luck.

One month later, the volunteers returned and described what had happened. The results were dramatic: 80 per cent of people were now happier, more satisfied with their lives and, perhaps most important of all, luckier. While lucky people became luckier, the unlucky had become lucky. Take Carolyn, whom I introduced at the start of this article. After graduating from “luck school”, she has passed her driving test after three years of trying, was no longer accident-prone and became more confident.

In the wake of these studies, I think there are three easy techniques that can help to maximise good fortune:

  • Unlucky people often fail to follow their intuition when making a choice, whereas lucky people tend to respect hunches. Lucky people are interested in how they both think and feel about the various options, rather than simply looking at the rational side of the situation. I think this helps them because gut feelings act as an alarm bell – a reason to consider a decision carefully.
  • Unlucky people tend to be creatures of routine. They tend to take the same route to and from work and talk to the same types of people at parties. In contrast, many lucky people try to introduce variety into their lives. For example, one person described how he thought of a colour before arriving at a party and then introduced himself to people wearing that colour. This kind of behaviour boosts the likelihood of chance opportunities by introducing variety.
  • Lucky people tend to see the positive side of their ill fortune. They imagine how things could have been worse. In one interview, a lucky volunteer arrived with his leg in a plaster cast and described how he had fallen down a flight of stairs. I asked him whether he still felt lucky and he cheerfully explained that he felt luckier than before. As he pointed out, he could have broken his neck.

Richard Wiseman is a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire.

Gary Hamel

I was lucky last week during the APM convention in Lyon to have got some insights from the very famous Gary Hamel of Strategos. Wall Street Journal, named Gary Hamel as the world’s most influential business thinker last year. His message could be summarised in 3 chapters: 1. Speed of change 2. Intensity of Change 3. The transition from the knowledge economy to the creativity economy.

I went through the series of articles which I held from Gary Hamel which although written in 2003 remains valid and up to date.

The challenge of systemic, radical innovation leads to two questions: How do you generate breakthrough ideas? And how do you manage that process to achieve breakthrough performance?

Innovation typically comes from looking at the world through a slightly different lens. In talking with innovators, four perspectives—four lenses—seem to dominate:

1. Radical innovators challenge the dogmas and the orthodoxies of the incumbents.

When most people think about the future, they typically take 98 percent of the industry orthodoxy as a given. Before they start, they’ve already limited their potential for innovation to about 2 percent of the available “space.” To innovate, you need to spot the absurdities that no one else has spotted, to ask the stupid question that no one else has asked, to take some existing performance parameter and push it so far that suddenly you have illuminated a new possibility.

A good place to start is by looking for trade-offs, situations where a competitor is telling itself or its customers, “You can have one or the other.” Twenty years ago, the U.S. auto industry said that you could have either quality or low cost. Toyota offered both. The U.S. airline industry said that you could have the lowest fares or the highest customer satisfaction. Southwest managed to deliver both. When you hear “or,” it’s an invitation to innovation.

2. Radical innovators spot trends that have gone unnoticed. I’m not a big fan of forecasting or scenario planning, because you can’t predict the future, but you can ask, “What things are already changing that most people (especially my competitors) haven’t noticed yet?” The way to find new answers is to look where your competitors aren’t. Every CEO needs to spend some time on the fringe of technology, entertainment, fashion, and politics where new possibilities first present themselves.

3. Radical innovators learn to live inside the customer’s skin. This is not another plea to be customer focused. Getting “close to the customer” rarely provokes real innovation, because you’re talking to customers whom you already serve, and you’re listening to what they’re saying—not paying attention to what they’re feeling.

Innovation almost never comes from an articulated need; it comes from an insight into an unarticulated need. We never asked for eBay, Starbucks, or downloadable music, but somehow, we got those things. Radical innovators have a boundless empathy with human frustration that allows them to see beyond articulated needs to the unexpressed need.

To get to the unexpressed need, you must develop an experiential sense of what it means to be a customer. My company recently worked with a major hospital that was trying to create a more customer-centric experience. We took a slice of the hospital’s employee base—a dozen or so people—and we asked them to list their 10-best service experiences. Maybe it was a day at Walt Disney World or a first-class flight to London on Virgin Atlantic. Then we asked them to take cameras and notepads and go enjoy some of those experiences. Anytime something they experienced evoked a great feeling—anytime they felt respected or had their expectations exceeded—we asked them to take a picture, make a note, and tell us exactly what happened.

Next, we asked the same team to live through the experience of being patients in their own hospital, to lie in bed with an IV, to use a bedpan, to traipse around in one of those gowns that flap open in the back, to put up with a procession of medical personnel poking and prodding them. Not surprisingly, the inpatient procedure teased out some not-so-great feelings. You have to do two things to get at deep, unvoiced needs: Get an experiential insight into what it feels like to be your own customer, and assemble an inventory of first-person analogies (like the Disney World or the Virgin experience) from which you can draw out potential solutions.

People get the courage to try new things not because they are convinced to do so by a wealth of analytical evidence but because they feel something viscerally. Until you feel something in your gut, until you’ve experienced it and know it to be true, you simply won’t have the courage to act.

4. Radical innovators think of their companies as portfolios of assets and competencies. The real foundation for growth and innovation consists of a company’s assets (its brand, its customer relationships, its subscriber database) and its competencies (its skills and the ideas that are locked in people’s heads). One trick you can use is to think of the world as a Lego kit of different competencies and assets, owned by different companies, that you can put together with the skills and assets that already exist in your company. One company that has done just that is Swatch.


CEOs are starting to understand that without radical innovation, decline is inevitable. We all must start to take innovation more seriously.

Still, barriers to innovation seem to be everywhere. But what sustains me—and everyone who wants to build an organization that is consistently innovative and allows us to bring the full measure of our creativity to work—is this: There was no such thing as a large corporation 150 years ago. There was no AT&T, GE, GM, or Sony. These are products of our imagination. We invented them—and we can reinvent them. There’s no law of nature or act of God that keeps us laboring in organizations that treat people as mere factors of production.

Let’s respect that the large corporation has brought us unmatched material prosperity. If you have two cars, three televisions, and a couple of PCs, you have industrialization to thank for that. We have built companies that can efficiently churn out products and services by the zillions. But in building those companies and in reaping those efficiency gains, we have also made a burden for our own backs to bear.

We’ve produced organizations that aren’t much fun to work in and too often fail. And as they fail, so do the aspirations of the people who have devoted their lives to building them. What we invented can be reinvented. We should take revolutionary steps to achieve evolutionary goals.

We’re not going to build companies that are capable of systemic, radical innovation in one gigantic leap. We’ll get there the same way we have gotten to total quality and real customer service: through a series of steps where we build the new skills, metrics, processes, and values that turn rhetoric into reality.

The challenge is to know where you’re headed, so that those steps can lead you in a new direction. And then, one day, you’ll find yourself in territory where no one has gone before.

Reflexion Dominicale


Dimanche dernier j’ai eu la grande joie d’assister à ma messe dominicale à La basilique de Fourvière. Un magnifique édifice du XIXe siècle inscrit sur la liste de patrimoine de l’Unesco.

J’étais éblouie par la richesse du lieu et par le travail  fin et harmonieux de l’œuvre.

La congrégation fêtais ce dimanche, les béatifications de Louis et Zélie Martin. Ce fut également une nouvelle découverte. Je me suis empressé de me documenter sur ce couple qui a été reconnus bienheureux qu’en 2008. Dans son homelie le celebrant avait commenté sur la vie du saint couple.

Louis Martin (1823-1894) et Zélie Martin (1831-1877) ont été béatifiés dimanche 19 octobre à Lisieux. Qui étaient les parents de sainte Thérèse et que peuvent-ils transmettre aux familles d’aujourd’hui ?

«C ’est d’abord l’histoire d’un couple. Un couple d’une réelle modernité. » L’histoire de Louis et Zélie Martin, Guy Fournier, chargé de la communication du diocèse de Séez (Orne), pourrait en parler des heures. Mgr Bernard Lagoutte, recteur du sanctuaire de Lisieux, abonde dans le même sens : « Bien que le monde ait changé, leurs bonheurs et leurs malheurs nous rejoignent. Ils deviennent nos amis, nos parents… La proximité que nous vivions déjà avec sainte Thérèse nous fait entrer dans celle de sa famille. »

Si le couple alençonnais suscite une dévotion croissante, c’est sans nul doute en raison de l’abondante correspondance familiale, surtout celle laissée par Zélie. Des lettres qui laissent penser que « Thérèse est bien la fille de ses parents », comme le résume joliment le P. Olivier Ruffray, vicaire épiscopal du diocèse de Bayeux-Lisieux. « Celle-ci a su glaner, dans la joie comme dans la douleur, tout ce dont elle avait besoin pour pouvoir vivre et grandir dans cet amour qui unissait ses parents », souligne-t-il.

Certes, Thérèse les a incontestablement mis en valeur – surtout son père, car elle a peu connu sa mère, morte quand elle-même avait 4 ans et demi –, mais ils ne doivent pas pour autant leur sainteté à leur fille. Loin de là. En fait, « ce serait même plutôt l’inverse », assure Mgr Lagoutte, pour qui « c’est le milieu familial qui a été porteur ». http://www.la-croix.com/img/la-croix/commun/pix_trans.gif

“Cette béatification suscite un intérêt bien au-delà de la France”

http://www.la-croix.com/img/la-croix/commun/pix_trans.gifPorteur, le témoignage des époux Martin continue de l’être aujourd’hui, à en croire le recteur du sanctuaire normand. « Ce qui va se passer dimanche dépasse largement Lisieux, prévient-il. Cette béatification suscite un intérêt bien au-delà de la France. Je dirais même que nous sommes loin d’être en tête de peloton ! » Ainsi, les premiers à avoir accordé de l’attention à Louis Martin sont les Australiens. En Floride, où l’on milite déjà pour la canonisation du couple, ce sont 75 000 images de Louis et Zélie qui ont été commandées ! Les Irlandais, quant à eux, organisent depuis plusieurs années déjà un dimanche de prière afin de favoriser leur béatification. « En toute franchise, confie Mgr Lagoutte, je n’ai jamais rencontré un tel zèle dans le diocèse de Bayeux et Lisieux ! »

Étonnante fécondité d’une famille de la petite bourgeoisie provinciale, comme il y en avait tant dans la France du XIXe siècle. Louis Martin naît à Bordeaux en 1823. Enfant de troupe, il mène d’abord une jeunesse itinérante, avant que ses parents ne se fixent dans l’Orne, à Alençon. Renonçant à une vocation religieuse, il décide en 1850 d’y ouvrir une bijouterie-horlogerie.

Louis partage son temps entre son métier et ses loisirs (pêche, billard, voyage…). Il lui arrive même de « boursicoter », note Mgr Lagoutte : « En ces temps de crise, je conseille aux financiers de prier Louis Martin pour les aider à faire face ! », plaisante-t il. Louis mène par ailleurs une vie spirituelle fervente, nourrie d’engagements sociaux concrets, notamment au sein des Conférences Saint-Vincent-de-Paul.http://www.la-croix.com/img/la-croix/commun/pix_trans.gif

Un amour solide et durable

http://www.la-croix.com/img/la-croix/commun/pix_trans.gifUn jour, sa mère, qui s’inquiète de le voir encore célibataire, lui parle de Zélie Guérin. Les clichés d’époque laissent apparaître une jeune femme au teint diaphane, dont le doux sourire empreint de mystère n’est pas sans évoquer celui qu’immortalisera plus tard la plus illustre de ses filles. Hasard ou providence ? Zélie a elle aussi abandonné l’idée de devenir religieuse et tient désormais une boutique de dentelles. Les deux artisans se rencontrent pour la première fois en avril 1858. Ils se marient quelques mois plus tard, le 13 juillet.

Zélie a 27 ans. C’est le début d’un amour solide et durable, malgré la maladie et la mort. De 1860 à 1873, sur neuf naissances, quatre de leurs enfants mourront en bas âge. Et dès 1865, Zélie doit lutter contre un cancer du sein qui l’emportera douze ans plus tard, à 46 ans. Veuf très tôt, Louis rejoindra alors Lisieux pour se rapprocher de sa belle-famille et se consacrer à l’éducation de ses cinq filles. Lui-même atteint d’une pathologie cérébrale, il finira interné à l’hôpital psychiatrique. La dureté de sa fin de vie pèsera beaucoup sur les siens.

« Leur vie commune ne dura que dix-neuf ans, relèvent Alice et Henri Quantin, auteurs d’une biographie des époux Martin (1). C’est assez pour se sanctifier l’un par l’autre, mais cela interdit de réduire leur existence à cette période. » Au fond, qu’est-ce qui, dans l’expérience du couple, justifie leur béatification ? Pour Guy Fournier, l’exemplarité des époux Martin tient en un mot : l’unité. « Cette unité, ils ont su la bâtir entre leur vie spirituelle, familiale et sociale. En cela, ils peuvent éclairer les familles de 2008, à l’heure où nous avons tendance à fractionner nos vies. » Leur ciment, ce fut donc cette foi, indéfectible et contagieuse, dont Thérèse parlera souvent dans ses écrits : « Le bon Dieu m’a donné un père et une mère plus dignes du Ciel que de la terre. »http://www.la-croix.com/img/la-croix/commun/pix_trans.gif

« Ce sont des chrétiens de la vie ordinaire »

http://www.la-croix.com/img/la-croix/commun/pix_trans.gifDans ses lettres, Zélie, qui trouvait bien « triste une maison sans religion », ne dément pas cette réputation. Chaque jour, les époux se rendent à la messe aux aurores. Louis pratique l’adoration nocturne. On prie en famille. Cette ferveur n’est jamais déconnectée d’une attention constante aux autres – domestiques, voisins ou connaissances –, elle en est même la source. « Quand Papa avait communié, il restait silencieux sur le chemin du retour, raconte Céline Martin. “Je continue de m’entretenir avec Notre Seigneur”, nous disait-il. » Et, malgré les deuils successifs, les parents s’efforceront toujours de « remettre toutes choses » entre les mains de Dieu, et « d’attendre les événements dans le calme et l’abandon à sa volonté », écrit encore Zélie.

Pour autant, insiste Mgr Guy Gaucher, ancien évêque auxiliaire de Bayeux et Lisieux, « ce n’était pas un foyer sinistre ! ». Pour couper court aux clichés, ce carme, spécialiste thérésien, évoque la chaleur des veillées familiales, les sorties et les promenades… Le bonheur, en somme. Certes, note-t-il, Louis et Zélie ont eu leur lot d’« épreuves ». Mais « ils les ont traversées avec un courage, une foi, une espérance et un esprit missionnaire ». Au fond, « ce sont des chrétiens de la vie ordinaire », se plaît-il à répéter.

« Des saints de l’escalier », renchérissent les époux Quantin dans leur ouvrage, en contre-pied à l’image d’« ascenseur pour le ciel » popularisée par Thérèse. « Zélie et Louis n’ont donc été ni rose bonbon, ni noir mouroir, ni “étonnamment modernes”, ni “graves ringards”, ni anges vaporeux, ni démons dangereux. Ils ont aimé, voilà tout. Ils ont aimé comme Thérèse l’a défini et vécu : en donnant tout et en se donnant eux-mêmes. »

François-Xavier MAIGRE