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Showing posts with the label lateral thinking

The Pygmalion vs. The Golem Effect

There are two kinds of self-fulfilling prophecies. They are broadly defined by wiki as follows: The Pygmalion effect , or Rosenthal effect, is the phenomenon in which the greater the expectation placed upon people, the better they perform. On the other hand is the Golem effect , in which low expectations lead to a decrease in performance. In ancient Greek mythology, Pygmalion fell in love with one of his sculptures, which then came to life. The theme was in the main stray of many English literary works during the victorian era. One of which is George Bernard Shaw's play titled "Pygmalion" from which Rosenthal effect gets its name. In Shaw's play, the protagonist, a professor of phonetics Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can train a bedraggled Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess at an ambassador's garden party by teaching her to assume a veneer of gentility, the most important element of which, he believes, is impeccable speech. (The pl

George Sugihara On Early Warning Signs

Earlier this month SEED magazine published this very interesting article by George Sugihara, theoretical biologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, on how deep mathematical models tie the events of climat change, epileptic seizure, fishery collapses, and risk management surrounding the global financial crisis. Excerpts: [...] Economics is not typically thought of as a global systems problem. Indeed, investment banks are famous for a brand of tunnel vision that focuses risk management at the individual firm level and ignores the difficult and costlier, albeit less frequent, systemic or financial-web problem. Monitoring the ecosystem-like network of firms with interlocking balance sheets is not in the risk manager’s job description. A parallel situation exists in fisheries, where stocks are traditionally managed one species at a time. Alarm over collapsing fish stocks, however, is helping to create the current push for ecosystem-based ocean management. This is a step in the ri

Our Decision-making Process That Short-circuits Reality

From Ivo Velitchkov's Enterprise Architecture blog - "Beliefs and Capabilities": [try here ] "From the observable data and experience we select some and affix meaning to it. This forms the basis of our assumptions. And then we come to conclusions which in turn influence our beliefs. Our beliefs are the basis of our actions which bring more data and experience from which we select some, affix meaning and so on. We tend to believe that we affix meaning to the observable data, oblivious of the selection we always make. In a similar way we believe that we draw conclusions by clear reasoning, while we actually always apply some assumptions." Beliefs and Capabilities: The Inference Cycle: See also: Go here for Chris Argyris's Harvard paper: Teaching Smart People How To Learn [PDF] Go here for SystemWiki entry - Ladder of Inference: Short Circuiting Reality Go here for Argyris's theories of action, double-loop learning and organizational le

Humor: Scott Adams, The Hypnotist

This blog entry is a fan-post about choosing the three best blog entires that Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, has posted over the month of March '12. Arguably, this is also a lazy task. Understandably, this will need some explaining. Scott Adams is a genius with hypnotic calibre. He can even prove it by producing a certain Certification in Hypnotism that hangs on his office wall, and about which we, the ardent followers of his humor blog at and elsewhere such as his occasional NYT and WSJ columns, have heard more often than perhaps the issuing authorities themselves. That a certain obscure yet timely reference or reminder of being a certified hypnotist can turn his otherwise benign looking paragraphs into mesmerizing wand of a wizard is something only a certified hypnotist can do (I agree that this logic defeats itself, but I never claimed that hypnotism has anything to do with logic. If you have read Scott as regularly as he writes you have already learned that

Humor: Sheldon's Prayer

Theoretical Physicist Dr. Sheldon Cooper Sc.D. has hardly anything to do with this post except for an optimistic allusion toward his positive delight at throwing a monologos tantrum such as this in any of The Big Bang Theory episodes preferably not named as the same suggested title. You see, All metaphysics, of/for every sectarian-/semi-/secular-/pseudo-/anti-religion's theory seems to thrive on this evolutionary blindspot in the cognitive process; Hit by unreferenceable 'knowing'; And admixed with confused human imaginations.

SKR, Education, Three videos, and "3 idiots"

EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE THERE COMES AN IDEA THAT has at least three beautiful things together: holistic relevance, sincerity towards applicability, and honest and bold presentation. Such ideas carry an element for illumination and invokes belief in the audience. Let's listen to Sir Ken Robinson (SKR). The Professor of Education has thus far given two of the best and most popular TED talks (see below). His ideas on the challenges of modern Education systems across the world, and possible solutions through paradigm shift have been path-breaking (including, earning the professor his knighthood). When the idea is larger than life, it is often easy to miss the whole picture while focusing on the point if delivery of the idea, beautiful that it mostly is. For this reason, RSA Animation has done a great job in the video below in creating a sort of "skeleton key" based on SKR's RSA speech - Changing Education Paradigm. Within a couple of minutes into the animation, it is m

Sachin Tendulkar’s Stock Market Run

AUSTRALIA, THE DOMINANT SPORTING powerhouse among the 71 the Commonwealth countries, have invested into researching India’s cricket performance and how it relates to equity trading at Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange of Dalal Street in Mumbai, India. The market cap of BSE stands close to USD 1.4 trillion, and NSE, with market cap of nearly USD 1.5 trillion, is the third largest Stock Exchange in the world in terms of the number of trades in equities. Australia were dethroned by India from #1 spot for ICC test cricket ranking earlier this year, and are being challenged for their spot for the ODI ranking as the contest is on. And their desperation is evident on the field while the Test Series between the two national sides is currently under way. As Sachin Tendulkar, the cricketing legend goes on to slam his sixth double century for India, his second against Australia, (and the only International player to ever score a double hundred in the ODI format of the game),

Gartner: 10 Changes in the Nature of Work in Next 10 Years

"ORGANIZATIONS WILL NEED TO PLAN for increasingly chaotic environments that are out of their direct control, and adaptation must involve adjusting to all 10 of the trends (listed below)", observers Gartner fellow and VP, Tom Austin. In a report published earlier this year titled "Watchlist: Continuing Changes in the Nature of Work, 2010-2020", Gartner says that organizations will need to determine which of the 10 key changes in the nature of work will affect them the most, and consider whether radically different technology models will be required to address them. The other key message that emerges out of the report's overall analysis says: Work will become less routine, characterized by increased volatility, hyper-connectedness, 'swarming' and by 2015, 40 percent or more of an organization's work will be "non-routine," up from 25 percent in 2010. Later next month, Tom Austin is scheduled to speak in London on these trends: De-routinizat

Fitts’s Law and Usability of Gmail

Fitt’s law (Simplified): " Put commonly accessed UI elements on the edges of the screen. Because the cursor automatically stops at the edges, they will be easier to click on. [And then] Make clickable areas as large as you can. Larger targets are easier to click on. " The law is rather simple (or, one might argue, too simple to follow all the time). This is basic common sense. Human Interfaces of computer system typically are a subject matter of Fitts’s law . A FEW YEARS AGO I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY to attend a workshop with Mr. Aaron Marcus . The veteran man is an industry expert on usability and the designer of the original Nokia cell phone’s user navigation system. Cell phones were a niche product in early 2000's and not much data was available to ascertain how users would react to such an operating system of such a hand-held device. Mr. Marcus had a variety of ideas and principles to talk about at the workshop on the subject of Software systems and their usability a

"The Right Thing To Do" - Harvard Lectures on Moral Philosophy

PROF. MICHAEL SANDEL OPENED HIS FAMOUS CLASS ON "JUSTICE" and Moral and Political Philosophy at Harvard University, USA, with the following (cautionary) address: If you look at the syllabus, you would notice that we read a number of great and famous books. Books by Aristotle, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and others. [...] We will read these books, and we will debate these [philosophical] issues, and we will see how each informs and illuminates the other [school of thought]. This may sound appealing and interesting enough, but here I have to issue a warning: To read these books, in this way, as an exercise in self-knowledge, carries certain risks. Risks that are both personal and political. Risks that every student of Political Philosophy has known. These risks spring from the fact that philosophy teaches us, and unsettles us, by confronting us with what we already know . There is an irony: the difficulty of this course consists in the fact that it teaches

"Jugaad" - More Than A Fad?

BusinessWeek RAN A STORY LAST MONTH that focused on "Jugadh" and termed it as the new mantra for innovation. Colleagues and clients not too familiar with the Indian culture tried seeking second opinions on the word. Observers commented on the topic from the world over. Some compared the term with Quality techniques such as Lean and Keizen - doing more, with less . Others saw it as the new Agile. Jugadh or Jugaad was considered by the Economist as the latest cost-cutting technique in Asia. WSJ wrote that Jughad is the primary reason why Indian economy remained insulated in the recent Global economic down-turn. Someone else commented that ISB at Hyderabad conducts special workshops to tool executives with Jugadh, also citing the inclusion of the term in the management consulting arsenal . The original title of the article looked at "Jugadh" as the next big export from India. After due considerations and with due respect to all the views, "Jugadh" is a f

Consulting and Creative (un)commons

Santa and Banta submitted the tender for digging the second underwater Euro Channel Tunnel connecting England with France and continental Europe. This was perhaps the first time that a bid for such an extreme engineering project was coming from India, and apparently so it raised a few eyebrows and steered interest. An outsourcing relationship with India was not a new thing, but bidding for second Euro tunnel - that had got to be special... Mr. Santa and Mr. Banta, the proprietors of Santa Banta & Co., were also among the main invitees to present their ideas describing their technology, tools, budget and time-lines to the consortium presiding over the project. As it turned out S B & Co had the lowest quotation, the shortest time-line for the project, the simplest possible plan and most straightforward execution using the most standard of tools: Santa would take one team (of a few hundred thousand labourers) digging from England towards France, and Banta would do the same from

Change, Catch Words of Consulting II

Continuing from the previous post , following are a few more Catch Words of Consulting: Q x A = E : Q uality of Solution x A cceptance = E ffectiveness of Change. Q is good most of the time. The Key differentiator is Acceptance and Adaptability for a successful Change management. Passive Resistance: is nodding the head, but not actually going to participate in change; civil disobedience of a personal kind; dragging the feet with a smile. Planning vs Plans: D. Eisenhower once said, "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." Planing is so important that PMBOK devotes the largest of its five process groups entirely on planning. See also: Related post: Change, and Catch Words of Consulting I

Change, and Catch Words of Consulting I

"CHANGE IS THAT BIG FAT PINK ELEPHANT that drunkenly roams around this large organization, stamping on people, without anyone having any idea what to do about it." This is how the elderly consultant illustrated in his concluding report to the senior management of [an organization] that was undergoing post-Outsourcing blues. (Do notice elephant as a hidden reference to India as the low-cost location.) It indeed was a significant experience to participate in a professional forum in Australia with such Consulting veterans and alumni of the global consulting 'Big 5' sharing their vivid experiences.

Peter Principle and Promotions

Peter Principle: "Every new member in a hierarchical organization climbs the hierarchy until he/she reaches his/her level of maximum incompetence." [try here for more] IT IS PARADOXICAL, SOUNDS UNREASONABLE, AND DEFIES COMMON-SENSE. But that is how it works, realistically and evidently, for any hierarchical organization where the way of promotion rewards the best members and where the competence at their new level in the hierarchical structure does not depend on the competence they had at the previous level, usually because the tasks of the levels are very different between each other. Since about 50 years ago when a Canadian psychologist named Laurence J. Peter published his studies to this effect in 1969, there has been many changes in the way organizations and it workforce operate in relation with each other. There has been multiple experimental models across various industries, including Role-based organization, Competency-based designations, (A fusion of sorts of the

NRN: Percepts of Being a Respectable Leader

Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood; the virtues that made America. The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life. -- Theodore Roosevelt NR NARAYANA MURTHY OF INFOSYS delivered the opening lecture at Columbia Business School's Khemka Distinguished Speaker Forum at Manhattan on May 26, 2009, where the above quote from Roosevelt were the closing lines. Mr. Murthy began by describing Capitalism as an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange of wealth is made possible and is maintained chiefly by the private individuals or corporations. It is a system that incentivises individuals to use their enterprise, drive, hard-work and innovation to create wealth for themselves and the society. Mr. Murthy argued that capitalism is also a

TED, Memes, Metaphors, but no Economics?

TED: IDEAS WORTH SPREADING is the welcome line at - an intellectual platform blending Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and almost attaining a cult status. Who's who of the world have marked their presence at its annual conferences starting 1984. This is the stage where Prof. Stephen Hawking urged mankind to colonise neighbouring planets; where the UN peace ambassador Jane Goodall spoke about her 45 years old chimpanzee studies; where Bono won the price of expressing three wishes in a bid to change the world; and where Bill Gates opened a jar of mosquitoes to the audience to spread (with them) awareness about malaria (later, when the panic subsided it was declared that the mosquitoes were harmless for they were cured of the germs. I am not entirely sure though which anti-virus was used by Mr. Gates.) A meme is an information packet with an attitude. For the current young generation world over, and those leaning towards entrepreneurship, TED is the "in thing&

Atlas' Second Coming, and the Shrugs

THE FINANCIAL MELTDOWN MIGHT HAVE MADE THE ATLAS TICKLE, or so it may have seemed if one takes the metaphor literally. But Atlas, in spite of shrugs, is going strong on its part. Interestingly, Audacity of Hope by President Obama was overtaken by Atlas Shrugged on the sales charts for a while just before the presidency change. This is the second coming of Ayn Rand that started in 2007. Honestly though, I never got this book right. There was always something ultra-right about the acceptance and success of her (cold-war incubated) concepts of having a platonic state of a democracy (where one would be expected to demonstrate as much dexterity with the left hand as the right. Over the past ten years or so I must have gifted her books, selectively and carefully, to at least three people of my immediate reckoning -all of whom fell out of touch. Not so carefully, after all!). Ayn Rand's rendition of the perfect world —much more vividly worded in her previous notoriety, The Fountainh

Wordle: Measuring Yourself Up in Your Own Words

REGULAR BLOGGERS USE TAG-CLOUDS, and the sincere ones use them wisely. Whilst on one hand the tags help organise and categorise the posts and thoughts therein, they also help the author not to stray too much away (a cluttered tag-cloud is most likely an apparent symptom of this) from the topics and interests the blog is intended for and targeted towards in the first place. On the other hand, the blog posts are made up in real language using real words that make up the composition by the author. And since the author has his/her own style with grammar and sentence construction, it forms a pattern or trend of words used to produce those thoughts marked under the given tags. offers this beautiful applet utility that instantly creates a "word-cloud" by consuming your blog feed. Taking it one step further, one can then match this world cloud with the tag cloud of the blog, and make interesting inferences. [Above: Word-cloud from the recent posts of this blog by Wordle

ImagineCup 2008 - Runnup

"Achieve What You Can Imagine." invention, innovation, inspiration, imagination... If any of the i's tantalise you, entertain yourself with this cute little 1.5 minute teaser video, which in fact is a runnup to the ImagineCup 2008 due this month. "Great innovators don't imagine things in the future; They imagine them in the present, and change the future..." Go here for a list of Software Project designs that made it to the semi-finals of the innovation competition this year. [The video above is one among many created by the students of Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication. Go here for the video on YouTube, and here for other possibilities from Microsoft.] Edit: The '08 finals will be held in Paris between July 3 and 8, 2008.