Pursuit for perfection, Knowledge and Innovation...
Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit. –Aristotle
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. –Dale Carnegie
Traveling ticketless by train in India is not uncommon. In fact, traveling so in local trains is a matter of pride and adventure for many. After all, the likelihood of getting caught is low. Even so, sometime ago, an insurance scheme was launched – surreptitiously one presumes – for ticketless travelers. By paying a small monthly premium, if caught, the penalty for ticketless travel would be paid by the insurer and the traveler was free to continue his/her travel (ticketless, presumably). This might well be an apocryphal story but it illustrates the infinite capacity of the Indian mind to “opportunistically” innovate or invoke Jugaad (a term that’s since become fashionable internationally). Another common example is the case of washing machines being used to churn milk to make butter in rural Punjab. There are scores of examples of such Jugaad innovations but hardly any for what one might call Systematic Innovation, which is typically the source of major innovations on a sustained basis.
Why is that the case? Rishikesha Krishnan, Professor of Corporate Strategy and Policy and Jamuna Raghavan Chair Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore has attempted to answer this in his recent slim book From Jugaad to Systematic Innovation – The challenge for India. While there have been umpteen studies on Innovation in India including several pop-books on examples of breakthrough innovation in India, this is perhaps the first book that lists the critical ingredients required to generate sustained innovation.For instance, the book looks at socio-cultural barriers to innovation (e.g. hierarchical structures and a non-questioning education system) and examines the policy required to foster a culture of innovation. It makes a set of detailed recommendations that policy makers would do good to read. In spite of the so called lack of innovation, India grows. It is said that the country grows at night while the government sleeps! And this is exemplified by the growth of the Indian IT industry that grew before the government understood what it was.
Policy has a huge impact and the appropriate implementation of policy even more so. For example, thanks to policy there’s just one Indian technology company Tejas Networks competing in the Indian telecom equipment market, the world’s fastest growing one. Tejas is all of about $150m in size after 10 years while Chinese competitors like Huawei (supported by the Chinese government) will do over $3billion this year in India! The only other player, Indian state owned, ITI is deep in the red. Thanks to policy, there were till very recently no Indian private sector companies catering to Indian defense needs and India is the world’s largest importer of defense equipment. The role that defense has played in the development of an innovation culture in the US, Israel and even China cannot be understated. Even so, Indian companies are taking baby steps in partnership with international companies.
India produces the world’s largest number of movies and yet there’s no home grown technology (including special effects, equipment etc). India is a world leader in remote sensing satellite technology and yet this and other technologies developed by the state funded labs are not commercialized because of the architecture of these labs and thanks to serious policy flaws.
Socio-cultural barriers to innovation are not just an Indian thing – fear of failure and the social acceptance of failure – but rather an Asian phenomenon or even a non-American one. Yet, Korea and Japan are innovative countries, far more than India. China today, credit to policy, is investing huge sums in R&D, education and in developing home-grown technologies. Policy, including laws and bureaucratic hurdles, is therefore more critical an area for reform. Economic growth, liberalization and globalization will address the issue of socio-cultural barriers by enabling the private sector creation of a friendly ecosystem.
The presence of a market governed by laws (for example, taxation, setting up and exiting companies) is an important area as well. Over the past 19 odd years, India has cautiously shed its socialist trappings and decided to embrace market capitalism. The results are there to see. In addition, India is slowly moving towards a single market governed by a single taxation system for goods and services. For innovation to flourish in a friendly policy environment, an enabling infrastructure must also be present. In an energy deficient and impoverished country like India, shouldn’t there by serious policy measures actively promoting development of clean technologies? Shouldn’t small and medium companies be encouraged by means of access to capital and markets? For those interested in seeing systematic innovation in India, it is important to appreciate the role and impact of policy. This book makes a good case for such policy changes.
Brian Tracy once said that all successful people, men and women alike, were great dreamers in the first place. What are great dreamers like? Are they people with extraordinary talents? Not necessarily. They are just ordinary people like you and me, and even some of them have deficiencies of some sorts, whether physically disabled, dropouts or coming from poor families.
On March 2001, Maarten Van Der Weijden, a 19 years old Dutch swimming athlete, was found to suffer from leukemia. Doctors said he had little chance to survive for long. He had to undergo a cell transplation and chemotherapy treatment that left him so weak he was unable to sit nor stand. He also lost much weight. But he defiantly struggle to recovery and resolutely returned to swimming. Only eight years later, as recent as August 21, 2008, taking part unseeded in the 10 km marathon swimming event in Beijing Olympic Games, he topped his success by winning the gold medal, beating his top seeded rivals! Amazing!
Could you imagine how it was like almost half a century ago when some scientists dreamed about going to the moon? Public opinion then was in calling it a foolish dream. No wonder people with great dreams were considered as fools or nuts until eventually they came to successfully reach their dreams earlier denied by many.
Time was when Thomas Alva Edison dared to dream his crazy dream and succeeded in inventing electric bulbs that keep people out of darkness ever since.
Here I would like to present a simple guidance to build and treat your dreams.
First, you must write your dreams on a piece of paper. Write what you desire to achieve or to get most, and never for once you come to such negative thought like : “Well, I don’t think this dream could ever be …..” or “I must be crazy to put these dreams on paper ….” You too mustn’t restrict you dreams, just simply write all dreams you want.
Then, after you finish writing that list of you dreams, look them over to set up a priority scale of the ones you’d like to achieve first. You could start with the simpler and easier dreams which afterwards could serve as stepping stones to reach the greater ones.
One more important point to attend is to set a time limit for each dream successively. You must decide wisely how much time it should take in pursuing each particular dream.
Fix the paper containing the list on a place most frequently seen to keep you reminded and reaffirmed any moment that you have dreams to pursue and struggle for.
But just by daring to dream does not guarantee any success what so ever. There are consequential steps to take and challenging stages to go through. Anyhow by making a written list of your dreams you have taken one initial and essential step which not all people dare even to take. As Lao Tzu put it long ago : “A journey of a thousand steps is started by one first step”, and you dare to take that step.
The human mind is the most incredible computer it would be possible to imagine. Yet no one knows where it is! Scientists have made detailed studies of the brain, but have been unable to locate where the mind is.
Our brain is composed of some 14 trillion brain cells! A very few people are making use of perhaps less than 10% of their mental capability. Most of us are probably using nearer 1%. So the potential we have is virtually unlimited.
For our purposes, imagine that the brain is in two parts: the Conscious mind and the Subconscious (or Inner) mind. The conscious mind does all our day to day thinking, our communication with others and general thoughts each day of our lives. Do you realise that you are thinking at the rate of about 1,200 words a minute?
The Subconscious mind looks after all our involuntary functions: the beating of our hearts, the breathing of our lungs. It also has stored in it every single experience and every thought we have ever made from the moment we were born. Some people believe that it also contains all the memories of our past lives as well. As it contains memories of everything that has ever happened, we can use it to locate information we need. For instance, you may be walking down the street and suddenly bump into someone you haven`t seen for a long while. Whilst talking, you are frantically thinking of their name, and suddenly it will come to you, hopefully whilst your are still in conversation!
If it is something that occurred many years ago, your subconscious mind may have to spend a long time locating the necessary information. That is why we can sometimes have a problem when we go to bed. In the morning the answer will suddenly pop into our heads.
Admittedly, it doesn`t work exactly the way we want it to. Yet our brain is perfect, it remembers and files away everything. Sometimes, though, our recall is faulty. When something is “on the tip of our tongue” our brain is not working as well as we would like it ot. The best way to handle this is to temporarily “forget” what we are trying to remember and soon it will come back to us whilst we are thinking about something completely different.
There is a third part of our mind also. This is the Super-Conscious mind. Hardly anything is known about it, but this is where everything really important happens. Ideas come from here. So does creativity, and ESP. (Extra Sensory Perception) When you come up with a good idea, it comes directly from your Super-Conscious mind, through your Sub-Conscious mind to your Conscious mind, and it is then up to you to act upon it. Your Super-Conscious mind is your creative force, and is the most important part of your mind. It contains all the answers to anything you may ever want to know. Writers, artists, composers, inventors, clairvoyants, and all sort of other people use this part of their mind when doing whatever it is they do. Sometimes these people feel totally inspired. A composer may start on a melody and then, all of a sudden, the rest of the tune just comes with no apparent effort on his part. It has all come from directly from the Super-Conscious mind.
Your Super-Conscious mind contains all the information of the universe and you have access to it whenever you want. All you have to do is ask.
You have already used it many, many times. Say, for instance, that you have a major problem that has to be resolved the following day. You worry about it and think about it, and find it hard to get to sleep as it is still bothering you. When you wake up the following morning, the answer suddenly pops into your head. “Eureka” you cry and you happily go and solve the problem. Where did the answer come from? You did not have it when you fell asleep. It was not in your Conscious mind, nor was it in your Sub-Conscious. What happened was, while you were asleep, the Sub-conscious contacted the Super-Conscious mind and asked for the answer. Next time you have a problem of this sort, tell your Sub-Conscious mind about it and say that you need an answer by a certain time.
You’ve heard the cliche, success is a journey, not a destination. In many cases I agree. There is more fun in the chasing than in the catching.
The fun is in the pursuit, the chase. Success is like that. We love the thrill of the chase, the excitement of what’s going to happen, the what ifs, and the hopes that come with them. Once you’ve “arrived,” you have to set different goals to get those thrills again.
To many people think that success is wrapped up in things, but the truth is, success is wrapped up in how you see yourself and how you are able to enjoy your life. To have acompletely successful life along these lines, you’ll need to consider these six components:
1. Peace of mind. Can anyone truly consider themselves successful if they lack this ingredient? People around the world are constantly searching for peace of mind. I define peace of mind as freedom from fear, worry, anger, and guilt. I think we seek peace of mind through many channels, some of them are destructive and some are worthwhile. Some seek peace of mind through faith, some through money, others in relationships, others in work, ans still others seek to fill this void through participation in vices such as gambling or drugs. Success, no matter how you define it, must have peace of mind in the mix, otherwise it is bland and watered down.
2. Health and energy. “Success” without good health and the energy to enjoy life isn’t success at all, it’s just a shell of what it can be. Many people that are financially successful in the world’s eyes spend their fortunes in desperate attempts to regain their health or to stay youthful and vibrant. Any success without health and energy to enjoy it is like a high performance car with no gasoline in the tank.
3. Loving relationships. No matter how much financial success someone enjoys, again, it’s a hollow feeling if you have no one to share it with. It doesn’t have to be a spouse, it can be parents, children, friends or other family members. Remember that Scrooge was financially successful, but he had no peace of mind and he had no one to share it with. His success was empty.
4. Financial freedom. That is, freedom from thinking about money all the time. Not necessarily being “rich,” but having enough money to pay your bills, feed your family, and take care of basic necessities. For some, $50,000 in the bank would be plenty, for others, $5 million wouldn’t be enough. To be sure, many people think of finances when they visualize success and it IS a major component in our culture, but for the purposes of defining success, I’m talking about the feeling of freedom, that deep sigh that everything is okay.
5. Worthy goals. Most people have financial freedom as their top goal, but once you have that big pile of cash, then what? That’s why you constantly see millionaires and billionaires getting involved in some type of other business venture or philanthropy. Many people misinterpret their chasing as greed, but for someone who is already financially rich, it’s the chase that they love. Money is just the way to keep score. Humans need to be chasing something. We desperately want to improve ourselves, or someone, or something. It’s just human nature. Either we move or we die.
6. Personal fulfillment. Maslow called this step Self Actualization. This is the concept of “being all you can be,” of feeling like you matter and that you’re making a difference. This is the feeling that you aren’t just going through the motions for no reason, what you do and who you are is of vital importance. If you have the first five components, but feel unfulfilled and useless, you don’t enjoy the full measure of success.
Not all of your endeavors will incorporate all six of these, and any one of them can be a pursuit in itself, but many of these aspects will show up in your pursuit of success. You can adapt these six components into any goal you set for yourself. Money for example.
Applying it to finishing your degree and you’ll see:
What are you chasing? What are the goals that you have and why do you have them? How do they mesh with the six aspects of success? How will your life change once you reach the goals you’ve set?
Is there a limit that can be defined for human mind?, when this question was put up in stone age the thoughts were “yes”, our primates could not have even thought of “fire” and “wheel”. In the process of evolution our understanding about our environment increased, and we kept making new things but that was not innovation that was the need. We made weapons to protect ourselves and hunt for food, fire, dwelling places, cloths and started human civilization and slowly we kept developing, making things more and more complex. We moved to a very different age, in span of some 20000 years we have reinvented whole world, we discovered new planets, built complex civilization, raised power in air ,water and on ground. In this time span out understanding of different subjects increased tremendously. Humans unlike any other living creatures have gained supremacy and utter supremacy over any other living creatures, what is the reason behind this type of development. If human have evolved over millions of years, so are other creatures, what was the most unique in Humans. It’s the brain we own.
If the same question is reframed today “is there a limit to what we can do”, answer won’t be “yes”. It’s our brain that gives us seamless power, to think and to develop. People always wonder whether it is possible, yes of course it is. Once you start believing that “yes it is possible”, your mind starts searching for the way to make that stuff possible and this builds bridge between IMPOSSIBLE and POSSIBLE. There are millions of examples to quote and you can see your own life experiences to find out many.
The CEO of Toyota, Katsuaki Watanabe, was recently interviewed and written up in an article in the Wall Street Journal . Watanabe was also recently interviewed in the July-August edition of the Harvard Business Review. In the interviews, Watanabe talks about radical innovation: he describes the idea of building a dream car that cleans the environment, prevents accidents, can travel the world on a single tank of gas, and of course is cheap and high quality. Watanabe's talk of innovation - and his use of the Japanese word Kakushin for it - has triggered some discussion on the blogosphere. In particular, there has been interest regarding the relationship of Kaizen (continuous improvement) to Kakushin(innovation) and Kaikaku (revolutionary change). See for example here and here. In his book Kaizen, Imai described innovation as more of a Western approach. Japanese innovation is often described in terms of Kaizen only, so it is interesting to see radical, breakthrough innovation described from the Japanese perspective by the company that made Kaizen famous.
This is a beautiful ancient verse of wisdom. Everything originates from thoughts. An idea takes shape from thoughts. After scrutiny and deliberation it becomes an act. When several acts take place a character is formed. In the long run one's destiny evolves from such a character. That is
the power of thought.
It is up to us to make a thought noble or otherwise. Noble thoughts are those which ensure welfare of society and of oneself. They result in noble acts and constant performance of noble acts makes a noble character. Such an individual is an asset to society. Great leaders in all walks of life have made significant contributions. They have always entertained noble thoughts and through noble acts achieved greatness for the country and for themselves.
We benefit by welcoming noble ideas from every one. The collective result of all noble ideas will do collective good. It is the pooling of the best minds and the best thoughts, which results in the best action. These ideas are easy to implement. There will not be negative thoughts to cause interruptions. Nor will there be any dissipation of energy. Openness of mind manifests in such cases for there is nothing to fear. Noble thoughts through noble ideas result in noble acts and by evolving a noble character bring noble results. For example, from a single thought of increasing food production the innovative method of increasing productivity originates. It raises food output substantially. It benefits several millions and the destiny of a nation changes from poverty to prosperity. On the contrary a single thoughtof destroying others with ideas and acts of deploying destructive weapons ultimately result in the loss of several lives. The examples of 9/11 calamity and world wars make this clear.
Knowledge is power. It can be right knowledge or destructive knowledge. Whether knowledge is right or destructive depends on the ideas fed into the brain for assimilation. We witness knowledge explosion and the growth of the knowledge industry. The question arises whether we should
develop knowledge, which is beneficial to society or destructive. Every one will say we should do the former. The inventions in medicines are the result of noble ideas and they benefit millions of people. An individual can devote his attention to screen ideas and entertain noble ones only. But as a nation responsibility for protecting the life and property of the citizens devolves on the government. So fully knowing that, an idea to invent a deadly destructive defensive weapon system may be necessary. Knowledge explosion has to be in the direction of what is good for the individual and for society.
The greater the content of noble ideas in a person, organization or government, the nobler will be the benefits to society. If a nation or individual devotes the entire energy for designing weapons of destruction with the strategy to accomplish it then only evil results will follow. Positive thinking benefits the individual and society. Negative thinking destroys both. The more the number of people and countries have noble thoughts and ideas the world becomes a better place to live. If it is the other way the world will be a palace of pain despite all progress and comforts we have achieved. All individuals developing noble thoughts and ideas collectively can make a better world. That should be the global perspective. There will be peace and happiness and we will be able to eliminate poverty, ensure happiness and welfare for all.
Those who develop noble thoughts and acts will find joy in giving and sharing with others what they have. The rich and well off sections of society should come forward to give part of their earnings to the poorer sections of the people without government intervention. If this is done globally a serious dent on the problem of poverty can be made. The hand of the giver is always higher. We can give anything, which is useful, or others. It can be materials of all types or knowledge, which will make them better and useful citizens. Giving knowledge is an enriching experience. It is like lighting several lamps from a single lamp. The mother lamp does not lose its brightness or light when the others are lighted. Similarly when all give to one another there will be love, happiness and prosperity. Problems will be less and effort and energy will be available for achieving great things. We can thus alleviate poverty and eliminate suffering to a greater extent.
When rich nations are achieving higher levels of living, poor nations are unable to maintain even the existing levels. They find the gap between needs and resources widening. In this context the views expressed by the famous economist and Nobel Laurate, Jan Tinbergen is of great significance.
"Generally the rich of the earth should prepare themselves for a simpler life in the future. The leading philosophy of the present, which always asks for more material goods and does not attach much value at simplicity of life or modesty in claims, has to be replaced by alternative philosophies and surely much could be learned from Mahatma Gandhi's words and example. The real values of life do contain a sufficient quantity of food and shelter; but it is not necessary to have the luxuries now aimed at. Cultural values will have to be "upgraded" again. The tremendous waste of armament and outer space research should be curtailed."
It is useful to remember the maxim:
Sow a thought and reap an idea,
Sow an idea and reap an act,
Sow an act and reap a character
Sow a character and reap a destiny.
Let us imbibe the content of this maxim and strive hard to achieve progress based on positive thoughts.
A Father Of Innovation
In the Spartan foyer of Eugene M. Lang's midtown Manhattan office hang half a dozen framed 19th century patents for what seem to be rather mundane inventions, e.g., Edward West's "machine for cutting and heading nails,' 1802, and Anthony Dolittle's process for improving "the art of distilling the meal of maise, or Indian corn,' 1829.
No big names or blockbuster ideas. But to Lang, president of REFAC Technology Development Corporation, no invention is ordinary. Through his eyes, these are icons of American ingenuity --the stuff that creates new industries, jobs and economic opportunity.
Invention is Lang's mission in life and the source of his considerable wealth. "I've always felt that innovation was an expression of one's own worth and purpose of being on earth,' says Lang, who has helped establish over 100 companies in 45 nations.
He is perhaps better known, however, for his offer to put a class of 61 East Harlem sixth graders through college if they graduated from high school. Members of that class are now high school seniors, and only one of the original group has dropped out. The typical ghetto school dropout rate is 75 percent.
Now, nine other well-heeled sponsors have made similar pledges to classes of disadvantaged sixth graders, and the number of classes and sponsors soon may exceed 25 nationwide. Lang, 67, never expected his impromptu gesture would produce the acclaim it has. That he made the offer isn't surprising at all. He has spent a lifetime building things of value. To him, nurturing a young mind comes as naturally as promoting a new technology--something he does better than almost anyone.
Lang has never been short of profitable ideas. He launched his first business at age 8--selling checkers to kids in his neighborhood, the same East Harlem neighborhood where half a century later he would promise to put disadvantaged youths through college.
A precocious teenager, Lang enrolled at Swarthmore College at 14, completed his B.A. four years later, then signed up for a master's degree in business at Columbia University night school, which he got at age 20. To support himself, Lang designed and sold, at two for a penny, millions of two-by-three-inch cards carrying information that helped Wall Street brokers calculate a new tax--capital gains. And he started a successful monthly stock digest to boost investor interest in the Depression-era securities market.
When the war broke out, he tried to enlist, but the Army rejected him because he had flat feet. Determined to aid the war effort, Lang became an apprentice machinist in a small aircraft parts factory. Within two years, he was one of the plant owners. On the side, he enlisted service station operators, idled by gas rationing, to manufacture cutting tools and measuring gauges using equipment in their station garages.
Shortly after the war, Lang teamed up with a New Jersey company to cut production costs of a hot new consumer item: the ballpoint pen.
Every venture was successful. But Lang never held on to any of the businesses he started. "When I thought I had proven my idea, then I'd go on to the next idea,' he recalls.
Says Lang: "I wasn't going to spend my life within a narrow line of activity, and I really never wanted to become very big.'
He did, despite himself. But on his own terms. Lang became the international Johnny Appleseed of innovation. He made millions developing equity in small manufacturing businesses whose products he licensed for production abroad. This development business evolved as the solution to a problem.
In the late 1940s, Lang invented the Heli-Coil, a small fastening device that provides stronger screw thread connections in light metals used in airplanes and autos. He set up shop in his garage, and orders quickly mounted. In 1950, he built a factory in Connecticut. Manufacturers from around the world began to call for shipments. But Lang didn't know how to export his idea; he couldn't meet the demand.
But he knew that if he didn't supply the product abroad, someone else would, and he would lose control of his invention. Lang shopped for a company that could help him take Heli-Coil overseas but same up empty-handed. Out of desperation, he decided to do it himself.
Lang sold his interest in the Heli-Coil Corporation, but kept the foreign rights as the basis for starting Resources Facilities Corporation--shortened to REFAC. "I created REFAC specifically to help small businesses bridge the gaps of distance, language, engineering standards, usages, currency restrictions, legal systems and intellectual property rights--a whole maze of complications arising from doing business overseas,' he recalls.
Great idea, but where do you start? Lang deposited $3,000 in the bank, rented a small office on 42nd Street, hired a secretary and bought an around-the-world plane ticket. He set out with Heli-Coil and two other inventions in his "bag of tricks.' When he returned three months later, "my business was established.'