HBR: Making room for reflection …

This is an article by Umair Haque from Harvard Business Review worth reading. Exerpt:

The most disruptive, unforeseen, and just plain awesome breakthroughs, that reimagine, reinvent, and reconceive a product, a company, a market, an industry, or perhaps even an entire economy rarely come from the single-minded pursuit of the busier and busier busywork of “business.” Rather, in the outperformers that I’ve spent time with and studied, breakthroughs demand (loosely) systematic, structured periods for reflection – to ruminate on, synthesize, and integrate fragments of questions, answers, and thoughts about what’s not good enough, what’s just plain awful, and how it could be made radically better.

— Click here for the full article …

What kind of a brain can do this?

Last night I watched two exciting orchestras in an awesome playoff at the Melbourne Town Hall MSO 2102 Season. One was, of course, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra conducted, for the first time, by Sir Andrew Davis. The other orchestra was the Melbourne Grand Organ, the largest in the southern hemisphere, played by the freaky genius, Cameron Carpenter, who’s been called a ‘Mozart’. Wow!

They played together a thrilling and overpowering concerto by Poulenc. One orchestra was played by 100 of Melbourne’s most gifted musicians. The other orchestra was played by one young American organist.

Guess which orchestra kicked the other orchestra’s ass?  A-mazing!!

Here’s a warm-up fun piece you’ll recognise:

Here’s Cameron Carpenter playing all the difficult ones:

He’s playing again on Monday night … can’t wait!


“You times me by ten …”

Oxford musician and songwriter, Ben Walker, is a School of Thinking member and he’s been singing outside the box.

In his clever song, Ten, he’s been thinking about tenpower (“the deliberate or habitual use of the number 10”–one of the SOT thinking algorithms) and has been inspired to write a rather catchy tune about love and it’s magic effect–“you times me by ten!”.

Tap your toes and listen to Ben’s new song here. I like it! …

From the Principal …


Here’s a selection of quotes from Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson, Principal of SOT. These ideas are from Michael’s best-selling books:
Software For Your Brain,
– The X10 Memeplex: Multiply Your Business By Ten!
WOMBAT Selling: How to sell by Word of Mouth.

These sayings represent his 40 years of international experience in the field of cognitive science and his personal philosophy and attitudes towards thinking, innovation, change, risk-taking and the development of intellectual capital across the business enterprise …


I often ask business leaders, “Why did you lose sleep last night?”. They reply that they worry about everything from “meeting quarterly targets” to “retaining good people” but there is a much bigger problem behind all of these. It’s the quality of the THINKING across their enterprise!

The most productive thing that any business leader can do is to ensure that all employees on the payroll are skilled thinkers about better ways to do their job.

The current view of the situation can never be equal to the better view of the situation. Innovation, change and risk-taking all involve two basic processes:
1. escaping from your current view of the situation, and
2. searching for a much better view of the situation.

Since Darwin explained the reasons 150 years ago, we know that it’s not the strongest or the largest that survive but it’s those best prepared to cope with change. Because business is about survival it must be about change. Because business is also about growth it must also be about continuous change.

Google searches for the keyword “downturn” have quintupled and 2009 will be a world of tight budgets. Two of the biggest costs will be: payroll + marketing. So, two of the biggest returns will need to be: 1. return on payroll, and 2. return on marketing. In 2009/10, to survive brutal economic conditions and grow their business, senior management will be focusing on payroll optimisation and marketing optimisation.

What are your strengths? Take some time to explore your strengths and what you can do to build on them.

The thousands of knowledge-workers already on the payroll represent the greatest asset of the enterprise, it’s intellectual capital. When the doors close these assets go home. They return the next day to open the doors and do the company’s business. Every day, their most valuable output across the enterprise is: decisions.

Each one of these decisions has consequences which directly impact on the bottom-line. Each decision either costs the company a dollar or makes the company a dollar.

On a postcard or deluxe writing paper (not email), write a short personal note of encouragement (around 10 to 100 words) to someone who sees you as their leader. Your note will make a big and instant difference.

When it comes to the productivity of an enterprise, two heads are better than one. That means communicating and collaborating on the internet via emailing, blogging, peer2peer sharing, googling and the clever use of tools like Wikipedia, Facebook, Myspace, Bebo, Twitter, Linkedin and Second Life.

The clever company must have a sense of humour. It must have a culture that encourages surprise, experimentation, risk-taking, mistakes, learning and the never-ending quest for quality.

Quality is better. Quality is improvement. Quality is excellence. The habit of quality is the habit of searching for a better way, a better possibility, a better view, a better choice, a better alternative, a better outcome, a better attitude, a better opinion, a better life. It’s also fun to do.

In life there are two kinds of theories and two ways to accept them. One kind of theory is supported by evidence and can be accepted through observation. The other kind is not supported by evidence and must be accepted on faith. The traditional theory of selling (which I have called ‘oldsell’) is based on a long-held fundamental belief about selling/marketing that is unsupported by evidence. It can be summed up in one simple sentence: The salesperson closes the sale.

There is no evidence to support this theory so it is accepted on faith and taught to young salespeople in Australia, the US and many other countries around the world.

For 30 years I have been spreading what I call the ‘newsell’ option. Newsell is an alternative theory of selling/marketing that can be measured so it can be accepted by observation.

Newsell works on the following premise: The customer closes the sale.

What today we can call “English Thinking” has really evolved over the past 2500 years.
Starting from the Greeks on to the Roman Empire and the Roman Church through The Enlightenment/Scientific Method/Darwinian Evolution, and then on to World War II, with the rise of cognitive machines and the world wired web of the internet.


Curiosity pays!

TED Talk – Brian Cox:

In tough economic times, our exploratory science programs — from space probes to the LHC — are first to suffer budget cuts. Brian Cox explains how curiosity-driven science pays for itself, powering innovation and a profound appreciation of our existence.


About Brian Cox

Physicist Brian Cox has two jobs: working with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and explaining big science to the general public. He’s a professor at the University of Manchester.

The Theory of Theories

The Theory of Theories:

In the brain, everything is a theory.


So, what kinds of theories can be found in the brain?

There are inherited theories.
There are learned theories.

There are current theories.
There are better theories.

There are genetic theories.
There are memetic theories.

There are unscientific theories.
There are scientific theories.

There are low-probability theories.
There are high-probability theories.

There are old theories.
There are new theories.

There are dormant theories.
There are dominant theories.

There are lazy theories.
There are busy theories.

There are simple theories.
There are complex theories.

There are vicious theories.
There are virtuous theories.

There are truthful theories.
There are untruthful theories.

There are dumb theories.
There are clever theories.

There are logical theories.
There are lateral theories.

There are popular theories.
There are secret theories.

There are convenient theories.
There are inconvenient theories.


The Theory of Theories:

In the brain, everything is a theory.


What other kinds of theories do you think there are?
Post your comments …