It Could Never Happen Could It?

Once upon a time in a mythical, mystical land, there was an organization that protected the public and did good works to enable people to recover when they lost their way, or fell on hard times, and so become productive members of society. They did their, often thankless, task on the stipend granted by the rulers of the land, largely for the benefit that it brought to society. Nobody in the organization grew rich, but society was a better place.

Because of local and geographical differences, the organization had grown up into local guilds with a strong association with the community. Some guild branches were large, in the cities, and some were very small in rural communities. But regardless of size, they all shared a common aim – to make society a better place.

However, the counters of beans in the royal counting house were bored, and needed something new to focus on. They looked about, and asked if this was the most efficient structure for the benevolent organization. The rulers of the land sought to improve things, consulted their trusted advisers, and decreed that some of the guilds should combine together into larger organizations, in order to make economies of scale.

The affected guilds protested and pointed out that the original arrangements had grown up as a result of local or geographical needs, and would be less efficient. But the will of the rulers was strong, and the amalgamations took place. Cost did indeed rise, but the guilds received no more monies from the counting house, in fact the stipend was reduced. As a result the guilds had to lay off some of the workers, and complete the good works with fewer people, and performance fell.

After much debate, the royal counting house identified that the problem with the amalgamations was that all of the guilds used different signaling and messaging systems, and some of these were incompatible with each other. Of course the different systems had grown up to meet the needs of the original guilds in delivering their good works to the local communities, so suited the way each guild had worked. The advisers to the rulers pointed out that a single system would be much more efficient and so save on the cost of people the guilds needed to deliver the good works.

The guilds protested when they learned of the cost of the new system, however, the rulers knew better, and caused all of the signaling and messaging systems on which the guilds relied to be given to a faceless corporation. Of course the faceless corporation had lawyers and accountants and directors and shareholders, all of whom required payment for their services, so inevitably the costs to the guilds rose. Once again the stipend was reduced by the counters of beans, and sadly the guilds had to lay off more workers, and performance again fell.

The rulers of the land were perplexed by the outcome and sought to identify the reason why the costs had risen, despite the words of the advisers. They concluded that the problem lay with the management of the individual guilds, and so determined that they needed a master guild to oversee them all and show them the way forward. The new master guild employed the very finest analysts and strategist to work on the efficiency problem, and reduce the cost of delivering the good works. They labored together in a magnificent palace near to the rulers of the land so that the rulers could see for themselves the work that was happening.

The analysts and strategist sent out books of rules to which every guild must adhere, and demanded that carrier pigeons be dispatched every month with details of how the guilds were implementing the new strategies. Unfortunately all this regulation increased the cost to the guilds delivering the good works, and the guilds protested, but to no avail.

Since the analysts and strategist in their magnificent palace cost a lot to maintain, the counters of beans in the royal counting house were appalled at the escalating bill for delivering the good works, and lamented the fall in performance. They demanded that something be done to rectify the situation immediately, and proposed that groups of guilds be formed together, based on regional and geographical location. Each guild region would have an overseer who would commission the good works, and withhold payment from any guild that fell short of performance targets. Once again the guilds protested that it was becoming impossible to deliver the good works with all the rules and layers of bureaucracy, but the rulers of the land acted on the words of the advisers of the counters of beans, and appointed the overseers.

In order to ensure that they understood all of the challenges faced by the guilds in doing the good works, the overseers requested that their guilds dispatched carrier pigeons to the regional palace every week. The overseers each kept a staff of administrators and under-managers to process the returns, and ensure that no guild unfairly had their stipend withheld. However the regional palaces, overseers, administrators and under-managers all increased the cost to the royal counting house.

As the information demands of the master guild had not reduced since the implementation of the overseer, soon the guilds were swamped with carrier pigeons for each of the different bodies. Each guild had to divert essential resources from delivering good works into maintaining and dispatching the pigeons, and each had a sizable loft and systems for ensuring efficient dispatch of the messages. Unfortunately the overheads of feeding and housing all the pigeons was costing the guilds dearly, and to make matters worse, performance was still falling.

More and more initiatives were proposed and implemented by the rulers, all without success.

  • The maintenance and cleaning of the pigeon lofts across the land was granted to another faceless corporation, but performance fell and costs increased.
  • Standards were documented by the scribes and applied to every guild across the land, but still costs increased.
  • A proposal was circulated that all the pigeon lofts were to be amalgamated into a single super loft, implemented by one of the faceless corporations, even though the guilds protested that pigeon technology was outdated. The proposal went ahead, but the idea fell down as each guild still needed it’s own loft, and of course costs spiraled.

The counters of beans were in despair, and the rulers of the land squirmed uncomfortably. Something had to change!

At last, the rulers of the land ordered an investigation into the situation, and demanded a solution to the problem of the rising cost of performing the good works. The sun rose and set many times while the seers and advisers proposed and counter-proposed, argued and debated. The only thing that hadn’t been changed was the guilds themselves. They must be the cause of the problem, but how could the good works be delivered without the guilds? The only solution would be to outsource all the good works to one of the many faceless corporations which showed such expertise in delivering magnificent contracts!

Just then, one of the advisers pointed out that the faceless corporations were there to make a profit, so no-one would bid for the contract because of all the bureaucracy, standards, constraints, rules and regulations. On this there was general agreement, so the rulers of the land made a series of proclamations

  • They disbanded the regional overseers
  • They relaxed the rules which prevented the people delivering the good works from using their judgement
  • They removed the requirement for the faceless corporation to dispatch all the pigeons
  • They removed any regulation or standard which would increase the cost for the faceless organization, and so dissuade them from taking the contract
  • They wrapped the contract in all sorts of sweeteners and incentives,

Most importantly, they made it difficult for the guilds to operate on a commercial basis by insisting that they continue to use the obsolete messaging system, dependent on the pigeon lofts.

The night that the magnificent contract was awarded to the faceless corporation, the counting house resounded to joyous singing. The rulers of the land were relieved that they had divested themselves of the problem of delivering the good works to the diverse people in the cities, towns and hamlets. They grasped and shook the hands of the lawyers and and advisers, who had worked so hard to make it all possible. Merriment was unrestrained, until at last everyone retired to sleep, happy and exhausted.

The next morning, all the representatives of the the faceless corporations, who had been acting as advisers to the rulers of the land, slipped silently back to their employers, their work complete. Let the carnage begin.

This is just a metaphor, a story. There are no people, genders, institutions or organizations identified here. Any conclusions you may draw are your own. It is not real, and it could not happen.

Or could it?

A Motivated Person Digs a Hole

I am often asked about the nature of motivation, and whether it is an internal or external phenomenon. In other words is motivate something you do to someone else, or is it something you do by yourself. The answer, of course, is that it depends!

Some people are entirely internally motivated, and need no other impetus to get them going. They are often known as self-starters, and will stand out as having get-up-and-go or some other phrase which indicates internal energy. They are also often can-do people who need little convincing about the merits of a project before they are contributing ideas of their own. If you give a self motivated person a spade and tell them where you need a hole, you had better tell them how deep you want it, or you may find you need to back-fill later!

On the other hand some people seem to be externally motivated, and may appear at first glance to need considerable external management in order to get them going. That does not mean that they are lazy, or in some way less than the self-starter, it is just that they will need a better business case in order to start work. They will also probably need more information about the size of the hole needed so that they can deliver what is required. This is really less about motivation and more about understanding the task in hand.

In practice, people are combination of types, and the ratio may even vary from hour to hour depending on their interest in the subject. Many people will recognize an individual who is keen to get out and polish the car on a Sunday, but less motivated to polish the ornaments on the mantle. Some may even recognize themselves!

To some managers, motivation is something you do to others in order to climb the ladder of success. It almost goes without saying that there is an assumption that the recipient requires the motivation, otherwise why would you even bother to do it. If you can motivate someone, then of course you should. Well no, perhaps not. What is the effect of applying your own model of motivation on an already internally motivation person? What is the cost of providing motivation, in the form of supervision, is that necessary, required, or possibly even counter productive?

A Motivated Person Digs a Hole
A story I sometimes tell, concerns a motivated person who digs holes for a living. As a self-starter, they enjoy digging holes, and work to their maximum sustainable capacity and can do no more. Their unit of productivity in this ideal scenario is one, that is, one person digs one hole in one unit of time, for the purpose of this story a working day. To further simplify things our digger is paid $1.00 per day, which makes the unit cost of a hole $1.00. If you need the motivated person to dig ten holes, you know it will take ten days, and cost you $10.00

Anyway, on a project that needs one hundred holes, the project manager wants the job done more quickly than one person can manage. The motivated digger brings along nine motivated friends, who manage to dig the first ten holes in one day. This costs the project $10.00. However, the project manager thinks it could be done better.

On the next day the project manager promotes the motivated digger to supervisor, with a promise of a bonus for increased productivity, and sets the party to work. The motivated digger uses all their skills, but the day’s output is only nine holes. The project manager demotes the previously motivated digger without paying the bonus, and promotes one of the other diggers. The project manager is not happy that the unit cost per hole has risen to $1.11.

The next day the previously motivated digger sets to work with the eight motivated diggers and newly promoted supervisor. To be honest the heart of the previously motivated digger really is not on the job. As a result the previously motivated digger only produces 90% of their usual day’s total, and the group’s collective output falls to 8.9 holes. The project manager is incensed because the unit cost per hole has risen to $1.12 and he reduces the new supervisor back to digger.

The third day the project manager appoints an external supervisor at a daily rate of $1.10, and sets the party to work. However, with two demotivated diggers, despite the supervisor’s best effort, the total output is only 9.8 holes. Although better productivity than the previous day, the unit costs have risen to $1.26, and the project manager is incandescent.

As a last resort, the project manager instructs the supervisor to personally motivate every digger for the next day’s work. Despite reservations, the external supervisor personally motivates every digger, and spends the whole day visiting each digger and exhorting them to greater effort, but with mixed results. Half of the diggers seemed to be motivated, and responded well to the additional exhortations, and gave 100% for the whole day. Half of the diggers were self-starters who resented the additional pressure and interruption from the supervisor, so only produced 90% of their usual day’s total. Despite the addition motivation, there were only nine and a half holes in total for the day. The unit costs are still too high at $1.17, so next day the project manager fired the external supervisor.

Now in despair, the project manager sat down and began to doubt that the project could ever be completed on time and within budget. Just at that moment a wise old sage happened along the road and asked the project manager what had happened. After a few moments of explanation, the wise old sage nodded and asked the project manager for permission to fix the problem, which the project manager quickly gave.

Picking up a spade from the nearby pile of tools, the wise old sage handed it to the project manager, with the instruction to begin digging in the nearest hole, and whatever the temptation, not to stop digging until the project was complete. Bemused, the project manager wanted to question the instruction, but because of the reputation of the wise old sage, reluctantly complied. The wise old sage whispered something while passing the diggers who had been gathered awaiting instructions, and then wandered off down the road. Even more bewildered, the project manager watched as the diggers started work unsupervised.

Unused to the hard physical work, the project manager struggled with the spade, which seemed to have a mind of its own. Occasionally the project manager noticed that one or other of the diggers seemed to be watching, but remembering the words of the sage, made no comment. At the end of the day the project manager had only completed half of the first hole, however the ten other diggers had completed a hole each, so the day’s total was 10.5 holes.

The next day the project manager set to work with the spade and completed the hole started the sixth day, and then got started on the next one. The project manager again noticed that one or other of the diggers seemed to be leaning briefly on the spade, watching, but as they mostly seemed to be digging, let it pass without comment. By the end of the day, the ten other diggers had again each completed a hole, the day’s total was 10.6 holes.

The next day, the eighth, the project manager almost completed the hole started the previous day, and the diggers had again each completed a hole, despite the occasional glances, so the day’s total was 10.8 holes.

The ninth day, the project manager completed 90% of a hole, and the diggers had again each completed a hole, so the day’s total was 10.9 holes.

On the tenth day, the project manager dug a complete hole as did the diggers, so the day’s total was eleven. Amazed the project manager checked, and all the holes for the project had been completed. The project was finished on time, so the manager thanked the diggers profusely, paid them what was due and waved them goodbye.

As the diggers went on their way, the project manager noticed the wise old sage coming back up the road. Greeting the sage warmly the project manager asked for an explanation of what had happened to motivate the diggers to work unsupervised.

The sage replied that there are three things to know about motivation:

  1. You can’t motivate people, they have to motivate and empower themselves.
  2. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you’re enthusiastic about the job you are doing, it’s much easier for others to be, too. Different people are motivated by different things, but leading by example usually works well, as it shows how keen you are to get the job done.
  3. People are more inspired by your vision than by you telling them what to do

The project manager was starting to understand what had happened, and how the job had been finished in spite if the earlier interference, rather than because of it. As the wise old sage started to walk away, the project manager asked what had been said to the other diggers in passing to keep them working so well.

“Simple!” replied the sage, “I told them that you were so keen to finish the hundred holes that you might do yourself a mischief, so I asked them to keep an eye on you!”

Have A Positive Attitude To Change And Innovation

“Change is inevitable. Change is constant.” Benjamin Disraeli

How people respond to change affects their personal performance and the results they achieve. Similarly the way that organizations respond to change is a mark of their performance and success, and is often reflected in their bottom line.

When we resist change, we knowingly or unknowingly behave in ways that attempt to keep things as they are, and so put ourselves out of alignment with our environment. This is often either an unconscious desire to remain safe and secure, or a conscious desire to avoid the unknown. Either way the result is discomfort and tension. If our attitudes and actions are not aligned with the new direction then we are out of flow and less productive.

This phenomenon applies equally to organizations as to individuals; it is just that the dynamic is sometimes different. An organization may have plenty of people who are innovative and respond positively to change, but if the senior management is fearful and change resistant then the organization can suffer. Conversely, if the leadership is flexible and positive about change and innovation, but this is not effectively communicated to the organization, then resistance may manifest as unrest and unproductive behavior, or even open rebellion.

Regardless of the nature of the challenge, the way we respond to change affects our performance and the ultimate result. It is much easier to cope with change if we have a positive attitude to changes in general. This should reflect in the language we use both to ourselves, as self talk, and when talking to others, singly or in groups.

This doesn’t mean that we always have to agree with the circumstances or the details of the change, but we can still adapt to it in a constructive manner. The mark of an entrepreneur is the way that they respond to change and the innovation they bring to challenges. For this discussion innovation is defined broadly as bringing any new, problem solving idea into use. Having a positive orientation towards change involves:

  • knowing what we can and cannot control in a given situation
  • recognizing that disruptions are a natural response to change
  • being innovative and creative while looking for the opportunities that change creates
  • recognizing that there are a number of right ways to do things
  • utilizing all our personal resources and strengths to actively do the best we can

Taking these attitudes on board as individuals and organizations can improve performance and outcomes. If we respond positively to change we can grow as individuals. Organizations that respond positively to change and innovation from whatever source will also flourish and grow.

To put the earlier quote from Benjamin Disraeli into context here, it might be better to say that change is inevitable and constant, but growth is optional.

Install a Positive Attitude to Change and Innovation today and see how performance and results grow.

Celebrate As You Scrape The Frost Off The Car

While you are busy scraping the ice off the car and wishing you could remember where you left your other glove, spare a thought for those less fortunate than you, and consider how lucky you are.

Because you are out in the early morning, it means you have a car, or a friend with a car who is going to give you a lift. Some people do not have that human warmth, or that material possession, so celebrate what you have.

Because you are out doing that job, at that moment, it means you have somewhere that it is important to go. Be it to work, or the shops, on the school run, or to visit friends or relatives, you have somewhere that it is important to be. Some people do not have anywhere at all to go, and may feel that they have lost purpose. Celebrate that you have somewhere important to go, and a reason to make the journey.

Because you can scrape off the ice, even with one hand in your pocket, it means that you have a degree of manual dexterity and mobility. Some people lack one, or the other, and would love to have the ability to scrape ice off your car. So celebrate what you can do, and use those abilities to help others if you can.

Suddenly, temporary cold fingers while you scrape the frost off the car windscreen seems like something to celebrate, now doesn’t it?

Who can you help today?

Scurvy Elephants and Childhood Misconceptions

I am a great fan of Dr Wayne Dyer, the respected American self-help advocate, author, and lecturer, and once had the great privilege to listen to him speak at a luau next to his home in Maui, Hawaii. He is a master of recounting anecdotes from his family life, and uses his own experiences as a example. One of my favorite anecdotes from Wayne Dyer concerns his revelations about scurvy elephants, and goes something like this:

Wayne Dyer came home from school one day and asked his mum, “What’s a scurvy elephant?”. She told him she’d never heard of one and asked where he’d heard it. “From my teacher; he said I was a scurvy elephant.” Bewildered, his mother called the teacher and asked what he had meant. The teacher responded, “As usual Wayne got it wrong. I didn’t say he was a scurvy elephant; I said he was a disturbing element!”

I love this story because it reminds me of my childhood and the mistakes I used to make. How many times did I mishear something and jumped to a wrong conclusion. Sometimes I have constructed whole alternative explanations for things and incorporated them into my reality, only to learn much later that I have got it wrong, and the misconception has collapsed. It is part of growing up and reevaluating what is happening around you. You learn from your mistakes and grow as a person. However, I wonder how many other things I have misheard or misunderstood and built into a false reality, but not yet learned the error of my ways.

It also resonates with me as I have been called a Scurvy Elephant (and worse) many times because I haven’t always fitted in to other people’s model of the world. Who is to say who’s view is right and who’s is wrong? Sometimes you just have to have your own opinion and do what you know is right. Wayne Dyer is proud to be a Scurvy Elephant and I am pleased to join him.

If you are not yet sure if you are a Scurvy Elephant and want to find out more, why not click here to visit Dr Wayne Dyer’s website

Do Something Different and be Even More Successful

Have you ever wondered how some people are in regular employment and struggling with mortgages, overdrafts and credit card debt, while others work for themselves as entrepreneurs, and seem to do very well out of it? How can someone who has dropped out of college or University go on to massive success, while generations of graduates struggle to pay off their tuition fees for years.

The answer is as simple as it is startling; that is the way “the system” is designed to work. Schools are designed to turn out people who have enough knowledge and education to be able to hold down a steady job, aspire to modest material wealth while conforming to the rules, until they retire with their gold watch to a minuscule pension. Universities provide an opportunity to aspire to higher earnings, while providing a drag anchor in the form of student loans, while their highest aspiration is to become an employee or a self-employee.

Another question: what do Bill Gates (Microsoft), Michael Dell (Dell Computers), Larry Page (Google), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Larry Ellison (Oracle) all have in common? Apart from being incredibly wealthy, they all dropped out of high school or college. They got out before the education system could brain wash their minds, so they failed to become employees. They created their wealth and have grown their own companies by becoming business owners and investors.

This shows three things:

  1. Education is no guarantee of Financial Success in your life
  2. Lack of Formal education need not be a barrier to your success
  3. The ability to create wealth is something that makes you different from the others

According to entrepreneur and blogger Seth Godin, as quoted by Penelope Trunk on her Brazen Careerist website:

“… generation Y is the last one that will be as totally brainwashed by the system, by the schools and by companies and by society to believe that the industrial age (and compliance) is their ticket to the carnival. The smart ones will see that and play a different game, and the sooner they realize how bad the scam is, the faster they’ll recover.”

Seth Godin is an entrepreneur and blogger who thinks about the marketing of ideas in the digital age. He has produced several critically acclaimed and attention-grabbing books, including Permission Marketing, All Marketers Are Liars, and Purple Cow. He was the founder of Squidoo, the popular publishing platform and community that makes it easy to create pages (or lenses as they are known) online. In a presentation on TED, he spells out why, in a world of too many options and too little time, when it comes to getting our attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones.

When is now the right time to decide to do something different and be a success?

Click here to watch Seth Godin on standing out

If you are interested in performance coaching, boosting your marketing, or doing something different and being even more successful, click here to contact Bruce Thompson Coaching and learn more.

Take a PINK Lesson and Empower Your Future

Although we do not usually do featured blog posts on this site, sometimes you just can not help picking up a great idea from another site, and it fires your imagination.

This time the idea comes from our friend Eldonna Lewis Fernandez, retired USAF Master Sergeant, who took control of her own life, and set out to help others transform their lives too. She runs the Pink Biker Chic programs, which are aimed at helping women to “take control of the handlebars of their lives and steer themselves to a bright and successful future”. From the metaphor, and program name, you can tell that she is a biker!

She says that riding a bike is one of the best stress relievers on the planet, and invites women to partake in experiential and life changing Women’s Biker Empowerment Experience 4 Day Workshop.

The great idea, which we borrow and reproduce here, is the concept of PINK, which stands for Power, Integrity, Negotiation and Knowledge. According to Eldonna, you don’t have to wear pink to be PINK. PINK comes from within. When you embrace the Power of PINK and live life in the front seat, you are fulfilled from the inside out and those around you reap the rewards and benefits of being in the presence of a powerfully peaceful woman.

The advice which she gives is equally appropriate for men and women.

  1. Replace negative self talk with powerful self talk
  2. Release all resentment
  3. Surround yourself with people who hold you to a higher standard not people who bring you down
  4. Use powerful language for goal setting and take positive action toward achieving your goals

When you run yourself down, or allow others to talk down to you without challenge, that seven year old child that is your unconscious takes it in, and incorporates it into your reality. Remember that whatever you say, even to yourself, your unconscious is always listening. Always speak positively and aspirationaly about yourself and your goals, so that the reality you manifest is the one you want. Take a PINK Lesson and Empower Your Future!

To find out more about Eldonna Lewis Fernandez and her programs, click here to visit Pink Biker Chic

Coaching and Facilitating Associative Thinking

While checking out some postings on the blogosphere, concerning the postulation that “six sigma” efficiency cultures are antithetical to highly creative thinking, I came across the following observation on Coaching and Facilitating from a blog on Coaching and facilitating – two faces of a coin, and followed a link to Design Thinking.

Actually the diversion (or digression?) set me thinking about the way that ideas form and grow from apparently random interactions. Say you overhear a snippet of conversation in a crowd, and it means something to you. Using Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic (VAK) predicates, it may cause a flash of inspiration, strike a chord in your mind, or give you an empowering feeling. Your internal filters and meta-programs kick in and sort, distort and generalize this new input and place it into the thought processes which are going on in your mind at the moment, down in your unconscious. Suddenly this is manifested in your conscious mind as a new idea, which may solve a problem you have been wrestling with, or take you off in a new business direction.

The overheard snippet may have nothing to do with the problem you have been unconsciously seeking to solve, or anything else in your life at the time; all it has to do is provide a bridge between the old state, and the new one. It is your own meta-programs which have shaped the new piece to fit the jigsaw. To take the jigsaw metaphor even further, it actually does not matter what fragment of picture is on the new piece, as long as it it fits in place; the picture is built from the resultant combination of the combined inputs. This process can also occur during sleep, as a dream, which may be interpreted in the waking state or simply ignored.

So what has this to do with the debate about Associative v Linear thinking? Well nothing and everything! Nothing, because drives for efficiency and refinement of process are linear, systemic and iterative, while shooting off on a mental tangent, or making an intuitive leap to a solution is non-linear, unpredictable and random, so would be excluded from any data set as background noise or spikes. Associative thinking is a holistic process that looks for relationships even though no causal link is apparent. This could also be seen to exclude intuition and divergent thought patterns.

However, it is the very random and unpredictable nature of the non-linear conclusion which may be germane to the debate; this could easily be the basis for an associative connection, made at an unconscious level. While this might be accepted by an Asian thinker as having a rational basis, this is inconceivable to western minds.

As noted in The Geography of Thinking by John Mole, author of Mind Your Manners, “The most striking difference is between Asian and Western ways of thinking. While western thinking strives for order, Asian thinking aspires to harmony. Rather than look for ways of reducing facts or premises into categories, eliminating what does not logically fit, it looks for ways of associating them into meaningful patterns which accommodate rather than resolve conflicting premises or facts. ”

So with this geographical component to the Associative v Linear debate, it is now appropriate to turn to the main challenge of Coaching and Facilitating Associative Thinking; If efficiency cultures are as far from highly creative thinking as it is possible to be, how can you promote and nurture the creativity in such a controlled and linear environment?

As Professor Krishnamurthy Prabhakar posted in the thread Productivity vs. creativity: Does the culture war impact social entrepreneurs?, “the six sigma process is based on linear thinking. It is applicable to simple systems that can be measured and controlled. On the other hand creativity is a non linear process”. He also points out that “Organizations today are not just simple input process and output feedback systems. They are complex and non linear. You need to change the mind set that six sigma is a cure for all ills. Six sigma is one tool, but not a theory to explain complex system behavior.”

This polarization between linear and non linear though processes is more than just a debate between creative and system oriented types. On the BBC World News program Virtual Revolution Dr Aleks Krotoski explores how the World Wide Web is reshaping almost every aspect of our lives, 20 years on from it’s invention. The Web is promoting a change in the way people search for and access information, and may be resulting in a change in the brains of users, prompting the title of the fourth Programme in the series, Homo Interneticus? Check out the cogitative processes of the Korean children who have been using the web to research answers as part of their school curriculum.

Business development professionals are clear that being able to ‘think out of the box’ provides a competitive edge, particularly in research and technology based industries, which value inspiration. One of the fundamental building blocks of ‘thinking out of the box’ is associative learning, although we really do not know how the associations and links in our brains function. While western culture ignores or marginalizes non-linear conclusions as aberrant or illogical, Asian thinking encompasses and encourages them to preserve harmony.

Once the dust has settled on this argument, the truth may be that linear thinkers are slipping into their sunset years, while the rising tendency towards associative thinking will mean more intuitive coaching is required. In this new world, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the specialist techniques used by associative thinking coaches will become highly prized. It would be unfortunate if Asia was the only source of such specialist skills.