Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Creativity, Strategy & Ignorance

When we try to think creatively, we can try to think in two ways: (i) modifying within an existing paradigm (such as applying different colours to the legs of a chair) or (ii) thinking in a completely new paradigm (such as sitting on the ground or anything else but a chair). There has certainly been plenty of creativity in the ways human beings (and other creatures and plants) live or adapt to the environment in which they live, and probably it is this creativity that is causing the greatest grief among people, especially if they cannot accept the fact that other people can be very happy or at least as happy as they are in living completely different ways of life. The problem is usually the tendency by the majority to impose its preference on the minority (or in some cases, for the minority to impose its preference on the majority). And such tendency is usually championed by the leader of the majority (or minority) in his or her capacity as the leader of the whole multi-varied group.

Strategy is narrower and not as free range as creativity. In strategy, there is a narrower focus of trying to win in a tussle. While creativity is freer in that it tries to explore the advantages that can be got from a situation, through cracks and nooks and corners and other exogenous and endogenous factors hitherto unrealised. Specific advantages have to be brought to bear on a specific situation with the specific objective of winning - this is the purpose of strategy.

In race relations, open minded societies see new ways of living as alternate forms of living and such creativity therefore unleashes a new horizon for life. In race relations, the application of strategy by a particular group to win other groups in the battle for power for the sole purpose of abusing that power is the crudest and the basest use of intelligence. The application of strategy on one side triggers off the use of strategies by everyone else, as each tries to gain dominance over the others. While the protagonists win or lose, all the soldiers forced to fight the sides are usually all doom to die in anonymity. Strategy is necessary in a sad world.

There is a tendency to take ignorant men or women as geniuses as if they really have thought out of the box, when in fact all that they did have been to go where angels fear to tread. A fool comes in and destroys the status quo by the force of arms or law, without realisation the full cost of the destruction. It is very easy to make great change quickly - such as by breaking a neck or chopping off people's legs. It is many times much harder to bring about change in an imperceptible manner. The world simply has too many fools as politicians.


walla said...

There is perennial premium for mindware.

During WWII, the USAF shipped over a downed Messerschmitt BF109 and on opening it up was amazed at its complexity which was way beyond what they had at that time. As the war ebbed in Europe, they raced to capture Nazi Germany's rocket scientists before the USSR. Later naturalized, those scientists became the spearhead of the US race to be the first to the moon after Gagarin had escaped the earth's atmosphere. Instead of computers which were primitive at that time, the german team had just used slide rules to calculate the entire trajectory.

There are many reasons why the US was at the forefront in science, engineering and technology. Asides its deep focus and investment in pure research and postgraduate training programs, it also had a techno-fascinated and open society, and a daring venture capital industry. But the original critical mass came about because many of Europe's best minds had migrated to its shores and were duly recognized and rewarded for their talents which then became benchmarks and standards of excellence and that had spread out from the academic institutions into all areas of industry and commerce enabling them to mass-reproduce commercial success which thus attracted higher prices. Mindshare translated to higher revenues.

Needless to say, having lots of land and natural resources helps. But in the case of other countries like Switzerland, Israel, Singapore, Korea and Japan, such resources were scarce. Therefore people learned to value them. So that in turning around the adversity of scarcity, they forced themselves to value creativity.

For instance, miniaturization was an american invention but the japanese exploded the idea by packing more and more value into a decreasing amount of space so much so the swiss had to reinvent their watch industry with the swatch to fend off inroads from digital watches.

So that what started as a challenge became a rationale for a norm. And the norm is to pay attention to details built on the drive to excel.

One can be creative in any area, including the use of policies to re-carve economies and society, but in the end it is all about being conscious enough about the details of reality to distinguish what really works and what doesn't. Therefore, consciousness is the starting point for anything going forward.

walla said...


It may be surmised that man has three levels of that. At the outermost level, there are behavioral interactions with others. Subcutaneous to that, there are personal norms and views accumulated over time which subconsciously guides each person to respond differently to different situations. And beneath that level is a nucleus of consciousness which can objectively eviscerate the self as only one of a family of components that make up reality in all its compositions. Indeed, much like peeling an onion, the journey inwards can be extremely painful.

What is thus a three-layered journey into inner consciousness in a single human being can be expanded into an entire odyssey for a whole society, nation even.

As an example, we were so amongst the earliest to pin down the use of the internet in service delivery as eGovernment so much so the koreans were asking our people how we were progressing. Yet today we are being advised by the japanese to be careful how we have been spending on IT as they had themselves learned some hardy lessons while the koreans have surged ahead of us in connectivity and our cousins south are way beyond in that field.

It's all about consciousness of what are needed to make something work and then willfully putting all resources to make it happen in a systematic, sustained and constantly progressive program.

It seems we don't have that. Our national development in so many areas has been just a series of sloganized phrases to hide our inability to focus on sustained and well-directed actions. We are just paying lipservice to reality, throwing good money after badly conceived projects, and not doing enough real stuff to build a proper and enduring foundation for the future. Form has replaced substance. Because we never paid proper coinage to human resource legacy and its real improvement. And that because we had whacked out of orbit the whole essence of national development based on merit built on knowledge and talent, replacing it with the drama of effigy-burners fueled by the rhetoric of race, religion and royalty which crimps the diversity that nurtures creativity.

On that score, it is impossible to imagine how such a program as Talent Corp can even get any credible result. Already its people are stymied by questions on educational, economic and social benchmarks, the very grievances for their exodus.

So that without talent, we will again not have the means to tackle creatively the challenges of scarcity that packs more value to attract higher prices that builds a high income economy.

It will be another full cycle of going back to square one. But in these unstable global times, such indifferent standing is actually regressive.

Then no amount of posturing, tactics or strategy will matter. Because the rest of the real world has moved on.

walla said...