Tuesday, December 31, 2013

10 quotes that prove the Pope is a liberal

As part of our yearend reflection, we offer this clever piece sent by Tony Cumagun forwarding an article passed on by Toto Mapa from A B Aspiras.  It has a sting at the end.

Fair assessment of the Pope?


10 Quotes That Prove The Pope Is A Liberal

by Pat Archbold Monday, August 05, 2013 12:43 AM 

The press has been telling us that Pope Francis, in word and deed, is no less than the total renunciation of Pope Benedict's papacy.

Just this weekend, there has been a flurry of articles praising the Pope for his statements on women and homosexuality and a host of other hot button issues and contrasting him with his doctrinaire and unpastoral predecessor.

Pope Francis' papacy is changing everything about the Church and his comments are a direct affront to traditional Catholics everywhere. The Washington Post put it this way.

"Something unexpected and extraordinary is happening in the Catholic Church. Pope Francis is rescuing the faith from those who hunker down in gilded cathedrals and wield doctrine like a sword. The edifice of fortress Catholicism – in which progressive Catholics, gay Catholics, Catholic women and others who love the church but often feel marginalized by the hierarchy – is starting to crumble."

He is a liberal

Now, as much as many of us traditional minded churchgoers have tried to spin it as in continuity with Pope Benedict, I think it is time we face facts. The press is right. The Pope is a liberal and I have the quotes to prove it!

The Pope is soft on Islam.

"It is true that the Muslim world is not totally mistaken when it reproaches the West of Christian tradition of moral decadence and the manipulation of human life."

Encourages Homosexuality.

"It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the church's pastors wherever it occurs."

Give to the poor

He is focused on the poor:

"Many people today lack hope. They are perplexed by the questions that present themselves ever more urgently in a confusing world, and they are often uncertain which way to turn for answers. They see poverty and injustice and they long to find solutions."

"Yet if we refuse to share what we have with the hungry and the poor, we make of our possessions a false god. How many voices in our materialist society tell us that happiness is to be found by acquiring as many possessions and luxuries as we can! But this is to make possessions into a false god. Instead of bringing life, they bring death."

He is overtly humble and does not embrace his office:

"The authority of the pope is not unlimited;"

"The cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble worker in the Lord's vineyard. The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers."

Women and the Church

He makes a point of extolling women and the Church.

“It is theologically and anthropologically important for woman to be at the center of Christianity. Through Mary, and the other holy women, the feminine element stands at the heart of the Christian religion.”

On those neo-pelagians that think they can earn their way to heaven through piety instead of charity:

“If in my life I fail completely to heed others, solely out of a desire to be 'devout' and to perform my 'religious duties', then my relationship with God will also grow arid. It becomes merely 'proper', but loveless.”

He cares about the environment:

“Listen to the voice of the earth...”


He even hates Capitalism:

"The prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated capitalism."

So, it is time we face the facts. It is clear that he is a radical departure from previous Popes, in particular his predecessor.

In fairness, I must note that there might be one small problem with my analysis. So small I hesitate to even bring it up. Every quote above is from Pope Benedict. Every one.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/pat-archbold/10-quotes-that-prove-the-pope-is-a-liberal#ixzz2b7MKG7Hs

Monday, December 30, 2013

Pope Francis: 'A good Catholic meddles in politics'

For our year-end reflection, we offer this piece sent by Jerry Quibilan forwarding a Willie Villarama shared article. It is so relevant to our present condition that it can double as a guide to our political action in the New Year.

On Sunday, December 29, 2013 11:07 AM, Willie Villarama sent this piece:

GUTS_Pope Francis Is Correct: A Good Catholic Meddles in Politics


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - In his daily homily of September 16, 2013 Pope Francis used the account of the Roman Centurion to dabble in politics. (Luke 7:1-10)  He spoke to those in public office. He also addressed the question of whether Christians should participate in politics. 

Using the Old Testament leader David as an example for political leaders he was blunt. He reminded them they must love the people whom they serve, noting "a leader who doesn't love cannot govern - at best they can discipline, they can give a little bit of order, but they can't govern. You can't govern without loving the people and without humility! And every man, every woman who has to take up the service of government, must ask themselves two questions:

'Do I love my people in order to serve them better? Am I humble and do I listen to everybody, to diverse opinions in order to choose the best path.' If you don't ask those questions, your governance will not be good. The man or woman who governs - who loves his people is a humble man or woman."

'Politics a high form of charity'

He also had words for those indifferent to politics or who simply blame political leaders for all our problems, "None of us can say, 'I have nothing to do with this, they govern.  No, no, I am responsible for their governance, and I have to do the best so that they govern well, and I have to do my best by participating in politics according to my ability. Politics, according to the Social Doctrine of the Church, is one of the highest forms of charity, because it serves the common good. I cannot wash my hands, eh? We all have to give something!"

Finally, he used the expression which is part of the title of this article: "'A good Catholic doesn't meddle in politics.' That's not true. That is not a good path. A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself - so that those who govern can govern. But what is the best that we can offer to those who govern? Prayer!

"That's what Paul says: "Pray for all people, and for the king and for all in authority." "But Father, that person is wicked, he should go to hell. . . ." Pray for him, pray for her, that they can govern well, that they can love their people, that they can serve their people, that they can be humble. A Christian who does not pray for those who govern is not a good Christian! "But Father, how will I pray for that person, a person who has problems. . . ." "Pray that that person might convert!"

St. Paul's example

The culture is a component of the broader mission field of the Church. Politics is a subset of Culture. The word is derived from a Greek word, Polis, which literally means City or City/State. Just as there can be no disembodied spirituality worthy of the name Christian - because redemption involves the integrated human person, body, soul and spirit - there cannot be a disembodied understanding of the mission we have as members of a Church called into the world. 

Catholics are not anti-government. We reject the notion that the isolated individual is the measure of freedom. We begin with the family as the first mediating association and move out from there, always respecting the principle of subsidiarity. However, the vision of the human person as called to community is integral to good governance.  

In addition, the Church must be guaranteed the freedom to proclaim her message in word and deed - in every Nation and in every culture. That is her mission. Her message and mission are not confined to the walls of a Church building. St Paul used his Roman citizenship to advance the preaching of the Gospel. We must use our American citizenship to do the same in the United States.  

In Chapter II of the Section in the Catechism of the Catholic Church entitled "Life in Christ" - and, in particular Paragraphs #1877- 1960 - we find an explanation of our vocation to live in human society.  We are, by nature and grace, social. We are called to participate in social life. The section also explains the AUTHENTIC understanding of terms such as the common good, social justice, responsibility, participation, solidarity and the Natural Moral Law.

Here is a short quote: "All men are called to the same end: God himself. There is a certain resemblance between the unity of the divine persons and the fraternity that men are to establish among themselves in truth and love. Love of neighbor is inseparable from love for God. The human person needs to live in society. Society is not for him an extraneous addition but a requirement of his nature."

St. Thomas More's example 
In 2002, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a Doctrinal Note on the Participation of Catholics in Political Life which began with these words: "The commitment of Christians in the world has found a variety of expressions in the course of the past 2000 years. One such expression has been Christian involvement in political life: Christians, as one Early Church writer stated, "play their full role as citizens". Among the saints, the Church venerates many men and women who served God through their generous commitment to politics and government.

"Among these, Saint Thomas More, who was proclaimed Patron of Statesmen and Politicians, gave witness by his martyrdom to "the inalienable dignity of the human conscience". Though subjected to various forms of psychological pressure, Saint Thomas More refused to compromise, never forsaking the «constant fidelity to legitimate authority and institutions» which distinguished him; he taught by his life and his death that "man cannot be separated from God, nor politics from morality".

We are living under what Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) labeled a Dictatorship of Relativism. Relativism is a philosophy which says there is nothing objectively true. When there are no objective moral truths - which can be known by all and form the basis of our common life - there is no basis for true and responsible freedom.  Freedom can never be realized, nor can it flourish, unless it is exercised in reference to choosing what is true and pursuing what is good.

Moral compass lost

As a Nation we have lost our moral compass. As a direct result we are losing the very meaning of freedom. There can be no good governance in a Nation when its moral foundations are gone.When a society fails to recognize that persons are more important than things it devolves into practical materialism. 

The political leaders of our Nation may still use the language of human rights but the words have lost any moral content. Human rights do not exist in a vacuum; they are goods of the human person. When there is no recognition of a preeminent right to life there soon follows an erosion of the entire structure of all human rights. We are at that stage, and we cannot sit idly by. 

Failing to recognize that our first neighbors in the womb have a right to be born and live a full life in as our neighbors in our community is the foundational failure we face as a Nation. It is a rejection of our obligation in solidarity to one another. It denies the truth of being our brothers (and sisters) keeper.

Compassion for poor

Catholic social teaching on the necessity of every nation giving a love of preference to the poor is rooted on our insistence that they have equal human dignity to everyone else, including children in the womb. Without the freedom to be born, all of the talk about compassion for the poor and the promotion of freedom throughout the entirety of life, and how we attain it, is hollow and empty. Mother Teresa coined the phrase poorest of the poor in refererring to children in the womb. 

In 1994 she stated clearly: "America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts -- a child -- as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience."

"It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters. And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being's entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign."

What makes Apple, Google more lovable than Coke?

(UPDATED JAN. 4) PARIS, France - Coca-Cola has lost its crown as the world's best brand, unseated by the iconic iPhone and iPad maker Apple, the French news agency Agence France-Presse has reported.

This marks the first time the soft drink missed the top spot on the "Best Global Brand Report," a line-up created in 2000 by marketing consultancy Interbrand, a unit of the Omnicom advertising conglomerate.

"Every so often, a company changes our lives -- not just with its products, but with its ethos," said Jez Frampton, Interbrand's chief executive.

"This is why, following Coca-Cola's 13-year run at the top of Best Global Brands, Apple now ranks #1," he said.

In fact, Coca-Cola dropped two places in 2013, also losing to Google, the search engine, which came in second place.

Apple has always been on the list, beginning at #36 in 2000, but has slowly climbed the ranks.

Samsung fast rising

But Interbrand warned Apple needed to keep a close eye on archrival Samsung (#9), especially on the crucial smartphone market.

"To maintain its number one position over the next year, Apple will have to slow rival Samsung's momentum in the mobile market and never lose sight of what it does best: 'Think different'," the consultancy said.

According to Interbrand, the Apple brand is worth $98.31 billion, a 28 percent rise from the previous year with the Google brand weighing in at $93.29 billion.

Computing giants IBM and Microsoft fill out the top five.

Meanwhile, some recent rising stars have now lost their luster.

Blackberry, the embattled phone maker, has disappeared from the list completely and Nokia, once the mobile phone leader, tumbled from 13th place to a lowly 57.

Social network Facebook meanwhile jumped to the 52 spot from 69. - AFP 

What’s in a name?

IN THE BUSINESS WORLD, a name used to be called a brand-name.  Because businessmen are an impatient lot, they shortened the word to brand, evoking in the process a more down-to-earth meaning:  “a mark showing identity or ownership, burned on an animal’s skin.”

In modern times, the word brand has evolved to mean anything and everything that comes to mind when we think of a product or a company.  It means everything that personifies them.  

A brand now means much more than a logo, a trademark, or a catchy selling slogan.  It embodies everything about the company.

Indeed, a brand’s personality transcends its physical attributes -- it lives in the consumer’s mind.  It is the result of the consumer’s entire experience with the brand—the customer’s total interaction with the product over time.

Because it is the result of a continuing dialogue between customer and company, a brand is the sum of the intimate conversations between product and customer.  It is what the customer thinks about the product … without thinking.

Brand worth

The marketing consultancy Interbrand calculates the value of the world’s most popular brands and ranks the most valuable as a percentage of its market capitalization.  In 2000 Coca-Cola ranked first, its brand value exceeding more than half the company’s value—51 percent, or $72.5 billion.

Another way of visualizing that mind-boggling number is by listening to a story told by its legendary CEO, Roberto Goizueta:

“Imagine that by some strange twist of fate all Coca-Cola plants all over the world were burnt down, totally destroyed.  Admittedly we would have a problem, short term, but any bank in the world would be more than willing to provide the funds to rebuild.

“Now supposing you wake up one day and find out brand Coca-Cola is simply not known.  A strange virus has wiped out the entire world’s memory.  Nobody knows what Coca-Cola is.  What do you have?  Nothing but idle plants.” 

Endearment value

While the brand’s economic values are staggering, they do not fully capture how much the brand is worth to its customers.  There are other values which are hard to quantify: let’s call them the brand’s endearment values.

Coca-Cola found this out dearly when, after perhaps the most intensive market research ever done, the company replaced its iconic product with “New Coke,” a reformulated variant that had won numerous consumer taste tests.

Irate consumers took the company to task for fooling around with THEIR (the customers’) brand.  In a nationwide outcry, they railed, “How dare YOU (The Coca-Cola Company) change OUR product?!”  

Coca-Cola quickly brought back the old formula and called it Classic Coke.  The company had surrendered ownership of its brand to its customers!

(Email mibc2006@gmail.com.) 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Lost in destruction: Efficiency kills empathy

(UPDATED Jan. 3) - The dissonance continues between the government’s self-appraisal of adequate performance in responding to the needs of typhoon victims and its critics’ assessment that it could have done better.

The voices will grow more strident when the reconstruction effort starts in the New Year even as the Senate starts discussions on a bill creating a super agency to manage disaster management.

Much of the dissonance comes from a deficiency in the Filipino vocabulary, which has difficulty translating nuances in the English language. (The reverse, by the way, is also true, with sometimes even more disastrous results!)

Look at the compass, not the clock

One of the more lively discussions in management class happens on the subject of Competitive Dynamics, particularly the part about strategy and tactics as an organized response to competitor moves.

In one particular session, it dawned on the students that the confusion probably arose from a deficiency in the Filipino vocabulary, which uses the word “deskarte” to mean both strategy and tactics.  

Thus, in a discussion, Filipinos are prone to say, “Ito and deskarte natin,” (This is our strategy), when in fact they mean tactics.

The best-selling management author Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Successful People) had a graphic way of illustrating the difference.  Covey says we wear watches because we are fixated on accomplishing more in less time (ergo, “efficient”), when most of the time we need a compass to point us in the right direction (“effective”).

‘In the long of time’

When we fail to see the distinction, the results can be disastrous: Having a watch but losing our way can lead us to our doom faster.  Better to be in the right direction, although inefficient, because we can always improve our tactics (how to do it faster).

Strategy thus focuses on knowing which direction to take to achieve our goals, while tactics deal with how to get there more efficiently.  Strategy makes us effective, tactics efficient.  

Covey suggests we wear a watch as usual and wear a compass on the right wrist so that we can conveniently check the direction, and not merely the pace, of our journey as needed.

A focus on strategy sometimes leads to inefficiency, but an emphasis on tactics leads to doom in the long run, or, translated from the vernacular, “in the long of time” (sa haba ng panahon!).

The management prescription is to first set the right direction (vision, mission, objectives, and values) before setting out to get there as fast as we can.  The corollary distinction is: Strategy is leading, tactics are managing.  Leaders focus on strategy, managers tactics.

Efficient but not effective

In the aftermath of the two typhoons that flooded most of Luzon in 2011, President Aquino was severely criticized for “missing in action” during his people's hour of need. The incident foreshadowed “Yolanda” and is instructive.  

Apparently as a concession to critics, the President surfaced exactly a week later to make lightning visits (no pun intended) to his home province of Tarlac, neighboring Pampanga, and Bulacan, through which floodwaters must pass on their way to Manila Bay.

An enterprising news reporter of Channel 5, armed with a watch, timed the presidential visits to the minute.  After doing an aerial survey by helicopter, the President descended on Tarlac around 9:30 a.m. 

He was out of there in 10 minutes, to trek to Pampanga by land, scheduled for 10:30 a.m.  He stayed in Pampanga for 10 minutes and was out of there to make it to Bulacan by 11:30 a.m., where he stayed for 10 minutes (three minutes in Calimpit) before motoring back to Manila.  He apparently had a full schedule ahead of him.

Clockwork precision

In a talk with reporters, the President defended his week-long absence from the flooded areas in this way:

“With us, the relief was already ready to be dispatched before the typhoons in the country – you are all witness to that....

“If government agencies need to do some things and they have done it already what instructions do you still have to give?  Why should you give instructions if everything is prepared?

“I think we had better results today compared to that of Ondoy (a devastating typhoon two years ago). “

Clearly, Mr Aquino was looking at his watch and the efficiency of the government's response.  But there are elements of leadership that go beyond merely being efficient.

Beyond time

In an editorial titled “Think symbols,” the Inquirer said: “The President is alive and kicking, but he has to make a mighty effort to rouse the flood survivors and show them the way out of the depths of despair.”

Those who were disappointed with the efficiency of his visits clearly were not expecting him to personally distribute relief goods, or engineer the drainage of the floodwaters, but simply to show that he cared -- and that he cared deeply enough to linger a little bit longer just to hold people's hands, or embrace them, or offer words of comfort, and then be on his way for the more ponderous affairs of state.

In a time of great despair, empathy for others is a big part of leadership.  Otherwise, why bother to be a leader when you can be a timekeeper?  

A President can certainly do more than being a distributor of relief goods.

(E-mail Marbella International Business Consultancy, mibc2006@gmail.cm.) 

Photo: firstperson.oxfamamerica.org

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Products that open gateways to the imagination

By Winston A. Marbella

(UPDATED DEC. 31) - Charles Revson of the cosmetics empire Revlon gave us a classic example of the ambidextrous personalities that define most successful companies:  “In the factory, we make cosmetics.  In the stores, we sell hope.”

This mental dexterity – knowing what you do as different from the benefit you provide costumers – is key to commercial success.

In an article in the Harvard Business Review in 1960, Ted Levitt wrote a prescient piece that has since become the gospel of the marketing movement. As an antidote to “Marketing Myopia,” he prescribed looking at your business from the customers' point of view.

In one telling example, Levitt said the reason businesses die is not because businesses decline but because they define their industries narrowly: so they lose customers to other industries.  He cited the railroad industry.

The traffic for transporting people and goods was in fact growing, but the railroads lost their customers to truckers, automobiles, even airplanes.  That's because the railroad moguls thought of themselves as belonging to the railroad business when in fact they were competing in the transportation industry.

Largely because of Levitt's pioneering work, now we know better.

What they knew

The Finnish communications giant, Nokia, which rose phenomenally to market leadership in mobile phones before its current financial woes, did not think of itself as the world's leading mobile phone manufacturer.  It defined its business as “Connecting People.”

The film industry declined with the advent of television because Hollywood thought it was in the business of making movies, when in fact it was in the business of providing entertainment.

Disney does not operate theme parks; it “makes people happy.”

Carrier does not make air conditioners; it provides a comfortable climate.

Britannica did not sell encyclopedia; it provided information.

Xerox did not make copying machines; it improved office productivity.

Agri companies do not sell fertilizers; they improve farm productivity.

Lest we start believing these are just catchy slogans, the better companies not only preach them but live them.

The campus

Nike's corporate headquarters sprawls across a vast acreage of Oregon state in the Pacific Northwest.  Here Nike employees drink the elixir from the fountain of youth as they go about a regular working day.  They call it “the campus” because it is a learning environment.

After lunch at the cafeteria, employees are given extra time to try new running shoes around the jogging path encircling the campus.  Others try other designs for other sports: tennis, basketball, track and field.  Lest they forget their heritage, the employees are surrounded by giant posters and larger-than-life bronze statues of the sports legends who endorse their various products: Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, the legendary Michael Jordan.

Nike says of its corporate philosophy: “It is not so much the shoes – but where they take you.”

Indeed.  Any aspiring basketball player who dons a new pair of Air Jordans can leap from the top of the keyhole and dunk the ball on the way down – at least in his mind.

That is what Marketing Imagination can do – looking at things from the customers' point of view – which, by the way, was the title of Levitt's sequel.

Soul mates

At Barnes & Noble, salesmen are encouraged to read books when customers are few so that they can offer quick reviews to book lovers who cannot decide what tomes to buy.  The salesmen know that books are not just compilations of sentences; they are gateways to a whole new world of discovery and adventure.

Curl up with a book with your favorite brew on a lazy Saturday morning at Starbucks' and you are transported to a magical world all your own.

In the case of Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, it wasn't a book that transported him to a whole new world, but the smell of freshly ground coffee while he was on a trip to Seattle in Washington state.

Schultz knew from the beginning that he was not selling coffee but a whole new coffee experience.  Coffee drinkers, he noted early on, are sociable people, and they might like a cozy little place where they could gather and share stories while enjoying a good cup of coffee.

Like Nike's Phil Knight, Schultz knew it was not so much the coffee, but where it transported you.

And thanks to visionaries like Levitt and Knight and Schultz, we now have what we have – neither shoes, nor coffee, nor railroads – but where they take us.

(The author won the Agora Award for Marketing Management by the Philippine Marketing Association.  E-mail mibc2006@gmail.com.)

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

A lovable Labrador augurs empires of the mind

By Winston A. Marbella

(UPDATED JAN. 1) - From Canada comes this heart-warming bonding story between humans and their pets:
A hotel is offering customers a tour around the city using a trusted old Labrador Retriever as walking tour guide. Unsuspecting guests do not realize they are actually taking the dog out for a walk in exchange for a free tour.

Clever -- yes?  The Labrador walks the humans. The humans get a free tour.  In either case, they take each other for a healthy ride.

Revolutionary winds of change are sweeping markets, products and costumers so rapidly that marketers have had to radically reinvent their approaches to meet emerging challenges.

Some of those revolutionary changes are transforming how we live, work and play in subtle but permanent ways.

Missing help

When the local market for domestic workers shrank rapidly because of much better pay abroad for essentially the same work, the family had to assume the workload that an army of domestic helpers used to do.

Meanwhile, the cost of living went up while incomes hardly rose beyond inflation levels. The housewife resorted to buying less of each product she to make the budget fit. Portion packs in sachets became the norm: shampoo, detergent, cooking oil.

The wife also had to get employed to augment the family income. Then she added a sideline to her day job.  With even less time now for household chores, she embraced convenient cooking mixes for all sorts of labor-intensive recipes.


To reduce costs, the family had to move to condos near the place of work.  Living space shrunk, but all to the good, because there were less maids to do the cleaning. 

The working wife also had to remove the family driver and learn how to drive the kids to school and herself to work.  Automatic transmission became standard in cars.

The regular weekly grocery day gave way to errands done on the fly.  Gasoline stations sprouted convenience stores.  Mom-and-Pop stores went 24 hours to serve call-center workers whose shifts coincided with first-world working hours.

More fast-food outlets opened.  Value meals proliferated.  The population grew more obese and less healthy.  Lifestyle-driven diseases (hypertension, diabetes, stress) rose.

Social media

New lifestyles further eroded precious little time left.  The Internet and social media competed with the suddenly “old” media of print, radio and television.

Traditional planning tools like industry analysis became useless as industry walls came tumbling down and consumers crisscrossed and merged product categories.  Crossover vehicles like the family van did multiple tasking for work, leisure and soccer-team duties.

Air-conditioned shopping malls replaced public parks. We can also go to the malls now to see our doctors and dentists, even get our regular dialysis.

Imagination rules

If we go by cutting-edge management thinking, the strategy gurus are unanimous in proclaiming that innovation is the currency of the New Economy. That is not as easy as it sounds. Innovation comes from creativity, and creativity grows from imagination.

“Does anyone know what it means to manage the human imagination?” the best-selling management guru Tom Peters asks.

Apparently, Napoleon knew.  “Imagination rules the world,” he said.

How does one cultivate imagination, which spurs creativity, which in turn propels innovation?  Another management guru, Gary Hamel, has several ideas:

1.               Create a sense of urgency.
2.               Develop a competitor focus at every level of the organization.
3.               Provide employees with skills they need to succeed.
4.               Establish clear milestones and review mechanisms to track progress.
5.               Ensure that internal recognition and rewards reinforce desired behavior.

The drill

 For some gifted persons, all of the above seem instinctive. For us less-endowed mortals, we have to do the drill.  

By definition, excellent companies are a “perpetually growing reservoir of ideas.”

The best Fortune 500 companies generate most of the breakthrough ideas, take action on them quicker than competition, and spread feedback to everyone to generate even more ideas.

Creativity feeds on itself.  By repeating this cycle over and over, the organization grows its creativity index:  It becomes more efficient in generating new ideas and even more creativity.

In fact, says Fortune, a company's capacity to generate a continuous stream of ideas is the best predictor of future earnings.

Culture of curiosity

Because the New Economy will be brain-based, it will require brain-based organizations.  To paraphrase Winston Churchill, the empires of the future will be the empires of the mind.

In nurturing creative organizations, companies create centers of innovation to make ideas flow and grow freely.  They do these things:

1.               Spread information quickly. 
2.               Continually challenge “sacred cows,” or existing processes and long-held beliefs, in order to get leaps in performance and new product ideas.
3.               Encourage “Why?” questions like, “Why are we doing things this way?” or “Why are we doing this at all?”
4.               Encourage the smooth flow of information and expertise across organizational boundaries.
5.               Flatten the organizational structure.  Crush functional turfs with interdisciplinary task forces.
6.               Talk to customers continually for fresh ideas.
7.               Cultivate a culture of curiosity.  The absence of meaningful mistakes means the organization is not innovating enough and has begun to play safe.

Just do it

In an age when today's competitive advantage may disappear with tomorrow's technological breakthrough, the “ability to learn faster than competition may be the only sustainable advantage,” the management gurus say.

We need many Aha! Moments – leaps of creativity and imagination.  But we cannot wait for Aha! Moments which are few and far between.  We need to make a cottage industry of breakthrough ideas from a reservoir of creative innovations.

That should not be very difficult.  We have always taken pride in Filipino ingenuity.  Until graft and corruption sucked dry all our imagination.

(The author is an Agora Award winner of the Philippine Marketing Association for Marketing Excellence; e-mail Marbella International Business Consultancy, mibc2006@gmail.com.)

Photo: A lovable Labrador Retriever, desk7.net

Friday, December 27, 2013

Inborn talents need 10,000 hours' work to succeed

By Winston A. Marbella

(UPDATED March 7) -Using classical standards, we never think of athletes like, say, Michael Jordan, as “intelligent.”  But they are intelligent – only in a different way.

Believe it or not, Jordan illustrates the same kind of intelligence that Filipina ballerina Lisa Macuja has.  It is called kinesthetic intelligence.  And there are many other types of intelligence we do not recognize because they depart from the traditional ones we measure in IQ tests: verbal, logical, mathematical. Another surprising example:

There was a young girl who had a learning disability---she could not sit still.  If she had gone to school today, she would have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

After repeated attempts to calm her down, her teacher decided to call her mother to school.  The two left her in a room so that they could talk.  Before leaving the teacher switched on a tiny radio.  He then stood the mother behind a door and told her to watch.

Instantly, the girl started to dance. The teacher told her mother she wasn’t sick—she’s a dancer! He advised her to enroll her in dance school.

Fortunately, there was such a teacher—or we would not now have the pleasure of enjoying the delightful dance sequences in “Cats.”  The girl was Gillian Lynne.  She collaborated with Andrew Lloyd Weber to choreograph another smash hit, “Phantom of the Opera.”

Multiple intelligences

The Pope and Reagan wore empathy
The best-selling Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner has done a bit of work on multiple intelligences, the more fascinating results of which he has published in two remarkable books, Frames of Mind and Creating Minds.  

Aside from the usual intelligences we know because they are the stuff we took in IQ tests—linguistic skills, numerical ability and abstract reasoning—Gardner has uncovered other intelligences we never recognized as intelligences.

These intelligences are: athletic or kinesthetic, which athletes and dancers have lots of -- visual/spatial, an acute sense of space, color, texture and proportion (visual artists and photographers) -- musical (Filipinos have plenty) -- and interpersonal or empathy, a keen understanding of people which leads to having immense influence over them.  Charismatic leaders, politicians and celebrities are good examples (Mother Teresa, Oprah Winfrey and Princess Diana).

Gardner’s work gave us excellent examples of the intelligences so that we could understand them better:  Albert Einstein for mathematical-logical intelligence, Sigmund Freud for classical natural science, T.S. Eliot for literature-philosophy, Igor Stravinsky for music, Pablo Picasso for art, Martha Graham for dance, and Mahatma Gandhi for empathy. All, I might add, not only excellently exemplified but also revolutionized their areas of expertise.

In another book, Changing Minds, Gardner explored how great leaders influenced other people’s minds.  Good examples are Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Pope John Paul II. Einstein and Churchill, I might add, had problems in school, a deficiency that did not lessen their genius. 
But hold your horses. Before you start thinking it is all a matter of genetics, think again.

The secret of success

Malcolm Gladwell, the best-selling British-Canadian journalist, is widely known for his runaway book, The Tipping Point. His third book, Outliers, examines how a person's environment, in conjunction with personal drive and motivation, affects his or her possibility and opportunity for success.

Gladwell says he noticed that people ascribe Bill Gates’ success to being "really smart" or "really ambitious." But he knew a lot of people who are really smart and really ambitious, but not worth 60 billion dollars.

"It struck me that our understanding of success was really crude—and there was an opportunity to dig down and come up with a better set of explanations," Gladwell says.

In a personal illustration of the 10,000-Hour Rule, a concept he popularized in the book, Gladwell notes, "I was a basket case at the beginning, and I felt like an expert at the end. It took 10 years—exactly that long."
He repeatedly mentions that the key to phenomenal success is going at it for 10,000 hours, more or less, if you keep pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone.

Gladwell says that "the biggest misconception about success is that we do it solely on our smarts, ambition, hustle and hard work.”

Outliers are described by Gladwell as exceptional people, especially those who are smart, rich, and successful, and those who operate at the extreme outer edge of what is statistically possible.

A hard day’s night

Gladwell says that success requires enormous time. Using The Beatles as examples, he notes that they performed live in Hamburg, Germany over 1,200 times in 1960-64, more than 10,000 hours of experience.  "By the time they returned to England from Hamburg, Germany, they sounded like no one else.”

Gates logged 10,000-hours writing programs overnight at a high school computer in 1968 at the age of 13. Without that access, Gates would still be "a highly intelligent, driven, charming person and a successful professional," but he might not be worth US$50 billion.

The 10,000-Hour Rule may daunt men of lesser stuff, but is simply a matter of practicing a specific task that can be accomplished with 20 hours of work a week for 10 years, Gladwell says.

He continually emphasizes that genius is not the most important thing in determining a person's success: It "is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned.”

Whatever intelligence we are born with, we still have to work at it for 10,000 hours before it works.  So stop thinking and start working.

(The author is president of a management consultancy specializing in business strategy; e-mail mibc2006@gmail.com.)

Photo: Blessed Pope John Paul II and US President Ronald Reagan

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Denied plane seat, Indonesian chief blocks runway in revenge!

Here’s an interesting story from the French news agency, Agence France-Presse, published in the Sydney Morning Herald and reported by Rappler, the online news portal:

An Indonesian district chief got revenge on an airline that refused to let him board a full flight by sending officials to block the runway and stop the plane landing, authorities said Monday.

Marianus Sae, head of Ngada district in the eastern island of Flores, wanted to get home quickly to Ngada from the city of Kupang on Timor island so that he could attend a meeting.

But state-owned Merpati Nusantara airlines refused to sell him a ticket for a flight to Turelelo Soa airport early on Saturday because it was full.

‘Outrageous! I begged them!’

"It is outrageous," Sae was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Globe newspaper.

"I begged for a ticket for five hours to fly to Ngada and their answer was: 'The flight is full'."

In an act of revenge, the infuriated district chief ordered public order officers -- who have more limited powers than police and come under the authority of local governments -- to drive cars onto the runway and stop the plane landing, media reports said.

The handful of staff at the airport could not stop the blockade and the airport remained shut for several hours, officials said.

Merpati spokesman Riswanto Chendra Putra confirmed the plane was forced to turn back due to the blockade.

Two seats vacant!

However he added that two of the plane's 56 seats had become available at the last minute -- but by then Sae had already bought a ticket to travel with another airline.

Transport ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said the district chief had "tarnished the reputation of the aviation industry."

But he said the ministry had no plans to take legal action, adding such matters were the responsibility of the police. - (End of AFP story.)

I surmise the Indonesian police will issue him a traffic violation ticket for illegal parking.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Pope’s envoy sleeps over in Leyte for Christmas Masses

(UPDATED DEC. 25) - Paterno Esmaquel II of Rappler.com, the online news portal, filed this heartwarming Christmas story:
MANILA, Philippines – The ambassador of Pope Francis in the Philippines arrives in Leyte on Tuesday, December 24, to lead Christmas celebrations in the province worst hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

The apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, will lead the Christmas Eve Mass in Palo, Leyte at 10 pm on Tuesday.

The Mass will be held at the Cathedral of Our Lord's Transfiguration in Palo, according to Palo Archbishop John Du in an article on the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) news service.

On Wednesday, December 25, Pinto will celebrate Christmas Mass at the Sto NiƱo Church in Tacloban, the city hardest hit by Yolanda, at 10 am.

‘Wherever you sleep’

Du said Pinto is “determined” to visit Leyte. “I will sleep wherever you sleep,” Pinto told the archbishop of Palo.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, for his part, said Pinto is closely monitoring relief efforts in Eastern Visayas, according to CBCP News.

Palma praised Pinto's move to spend Christmas in Leyte.

“These are some of the ways on how we can help to make people feel that they are not alone. We are willing to journey with them,” Palma said.

Embracing 'every Filipino'

Francis himself has repeatedly prayed for Yolanda survivors in the Philippines.

In November, the Pope hugged Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle in a gesture of solidarity after Yolanda. 

In a Mass in Palo that month, Tagle recounted the experience and said he knew the Pope "was not embracing an individual person."

"Niyayakap niya ang lahat ng Pilipino, buhay at yumao," Tagle said. (He was embracing every Filipino, living or dead.)

On Wednesday, Pinto's visit comes as Francis prays for a Christmas “of hope, justice, and fraternity.”

‘Family and home go hand in hand’

The Pope* drove home this point on Sunday, December 22. During the Sunday Angelus, he pointed to a banner carried by protesters in St Peter's Square.

“I see there, written in large letters, 'The poor cannot wait.' That's nice! And this makes me think that Jesus was born in a stable, not in a house. 

Afterwards he had to flee to Egypt to save his life. At the end, he returned to his own home, in Nazareth.”

“And I also think, today, reading this banner, of the many families who are without a home, either because they have never had one, or because they have lost it, for various reasons. Family and home go hand in hand. It is very difficult to raise a family without a home. In this Christmas period I invite all – individuals, social organizations, authorities – to do everything possible to enable every family to have a home,” Francis said.

Yolanda damaged at least 1.14 million houses in the Philippines – with at least 550,928 totally destroyed.

It killed at least 6,109 people and affected more than 16 million. Up to 5,260 or 86% of the total come from Leyte alone. – Rappler.com

Photo by Geric Cruz, Rappler.com.

The survivors lit candles in memory of their dead 40 days after the typhoon, one week before Christmas.