Innovation Individuality


Understanding, getting insights and drawing sensible conclusions about creativity and innovation has usually been a slippery process for most industries. Every individual and industry have ideas of their own. At a recent meetup with consultants in the disciplines, I walked away with three major conclusions.

One: One Size Doesn’t Fit All Idea generation, capturing possibilities and executing that flux may all be logged in and read as that we must think out of the box and we must stretch our minds but how far individual ideas can be stretched is totally made to order and custom designed. You got to come up with a process that works for you. What worked for Google, Starbucks, 3M or Evian may not work for you. You will have to mix your own brew.

Innovation by Mandhyan

Innovation by Mandhyan

Two: Execution is Key None of the names mentioned would have known how wonderful their ideas were had they not taken them to market. Out in that nebulous territory called the “market” roam beasts and beauties of undefined shape and size. You may research, reason, position, plan and strategize but it will only be the results that will give you a true reflection and a report.

Three: Make your Approach Methodical In essence, when you mix your own brew, make sure you keep track of the ingredients you use, the measures you use and how long each individual process stays on the burner of your intention and focus. I like to think in terms of preparing, persisting, percolating and performing towards creating something out of nothing, towards making new what doesn’t work well and even what may be working perfectly well. Recently, I had the opportunity to peek into how Kraft/Mondelez comes up with new products, process and promotions for their products. They partner, they purchase, they persist but way before they do all that they prepare to come up with something new. Their work areas are colorful, spacious and laid out to trigger ideas and teamwork. They nurture their research and development teams with volumes of select information; they are exposed to new theories and methods of thinking and action. All this leads to products that are yummy, a presence in the market-place that is unshaken-able and a perch where Mondelez/Kraft, always, gets a glimpse of the curves ahead.

Appreciative Inquiry, an Acquaintance


Individuals and organizations are similar in the way that like an individual an organization needs to be conceived, given birth, incubated, nurtured, formed, trained, inculcated with values and then released into the world to become fruitful and value-adding entities. Like individual, organizations too, come in all shapes, sizes and cultures. Some live long and some just fly by the night. Some succeed and excel continuously while others just chug along happily ever after. Both, individuals and organizations, can live to be quite simple systems or become increasingly complex for themselves and by their own making.

The challenge, though, we all face is how can we all constantly and continuously succeed, excel, stay at the top of our game, and yet keep on adding value to the communities, the country and the world that surrounds us. The current, though ancient in nature, approach is to look for and analyse what does not work in a system and then make an effort to fix it.

Appreciative Inquiry, an Acquaintance

Appreciative Inquiry, an Acquaintance

The approach is ancient because it rests on the belief that individuals and organizations have, or are problems by themselves and they need to be solved. The approach becomes inherently fallacious because it focuses upon what does not work rather than what is working well or what can work well. This failure focused approach also evolves from our addiction to the cliché that a rotten apple spoils the basket and therefore we need to find that apple and do away with it. For a basket of apples that may conclude as a happily ever after but individuals and organizations are far from being just a plain, old basket of apples. We, as systems, can think, analyse, feel, judge, act, learn, help, celebrate and, more important than anything else, dream and design our own destinies.

Thus, the cliché of rotten apples and our belief in the cliché can be overturned with gusto and fervor. A basket of rotten apples, when it comes to humans and human organizations can turn fresh and can get nourished when a good apple is placed among us. A good thought, a good word, a good deed and a good human system can convert individuals and organizations into supportive, constructive, value-driven entities.

In the mid-90s, post the 1992 racial riots in Los Angeles, Erin Gruwell, an enthusiastic school teacher, takes up a job at Woodrow Wilson in Long Beach, California where she is placed plumb in the middle of a multiracial, hard to integrate, class of “at risk and highly unteachable, students.” Amidst the tension ridden surroundings, students are forced into class by security guards, Erin Gruwell works her way through the resistance and the angst of not just the students but a lethargic and numb educational system by focussing on the sparks of potentialities in the students, on what works and on the possibilities of the future. She works through by gently appealing to the human side of the individuals and the groups involved. In the process she makes multiple sacrifices for her career, her family and her status in the community but eventually efforts bear fruit when at the end of two years her bunch of students graduate and move on to college and a life ahead. A good, strong apple that nourishes and brightens the life of people around her.

Though she did not follow any set method or a frame-work to clean out a system that was rife with a culture of failure and resistance. She manages to help a bunch of multi-racial, unteachable, angst-ridden student and their families into happy, productive entities through sheer passion and grit. Thankfully, for us, who are into individual and organizational development there is a whole school of thought and practice which can deliver results at par with those of Teacher Erin Gruwell of Woodrow Wilson High School in California.

The method of Appreciative Inquiry, developed by Dr. David Cooperrider of Case Western University, provides an approach and a way towards achieving excellence by focussing on exceptional performances of the past and current core strengths which can be blended with a clear, challenging and conscientious vision of the future. The method is holistic, life-giving, constructive and in resonance with all that nourishes us as human beings and human organizations.

The approach draws from two modalities. First, Appreciation: an act of recognizing the best in people, places and performances and then to add and increase in value. Second, Inquiry: an act of exploration to discover potentials and highlight possibilities. The first leans on our needs to love and be loved, while the second rests on our natural desires to wonder and be curious about things. The combination of the two modalities creates a powerful potion to build, construct and energize areas and behaviours that are working well and boost their growth and development exponentially. Highly regarded as a paradigm for seeking out what works and moving towards it, a method for many organizational development practices, Appreciative Inquiry for many, is much more than that. It, in many circles, is regarded as a way of life and like life it needs to be soaked in appreciation and inquisitiveness of what is and what can be.

In contemporary methods, most all systems and organizations are seen as problems to be solved by management techniques such as root-cause analysis, solution analysis, critical problem-solving and mechanized action planning. With Appreciative Inquiry, organisations become a mystery to be embraced, a world to be created by reflecting on what we do best and by sharing life-giving narratives of success and harmony, by making inspired choices and designing a future of our dreams. This ‘way of life’ can pervade through research and planning, managing, mentoring and coaching for change. It can be lived through and for developing communities, invoking business excellence and creating visions and missions.

The most powerful tool of Appreciative Inquiry, or AI as it is referred to, is the AI Protocol or the inquiry process. This inquiry process invokes excellence and energy. It is achieved through powerful and structured questions which leave the respondent empowered for idea generation, action planning and implementation. The questioning process is a tri-modal approach and is explored in depth after the discussion of the several assumptions the theory of AI makes for unleashing its effectiveness.

AI makes eight assumptions, and though they may have similarities with several other paradigms; they substantiate well the premise, the promise and the power behind the AI.

Assumption One: In every human situation there is always something which works. No matter how damaged, destructed or dysfunctional a system is, there is and will always be a spark of life and humanity in it which can be rehabilitated. Our objective then, from that window, becomes to seek, to enhance and spur that spark into a flame.

• Assumption Two: It is important to value and appreciate differences. Differences exist and differences are a fact of life in not just what is but also in what is considered to be is. It behooves us to recognize and respect that realities and our perceptions can differ. We need to synergize and seek strength from the diversity.

• Assumption Three: What we focus upon becomes reality. Our intellect can, but our mind is unable to decipher simulation from reality. Should we then focus upon the constructive and our capability to succeed, then we get drawn towards building and achieving success.

• Assumption Four: Realities are created in the moment and there are, always, multiple realities. Since most realities are our perceptions of the truth and our perceptions constantly change with changing times, economics and environmental conditions. Therefore, realities are multiple and our current perceptions are realities of the moment.

• Assumption Five: The language we use shapes our realities. Since our current perceptions are the realities of the moment and our words are used to describe our perceptions then our words and how we string those words together morph and shape our oncoming realities.

• Assumption Six: The act of asking questions influences the outcome in some way. Not really in “some way,” but in a way that can be, if needed, measured and controlled. Questions, we ask, are our invitations to others to express the reality of their perceptions. Others respond with words and language to our invitations to share perceptions, the language they use shapes reality and therefore influences outcomes.

• Assumption Seven: People have more confidence going into the future [unknown] when they carry parts of the present [known.] Since perception and reality are divided by a very thin, almost invisible, wall, perceptions which are like real-life experiences or actual experiences then they give strength and vigour to developmental thoughts and actions towards designing a positive future towards success and excellence.

• Assumption Eight: When we carry the best parts of the past into the future, they will create a better future. Enough said.

These assumptions are the driving force and the armament behind the double-barrelled approach of appreciating and inquiring. That, perhaps, is not a highly recommendable metaphor for AI, since AI is all about the right choice of words and the subtle and powerful influence the structure of language has on our minds. Nevertheless it brings us right into the discussion of inquiring in depth the practice-able of how, the way of life that AI is, works.

The theory of AI has a very simple, framework to apply. It starts with choosing a topic, a theme or a developmental challenge. This is then followed by a four-stage process as follows:

• Discovery: In this stage the AI practitioner helps uncover past strengths and successes while staying anchored and focused towards the central theme. In the Discovery stage allowing the respondent entity to express and share stories is the key objective followed by listening for “what gives life,” within those stories. These life-giving elements can be used to propel the dream and the destiny.

• Dream: In this stage, the practitioner invites the sharing of dreams and visions from the respondents. The process elevates hopes of achieving the ideals.

• Design: the design stage is critical since it needs to take account of external realities and material capabilities of the individuals and the organisations. This stage also calls for working out a result-based plan on how to achieve the dream.

• Deliver [Live the Destiny]: At this stage the practitioner helps the respondents visualize and simulate success of the design thereby imprinting, with power and passion, it as the reality on the minds of the respondent entities.

The critical step for these four stages is a proper selection of the core theme. The choice of words and the language structure needs to be empowering and affirmative from every angle.For example if a community development group chose, “Reduction of Crime and Graft in the Country,” then that theme, though logical, will have a negative tinge since it assumes the existence of crime and terror and may thus end up feeding that beast. The theme can be reworded to, “Nurturing Peace and Order in the Country.” This version assumes existence of peace and order, this shifting focus to what works for eventual development.

Therein lies the power of Appreciative Inquiry and the most consistent and handy tool for all these stages is the power of intelligent and empowering questioning, also referred to as the AI Protocol. The protocol is a process of questioning to empower the deliverance of dreams and destinies. Three powerful things happen when we ask the right questions.

• One. The questioning process raises a storm of curiosity and challenges all status quo. This, inadvertently, invites creative thought, followed by careful words and conscientious action.
• Two. Questioning helps converge thinking between the creative and the logical side. It also stirs up unconscious wisdom and challenges mindless rituals.
• Three, responses to questions make the responder an author of those ideas and, thus, drives them, eventually, into conscientious action.

All questions are made up of three elements.

• The first element of questioning well is the construction and the linguistic tilt of it. The format of the question can open up options or close possibilities.
• The second element of the question considers the capacity and the ability of the respondent. It is this element of questioning which mostly draws response regarding the “how” of things.
• Finally, the third element regards and analyses all underlying assumptions. The higher the ratio of positive and appreciative assumptions a question has, the better a response it generates.

Under the AI Protocol there are three forms of questions. Levels, if you prefer.

• Inward Questions are those that make the respondent reflect upon the how, the when and the why of past performances and past successes. These questions, through anecdotal responses, surface strengths and competencies of individuals and groups.
• Outward Questions string together innate strengths and successes to present day possibilities. These are questions related to the what, the when, the who, the where and the how of achievable plans.
• Forward Questions recreate and reinforce dreams and possibilities. These questions create stimulation and simulation of successes and celebrations in the mind. Forward Questions are future-paced. They give shape and form to visions thereby creating powerful and positive tension between what is and what can be.

The power of the AI Protocol is awe-inspiring and the holistic core of the AI Way of Life brings to fore good living and greater business successes. AI raises our benchmarks and our bottom-lines with ease and élan.

High Impact Presentations

Dr Robert Cialdini of “The Psychology of Persuasion,” made some valid and breakthrough points when he laid down his seven laws of persuading others.

We can, in business presentations too, use the science behind these laws. Here’s how it can be done.

Law One, Reciprocity – People tend to return a favor for a favor.

While presenting make sincere efforts to educate your audience a bit. Offer insights into life, offer ways to improve work or, really offer tangible value. This will perk up people and make them trust you and the rest of your proposals.

Presentation Skills by Raju Mandhyan

Presentation Skills by Raju Mandhyan

Law Two, Commitment and Consistency – If people commit, orally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment.

While presenting ask several rhetorical and open ended questions to which your audience will respond, speak up and, automatically, commit to their expressions which they authored and thus own.

Also make sure that not only talk but your business is simple, streamlined and quite high on commitment and consistency when it comes to delivering the goodies you are talking about. This is what my book, The HeART of Public Speaking with Mind Mapping is mostly about.

Law Three, Social Proof – People will do things that they see other people are doing.

In presentations, offer true and tested testimonials from well known people or organizations or even cite true examples of successful usage of your products or services by others.

Law Four, Authority – People will tend to be influenced by authorities and celebrities.

If your product or service is certified, recognized by a legit institution or authority, please make a point to cite that fact. This action authenticates all other aspects of your presentation or persuasion.

Law Five, Liking – People are easily persuaded by other people that they like.

Presentation skills teachers and trainers across the world will tell you to dress nicely, groom yourself well, smell good and smile.  I say yes to all that and would like to add that you must also feel nice inside, groom your heart and mind and be happy and loving towards your audience. They will like you and they will give heed to your presentation.

Law Six, Scarcity – Perceived scarcity will generate demand and therefore give power to the one owning title to the things in demand.

Uhh, be a little careful with this one when it comes to business presentations. Today, we live in an abundant world driven by eco-consciousness and ethics. State and express scarcity of products or services only if there is one. Do not create an artificial perception of scarcity. Your audience might end up hating you for life. You need to earn, have and keep their trust. Truly.

Law Seven, Stay Cool – This one is by yours trulyOne thing Dr. Cialdini didn’t talk about and which is very high up for me while making high impact presentations is that one must always stay cool. Stay cool when under pressure. Stay cool when it is hot in the room. Stay cool when things go wrong. Stay cool even when you are royally messing up your business talk. Stay cool because people have the uncanny ability to read real intentions which hide behind external behavior and actions. Yes, stay really cool to make high impact presentations.

Power of the Pause


A work of art, way before it becomes a masterpiece, must start with a plain white canvass. Hidden, and yet unborn, inside it lie the ponderings, the passions and the promise of hope and beauty. The artist’s creativity would be severely crippled, every time he picked up his brush, if the solitude of white on the canvass did not lure him to conceive and co-create a brand new reality. Just like masterpieces require the emptiness of a canvass to creatively explode upon; our conversations also need momentary silences, pauses, to express and highlight the magic and motivation which lie hidden in our hearts and minds.

Job applicants, job interviewees, salespeople, managers and even senior executives across industries fall into this trap of speaking up without thinking in. We forget to recognize and give way to the feelings within. This constant shooting-from-the-hip-ness adds nothing but more noise to the din and the mindlessness that engulfs our world. This aimless and excessive thoughtless verbosity is a waste of ammunition and a massive waste of human energy.

Power of the Pause

Power of the Pause

A pause, before, during and even after conversations adds color, rhythm and a panoramic elegance to conversations. A pause, properly orchestrated, is one of the most powerful dynamics of speech. It allows the speaker and the listener to assess thoughts, structure ideas and tap into the deeper recesses of our wisdom and instinct. In the language of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a pause allows us to align our internal resources of intellect, emotion and authentic self with our external resources of the body, speech and action.

In conversations, before interactions, we can chose to stop, to slow down and be still for a few seconds. This will allow us to put a leash on the chain-reaction of reactive behaviour. This can lessen our spinning off in the usual way of defend, offend, talk up, talk down and constantly justify our past performances. A pause is power and a pause induces empowerment and trust, as it makes the other person feel listened to. This little pause then becomes a source of powerful human energy.

The way to increase the amount of pausing before, during and after all our interactions is to keep a mindful awareness on our breathing. Every now then the din and the clamour of the world that surrounds us tends to take over and engulf us in its toxicity but an awareness on our breath acts as an anchor and helps us manage emotions. A visible sign, and constant life-saver of emotional intelligence is a smooth, deep and a rhythmic flow of breath.

In many of my workshops, I profess the 3P method of powerful connection, engagement and influence. In any interaction plant yourself in a position where you are physically stable, at ease and have good visibility and exposure. After planting, pause deeply to gather your thoughts and visualize empowerment of the listeners and a successful outcome of the conversation. Finally, project yourself with power and confidence keeping the goals of the interaction authentic, integral and driven by purpose. This will align your internal and external resources and also evoke excellence from others. That, in essence, is leadership and coaching for excellence in action.

Pausing consciously is a momentary respite between being completely self-absorbed to being awake and present for others and for life. Our conversations need these momentary silences and pauses, to express and high-light the magic and motivation which lie hidden in our hearts and minds.  Watch Video

InSights on InSights

The world does move at a maddening pace and I’d like to adhere to the adage that life is not just about adding speed to it. So when the rest of the word is up and tweetering, I decided to get on the blogging bandwagon. Here’s my first song, hope you like it.

It is kinda’ strange that nowadays everyone is out putting out something onto the cyber-world. Everyone is out there, busy, making a guru-of-sorts of himself. And, yes, of course, that list does include me. So, to set the pace and to get you all, hopefully, on my page I wanna’ tell you what Insights is going to all about.
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Empathy and Presentations

, ,

“We’ve got to feel the audience,” he said and with a warm smile on his craggy face as he gently rubbed his coarse hands together.

“What? Feel the audience! How exactly do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, you see most all of us when we stand to make a presentation, we are concerned with two things; one, we are concerned with the thought of how exactly will impress the audience and the second, we are concerned about how exactly will the audience perceive and accept us. These two concerns are the manifestations of either self-importance and/or of self-consciousness. Both these manifestations are born in the ego, a self image of us that is skewed away from our true self,” he said.

“And then?” I urged him on.

“And,” he went on “when we are skewed away from our true self, we are pretending, we are putting on act to impress others. When we are pretending to be who we are not then we are standing on shaky ground, and we are unsure of how to appear steady, calm and self confident while scores of eyes are watching our every move, every gesture and every expression. Under such scrutiny the veneer of pretension will crack and, usually, does crack.”

“Uh, hmm, I see what you mean;” I said “how then does empathy become the solution to this malady?”

Presentation Skills by Raju Mandhyan

Presentation Skills by Raju Mandhyan

“Pretty simple,” he said “when we care, respect and view the audience to be human, to be frail of ego just as we are then we are, naturally, overcome by a sense of camaraderie and brotherhood. If I may push the idea a bit more, we begin to empathize with them and for them. It’s a great feeling and it diffuses all the hot air that is pent up inside of us as would be presenters. We come down to earth and our focus moves towards the mission at hand. The mission at hand is, always, of adding value, building something new, something that carries High Impact.”

“Gotcha!” I said to ‘Craggy Face,’ “I understand you want us all to turn into monks at heart. Ok!”

‘Craggy Face’ smiled warmly and rubbed his coarse hands gently and happily.

He was pretty cool that way!

Sales Coaching & Trust, Inc,


A sales coach or any other kind of a coach for that matter, to be effective with his client/coachee must first have his client/coachee’s trust. This is achieved by aligning agendas, having similar perspectives and following a tried and tested coaching process but before we delve into all these ideas and check out the process, let’s take a closer look at what is the bigger picture of the word “trust.”

Here’s a very interesting perspective shared by Nan S. Russell, the author of the book, Trust Inc.,

“Imagine millions and millions of trust-pockets thriving across hundreds of thousands of organizations and businesses, operated by people just like you. When I hold that picture, I’m reminded of words from tennis legend Arthur Ashe: “To achieve greatness: start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”

Trust Inc by Nan Russel

Trust Inc by Nan Russel

People work for people, not for companies. Even in an era when “skeptical” has turned to “cynical” about everyone from politicians to priests, doctors to teachers, and CEOs to department heads, any

supervisor, manager, or business owner can still build a trusting environment for their work group, where people can show up and do great work.

If you’re someone’s immediate supervisor, you can positively influence trust, engagement, and innovation. You don’t need to wait for HR or top management to launch an initiative to rebuild trust, reignite passions, or reboot the work culture. Top-down programs aren’t the answer to distrust and disengagement, you are.

Troubling trends and heart-grabbing headlines can reinforce the impression that no one is worthy of your trust. But they are.”  Download Excerpt from Trust Inc.,


Yes, you are responsible as a Sales Manager to acquire and build trust not just of sales people but also of the customers they have to deal with and this can only be done walking your talk of trust authentically and in every interaction. You’ve got to impress the awareness of your team and future-leaders-to-be that they are worthy of trust and trust is the tapestry where the beauty of success and growth is painted.

Assessing Sales Coaching Outcomes


So we are onto the third of all the five questions raised during the 5th public run of the HeART2HeART Sales Management & Coaching workshop at the Ascott in Makati, Philippines last July, 2013.

The question was, “How does a Sales Manager know and measure the effectiveness of a coaching session he might have conducted with one of his salespersons?”

Well, here’s the hearty deal! As and when the Sales Manager is concerned and is conscientious about his own attitude and actions towards the development of his people then, automatically, his performance improves, his outcomes are better targeted and the interaction takes on a holistic and an empowering hue.

Confused? Rightly so! My fault, I jumped the gun a bit.

Assessing Sales Coaching OutcomesOf the several competencies required by a coach is her ability to be aware, to be authentic, and to have the agenda of his “coachee” on the top of his mind and to be adaptive to the growing needs of his learner. This is powerful because it is only in the development of others, only in the progress of her client and only in unleashing the potentials of her team members lays her own success. A sales manager turned coach lives and breathes to evoke the best out of others and deliver team and organizational results.

Now, how we do assess every single interaction and every little session?

One, is the salesperson/coachee hungering for growth and self-mastery every time you have an interaction with him? Ask him. Have him respond to simple questions. Listen, observe and feel. Does he trust you? Does your “coachee” walk away from a session challenged and/or empowered? Yes, both states are important—challenged and/or empowered.

Two, were most of the conversations within the coaching session targeted towards the salespersons goals and also, subtly and surely, in alignment with the sales team’s objectives. Yes, this is an essential difference between life coaching and sales coaching. There has to be a strong alignment of goals between the salespersons personal goals and the team goals.

Assessing Sales Coaching OutcomesThree, the sales manager-cum-coach also needs to keep his eye on improving corporate revenues and profits. If the coaching and learning sessions with the sales “coachee” are going well and he feels empowered and excited by his own progress but, overtime, all the activity is creating little impact on the company’s financial bottom-line then there is something amiss in the process. In this case have a another look and have another think about mutual agendas and the coaching process, keeping in mind that product/service quality, internal systems and market conditions are not derogatory to progress.

There! That’s how to assess the effectiveness of coaching your sales personnel. That’s the HeART2HeART way!

Yes, it also does help the sales manager to maintain an efficient tracking of the regular sessions and the overall performances of the sales people, the team and the overall profits.

Attend my upcoming workshop, go build your teams and grow your profits!

Also, if you wish, watch this clip about telling stories as a sales coach.



Five Laws for High-Octane Learning Transfer in Training

All my life, I have enjoyed and applauded great teachers of all kinds and in all walks of life. I have spent thousands of hours watching,

listening, reading up and pondering about how is it that there are a few teachers/trainers who transfer so much knowledge and wisdom and also do it in a light and a non-intrusive way. I have a special affinity for such people and my life has been blessed by many such “gurus” of learning transfer.

Here are a handful of laws, I believe, they follow to become good at what they do and to churn up learning in individuals and organizations. Mind you these are not just the things they do but these are their guiding principles and they follow them, consciously and unconsciously, as if they were unwritten laws for High-Octane Learning Transfer.

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Warm, Cold Calling


A week before last Christmas I was in the middle of a training session in Mumbai, India when my silent phone lit up with an incoming call. During the break I noted that it was from an unknown number from the Philippines. Instead of asking an impolite “Who is this please?” I sent an SMS saying, “I am in the middle of a meeting-how can I help?”

“You can help me buy a cocktail dress,” came back a prompt reply. This time, since I didn’t recognize the incoming number I responded with an impolite, “Who is this please?” “Pamela,” came back a quick response. Thinking this was someone from my family or friends, I responded with, “Right. Ha ha ha, and a Ho ho ho to you too!”

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