This compilation of few of my buzzes is to me is like drops of water collected together. A buzz is a drop of water and collecting drops of water together may generate new insights. A separate drop of water has no other water to adhere to or cause the formation of a surface tension. If a drop of water is frozen it doesn't produce ice flakes; drops of water do. I want to say that you may enjoy the flakes as this is my driving desire to compile several buzzes into an eBook.
An individual buzz is like a tree and the collection of buzzes in an eBook is the forest. A single tree may not form a canopy; in contrast, many trees may form one. I hope that you see the canopy and enjoy the comfort it offers you.
Scattered roses may produce tiny fragrance. A bundle of roses may produce far greater stronger fragrance. I hope you enjoy the fragrance and to stay away from the thorns.
Dr. Ali Anani - Managing Partner
Dr. Ali Anani : As General Manager, Dr. Ali Anani heads and supervises a team of
talented young professionals, and manages the overall brand strategy - ensuring
the cohesiveness and creative parts of each campaign for all Agency clients.
Dr. Ali Anani holds a PhD from the UK (1972). He has a wide experience in many
ﬁelds. His accomplishments include the writing of more than eighty publications in
international journals, the writer of three printed books in Arabic and one E-book in
English. He has written widely for the media and presented a TV program and
many radio programs.
Dr. Anani main credit is his creativity thinking where he scored among the top %5
creative people worldwide. Dr. Anani is an invited lecturer for more than ﬁ y
international conferences and an author of many business slogans. Moreover, he
has travelled to more than ﬁ y countries as an invited speaker and consultant and
has consulted for many international agencies including UNIDO, Atomic Energy
Agency, UNDP, ESCWA, private businesses and governmental agencies.
The Paradox of Imagination
Umbrellas for Forecasting Organizational Culture
The Smell of Disengagement
Organizational Bodies Have Telling Smells
The Butterfly Effect of Passion
Finding the Needle of the Compass
The Synchronicity of Coming Together
Should goals be announced?
More on cross-pollination
Asking Questions- limitations and scope
Open Minds Vs. Closed Minds- which is better?
Better to Focus or not?
Small Today, Significant Tomorrow
Sunken Hopes and Attitudes
The Complexity of Choices
Family Dynamics in Action
The Paradox of Imagination
I don›t recall her name, but mostly it was Charlie. She was a poor girl and her family had
to struggle to survive. She lived in a small state in the USA. As poor as she was she always
imagined herself touring the world. Her family owned almost nothing and her imagination
was almost impossible to realize.
One day her mother walked in her room and showed her an ad that was directed at school
kids from a cookies-producing company. The ad offered a trip around the world for the
school kid who comes first in selling Xmas cookies. The girl eyed her mother and with
confidence she responded «Mum- I won and I am going to tour the world».
Such determination lacked the means, but not the will to realize a dream and make it reality.
The girl decided to move to another state and nearby car manufacturers and other big
industries. Luckily for her, one of her close relative lived there so that Charlie would have
free accommodation and a car to take her around. Charlie kept asking herself «how would
eye get a minute to talk to the CEOs of big companies to convince them to buy cookies
from her in big amounts». She found that by timing her movements and having a powerful
and emotionally-moving statement she could do it. The plan was to monitor when CEOs
come to work, leave for lunch she would rush to them before getting in their cars or as soon
they got out of their cars.
She did and whenever she was lucky enough to reach the CEO she would tell him with a
passionate, but not begging, tone «Sir, Investment in my future so that one day I may invest
in yours». Every CEO was curious enough to know how a kid like Charlie would possibly
invest in his/her future. So, they asked her to explain. That gave her the chance to tell her
story and her dream to tour the world. This tour would make her ready for her planned
selling career. Once she become successful she promised to buy from the CEO Company.
She won the prize by a far margin. Charlie became one of the most successful salespersons
and fulfilled her promises to the CEOs.
Imagination may take us from our constraints by not focusing on them, but rather on new
possibilities. Charlie had on paper no chance to win. She lived in a state with low population
and not too many schools. She had no money, but she had the determination to turn her
daydream into a reality.
If you want to surmount your limiting factors imagine a big dream. Live the imagination.
Commit yourself to it. The imagination shall even help you come up with solutions that
wash away your lack of knowledge in some areas. It shall bring distant possibilities close to
Businesses need to imagine the almost impossible. Individuals need to do the same. The
power of imagination shall supersede your limitations because imagination shall find
alternative and much simpler creative ways to achieve what we want.
Imagination brings us creative solutions that we haven›t imagined. This is the Paradox of
I walked in my house the other day and could smell the fragrance of roasted butter-enriched
popcorn. I was right and my daughter had just finished eating it. The smell revealed to me
an action that I didn›t see. Smells can be very revealing.
The question that crossed my mind then was how about organizations that breathe their
culture and if their smell would reveal their actions. It turned out that Professor Sumantra
Ghoshal tackled this issue recently in his talk to the World Economic Forum. I embed the
video and encourage watching it attentively.
I felt there is more that can still be discussed. Some organizations have a tight grip on all
affairs without empowering the staff or trusting them to do anything but listen and obey
instructions. Those organizations lack interacting with the environment and their staff are
stressed and fearful because if they don›t finish jobs on time they shall be penalized. The
employees breathe fear and exhale their worries. The more the employees are stressed,
the more likely they shall exhale volatile metabolites that shall intoxicate the indoor
environment. That ventilation is restricted because of tight instructions shall even make
the place rapidly a house of moulds growing everywhere.
I have seen what fear does. I recall that while doing my post doctorate research a previous
student of mine started his post-graduate work at the same university and he was also new
wed. I invited the couple for a lunch and then went out for relaxation on the beautiful yards
outside. It was a lovely sunny day. Over a long distance the wife saw a lady taking her dog
for a walk. The wife was afraid of dogs and started yelling «what if this dog runs away»?
She started sweating and yelling louder «the dog is approaching me». The dog was still far
away, but the closer it was the greater the worry of the lady was. All of a sudden the dog
smelled her fear and rushed at her at great speed. You can imagine what happened.
The smell of organizations might invite watching «dogs» to an organization and bite it.
Fearful organizations have their smell and the greater fear is, the more likely the watching
competitors shall smell their fear. Who is scared from a scared organization?
The problem compounds because when organizations live in fear for long times the
employees become used to the smell and lose their power to observe it. It becomes an
accepted risk.They aren›t different from employees working in petrol stations and soon the
employees lose their sense to smell benzene. Should benzene leak and burn it shall be late
to control its risk. Oppression shall lead to the same and employees may find themselves in
a burning house because they lost their sense to smell the leaking danger.
Tight-controlled organizations generate no fresh air, no fresh ideas and no fresh initiatives.
They live in a culture where bad smells or bad ideas are accepted whereas fresh ones are
rejected. Fishy ideas become the norm and fishy people get most of the opportunities.
Umbrellas for Forecasting Organizational
Culture and Climate
Some images are mind-provoking. The ideas of this buzz were inspired by two photos: the
weather-forecasting umbrella and umbrella stands.
The weather-forecasting umbrella is handy and smart. By connecting its handle to weather
stations it can tell by displaying one of three main colors. When you walk toward the door
to leave for the day it switches on the appropriate color — green for clear, blue for raining,
and red for storming. So, you decide if you need to take your umbrella or not before leaving
indoors. The handle is easy to remove from the umbrella to protect it from thieves.
A new approach is to have stands that do the same
function as the umbrella handle. The stands do the same
job as the handles of the umbrella do. This way you don›t
need to carry the expensive handle with you.
could develop similar interactive umbrellas or stands
to forecast the business climate. Equally important is
predicting the climate within the organization. If this
climate is stormy as evidenced by stands showing red
color then we may tell that this organization is going to
lose its talented employees and shall experience high
turn-over rates. The employees shall be disengaged.
There are voluminous studies on the issue of business climates and their connection to the
prevailing culture within an organization. I find myself asking if business culture is weather-
like and the prevailing moods in organizations represent the prevailing climate within these
organizations. NASA defines the difference between weather and climate is a measure of
time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and
climate is how the atmosphere «behaves» over relatively long periods of time. Culture
is a complex issue like weather and over long periods of time we get repeating patterns
that act as attractors and shape the behavior of employees in these organizations. Even
though the umbrella shows red color because of increased global competition, varying
customers› moods and expectations and the rapidity of technological breakthroughs; still
these organizations live in the past and stick to what they do best. The management fails
to see it is stormy outside as the management prefers to keep doing what the organization
does best- but only to vanish from the markets. The management wouldn›t risk changing
what it has been successful at and run the risk of changing their work focus. The indoor
umbrella shows it stormy outside and the only solution acceptable is to stay indoors till a
hurricane swaps the whole organization.
Organizations need to juggle many balls at the same time. Surely among them are the
culture, structure and the leadership of an organization. Organizations need to make
serious efforts to change culture while seeking to improve the climate of business. The
management has to realize that the structure of the organization is very crucial because
it is more difficult to juggle balls when standing on glassy structures. Rigid structures will
only lead to increased stress and lowering creativity to generate creative solutions to the
ever-changing climates outdoors.
Not all balls are the same. Some balls will break into pieces if allowed to fall down. Some
balls are resilient and rubber-like. Other balls are tiny because they have low priorities.
The Organizational Climate Survey (OCS) is based on work begun at Harvard University by
psychologists Litwin and Stringer. They identified six parameters to determine the climate
prevailing in an organization. These are
1. Clarity: everyone in the organization knows what is expected of them
2. Standards: challenging but attainable goals are set
3. Responsibility: employees are given authority to accomplish tasks
4. Flexibility: there are no unnecessary rules, policies and procedures
5. Rewards: employees are recognized and rewarded for good performance
6. Team Commitment: people are proud to belong to the organization
There are six balls to juggle to improve organizational climate, which feedback on
organizational culture and vice versa.
Can we have an umbrella to forecast the climate within organizations and more importantly
how this climate may be related to the weather of organizations (cultures)? Like we may
predict to some extent the weather we need to have color-coded indicators for in-house
weather. In a constantly changing world no organization may afford to stand the same.
The Smell of Disengagement
The couple got engaged and then disengaged- what happened?
The employee got so engaged in work and then got disengaged? What happened?
The people got engaged in an environmental issue and then disengaged?What happened?
The investors got engaged in investing and then disengaged? What Happened?
Definition of Employee Engagement
Emotional connection an employee feels toward his or her employment organization,
which tends to influence his or her behaviors and level of effort in work related activities.
The more engagement an employee has with his or her company, the more effort they put
forth. Employee engagement also involves the nature of the job itself - if the employee feels
mentally stimulated; the trust and communication between employees and management;
ability of an employee to see how their own work contributes to the overall company
performance; the opportunity of growth within the organization; and the level of pride an
employee has about working or being associated with the company.
I used before the metaphor of paints disengagement from there substrate and the
leaves disengagement from their branches. Are these metaphors related to employee
disengagement? Let us explore this assumption more deeply and also introduce the glue
metaphor here. The metaphors fit very well with the definition of disengagement outlined
The paints and trees show wrinkling. Wrinkles form when the top layer dries faster than
the bottom layer or when top layer is applied on a contaminated surface. The top layer
in organization is the upper management. If the upper management interest in the
organization dries up then the glue that bonds the organization together. We know that
making wrinkles with glue is a safe and easy way to make our skin appear old and aged
before its time. But this wrinkling effect of the glue make the organization looks old and
outdated. The employees can smell the deteriorated glue and get disengaged as well. Top
management ooze of interest is an invitation to employees to follow steps.
The glue not only wrinkles, but may also degrade into intoxicating volatiles. This reminds
me of books. Fresh books may smell right, fresh and energizing. In contrast, once the
glue used in making the books or the papers of the book degrade they may produce
intoxicating volatiles. Not few volatiles, but degradation produces lots of them. Employees
may decompose like paper does while management may decompose like glue resulting in
repulsive odors. And who wishes to stay in such environment? Even if the employees stay,
their engagement shall be low and their productivity as well.
I recall a visit to a university library with the dean of sciences. The library smelled beautiful
and the books were in great shape. I drew the attention that almost all the books had their
plastic cover intact. Nobody opened them. The dean inspected many shelves and only one
book was borrowed for one hour. He then nodded his head regrettably and asked «why do
we invest so much in acquiring new books if nobody is reading them»? Not the teaching
staff or their students did. This was a refreshing smell of disengagement. What a paradox!
Management should act the glue for the organization. Not all glues are the same. Their life
substrates. Some glue should be applied with great care because they can be risky to the
health till they have sat in. Some glues produce foam. Foam formation may be attributed to
the use of low quality glue or to incorrect application of the glue.
Painting the «organization wagon» with low quality
paint will lead to all sorts of problems such as
wrinkling, flaking, formation of ugly paint spots and
many other problems. The paint shall also degrade
and produce intoxication. No managerial «glue»
shall be able to keep the paint. It is only when the
correct glue is applied in the right environment
correctly to the correct substrate that it may last.
If not, it shall degrade and intoxicates the work
environment. And then we ask why do employees
Organizational Bodies Have Telling Smells
My previous post on Smelly Organizations drew lots of quite interesting discussions and
prompted Deb Lange to establish The Senses Hive. One comment that kept brewing in my
mind is that of Fatima Williams in which she wrote «Smell forms a triad with energy, place
and people. The energy that is present in a particular place with a particular set of people
defines Smell to me; in the context of a organization or a home. If these 3 are in a perfect
unison then there is fragrance.
Correct me if I›m wrong please. I have witnessed that these three have resulted in forming a
project at office or shutting down of projects as well and have resulted in a Happy or broken
The comment of Fatima reminded me of the metaphor that organizations are living bodies.
Here is the analogy- an organization can be a healthy body or not. If not healthy it shall
produce various smells that repulsive to varying degrees. A living body will produce smell
from the skin or breath and it shall not be difficult to smell bad odors.
The human body works in perfect harmony where the cells, organs and systems work
or denied from its freedom the whole body shall go in disorder. The organization body
shall suffer from same. If employees are only to follow deadlines and strict orders they shall
disengage as they suffer from the indigestion of orders. Indigestion produces eventually
One more example is backbiting which is similar to eating somebody›s dead meat.We know
that eating excessive meat may cause the formation of toxins in the body and make it smell
horrible. In work culture where backbiting and blaming are predominant we shouldn›t be
surprised to smell terrible smells. The organization- the place, the people and their energy
combine to form terrible smell.
Healthy body organizations circulate information and don›t restrict its movement. Like the
body converts food into energy so are organizations that convert information into energy.
When information is restricted no energy is produced and the organization becomes almost
like a dead body. We all know what dead bodies smell like. The human body is amazing
in how it sends «smelly indicators» to warn us of the existence of a health problem. The
impairing of an organ function can cause the production of many varieties of chemicals,
some of which have peculiar odors. The most common is a sluggish liver. This cause a rather
bitter type of smell that is quite easily recognized when one enters the person’s home, for
example. People from outside walking into a «sluggish organization body» will too notice
One might be surprised to notice that even though organizations with sluggish livers smell
horribly; yet people inside stay inside. The explanation is due to the fact that people find
it difficult to smell their own breath. They get used to the extent to stop smelling it. Only
when somebody sits nearby they realize by the reaction of others that they smell horribly.
It is up to us to keep a healthy organization how to smell to the outside world. It is equally
important that we shouldn›t assume the organization has a good smell because we fail to
smell bad breath. It is only by being clean inside that we make our breath fragrant to the
Ali Anani, PhD
The breath of organizations can be very telling about them.
The Butterfly Effect of Passion
It was Xmas time. The CEO and accompanied with his senior managers decided to tour the
different parts of the huge factory. In every case the CEO could see the cleaners sweeping
the floors. In each manufacturing floor he made a point to ask the cleaner what his job
was. In all cases the cleaner humbled by his job said «I am a cleaner». The senior managers
were shocked that the CEO embarrassed the cleaners with the same question even though
he could see what they were doing. Finally, they walked into a floor and the CEO asked
the cleaner the same question. The cleaner looked the CEO in the eyes and said «I am the
one who cleans the floor so that your staff don›t get sick, produce more, and the company
makes more profits». The CEO ordered that cleaner be qualified to do other jobs.
There is a great passion for work and for people in this real story. The cleaner served not
himself, but the employees and company. He didn›t see his job as a humble one, he added
weight to it. What others might consider a humble job he turned it into an important one.
We inflame passion by adding wonderment to it and more by creating a human value so
that this passion may stay long.
We have passions, but passions shall not lead to sustained actions unless we give what we
do a scope that is greater than ourselves. We may become passionate to what we do if we
enhance the value of the work we do. Self-centered passions to work or what I like to call
«egoist passions» are not impacting.
I decided to review the life of Alfred Noble and how this man turned from inventing
dynamite to promoting organizations that promote peace. Alfred Nobel had passion to
develop dynamites to help his family with their construction work. This passion led to
the killing of one of his brothers and other people because the dynamite was unsafe to
handle. His passion proved greater than death and kept working till he found a way to
handle dynamite safely. Unfortunately, the use of dynamite extended to wars and killing
people and not only for construction works. It was this realization that made him change
his passion to serving people.
There is a great risk in employees who do what they do without passion. Nothing «moves»
them and they stay within the boundaries of what they have to do.These employees remind
me of the passion flower. The way this plant grows is amazing. You may watch to enjoy a
video about this.
This passion flower is capable of defending itself by releasing a sticky chemical so that bugs
may not harm it. Humans should avoid holding the leaves of this plant because the leaves
emit unpleasant odor if we try to torn or cut the leaves.
There is a great lesson here. Even passionate employees who are not turning their passion
into action might do the same.They tend to defend themselves by excreting bad odors and
they are capable of poisoning their own passions.
Life takes us into different paths and our passions may change accordingly. No matter what,
we need to put in passion in what we do to move. If we don›t, then we shall remain in
our position. Like plants find ways to defend themselves, we too tend to do the same and
release toxic or unpleasant odors at the work place.
We need passions towards people so that these passions may be of greater value than what
we would think of.
Finding the Needle of the Compass
Know your direction and where to go is a basic concept of strategy. If you don›t know where
to go then you may end up anywhere. We need a compass to show us the direction. In our
highly unstable and volatile world we may have a compass to show us the direction, but
unfortunately a compass whose needle got lost. How then we would find the direction to
One possibility is trying to find the lost the magnetized needle of the compass in a haystack.
How then to find the needle? There are ways such as dropping the haystack in water. The
needle being heavy, will settle at the bottom. Now, you need a powerful magnet to attract
the needle out of the haystack. A second way is by burning the haystack so that the needle
shall be exposed. You may think of other ideas.
Relocating the needle is not enough to show us the direction. A compass needle shall cheat
the direction if exposed to friction and gravity. The gravitational forces in an organization
and the frictions within them might cause the needle to show the wrong direction. These
organizations might be following a misleading direction of the needle and only to find
their strategies falling down. I call this phenomenon «The Butterfly Effect of a Needle».
Organizations not only waste their energies in conflicts, frictions, but also make the needle
heavy and unable to cancel out the gravity effect. No wonder organizations that have a
culture of conflicts, blaming, mistrust and lack of communication find themselves following
the wrong directions.
The migrating animals and birds amaze all of us in their sensing of the direction to follow
when humans fail to do so? Not only that, humans may harm the ability of some animals to
navigate their direction.
Amazingly, birds prefer to use the sun to follow know their navigation direction. However; is
cloudy days how would these birds find their direction? Here, the birds revert to magnetism
to find their direction. These birds have a substitute strategy for finding their direction.
Could this factor be a determinant one in human organizations missing their direction?
Salmon does the same. Salmon may use their magnetic sense to navigate to within reach
of their river, and then use olfaction to identify the river at close range. I believe so, in bright
business days, the sun helps businesses find their direction. However; using the same
thinking to keep them on the same direction during the «cloudy days of business» may be
a dominant factor in those organizations leading astray. Businesses need different cues as
the climate changes to stay on course. We need our senses to stay on the desired direction
and thinking alone might be insufficient. It is interesting here to note the recent findings
on birds. Some birds, like pigeons, have a small zone in their brain made of magnetite
(magnetic mineral), just like a small compass. But other scientists think it›s rather in their
eyes that some birds have a system which indicates them where the magnetic north is. We
need to have magnets in our eyes to enhance out insights of direction.
Birds detect something happening in the eye at a subatomic level. Light striking the retina
seems to stimulate chemical reactions that produce pairs of molecules with electrons that
are “entangled,” meaning they share certain quantum properties. One of those properties,
called “spin,” is affected by a magnetic field. That effect could tell the bird which way is
north. Moreover, some birds are able to sense the magnetic field because of a magnetic
receptor in their beaks.The beak is similar to a compass.These findings are again consistent
with the idea that we need magnetized senses to stay on our direction.
We know that your vision lays out a destination; your destination guides your strategy; and
strategy chooses action. We need magnetized eyes and noses and all our senses to identify
our direction and stay faithful to it.
The Synchronicity of Coming Together
In a brilliant buzz titled Things coming together by the Queen of Paradoxes Sara Jacobovici
wrote about the great consequences when the external and internal words are in
synchronicity. I commented on her buzz by writing « It is amazing how cross-pollination of
ideas leads to writing such a lovely buzz dear @Sara Jacobovici. Thanks are also due to dear
@Deb Lange for provoking you to write this buzz.
world- can only lead to `Our internal world by itself, and our external world by itself, are
doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve
an independent reality». I would again highlight that the two worlds are spaces and the
two have to be in synchronicity for our world to be meaningful.
What still intrigues me more is the extension of this idea. For example, external and internal
motivators shall give real meaning to motivation if they are in synchronicity. It is not this or
that; it is both acting and reinforcing each other in simultaneity that produces the biggest
effect of motivation. I don›t think this idea has been discussed before. I wonder what you
Sara responded to my comment by writing «It is not this or that; it is both acting and
reinforcing each other in simultaneity that produce the biggest effect of motivation.» @Ali
Anani, you have taken the concept of «things coming together» and, from my perspective,
you have managed to penetrate the 4th timespace dimension.
In terms of time, I am always amazed as to how much you get done in the same amount
of time as «us mortals» but I am hopeful you will at some point manage to find the time to
expand on this exceptional idea.
I am going to use the hive https://www.bebee.com/group/bubbling-honey to share the
thoughts that your idea has inspired». This response prompted me to explore this idea
and internal customers, external and internal forces and external and internal conflicts. We
live in a world that either the external and internal forces work together or against each
other. Should the spacetime of external and internal forces work in synchronicity what
would happen? To illustrate more, I give an example of a lawyer. This lawyer has an external
force to her client. However; deep down in her heart she believes that her client is guilty.
Here we have a case in which the external force and the internal one are opposing each
other. In physics, we say the external force makes the object lose its mechanical energy.The
opposite is true if the lawyer believed her client isn›t guilty and internal world tells her she
is right defending her.
We see same happening in organizations that have conflict in aligning their behavior to
external customers as they do with their internal customers. These organizations end up
moving in the wrong direction. As the conflict continues no wonder the organization
would lose all its mechanical energy and that eventually the organization freezes and has
no movement. The realization that the conflict between serving internal customers from
external customers are not separate in time raises red flags. They aren›t separated in time
or space and therefore they aren›t canceling each other; to the opposite, they are building
negative impact. The two forces come together, but unfortunately in a harmful manner.
The external world and internal world come together. It is upon us to make them work
together and move us to success, or work against each other for us to lose our movement.
Ali Anani, PhD
Our family (internal) world and work (external) world aren›t different. The two worlds come
together, but in which direction that is the question. If they are conflicting each other
no wonder that divorces happen. I believe they affect each other and their directional
synchronicity shall lead to happiness at work and at home.
Do you agree?
Should goals be announced?
The topic of this buzz is challenging to me and I needed to pool my courage to write this
buzz. The buzz goes against prevailing wisdom in that it promotes the idea of keeping
goals hidden from employees and customers. So, why have SMART goals?
There are reasons for my advocacy. First, curiosity attracts people to find what is hidden
from them. Second, it is impractical to set fixed goals in a business climate in which
nothing is permanent, but change. This can be quite stressing for employees to see that
they are drifting away from goals for reasons beyond their control. Not only the employees
shall get stressed, but they may also develop the tendency to blame each other. Once a
blaming culture develops the underlying values and assumptions of the organization shall
deteriorate and its gluing culture shall lose its binding value. The complexity of life and
businesses make the idea of having fixed goals simply an obsolete one. The prevalence
of blame culture will lead to mistrust and loafing (Loafing is the tendency for individuals
to lessen their effort when they are part of a group – also as the Ringelmann Effect). The
organization shall end up in chaos.
I thank Donna-Luisa Eversley for reminding me of simple facts. She wrote that in «In my
country there is a saying, “if you have cocoa in the sun, look out for rain” – this means if
you have something to hide always be prepared to be discovered, thus being defensive».
The rain will spoil the cocoa that has been put out in the sun to dry. Likewise; we spoil
employees by trying to dry them by setting gals in rainy climates. Or, what we attempt is
like yeast that turns sugars into alcohol in percentages greater than %15 and the yeast die.
Plants teach us some interesting lessons that foster curiosity to their advantage. Plants
don›t reveal their goals. They hide them to achieve them. The hidden goal of plants is to
disperse their seed during certain times. How plants do that? You use a trick. They produce
a gas that accelerates the ripening and hence the sweetness of their fruits. The gas turns
the sour acids of the plants into sweet sugar. Animals that seek the ripened fruits also have
the seeds of the plants stick to their bodies. They enjoy the fruit, but they also disperse the
seeds of the host plant. The animals go for the fruits because they know «what is in it for
me»? The plants know what the animal distributor searches for without telling the animals
what their hidden goals are. The plants know how to sugar-coat their hidden goals.
Give people whether employees or customers what they want in which is embedded what
you want- your goal.
Ali Anani, PhD
Tomatoes offer a great example of what I mean. With roughly 400 acids, sugars and other
volatile elements comprising the tomato it is not surprising that they can be a complex
thing to harvest. The constantly varying ratios of these unstable compounds within the
tomato dictate what the state of your final crop will be.The color change from green to red,
for example, is indicative of a chemical transition within the fruit, as the acid balance moves
are shifting from glucose to the sweeter fructose. Tomatoes make convertible sugars and
we too need to make convertible sugary goals. The outside skins of tomatoes reflect their
ripening and maturity. We need to see the matured skins of organizations and necessarily
what goes inside.To show customers wrinkled skins of organization is simply a way to repel
them. Setting goals in highly volatile business climates and defeating business cultures
shall lead to the appearance of wrinkled skins that have been dried for too long by trying
to achieve fixed goals.
We need different thinking to achieve the challenges of businesses and life. Like tomatoes
have four hundred different chemicals in their bodies that change as the climate changes,
so we too.We have four hundred variables at least and reaching a fixed outcome regardless
of the climate will only spoil the culture of the businesses.
We need to attract customers like plants attract their seed-dispersing animals (customers).
More on cross-pollination
Simple is both great and attractive. Only for a while as the simple may get complex or even
chaotic. Ideas are indifferent. We start with a simple idea, project, relationship or whatever
and they too tend to lose their simplicity. This can be great sometimes as we realize that
the cross-pollination of ideas may lead to completely new ideas. Sara Jacobovici wrote an
excellent buzz on «The Art of Cross-pollination». This buzz gives plentiful examples of how
ideas cross-pollinate to produce new ideas. It is the brainstorming of ideas.
Flowers know how to attract the bees› pollinators with their smell or color. How do we
create a system by which pollination of ideas becomes attractive? How does nature help us
in answering these questions?
to the hole or bottom. We need to collect different balls (ideas) to meet in one place so that
they may collide and lead to new ideas. Very interestingly nature knows how to do it. The
Cheerio Effect is one example.
Fill a bowl with milk and add cheerios to it. You shall notice that the cheerios grains shall
stick together. Milk molecules they gather around the sides of the floating cheerios, creating
a small dent or depression on the surface of the water. In such a scenario, small bits of the
object will clump together or appear to ‘fall into each other’, due to the large depression
that they end up creating beneath them. The grains make use of the hosting medium by
using its surface dent as a host place.
The cross-pollination of idea require that different types of grains, balls or idea attach to
each other so the hole may lead to a whole new bunch of ideas.
What if we fill the hole with same kind of balls? Or, we publish our buzzes on strongly-
related hives only? In reality, I believe we should avoid that because we shall be like a flower
cross-pollinating itself. This shall not lead to very healthy ideas. This is a known fact and is
called ‹»cage of affinity». Simply put, the cage of affinity aligns your thinking with those
groups to which you belong, and the beliefs which they hold. That can limit your ability to
think creatively. I tend myself to publish my buzzes in at least one irrelevant hive just to get
new ideas or different grains in my bowl of ideas. Remember that beBee hives are like holes
in which ideas fall into. This is a brilliance of Bee and thanks to @Juan Imaz and @Javier 🐝
beBee for providing the attractor hives in which ideas fall and collide.
Ideas shall remain simple as long as they are not pollinated. Having so many different grains
hosted in one place may eventually lead to their colliding in the bowl (brains) and may
become exceedingly complex or even chaotic.The thinking that produced the simple ideas
now requires new thinking to make use of them. I call this the «Cynefin of Ideas». We need
the keys to unlock these ideas. The image below taken from an earlier publication of mine
shows the increasing difficulty in benefiting from ideas. The keys to making use of ideas
once they reach the complex stage is to find repeating patterns in them.
In conclusion, cross-pollination of ideas requires a concave medium to allow for ideas to
drop in and collide. These ideas must vary to produce emerging ideas, but also with the
price of finding ordered patterns in their disorder. Cross-pollination requires different levels
of thinking than the thinking that started the idea.
Asking Questions- limitations and scope
The biggest reality in life is people. Understanding what motivates people to do what
they do through questioning them might seem the solution. In reality, this isn›t the case
always. I would even dare to say that some questions increase the fog in front of us and we
even become less understanding of what motivates people and how they make choices.
Marketing surveys are one area in which we ask customers, analyze, extract guiding lines
and then plan our actions- only for disappointment.The question now is what went wrong?
I did many surveys during my career. I am able to share two examples of asking questions
that led to successful conclusions and I am in a position to share what went right and why
the surveys worked. Mind you as not all surveys were equally successful and you should be
able to figure out the and why these surveys failed.
In a study to gauge potential customers to a first of its kind sushi restaurant I could have
asked in the survey the following question:
Would you eat sushi?
Fortunately, I didn›t. Instead, I asked the following question:
If you were invited to a wedding and out of the following free ten dishes which three ones
would you pick?
and love it they would tick it.The question is position-revealing.The question doesn›t affect
the current position of people.This is a hugely-important point because by not affecting the
position we may be able to derive their direction of behavior. Remember the Hawthorne
Uncertainty Principle. It is in action here. In contrast, is the first question on: would you eat
sushi because it addresses the current position and hence affects the direction of behavior?
The result of the survey showed that at the time a sushi restaurant would be a total failure.
The client decided to go on with the project only to close doors after four months.
I find the same concept is very useful for interviewing candidates and revealing their
positions without asking them directly. Instead of asking interviewees directly to find their
current position only to become less certain about the direction of their behavior; there is a
way to buffer this possibility. Questions that reveal information are like light that change the
position of the people and thus we become less certain about it. I advocated the question
If you were to win a car of your choice what car would you choose?
cars because they make the family comfortable. These people care for others. This is their
current position without asking them directly about them. Other people mentioned safety
and they go for risk-free cars. This is their current attitude to risk. Others went for fancy cars
because they care for showiness. If interested, you may click the image below to go for the
presentation I wrote on this topic.
What triggered me to write this buzz is an informative buzz on «Question Everything ...
Why? By Flavio Souza. I thank you Flavio for the inspiration.
Open MindsVs. Closed Minds- which is better?
The questions that occupy my day are considering open vs. closed situations. Examples
Do you prefer open-minded or closed-minded people?
Do you opt for open systems, closed systems or both? Example: Windows vs. Apple
Do you prefer working in an open office or closed office?
Do you opt for open questions, closed ones or both?
Do you care for open principles, closed principles or both?
Do you prefer open mouths or closed mouths?
Do you prefer open-cells foam or closed-cells foam?
Is it better to sleep with an open mouth or a closed mouth?
These aren›t trivial questions and don›t have simple answers. It amazes me how we rush into
one option and only to discover later how mistaken we were. One example is our rush for
open offices because they allow more exchange of information, create team spirit, reduce
backbiting and lead to more cooperation. Later studies showed that open offices generate
more problems than they can solve. Open offices are blamed for the drop of %32 of workers
well-being. Wasted times are estimated to average 86 minutes per day. Trust decreases and
so the collaboration spirit among employees.
Sometimes we focus on closed or open regardless of the intended use. For example,
open-cells insulation material is intended for acoustic insulation whereas the closed-cells
materials are intended for thermal insulation. The closed serves one purpose and not the
other. Do we want to insulate employees from noises and keep them in closed rooms or do
we want to insulate them from the heat outside. We need to balance our needs.
An interesting reading for me was to find answers whether it is better to sleep with an open
mouth or closed one. It turns out that sleeping with a closed mouth has the advantages of:
Your oxygen/carbon dioxide balance is better with nose breathing.
Teeth need saliva to protect against cavities.
Your partner will appreciate you not snoring!
Is it for the same reasons advisable to keep our mouths shut and not open them? I believe
trees teach us a great lesson here. They open and close stomata in their leaves when they
do photosynthesis. However; when the trees are short of water they close their stomata.
Trees sense that their major need shifted from generating energy to saving water. We need
to know when to open our mouths to synthesize something of value or close them to
preserve our reputation.
Open systems exchange energy and matter with their surroundings. Closed systems don›t
and they may end up in chaos. Closed minds may end up in chaos as well. Like a kettle on
fire without a lid on it. It shall exchange matter and energy.. If we cover the kettle with a lid
it shall only exchange matter, but not energy. We may isolate the kettle with an insulation
barrier so that the kettle will be isolated and shall not be able to exchange energy with its
Do we have a new classification for managers?
· Thermostat-Like Managers- they exchange no information and energy with their
· Open-Cells-Like Managers- they exchange info and energy with their people.
Your thoughts shall be welcome. I have an open mind for criticism.
Better to Focus or not?
To succeed you need to focus. To fail, just focus on one thing. Companies that focus on one
niche may fail. This happened to many companies such as Kodak. These companies got so
immersed in what they do well only to find their blindness to emerging technologies that
made theirs obsolete. On the contrary there are companies who dissipated their efforts on
many directions and only to fail. Take the banking sector, for example. Some banks offer
more than 500 products leading to extensive complexity. These banks perplex their staff
and customers with a widely spread spectrum of products forgetting Pareto Rule operates.
Only %20 of those products, and may be less, shall generate %80 of their revenues and
Smart competitors may take advantage of companies who spread widely their products.
They may see their competitor as the lion of the market. But they know how to tame the
lion and sometimes with ease. Just by throwing a stool in the face of the lion they confuse
him. The stool has three or four legs and the lion doesn›t know at which leg to look at. It
redirects its attention to the legs and forgets about the predators who threw the stool at
him. The lion has four places to look at the same times and gets baffled. Focusing is being
in one place at any time. If not, it is the dissipation of attention that results.
There are businesses that behave like pigeons. They move forward, but lose focus in the
process. Pigeons avoid this lack of focus by making stops between moves. They have a
walking pattern- head forward then stop, head back and stop again. They bifurcate their
heads between forward and backward movements to gain refocus. No wonder they walk
funnily. The main issue here is the need for businesses to keep their focus while moving
without walking like a drunken pigeon. Worse is if the companies keep moving forward
without realizing they are losing focus, such as the example of Kodak mentioned before.
but with special characteristics. Time may not be traded as commodities. It can›t be
exchanged like two countries exchanging electricity or money. We can›t do barter trading
with time. We can›t bottle precious times to export them. Time is gold, but has value for
its holder mainly. People with free time may tend to poison the times of others. Likewise;
focusing on many issues at one time may cause tasks to have more times than they deserve
and poison the ties available for other tasks.
One more issue is risk management. Putting our efforts in one basket may break all of them.
Investors in the stock market tend to diversify their shares to reduce risk. Focusing on one
share may lead them to bankruptcy. Diversification is the name of the game. But there is the
risk of juggling too many balls at the same time. Are we trading risk?
Focus or not- what is your opinion? Do you prefer to read one type of articles? Do you
prefer focusing your effort to one hive? If yes, we may lose the value of cross-pollination.
Sometimes, what appears a simple question turns to have a complex answer.
Male bees waggle dance to attract the fit drone bees. The female bee shall watch the male
bees dancing to select the fittest ones to mate with. It is her choice and whatever she
chooses shall decide her chances of birthing healthy bees and change consequences. We
aren›t different for whatever choice we make shall improve or deteriorate our chances in
life and change to the better or worse.
We may choose to act or not acting and freeze in our position for fear of doing the wrong
thing. Many times we find ourselves on the opposite ends such as control or not control
others, have a focused attention or unfocused one and work and earn or stay in bed hoping
to earn. Bees on beBee have the choice between publishing their ideas or not for fear of
Whatever choice we take means we are changing our current position to another one.
The starting position has changed and consequently the consequences shall change.
It is unfortunate that small changes in our positions that are unnoticeable today may
show drastic consequences in the future because of the butterfly effect. There is always
an embedded choice in what we choose and it is choosing between short-term results
and long-term ones. One good example is The Greenhouse Effect. We produce gases such
as carbon dioxide at a large scale. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases act like a
blanket by absorbing infrared radiation and preventing it from escaping into outer space.
Global warming is the result and life on earth is threatened. Short-term thinking didn›t give
enough space to pause and think of the consequences. This has resulted in lowering the
quality of life on earth. Funnily enough, we talk about the butterfly effect when we have
endangered the lives of butterflies to the extent that many species are now a story of the
We need to choose and we need to also consider the consequences. We have another
embedded choice here: to be selfish and think of ourselves or be unselfish and think of
others and what consequences will result in the future. It is a choice between thinking
between now and the future.The trouble is for now the harm may be insignificant, but over
the years it could escalate and risk the lives of others.
It is unfortunate that we choose to go with disorder than order. The harm of smoking a
cigarette a day might not be noticeable today, but we all know the consequences in the
long term. We enjoy the present, but darken the future. It is also with drinking water as
I neglected drinking enough water on a daily basis and that resulted in severe health
problems, most of which disappeared because I was forced to drink enough water or else
Eating junk food is another example. A recent story of a volunteer who kept eating junk
month for more than a month was reported to end up having the health of quite orderly
people. This is a form of accelerated simulation of the consequences of our choices.
Why do we hope to have a healthy plant in the future when we pick a bad seed? The queen
bee doesn›t do it because she builds its choice on getting sperms from healthy drones. Are
we sometimes less than bees in making choices? Sadly, my answer is yes.
Small Today, Significant Tomorrow
It is very unfortunate that we tend to associate the butterfly effect mostly to weather.
Humans are affected equally with the butterfly effect. Managers and leaders need to grasp
the extensibility of this effect to the human domain. This buzz is an effort in this direction.
Fatima Williams shared a beautiful image on beBee that offers a great insight. I share the
@CityVP Manjit was quick to realize the value of this image as he published a buzz to
highlight its value. This fruitful exchange of ideas prompted me to write this buzz.
What Fatima wrote may be re-written in a different way to show the feedback effect. I mean
the output of one step becomes the input of the next step.
We give to receive,
We receive to learn,
We learn to grow.
He/she who starts with giving ends up in his/her growth.
Gandhi was aware of this fact. We start in beliefs and no matter how small they are today
they become significant later and determine our destiny. Notice the feedback effect and
how the output of one line becomes the input of the next line. This feedback results in
building momentum and in due course the small becomes the most significant one.
Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your Values become your destiny.
Not only beliefs are subject to the butterfly effect. Our attitudes experience the same. I
have many stories to reflect on this. For the sake of brevity I shall share the bricklayer story.
When asked why he was enjoying laying bricks for a new and magnificent cathedral he
said, and I am putting his response in a way to reflect the feedback embedded into it.
I am building a cathedral so that people would visit it to enjoy its beauty,
Because visiting people shall like the cathedral and change their lives to the better,
Because they changed their lives to the better more people shall visit the cathedral,
Because more people shall visit the cathedral, more people shall change their lives to the
You see the rippling effect of this great attitude. The man was not only laying bricks for the
cathedral; more he was laying the foundation for thinking with positive energy.
Mentioning positive energy and its effect on us, again I may show the rippling effect of this
Positive attitudes lead to the flow of positive energy,
Flow of energy into thoughts,
Thoughts turn to ideas,
Ideas turn to plans,
Plans turn to actions,
Actions turn to learning,
Learning turn to evolvement,
Evolvement turns to growth.
Imagine if the thoughts were negative then instead in ending with growth we end up in
shrinking. Little negative thoughts today may be very detrimental tomorrow.
This is the realization that should be highlighted by leaders- we are not immune to the
butterfly effect. It is in operation behind the curtain of time. The drop of water today may
fill a jar tomorrow. A little kindness today might turn into a huge reward tomorrow. A coin
today shall build a hospital tomorrow. A drop of water may drown a house tomorrow. Minor
pollution today may make living difficult tomorrow (background image).
We need to be alert that a drop of kindness today may build the future of others.
Sunken Hopes and Attitudes
It is not only sunken costs; it is also sunken hopes, attitudes and senses that count more in
my opinion. A sunk cost is a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered.
Sunken costs bring the idea of sunken time. A short story shall explain what I mean.
A classmate of mine was poor in math. Somehow, he managed to enroll in the school of
architecture. He had tough times to graduate. He never felt the passion for what he was
studying. Half way through his study he almost decided to quit. However; he opted not
because of fear people mocking him and so as not to lose the high fees he incurred. He
insisted to continue in the wrong direction and put himself in the cage of doing what was
not good for him. The irony that the first project he was in charge of (a school building)
collapsed while still in construction. He ended running a grocery shop.
It is not only sunken costs that we can›t recoup. It is the sunken of hopes and attitudes
that keep us dry while walking in a desert hoping to find a water fountain. The more we
insist living in this mirage, the more our eyes shall become sunken. A number of conditions
may be the cause of sunken eyes with dark circles around them, but dehydration is a
significant one. We started with sunken costs and ended up with sunken eyes. We pay the
price for insisting to recover the unrecoverable and change what can›t be changed or lost
Time once gone it goes forever. The irony is that we may increase sunken times by doing
what we don›t have passion for or that which doesn›t trigger our curiosity. I liked very much
the comment of Mohammed Sultan on my previous buss titled «Small Today, Significant
Tomorrow». He wrote «The butterfly effect of curiosity is turned into attention...attention
is turned into interest...interest is turned into desire...desire is turned into action». I liked
the way he linked curiosity to AIDA Model. When we insist on recovering sunken costs to
salvage a sunken desire we extinguish the fire of imagination and curiosity and end up
having sunken senses and sunken times. What a terrible way to escalate costs for no good
Equally important is the having the mind›s eye sunken.We dry the mind›s eye and still hope
to have good results and make sound decisions. If I am watching a dull movie and continue
watching it without curiosity then I have not suffered only the sunken cost of renting the
movie, but also the sunken of my mind›s eye for deciding to add up to the cost of renting
the movie. Wrong decisions are the thorns of sunken cost and time.
We have difficult times leaving doing what we started. We cry on spilled milk, but not on
sunken costs and insist on inflating them. Is it our pride that stops us from abandoning
what we do because of false pride?
It is not the sunken costs; more it is the sunken of reason and allowing self-pride and
ownership to float. On the surface we show determination, but below the waters we keep
our commonsense sunken.
The Complexity of Choices
Where we stand has an important role in affecting our future. If we nudge a ball on a flat
surface we may predict its next position. However; if we apply the same nudge on a ball
standing on a peak with a rough surface who would predict its next position?
Human behavior is more like a ball standing on a peak. One example is the happiness-
disposable income curve. I approximate it in the following image. A peaked-shape curve
is also applicable to the Laffer Curve. This curve shows the effect of government›s increase
of taxes. As taxes exceed the peak people would tend to favor not working. They may not
wish to work just to pay more taxes. Other people may opt to work more to keep their
standard of living. Taxes create a tension between the two options: seeking pleasure of not
working versus working harder to keep the standard of living. A little nudge of increasing
taxes may send people in two different directions.This bifurcation may lead to an increased
complexity of taxes and thus reducing the predictability of the outcome of increasing taxes.
The Laffer curve or the disposable income - happiness curve show the complexity of
human behavior. A small movement may create new alternatives and a tension on which
alternative to follow. I may extend this logic to say that the logistic map is exemplary as
well of human behaviors. A logistic map shows the carrying capacity of a system such as
the carrying capacity of limited lands to feed an expanding population. Here we notice
the formation of many «tension points» as we change the rate of the population growth.
I indicated some intension points by placing balls on them. As we increase the tension of
having more choices or alternatives, the more likely we move towards chaos.
It is the emerging choices that make things more complex. Increase the rate of population
growth or the tax rate (r) shall eventually create the first tension. A tension gives birth to
new tensions and the system increasingly may lose its «Tension-holding capacity».
We may choose to increase happiness, taxes, population or whatever. However; we must
watch out for the emergence of new tensions that may have a rippling effect of producing
more tensions and more instability of the system. For every action there is a reaction. I
would also add that for every action there is the possibility of creating a new choice and at
one point choices will be placed on a rugged path towards a peak. Once the system stays
on this peak it is a new game in play.
I dedicate this buzz to CityVP Manjit. I have one choice here to admire your mind and
appreciation of others.
Family Dynamics in Action
This buzz is about real life story of what started as a very promising family till…
I am telling the story as it happened, but changed names so as not to hurt anybody. Lisa and
David were classmates right from elementary school to attending the school of medicine.
They graduated, Lisa with distinction and David hardly getting acceptance grade. They
ended getting jobs in the same hospital. They ended getting happily married.
A director of a global medical organization attended a lecture by Lisa. He was so impressed
with her personality and knowledge and offered her a glorious job that she couldn›t say no
to. David with the financial aid of his wife opened a clinic. Lisa moved up the ladder very
quickly and became a prominent manager. Her salary was adequate enough to pay for
her two kids at very costly private school. David was careless, hardly respecting his clinic
working times. His aggressive behavior with patients deteriorated the situation. Finally,
he closed the clinic and started political activities. Only to be kicked out from a meeting
because he was only a talking mouth.
Can a successful wife continue living with a failing husband? It was obvious to all people
that the husbands› role relegated to driving the kids to school and cleaning dishes, paying
invoices and cleaning dishes. Lisa accepted the financial disparity for the sake of her two
kids. However; David didn›t accept it. He couldn›t see his wife as a rising star when he was
drowned in negligence. Even the two kids realized it was their mother who paid for their
fees and took charge of all other expenses. The father felt isolated. He became arrogant,
took many decisions without consulting with his wife, became easily irritable became
very jealous of his wife. He attributed her successes to pure luck. He became destabilized
and then to the destabilization of the family. It was obvious that he lost-self esteem and
increasingly felt hat he might lose his wife, Lisa. Increasingly David fell in anxiety and
depression. The family dynamics worsened and deteriorated the culture. Life increasingly
became unbearable. The negative feelings compounded.
The gap between Lisa and David widened with time.The image below summarizes how the
gap kept increasing. The two kids grew up and attended the best schools. They got jobs
abroad. Lisa and David lost their last line of reason to communicate. Finally, Lisa couldn›t
accept any more aggressiveness of David.They got divorced.The sad part was the message
Lisa received from her grown up kids. They congratulated her for finally deciding to leave
her husband. The kids had no emotional attachment to the father.
What starts as a small gap unfortunately may end up in a huge gap to bridge. Or, the bridge
is too far to make use of.