Thursday, March 17, 2011

A good book

On the plane on the way back, relieved to be relieved of the responsibilities of running the unit in Bangkok, I read this beautiful, very positive novel, Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. John recommended it to me, having found it at the local market and bought it ($2 ...  a bargain!).

Set in an unnamed South American country, it tells the story of a group of high-level executives, artists and politicians who are kidnapped and held hostage by a group of terrorists. Rather than focusing on horror and violence, it delves into the incredible bonds of friendship that form, and on the positive effect of music on the psyches of all involved.

Highly recommended, it's been on several top book lists, including Amazon's Best Books of 2001.

I'm back again

I've returned from what was a difficult and very intensive teaching session in Bangkok. The unit that I teach there concerns (the strategic planning of) information communication technolgies in tourism, hospitality and events management. Now before anyone asks what do I know about ICT, let me say that the main point of the unit is not to create students who are whiz-bang IT specialists, but rather to equip budding managers with the skills and knowledge to predict and prepare for change (IT is a very volatile area), to manage human resources so that everyone (clients and staff) benefit, and to understand and leverage knowledge management practices.

Knowledge management is a fascinating area. Gene Bellinger writes:

"We learn by connecting new information to patterns that we already understand. In doing so, we extend the patterns. So, in my effort to make sense of this continuum, I searched for something to connect it to that already made sense. And, I related it to Csikszentmihalyi's interpretation of complexity.
Csikszentmihalyi  provides a definition of complexity based on the degree to which something is simultaneously differentiated and integrated. His point is that complexity evolves along a corridor and he provides some very interesting examples as to why complexity evolves. The diagram below indicates that what is more highly differentiated and integrated is more complex. While high levels of differentiation without integration promote the complicated, that which is highly integrated, without differentiation, produces mundane. And, it should be rather obvious from personal experience that we tend to avoid the complicated and are uninterested in the mundane. The complexity that exists between these two alternatives is the path we generally find most attractive."

For those interested, Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi does a lot of work in the area of positive psychology, which is an area close to my heart. He coined the psychological concept of 'flow', and has done a lot of research into creativity.

I like the way one can step quite justifiably and correctly from ICT to knowledge to wisdom to creativity :-).

I keep a blog for the unit and if you'd like to see it, it's here:

Good clean fun

Just before I went to Bangkok we had some incredibly hot days. What better way to spend weekend time than go play in one of our "swimming pools" (we have two swimming holes quite close by). Here is a clip of Tess the aerial circus artiste showing a graceful method of entering the water of Cooper's Creek at Key's Bridge. Hint: be patient, and while waiting, look for the legs in the tree ... all will become clear ...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sawasdee ka!

Sawasdee ka! I have arrived in Bangkok to teach in the Master's program at Naresuan University. I meet my cohort late this afternoon and will teach all through the weekend.

Yesterday I went to visit my favourite temple in Bangkok, the wonderful Wat Po temple. Of course I paid my respects to the Reclining Buddha, and I admired the beautiful murals all around the walls. The beauty and the artistry is incredible.

If you would like to read part of the travel epistle I wrote for John (it's ok ... I have edited out all the mushy/romantic/x-rated material...), then please click here for a pdf. For larger text size you can zoom quite a way by clicking on the + button.