Contact me at bala@balaramadurai.net.

My Books

I have written a few books on various topics.

Design Thinking

The learners get under the skin of the user/customer and solve problems for them. The approach is based on an age old theory (more than 2000 years old) postulated by Lord Buddha. The learners learn thinking tools from the design world, the TRIZ/ARIZ world, Indian arts, metaphors and the patent database. Finally, they utilize some tools from six thinking hats and Mr. David Snowden. They learn the course interactively through silence, videos, stories, inane jokes and interesting assignments.

Creativity and Innovation

This workshop module uses the ARIZ/TRIZ thinking methodology (You could say that this course is an offspring of the design thinking course). The learners bring in problems that they have been working on and I guide them to use ARIZ/TRIZ in detail. The learner brings in problems that they have already understood and are fairly certain about the problem to solve using the concepts in the course.

Technology Forecasting

If design thinking is for the NOW, technology forecasting is design thinking for the future. The learner uses a methodology called FORMAT - http://handbook.format-project.eu, a result of a European Union funded (~$3 million) project. The learner hones their skill to think of a future timeframe of more than 10 years. They will consider the potential of the current technology, but also the alternatives and how strong or weak is their technology of interest in comparison to the alternatives. Imagination, intuition, analytics and data crunching go hand in hand in this course. The predictions from the forecasting exercise are not as important as the questions of forecast posed (first stage of the FORMAT methodology).

Executive Coaching

“How does one execute a large innovation project within my company? Do I get personally involved or delegate? Am I listening or telling? I am doing my best, what more can I do?” If these are questions that keep coming to your head (and you happen to be the head of a company or department), you have reached the right place. One on one coaching can work wonders in clearing out the fog around some of the issues you may be facing in your workplace.

Intrapreneurship - A workout

Intrapreneurship is a conundrum of sorts, since it is making an entrepreneur out of an employee taking the risks of an entrepreneur with the friendly resources of a company. How did Mindtree achieve this in 2008-9? I introduce the participants to the company profile. I excite them with the remarkable history of a very different kind of company. How and why did they launch 550? Why is 550 a very different sort of program? How did the program bring out innovation and the creative entrepreneurial spirit of the company? The learners assume the role of innovation managers of companies of their choice to design and present an intrapreneurship program.

Client Speak

I have worked with many clients and I always like to hear that they come out from the collaboration happy and satisfied. Have a look at what the clients said about my work.

Updates (News and Blog)

I write occasionally about a few things that are dear to me - writing about life, teaching tools and techniques, and learning about technology. I plan to write more about health and writing in general as well. Stay tuned. Please do subscribe to my blog if you like what you read.

COEXIST - Actionable Stories for Sustainable Change - I - In-between

on 2021-05-04

We’ve reached an important point of a story. For regular movie-goers in India, we know this phase as the Interval or Intermission. Not only does this break in a movie serve as a pop-corn/bathroom break, but also from a story-perspective, it is the middle point of the story.

So, what is so special about the mid-point? For the hero, the mid-point has just one significance and an important one at that - Move from reaction to action. No, this has nothing to do with Sir Isaac Newton’s third law.

Let’s recap. In the COEXIST storytelling method, we chose a hero and an issue in step C; wrote our grand story in one-line in step O; made our hero “get out” of their comfort zone in step E; gave them an external threat for them to battle in step X; and now the hero is just tired of running around and just reacting to whatever is thrown at them.

Let’s go back to the stories that we have been tracking.

In Finding Nemo, Marlin and Dory find a diver’s mask which has the address where Marlin’s son might be. After dealing with the three sharks (Bruce, Anchor and Chum, if you wanted to know their names 😊), Marlin is faced with a dire situation. The only way to finding his son is in the mask, but the mask is in a dark abyss. With some persuasion from Dory (“Let’s keep swimming” earworm), Marlin decides that he’ll swim for the mask.

In The Matrix, after Morpheus is captured by the agents (Smith, Jones and Brown, if you wanted to know their names 😊), Neo is faced with a dire situation. The only way to rescuing Morpheus is to go to a military location, but the location is guarded by the military and three agents. With some persuasion (indirect) from the Oracle (“Know thyself” theatrics), Neo decides he’ll fight for Morpheus.

In Titanic, after Jack is captured by Cal (Lovejoy is the thug’s name, if you wanted to know his name 😊), Rose is faced with a dire situation. The only way to rescuing Jack is to go (back) to the Titanic, but the ship is sinking and she has no idea where Jack will be. With some (indirect) persuasion from Cal (and Jack himself), Rose decides to get back on to Titanic to rescue Jack and be with him.

Well, since today is May 4th, I’ll also talk about Star Wars (“May the fourth be with you”, get it?).

In Star Wars - A New Hope, Luke Skywalker is captured by Darth Vader’s storm troopers (Oh c’mon, I can’t name them all 😊) on the Death Star, Luke is faced with a dire situation. The only way to rescuing Princess Leia is to battle out along with Han Solo and the droids. Luke decides to join the Rebel Alliance against the Galactic Empire.

How do you perform the step of I - in-between?

Continue reading

Is or Isn't?

on 2021-04-26

Is or Isn’t is one of the core conflicts that everyone deals with. For example, “It is Monday or it isn’t Monday”.

Radically different, correct?

What if you wanted to find out if a wheel of a high speed train is cracked or not? The question to ask is - Is it or Isn’t it cracked?

But, how does one find that out without breaking that wheel? Simple solution - use a sound wave that no human can hear, but only those dangerous cracks can hear and reflect.

This sound wave is present, but isn’t going to harm the wheel. Cool, eh?

Now that I have your undivided attention, I am happy to tell you that Shyamsunder Mandayam not only bought my book, Karmic Design Thinking, but he seems to be impressed with the contents of the book. So much so that he invited me to give a talk on Attaining Innovation Nirvana through Design Thinking to the Indian Society of Non-destructive Testing (ISNT) on May 1, 2021, between 4pm and 5pm IST.

ISNT, of course, has many other techniques up their collective sleeves. Check them out at https://isnt.in.

The details of my talk and the joining details are here - https://isnt.in/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/ISNT-BNG.WEBINAR-01st-May-2021.pdf.

Continue reading

COEXIST - Actionable Stories for Sustainable Change - X - eXternal threat

on 2021-04-21

What is the role of monsters in movies or stories?

Monsters or villainous characters have a responsibility in a story. They are there to apply pressure on the main character/protagonist, so that the heroes rethink their decision on “getting out” of their comfort zone.

Marlin, Nemo’s dad, gets out of his anemone, but now, he has to face 3 sharks (or “4800 teeth” as a character in the movie later puts it).

Rose (in Titanic) has the iceberg episode to deal with.

Neo (in The Matrix) is arrested, intimidated and bugged after he decides to get out of the dream world.

In the COEXIST method of storywriting, so far, you have chosen your hero, issue (in the step C) and you wrote a one-liner of your story (in the step O). You then kick-started the hero’s journey by making them “get out” of their normal course of life (in the step E).

In this step, X, you will learn how to create pressure on the hero at a juncture when they have taken a decision to “get out”.

Continue reading

Charles and his pigeons

on 2021-04-07

It was the year 1837. Charles woke up with the sound of ding-ding. He knew what that was, the pigeons had arrived, at least one of them. He slipped into his robe and slippers and almost jumped the stairs leading him to the yard. He scanned the pigeon holes. About 40 of them in all. Each pigeon hole was meticulously labelled and cleaned overnight to welcome the visitors. Only two of the holes seem to be occupied.

Continue reading