The cognac aroma wheel: your guide to cognac harmony

4 July 2014 by in Wine and spirits

This infographic is taken from Cognac, by Nicholas Faith, who has also written Nicholas Faith’s guide to cognac, which you can download free here. Both guides highlight the extraordinary range of cognacs available and will teach even the most clued-up cognac fan a few things about their favourite drink.

The great thing about cognac is the complexity of its flavours, which alter according to the seasons and the more mature the spirit, the better. See if you can spot any of these flavours the next time you have a glass:
Cognac flavour wheel demonstrating the complexity of flavours in cognac

Top 10 management models for your business: #3 Reverse innovation

2 July 2014 by in 100+ Management Models, Business and finance

by Fons Trompenaars and Piet Hein Coebergh, co-authors of 100+ Management Models.
Model 14

Problem Statement
How can reverse innovation create growth?

Vijay Govindarajan claims that the need and eagerness in emerging markets for sustainable growth creates an environment for innovation that is superior to the environment in more affluent countries. Govindarajan observes the following evolution: from globalization (richer countries that export what they use themselves) came glocalization (adaption to local needs on a global scale), followed by local innovation (emerging markets increasingly innovate themselves) which is making way for reverse innovation (emerging markets dominate innovation).
Reverse innovation is also called trickle-up innovation or frugal innovation. Govindarajan’s approach builds on Christensen’s theory of how innovation can be disruptive and C.K. Prahalad’s notion that there is a fortune to be made at the bottom of the social pyramid. Govindarajan served as the first professor-in-residence and chief innovation consultant at General Electric, some of the stories that illustrate reverse innovation were developed there, and supported by CEO Jeff Immelt.

How to use the model:
Govindarajan and Trimble’s Reverse Innovation Playbook (2012), covers nine rules ‘that will guide your innovation efforts’, in three categories, that can be summarized as follows:

  1. Strategy: To grow in emerging markets, innovate, not simply export; grow from innovations in emerging market to other emerging markets; beware of small but fast growing companies in emerging markets.
  2. Global organization: Move resources to where growth is; create a reverse innovation mindset; focus in these markets on growth metrics.
  3. Project organization: Stimulate an entrepreneurial ‘start-up’ spirit; leverage resources through partnerships; resolve critical unknowns quickly and inexpensively.

In addition, the Reverse Innovation Toolkit (2012) provides several practical diagnostics and templates to move reverse innovation forward in a company.

Working with the Reverse Innovation Playbook and the Reverse Innovation Toolkit helps creative thinking about unconventional ways to innovate and grow. Evidence that supports this reverse-thinking model is mainly based on how multinational companies operate.

Like C.K. Prahalad’s theory of how a fortune can be made at the bottom of the pyramid, Govindarajan’s model has received criticism that the theory is not very specific in its approach and that there are only a few showcase examples, in a couple of big companies, to prove the concept, mainly from India and China. In addition, it is not completely unheard of for innovations from emerging markets to become successful, even in richer countries. That does not reduce the challenge that remains for rich countries of finding new ways to grow; in any scenario, this will increasingly be done with the emerging economies. Govindarajan presents a roadmap that at least has the power to take a radically different look at how most (Western) countries do business.

Govindarajan, V., Trimble, C. (2012) Reverse Innovation: Create Far from Home, Win Everywhere, Boston, Harvard Business Press.
Immelt, J.R., Govindarajan, V., Trimble, C. (2009) How GE is disrupting itself, Harvard Business Review, 87.10, pp. 56–65.
Mahbubani, K. (2013) The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World, New York, Perseus.

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Is God a futurist?

24 June 2014 by in Business and finance, Codebreaking our future

by Michael Lee, author of Codebreaking our future

After reading the title of this blog, you may well be asking two questions: ‘Who is God?’ and ‘What is a futurist?’.

Believers in God know in whom they believe, while for those who don’t have religious beliefs, God is more like the Hypothetical One they don’t acknowledge as real. So let’s move on to the slightly less speculative question of the two, namely, ‘What kind of beast is a futurist?’

In the broadest sense, a futurist studies, analyses and forecasts the future in a disciplined, methodically sound way. The futurist’s currency is foresight, a systematic anticipation of the shape, structure and character of the emerging world. For many theoretical and historical reasons, the study of the future is still a sleeping giant.

In my view, systematic anticipation of the future, which I prefer to call futurology, is the next great science. But that is another topic covered in other blogs and published work. This blog is about God and the future.

We all remember that Einstein claimed that God does not play dice with the world and most readers will also know that Newton was just as deeply interested in theology as he was in physics and mathematics, possessing over two dozen Bibles at the time of his death. And what all science unquestionably shows is that the universe operates intelligently, following laws of nature and evolution. So one can either conclude that such intelligence of design and lawfulness of behaviour derives from a superior intelligence we call God or has emerged spontaneously from nothing/something. Each person makes his or her own determination.

As a futurist, what’s important is the extent to which the way in which science has modelled the universe may have enabled us to make rational predictions about future states. Mathematical genius Pierre-Simon de Laplace wrote in his ground-breaking 1814 essay, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities : ‘Present events are connected with preceding ones by a tie based upon the evident principle that a thing cannot occur without a cause which produces it … We ought then to regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its anterior state and as the cause of the one which is to follow … The regularity which astronomy shows us in the movements of the comets doubtless exists also in all phenomena.’[1]

Since we are focusing here on God (or the Hypothetical One, if you would prefer) and the future, one might want to carry out a futurological exercise predicting what is likely to happen to religion – and the forces and institutions of religion – throughout the remainder of the  twenty-first century. Using Laplace’s logic of probability, we would need to start by looking at the past and present state of religion in the world – it’s evolutionary trajectory – and then globally contextualize that pattern over time within the multiple dimensions of our world – social, cultural, demographic, political, environmental, economic, etc. So one would evolutionize and contextualize the data about religion as the basis for futurological conclusions.

In studying the future of religion in this way, we’d get glimpses into the future of God and his role in our world over the next few generations. That would require a major in-depth study well beyond the scope of this blog. But we can certainly provide an appetizer. Then an answer to the question posed in the title will be offered.

The most surprising fact about religion today, especially for those who live in largely secular Western societies from North America to New Zealand, from Europe to Australia, is that religious belief in the world as a whole is growing quite strongly, while the growth of non-religious belief has fallen well behind the average rate of global population growth, that is, the role of secularism is declining, despite the immense impact of Western-style economic and cultural globalization.

First, let’s check out the facts about human belief in today’s world (as at June 2010).

World population distribution of belief systems, with current annual growth rates* 

Belief   system

Percentage   of world population

Current   annual growth rate in belief system’s population size
















Chinese   religions



Ethnic   religions



Sikh   religion









In the table above, only belief system population groups growing at a rate higher than 1.2% are growing faster than the world’s population.  Non-religious people make up only 13.58% of the world’s population and that slice of the global pie is declining. This means that decades of economic and cultural globalization by a largely secular West have not brought about a concomitant, commensurate spread of non-religious belief.

The four largest religious belief system groups, namely, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, together make up 75.99% of the world’s population, clearly a substantial majority.

In a nutshell, then, belief systems of the world are divided up as follows:

Top four religions by size = 75.99%
Non-religious population = 13.58%
Other = 10.43%

Figure 1: Comparative size of religious and non-religious populations in the world (2010)

Figure 1: Comparative size of religious and non-religious populations in the world (2010)









Figure 1 shows that the Hypothetical One is not in any danger of being forgotten any time soon.

Furthermore, the future of religion will almost certainly be reinforced by a fundamental and intensifying global demographic trend, namely population decline. Depopulation is now occurring in many nations across the world. Dr. Phillip Longman, demographer and author of The Empty Cradle (2004) points out that  global fertility rates are half what they were in 1972. It is thought that total human population may peak in 2050 at nine billion and thereafter decline. Bearing in mind that the human replacement fertility rate is 2.1 children per women, it’s alarming that 62 countries, making up almost half the world’s population, now have fertility rates at, or below, this rate, including most of the industrial world and Asian powers like China, Taiwan and South Korea.[2] At the start of the twentieth century, by contrast, the global fertility rate was higher than five children per woman of child-bearing age! The world’s population growth rate has fallen from 2% p.a. in the late 1960s to just over 1% today, and is predicted to slow further to 0.7% by 2030 and then 0.4% by 2050.[3] Most European countries are on a path to population ageing and absolute population decline[4]; in fact, no country in Europe is demographically replacing its population.[5]

Given this grim demographic picture, the role of pro-natal belief system population groups, including religious communities, is likely to become much more significant in the evolution of the human species. In the coming decades, humanity will be wrestling to avoid the disastrous socio-economic consequences of declining populations.

To halt population decline, radical change in values and lifestyle practices will eventually be needed. Human families, and their critical procreative role, will need to be strengthened.

The increasing influence of religion on society, of course, does not prove that God is a futurist, that is, a being who foresees the future in all its multi-dimensional complexity. Yet one of humanity’s first attempts to study the future was ancient prophecy. The prophets of the Old and New Testaments looked forward to a new world and, at times, to the projected end of the world itself. The Mayan civilization had deep insights into large-scale cycles of time, enabling them to make some far-reaching prophecies, including about a society which would one day fatally debase its environment.

The Bible is decisively future-facing in its outlook on the world, from Genesis (promising, for example, a long line of future generations from Abraham’s seed) to the overtly apocalyptic Book of Revelation. Many commentators believe Western civilization drew inspiration, in its rise to global power, from the Bible’s messianic, idealistic message, for example in the renowned Protestant work ethic geared towards building an earthly kingdom to the glory of God.

Given that religious belief systems are increasing in influence despite decades of secular economic globalization, it’s my perspective that the future of God looks promising. And, given that biblical theology is inherently prophetic and eschatological, one might even be tempted to say: the future of a futuristic God is bright.

To many in the world, frightened by religious extremism such as seen in the recent ISIS rampage across Iraq, this spectre of ascendant religion in decades to come may not appear to be good news. There is time, however, to inculcate rationalism, central to the objective discipline of futurology, within the public domain of shared common reality, in order to temper the emotional excesses displayed by the warped politics of some radical brands of religion. We need to move beyond ideology in public governance towards science as the great problem-solver. Slowly, I sense, a giant new science, with deep philosophical roots in the human past, is awakening.

Codebreaking our future


Laplace,P.S. 1814. A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities. Cornell University Library.

Longman, P. 2004. The Empty Cradle. New York: Basic Books.

Magnus, G. 2009. The Age of Ageing. Singapore: John Wiley & Sons (Asia).

Mandryk, J. 2010. Operation World (Seventh Edition). Colorado Springs: Biblica Publishing.

*Data taken from the Seventh Edition of Operation World based calculated at June 2010

[1] Pierre Simon de Laplace, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities

[2] Magnus, The Age of Ageing (2009) 40.

[3] Magnus, The Age of Ageing (2009) 33.

[4] Longman, The Empty Cradle (2004) 61.

[5] Longman, The Empty Cradle (2004) 177.

Top 10 management models for your business: #2 Multiple stakeholder sustainabilty

18 June 2014 by in 100+ Management Models, Business and finance

by Fons Trompenaars and Piet Hein Coebergh, co-authors of 100+ Management Models.

100+ Management Models

Problem Statement
How can I assess the most significant organizational dilemmas resulting from conflicting stakeholder demands and also assess organizational priorities to create sustainable performance?

Organizational sustainability is not limited to the fashionable environmental factors such as emissions, green energy, saving scarce resources, corporate social responsibility, et cetera. The future strength of an organization depends on the way leadership and management deal with the tensions between the five major entities facing any organization: efficiency of business processes, people, clients, shareholders and society. The manner in which these tensions are addressed and resolved determines the future strength and opportunities of an organization. This model proposes that sustainability can be defined as the degree to which an organization is capable of creating long-term wealth by reconciling its most important (‘golden’) dilemmas, created between these five components. From this, professors and consultants Fons Trompenaars and Peter Woolliams have identified ten dimensions
Model 7: Multiple ultiple stakeholder stakeholder sustainability sustainability sustainability , Fons Trompenars and Peter Woliams Woliams Woliams (2010)
consisting of dilemmas formed from these five components because each one competes with the other four.

How to use the model:
The authors have developed a sustainability scan to use when making a diagnosis. This scan reveals:

  1. The major dilemmas and how people perceive the organization’s position in relation to these dilemmas.
  2. The corporate culture of an organization and their openness to the reconciliation of the major dilemmas.
  3. The competence of its leadership to reconcile these dilemmas. After the diagnosis the organization can move on to reconciling the major dilemmas that lead to sustainable performance. To this end, the authors developed a dilemma reconciliation process.

To achieve sustainable success, organizations need to integrate the competing demands of their key stakeholders: operational processes, employees, clients, shareholders and society. By diagnosing and connecting different viewpoints and values their research and consulting practice results in a better understanding of:
ll. The key challenges the organization faces with its various stakeholders and how to prioritize them.
ll. The extent to which leadership and management are capable of addressing the organizational dilemmas.
ll. The personal values of employees and their alignment with organizational values.
These results help an organization define a corporate strategy in which crucial dilemmas are reconciled and ensure that the company’s leadership is capable of executing the strategy sustainably. It does so while specifically addresing the company’s wealth creating processes before the results show up in financial reports. It attempts to anticipate what the corporate financial performance will be, some six months to three years in the future, as the financial effects of dilemma reconciliation are budgeted.

The sustainability scan reconciles the key dilemmas that corporations face today and tomorrow. It takes a unique approach to making strategic decisions that are tough as well as inevitable with the goal of realizing a profitable and sustainable corporate future. Consulting firm Trompenaars-Hampden Turner offers an elaborate set of tools, of which a substantial part is available at no cost, to make this approach happen. The leading partners of this firm
Sustainability ustainability ustainability
have strengthened the approach in dozens of academic articles and books. The fact that their approach is rather closely attached to their consulting practice does limit its dispersion among other practitioners and academics.

Buytendijk, F. (2010) Dealing with Dilemmas: Where Business Analytics Fall Short, New York, John Wiley.
Hampden-Turner, C. (1990) Charting the Corporate Mind: Graphic Solutions to Business Conflicts, New York, The Free Press.
Trompenaars, F., Woolliams, P. (2009) ‘Towards a Generic Framework of Competence for Today’s Global Village’, in: The SAGE Handbook of Intercultural Competence, ed. D.K. Deardoff, Thousand Oaks, Sage.

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Top 10 management models for your business: #1 The bottom of the pyramid

5 June 2014 by in 100+ Management Models, Business and finance

by Fons Trompenaars and Piet Hein Coebergh, co-authors of 100+ Management Models.

How can one create wealth by doing business with the 4 billion people at the bottom of the financial pyramid?

The bottom of the pyramid, C.K. Prahalad (2002)

In economics, the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) is the largest, but poorest socio-economic group, comprising around 4 billion people who live on less than US$2.50 per day. Conventional logic holds that there is little business to be done with this ‘market segment’. Together with academics Stuart Hart and Allen Hammond, C.K. Prahalad turns this logic around by analyzing how the total buying power of this group could be stimulated, as long as there is access to vital resources such as money, telecommunications and energy.

The simple observation is that because there is much untapped purchasing power at the bottom of the pyramid, private companies can make significant profits by selling to the poor. Simultaneously, by selling to the poor, private companies can bring prosperity to the poor, and thus can help eradicate poverty. Prahalad suggests that large multinational companies (MNCs) should play the leading role in this process, and find both glory and fortune at the bottom of the pyramid. Prahalad suggests that there is much eagerness to do business in this sector – as long as traditional barriers can be modified.

How to use the model
To enable poor people to use their buying power, Prahalad suggests making use of the following twelve building blocks. Solutions must:

  1. be low priced
  2. merge old and new technology
  3. be scalable and transportable across countries, cultures and languages
  4. be eco-friendly
  5. put functionality above form
  6. be based on innovative processes
  7. use deskilled work
  8. educate customers
  9. work in hostile environments
  10. be flexible with interfaces
  11. be available for the highly dispersed rural market as well as highly dense urban markets
  12. be fit for rapid evolution

The idea behind BoP has enjoyed global acceptance since its presentation in 2002. An earlier example of how doing business with the poor can pay off for all stakeholders is given by the success story of Bangladeshi banker, economist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus, who developed the concepts of microcredit and microfinance, small loans given to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. Other examples include the limited success of the Tata Nano car and the success of Hindustan Lever Ltd., one of Unilever’s largest subsidiaries.

Critics have claimed that the BoP proposition might be too good to be true. Karnani (2006) states that the BoP proposition ‘is, at best, a harmless illusion and potentially a dangerous delusion. The BoP argument is riddled with inaccuracies and fallacies.’ Other than the success of microcredit, there have not been many convincing examples of the fortune to be made at the bottom of the pyramid (Kay and Lewenstein, Harvard Business Review, April 2013).

Karnani, Aneel G. (2006) ‘Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: A Mirage’, Ross School of Business Paper No. 1035, Available at Social Science Research Network.
London, T., Hart, S.L. (2011)Next Generation Business Strategies for the Base of the Pyramid: New Approaches for Building Mutual Values, Upper Saddle River, Pearson.
Prahalad, C.K. (2004) Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profits. Philadelphia, Wharton School Publishing.

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Worried about the menopause? Read on.

29 May 2014 by in Lifestyle

by Monica Troughton, author of Magical menopause

‘I’m low on oestrogen and I have a gun in my hand…’
Welcome to the world of the menopause. Whether you are thirty five, fifty five or somewhere in between, it’s going to get you. If you are mid-menopause and wondering when the heck it is going to end then fear not, because nobody knows. Some women feel nothing more than being a few quid better off every month while others are ready to kill. If you are thinking about the menopause, you may be asking yourself the following questions:

• Is there a menopausal ‘type’? If so what does she look like?
• Is there anything that will guarantee a smooth and oh-so-easy transition to those post-menopausal ‘golden years’?
• Does Hormone Replacement Therapy work? How?
• Do natural therapies work? How?
• Should you carry a gun or wear an ‘M’ sign around your neck?
• Is it possible to self combust at this time?
• Could you feed the solar panels on your roof with the heat you are giving off? If so can you receive a grant?

So, so many sensible questions (let alone those of sex, passion, shrivelled ovaries, gin and relationships).

The menopause is actually a time of personal gain (weight), power (short fuse) and a time to re-assess everything in your life. Learn from those who have ‘been there’:

1. Amanda Redman used to put her menopausal head in the freezer to cool down whenever she had guests for supper;
2. Another took to sleeping outside – on the lawn – especially when a frost was forecast;
3. Another wore her husband out with an insatiable longing for love making. Once he had a pacemaker fitted things began to pick up;
4. Sue Gatsby wanted to join a convent.

My book Magical menopause was a real joy to write because I came across so many amazing women – all experiencing completely different aspects of the menopause. The book was re-named Thrive Through Menopause for the USA market and women there contacted me to tell me how they were getting on. I had a mixed bag of letters … ‘There’s nothing magical about it…’ to ‘I missed my third period and won the lottery…(!)’ … and ‘I ditched my husband and then asked him back…’.

Who knows what yours was like – is like – might be like?

Monica reveals more facts and lies about the menopause in her event Magical Menopause on 17th June 2014.

Our eBook Menopause: Relief and remedies for the symptoms of menopause is FREE for the whole of June on Kindle Store UK and US.