Burning Bridges and Orbit Shifting

On Monday, Dec 16, a friend of mine sent me a mail informing about the launch of ‘Orbit Shifting’, a book authored by Rajiv Narang and Devika Devaiah – on the same day. I did not give the mail a second thought. Towards the evening, the thought of the book launch came visiting me again and I am very happy I said yes.

Rajiv Narang was someone who impacted me with his powerful thoughts when we invited him to train the First Flight team in Chennai during the early nineties. His company, Erehwon was a fledgling then. It was from him that I learned phrases like, “paradigm shift” , and “out of the box thinking”. I remember being so bowled over by his new-wave ideas that I requested First Flight MD to invite Rajiv Narang to spend a day with the board of directors. Nothing much came out of that day, though. I have often thought, it was an opportunity missed for First Flight.

Rajiv has traveled far from those days. He is now recognised as India’s Innovation Thought Leader and was part of National Planning Commission panel to recommend ‘India’s Innovation Strategy’. He is consultant to some of the world’s leading brands – across India, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the US.

I reached early enough at Taj Connemara for the book launch event. I met Rajiv when he was relatively free. When I refreshed his memory about his training at First Flight, he vaguely recalled that page in his consultancy history with – oh, it was so long ago, wasn’t it?

There were a few outstanding entrepreneurs and trail blazers on the dais. They were all people who took their companies to heights never thought possible, by their ability to see their business or area of activity in a totally new light.

According to the authors, “Orbit Shifting Innovation happens when an area that needs transformation meets an innovator with the will and desire to create, and not follow, history. At the heart of an orbit-shifting innovation is the breakthrough that creates a new orbit and achieves a transformational impact”.

The talks by those giants of innovation brought to light how each of them created amazingly simple but most effective breakthroughs to shift to a new orbit and achieve mind boggling transformations.

C.K Ranganathan of CavinKare had a story revolving around  the sachet revolution – packaging Chik Shampoo in small packages, making it easily affordable for even poor villagers. He and his company continues on the innovation trail, and has now come up with Dairy products boasting unheard of features. Cavin’s Pure+ milk lasts outside the refrigerator for 120 days while the life span of packaged milk from his competitors is barely 5 or six days in the refrigerator. There are ATM’s for money and now CavinKare has spawned another ATM – Any Time Milk. Innovation thinking leads to creation of a new vocabulary within companies.

P.N Vasudevan  spoke about how he along with his team catapulted Cholamandalam Investment and Finance Co Ltd, to top of the league through breakthrough thinking and sustained action on uncharted territories. The riveting and eloquent account of Rajesh Sud, the M.D and C.E.O of Max New York Life about how his company outperformed competition by travelling on untrodden paths during the worst financial turmoil in recent times, against the background of tough regulatory changes in the insurance industry showed him as a rare history maker.

Rajiv and Devika reeled out many interesting stories of visionaries who eased into new orbits through their uncanny ability to see their areas of work afresh – as they never were seen. Particularly interesting is the story of Dr.Venkataswamy who at the age of 58 embarked on a journey to transform the world of eye care in India by founding Aravind Eye Hospital. He ushered in path breaking practices, operating from an entirely new paradigm.

The achievements of J.K Tripathy are even more astounding. As the Deputy Inspector General–cum-Commissioner of Police, Tiruchi City, he transformed the image of the normal notorious cop into an “Anna”, the neighbourhood friendly cop, while bringing down the crime rate by 40% for several years, from 1999.

All through the evening, my thoughts were fixed on creating orbit shifting innovations at Service Square. The route could be through some ‘crazy’ innovations in quality or technology.

Towards the middle of the two hour event, the audience – nearly 200 of them – was given a cookie each. Inside the cookies were unique messages, similar to fortune cards. I thought this was a fascinating way of driving a point home.

The message I found in my cookie was:

Burning bridges takes personal risk; but makes the orbit shifting journey possible.

This sentence hides within so many transforming insights for me.

We cannot expect to solve problems from the same mindset that created them.

Shifting into another mindset or orbit is fraught with risk and adventure. Death of the ego and fear of the unknown are scary propositions!

Well thought out risks leave room for creating history and moving into new orbits.

To create a life or business of our desires, we need to burn bridges – so that we never turn back to old ways – even if we feel frightened by the risks or enchanted by throwbacks to the comforts of old memories.

Often, the bridges we burn light the way.

An Orbit Shifting journey requires a devotion and focus on one orbit. Distractions along the way could result in the cessation of the quest.

Orbit shifting journeys are not confined to business.

One needs to travel along a new orbit to create a healthy body. Doctors and medications are along the well trodden paths.

Orbit shifting journey can propel us on the trajectory of a new spirituality. And towards robust emotional well being.

Above all, an orbit shifting journey leads to the discovery of what love and passion are all about.

John O’ Donohue’s poem, “For a New Beginning” captures for me what an orbit shifting journey is:

You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

So, my quest continues into the New Year 2014 and beyond. Towards a new orbit in business and in life.

The book launch event concluded very appropriately, with the magical Broadway song, “The Impossible Dream”.

All orbit shifts begin with an Impossible Dream which draw inspiration not from pithy business plans, but from the womb of human endeavor and spirit.

4 thoughts on “Burning Bridges and Orbit Shifting”

  1. Hello Babu and Happy New Year.
    I came across your website today and I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. You write beautifully with great eloquence, honesty and thought. John O’Donoghue is one of my favourite writers. I look forward to stopping by again.

    • Happy New Year, Mary.
      I am elated that you found my posts and commented. I went through a few of your posts. I understand what it feels when “writing has shimmied up the fence of obstruction, knocked it over and allowed the words to flow freely once again”.
      Will go through your posts again, soon.
      Have a beautiful time!

  2. Wonderful writing Babu. I felt you were talking to me in person. Yes it is reallysomething which will push us out of our comfort zone. Heartfelt wishes for a very successful 2014 and please do not forget to include me when you celebrate your success
    Please keep writing…….


  3. Thank you Sita, for your encouragement. About celebrating success, I am beginning to see it as a process rather than as an end. In that sense every day is a time for celebration – for the inches we advance in that journey – for all of us fellow travellers.


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