Stories into the future

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By Raju Mandhyan

“THERE IS A LOT of heart and scientific focus that went into bringing this probiotic into the world,” claims Singh. “We made hundreds of attempts, and failed as many times.” With a background in naturopathy and a bias for a vegan diet, Singh and his wife had made up their mind to create something good and something worthwhile. Today, they claim that their yoghurt is getting accolades the world over. “We are kind of persistent when it comes to health and well-being,” he adds smilingly.

That sounds a bit like the story of Thomas Edison and his 1,000 attempts at making the first ever light bulb that would work on electricity. Yet, every story is made up of a certain, simple truth. In this case, the truth being that an Indian man, Ravi Singh, and his loving Filipina wife, Rashmi Tolentino, have come up with a yoghurt form that beats all yoghurts since it does not use any animal products. It uses coconut milk strained out of the millions that our 7,107 islands produce abundantly.

Yet my point is not the coconut or the yoghurt it can produce. My point is that success stories such as this one do not just inspire us but also become a beacon of light for us to innovate projects, processes, and products. Stories are truths wrapped in roses, rainbows, and rhythm, but they also create the future — that which is possible and which can indeed be beautiful.

“Success stories from the past empower us, but it is the stories into the future — stories yet to be lived out — that catapult us into action and success.” These words are etched on the mental corridors of all the workers in this company that supplies milk and milk derivatives to nearly half the world.

Individuals are shaped by different experiences, yet our shared values enable us to combine our strengths to make us innovative and successful. There are just four simple truths that guide us: the spirit of co-operation, doing what is right, challenging boundaries, and making it happen.

These values are images that are colorful and crystal-clear to the farmers and managers of Fonterra of New Zealand. The clarity and vividness make these values a dynamic living image. It is the vision and the story that serves as the springboard for creating an unfolding future, a future they continue to create.

Made up of over 400 members, this co-operative has been around for over 100 years. They have been steadily growing for decades and have consistently and continuously become efficient and innovative. Why? Because where they have come from is clear in this organization, and where they are heading to, is just as crystal clear.

The vivid, colorful story of the future in their minds drives them to easily implement relevant changes every day. The living, dynamic, future-projected story is a compelling magnet. It becomes a self-driven desire to change rather than something that the organization members need to be cajoled and pushed into. Furthermore, this story of their future is easily communicated and has the potential of naturally turning viral in the organization.

The wonderful coconut yoghurt of the Singh Tolentino endeavor can be found selling like hotcakes at the Sunday market of Legaspi Village, and in many other places in the Philippines.


Raju Mandhyan author, coach and learning facilitator.