About the RealUGuru Project
The RealUGuru Project is a Think Tank (research institute) based in Stamford NY. It was founded by author, radio talk show host and practical philosopher Lewis Harrison. It is dedicated to the exploration of human potential, personal effectiveness, efficiency, productivity, and self-awareness.
“Any problem that has been solved once can be solved a second time.”
Lewis Harrison – Founder RealUGuru Project
Q & A with Lewis Harrison, Founder, and Executive Director of the RealUGuru Project
Q: What is a Think Tank?
Lewis: A think tank or research institute is an organization that performs research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, technology, and culture. Most policy institutes are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax exempt status. Other think tanks are funded by governments, advocacy groups, or businesses, or derive revenue from consulting or research work-related to their projects. As noted The RealUGuru Project is a Think Tank (research institute) based in Stamford N.Y. that is dedicated to the exploration of human potential, personal effectiveness, efficiency, productivity, and self-awareness.
Q: What are the origins of the RealUGuru Project?
Lewis: The work of the project originated in the late 1800s with the health reform movement. In my teen years and early 20s, I had the opportunity to study personally with various important thinkers, many in their 80s and 90s. Many of these individuals had studied with the original reformers at the turn of the 20th century. My own work, upon which the RealUGuru project was based was the organizing of a data base of folk remedies and scientifically proven “drugless” treatments for various diseases that were not being used by most doctors and hospitals. Much of this information was drawn from Index Medicus (IM) a curated bibliographic database of life science and biomedical science information, principally listing scientific journal articles. From this early research, my interests spread to include anything related to the exploration of human potential, personal effectiveness, efficiency, productivity, life strategies and self-awareness. In 2015 the RealUGuru Project was initiated and with the great support of students, peers, associates and financial backers it became formalized in 2017.
Q: What is the mission of the RealUGuru project?
Lewis: To educate individuals and organizations on ways to create greater love, compassion, clarity of thought, mindfulness, and spiritual intention in their operating models. This includes showing leaders, decision makers and influencers ways to transform zero sum models where some win and others lose into models where everyone can “win”.
Q: Why are Think Tanks important?
Lewis: According to the National Institute for Research Advancement, a Japanese policy institute, think tanks are “one of the main policy actors in democratic societies …, assuring a pluralistic, open and accountable process of policy analysis, research, decision-making, and evaluation.
Q: What makes the RealUGuru project different than other Think Tanks?
Lewis: Independent Think Tanks are often highly partisan in their missions. Many perform research and provide advice concerning public policy often served large corporations and ideologically based political organizations. They generally lacked independence, having close associations with government ministries or corporations. There has been a veritable proliferation of “think tanks” around the world that began during the 1980s as a result of globalization, the end of the Cold War, and the emergence of transnational problems. Two-thirds of all the think tanks that exist today were established after 1970 and more than half were established since 1980.
Unfortunately, many of the so-called experts within these Think Tanks are prisoners of their own biases. Politically speaking both left-wing and right-wing policy institutes are often quoted and rarely identified as such. The result is that think tank “experts” are sometimes depicted as neutral sources without any ideological predispositions when, in fact, they represent a particular perspective.
Many “policy institutes” are often a “tank“, in the intellectual sense: discussion only in a sheltered group protected from outside influence. This approach isolates the participants, subjects them to several cognitive biases (groupthink, confirmation bias) and fosters members’ existing beliefs. This results in surprisingly radical and even unfeasible ideas being published.
Sadly in many Think Tanks members surround themselves with people who think the same way they do and convince each other that they are correct in their thinking (confirmation bias). The cleverest among them will bring in various types of number crunchers and bean counters so that they can prove statistically that they are correct (information bias). We at the RealUGuru Project are concerned to find the most applicable solutions to specific problems and directing resources, both financial and strategic to those individuals and organizations that have the means to solve them.
At the RealUGuru Project, we use a collaborative process to emphasize wellness, peak performance and social issues (human potential and personal development).
Q: Who do you serve with your research?
Lewis: We offer mentoring, coaching and consulting services to both individuals and organizations.
Q: How do you avoid confirmation and information biases at the RealUGuru Project?
Lewis: We have a detailed and rigorous system of fact checking, statistical analysis, and collaborative intelligence networks where scholars and experts anonymously and independently offer peer review of each other’s research.
Q: What are some of the tools you use to produce solutions to complex and even extreme problems?
Lewis: There is no one tool or system that we apply universally to all problems, however, there are some concepts that seem, in combination, to help us arrive and the best and most cost effective solutions to most problems. Among our favorite tools are:
- Mixed strategies: Part of game theory, here we take many different variables in many combinations in different environments in order to predict the specific end result that is likely to come about.
- Bayesian inference: No matter how skilled we may be in applying mixed strategies the fact is that environmental changes and new factors often come into play when designing a specific strategy to solve a specific problem. Because of this, there needs to be a system or method for updating the probability for a hypothesis as more evidence or information becomes available. The method for doing this is known as a Bayesian or statistical inference. Many Bayesian concepts are used to predict what is likely to happen even when there is limited or incomplete information.
- Pattern Language: All systems are composed of patterns. Many patterns are obvious however there are some environments that seem completely chaotic and yet there is a pattern there as well. Think of “Bebop Jazz”. Often the solution to a problem can be deciphered by isolating a pattern. Here a mathematician’s skills may be useless. It is an artist’s skills that are required to isolate the pattern and guide the logically driven problem solver to see the pattern that was hidden in plain sight.
- Constraint Analysis: There no system that has ever existed that has maximized its efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity at the lowest possible cost. This is because there will always be a person, place or thing in any system that is a constraint, and which limits the achievement of a specific goal. Constraint analysis is a methodology for identifying the most important limiting factor (i.e. constraint) that stands in the way of achieving a goal and then systematically improving that constraint until it is no longer the limiting factor. In certain environments, especially manufacturing, the constraint is often referred to as a bottleneck.
- Black Swans theory: The black swan theory or theory of black swan events is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.
- Butterfly Effect: This is a phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere. There are a number of statistical and mathematical approaches to applying Butterfly Effect to predicting events. This concept has been used since the early 1960s to predict hurricanes and extreme weather patterns.
- Harrison’s Applied Game Theory: The application of intuition and rational thinking to maximize the potential of a strategy when faced with possibilities of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers. Game theory is mainly used in economics, political science, and psychology, as well as logic, computer science, and biology. Originally, it addressed zero-sum games, in which one person’s gains result in losses for the other participants. Today, game theory applies to a wide range of behavioral relations and is now an umbrella term for the science and art of decision making in humans, animals, and computers.
- The Peter Principle: This is a concept in management theory formulated by educator Laurence J. Peter and published in 1969. It states that the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate’s performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively, and “managers rise to the level of their incompetence.” In a large enough organization, the expansion of incompetence both horizontally and vertically in an organization will eventually lead to that organization’s collapse. In the RealUGuru Project, we are constantly researching and experimenting with models for isolating these incompetencies before they do damage.
- Multiple Intelligences: We have a saying at the RealUGuru Project that “you can’t out think someone who isn’t thinking.” Solving different types of problems requires specific skills sets. Most organizations lack the tools to find where and how specific individuals can use their unique talents to solve specific and highly unique problems. The theory of multiple intelligences differentiates intelligence into specific ‘modalities’, rather than seeing intelligence as dominated by a single general ability. Howard Gardner proposed this model in his 1983 book Frames of Mind. Gardner proposed eight abilities that he held to meet these criteria: musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. He later suggested that existential and moral intelligence may also be worthy of inclusion. Although the distinction between intelligences has been set out in great detail, Gardner opposes the idea of labeling learners to a specific intelligence. Gardner maintains that his theory should “empower learners”, not restrict them to one modality of learning. According to Gardner, an intelligence is “a biopsychological potential to process information that can be activated in a cultural setting to solve problems or create products that are of value in a culture.” When we organize groups of experts for collaborative intelligence processes we often apply Multiple Intelligences concepts to the process.
Q: What is the energy like at the RealUGuru Project when you have organized a team of experts to solve a problem?
Lewis: It’s a combination of what goes on in the plots of television shows like Mission Impossible, MacGyver, Dr. House, and the Mentalist. What we fundamentally do here is solve problems and sometimes this requires lots of “out of the box” collaborative thinking.
Q: Do you fail often?
Lewis: You are asking the wrong question. It is not that we succeed or fail. I often say “Any problem that has been solved once can be solved a second time.” There is almost always a solution. The challenge often is that implementing the successful solution we have arrived at comes with too high a cost and the individual or organization that has requested that we find a solution to a problem chooses to not move forward.
Q: Where do you derive your revenue?
Lewis: We receive donations from individuals and organizations that support our work. We also derive revenue from the sale of books, and from consulting, speaking and research work related to specific projects.
Q: If I wanted to get involved in the RealUGuru Project, how would I do that?
- The first thing to do is go explore our website at RealUGuru.com.
- There are over two hours of video presentations on our work on our YouTube channel – AskLewis/Lewis Harrison. A good start is to watch some of these videos to become familiar with our mission and our ideas. These videos are often light hearted and humorous.
- If you go to the bottom of the website home page you can sign up to be a member of the Lew Crew. Membership is free and you will receive regular blogs, newsletters, and updates on what we are working on. We will never share email addresses or personal information with anyone.
- If you want to become more engaged in what we are doing you can purchase soft cover books and/ or e-books. Just click on the website “menu” for a list of publications.
- We offer a number of online classes and coaching programs of various levels. Feel free to e-mail me to learn more about these opportunities
Thanks for taking the time to learn more about our work here. We hope you join us in making the world a better place and helping others to achieve their full potential at the lowest possible cost.
Listen here as Lewis is interviewed by award winning journalist Phyllis Haynes about the RealUGuru Project