Sunday, March 26, 2017

“MIND THE GAP”

“MIND THE GAP”











It is hard to miss the announcement MIND THE GAP when you travel in London underground trains.  This is the caution for the travelers to mind the gap between the edge of train and platform and not get hurt by slipping in between.


This “MIND THE GAP”  was echoing in my mind, these echoes were telling me that we may need to “mind the gap” across relationships;  in business between Customers and Suppliers; at work between colleagues, at home between parents and children, between spouse, between teacher and student and so on.

I work in the services industry,  at times during the life of the service contract, I hear comments like – “you don’t understand my business”, “what is your value add”,  “SLAs are green, but unhappy Customer” , etc;  do you hear comments like these?

I think the fundamental reason is we don’t “mind the gap”  or probably don’t even realize that there is a gap.  If we analyse a bit, Customers ask what they ‘want’, not what they ‘need’ leading to a gap between want and need;  Suppliers sells what they ‘have’ (or may have in future) and not what Customer ‘want’ (which in itself a gap);  result is a big gap between the need and what Customers got.   Shouldn’t we “mind the gap” and reduce the gap?  I have attempted to make a pictorial view of gaps at every stage !

I have a very similar conversation with my children when they ask for something.   I normally say to my children,  “you are asking what you want,  it is not always true your wants and needs  matches,  I will only get you what you need” .    Did I “mind the gap” or just believed that I know their need?

If we analyse problems in any relationship – “teacher and student”, “husband and wife” ,  “colleagues at workplace”the dissatisfaction arises when we miss to  “MIND THE GAP”.


How about your encounters and experience in “MIND THE GAP” and any lessons learnt?

Sunday, December 18, 2016

(DON’T) COMPARE APPLES TO ORANGES

DON’T COMPARE APPLES TO ORANGES


This is a common idiom used, when apparent differences between items which are thought to be incomparable such as apples and oranges.  I have come across this many times at work and home, when questioned about performance, compared regions, products, etc.  I have used it many times on to establish why my area of work is different to others, why the performance / results cannot be compared.

I am thinking, why we shouldn’t compare Apples to Oranges; aren’t “disruptive” ideas born when we start comparing unrelated things to achieve more?  I feel it is okay to (or should) compare “Apples to Oranges” to experiment on new things and possibly excel.   Some of the organisations come to my mind who have compared themselves to unrelated things and possibly be in the path of success.

  • Amazon from booking selling online store to an IT service provider
  • Google from search engine to possibly big player in automobile industry
  • People like Neroli Fairhall paralysed from her waist down, Oscar Pistorius with both legs amputated participating in Olympic games (not only Paralympic games)
  • Some of the inventions like airplane, nuclear power, our emails, etc

d
On the contrary, few organisations who ignored to compare Apples to Oranges; like the ones below;

  •          Kodak once pioneer in the industry failed to transform in digital revolution
  •      Blackberry who had huge market share on smart handled, led way to Apple and Android
  •          Sony Walkman  (don’t think the younger generation even remember)
  •        Many individuals surpassed you and me (for sure me) and we have decided not the compare and “stay put” .
l   I recollect an old Tamil  movie lyrics by writer Kannadasan, which reads as “paravayai kandaan vimanam padaithan, Ediroli keettan vaanoli padaithan”    (translated in English – Scientist compared the birds and invented airplane,  listened to echo and invented radio) which sounds like people dared to compare Apples to Oranges.
   
     In summary, what I want to convey is let us not excuse ourselves saying, “ I am different”,  “that is different” at the first instance.

   Do you think it is important to compare "Apples to Oranges" at individual level and at organisations level?  I am looking forward for your comments and examples for YES and NO for comparisons.









Tuesday, November 8, 2016

MY PERSONAL MAINTENANCE - 4 day in AOL Bangalore Ashram



MY PERSONAL MAINTENANCE  - 4 day in AOL Bangalore Ashram


Last week, I have chosen to spend four days in a residential course at Art of Living ashram in Bangalore.  It was a different and refreshing experience;  I have learnt some new things and also it made me to experience the past.   Let me narrate my experience.

COURSE:   The course were a combination of Yoga, breathing exercise, stretching and meditation.  The class starts at 6am in the morning and ends at about 830pm in the night, with two long breaks (breakfast and lunch) and couple of small bio breaks. This 14-15 hours day was long, but not tiring.  If similar meeting was to happen in office for four days, there will be numerous breaks for refresh, may this course itself is meant for refresh, so why refresh breaks?.  “If we do our work with love and energy,  we can work long with less breaks” 

Most of the courses were done with eyes closed,  it means we don’t have to worry about how others are performing and no inhibition on how others perceive our performance.  The  learning I take here is “ have less of distractions for effective performance” 


The toughest part (at least for me) of the program is “SILENCE” – yes, we were not expected to speak for 3 full days.  When my children ask, what I do at work,  my response used to be “I keep speaking and get paid for it” ,  from there to “no talk” for 3 days was difficult and I could managed with some exceptions (one  call made).   “Dare to do something different”


Among many types of programs, we were also asked to do some creative drawing in about 10 minutes.  It was amazing to see many creative work,  this is mine !  “I think everyone can be creative, age no bar.”

ACCOMMODATION:  The room was not equipped with 9” mattress, foam pillows, shower with luxury toiletries, climate control, flat screen with WIFI, etc.  The room is small non AC, 4 people shareable, hard single beds with thin mattresses with shower facilities.  I used to stay in similar type rooms when I started my career, it was nice to go back to that experience.  The rooms are clean and fit for purpose.   “Luxury does not guarantee satisfaction, but fit for purpose and basic expectations will” 

FOOD: The food served were not 45 items, 5 course meals;  it was good, hygienic, single course meal (like rice, sambar, vegetable), thrice a day.   There were no coffee, snacks in between.  I was bit surprised on how I managed without caffeine for four days.  “Light on stomach is heavy on energy” .

SEVA (SERVICE):  The course also included doing Seva for about an hour a day.  I did spend time in kitchen (vegetable cutting), garden and model village.  It is very different experience to do work in mass kitchen (believe they do 10,000 meals a day).   “It is good to do some work on the ground once in a while as a service (I am not talking about as a service in IT)”

I really felt it was a good maintenance (like car) for me, both mind and body.  I think it will help for individuals and corporate go for maintenance once in a while.  





Tuesday, August 16, 2016

“Soap bubble” - Transition to a new role


In the corporate environment, change of job either by joining a new organization or job rotations is important and inevitable.  These changes (new person in a new role) helps the individual to learn / contribute in the organization and also gives a fresh perspective to the function.

My questions to the hiring manger are, when we get a new person to the new role (internal or external hire),
-          - are we expecting the person jump start and produce results ?
-          - are we giving her enough time to settle down ?
-          - are we allocating resources in educating about the org / role ?
-          - do we have sufficient self-learning material?

I    I feel as a hiring manager we need to spend quality time with the “new hire” on induction, not just for the job role, also about the group, organization, people, culture, processes, decisions, goals, etc.   I often see Managers are in a rush to deploy the person into the role (billable project or otherwise) and expect the person to produce value (results) quickly and allow a natural path of long learning cycle about the rest of the organization.

I am sharing my experience when I joined this organization little more than three years ago.   I was joining this company after a long stint of 22 years in my previous organization;  I had some butterflies in my stomach.   I also knew in the new role, I will be inducting lot of leaders and hence decided to watch my transition bit more granular for the first 90 days.



First, I said to myself ; in my first 90 days, I will take over from the incumbent like a “soap bubble” and I will ensure “the bubble” does not break.  I also said, I will neither attempt to re-size nor reshape the bubble.  The meaning here is, will understand the details on its own merits; however set aside the changes / recommendations post 90 days.



Second, I did jot down all my interactions with the colleagues and categorized them as “value consumed” or “value delivered”.    If I had learnt / understood something from someone, I have categorized those interactions as “value consumed” and given a numerical value of “minus 1” and if have I have contributed something significant in the conversation, solutions, etc, categorized those as “value delivered” and given a numerical value of “plus 1”.   At the end of each day, computed the cumulative net value delivered to the organization and plotted a graph.   As expected the net value was –ve initially and more –ve later, less –ve over a period of time, break-even and grew +ve thereafter.    Interestingly,  it took about seven weeks for a break-even in my case.


Third, I have broken down the net value further by functions (ex: Delivery, pre-sales, Talent acquisition, etc).  The observation here is, some of the function had a more +ve net value and some of had more –ve net value at the end of 90 days.  I am not advocating more positive is good or more negative is bad.    The point, I am driving is depends on the role we are hiring the person, if we can steer the induction we may get better results.  






Fourth, I have also recorded the people who have spent time with me in my transition and group them as top management, Sr management (mostly peers in my case), team, self-reading, etc.  In my first 90 days, about 137 hours are spent on me in various forms of interactions.  Interestingly, self-reading was on the lower side.  The learning I had on this is, when we hire new people, it is important to spend time with in educating about the organization (beyond the job role)  and these interactions are not one way, it has to be on push-pull mode, meaning the new employee has to pull people into the conversations. 



Fifth, I had jotted down my recommendations on what we need to do better; more from an “outside-in” perspective and did present this to my mangers after about 120 days of joining the organization. My managers not only appreciated those views, also given me green signal to implement some of those and I am glad to say more the three-fourths of these ideas are implemented.

My transition has given me learning on hiring and inducting people in new roles, the key ones are

1      1) Allow new hire to understand the organization beyond the job role (don’t break the soap bubble).
2      2) Focus the transition on the key areas beyond the job role as well.
3      3) Allocate time and resources for transition (including the hiring manger’s time).
4     4) Motivate the person to get fresh perspective (outside-in) in the early days, before s/he get used the organization.    Recognize good ideas and explore implementation.
5     5) Create self-reading material.

Thank you for reading this, looking forward for your comments.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Smiles on many faces during my children birthday anniversary this week


This week we had series of birthday anniversaries at our home; my elder daugther's birthday on 23rd May,  my son's on 24th May and my wife's on 26th May.

My children celebrated their brithday anniversaries little differently,  thanks to their mother for the idea and the efforts.

On my daughter's birthday;  she went and distrubuted food, water and sweets to needy / beggars in the area we live in; we drove around the localilty and distributed fresh home cooked food for about 15 people.

On my son's birthday;  he went around the area and distributed new clothes  to about 10 needy and beggars.   I think those people would have got an opportunity to wear new clothes may be first time in their life.

Both my son and daugther have felt really satisfied they way they celebrated their birthday anniversaries.

In normal course it would have been some cake, gifts and party; and smiles only on the children;  this celeberation has created smiles on others.

 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Results by motivation – “I am an Energy Star”





Results by motivation –
“I am an Energy Star”

Show me Results!  --  this is something we want anywhere;  at home, work, utility services; government, students, schools, movies, sports…

How do get the desired results – carrot or stick? Both? Neither?  Luck?

Let me narrate one motivation strategy I used at my home.

We have three children at home; one of the constant dialogue I hear at home is “hey, whoever has switched on the light/fan;  switch it off”   -- the response from children is generally; “it’s not me” .     I have heard these noises many many times.  I was telling my children and wife;  “who” is not very important;  anyone can put off lights / fans / TV when not in use;  these lectures did not work.
I have put a simple motivation strategy;  devised a scoring card called “I am an Energy Star”.  This is pasted in the living room, side of the refrigerator;  the rule is anyone who switches off any energy device which is ON unnecessarily; will get one star.   More the stars, more the points and children would get a gift.  Believe me, it clicked instantly, and there is a competition to switch  OFF devices to gain stars  -- sometimes it works too much; even the necessary lights are put OFF.   


Let us switch to organization scenario,  as Leaders how are we working with our team to achieve results – by motivation techniques?  Or stick (if you don’t do this, then… ) approach.  Recollect few instances of the approaches you have practice recently with your colleagues and analyze which has given sustained results. It will be great if you can share your views and some examples of this.

Btw, I was sharing this “I am an Energy Star” example with two of my colleagues recently;  they implemented at home and it worked for them!




Sunday, June 24, 2012

Won Silver or Lost Gold?



Won Silver or Lost Gold?


London 2012 Olympics is just round the corner and London and rest of the world is so excited about this and looking forward for this event. One thing which comes to mind on the sports event is prizes and medals.

Olympics are bundled with lots of sports like athletics, football, swimming, etc. At the end of every event three prizes are given, it is mostly GOLD, SILVER and BRONZE.



What do you think is going on in the mind of an athlete who has got Silver medal, is she happy about the prize? I can hear you saying – “of course, she is”. I heard some of you saying, “No, she is upset”. If we analyse it, she might have both the feelings; happy for winning Silver and upset for losing Gold. So what do we call this as Won Silver? Or Lost Gold?

I see this kind of feeling happens in our workplace as well, one of the situations I can think of is performance appraisal. If one gets “Exceeds Expectations”, does she feels happy about it or upset for not reaching “Outstanding”. In my opinion one should have both the feelings, “Won Silver” feeling should give confidence on oneself and a great motivation to keep going and at the same time “Lost Gold” feeling should help to reset the goal, identify gaps and striver harder to reach gold (goal?).

What is your view about this? What is your feeling in similar situations? What do you think is a good approach?