Sunday, 21 October 2018

Advice to my younger self

Difficult times these are. Transformation in the way business is executed will mean many of us would be irrelevant soon. Conventional education system and societal upbringing has simply not prepared us for the changes which are happening.

Those who are change averse are sure to be left out of the future. Even those few who embrace the change would need to be completely different versions of themselves to continue to excel in future.

Could I have been prepared for this when I was younger? I think so. So here is the list of advice I would have given my younger self:

  • Read/ Write more and envision the future - Reading expands the horizons and writing makes these thoughts clear. These two are bedrocks of for an exciting vision of future.
  • Practice communication - All types of communication included.
    • Verbal
    • Non verbal/ Gesture
    • Written
    • Electronic
    • Public speaking- This is must for success in future
  • Build strong relationships based on trust. 
  • Network, network and network. Even with seemingly unconnected people, share extensively and selflessly. You will be amazed at the returns.
  • Learn, not memorize- Much of the adult learning happens through experience and not memorizing. So focus on building a career based on experiences and not mugging up corporate policy manuals/ OEM manuals
  • Respect time- Only commodity which we control and is always in short. It would be even more so in future because of tsunami of information. We become how and with whom we spend our time. Respect yours as well as others time through your actions, behaviors and content created for consumption by others.
  • Don't allow yourself to be a clone of your job!!!! You are far more than your job. Cultivate hobbies, travel, read, write, teach, coach, play, track....No body will remember you for the designations you held.
  • Know when to leave, develop people around you. Don't be a clerk doing same thing all your life. You grow when you develop people who work for you. The pride and glow of seeing them deliver outstanding results when you are not there can't be valued in earthly measures. Develop and then step aside, do something different every four years.
  • Solve tough problems- Every one can solve easier ones. Differentiate yourself by solving the harder ones. Be driven, break shackles and remove obstacles which stop others from achieving greatness. Chances are you will be remembered for being a pain, but it is better than not being remembered at all. It takes determination to be a tough problem solver, but it is easy, because it is not a crowded zone.
  • Find a coach who is a mirror to you. 
Many more could be added. Would be interested in knowing the ones you think are missing in the list above.

Festive season is almost there in India. Let there be love, light and laughter everywhere.

Wishing you great success in everything.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Is young India worried about machines taking over our jobs? conducted a 12 days long event "Democracy Wall" in various engineering colleges across India.

My daughter Riddhi  participated with following entry:

"World Bank data estimates 69% of today’s jobs in India are threatened by automation. And India isn’t alone here: China’s figure was 77% and other developing countries also scored highly. But are the young millenials really worried? The answer, as skeptical as it seems, is a no. This country's young population is wiser, smarter and more future oriented than possibly any of the generations before. They are flexible and have identifed the fact that continuous upgradation of their skills is the only way the ongoing and upcoming machine onslaught can be survived. In times like these, the skills profile changes faster than it did before, but at the same time, there is this ever increasing range of technology ready to help the millenials adapt and learn better. With machines taking on the mundane jobs at the soul of today’s workplace, the jobs in the future will mainly be about skills like critical and analytical thinking, collaboration and imagination. But as automation smoothly takes over this routine work and the young generation works on being relevant, the low-skill works– where the bulk of Indian IT employees work – are the most at risk. They do know that the reality is change, one which there is no shying away from. The only escape is in finding new roles and in moulding ourselves to become useful in the newer and advanced times. There is no one not worried about how the middle sectors in India is basically long cries of unemployment about being replaced by technology or automation. The impact is here and is being felt in the past few years and it's only going to magnify. Back then when humans wanted to automate the landscape, it was more of a race. But now, it's about getting the folks on the right path. The present world is ever - changing, developing at a pace like never before. There is, quite honestly, no way to put a stop to automation for it was this very thing that brought Indian economy on the world stage. Fighting machines is futile and we know it. The key to survive, let's just say, or to be employed is to fight passivity. Being passive and letting the machines impact us is the last thing to do. Doing something big and developing something groundbreaking, hand in hand, with automation is as appealing as it sounds. The young people of the workplace understand that most jobs now ask employees to be adaptable about learning new skills as they go along. To strengthen these young millenials to thrive in this great digital age, our education methodologies must bring a sharper spotlight to endless learning, experimentation and exploration. A larger value placed on education than in the West is one of the many reasons that the young millenials may just survive. All of these machines, robots, Artificial intelligence products can either be a poisonous curse on the Indian economy or a potential cure. The option is, quite evidently, ours to choose."

Young generation of today is far more ambitious and fearless. They see every disruption as an opportunity,

Proud to say that she won the first place in the contest...way you go dear daughter, so very proud of you....

Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it!

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Cost of actions that we don't take

All of us make choices, many of these relate to taking an action or not taking an action. Many of us even have an strategy to not to act! We then rationalize the choices that we made.

But have we ever analyzed the cost of actions we did not take?

  • While walking on the road, we see a person walking with air pods completely oblivious to traffic. Do we stop and ask her to be careful or just walk by. What if the person is hit by a speedy car?
  • Person working at height, without hooking up the life lines. We walk by, thinking to talk to contract supervisor about this. What if in the meantime, the man fall from height and injures himself?
  • A small leak from a gas connection, we rationalize its a small leak, what if a small fire , goes unnoticed and burns down the whole facility?
  • Performance issue with a colleague and we don't initiate a feedback dialogue, because its a difficult job. What about opportunities which are lost because of this?

Most of us don’t actively promote inefficiency, or aim to keep others down, or purposefully contribute to a less hospitable workplace or harm others. But we do strap on blinders. We rationalize, deflect, and deny. We follow the easier path. And we own every choice we make. The greater our power, the greater the weight each choice carries.

We can choose not to engage in improving the world. We can seize on every advantage available to us and our companies without thought to the consequences. We can act as if the planet and the global economy are not among our most critical stakeholders. We can join the crush of others who are just hoping to play out the string: keep our heads down, meet our numbers and abdicate long-term responsibility to someone else.

But when we make these choices, we leave out a crucial impact we can have on building a better workplace.

The alternative is to have the courage to accept a more difficult reality: The only way we can protect what we love is by actively pursuing a can make a change attitude. Every action has a consequence. Every inaction perhaps even more so.

Buckle up, move out and make a change. You matter a lot more than you think....

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Why things go right?

Hi everyone

First things first....long needed housekeeping of the blog has been done....trashy heart burns and shout outs have been digitally cleansed and yes lots of sensitive stuff has been deleted (2017-18 period). Survivors of past rantings have access to blog archives in case they need an access to pin me up.

Coming back to the topic of this week.

I have been thinking for a long time about our obsession to analyse what has gone wrong. This is all prevailing in the society, specially us the engineers. We analyse every failure very seriously, and we must do, to prevent this from happening in future. But there is a basic fallacy in this.

Failure precedes the failure analysis

Our objective is to prevent failures and hence analysing failures only denies us to achieve this. 

There are few failures among hundreds and thousands of things which go right in the organisation. So why not include few successes in our analysis.

These things go right because of the barriers which do not fail, these are the strengths of the organisation. So why not identify these strengths and leverage them across the whole organisation to take ourselves to next level. 

I believe that biggest barrier an organisation has are its people. They work hard to ensure that things go right at all times. Still many of the failure analysis report conveniently pin the blame on people. Few examples:

  • People are the problem to control (useless chaps...aren't they)
  • We need to find out what people did wrong (they are bad people, they plan to sabotage their own lives, morons)
  • We write or enforce more rules (as if current ones are inadequate)
  • We tell everyone to try harder (as if they don't)
  • We get rid of bad apples (hell yeah....we can always replace them)
  • Let's train them ( they are a bunch of idiots, they don't know nothing)
Disclaimer, not all reports end with these conclusions, but many do.

We can see that people become casualty if we focus only on failure analysis. This can be reversed if we start analyzing the reasons for things which are going right. There are committed individuals in the trenches out there who are putting best foot forward to maintain strings of successes. Let's reward them so that positive behaviors are reinforced. Ultimately success feeds success and very soon we are on the upward spiral of positive change.

Few more things which come to mind to prevent failure at all times:
  • Allow diversity of opinion and allow voice of dissent
  • Keep discussion on risk live at all times
  • Revere expertise 
  • Develop ability to say STOP
  • Break down barriers between teams and departments
  • Don't depend on audit findings to improve
  • Have pride in what you do
Will try to develop this thought further in next posts. Till then, pay respect to the departed souls and get ready for a super charged festival season.

Have a safe and motivated week ahead!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Reflections 2016.....

Back after a very very long time....

Lot has happened in the intervening period. There was another spin of roulette and I found myself working in a new role at new location.

Such changes are always difficult as these challenge you to very limits of endurance. You have to work in a new environment with new team.

Once again God helped me by granting a team of excellent human beings and very competent professionals. Things have gone well so far. But it is only the beginning of a transformation I need to undertake. This also marks beginning of end of a long love story..

Change of year also provides you with an opportunity to reflect on what went well and what did not. 

Two things which went very well in this year are:
  1. Stabilised PTA5/6 
  2. Could survive another change of job profile
Two things which did not go very well:
  1. My continued trust on thankless and back stabbing people
  2. Not able to devote time to family
Over the years, I have sacrificed a lot for my profession, I love the work I do and am fully committed to it. Have I been justly rewarded for it? Not for sure. But, the commitment to continual excellence is never easy.

Frequent job profile changes have reinvigorated on one hand whereas taken toll  on the other. 

Selective application of rule books demotivates and demoralises, But then it is part and parcel of life, hazard of profession, so to say.

My family has supported me in everything I have done so far. Thanks to them for having endured my single minded focus.

What I need to change:
  1. Evaluate and reject some people from my life
  2. Break free and take up bigger and larger challenge (has to happen soon)
  3. Don't fall for empty promises
  4. Spend more time with family
  5. Take out time for self
Has been a tough year. Bruises are all raw, pain is all round, but resolve is not broken. It is the part of night just before the dawn and hence a beautiful morning will follow soon.

Signing off with these thought, Will come back tomorrow on resolves for 2017.

Wishing a very happy new year to you and your family.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Bad Habits - which come in the way to being effective

We all have had our ups and downs in professional lives. Some of the downs, however, could have been lesser bumpy if and only if we could be more effective.

My own take on the factors which stop you from being effective are:

  • Mediocrity : Never settle for less than what is required. I have tolerated many people who clearly not for purpose, and have paid heavy price for it. We will not have excellence if we settle for mediocrity. Never fear of resistance which you undoubtedly experience on path to excellence.
  • Negativity. A huge part of the appeal of negativity is how easy it is. It's no more complicated than looking around and pointing out all the flaws you see. And criticism has its place, but when you focus on the negative, you're shutting out the positive forces that will keep you moving forward. Negativism focused inwardly is especially destructive, so banish it for good.
  • Lack of focus. Fuzzy thinking and indecisiveness will always leave you right where you are. Until you can see what you want as well as what's surrounding you, it's hard to gain momentum. Visualize where you're headed with as much clarity as you can bring to bear on it. Drill down to the details, set goals, and stay on task.  
  • Unhealthy relationships. It may feel like a hard truth, but not everyone and everything is meant to stay in your life. Relationships that have become unhealthy--those that don't serve you anymore--have to be repaired, and if repair isn't possible, then you have to move on. Unhealthy relationships can cause stress, health issues, and a broken spirit. If you're scared to leave, that's probably the strongest sign that you need to. 
  • Passivity. Maybe in the past doing nothing has served you well. Up to a point, it's not a bad thing to leave your options open. But if you continually choose to do nothing, nothing will happen. Success and happiness come from the choices you make. Choose to turn on your desire and drop the doubt. Choose to do work that makes you proud. Choose relationships that bring out your best self and a way of life that gives you the time to enjoy the people and activities you love. 
  • Shame. We can experience shame in any area of life, but we don't have to let it keep us company or define us in the future. Shame should be something we learn to walk through and come out on the other side of, remembering that mistakes and failure are often among our greatest teachers.
  • Making excuses. Is making excuses actually getting you what you want? If the answer is no, you need to stop. Think about the kinds of excuses you make. Are they focused on a present that you need to change, or a past you need to let go of? Starting today, give it everything you've got, and if it turns out badly, you can try something different. But no more excuses. 
  • Not setting priorities. Every day, something will get done first, when your energy is strongest. Something will get done with the time you have left over, and something may not get done at all. You can let these things happen randomly or strategically. But it's a fact that when you don't give attention to the important things, the important things don't get done. Great things will happen when you start setting your priorities straight
  • Running from problems. If you've tried this approach even once or twice, you know it doesn't work but just makes things worse. Face the issue, confront the problem, fix it. Do what you have to do to make it right. It's easy to run, but facing problems and working through them is what makes you strong.

So beware of these pitfalls to remain effective and to have lesser bumpy rides through the journey called life....

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Future of internet- beyond connecting people or customers

So much of time and efforts are being put on socially connecting people of the world. These are perhaps being overdone, to the extent that considerable amount of talent is spending time in putting a like button on a video or post. Similar efforts are being done on perennially losing eCom websites. Stress in that ecosystem is already showing and its only a matter of time that we hear demise of few names.

Time to check, is this the only thing internet can deliver? Exciting new possibilities exist for other applications which can truly improve the quality of life.

Yes, I am talking about Internet of things (IoT). Few of applications which come to minds are:

  1. Early health event detection through wearable medical devices- data can be monitored by experts sitting across continents. This has potential to transform the health industry. Both, hardware and software areas need exploration. Cheap connectivity would make it easily affordable to millions of people in world.
  2. Health monitoring for industrial equipment- Conventionally all organisations employ people who monitor health of machine. Alternatively, the sensors could be hooked to internet and could be monitored by original equipment manufacturers (OEM's), the best people to monitor and correct.
  3. Improve travel: Reliability of aviation and railway could be improved multi fold. The sensors could be hooked up the net for monitoring by OEM suppliers.
List could go on.

The Internet of Things offers tremendous potential for the manufacturing industry. Machines, systems, products, ICT systems, and people can be progressively connected over the internet, creating a production network in which information carriers communicate with each other and exchange data and information in near real time. In terms of the value chain, this means value creation partners – from suppliers to customers – are more tightly connected and capable of entering into closer cooperation with each other. The exchange of up-to-date information offers an opportunity to improve the quality and timeliness of decision-making processes, optimize the coordination of activities, and boost efficiency throughout the entire value creation process. This, in turn, provides machine and component manufacturers with the chance to offer their customers new services.

We need mavericks like Steve Jobs to focus on these possibilities, which have potential to transform the way things are done now.

Few like GE and Bosch  have already started working on this, but much more needs to be done.

What more applications come to your mind? Please share.