Saturday, 12 December 2015

Nothing is what u think it is

Substantial time gap has happened between the last posting and this one. Not by design, but definitely by choice, choice of something more urgent and priority.

I have been fortunate enough to bring to life four of the state of the art, most complex and most beautiful industrial assets in the the world. Now bringing something to life is one of the most difficult things to do. This one had its own share of challenges and learning.

There was a passion, there were timelines, there were questions to be answered.. whole part of the drama had its own script.

One thing was sure, there was determination in the team. Determination to succeed beyond everything. We had terrible days, difficult nights, but we used to be back next day with adrenaline flowing. 

A team of young boys and girls finally made it happen for us. Tremendously proud of their achievement. Well done guys you have made a dent in the universe...

I will be sharing my own personnel learning in later post. But right now to a unconnected subject.

I have been thinking of something for a long time, what if nothing is what we think it is?

What if I say that your life has no meaning?

I’m not telling you this to make you think about jumping off the nearest bridge; instead I mean it in a much more contemplative way. Let’s first acknowledge that the meaning we find in people, objects, and our own circumstances is subjective. These things have no inherent meaning. Functional and dysfunctional behavior both result from choices people make based on meanings they create. This also means that we have the power to alter our perceptions, revising perceptions that bring us down and enhancing those that help us. Your outlook on life is deeply entwined in your propensity for success. Miserable blowhards can achieve, however they still wind up miserable. That’s not success. Success is doing what you love and being happy about it.

Doing what you love makes you forget all the reverses, all the obstacles, all the adversaries, everything out there to derail you. You strive because the outcome is what you love. Like a mother, who goes through labor pains to bring to life a beautiful thing called life.

So meaning of life is in doing what you love and not doing what pays you the most. Not the ones, which gives you the most fascinating titles. 

Meaning of the life is in achieving by doing what you love..

Sound simple? Then let get it done....

Friday, 3 July 2015

Employee Engagement

Employee disengagement is a serious defect in organisations of the day. We are loosing millions in profitability and few percentage points in ROCE. Even a small discretionary effort by employees result in humongous improvement in productivity and creativity. 
This defect has been and is being debated in HR conferences (somehow always arranged in star hotels). My take on it is:
  1. Anonymity - Large organisations lose sight of employees. This results in anonymity which then causes loss of accountability. Great people see this very clearly and get disengaged. 
  2. Bystander Apathy- How does this connect to me and my Job? Nobody bends over to pick up  fallen things (read processes, lost business, defects...),
  3. Idea killers- All organisations have idea killers, who know it all and have done it all. They have no business of being in business, but here they are killing businesses which have kept them in business. People get cut off and smart people become dumb/ silent. Organisation becomes ideas poor.
So what needs to be done:
  1. Maintain a line of sight with all your people. Be the over communicator and don't stop at hierarchy 
  2. Shoot Bystanders and reward whistle blowers
  3. Mercilessly murder idea killers- go digital, communicate, communicate and over communicate. Build your reward and recognition system around the innovation culture
Believe that you are not the only smarts around, harness creative energies of your people. Create attractive Idea gardens and not dump grounds.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Disease which can kill career

Too often organizations stall out or plateau before they reach their full potential. The reason for this is that many leaders allow themselves to contract a deadly disease. And the unfortunate reality is that more often than not, it is their fault. We leaders are at risk of catching this very dangerous and often times, career ending disease, and it is called success. The good news is that it can be prevented.

When this disease hits, its first symptom is delusion. Don’t miss this. The disease of success is always self-diagnosed. We leaders are the ones who make the mistake of believing we have it. We begin to think that we have arrived and are now worthy of being called successful. We believe this success will last forever or that we are solely responsible for it. When this happens, our thinking, beliefs, attitudes, decisions and actions change. It is as if our old operating system gets replaced with a new one that values celebration, fame and entitlement more than hard work and rigor. We actually begin to think that those around us should treat us differently and that we deserve things reserved for those who are fortunate enough to have contracted this illness.

The next symptom is amnesia. We forget the people, the disciplines, the processes and the methods implemented in past years that caused momentum and ultimately led to our self diagnoses. Our old ways of working with intentionality and purpose get replaced with relaxation or apathy. We stop caring about the little things, the details, the decimals, metrics and ultimately those who benefit from our products or services. And even more catastrophic is when the amnesia causes us to forget who really does the work in our organizations and we start to believe that our teammates are lucky to work with us. This is always fatal!

In severe cases the disease will cause extreme self focus or narcissism. Our passion for creating a product of excellence and for creating a culture of excellence gets replaced with a mirror. We no longer spend our days striving to create better tomorrows for those we serve and instead focus on how we can get what we deserve out of the business. We no longer see the need to serve the business but instead spend time and energy thinking about how the business can serve us. When we become self-focused instead of others-focused or mission-focused, death and decay set in.

Fighting this disease is not easy. All excellent leaders are surrounded with people who respect them greatly and who mean well, but can feed the disease. These leaders who are well grounded and want to finish well will always make sure that they surround themselves with truth tellers as well as cheerleaders. They crave truthful input that causes them to grow. They take precautionary measures and are intentional about their strategy to fend off this career and organization killing adversary, success. They know they have room to grow and need team mates to create organizations, products and services that are worth talking about and because they create value beyond the norm.

So my questions for you are these:

  1. Do those around you feel uncomfortable letting you know when you have made a mistake? 
  2. Do they feel threatened if they challenge your thinking? 
  3. Do you operate without one or two around you that care enough to sharpen you? 
  4. Are you more excited about your exit strategy, vacation homes or new toys than you are about the opportunities your organization has in the years ahead? 
  5. Would those around you say that you get nasty or impatient when treated like the normal folk?

Sunday, 14 June 2015


We dread being alone, being without anyone to talk to, share with. All of us go to any extent to be close to loved ones and friends.
Ever thought that solitude to some extent is actually enabling in nature. It empowers our thinking, strengthens our belief in ourselves as we connect to our inner self.
Most of the times we are driven by agenda set by others, impending deadlines set by boss, customer calls, pending bills to be paid, gifts to be purchased etc. We hardly allow our hidden potential to come out. 
Solitude permits us to do that. It gives us an opportunity to connect to our selves and find out the things which we love to do. We evolve when we do things which we love to do and not the other way round.
I purposefully devote atleast fifteen minutes every day for myself by switching off completely from the cacophony of the environment, emails, mobile phone, social networking sites etc. This period is most precious time of the day. I slowly get out of to do lists and allow the peace of solitude taking over. Heart beat slows down and breath unconsciously get corrected. The invisible halo of goodness takes over, all pains and miseries are forgotten. These are the precise demonic things which prevent us from connecting to our inner self. Once the connection is made, goodness takes over and right things come to the mind. That becomes agenda for self, not only for today or tomorrow, which are just milestones, but agenda for life.
Try doing it once, you would discover true you, bereft of titles, designations, pains, miseries, bank accounts, share market, property deals and what not. Remember none of this would accompany you in your final journey to supreme.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015


This was a spontaneous post on linkedin while traveling to work in morning. Received lots of compliments on composition and content. Reposting here for your critical review...

"Purpose of life is evolution, being better everyday. Doing something which you didn't yesterday, knowing something which you didn't yesterday....

It is true for all forms of life on this planet. This is how all species have survived, by evolving every moment of their being.

Evolution brings joy. It brings purpose to otherwise meandering mind. It channelizes our energy to what is important, rather than just what needs to be done. It brings focus to our every increasing to do list.

While evolution is an ongoing journey, the destiny is unity. Unity with the evolved,the origin,  the supreme, whatever name you give him/her.
So what did you do to evolve yourself yesterday, this week, this month........"

Friday, 5 June 2015

Compassionate Leadership

Everything in life has an opposite .Creation/destruction, Yin/ yang, positive/negative, feminine/ masculine, and so on. What I've lately become acutely aware of has been the two opposing perspectives of compassion and judgment. These are two different perspectives as well as realities. One focuses on the awareness of multiple perspectives, and the understanding that one isn't necessarily better than the other, or right or wrong, and the other sees only one's own perspective and believes that it is right. Empathy helps one "feel" another's pain and allows for an understanding of the other's point of view. Judgment separates and creates an environment of fear. I'm seeing the importance of choosing to be compassionate in creating a culture of teamwork. 

When an organizational culture is based on judgment, an environment of fear is created; fear of being judged. Fear isn't a motivator; it makes people close down and prevents the building of confidence. Empathy helps find common ground, and allows for relationships to form and connections to be made.  
It's the difference between the people in charge believing the power is in them and the leaders understanding the power is in the people. The power of one is limited to the one, and the power of that one allowing the people to see that they have power and that collectively they are infinitely more powerful.  I believe that's what leadership is, setting the tone and not being set by the current tone.  The coach isn't the team, but part of the team. They only inspire the greatness in their people with the creation of a culture of vision with values, confidence, and providing a story of hope that creates an impassioned and inspired team.  To quote Dr. Martin Luther King, “I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great of a burden to bear.”  Love is the source of courage and passion, and fear is the source of anxiety. It comes down to a choice.  Do we choose to show compassion, or do we choose to judge?    
Compassion is a way for us to use our imagination and creativity, which is what separates us from the other animals, to show respect for others, and to understand that there are other possible ways of seeing the same thing.  
Where is our focus?  Is it on personal gain, advancement, or for our own personal agenda?  There is nothing wrong with bettering oneself, but if you find yourself stepping on others to get ahead, you may not be inspired or moved by a collective vision.  Selfish acts do not build a culture of teamwork; it only creates walls of mistrust and a culture of separateness.    
I have spoken to quite a few people about the seemingly impossible idea of changing our culture (our workforce in general) to this more compassionate mindset.  I have also been told that this is a task that would be impossible.  I see it differently.  I see people doing the very things that could inspire such a change, but they may be acting more on intuition than any conscious effort on their part.  I see this as an opportunity to teach them about the impact of what they are doing so that they are able to share this gift with others.  Culture, as I see it, is how we treat each other as a whole.
Are we perpetuating the same mistakes or are we learning what we can do better and influencing positive change?  Are we placing our leaders at the head of a canoe going downstream and calling it leadership, or are we using our collective vision to inspire positive change?  
Insanity has been described as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  Just because a group has always done something one way doesn’t mean it is a positive tradition.  Dysfunction can be a tradition, but that does not mean it is right.  Change can be painful, and almost always takes work.  If you are not working hard you probably are not leading. Change takes thought, vision, purpose, and dedication.  People want to be moved not manipulated.  If we help each other feel appreciated, respected, and valued, magic happens.  If we choose to give respect, people will stop trying to demand it. In my experience, humility infers compassion and removes judgment.
Where does passion come from?  What excites you, moves you, or intrigues you?The specifics are different for each of us.  We are all motivated or demotivated by different things.  I was asked this very question and I proposed an answer.  I tried to think of where my source of inspiration came from.  I came up with a possible answer which was simply, vision.     
We are all either moved or held back by possibility, and possibility is the route of vision.  We humans are animals with a certain trait exhibited by only our species, the ability to imagine possible futures.  It is in this ability to think of different scenarios and to create one that energizes us, or that incapacitates us. It is this cognitive process that allows us to choose to move ourselves forward, or to withdrawal into ourselves.  As I see it, this is where true leadership begins.    

With this power, the power of choice, we can create, and be moved collectively by a vision.  If there is one thing that can inspire a person or a group, it’s hope.  Hope is simply a story of a possibility, and in this positive possibility is where we can engage people on an emotional level.  Some feel that fear has a place to move people, but in my experience fear has the opposite effect.  A person will do what is expected of them when fear is used, but if we help them see their self-worth, feel appreciated, and respected as part of a team, there is no telling how far they will go for you.  This, when seen in action, almost seems like magic, but it is merely our basic human desire to feel like we have worth.  I have seen those who try to demand respect and used fear as their primary tool of management, not realizing they are desperate to get the very thing without giving it themselves.  
If we choose to lead with vision, respect, appreciation, and humility, not only will the team be inspired, but you will be building a family.  Brotherhood is based on action, not words.  Labels without action, are nothing but platitudes.  Passion is powered by positive possibilities, and anxiety is born from negative ones.  The vision gives us a common set of values in which to make decisions moving us in a desired direction.    
A good way of seeing what kind of culture you are working in is to see how people react to a member of the team speaking poorly of a teammate.  Are the people in charge jumping on the bandwagon, or are they offering help to the ones being spoken about?  Are the weaker members (the ones needing extra help and guidance) the problem, or are the ones choosing to chastise them the problem?  If the people in charge are sitting in the front of a canoe that is going with the current, no work is being done, only drifting with no direction.  
We the leaders need to understand that our team looks to us for direction, and our focus should be on our collective values.  Being a leader has less to do about where you sit in the boat, but the energy and direction you inspire in it. By choosing to help the team to believe in themselves, helping the rest of the group believe in each other, and to assist instead of criticize, the team will begin to bond.  People know when they are being singled out and being unfairly judged. This creates an environment of fear and animosity that is counterproductive and detrimental to team building. Create an environment where mistakes are welcomed and used as tools to learn instead of making people in need of training feel worthless. Compassion is vital to true communication, and communication is paramount in team building.  Too many people assume too much and understand too little.  It starts with the one person strong enough to set that tone and the culture will follow. Imagine, encourage, respect, and grow together while being mindful of your choices, and making sure they are inline with the core values.  

Thursday, 14 May 2015


Last night participated in a tweet chat on leadership.  The topic "leadership is a prerequisite or responsibility" intrigued me a lot and set me thinking.

For me,  leadership is neither a prerequisite nor a responsibility. It is an opportunity, yes, you got it right an opportunity to help people in discovering their hidden greatness.

Each and everyone of us has greatness hidden deep inside. What we need is a trigger to discover that. Role of the leader is to help these people in discovering it.

Obviously, results matter, so leader has to create an environment in which this greatness of people is aligned to the organisational goals.

This way leader creates a truly engaged and aligned organisation. Leader becomes an enabler not a pusher or executed. People execute, people deliver, people achieve and then celebrate.

Don't think that I am again pushing for servant leadership. These are all theories which may work for you. But, we all are at the ground where dirt hits the road. We have to deliver performance. It is only possible through an engaged workforce,  which has discovered it's own greatness.

At the end of the day, it is people's business.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Do Mukhi

Kyon log haath apna hai kheench letey, kyon muh apna hai mor letey
jo aapse samney itney ghuley miley hain hotey
peeth peeche aapki buraiyan, hathkali kyonhai kartey
jab aap kisi musibat mein hai par letey, kya maza aata hai dusre ke dukh mein sukh paakey
kyon nahin dil se uske gum mein shareek ho jatey
sab upari dikhawa hai, kitna chal chalawa hai
aaj ka yug jo tezi se hai badhta ja raha, insaan ko machine bana raha
hum subah kaam pe jaatey hain, wahan vyasta ho jaatey hain
aur shaam ko ghar aa apney kaamo mei lag jatey hain
kisi ke liye samay kahan nikal paatey hain
lekin agar kisi ke baarey mei kuch pata hai chal jata
jhut se aisa dhindhora pit jata
ki sab ko sunane sunnaane mei bada maza aata
kam hi us bandey ke baarey mei kuch soch paatey
aaj ki sadi ke log itney paraye hai ho gaye, ki do mukhi hai ban gaye.............

Leadership Crisis in 2015

World is facing a serious leadership crisis in 2015. This is hardly surprising due to lack of focus on creating a sustained pipeline of leaders for both public as well as corporate domains. When I say leaders, it means leaders who have followers and not the supervisors who have reportees as defined by org charts.

Crisis is much bigger than we think it to be. As humanity, we have failed to take action on:

  1. Global Warming- There has been quite a lot of energy spent on arranging the conferences, but hardly any change on ground
  2. Violence - Continues unabated in middle east, Africa and other places of the world
  3. Global economy- It is currently designed to fulfill greed of few, rather than universal development
  4. Discrimination based on gender, cast, creed and religion
  5. Over emphasis on communication as developmental goal. Basis science and research seem to have taken a back seat
  6. Hunger
  7. Diseases like cancer
List can go on, what is to be noted is that world today is lacking leadership to tackle these issues in systematic way, one by one. 

Leaders have to serve, they can't be sitting in ivory towers and preparing tons of waste paper in the name of strategic plans. These plans are useless unless they marry the dirt on the ground. Universal suffrage has been reality for such a long time now in most of the world, why are people not allowed to change their destiny? Because, public leaders don't allow them to.

Same hold true for corporate leaders. 
  1. Focus today is on meeting quarterly targets (QSQT - not quamat se quamat tak, but quarter se quarter tak), what about sustained growth for future? 
  2. How do we create completely disruptive business models (like ford, apple, nokia etc)? 
  3. How do we improve efficiency in all areas of working? Why should customer be paying for our inefficiencies?
  4. How do we improve employee engagement so that to make her enjoy the work rather then doing a job ( Do punch ek lunch)
  5. How do we integrate with universities to tailor make the curriculum to fit our needs and not the needs of institutes?
  6. How do we serve customer (BTW customer is not "Kashto -se-mar")
One can go on as long as she wants. Point is we need to act immediately so that humanity benefits. Greed is not going to take us forward, universal development is only solution. 

Corporate and government leaders need to serve and not command. They need to get to bottom of the issues, superficial solutions are not helping.

My solution would be to:

1. Mandatory working at shopfloor/ public facilities for future leaders
2. Public service to be part of graduate level studies
3. Selection of leaders by followers not by superiors even in corporate world

As always would love to hear from you, remember diversity of view would make debate even better quality

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

You can't change the past, change the future

You can’t change the past, so just forget about that.  All you can do is make the future better. As we get older we seem to reflect more and more on what was, what is, and what will be. What lessons have been learned? What can we do better now? What does the future hold? Have you ever asked yourself those questions? 
What I know is that 15880 days have passed since day one. Wow! Hopefully there are more, a lot more, to come! Maybe it’s optimism, but I am counting on 14235 good days in my life, so I’m just 54.4 percent there. There is plenty more to do, and hopefully I will get it right.
There are a few principles that I know now, but maybe they weren’t so clear earlier in my life. Such as:
  • Make every day a better day. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, but there are always things that we can do at work, at home, with friends, or somewhere that will make a meaningful difference. It is what you do each day that counts, not what you are going to do. Look for those opportunities and don’t let a day go by where you haven’t made a difference . . . somewhere.
  • Live in the present. Or the precious present as a good friend likes to say. It is so easy to be driven to achieve big goals that we forget to step back along the way and see the good things right in front of us.  Go for those big goals . . .  but remember to stop long enough to see the small, beautiful things right in front of us. The moonlight over snow covered mountains, the beautiful words of a great melody, the smile on a child’s face, a small act of kindness that brings joy to someone close, and so much more. These seemingly small things can make a huge difference, for you and those close to you.
  • Learn from what happens, the unfortunate things and good ones too. The Swon Brother’s song – This Side of Heaven – has a phrase that’s so true for all of us, “Somewhere this side of heaven is hell.”  Yes, there are tragic events that happen in life to everyone, and we make mistakes that we regret. The good news is that as long as we have another day, we have a chance to make it better, whatever it is. Learn from those events.  Find the good in them.  If you are person of faith, you’ll be strengthened by them. You can’t change the pain or the past, but you can move on and do something positive with it.
  • Be better tomorrow than you are today. We are all a work in progress; a mosaic that’s never quite finished. We can learn something new each day. Make it our goal to do so. Be open to new ideas; to keep on learning; the different ways of doing things. Be enriched by them. You can be a better you tomorrow!
  • Show little acts of kindness daily. We more than likely are pretty good at the bigger things in life, but it is the little things that we can miss doing. Look for ways to show people around you the best of you. The small things that can make a real difference really count.
  • Remember that the best is yet to come. I believe that no matter what we have accomplished in our life, what we have been able to do, the biggest and best thing is yet to come. It is waiting for us to identify what it is. Be vigilant, have the confidence to take a chance, and look for those opportunities.
These simple things may seem obvious, but let’s not lose sight of them on our journey.
Keep discovering and exploring yourself...........

Saturday, 21 February 2015


A great writer has the ability to reflect upon his inspirations and experiences with a dash of imagination.
A great poet has the ability to steer and build upon his inspiration and imagination like the way a river carefully and relentlessly forges ahead from its faint source to the mighty ocean.
A great artist has the ability to be inspired by something and then with the help of his imagination discover more and more about his inspiration by making intricate connections with whatever he discovers.
A great problem solver, aided by his imagination, has the ability to be inspired by what is invisible so as to connect the visible to the invisible to create the widest possible field of view.
A great scientist has the ability to play with his imagination on anything that inspires him.
A great mathematician has the ability to imagine the right questions and remain inspired by those.
A great architect has the ability to be inspired by spaces and imagine structures and patterns within those.
A great teacher has the ability to be inspired by a learner and possess the ability to imagine a learner's potential.
They are all very creative but what is the most creative human act of all?
The most creative of all are those who master the skill of adapting to different situations and contexts, which life continually throws at them. They are inspired by life and they continually imagine the best possible ways they would adapt in a given context. In every case, they create new templates to adapt without relying on old ones.
They have all the skills of a great writer, a great poet, a great artist, a great problem solver, a great scientist, a great mathematician, a great architect, a great teacher and much more.
It is easy to spot them. They continue to attend to small and ordinary things in extraordinary ways with effortless grace. At times it appears that they are masters of "inaction." They achieve a lot without even appearing to do so. They can be commoners or kings.
No wonder achieving that level of creativity is a tall order!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Things that get in the way of work

Last week there was no entry to the blog. Heart wanted to open out through words, mind wanted  to procrastinate with an excuse of being pre-occupied with CSU of PTA5. Obviously mind won the day, resulting in a bleeding heart. Not a healthy condition....

This set me thinking, what gets in the way of work. What came to my mind during the long late night hours of thinking is put in words below.

List is in no way complete. It is a trigger for your own thinking process, do chip in your ideas through comments.

This list isn’t complete, but just some ideas to get you thinking:
  1. Online distractions. This is a big one for me. I can go to my favorite online sites (just a quick check) and get lost for an hour or two. Or more if I hit on something that really fascinates me. 
    • What has worked for me: To overcome this, I try to remember to pause … and often get up and walk around, and realize that I’ve gotten lost again. Then I’ll clear my screen and just have one thing in front of me, and try to stick with that until I’m done. I don’t always succeed, but when I remember to do this it works very well.
  2. Being overwhelmed. If you have a crapton of things to do … it can make you feel helpless. How can you possibly get it all done? So you don’t even start. You can’t get it all done … at least, not right now. 
    • What has worked for me: Right now, you can do one thing. So when I’m overwhelmed, again, I’ll clear everything, and make a list of 1-3 things I need to do most right now. Yes, sometimes the list is just one thing, because that helps me focus and not feel overwhelmed.
  3. Email is piled up. When my email inbox has a lot of messages piled up, it can feel overwhelming. 
    • What has worked for me: I simply exit the outlook mail box. Then I’ll deal with as many of the others as possible, and leave some to deal with later. Instead, I close email and get to work on a more important task.
  4. Feeling indecisive. What if you have so many things you can’t figure out what to do? Often, that leads to doing nothing. I remind myself that not deciding leads to stagnation, and while I don’t believe you need to move at a million miles an hour, I don’t like myself held stagnant by fear. What I’ve learned is that this is a fear of not knowing the perfect decision, because we don’t know what the future will hold. Is it better to take that new job or keep this one? Is it better to work on this project or that one? It’s impossible to know, because the future is uncertain. 
    • What has worked for me: I try to just pick one based on whatever information I have (usually a gut decision) and take some action. It’s better to work on something than to stop moving because of fear of uncertainty.
  5. No energy. This is a huge one, bigger than most people realize. When you have a lack of sleep, you are low on energy and you just don’t feel like working on anything hard. You can’t focus and you have a hard time pushing through. 
    • What has worked for me: Either I give myself a break but really focus on getting to bed earlier and getting some good sleep … or I push through and do the hard stuff. Just because we don’t feel like doing something hard doesn’t mean we should skip it.
  6. Lack of discipline. This is usually the result of low energy, or being infast mode and not wanting to stop to focus on something. You tell yourself you’re going to do something, but then you don’t. 
    • What has worked for me: I forgive myself for messing up, and instead I try to be mindful about what’s going on. Am I tired? In fast mode? Not inspired by this project? Instead of the general “I lack discipline” diagnosis, I try to find a more specific problem, and then address it. And then get to work.
  7. Task switching. Again, being in fast mode means that you’re doing lots of little tasks, constantly switching between apps and tabs in your browser. You can’t stick to one because you’re constantly switching. 
    • What has worked for me: Again, I will take a break and then clear everything, and refocus myself. I try to stick to the one window mode (close everything else) and just focus on one thing for as long as I can. I’m not always successful.
  8. Getting little things done. We feel productive when we’re taking care of lots of little tasks (emails, calls, errands, small admin tasks, paperwork), but while those do need to get done, they aren’t the important things. We’re avoiding the important things but we feel productive because we’re busy. 
    • What has worked for me: I fall into this trap a lot, so when I catch myself doing it, I stop and ask myself what my big task is for the day. Sometimes I can’t choose between 2-3 big tasks, but it doesn’t matter … I just need to pick 1-3. Then I ask myself: “Am I working on it?” If the answer is no, I’m not really being productive — I just feel like it.
  9. Task seems too big. We all fall into this one, and we all know the answer. It’s too big, so we put it off. The answer, of course, is to break it into smaller tasks, but we rarely follow this advice. 
    • What has worked for me: I focus all of my energy into starting. All I have to do is write the first few words. Once I do that, I focus on the next few paragraph. One bite at a time.
  10. We’re afraid we’ll fail. We also all have this problem — we don’t feel competent at this task, it’s confusing, it feels like we’ll embarrass ourselves. And this is understandable when we’re doing something that’s not in our wheelhouse. 
    • What has worked for me: I remind myself that letting myself be controlled by fear is not the way I want to live. I remind myself that failure is actually not the worst outcome — not even trying is a much worse outcome. Why? Because if you try something and fail, you learned something, you got some practice, and next time you’ll be better. You’re further along than before. But if you don’t even try, out of fear, you don’t learn anything, and you’ll probably keep doing this because you’re creating a pattern of running from fear. Instead, push through and do it anyway, because the value of doing is so much greater than the value of being safe and doing nothing.
What obstacles get in your way? How can you get better at dealing with them? How can you get to doing?

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Swiss Currency Shock: Whom to blame?

Another day, another bout of extreme market turbulence. The last cue for mayhem has been the decision by the Swiss National Bank toabandon its attempts to prevent the franc from appreciating against the euro. Given that just a month ago, the SNB said it would hold the line with the “utmost determination”, the announcement took traders by surprise. The franc soared, the euro collapsed, shares lost their gains. It was uproar.
The reason the Swiss have thrown in the towel is pretty obvious. Mario Draghi finally seems to have convinced the Germans that quantitative easing is needed to prevent the eurozone from sliding into a potential damaging period of deflation, and the European Central Bank is likely to publish plans for a sovereign bond buying programme when it meets next week.
The SNB has close links to the ECB, and knows QE is coming. It may have been tipped off that the programme will be bigger than the markets are currently expecting. As a result, the Swiss authorities saw little point in continuing to buy euros in order to keep the value of the franc at a minimum of 1.20 against the euro.
The SNB sought to soften the blow by cutting its deposit rate to minus 0.75% in the hope that would deter investors from holding francs.
That looks unlikely. There are only three ways that QE can boost activity and raise inflation: it can provide the banking system with the financial resources to boost lending; it can increase the value of government bonds which leads to lower bond yields and cheaper long-term borrowing; and it can reduce the value of a currency.
In the case of the eurozone, it seems unlikely that QE will work through either of the first two channels, which is why the Germans question its worth. Eurozone banks are already awash with cash: they are either reluctant to lend or are finding that demand for loans is weak. Bond yields are already extremely low. So the only way the ECB is going to get inflation up is by pushing down the value of the euro. That will push up prices by making imports dearer and should also boost export growth. It is fair to assume that the ECB will continue doing QE until it gets the desired exchange rate effect.
For the Swiss, that’s a far from rosy prospect. Almost half its exports go to the eurozone and they are about to become ferociously expensive. The tourist industry, for example, will find that skiers in the winter and walkers in the summer migrating to cheaper Alpine destinations in the eurozone. For the moment, the SNB has decided that it can’t buck the market. But if it continues with the policy announced on Thursday, it will kill the economy. It won’t be all that long before it is once again actively buying euros.

Failure- a luxury?

The importance of failure in innovation is all the buzz right now. Business modeling and lean startups are great ways to mitigate and manage the risk of failure. There is a great deal to be learned from failure if we choose to learn it. That’s part of the reason I think Experiment-Learn-Apply-Iterate is the new PDCA cycle of the world.
But, is failure — the freedom to fail — really a luxury? 
Stop and think about the decisions most of us have faced and will face. Seldom are they totally, completely irrevocable and permanently life altering. I’m not talking about emergency situations like  medical emergencies, etc.; I’m talking about choosing to try something we are passionate about, we want to create or make happen where failure is a definite possibility and going for it. We are basically free to fail, even if our culture doesn’t always accept failure. We try things, we experiment and if it doesn’t work, we try again. Few of our failures are life threatening or make us social outcasts forever.
In the developed world, people expect (and probably get) second, third, fourth chances. 
In our country, choosing to take a risk as described above may not be an option. A failure may not be life-threatening but may mean being permanently disowned, cast out, shunned — for you and maybe even your family, especially in cultures where there is a strong sense of saving face and shame. Your life is irreversibly altered. A failure may wipe out all your and your family’s meager assets without the possibility of a “regular” job or any chance of restitution as options, condemning your family forever.
It’s not clear to me that failure is as readily an option as it is for most of us. It seems that failure may actually be a luxury to  some in the rest of the world can’t afford.
As we toss around the word and concept of failure so nonchalantly, maybe we should understand and appreciate that perhaps it is a luxury for most people even if it’s not for us. What if the freedom to fail is a privilege and blessing not to be taken for granted? Would that increase our learning and application from failure? What if we look at our organizations, communities, countries, and cultures to see what we can do to make the freedom to fail no longer a privilege and blessing to us, but to others as well.
What do you think? What can you do?

Friday, 16 January 2015

Life as a manifestation of self awareness of the Universe and or God?

If this is our premise then our purpose is clear; to experience life and absorb it to our fullest as we are part of something much larger than ourselves.

Perhaps it is not self awareness, perhaps it is more like a monitor or even a heart or another organ. Suffice it to say our premise is we are co-dependent with the Universe; I leave the relationship of the Universe and God up to you. 

We are then an extension of the Universe, a flower if you will and if equally co-dependent then the universe is an extension of us. This is certainly consistent with harmonic balance we observe everywhere providing the contrast in states such as the various cells that make up blood, muscle and sinew. Can the universe exist in one state only or does it need a countering balance and I offer life as this harmonic opposite yet equal.

With such a premise we can imagine life throughout the universe like leaves on a tree but we can equally contend there is only one like a heart or a brain or maybe both in the same.

You look into yourself and determine if you feel connected to the universe in ways unexplained from the pain of a knee scrap or the pleasure of a love. Imagine the vast numbers of impressions life delivers from all organisms: animals, plants, bugs, viruses, bacteria and all else all absorbed by the Universe satisfying a purpose to perceive reality. We might be the only organ the Universe has in fulfilling this purpose to propagate life to sense through experience and perhaps most importantly to think.

While the Universe would benefit from the sense of a successful high jump does it not make sense it is our higher order reason the Universe compels us toward?

So if you believe you are an extension of the universe and the Universe is an extension of you then you should always remember to stop and smell the roses.


Sunday, 11 January 2015

Life and times in a pressure cooker

I have been under the weather for some time now. All of a sudden Sleeplessness has become a constant companion. Blurred thinking and clouds below eyes are telling a story.

My family and friends (specially few young ones) are helping me destressing. I have been writing regularly. Restarted little bit of poetry and yes music has come back to life.

It set me thinking, specially while travelling to home ( to meet my lovely princesses and the anchor of my life, Seema).

Last one year has been rather difficult and challenging. Some of the challenges are:
1. Constantly living away from family
2. Extended work hours ( min 14 hrs per day)
3. Above all ,most challenging assignment , bringing online new assets.

Work pressures in corporate life is not new. To some extent, it promotes excellence. But question is  how much of this is OK.  We give up some part of  ourselves (may be on permanent basis) in these situations. We will never be able to retrieve back this lost part again.

What is then the sweet spot for all of us? I am grappling with this question right now.

Something, which comes to mind immediately is to check if the contribution you are making while going through the pressure situation is worth it.

In my case, the answer seems to be yes. Bringing new assets online is exciting and challenging. It creates permanent source of employment and livelihood for people. It also adds value to the national economy.

Please keep one thing in mind, realise that the pressure is on you. This realisation itself is enough sometime.

I invite all of you to contribute your experiences and how you are tackling it.

Love to hear from you, as always.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Microsoft- Behemoth needs a change, now....

Microsoft is stagnating.  It is doing the same things the same way- result would obviously the same. Company has stopped innovating, no new products, only new versions of same product.

We dont want new version of same old windows which takes forever to boot and hangs up whenever it feels like. We want a completely new way of interacting with computers, kinesthetic may just be be one of them.

This needs complete change in the way company works and innovates. Above all it needs an incredibly smart leader and and rekindling of everlasting excellence culture.

A recent Wall Street Journal article quotes Steve Ballmer as saying: “the best way for Microsoft to enter a new era is with a new leader who will accelerate change.” Amen to that.

Since I didn’t agree when  when Mr. Ballmer took the reins, I have no personal peeve against him. In fact, I can actually feel sympathy for him. He took over an organization that had gone through a period of incredible success. With it came all of the usual problems of such success: A culture of arrogance. Competitive juices turned inward creating a deeply political environment. Complacency. Good luck trying to accelerate with those anchors hanging on the corporate ship.

And that brings us to the challenge for the new boss. He or she needs to get the organization to accelerate, yes. But the new CEO will have people who probably think they are already going as fast as they can. And they’re probably going in six different directions, or around in circles. He will have people who think they’re smarter than the new boss and who probably begrudge that they, or their mentor, didn’t get the CEO job. And he will likely be surrounded by people who will tell him that if only we do this little thing, or that little set of things, we can break out of our stall — which is a fantasy. It’s a big, heavy stall and nothing little is going to break them out of it.

Can such a large, hierarchical organization accelerate into a better future? Can it become more strategically nimble in an increasingly chaotic environment? Yes. But the problem is systemic and can’t be solved with a quick fix. As I have written about previously, we need a whole new system that enables the organization to capitalize on opportunities and dodge threats, and yet still make the numbers — a kind of dual operating system. This system is real and I have seen it in action,  but it takes real work to build.
Step one in the journey toward building this totally new way of operating at Microsoft will be creating a genuine sense of urgency around the right big, rational yet emotionally compelling opportunity. And I mean urgency not just among the 5% of “important” people. The new boss will need at least 51% of everyone. 80% would be better. This is so far from where they’re at right now. Where there is arrogance, people have no sense of urgency, and where there is politics, people, even if they do have urgency, will never have any alignment.
So, is it possible for the new boss to break Microsoft out of its slump, where for the last decade its batting average has been about .109? The answer is yes. But change will only be real and sustainable if he or she steps back to look at the whole operating system, and then focuses on the right opportunities to raise urgency.

What do you think about MS now? I know some of incredibly smart people read these entries. Your feedback would make a little bit smarter.....

Comment comment

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Good one from Unreal times....

What is your take on this?

China’s Contribution To The New Global Financial Crisis

This time, my favorite topic China. But fist, few housekeeping announcements. This blog has been running sine Nov-2004. There have been 331 entries, 27130 page views and only 502 comments. Lot of this material has now become irrelevant with change of times, ethos and perceptions. In addition, I would also like to Gen Z to be part of this journey now onward. So following changes are done:

  1. All entries till Dec-2014 have been safely archived. Copies of this can be had on request to
  2. I may also like to implement invite based access in future. Any comments?
Back to business (literally dumbos), Happened to see the following graphic in an article in FT:

The trend is very clear and  you will be committing career suicide if you hold on to the idea that China’s problems only amount to a lack of “old style” economic stimulus – and that a bit of old style stimulus is just around the corner.
It is essential that you therefore waste no more time by listening to analysts who still think that the worst things get, the more likely it is that the government will blink. We saw more evidence of this kind of thinking yesterday when analysts predicted “more easing measures” following the release of disappointing purchasing managers’ indices.
One of the potential easing measures analysts identified was another cut in interest rates.
Sorry, but this just seem to add up. The interest rate cut, which was announced on 21 November, was not about boosting growth. It was instead about easing the debt burden of companies as economic reform accelerates.
The cut in the cost of borrowing was accompanied by a widening of the range of deposit rates that banks can offer. This is a key step towards full liberalisation of the banking sector, as was another very important government announcement over the weekend: A draft plan to force banks to provide their own deposit insurance.
Widening deposit rates that banks can offer is about forcing lenders to more aggressively compete for funds from savers. This is designed to make banks exercise much better due diligence on lending.
And the deposit insurance scheme, in effect, says to lenders: “You will eventually be on your own and can and will be allowed to go bust if you continue to make bad loans. The implicit guarantee – that the government will always come to your rescue – is going to disappear.”
There is nothing short of an economic revolution taking place in China right now, which is pretty much experimental in nature – as was Deng Xiaoping’s earlier economic revolution that began in the early 1990s.
Deng’s revolution worked, but it could have gone wrong.
Xi and Li’s revolution will work in the long run, I think – but you cannot discount the possibility that it will go entirely wrong.
At the very least, this will not be a smooth transition and will involve lots of trial and error, as the potential pitfalls of bank liberalisation neatly illustrate. There will also be short term compromises to keep enough people on board, but these compromises will not indicate that the overall direction has changed.
Domestic economic growth has to be much lower as this transition takes place – and “real growth” could quite easily slip into negative territory over the next few years.
If you still don’t buy this argument, which I have been making for several years now, you don’t have to listen to me. Instead, just listen to the government.
Last week, for example, government researchers announced that:
  • Government stimulus has resulted in $6.8 trillion in wasted investment since 2009.
  • In 2009 and 2013 alone, “ineffective investment” came to nearly half the total invested in the Chinese economy during those two years.
The very fact that they were allowed to announce this shocking data is a sign of the iron-hard resolution of Xi and Li to complete their reforms. They are, in effect, saying to the Chinese people and the rest of the world: “What we did before didn’t work and so has to change”.
The same message has been behind the government’s much-greater openness about the scale of its environmental challenges.

The slowdown in growth that we have already seen in China is one of the triggers for the new global financial crisis (GFC) that I discussed yesterday.

There is a second “China factor” behind the new global crisis, which The Financial Times highlighted in this article on deflation.

I don’t believe that the FT went far enough. Whilst it recognised that China would “export deflation”, via its huge manufacturing surpluses, it viewed this not as a deliberate policy, but rather only really happenstance – an unintended consequence of the credit binge.

That’s right, yes. But I think China will also be forced to export deflation as a policy measure.  Gaining greater share of export markets will enable it to preserve job as growth at home continues to slow down.

As the Great Unwinding gathers pace, we must also not forget about how the impact of commodities, bought by China, that have been warehoused. Once they are sold, this will add to downward price spirals in chemicals, copper, aluminium and other commodities.
Pessimistic? No, realistic I believe – and realism will keep you in work.