is experience = obsolescence the new equation?

May 1, 2014 Leave a comment

recently, one of my colleagues had attended a lecture event, when a young entrepreneur spoke of the sense of urgency in an entrepreneur and how ‘old’ and traditional concepts of planning and project management were changing.

indirectly, he apparently said that there is no room for the old in the youth driven economy!

so, is experience = obsolescence the new equation?

how can one continue to be relevant?

it all depends on the value one can offer to others.

this can be value based on experience, but extracted in context and projected on to the new normal.

I found this article touching on that topic – along with handling ‘non-normal’ people in a company 😦

i guess the solution is to be young at heart and understand, even if we do not speak – the youngsters’ language..

this reminds me of a question that my niece asked me once :
that was when i used to take the company bus [while I was associated with a large company] to electronics city in Bangalore, to avoid the silk board commute [this was a point where there are usually significant traffic delays] and also do my bit to the environment…

her question: ‘what is the average age of the others in the bus? is there anyone your age taking the bus?’

she had heard from her friends [seniors who had passed out and joined IT companies] using the bus that none of their managers or seniors take the bus..

which was true.

i was probably the only [or one of the 2 or 3] non-20-somethings on the bus!

but, joining in some of their discussions gave me many insights into what the young minds think these days..

this also helped me relate to their interests – which I could use to share metaphors when explaining some concepts.

and keeping pace or staying ahead of the youth let me also explore and experiment with new things that mattered to them.

and have me a great opportunity to learn.

while I still try to do that, I miss the company bus!

LFO: Nature

August 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Recently someone forwarded this. we have a lot to learn from Nature,,

OYSTERS

Think of Oyster and the first thing which comes to our mind is ‘Pearl’. We all know that the Oyster lives in a shell.

When any irritation gets into its shell, the oyster first tries to take it out. But when it can’t, it uses the same irritations to create one of the most beautiful things in the world. It uses the irritations to do the best thing it can if given a chance. Yes it makes a Pearl.

When faced with problems majority of us tend to complain, crib, disagree, blame and hold others responsible. We avoid facing problems and doubt our ability to create a ‘Pearl’.

Create a pearl every time you face adversities !!

EAGLE

Eagle has an average life expectancy of around 60 years. However, when it reaches around 30 years of age, its beak and wings get weaker not allowing the eagle to fly and catch food efficiently. So the eagle breaks its own beak, which then takes around a month to grow it again. Then with the new healthier beak the eagle takes off all its wings, which again takes a time period of another month to grow them again. Thus the eagle voluntarily invites temporary pain and sacrifices for a better tomorrow! The eagle is ready again to fly and catch food with the same energy and speed.

The ability to deal with change is a must quality for today’s global, fast moving and ever changing environment.

Like eagles, we should also be alert and ready to accept the fact that to adjust with ever changing environment; our knowledge, skills and abilities need to be upgraded and enhanced continuously.

ANT

The ‘Ant Philosophy’ relates to Hard Work, Commitment to Win, Communication and Team Effectiveness. It saves before consuming. The ants are ready to postpone their pleasure to save for the rainy day.

CHAMELEON

Chameleon has got a natural ability to change colors, which help it for self-protection, hiding from target food, communication and also display of physical and psychological condition etc.

We all should learn to be a human chameleon i.e. try adjusting to people, environment / surrounding; while thinking, communicating and taking decisions; by controlling and managing our internal environment i.e. our emotions and psychology.

TREE

All huge trees begin their lives as a small seeds initially and then they grow in stages. The higher a tree grows; the more it needs to spread its roots deeper. Apart from growing higher, the trees also spread across branches. It represents that we should also try to spread across various dimensions of life and strike a balance between the personal, professional, social and spiritual areas of our lives.

Here the growth of tree represents our growth in various areas of life and the roots represents our knowledge, hard work, skills, dedication, sincerity, patience, genuineness, relations, contacts, network, commitment to win, positive attitude and overall management of our time, energy and money in a productive way etc.

Categories: LFO

Agility and the Human Body

April 10, 2011 Leave a comment

 

Last year, I was observing myself after a small procedure to remove a couple of implants in my forearm.

i was in the phase of what the doctors called recuperation – as the muscles get nursed back to strength  as well as getting over their ‘trauma’ as well  – as an external observer to see how they are responding.

the original incident was an accident, and at that time, i could only react or respond.

It was interesting to see how helpless i felt at not being able to use my right arm. Even lifting a sheet of paper – yes, one sheet of paper, required so much effort and associated frustration at not being able to do that.

the physiotherapy gave me a lot of confidence to see the daily progress and a satisfaction that things were going as per plan – since the therapists were very confident of the sequence of recovery and the timelines for the restoration – and it happened pretty much to that schedule!

This time, it was different.

as it was a planned procedure, i tried to prepare myself to not use the right hand and use the left hand, before the surgery – it was not natural. but, after the surgery, with or without conscious effor or a prop [such as the sling bag], i could feel an unconscious shift to the left hand.

as if the arms and muscles have their periodic scrums every time something needs to be done. they seem to have transferred their responsibilities seamlessly – and also, it appeared that the brain was instructing them to act appropriately – for instance, the mirror-like movement needed – when working with the hand one is normally not used to – such as shaving with the left hand for me.

our body is a truly empowered and agile team, with a common focus towards the project goals!

how can we create the sense of being parts of a larger body, synchronized by the brain – in our project teams?

Categories: LFO

Getting more from measurements

March 12, 2011 Leave a comment

In the previous post, we discussed some simple principles to make the measurements effective.

Now, that we have some data, let us see how we can get more from measurements, for you as a manager.

 

As a manager, you need the following to be consistently effective in your role:

  • Achieving targets
    Ensuring course corrections are taken through the project
  • Improving on your team performance on a continuous basis
    This would need you to look at sets of measurements and data
  • Demonstrating [thought and action] leadership
    Setting new benchmarks in performance

Here are some thoughts on how to get more from measurements to support these expectations.

  • Look at measurements as a continuum and not discrete data values
  • This could change the way you think at some values as deterministic; for example, the milestone date is not really a deterministic value, but more of a probabilistic value, which is influenced by many other aspects of the environment
  • Once this idea is internalized, status tracking / reporting also becomes a continuum – and not a weekly, monthly or quarterly report created for a review by someone else [and that also many times influences the report, as we want to ensure that our best foot is extended forward, hiding the other foot, many times unintentionally]
  • The above points mean that you need to look a trends and not just the snapshot values
  • Look also at comparisons – over time as well as across ‘silos’; silos could be individuals, teams or organizational units
  • Using the principle of the context [index / percentage], also look at the practices that created / influenced the metric
  • Learning from others will give you opportunities to identify breakthrough improvements

 

Making measurements more effective

March 12, 2011 Leave a comment

The theme of this edition of milestones is about getting more out of measurements.

Before we get more, let us look at making measurements effective.

In the next issue I will share some thoughts on getting more.

 

I would like to classify all measurements into two categories.

  1. Those that are relevant for the individual contributor
  2. Those that are needed for a manager

 

An individual contributor, for this discussion, is any person who has some deliverables as an individual, based on the role.

Even managers – PMs, DMs et al – have specific deliverables in those roles.

These could be ideas, proposals, plans and results.

 

Here are four principles that you should use as an individual contributor.

  • Any measurement should be directly related to the output or outcome, rather than just an input
    For example, recording time spent or lines of code written or # test cases executed by themselves are quite common to keep track of productivity. The fallacy here is that these measurements do not provide a clue of the readiness of the work product for the next phase
  • Pick measures that could be expressed as an index or percentage
    This is one approach to reduce the ambiguity arising out of the earlier point. An index lets one appreciate the measure in context and can be used later as well
  • Whatever metric you report on, it should have a meaning for you – as the data creator
    I have many times in my career, questioned the need for some reports that I was expected to submit; this is to first understand the big picture and where my contribution matters – and next to use that information to improve my work practices
  • Collect and organize your data in their most natural format
    Many times, we tend to confuse the format / structure of a report to be submitted and the natural format for data to me maintained. the most natural format is like a spreadsheet : in rows and columns; this will help you analyze, collate, combine and synthesize as well as create multiple presentations from the same data

Leadership lessons from a mining crisis

February 13, 2011 Leave a comment

a dramatic rescue operation was carried out in Chile a few weeks ago to secure 33 miners trapped about 700 meters below the earth’s surface.
after the debriefing of the team by a professor, he drew some basic patterns that helped, in terms of how the team of miners organized themselves in the crisis.
Professor Francisco Javier Garrido, in an interview, shared his findings and explains how these patterns are useful in business context as well.
a condensed highlight:
The miners understood 2 important aspects for survival and to reach their goal of being rescued:
1. identify the experience in the team and be guided by them [the architects]
2. identify and rally around a leader amongst them
while the first gave them the technical capability to survive, the latter gave them the moral support and a focal point of trust.
going further the professor says that a leader needs these basic qualities:
* analytical skill
* overcoming elementary responses
* viewing efforts as a function of goals
* know how to work as a team
* ethical coherence and integrity
* communication skills

Categories: Uncategorized

Jet lag tips – 2

June 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Sleep as much as possible – especially on the airplane, and in your new destination. I rarely get jet lag when i sleep enough on airplane.

Travel business class if you are lucky enough to be able to afford it. Makes a night and day (no pun intended) difference on jet lag when you travel business vs coach on long hauls. Also avoid connections like a plague. Ideally you want to get in and get out.

Do not under estimate the airline. Avoid United/American for long hauls – they are worse than what people say they are. If a seat reclines fully to flat, it makes a huge difference. In business I like – Singapore (flat, super wide), Cathay (nice narrow personal), British Air (flat, love the retractable dividers), Lufthansa (flat) have much better business class seats and TV choices. KLM is not as bad as United/American but not as good either. Sometimes I take the Asian airlines – Eva, China Air. Eva has the plushest comforters, but the seat doesnt recline fully. Better to avoid unproven other airlines.

Avoid drinking as much as possible, instead drink a lot of water. Sometimes this is easier said than done when on the road as you invariably have social events, but it does make a difference.

Eat well, and eat regularly. When in doubt I default to Indian. Some people like to try out new cuisines. Sounds nice, and sometimes new is good. But I just love Indian food.

Get the occasional massage at the airport – especially in Asia (eg Hong Kong) where they actually do a good job. I wish I did this more – but whenever I do a quick work out in destination city, I definitely feel a lot better. I usually take an exercise DVD so I can do a quick work out in the room.

Long meetings – especially the afternoon ones in new destination country – those can be tough. If you have prepared properly (ie slept enough in the preceding 24 hours) you should be fine. But if not, do not under estimate the power of coffee.

Sometimes nothing works. I try to retire early first day in new country sometimes. Plus its not great if everyone thinks you never get jet lag, they will keep loading you up with meetings.

Categories: Time management