I have been reading the Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much , which is a 2013 book by behavioural economist Sendhil Mullainathan and psychologist Eldar Shafir. It has been one of the most revealing books on certain behaviours which we exhibit in everyday life given our varied circumstances.
If you read through various chapters of the books , the authors have brought out real life examples that will make you know more about scarcity and its impact. By constantly loading the mind with other processes, it leaves less “mind” for the task at hand. Scarcitydirectly reduces bandwidth – not a person’s inherent capacity, but how much of that capacity is currently available for use.
Scarcity alters how we look at things; it makes us choose differently. This creates benefits; we are more effective in the moment. But it also comes at a cost; our single-mindedness leads us to neglect things we actually value!
part – one : The Scarcity Mindset
As leaders we talk about alot about being focussed , remain careful not to use this as a force function because it can hamper lateral thinking & our ability to develop systems approach within the organization.
Scarcity creates more scarcity and the examples quoted are a reflection of these real life dilemmas
How hard was it to pack your suitcase for a holiday! Well, that probably depended on two things: the amount of stuff you wanted to bring, and the size of your suitcase. This is a wonderful analogy for many decision areas in life.
For those of us trying to lose weight, the “stuff to pack” represents the amount and type of food we’d like to consume, and the suitcase represents the restricted calorie count of our diet plan.
For those of us struggling with poverty, we must determine how to best cover our bills, grocery shopping, and other purchases, given our finite budget.
Understanding the role of bandwidth helps us understanding specific circumstances.
part – two: Scarcity Creates Scarcity
As leaders we never have enough time . It also is true that as we grow ourselves in a given role we play , we tend to become more busy , we are providing less attention to every aspect being thrown at us . Our ability to absorb has to be of higher order to process a well informed decision. It is important therefore that we group things in a manner that we become more effective. Context switching is ineffective and as leaders we should minimise its impact.
The Firefighting Trap
part – three – Designing for Scarcity
Some unfortunate incidents At St. John’s and NASA have reflected upon the above mentioned trap which is a special care of scarcity trap. There will always be “too many problems and not enough time”. You will solve urgent ones and put nonurgent on burner. In engineering organization , we are always too busy meeting deadlines for each of our platform components that we forget to look at how the components will fit together. Recall what I have alluded about systems thinking at the start if blog. Without having a systemic view you cannot get components to to work for each other as opposed to against.
Organizations can create a domino effect , with each individual member pulling tam towards firefighting and reduced bandwidth . But organization can also be insightful , creating environments conducive to the successful management of scarcity challenges
part – three – Designing for Scarcity
As a leader of the organization you’ll need to work with so many constraints and limitations of resources but still need to complete the task well within time. One should dig deep within themselves through network effect of strong peer and management teams that help one to get comfortable with uncomfortable questions.
Our true leadership needs to address
Identification of true scarce resources [ first step ]
Prevent underappreciation of complexity of managing scarcity and the benefits that come from doing it just a little bit better
Whilst we chose the month of March to celebrate Being Woman, I have been scouting examples through daily life to see how diversity is doing beyond corporate boundaries. You did be surprised with the level of penetration it has reached an awareness which is getting created! Above is a photo of me recently at Delhi Airport, and I saw this big banner post! was very happy to see we are bringing the message closer to the masses. Another instance was when my wife Rakshita wanted a passport-size photo in Bengaluru, and we went down the by lanes to see in many years a female photographer clicking it for her and astutely delivering the prints.
Tell how many of you have got the privilege of getting yourself clicked by a female photographer for such a regular work?
The third instance was when we were flying out of Bengaluru to Delhi and were flown in by an all-women crew. All of these are amazing close-to real-life examples that are satisfying that we are coming of age and driving a cultural change to bring equality in what we do together not as what we do basis gender.
BUT still, there are personal instances that I did like to share with you from my wife’s Rakshita storybook. I would quote two instances that I distinctly remember and consider harbingers in promoting a culture of equality.
One incident date back to her professional days where-in whilst she was an HR Manager and pregnant but still harassed by the management in her last working days to complete work and do handover before leaving. This is almost a decade back. I told Rakshita we can engage for legal advice and take people to court for causing this kind of pain, but she advised against it and said this is my problem and I will deal with it. You need to provide moral support and stand by me. She worked twice as hard, at levels more than her pre-pregnancy period. The staff stood by, worked with her to create transition plans and she made it a point to go to the office every single day. Within 3-4 days from here last day, she delivered our baby! She held it strong mentally even if physically it was draining for her, but she waded through it!
I have seen things improve since then but our sensitivity to remove bias must be engrained in our mindset.
Another example is from her entrepreneurial chapter, where-in she was trying to collaborate with a few like-minded females to expand her reach but the response of family with the prospect was “if the male member was to spend that much time they would earn more”. It was like why are you wasting time running around for a small-time revenue, you would be better off just taking care of the child!
She confronted this topic through her women’s network and started an awareness campaign that following dreams, running an entrepreneurial venture is not always about setting up a money-spinning machine. You do this to satisfy your inner dreams, follow your passion and see how you are creating a positive impact on society. In addition to this as she had gone through the cycles of setting up the business, and it has come with ups and downs, she coached her fellow entrepreneurs not to give up too soon too fast. Continue to pursue the dream as it can take years before people start accepting the new normal. The outcome, the person in question today runs her venture and is proud to be a homepreneur!
Again, a problem of mindset! It is very necessary that beyond corporate awareness we ignite a culture of being a change agent at home from within ourselves, our family members. Providing support is not limited to physical or mental but extends beyond that in educating & making us understand that we are here to play a game of equals!!
I also dedicated a virtual half marathon to the cause and completed it on Sunday gone by ! I dedicated this to my sister in US for the tough person she has been living through this changing world and dynamics !!
Australian Open-2022 has symbolized that game always wins ! Ever more it has led to creation of history in both women’s and men’s category of singles ! It has been a story of grit , patience and endurance , which I feel are important qualities to imbibe in today’s time , be it personal or professional life.
Ash Barty Vs Danielle Collins Australian Open 2022
Ash Barty won the first set with one service break
Ash Barty was down 5-1 in the second set after dropping serve in the second and sixth games. Barty dominated after taking the set to a tiebreaker, racing to a 4-0 lead
Barty has ended Australia’s wait for a local women’s champion. By reaching the final, she became the first Aussie in the last match of the tournament since 1980 and by winning the title, she has become the first Aussie since Chris O’Neil in 1978 to lift the title – ending a 44 year wait
Rafael Nadal won his second Australian Open title and lifted a record 21st Grand Slam trophy
Coming from two sets down in the title clash, Nadal rallied to defeat Daniil Medvedev
Public life , especially of sports personalities has lot of influence , impact and expectation generation from society. Carrying the ‘world No. 1, top seed’ targets on her back, and hopes of a nation on her shoulders, Ashleigh Barty became the first Australian player to win the Australian Open singles title since 1978. During the fortnight that ended a 44-year wait, Barty had her full repertoire on display. The kick serve aka “the hopper”. The one-handed slice, two-handed drive backhands. The forehand dripping with heavy topspin. Risky drop shots, opportune volleys, and the all elite overhead. Playing a team sport gave her a sense of belonging, made her a better person, says her Big Bash coach Andy Richards.You have to learn skills to created differentiation lest you end up doing different things as opposed to doing it differently.
Doubts of Rafael coming back have surface every now and then. When 2013 began, many people doubted if it was possible for Rafael Nadal to win a Grand Slam again. His knee injury had taken a toll on his health as well as his career. Later half of 2021 , a month and a half after the recovery from foot surgery entering into Australian Open , left him wondering if he would even make it to Melbourne, and a month after he had Covid, which also interrupted his preparations, Nadal is back as champion and for now, the most successful of the lot!!
It is amazing to see how throughout an incredible career the hunger for titles and sheer enthusiasm for the sport is maintained & sustained . No matter what the obstacle is or the advancing of time, winning brings joy of that equivalent to his first win!! We need to have that spirit of hunger in ourselves if we have to keep going!
Mind power over body power. It was true in 2013 & is also now ! It is not possible to simply come back from a career threatening injury and start hitting the big shots. Physical prowess is great but it is Nadal’s mental fortitude that has been the mainstay of his rise to the top of the game. Nadal knows how to train his mind in order to get the results he needs.
Nothing in writing can convey the spirit of the sport and the inviduals who make it glorious.
Although the pandemic halted all kind of travel for me including daily commute , I have chosen to remove daily commute by staying closer to office or working in remote first set-up to free up time. The time , which we I got back has been helpful in many ways . I will list some here
We started a 2 hour weekly history club for kids and have been running it for past 6 months with an average of 6 kids participating in it. It is a interest based club and has been a great source of learning for my wife Rakshita and me !
I was able to make small contribution towards securing neighborhood with vaccination drive volunteering
I got connected with my long time family friend Sudhanshu & his family. He has been very close to me since US days and this move helped get the connect back !
Thanks to people like Vidya Laxman , I have picked up some good relationships back here in Bangalore and the mental strength that has provided cannot be exchanged for anything .
I had stopped playing tennis since 2006 and this year I got opportunity to restart , as facilities in my neighborhood as well a ability to connect with again interest based people has helped me get tennis back in my life !
My running has been doing good & I am happy that I am able to do it on periodic basis . Numbers matter to me as they help in motivation & retrospection !
Does every change guarantee status-quo ?
The answer is NO , it is difficult to have everything same through a change . Change will impact people around you , sometime more than you ! What is important is to see how you take the change and what you can do about it . Some times we can alter the course , at other times , one needs to let go !
Medhansh my kid , could not continue with skating this year . Part as offline school is not available and part because we found it hard to get to a skating ring without sacrificing family time . He was good at it , will he be able to pursue in future , cannot tell ! but for past couple of months he is coaching for Badminton and that is a sport he likes now !
Again on another front Medhansh has had to cope up with a new language
Rakshita , my wife has had to reinvent her circle to continue on path of pursuing Recipe Dabba
I am trying to discover how I see myself pan out in next couple of years standing at 2 decade of working in IT industry !
I could have done less about these changes but as a family , we took a broader call for a better quality of life for everyone. I do have learned that kids adjust best to change ! They are nimble and agile to adapt !
Another year 2022 ?
There can be many ways to see this . From a technical perspective it is a turn on the time dial but how it will pan out will be squarely on us as individuals and teams personally or professionally .
Never forget to thank , it has been tough for everyone but gratitude will help all of us go miles!
Respect what you have , and the people around you ! Every one is stressed , this is the least we can do be acknowledging the privilege we may command.
Plan small ! Big plans are under stress of multitude of variables !
Do not find excuse in pandemic , it is pointless . If you control something , then gather will to do it !
I wish every one reading this post a good year ahead ! Stay safe & fit !
The topic of asynchronous communication has gained great momentum through the pandemic. The office settings did not help us acknowledge the amount of time we spent in meetings , but through remote working it has become surfaced as a dominant pain that we are in meetings all the time! Terms like focus time , personal hour etc. have gained traction and everybody is trying to find space between blurry lines of work and home. It seems to be a never ending battle.
Personally for me I have not been able to realize the significance of focus time , as for decades we operated with out , going around doing our job. I think that we have a set of things to do , run and drive outcomes and most of the job profiles will not allow for the concepts of focus time to be successful although analytics and software implements will make a recommendation for same. It also confuses other people who want to work , discuss and brainstorm , whether I should reach out or not!
For me following strategy works best
Being an early riser , I tend to read and clear my Inbox before starting my regular days
Use the concept of urgent and important to determine how to create short term focus [ needs to answered within a day ] versus [ week ] or [ month ] . Beyond that it does not require attention now
I try to gamify time managementand use asynchronous methods of guiding through my workloads by keeping lean focus area list , leverage negotiation and delegation to increase greater span of work and rest goes to backlog
Write first culture is important to drive thought process and discussion. Without writing we can never move forward and will always rely on verbal communication which is meeting
Using tools effectively to drive To-Do lists and putting specific blocks on calendar to carry out desired tasks.
Maintain to-do list at personal level , group level and 1-1 level to drive agenda at different velocity and focus
Create focused chat groups for short term goals and encourage no-meetings but asynchronous communication
I re-purpose meeting to cover additional agenda and avoid another meeting
Strengthen decision making . It seems that we try to be risk averse and find more people to help take decision because we are either not breaking the problem to manageable levels or are too weary to take a call and move forward.
Above are some of practical everyday ways of managing . Having said that there is no perfect answer and you would still have bad days. In order to focus continue to keep this problem at the core of efficient working so that everybody is reminded not to be pulled into a meeting without a purpose and if pulled should have exit path with some action items [ of which one should be not to have another meeting ]
I am starting to write book reviews as a new section on my site and happened to pick the first one as Thinking in Systems, by Donella H. Meadows. It is a great way to understand the business methodology called systems thinking. Systems thinking isn’t just for business or manufacturing geeks but can be applied to smaller or broader set of system design , behaviors and processes.
Just like the Theory of Constraints, it’s a powerful principle that can be applied to work, life, or just about anywhere you want to level up. Sharing some insights , which I have been reading and trying to see how they apply while designing architecture and software systems.
The book is a good read to get a grasp of conceptual tools that help solve complex problems. Most of the times you may feel that you have come across the concept but what is important to know and understand is how can you proactively look at using them and solving some of the problems around you. The scale of application from Donella’s point of view is governance , society at large and expansive problem statements that revolve around policy formation but if you re-apply it to smaller problem set , it gives you ideas to devise possible ways to solve , iterate and pivot.
Before we talk about how to apply this theory, here are 3 core principles to understand:
Everything is a system: a product, team, market, process, habit, personal routine — even an elephant.
To understand (and improve) the system, you have to understand each part, and how the parts connect. Clearly, an elephant is much more than a trunk, legs, and a trumpeting cry.
If you can’t see or experience the full system, you need to create models to put it all together. It’s the only way to know your elephant.
Interestingly, she talked about these archetypes as “system traps” and described some ways out of the traps.
Policy resistance. Any change we make seems to have a short term effect on the system but the long term sees the system return to the same behaviors we were trying to change before.
Meadows’ suggestion is that this may be a “let it go” moment – adding more control isn’t going to help, rather find ways to understand and meet the goals of the actors in the system. We often find ourselves in this loop. When you look at engineering metrics or bringing change in ways of working , they all see drag effect after certain point in time. Putting more checks and balances to maintain initial outcome does not help and one needs to let the system respond with lesser policy control and better maturity levels.
Tragedy of the commons. This is a classic where over-use of a common resource ends up destroying the resource.
While you would see many real life examples of this starting from coffee consumption , traffic jams and many other related environmental impacts ,specifically in product development, if we look to engineering as a shared resource, we see that we have a lot of people using this resource somewhat independently. You have marketing making requirements, you have the executive team, you have manufacturing that has needs that are brought to engineering, and customer support also gives input to engineering addressing market issues. Each of these resources looks to optimize the use of the resource and this drives the system archetype of the Tragedy of the Commons where engineering ends up being overburdened and as queuing theory says it’s efficiency drops off dramatically. Therefore controls have to be put in place as antidote that help prioritize and lay down iterative vision that does not lead to this problem. Focus and what is coming next , making use a bounded problem is important. Nothing is infinite !
Drift to low performance. This isn’t as familiar to me, but the idea is that we keep changing performance expectations based on what happened before – and that we see successes as outliers, pushing us to lower and lower targets.
A+ to A++ you would see this come up alot in engineering , how to we become a high performing unit. The problem with the drift is that you do not see it happen and move into a defensive mode with people wanting to protect themselves from damage if they are held to their commitments. Instead of being protectionist , one needs to start accepting the next uncomfortable level of operating and then use that discomfort to up performance to newer benchmarks. Remember if we make up the system and create a drift towards low performance then the whole system will be under-performing.
Escalation. This sounds like the opposite of drift to low performance but is described in the context of two entities, where as drift is about one entity. The classic is a price war or an arms race.
As with drift the best way seems to be not to engage. Difficult to do when you are in the middle of it! but handling escalation and negotiating your way out of it is the best way to handle this aspect within a system. If we create a spiral like some of the other macro situations where escalations have led to large scale conflict , the ability to destabilize the system remains very high . Acknowledging early and remediating is the best way to handle escalations.
Success to the successful. The winner takes all – and then goes on winning. This is why countries have rules about monopolies.
Systems should be designed to always keep flow of talent from engineering point of view. Competition is a good thing for the larger system, even if the competitors are driving to “win.” as it avoids the drift , creates a behavior of active response.
Addiction (shifting the burden to the intervenor). Another classic – if one is good, then one hundred must be better. Another trap where those inside don’t see a way out. Another trap best avoided by not getting into it.
Consider employee performance. Manager is made to provide solution .Necessary training of the employee is made to happen but this leads to growing dependence on manager and decreasing confidence on the employee this compromising self-reliance. Our system design should help propel people towards building capability and strengthen core spine to self-assess and self-correct through de centralize feedback loops.
Rule beating. This felt like a repeat of some of the traps above. Or maybe an example of what happens in sub-systems when operating in these larger archetypes. We have all seen these kinds of situations: I have to do X to get around Y, which causes the system to respond with more Y, so I have to do more X. How many times have I heard clients talk about their favorite workarounds and then their frustration when the rules change under them and their workarounds no longer work – until they find new ones.
Does it remind anybody of tech-debt 🙂
Seeking the wrong goal. This is a familiar trap – “show me how you measure me, I will show you how I will behave.”
The fix is to align the measures with the goals. Not always obvious, but much more valuable. “Be careful not to confuse effort with result or you will end up with a system that is producing effort, not result.”
The book itself offers many feedback loops and archetype that can be put into perspective and definitely recommended for developing a systems view from a mind space perspective. Read more here The System Thinker
I have personally never been to Honduras , but there is a bridge on Choluteca river ( or was ) by the name of Choluteca in Honduras , Central America which has caught lot of attention since last year as COVID started to rage wildly across the globe.
The image shows a 484-metre-long bridge on the river Choluteca located in Honduras, Central America. In 1996, the government had some brilliant architectural minds construct the bridge to withstand storms and hurricanes. Two years later, Atlantic’s second-deadliest hurricane struck Central America. Hurricane Mitch caused over 11,000 fatalities in Central America, 7,000 in Honduras alone. There were 75 inches of rain in four days, which was an equivalent of what the country would normally receive in six months. The Bridge stayed put and maintained its pride. While the Hurricane wiped away roads and wrecked bridges, The Choluteca Bridge emerged as the last-bridge-standing, that too in an impeccable condition.
Ok so what is the issue here ?
The hurricane swept away the roads leading to the bridge and rendered them as good as nonexistent!
Heavy rains caused the Choluteca river to change its course, creating new channel which was then flowing parallel to the bridge!
Therefore, the bridge lost its initial purpose. It then became a ‘bridge to nowhere’ , only to be connected back to highway around 2003.
For me whenever I look at the above , and reflect , I find multiple thoughts that cross my mind and different readings that I took from following books :
Both these books have many elements that will help you resonate on two aspects in simple terms
Uncertainty is the name of the game . a year back we talked about 5 year plans and couple of years back did strategic offsite huddles to frame our strategy but now planomics can only be as good as long it survives the next moment ! From Developed to Developing .. nobody is prepared enough to handle current COVID crisis. We are all reacting in moment to take us farther than what we are today !
Systems Thinking is evermore important skill to have in order to create better viewport of the solution we may have in mind ! Events like COVID require a systems level thinking to see through challenges that create better feedback loops and broad spectrum solution design !
I did like to leave my readers with the thought below . See it in above context . We all need to become better at saving time and managing in constraints !
A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. – George S. Patton
It has been six months since I changed my job and moved to Bangalore. Shifting in COVID times was itself a big planning task and then emotions of leaving city of dreams Mumbai ! We squeezed with family between two inter-state lock-downs and have been home confined since last one month ! It also has seen some torrid times for our country , where COVID has raged a war against humanity and we have been all fighting our own battles at different levels.
When I compare this to last year we were all making an effort to stay connected , help each other by making all sorts of home-made food and reinventing ourselves…compare this to what is now , we have all been brought to ground , fighting hard to hang-in there emotionally , physically and bodily ! COVID this time has touched our close ones in unfortunate ways and caused a level of trauma that cannot be described in words. As I say Time itself has not got enough Time to overcome losses around us !
Many of you would recognize one part of title and be intrigued to know more about Sir Ernest Shackleton and his mention in this post. Sir Ernest Shackleton was a polar explorer. SHACKLETON is a role model of leadership in crisis , even though his expedition judged by its initial objectives, was a colossal failure. His ship, the Endurance, never reached Antarctica. None of its 28 crew members set foot on the continent. The journey strained Shackleton’s finances to the breaking point, and at the end of it, in late 1916, its fame-seeking protagonist found his accomplishments eclipsed by the horrors of World War I.
Shackleton’s journey was amazing. The early 1900’s was the age of polar expeditions. It was common for men to die during the journey but Shackleton would not accept death. He used a systems approach to create a strong team that could handle the difficult situations they faced. Shackleton’s ability to respond to constantly changing circumstances was a great testament of crisis leadership. When his expedition encountered serious trouble, he had to reinvent the team’s goals. He had begun the voyage with a mission of exploration, but it became a mission of survival. Sir Ernest Shackleton is always remembered as a man for tight spot when it came to providing leadership in adverse settings and crisis repeating itself one after the other.
While today’s coronavirus crisis doesn’t involve shipwrecks or glaciers, leaders throughout the world are navigating through unprecedented challenges. This capacity is vital in our own time, when leaders must often change course midstream — jettisoning earlier standards of success and redefining their purposes and plans. This is required at all levels of community living ranging from living as a family , neighborhood , corporation , city , state or country.
My mum contracted the virus a month back and since then it had been tough times as family with news now being good around us. Six hourly counsel for weeks and taking course of action with my elder brother on ground to pull our mum out of this has been at my level the smallest example of trying to hold the fort in crisis and working between today / tonight mode. As much we think we are prepared to handle crisis , it always exposes fissures that force us to re-imagine our response. You can never be prepared for the worst.
During Endurance expedition, Shackleton’s management was crucial in saving the lives of the 28-strong party after the ship was crushed by ice. He was an inspiration who instilled a belief that the marooned men would survive and get home. It was a simple message that Shackleton frequently reinforced to ensure the men never lost sight of the goal – safety and survival.
I have made some under-pinning thoughts for us to react as leaders but there are simple lessons of leadership also that we can put in practice to create an environment of self-restrain and teach our generations on how to handle crisis like COVID now and in future.
Shed Privileges Exercise Equality
Shackleton instinctively understood the importance of teamwork, and threw a protective cloak around his men. All were treated equally and he took particular care with anyone struggling to cope. When winter clothing was distributed, Shackleton ensured the crew was supplied before the officers. Everyone shared supplies, sailors took scientific measurements and scientists would share cleaning duties with the crew and with Shackleton himself. In such times we have to operate from high moral grounds to ensure that we do not isolate larger society by exercising privilege’s at smaller levels.
Preach What You Can Do
Talking about theoretical aspects , sharing un-verified information and causing over-loads during crisis can be very difficult. If you do not believe in doing something yourself , do not pass same message to others. Shackleton never assigned any task to his crew , which he would not do himself. Home chores have to be done by everybody , it is not one person’s job.
Routines Are Important
Having a 40-hour work week is not considered routine. There is much more to life and , one needs to ensure that time and space are given due respect to keep brain active , fresh & alert . To maintain morale, Shackleton had the crew exercise on the ice, play soccer, and participate in indoor games. After dinner, the sleeping quarters in the hold — which they mockingly called “The Ritz” — were used to stage parties, games, and some other unusual competitions. Establishing Routines are important to stability.
It is a Marathon
If we continue to push our thinking limits that this is over tomorrow , we are going to set ourselves for false optimism and expectation. For us humanity here is in for a marathon , so try to carve out some personal time to recover every day because this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Remember my statement around today / tonight.
Shackleton believed in his mission and in his team. His optimism was contagious. He intentionally made decisions to inspire optimism in his crew. He was enthusiastic, clear in his vision. He encouraged singing, games, fun antics, and other merriment during the expedition. Similar to this as families and companies we are in this together and we should play our part in creating our own definition of an engaging environment that allows us to function sanely with maturity! The quote from Sir Ernest Shackleton on his return should inspire us to preserve what we have and put safety first !
On returning home, his wife Emily asked Shackleton why he had turned back with the Pole in sight, he simply said:
“I thought you would prefer a live donkey to a dead lion.”
The blog focusses on how we are applying Exploratory Data Analysis(EDA) to establish insights with various initiatives at RecipeDabba . We use python libraries like pandas-profiling , DTale to generate some of these analysis. One will find the read interesting and how things have gotten shifted during COVID times !
OK…as per dictionary the literal meaning is something which is discarded and has no or extremely low value.
Aha! Surprisingly while this definition fits well when it comes to Junkyard but not so much when it comes to junk food.
Junk food on the contrary is much loved and a go-to food for many. Makes me wonder why? Why despite a food shouting loud and clear that, Hey dude! I am not good for you we still will go head over heels for it.
Anyways, I will not roast it more, since now you get the drift already.
Our work at Recipe Dabba is majorly focused around promoting cooking as life skill and healthy eating as lifestyle for kids. And as part of this endeavor, we have been successfully running this specially curated program called 21 Days No Junk Food Challenge since 2019 April. In here we work around few nudges and simultaneously educate kids (aged between 5 to 12 years) around food choices and with help of parents monitor their eating pattern for 3 weeks. The idea is to motivate children towards better food choices and lots of things around this. So, while we did some 6 seasons of this fun based, habit formation challenge, here are few findings purely around the kind of temptations participants had during these 21 days period.
Majority of Junk food temptations were under Readymade Snacks and Desserts. These could be things like Chocolates, Cookies, Oreos, Ketchup, Chips, Candies, French Fries etc.
COVID-19 time seasons (Post Feb 2020) saw a major drop in outside junk food like Pizza, Burgers, Vada Pavs, Samosas etc. , however the packaged foods like Chocolate, Cookies etc. were still present in the list.
Again, when comparing the Pandemic and Pre-Pandemic times, the drop was there in consumptions of chocolates as a major chunk of these were also coming from birthday parties, schools, day cares, activity classes or other social gatherings which stopped during COVID-19 seasons.
The temptations for carbonated drinks, creamy cakes and pastries also were much controlled during COVID-19 run season.
These findings though are only from a sample of 100 urban kids but are powerful enough to infer that it is not impossible for kids to stick to a homemade and healthy food unless they are pushed into temptations. These temptations are mad-made and mostly around because of our social structure. Also, many times food like ketchup, cookies and likes are always present at are home and sometimes they are our food of convenience over anything else. 21 Days No Junk Food Challenge surely works in a controlled environment, but it does help us make parents aware of how small changes can make larger impacts in long run. Controlling temptations is not easy for even adults and these are not even teenagers we are referring here.
Some of the ways how these worked towards controlling these temptations are.
Working and agreeing upon healthy alternatives which parents provided them with.
Asking more questions about how to manage these temptations.
Taking one day at a time with a promise to practice control.
Working on small portions, if at all the temptations were stronger.
To sum up, changes aren’t easy and when it to comes something we have been calling out our comfort food for long, it becomes all the more complicated. Young kids who came into the world only looking for mother’s milk for sure are not to be blamed for the choices we got them into.
Junk or processed food can’t be removed 100% from our systems, courtesy to the lifestyle we have chosen. However, it certainly can be reduced to a great extend in order to increase the proportion of the healthy food. After all, while everyone eats healthy, all what makes the difference is how much unhealthy are we eating too?
I joined Cimpress ( then Vistaprint ) as Head of Technology in 2012 . I was excited about the opportunity because of the following three reasons
It was greenfield meaningI will be choose my team
It was in e-commerce space . I had never worked in that space
It was Indian market
This was compelling enough for me to embark upon this journey and make a difference. I was hired by Bernie Barbour & his fellow pals from Europe Engineering groups. Bernie then was leading a team of committed people from Vistaprint in setting up new operations in India post acquisition. When I say new operation it implies setting up whole new business along side plant operations in personalized print space using Mass Customization stack available at Vistaprint!
Since then Bernie [ now Head of Mass Customization Platforms(MCP) at Cimpress Technology ] has been part of my professional life like a constant. While I write this , you will find the equivalence of this in E = mc^2 (German-born physicist Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity that expresses the fact that mass and energy are the same physical entity and can be changed into each other). I have been lucky to have this as coincidence because it is always tough to find such long time partners as an individual , team member and leader within a company.
I contributed and led the technology and product landscape for Vistaprint India technology operations including production tech working on different aspects of e-commerce , supply chain , infrastructure. Given the success in India , the pattern was repeated in Japan , & I was called in to hire as well groom the technology team in Japan that could work independently for Vistaprint Japan. The journey every year was exciting doing different things in India & Japan in space of e-commerce & retail store formats . It was all new for me. When I joined Vistaprint in 2012 , I had always been working for global companies but Vistaprint was becoming a global company not from the sense of having offices in different parts of the world but actually doing business in different parts of the world with localized manufacturing. Next stop was China where I got ability to sit with different stakeholders to look at the market and see how we could integrate mass customization in retail store format with marquee brands. First 4 years were a great learning experience for me. I was excited about building my culture map at global scale thanks to Vistaprint. During these 4 years Bernie & I kept crossing paths bringing engineering and expertise to the region all across time zones starting from US to Asia Pacific!
Images are tell-tales and so are the above one’s through my eventful journey of setting up retail store in Pune for Vistaprint India to Japan operations. Core Team of Vistaprint India led by Nilesh Parwani – serial entrepreneur , whose start-up was the reason India happened to the Boss doing his inspections in Japan 🙂 . I picked great friends in India and across the globe like Chirag Bhuva , Sandeep K , Jitendra Dadhich , Mahesh Shenoy , Rene Kuipers , Conrado & Saigni Ramesh! Met some fine technology leaders like Maarten , Jim , Satish , Marco & Melissa !
Late of 2016 , I started to shift gears at Vistaprint , many acquisitions had been made and we were moving aggressively towards a platform hypothesis as well we transformed into what I was part of that is Cimpress. Core tech needed to expand rapidly and there were a increased desire to start looking at rethinking e-commerce stack across various businesses to speed up out ability for a vertical integration and create network effect across multiple markets.
Again Bernie came into picture and this time the challenge was to create a ground up engineering team that can help create a new multi-tenant e-commerce platform which help us transform the businesses and move them to more modern day world of API-first / data driven architecture. This started my next 4 years time travel at Cimpress. I started to work very closely with businesses In Europe and my attention shifted from Asia Pacific to European businesses. From building the team in India to working a new platform , developing hypothesis and launching it in UK for Tradeprint was a a crazy ride for people around me!
Picked great buddies like Dan Wakabayashi , Kara H , Ashley , Markus T , Michael T , Ryan B , Vikram , Nirav , Cory , Mukul , David Goldman , Rod Scrimgeour , Alan Livie , Stuart Ebdy , Steven Hammond , Ben Hudson , Christian Maas , Henk & Galina. I continue to have great personal relationships with each one of them ! Many more in India like Ameya s , Gurinder Singh , Shekhar S , Sumit S , Himaunshu , Gaurang , Doede , Vinay , Dhaval , Aman , Rohan S , Samyak M , Ankur T , Amit P , Kunjal , Priyanka , Deepa , Prasanna , Rohit , Sharlet , Yogendra , Chandra , Vishwas , Pranav P , Tanu R, Ankush K, Satish , Prasenjit , Hardik , Manoj , Ramya , Vedant , Prateek … there are 100 plus great people from whom I have learned a lot from our India Engineering Centre across Mumbai and Bangalore !!! It is hard to enlist everybody but I have huge respect for every individual who has worked with me !!
Many such memories , events and occurrences , also gave me the ability to run for a marathon in Paris ! ( never ran in my life before now I run three times a week ) , all inspired by Kees Andres , whom I revere and respect a lot for astute business sense and eye for correct details.
Over the course of last 8 years , I have built more than once teams suited to different purposes from running business centric technology to e-commerce , marketing and storefront tech every time bringing on amazing talent which is smart , level headed and come with “get shit done” moto.
Your job, as a manager, is to get better outcomes from a group of people working together.
The first big part of your job as a manager is to ensure that your team knows what success looks like and cares about achieving it.
Your role as a manager is not to do the work yourself, even if you are the best at it, because that will only take you so far. Your role is to improve the purpose, people, and process of your team to get as high a multiplier effect on your collective outcome as you can.
Today, my job looks very different than when I started. Every time I’ve given a piece of it away, I’ve discovered that there was ever more to take on. As long as you continue to be motivated by your purpose, as long as your aspirations extend beyond what your team is currently capable of, as long as you can see new challenges on the horizon, then there’s opportunity for you to have more impact. Often, this means doing new things that you’re not very good at yet.
The act of constantly trying to replace yourself means that you create openings to stretch both your leaders and yourself. Right ahead is another mountain that’s bigger and scarier than the one before. Everyone keeps climbing, and everyone achieves more together.
Leadership is a quality, not a job
& none the least many of my famous quotes given on our printing platform as gift by my AWESOME team !
Cimpress Technology & Cimpress India provided me right level of autonomy to try new things , create new software , run technology organization and making me a Global Software Engineering Leader! I can only be thankful! I hope I am able to create success and get same environment in different context as I reset to paint the canvas again !
As I look back standing now in 2020 , a strange year for entire world! I do not want to say much but only be grateful to God for providing us spiritual strength which is helping us endure and keep moving forward.