Category Archives: Principles

Power of Letting Go & Leadership

Through second half of 2019 , I experienced lot of open ends around me. It was related to everything from not feeling well , to meeting deadlines & managing expectations. I had started to miss my runs and schedule. I was beginning to stress over all & how things were going to unfold.

Realization : It was time to retrospect!

I am still in early phases of this , but I wanted to share one of the dimensions that I am trying to put in place related to power in letting go ! I realized that balancing aspiration , controlling all tiny details and continuously structuring was leading to what I call over-indexing!  From what I have read and observed , continuity can only be maintained if we focus on what we are doing and when our part is done then shift it into background and / or move on to something else.

ankush-minda-VcD5OD2jDGA-unsplash

Photo by Ankush Minda on Unsplash

As leaders you might be thinking about tomorrow or yesterday as it pertains to the topic at hand but as you do so , keep following things in mind:

Having a Clear Goal

Be clear of the goal you are trying to reach and differentiate between what “snaps-you” versus what is the actual “pain”. Having that in mind allows one to goo little deep in defining goals and objectives that are more sustainable and avoids us to slip in chaos. This way you may be able to iterate for longer duration.

If this is not the case it will lead to many starts & stops thus creating higher involvement towards delivering purpose.

Operating Boundaries

For you as a leader to operate with more bandwidth given multi-tasking is necessary evil , setting operating boundaries and see that the network effect takes care to connect you to the goals with others around you. We talk about connected world but then suffer to operate with our personal baselines in attempt to move faster. Establish accountability & coach people to exercise their judgement.

Do not benchmark everything centered around yourself as leader. You will never be able to let go if that remains the case. 

Informal & short-run feedback

Improve your ability to give feedback to your network so that it improves its efficiency to collaborate & deliver results. Over sustained period of time feedback loops activate creativity at problem solving and thus aid towards a broader balancing act in the system.

As a person , you need to trust the network or else you would not get into cadence of letting go.

Coach To Lead

If by any stretch one deems himself to be in leadership position , the onus to find and groom people to lead is very pertinent. This is not very easy and will not come fast. It is time taking & involving exercise. If the network around you has to respond to future then we need more from within to lead and carry the weight.

It is matter of time , when you as a leader will start feeling the pain of not having focused on this , thus creating a pull back effect – an impediment towards our desire to let go.

Hope this helps current and future leaders to create a healthy balance that helps to practice the power of letting go . I am personally trying to put these in action as I realize life is a marathon and not 100-meters dash!

Welcome 2020!…#motivation

I did a reflective post in 2019 , where I summarized small things that can help us in pushing towards your personal and / or professional goals. Maintaining that tradition , I have come up with a set from 2019 now , that I would like to share with my readers. Even if any one of these help you push the dial , I will be a very happy person! & if you have your own reflections , then please do leave them as comments 🙂

 

Walk on water“Walk on water” by paullancaster1 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

For me year 2018 moving into 2019 was about #keepgoing and now from 2019 to 2020 is about #motivation. This could be for anything but it is necessary to have #motivation

#be-uncomfortable 

This one is my favorite , I guess over years my biggest driver for motivation!

If you think that you are spinning wheels everyday then talk to your peers or manager about this. For others who may think entitlements( work from home , comfortable office location etc.)  are necessary for best case outcome , should know that we are part of a large human experiment! . One should know that people who always retrospect whether they deserve all the privileges are the ones who shape the future of a mission as they get up every morning to better themselves and make themselves feel worthy.

So being uncomfortable is something you should embrace. Putting yourself in new and unfamiliar situations triggers a unique part of the brain that releases dopamine, nature’s make-you-happy chemical. This unique region of the brain is only activated when you see or experience completely new things.

#keep-yourself-updated

This one thing which is very important. Things around us are changing very fast. The change of pace is increasing and if you are not aware of landscape , do not read books , articles , then you will be totally out of context to start a conversation or hold up to one. It is very necessary tool that allows you to foster relationships , collaborate and connect in the age of distributed economy.

#take-care-of-people

Ben Horowitz is the cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz (A16Z) and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs. In his book ‘The Hard Thing about Hard Things’ he shares his experience of being a founder-CEO and the hard decisions he has had to make.

One of the things he mentioned in the book struck me alot:-

TAKE CARE OF THE PEOPLE, THE PRODUCTS, AND THE PROFITS—IN THAT ORDER
― Ben Horowitz

#stay-fit

This is a carry over goal. I do not think this is going to go off my list 🙂 . Remaining fit is very important to have positive and open mind towards solving problems. It also reduces friction & improves efficiency for sustainable future & society.

Wishing all my readers a very happy and prosperous 2020 !

Collaborate!

While the world diverges itself to allow individual growth and learning , group dynamics cannot be sidelined in larger scheme of things. Individual contributions must lead to productive collaboration. While the word team , itself comes largely from sports , it is always formed and meant to win games. Carrying same concept to work does not always translate into victory but should aspire to create a network effect.

Network effect helps individuals and group of individuals to do following:

  • Enables trust
  • Fosters better group dynamics
  • Helps understanding navigating workplaces

Sometimes it so feel that our group dynamics is working but still there are small sub groups tend to cluster around certain commonalities. Albeit this does not have any detrimental impact on groups outcomes , it is important that subgroups connect and bond to radiate positive energy through their actions.

Another key aspect related to effective collaboration is cultivating art of negotiation. Being able to successfully negotiate without burning bridges is a valuable professional skill.

Discipline is one more key thing to collaboration. It brings certain amount of seriousness to group dynamics and allows for a more cultured feedback loop within the group.

Welcome 2019!…#keepgoing

While working through 2018 & reflecting back , I have gathered small reflections that have helped me personally to balance and continue to move another year in sustainable manner & yes there is no midlife crisis neither the musings of nirvana but pure realistic facts that have moved me all along the year gone by!

#stop-look-go

Very necessary that we pace ourselves and not go for the plunge directly. In world where agile , iterations , test & learn seem to be over-powering our traditional approaches , there seems to be no substitute for some amount of planning and pacing before one approaches his or her objectives. 

#value-at-work

Always question is your work another transaction output of an employment contract or are you delivering value while enjoying at work?

Working hard is different than working efficiently. just achieving a desired output does not mean much in today’s world so if you are having a flat tone , not re-inventing your own working styles then it is time to introspect. Identify your limiting factors to bring more joy to your work – #stop-look-go

paul-skorupskas-59950-unsplash.jpgPaul Skorupskas

#avoid-system-traps

Adapted from Thinking In Systems authored by Donella H. Meadows

When playing sustainable and long innings you can become susceptible to system trap of “eroding goals.” It is also called the “boiled frog syndrome,” from the old story (I don’t know whether it is true) that a frog put suddenly in hot water will jump right out, but if it is put into cold water that is gradually heated up,  it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. A drift slow enough can erase the memory of (or belief in) how much better things used to be, everyone is lulled into lower and lower expectations, lower effort, lower performance.

Always mark yourself with absolute standards regardless of your performance. Consider failures as temporary blocks towards achievement higher longer term goals. Always be reminded as a team this can have a catastrophic effect on end-goals

#stay-fit

Remaining fit is very important to have positive and open mind to solving problems, and reduce friction to improve efficiency for sustainable future & society. 

#keepgoing with #focus , have a happy and productive 2019!

Lessons From France v/s Argentina Game

Being a week-end it was easy to catch-up on FIFA World Cup games and what more than to see France and Argentina fight out. It was an outstanding game where team dynamics accompanied with individual caliber led to France edging Argentina out.  While it sounds sad and a heart-break for many Argentinian fans , one has to respect the game dynamics which led to this. Football is truly a team sport that reflects on how team dynamics can impact the outcome.

While having a objective is important for a team to deliver but it is not enough to make the team move. Here are some picks from my side while watching the game on how it could have meant a totally different result.

  • Lesson from fourth Goal : Check out the video
    • Planning : Mbappe was left unchecked , when he had already scored earlier in the game. The sheer agility at which this individual was making through defense lines was amazing and the ease with which he played it out! There was no struggle on his face , but he was left unmarked or almost given a free run. What happens on the field needs to be constantly analyzed to course correct and respond to changes around you. Initiatives if constantly not monitored , planned and observed can never meet desired outcomes. 
  • Lessons from being a star performer
    • Being a star performer comes with lot of burden. The constant limelight just kills it. People look upon you for being a role model , leader , planner & strategist .. almost everything. I think so at the end of the day it was too much for Messi. I guess somewhere the man was made to look bigger than mission. You can never be bigger than the mission itself , because then the focus on mission goes away. Yes you can be important to mission but portrayed or deemed bigger than mission for an initiative is not positive signs for success. 
  • Playing in decentralized approach
    • You got to do the best on what you do. A lot was seen from what the French side was trying to achieve. Players like Pogba , Mbappe were living the game with their own stride , doing what they knew best for the game and orchestrating a run through Argentinian defense.
  • French Teams fitness level
    • The speed and agility showed by the French made them look ready for the mission. They were making runs within 15 minutes at speed which Argentinians could not match with their skill or talent. When getting into an initiative you need to be very critical whom you pick for it as that can make or break your ability to succeed. You also need toe ensure that skill alone will not play it out , one has to be make it work !

Time-Off

This article is dedicated to people who desire to take time-off but are not able to do so. It might inspire them to do so! There are life-lessons as well in this which mean a lot to me.

It has been one stressful year for me personally at work especially when you stop looking at the clock and are back in office in less than 24 hours. This is not complaining but reflecting on the fact that when you take ideas from paper to reality it takes a stretch of a mile to achieve it with the team. Countless people including the team support you in getting there and it reminds me that as an individual you can sustain only for a short burst but cannot play the long-term card.

32543003_10155701204367449_3342465655667425280_n.jpg

Foremost though comes the family who work very hard around you to keep you going as well managing their own goal and mission. I have a wife who has a venture that is in infancy stage and a kid who has stepped into awareness zone with zillions  of question popping in his mind.   

Time-off for me is not about about the quantum of break but the quality & the quality is determined by the choices you make during your break. Here are some which I made

  • Say no to office conversations in any form
  • Get away from your current place. Change coordinates
  • Spend time with your family
  • Towards the end of the break watch office passively , don’t rush into it

Most gratifying of all the choices has been spending time with family, You realize how much ground you would have lost in between the corporate life ruckus that it is just too short for you to make up to your family.  I spent most of my time with my kid doing things he did like to do and as well building a computer with him!

DdctcmoWAAAqUq8

Kano being build!

Above all I would say that extended family at office your team deserves a pat on the back , as they enabled you to take the time-off.

Good Better Best – Quality of Decision

You might heard following phrases several times :

 “This is a wrong decision , we should not made this call”

“Why did you not inform us , otherwise we would have made right decision”

“I think if we would have collaborated , we could have made a right call on this issue”

Being a programmer at core , made me see these statements coming out with binary response : “Right” or “Wrong” , but as I travelled through the journey of being a manager and executing more responsibility with years gone by , it has started to make me feel that decisions in itself cannot be so binary in their outcome!

Quality of decision is always known post-facto unless we follow some mystical science of crystal ball gazing! You would have seen that I highlighted a particular term “Quality“. There is a reason to it , because I strongly feel post my experiences that we put lot of pressure on self and others by classifying decision in binary manner.

Man-thinking-by-Creative-Ignition-Creative-Commons

 Photo Credit : Creative Ignition ( Creative Commons )

 

We want to remain quick on decision making and at the same time we expect them to be always right , but that is not the case. According to me the spirit and context in which a decision is made , it starts with always being “good” . The intent with which we make decisions is always good , it can only be the case that we evaluate whether our decisions could have “better” and could we make it “best call every taken !

 

It is important that we constantly review out decision outcomes and rank them against this strategy to improve our decision quality.

Happy Decision Making!!

15 years on..Journey thru Professional Wilderness

I still remember this day 15 years back , when I was heading alone to Kolkata for joining my training at TCS . It was raining hard , when I arrived at the station. Being a day scholar most of my life , this was a big step forward outside the protected layers of my family cocoon , making way to lead an independent life…This kicked off series of things in my life from getting to learn German language to being trained on making myself presentable while I speak.. It was an interesting experience for me .. and my first tryst with professional life.

Things moved fast , training came to an end and we were told to join the Delhi centre.. moving in corridors and making some friends as moved along , I found myself in midst of pros, the seasoned and the newbies 🙂 .. all but shared one common thing , searching to attach purpose to what they were working for .. Lots of learning & great foundation years for me…then somewhat I looked to progress my self financially as well wanted to exposure beyond current .. usual human paradox of more want & higher expectation …I spent then good bit of my career with CSC and learnt new things , especially in area of team management and new culture.. My life was starting to look like the sinusoidal wave ..I was feeling bored with regular stuff so I made a shift to Oracle India. Amazing to learn the technology and process.. Awesome product company to work for and for me by now I had taste of IT services biggies to large product company ..

Somewhere down the line spending 2 years … I thought to challenge myself to do MBA and took a plunge by packing my wife – my critical support system back to home town .. on a journey of self planned sacrifice by leaving job behind .. and taking financial risk to earn a degree at S P Jain . This was truly a new phase of my life and my rationale was demand of techno-functional is high but less satisfy that ethos.. I was still good at coding and if I could club my communication skills with business acumen , I would have a good recipe to contribute back in the value chain at a higher level…

Post MBA I worked at  AnthelioAvotus , something which was my second learning ground after TCS . It taught me to be a leader and connected with great people , who again were trying to seek purpose in what they did.. a quest which seldom is successful .. and when it is , it creates radiance and sustainability for self and org. After spending almost 3 years in this nursery , I joined Cimpress India . We sell the Vistaprint brand here.. I have been heading technology for last 3.5 years plus now and solving newer problems everybody. My sense of purpose remains at highest levels here and I think I am able to learn albeit little , on how to connect dots between value and capability..It is starting to take shape and hence the I say I find more of purpose at Cimpress.

All along I have made great friends , met many people , learned alot but yet discovering … above all I cherish the teams I worked with & for …a support ecosystem , which can only be next to your family if not above them … Three cheers to all my peers and team mates to make me feel like that..

Thanks to my primary strength my wife and kid .. along with my parents , who have allowed me to spare time with the companies I have worked for and supported me to give my best …

Indecision Or Flexibility?

In my earlier post : Control & Freedom : Managing Relationships , I talked about how exercising control to maintain right hypothesis can cause undue tension and sometimes it is necessary to walk away with right attitude coupled with mindset. If we take a balcony view , we would also get to know that control usually allows for consistent decision making process. You would find a predictable pattern in every move made and the thought that drives it. When you create freedom , then it can lead to frequent changes in decision.. or in traditional world a sense of indecisive behaviour…

Well that paradigm might not hold true in current operating environment , where agile is name of the new game and Holacracy is helping fostering system of self-organisation. One would have to change to see changes as flexibility and be pragmatic about it.. but everything needs to make some sense & hence decision making would need to have a some guard rails that allow for +ve flexibility as opposed to u-turn twice a day !

Couple of guards rails suggestions:

  • Consider views from everybody: Adopt paradigm from software engineering of distributed software development , where people can have pull on decision making process.
  • Look at incremental hypothesis development: Seek some parallelism from the world of iterative software development and apply that to decision making process.
  • Balance against extreme autonomy: Ensure that some level of control is exercised , because remember decisions always have cascading effect so acting responsibly is very important.

Control & Freedom : Managing Relationships

Freedom is not the ability to do whatever you want but build acceptance of what’s going on in the moment. Teams always subjects one to think about these aspects and it is necessary to remember that despite minor differences we are part of the team and hence pushing towards maintaining control can cause undue tension.

One may have good reasons for his  / her  hypothesis but there is no point in wasting energy or time making big issue , in case there is dis-agreement. At the end of the day mindset coupled with attitude helps one to walk away from such situations.

With right mental outlook one can find ways to turn all events , even those which might be acting against your interests.