My Thoughts ...
Competition is a state-of-mind! Marketing is a way-of-life! Happiness is success! Problem with Strategy is that very few get it right, most use fluff! A leader is one who inspires by making a difference in the lives around! Forget about being illegal, we can't afford to be less-legal! Easy to have been born as human, then why it is so difficult to live as a human? You don't have to be rich, royal or irrational; just be a giving person! Connect at the being level, communicate to the soul! Pursue continuous improvements, but persist on innovation! Work where you are celebrated, not tolerated! Get the big picture, but deliver one that is magnanimous! Always remember the word "blame" as "boomerang" To find meaning of your life, just ask what life expects of you? Choices, inturn, create concern. Right strategy helps pick the right choice! We will be far more green, healthy and sustainable if we add 2 spoons of "contentment" to every growth-hungry diet on Wall Street!

Let your employees evolve!

A few years ago, I came across this subtle and insightful advice:  “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men and women to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

This advice made me think how boat building isn’t actually about the hull, mast or the oars, but rather about a way to enjoy a shared appreciation for the sea and sailing. This is certainly a creative and non-myopic approach to driving employee engagement.

Employers worldwide want their employees to be fully engaged. They want their employees to contribute to building the business and face and outplay disruptions while continuing to create great customer value. In other words, engage and enjoy the boat ride, while maneuvering through turbulent waters and gales!

During the years of my work helping to transform businesses, I have interacted with hundreds of professionals who were skilled in their respective fields and functions, yet struggled to understand the big picture or how customer value was created.  As a result, these otherwise talented professionals mostly remained limited to their specific ‘jobs’ and seldom were prepared for transformation or change … they were gathering woods, nuts and bolts, carefully following instructions to build the boat!

Why does this happen?  It happens because most employers have focused their Learning & Development programs on traditional ‘skill development’ that results in employees being more transactional and routinized, at the cost of being less self-reliant and self-directed. With such an approach, it’s no surprise that employees revert to tool-bound routine work to get the prescribed output; they do not see the big picture. They then miss the opportunity to connect the trends and changing demands of value with their own work. They also tend to miss the joy of exploring creativity and collaborating actively on the job.

So, the time has come to rethink the practices of employee engagement and human capital development.

Near-constant disruptions and technology impact in today’s business world demand that to survive, employees need to be self-reliant with a ‘resourcefulness mindset’, understand business and technology compulsions, market trends and the readiness the company will need down the road.

Employers will need to prepare their ‘talent’ to be critical problem-solvers and knowledge workers who are actively engaged in contributing to their company’s pursuits and its strategic objectives. To do so presupposes employees have both Learnability and Learning Agility.

  • Learnability – Learnability is the preparedness afforded by foundational knowledge to understand changing business and technology environments and also be trainable.
  • Learning Agility – Learning agility is the readiness to acquire new knowledge and skills, adapt and reinvent at work in the face of changes, challenges, and disruptions

To build learnability and learning agility in employees, employers must go beyond contractual incentives and controls that drive engagement. That means every employee must be allowed to evolve to adapt and engage with changing business challenges and stay motivated with a sense of leadership.

At trainedarrow.com, we have developed ChangeAhead™ which is a Learning & Development course to address this need.

This online course helps prepare employees to evolve and:

  • Engage and lead change and business transformational endeavors;
  • Participate in problem-solving and value creation, and;
  • Cope with transitions in the face of reorganization and disruptions

Visit us at: www.trainedarrow.com

Try to ChangeAhead™ at …  https://trainedarrow.thinkific.com/courses/ChangeAhead

Are You Open to Life?

A few years ago, I’d sent an email, called up and left a voicemail with a request to chat with a friend of mine. If things worked out well, I had an offer for him to invest in or join up forces with a start-up. The guy never responded and ignored my attempts to reach him. Much later he did send a text message that he was busy and he’d call – which he never did. That start-up firm scaled up well and got sold many times its EBITDA couple years later. He’d regretted so much for not being responsive to my efforts to connect with him. Reason: He was ‘busy and focused”, doing well, and thought he could afford to ignore me, and perhaps even be discourteous.

This might have been one of many for making wealth, but there can be many to make life more enchanting!

We all reach out to our friends, acquaintances, and contacts for various things – coffee chat to catch up, for job opportunities, projects, introductions, – needing help and to help! But we find people, to some degree of surprise, unresponsive most of the times, and wonder if they were ever open to life!

This is because many of us live in ‘self-imposed limits’ – life limited to working, paying bills and well, just caring for our immediate family, and nothing beyond, and nothing else would matter. True. It’s prudent for us to defend our priorities. But this is shrinking from within as we measure life through this closed framework of ‘limitedness’ and perhaps a selfish outlook. And we never treat anything outside of this worth our time – why bother? – and actually be clever to stay away from those “aliens”!

Closed as we are with this materialistic orientation of being busy, focused, professional, etc. – suffer from a poverty of purpose for life! We lack what I call “inclusiveness and being open to life!”

We must remember, life is an explorative journey inclusive of all the people and situations, to make ourselves available for compassionate listening, sharing and giving. And realize that networking isn’t only for people in transition.

So, despite busy lives, let’s stay open to calls outside of routines, curious to learn and enjoy by simply meeting people who may be catalysts to our own business or career someday. Gain through this in a somewhat structured way by:

Meeting new people

  • just be open to meet and exchange ideas – a quick chat in person or over the phone!

Considering new possibilities and horizons

  • be enthusiastic about people and endeavors – find a new purpose for life!

Listening to interesting life stories

  • learn about others life’s experiences – broaden your perspectives!

Sharing what you can afford

  • share knowledge, articles, useful research, contacts, direction, etc. – be a giving person in your own way!

Standing up for a cause

  • be part OR be a catalyst for a much-wanted change – support the righteous!

Mentoring and Advising

  • job references, career or business advice, etc. – make that small difference in their lives!

Try new stuff

  • open to trying new things, even if they look crazy – explore your life as a journey!

 

THINK OF OPPORTUNITIES TO CONNECT and SERVE ARE ACTUALLY FAVORS YOU GET.

DO THIS AS GOOD KARMA! WITH NO EXPECTATIONS.

DON’T IGNORE! … PARTICIPATE! … STAY OPEN TO LIFE!

MAKE THE TIME … WITNESS YOUR ACTIONS! WITNESS YOUR OWN LIFE!

There can be so many such occasions which are just impossible to list as part of this blog. But, clearly, I wanted to reflect on the perils of getting dehumanized along the way.

Words of assurance to abhor and beware!

meditate when somebody says something

I WILL LOOK INTO IT… OK… You have heard this line time and again.

I have always wondered how much committed is a person when somebody said “I’ll look into it” and what and when to expect of any results based on such an assurance? Over the years, I have heard quite a few say this either conveying that they care or trying to be so, at the least. But there is NO assurance of you have been ‘heard’ and that there is a definitive action to take care of what you have been hoping for.

However, I wouldn’t doubt the person’s character or personality but just beware of the obvious, and manage my own expectations with magnanimity avoiding frustration.

Nevertheless, as I continued to learn the real intent of such assurances, many a occasion, I have begun to abhor them, and decided to never use them even if I can’t find better alternatives.

Some examples here below:

I SEE: Mostly in the air! One is saying nothing, other than acknowledging that the other person heard you something of what of you have said, and little in real terms.

I WILL UPDATE YOU: No commitment to any result or response time-frame or any definitive action.

I WILL COME BACK ON THIS: This too is vague and leaves no clue for when and how.

I THINK THAT’S POSSIBLE: This is still a ‘maybe’ … and at the thought level, and may or may not be considered, no promise yet to act upon yet.

I WILL ADDRESS THAT: Hmmm… diplomatic and high level without any commitment to any committed action or expected result, except that of willingness to be a party to the situation, and get involved.

WE WILL PAY IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS: Take it just as willingness of the party to pay. Usually expect the payment to take more 3 weeks even if they sincerely attempt to making a payment. Yet this is still a rough time estimate as it doesn’t give any sure day/date to expect the payment.

WILL KEEP MY EYES AND EARS OPEN: People generally say this when you reach out or express your situation, mostly when you are looking for a job or additional work/business development. Expect little or no assistance, at least in the near future.

NOTE: As I said above, and I REPEAT here again… I wouldn’t go to the extent of doubting the person’s character or personality who use these words but beware of the obvious, and manage my own expectations with magnanimity avoiding frustration.

Please add more to this that you know of, and educate all of us.

Want the job? Innerview yourself!

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Alright, you have a job interview to prepare for. There is a lot of good advice all over – online, books, friends and from career coaches asking you to do a ton of things – do your homework, look up the hiring manager on LinkedIn, read about the company, get your attire right, wear an appropriate tie, be ahead of time for the appointment, keenly observe their office environment, give a firm shake-hand, look in the eyes when you talk, etc., etc., etc.

Hmmm… This is all so good and helpful but it is yet all external and perhaps somewhat cosmetic too. So what about your inner-self? Have you ever cared to shape your interiority to help you win the job? I want to share some ‘how to’ thoughts. Take a few moments to mull over these; it may trigger some intrigue, but, well, may assist you for winning the job you want!

FEEL YOUR RESUME’ 

Either you have just created/updated your resume’ since been unemployed or after a long time (years?). You always thought you knew your resume’ inside out. Agreed. But, yet read your resume’. Read it twice. Read it from top to bottom, word to word, with a plain mind, and allow this to fill enthusiasm in you to feel – not just good – great about the person who embodies that resume’ (you!), leaving a feeling that you are precious.

Remember, even if you deliver commoditised skills, your confidence is not a commodity! Your passion is not a commodity!.

This is not a suggestion to self-hypnotize. But this exercise I found useful to shape me up for the challenge.

GO-GIVER

Usual advice is to be a ‘go-getter’. Yes. But go with a ‘giving’ mindset. Shun the thought that you are small and just another job seeker. Go with an elevated self to be the person who can make a difference to what the hiring manager plans, to the team or even to the company itself. Create a “higher purpose” or vision for the opportunity – a purpose that places the opportunity on a roadmap of larger goals, a purpose that promotes your personality as a catalyst in the plan. For example, say you are about to attend an interview for a Sales Exec job with a firm with $600 M in revenues; then assume that you will be instrumental in helping the firm reach the $1 B mark. This mindset first clears out from your mind your own suitability questions and helps you naturally display that you have the leadership and a value system that likely presuppose success in the job.

FIND INTRINSIC VALUE

Try to gauge intrinsic value the job offers – meaning your emotional satisfaction by being there, by doing it. Establish a clear value proposition that constantly reinforces and boosts your energy levels, day after day, week after week. In other words, its importance to your core – the inside of you – beyond money and title, and not just considering only those extrinsic ones. Extrinsic value comprises salary, bonus money and promotion which may be more tangible than the intrinsic ones, and those that can be subject to much social comparison.

INCESSANT LEARNER

Believing what you are doing to be right is the primary source of your confidence. If you are too confident, you become arrogant. If you are not confident enough, you may suffer a lower self-esteem. Confidence thus is a tricky thing. But you can beat this dilemma by humility. And the best personification of your humility is your ‘student-like’ perusal. So go with a ‘student-like’ mindset to learn, overcome challenges, yet be firm that you can build on what you have already learnt, to help your acceptance levels to succeed.

MEDITATE

Sometimes, just telling ourselves repeatedly that we have positive attitude but actually hold negativity within is self-deception. Remove the anxiety, self-doubt and any or all the associated negativity by meditation, if you know how to do meditation, before you leave for the interview. Meditation is said to be an inner mental exercise, where you watch your breath in silence, which liberates the mind from different forms of burdens of the past and negative feelings beyond all mental barriers such as I can’t, how do I? Go with a belief that you are doing your good karma and that there is likely serendipity that will follow.

SILENT WITHIN

Being quiet within strengthens focus. Isn’t it so hard to focus when you are making so much noise yourself from within? You want to be stable to be able to think before you speak, act, and not react. Remove all those irrelevant matters that seem to occupy your mind. and stay silent, open and active to receiving new information to process and share. Quiet people are said to be (usually) thoughtful, thinkers. They think through before making a statement. This state of mind is something you will need most during the interview.

WHO YOU ARE 

All the above ‘seem’ to build a temporary state of mind of “what you can be” just to be able to face the interview. But it is still a product of “who you are”. For example, you can be aggressive on a given day or time, and that presents “what you are” at that time. But that may not correctly reflect who you are. So view inside of you to make a right mix of choices to present yourself of who you are.

Hope these are some helpful thoughts gleaned from personal experiences and observations from the candidates I have assisted for finding employment and career growth for over a decade. (Disclaimer: This post are not professional advice).

Appreciate your thoughts to educate me to be able to assist all those preparing for interviews!

(Disclaimer: This post and suggestions are not professional advice).

Appreciate your thoughts to educate me to be able to assist all those preparing for interviews!

When customers serve you!

What is the true untold reward you can give to your family and friends?

First and foremost by understanding them so well that you can forgive them when they say or do something that is usually unacceptable. That’s when they appreciate the benefits of their relationship with you for being so well-understood, perhaps, adored.

The bondage grows!

But when it comes to business, this is not so common either way. Businesses develop commercial relationships where they (mostly erroneously assume) are restricted how far they can go to value their customers. True. They need to balance between customers who seize every chance they get to squeeze and complain and others who somehow can find a way to forgive or justify almost any short-servings for what they have paid for. Both, of course, can be too extreme.

Business must be run as business and not as charity. Customers too are usually unkind when it comes to forgiving companies for mistakes. Alright, but there are many customers who are kind, tolerant and endeavor to suggest improvements to products or services. You can see this mostly during their conversations with call centers and surveys requested. Despite a lot of design thinking that targets to build “customer-centric” business, there is little that happens for a “human-centric” follow-up.

I have had several conversations with credit card firms and many product companies where I had to express my grievances, and also gave them fairly valuable (I can actually call meaningful and holistic) “win” suggestions. Once I have sent pictures of a shaving cream can that had mechanical problems (with liquid-squeeze system) to the company that manufactured it. None of those companies ever returned a favor. The best I had experienced was a small waiver of the fee that the rep could have done it anyway.

Our policy doesn’t allow, Aha!
I have recently spoken with a major American bank where the customer rep refused to see my point of view, and stated coldly that their ‘policy’ doesn’t allow them to view it any differently, in spite of me being fairly reasonable and a premium category customer (whatever that meant!).

Not just an empathy approach!

It is not assuming that being empathetic is good business practice. But to find humility and willingness to listen when customers serve you. And also to verify if the customer facing rep is empowered to be ‘human-centric’ as well.

 

Consider Zappos.com, the successful online retailer. They have made customer service responsible for the entire company and not just as another department. They have built their culture around ‘customer happiness’ as the key business driver.

I’d appreciate if you would share some thought-triggers and experiences here that would put ‘human-centricity’ perspectives to customers when they serve!

Yogic Leadership!

Where are the Leaders?

As a child I came across the famous saying “Attitude determines altitude”. As a business professional, I came across “emotional intelligence” that Daniel Goleman who brought the term with his 1995 book, and actually found link between a high degree of emotional intelligence, which includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill and measurable business results. Then as spiritual yoga practitioner, I have learnt about “leader-follower” concept that links leadership with conscious living.

I have also read numerous articles and sayings by great leaders (of mammoth orgs) who suggested socially valuable skills which are often more cosmetic to rise from being ‘a good manager to a good leader’, without much real transformation in oneself. So the question remained what defines a true (not good or great) leader? and where can we find them?

Ironically, I don’t find leaders in those heavy titled, suited-booted people with sharp red ties. Most of whom I find to be glorified managers grown up through age and experience, rank and file in organizations who walk professing operational excellence, bury themselves in the daily rigmarole, political battles, and worse, often take shelter behind the walls of corporate power vested with them and material security. I find instead quite a few leaders in relatively junior titles who are leaders by what defines them who they are and not by their titles. Because they rely on their ‘internal’ – an inner level code by which they do their karma with a sense of responsibility and contribution. And at the being level, this becomes a way of life for them. They live like leaders, albeit without titles – I call them leaders in a follower disguise!

Yogic Leadership

At times we are leaders and at times we are not. That depends on our state of consciousness. Thats what I call “Yogic Leadership” to define how a spiritually -aware leader who functions with soul-level awareness.  On the corollary, it has a personality with an attitude, habits and actions carried out with recognition that everyone is a soul and commit to treat them as co-souls.

Consider this contrast between materially-driven and yogic leadership styles …

Awareness
Materially-driven Leadership: I am the leader (worse, the boss), and I know the most.
Yogic Leadership: I am continuously learning along with the people I work with.

Thoughts
Materially-driven Leadership: They must take my instructions as they belong to the organization I lead.
Yogic Leadership: They are co-workers, co-souls, and I am their servant. I will thus empower them.

Decisions
Materially-driven Leadership: I take decisions because I am the boss.
Yogic Leadership: I respect their ideas and inspire them to be leaders too.

Actions
Materially-driven Leadership: I am doing it, I have done it – I planned, I closed the deals and they simply followed my direction. That’s why people are always impressed by what I say and do.
Yogic Leadership: We do our karma as a team per our plan, and we consciously manage expectations that will cause frustration. We all accept the fruits of our efforts, with gratitude and team spirit, and move forward.

Results
Materially-driven Leadership: Results reflect in our profits or share holder value.
Yogic Leadership: Results are the joy of the good karma itself as we pursue journey of our souls. Results are always there through inner peace, and little sense of bondage or greed.

Corporate Social Responsibility
Regular CSR: We justify paying back through CSR policy and activities. We allocate budgets to fund those programs.
Yogic Responsibility: We are a global family. We commit to share, celebrate and leave little negative impact on other souls, our ecosystem we play and the planet earth.

We are all leaders when we do our karma with consciousness!

App(le)s and Appetite for Business Model disruptions!

I was talking with my friend John, and he casually said, “Venu, I have put our team dinner photos on our fridge!” and I see them every day”. “You stuck them to the fridge? they were so many, and perhaps all over the fridge, no wonder you don’t miss us?” I said affectionately. “No, my refrigerator allows me to upload photos to the display that play in a sideshow”, he replied. “oh, Okay, by the way, “I sent you three 3 texts messages, I haven’t heard from you? I asked him. “Sorry, but I seldom check phone text messages, mostly use WhatsApp.” he replied. WhatsApp, what? I retorted. “Oh, so you don’t have WhatsApp, I can’t believe you don’t have it? I use only WhatsApp for my texting, and it is cool” he said.

Hmmm… this conversation few months ago triggered my thoughts about where the inflection point to all this phenomenon was – and how it continues to disrupt almost every business model today.

It began with Software escape from Hardware phenomenon! In simple terms, it is like brain broken down in to independent pieces and made to work in several places. The processor (brain) which used to be embedded in one computer (body or hardware) is distributed and planted in several parts to manage jobs independently – so organs work independently without having to receive instructions from brain because it has a brain of its own!

First Chips!

Cheaper chips became stand-alone microprocessors to provide independent capabilities and yet held the hardware unit they were part of as a holistic system. Chips have effectively dissociated intelligence from any hardware and became the root-cause of why and how the computer industry deconstructed itself paving way for many more disruptions. Later on they have been used to control and provide services from stand-alone units sold in numerous consumer electronics (computers, friddge, car, etc.)

Then App(le)s!

Over the last few years Apple has been driving the explosive growth of mobile, and most of us take note only of the number of handsets sold and the key players in the market. A seemingly overlooked byproduct of this exponential growth is Apps. Beyond cell phones, they are disrupting entire software and hardware industries, creating a massive paradigm shift. To put things in perspective,  in less than five years, I read, 45 billion apps have been downloaded. It gave Apple alone over 9 billion from app developer market – a whopping sum from an indirect revenue structure!

Disruptions

Both Apps and embedded Chips have grown to create new capbilities unleashing an unparalleled amount of freedom to own both native and vended apps on equipment housing them – phones, refrigerators, cars and more.

iPhone itself was not a disruption, but the apps are. App has extracted itself from the phone and rendered to every possible application to provide ‘ease of use and smartness’ that enhanced customer experiences to new levels not seen before. This has caused this new capability to view as a technology disruption. And this has been almost comparable to the adoption of the Internet too. The App economy is estimated at US $ 25 Billion in 2013, and growing. Irrespective of the numbers, it is indeed morphing the lifesyles and consequently disrupting business models globally. It is as huge and happening now!

This shift meant everything that is served or serviced, Products or Services, are now seen of value in the light of experiences they provide. This has brought industries such as Insurance and Financial Services too from operating in a product-orientated marketplace to digitally-influenced customer-journeys. And the big challenge for the businesses is to reorganize thier enterprise architectures to enable holistic experiences for their customers.

There is a general agreement in the air that the world has changed its relationship with technology and its driving businesses to embrace experience in lieu of product features. So it diminished appetite for sheer features and associated proprietary pricing. It has also changed how traditional experience-based (e.g. hospitality) industries should redesign their architectures to survive.

The app model is unlike Microsoft putting the operating system outside of computer or Oracle offering data solutions outside the database. It is an open ecosystem with thousands of developers bringing unparallel levels of creativity. So the Apps are disrupting possibly every business, and largely embody the following characteristics:

  • Giving – diluted sense of proprietary, and readiness to collaborate
  • Transparent – openness to apps, ready to share APIs
  • Affordable – low priced (no proprietary pricing), accessible to global consumers

Businesses need a similar mindset, culture and agility to catch up with the pace of changes to survive App-triggered disruptions and thrive!

Digital Verity

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Being digital presupposes business in a amphitheatre of action in which customers with their roles, environments and constantly changing human imaginations play their part. The limits of imagination may get revisited with every transaction, and most definitely allow your customers to indulge in self-satisfied celebration many times more than ever.

Here are some of my views on what are those perspectives and effects businesses should be aware when serving customers being digital.

Silent Conversations!

Being digital also escalates the need to understand silent and situational conversations that are always happening with your customers. Reality is that as a business you are trying to quieten a ‘busy mind’ and service a ‘bag of emotions’ all the time. So, being digital needs to read from both expressions and non-expressions, place where praise and acclaim are due, and then combine to make a sense of how these expressions should shape targeted messaging.

The Memory Effect!

We all know some type of rechargeable batteries have what they called a “memory effect.” If fully charged and then run down, they will charge themselves up to the same level they enjoyed (also called “voltage depression”) at their previous peak. If recharged when half emptied, they will only return to that half way they were.

Businesses being digital must be aware this effect for their customers too, that they mostly suffer from a similar tendency or call it ‘memory effect’. Any business is only as good as their customer’s last joyous shopping journey and transaction! If customers have done well, expect them to do just as well in the future. If they have recently done badly, then anticipate further failure.

Relationships and Epidemics!

A harmonious relationship is always a constant source of happiness and love – read …. some degree of loyalty for a business. But those relationships also bring many challenges to deal with new found freedom (pervasive with multiple touchpoints and channels) and the transformative shift in customers where they take things for granted, and begin to imagine far fetched possibilities driven by subtle confidence in a brand. When attended well, customers likely reward with empowering words via Word of Mouth Advertising (WOMA) and Social Media. If not addressed soon enough, they can cause epidemics that can shape behaviors of respective communities adversely long enough!

Idea of being digital

Finally, remind yourself of why you liked the idea of being digital in the first place. Guage the depth, meaning and profundity you wanted it to have on your customers and business. Allow your business a real chance for being digital which seem to allow limitless versatility.  Soon, you’ll either see a viable way to go forward or a credible way to contain damage without a sense of wasting money.

Bookmark and discover more from my blog “Business & Bliss” www.samprad.net/blog

Jugaad, more than an Indian mantra, a mind set!

jugaad

Many have written about “Jugaad” the Indian art of ‘smart-work’ – which means the art of improvising to develop an effective solution using limited resources to make things work. Yes – make things work! The significance of this phrase goes far beyond the simple definition. It is a ‘mindset’ that has become the foundation for day-to-day challenges through  brought about despite a history of limited resources. This ongoing commitment and determination is the spirit that moved through creative solutions all distractions and obstacles that would ultimately result in “somehow” finding ways and means to make things work. The task at hand would be rendered a success, whether it be through creative insight or frugal innovation. We can also use another simple Hindi word to represent the spirit behind “Jugaad” – “Karaado” which means ‘get it done’ – as go-getter!

Let me explain this by offering a very simple example. Imagine a farmer riding a bullock cart who finds the ‘cotter pin’ on the wheel of his cart breaking loose. His reaction is unlikely to search for a repair service, mechanic, or an alternative means of transport. Nor is it likely that our farmer would be willing to wait until someone could locate a suitable replacement pin. He would search around to replace the pin with ‘something’ from his surroundings that would serve as a temporary solution until he returned home. And that attitude and spirit is at the heart of a‘Jugaad’ mindset! – finding a solution and making it work regardless of the circumstances.

So the basic capability of Jugaad mindset is to use a design or a solution-oriented thinking for mundane challenges, without even realizing that it is called improvisation in some cases, and reverse engineering in others. This mindset is extended to finding solutions to newer and more acute challenges resulting in many quick and frugal innovations in India. This promotes ‘inclusive business models’ when applied to wider business needs that deliver more value at lesser cost for more people – be it in agriculture, healthcare, education, energy, or financial services. There have been several innovations that have benefited these industries; to name a few: Low-cost ventilator, Jaipur Knee (a low-cost, high-performance prosthetic knee joint for amputees), A urinary catheter, Solar lanterns (a cheap and green alternative to oil based lamps), etc.

If JUGAAD is used for finding ways to innovate for manufacturing goods, then it should be considered useful within the service industry. If so, JUGAAD should be applicable on a global basis especially within those sectors that are seeking to grow in a competitive and complex environment that is resource constrained. So adopt JUGAAD as a full service solution.

Fundamentally, JUGAAD is based on the premise of simplification since the spirit is to ‘get things done’. The spirit of making customers win (somehow?) needs to be digested by those that tend to ‘over-standardize’ each process, perhaps in a hard-wired fashion. Otherwise, it is not a viable option. It is also essential to realize the fundamentals of JUGAAD will also seek to ignore the rigid and often antiquated rules that have been espoused for many years.
It is common knowledge that many organizations have created cumbersome and bureaucratic processes that often require large groups of people to decipher the tools for solution that often result in unacceptable delivery delays. Such companies must get to know the meaning of JUGAAD and its pathway to satisfying their customers and making certain that work is being done in a timely manner.

I know for a fact a few firms have gone too far in using tools to build and store their business processes to an extent that it will take a business manager humongous effort to lay hands on a capability or a process and incorporate modifications, despite complaints that customers were experiencing huge difficulties when transacting. Such companies must get to know what is Jugaad and adopt the spirit to ensure customer’s work is done.

Consider this: I was required to call a security system firm to register for the rebate I was entitled to. After 20 mins on the call I couldn’t finish the registration process, and the reason was I did not have my ‘customer number’ handy! The Service Rep had left me with a feeling that it was ‘not easy’ to deal with the company. If the company would practice Jugaad, despite inadequate IT infrastructure to be able support the Call center rep to complete the process, they would find ways to ‘somehow’ complete the process – say, via email to make it just a few clicks away! The company lost an opportunity to create that enchantment that comes with this interaction!(as Guy Kawasaki puts it!) ‘

Unlike traditional, structured innovative methods that rely on time-consuming and expensive processes, the JUGAAD approach delivers service with flexibility, agility, and cost efficiencies with the fundamental mindset to “get it done”. It is increasingly evident and imperative that businesses within all sectors must grow to appreciate and adopt the spirit of JUGAAD, apply it to process innovations, and also to most of its business architectural endeavors.

So adopt Jugaad as one of the process improvement tools, and keep winning!

Of US recession, growth and suffering!

recession new

A country’s ability to manage its debt justifies its certainty of growth. But that certainty often becomes a question as several variable forces that will ultimately influence the speed of the economic ascend or descend of that economy. As the public deficit becomes too big, then the degree of personal confidence declines, and we just need one key crisis to go faster down the spiral. True. It all depends on how the political establishment manages the situation – successful ‘quantitative easing’ among others. The United States is never free to act in a manner that disregards foreign investment, and so many other factors that help maintain its economy. Complicating matters is that the US has become more reliant on the global economy. Thus, we have citizens of this country listening to national policies that regard less of their impact will make decisions based on their own perceptions. Plus the greatest capability to talk into recession, call out a bear market and complain of dismal growth, and well, then SUFFER along!

But there are other ways to escape this. My point is beyond those statistical cascades – unemployment rate, profitability/dividends, inflation/stagflation, Foreign Direct Investments etc. etc. It is also how we allow ourselves to be dependent on incremental profitability to eventually define the state of economy and consequently make ourselves so vulnerable to suffer? True. It is important to have enough money to pay our bills, but do we ever learn that we cannot continue this path to drive our sense of security, certainty of growth and quality of life as a nation?

FIRST, the question is how in the US, we declare we are not growing or not being as successful (actually read suffering) as an economy. Japan, for example, does not use the same measures of success, as their priorities are more social than financial. Therefore, economic growth as measured in GDP is subservient to employment rates, income distribution etc. Despite its drawn-out battles with their economic situations – real estate and financial market bubbles during the 90s, and deflationary pressures that persisted, unemployment in Japan has rarely risen above 5%. They also have huge domestic reserves owing to their ‘savings’ culture. Americans, as consumers, on the other hand, have been gutted by decades of government and corporate policies that encourage spending and indebtedness. Whereas US assets are largely illiquid and leveraged. Some of this is a function of higher risk tolerances in the US, but it’s also a function of lack of awareness or careful thought and mainly ‘lack of contentment’ in as a way of life! For its people, “feeling good” holds a higher priority than being sensible when it comes to fiscal discipline. That combined with the notion that everyone is entitled to a better life irrespective of how it can be achieved has also placed the US in a position where it is being asked to underwrite the needs of a nation; a situation that cannot be sustained.

Americans read this approach as being ‘socialistic’ … and as such, some will consider this blog as having political overtones and not something of relevance. Nothing is further from the truth. In its simplest terms, the point that I am trying to make is how we define success. Is it something we strive for or is it something that we feel is a right? Are we easy to find contentment or are we willing to sacrifice for a better life? But the key difference I call out is ‘contentment’ in the criteria that define us being successful.

SECOND, the conundrum of how Americans see loss in the absence of gain. This view would suggest personal suffering when gains are little incremental (read growth) which is then exacerbated when corporate America begins lay-offs – call it downsizing, bear market, and effectively convinced all are LOSING.

If capitalism means “riding on money” – in another sense we can use money as our servant. However, in real terms we are acting as slaves to money. Our desires are derived from wants and not needs. As such, the cost of these desires run ahead of earnings. As we project this trend into the future we compare existing income with future earnings and begin to worry if we see shortfall. When will we realize that we don’t lose anything (in most situations) and avoid all the suffering? What it takes is a realistic view of the present and a reasonable expectation of the future.

I advocate capitalism. But I also advocate it with an understanding of contentment as a major factor when measuring returns. We can begin this path simply by exercising fiscal responsibility on both a personal as well as an organizational basis. Perhaps also ask Wall Street analysts to add “employee happiness” as a factor as well before they consider selling a company’s stocks off for not growing the profit numbers.

As capitalists, let us also invest a half hour a day in spiritual life. Invest it any way possible – meditate for peace, pray for faith, sing with gratitude, dance for joy and serve with love. It’s the best investment we can make. Then we will find both dividends and happiness together, and the rate of return to be infinite!