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!

How Strategy Suffers

Strategy hurts puzzle

Strategy!

We hear this word multiple times in our daily professional lives and pretty much everywhere. We also hear experts say that strategy suffers largely owing to faulty or suboptimal ways of execution – the usual “strategy vs execution” complaint. But, I have always been surprised by how strategy suffers in so many other ways related to culture, being coveted, in construct and in commonly mistaken identities.

So, here is an attempt to chronicle some frequently occurring situations when strategy suffers.

A CULTURE OF SILENCE

Once upon a time, a clever trader sold a new suit to a king-making him believe it would be invisible to all those who hated him. In reality, there were no clothes. But, when the king paraded in his ‘new suit’, no one dared to say there were no robes on him for the fear of being identified as enemies. In the end, a child finally exclaimed, “Oh, King, you aren’t wearing anything!” Then, only then, some of his staff mustered the courage to tell the king the truth.

I’ve shared this childhood story a number of times during my career to encourage validation of strategy. Leaders, middle management and employees alike often choose to stay silent and seldom venture to express their opinions – despite their insights about business realities – for the fear of being isolated, reprisal or stamped as rebellious. Unfortunately, this silence is contagious even among marginalized boards and leadership teams and quite detrimental to the health of any organization.

The strategy thus sans validation and suffers in the hands of competent people with the ‘culture of silence’ and consequent spiraling effects (spiral of silence theory)

FL-AWFUL

A strategy is more than a statement. It may involve bold moves and be against-all-odds herculean efforts for achieving objectives and tactics to yield expected results. But, what matters is the spirit of a winning story that is central to strategy and enjoins the purpose of the company with a glimpse of the future unfolding. This may mean establishing a strategy that is closely linked to the emotional strengths of the organization that will, in turn, evolve and energize the workforce with a newfound sense of engagement and journey for achieving the goals.

In practice, most companies tend to design the strategy entirely around what they control. This may be costs and capabilities with the logic of their strategic choices for achieving the goals.

COVETED and UNEXPLAINED

In spite of its importance, the strategy of a company remains mostly unknown and unexplained to employees in many organizations. The brief statement is so coveted that it is only privy to top executives and seldom internalized to provide the guiding spirit. As a result, most employees find it hard to access and learn about the strategy, let alone follow it.

Owing to this somewhat classified nature, strategy suffers – consider anxiety between financial and profitability goals and market position.

Many of us must have noticed this issue in the famous HBR article “Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?” (by David Collins and Michael Rukstad) where the authors say very few executives can actually articulate strategy.

FAULTY PIVOTING

Most corporates are quite myopic to the relationships between “MOST” – Mission, Objectives, Strategy, and Tactics – when developing strategy. They often ignore pivoting the company purpose for eliciting objectives; rather they create a rhetoric almost entirely on financial results. Saying what the business should target is very part of the strategy, yet corporate purpose as a pivot to strategy is equally important.

Consider this, a fundamental objective such as Shareholder Value versus Business Value will likely shift a company strategy completely.

Consider this, a fundamental objective such as Shareholder Value versus Business Value will likely shift a company strategy completely. If technology disruptions are a constraint, rather than an advantage, what kind of objectives should be considered for strategy?

SILOS

Strategy loses much of its meaning at the intersection of organizational structures and “silos”. Collaborations among various functions, domains, and partnering units seldom espouse the same agenda and values that have been essential ingredients of the strategy set forth. And, often employees don’t look beyond their own work, immediate business unit, and output. The classic squabbles of Sales and Marketing, Business and IT and post-M&A integration for recently merged operating companies are examples of the factors that undermine strategy implementation.

MISNOMERS

Strategy is a singular, federated, and unique statement and “roadmap” for a firm for achieving its targeted business objectives. But, a strategy often suffers from how it is viewed, implemented and often misused. ‘Strategy’ is a convenient word people use and misuse for any level of conversations, from maintenance projects aiming at fixing daily operational problems to re-engineering operating models.

Here are a few examples of how a wrong notion, ignorance, and semantics can lead to the mistaken identity of strategy.

Those most misunderstood for strategy: Objectives, Tactics, Operational Excellence

Objectives are measurable targets that underpin the formation of strategy that describes the roadmap or the approach to achieving those targets.

Tactics are various approaches to the strategy for achieving the firm’s objectives.

Operational Excellence is operations managed to excel in every value chain activity.

Other often misused words for strategy: Plans, Goals, Budget, Tools, Solutions

METAMORPHOSE!

Building a sense of purpose and engagement with strategy are mutually interdependent and collectively reinforcing, but significantly challenging.

Building a sense of purpose and engagement with strategy are mutually interdependent and collectively reinforcing, but significantly challenging. A strategy thus suffers in many stages including culture, creation, validation, sharing, use, and implementation. Organizations must stay alert to prescriptions for fixing and repairing such challenges as and when they surface!

Much appreciate your views and other examples of how strategy suffers!

Thank you!

Make every employee a Change enabler!

Employee as Change Enabler!

A few years ago, I read this profound saying: “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 more invigorating, creative and non-myopic approach to ascend employees to a higher level of engagement.

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

During the years of my work helping businesses to transform, I have interacted with hundreds of professionals who were skilled in their respective fields and functions, yet struggled to understand, engage and evolve to create value, both to themselves and their employers. Most 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 focus their Learning & Development (L&D) 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 learning, it’s no surprise that employees revert to tool-bound routine work to get the prescribed output driven by performance benchmarks. They often hold back from the big picture and the opportunity to connect the trends and changing dimensions of value with their own work. They also tend to miss the joy of exploring creativity and being futuristic!

So?

Rethink the approach to human capital development.

Organizations will need to let their workforce to evolve from a routinized mindset to a resourceful and adaptable mindset; understand business and technology compulsions, market trends and the readiness the company will need in the medium and long-term. This is more so imperative to survive,near-constant disruptions and technology impact today.

Prepare employees with Learnability, Learning Agility and Change Awareness.

•     Learnability – preparedness afforded by foundational knowledge to understand changing business and technology environments and to be trainable.

•     Learning Agility – readiness to acquire new knowledge and skills, adapt and reinvent at work in the face of changes, challenges, and disruptions

•     Change Awareness – knowledge of why organizations change, re-org, how to cope with transitions and support change and transformation

But to do so, employers must go beyond usual prescribed skill development and controls. That means every employee must be imparted to help evolve to adapt and engage with changing business challenges and stay motivated with a sense of leadership.

At TrainedArrow.com, we have developed ChangeAhead™ – an employee-enablement online L&D course to address this need.

This quick and easy animated self-paced learning helps employees prepare to:

•     Engage and lead change and business transformational endeavors

•     Participate in problem-solving and value creation

•     Cope with transitions in the face of reorganizations and disruptions

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

Visit: www.trainedarrow.com  … foundations for winning!

How to boost career resilience in graduates

ResiliencePro

Research consistently shows a gap between what students learn in college and what employers seek in their employees for today’s global economy. Whatever the reasons for this lacuna, graduates should be sufficiently prepared to enter the workplace with appropriate knowledge and adapt to an ever-evolving marketplace.

Filling this gap between college and career will not come easily or quickly, but here are a few workable ideas to help graduates adapt, become a valuable and sought-after talent to lead with career resilience.

‘Parasitic’ Career Journey

Quite a few graduates succumb to the temptation of becoming what I call “Tool Talent”, i.e., they learn a software product to find short-term employment. Logical as this approach may be, it may inadvertently usher them into a “Parasitic career journey” wherein their current and future job prospects, growth, and career fortunes get tied up with that of the market opportunities of the software product.

Over time, this has not only the potential to lower one’s self-esteem, since they begin to feel only as valuable as the product in the market rather than a competent viable product themselves. It can also lead to being made redundant as automation takes over the job tasks. What then? Another certification? Perhaps. But it helps to first address ways to not only value oneself but to understand if their skill-set is constantly aligned (or misaligned as the case may be) with the needs of the market.

Multipotentialities

Millennials today live in a work world quite different from earlier generations. They will not experience a ‘one job – one career’ path; most will hold myriad of jobs and more than one or two career paths over the decades. For most, this shifting environment can help them realize their potential to survive and grow with multiple capabilities, in multiple environments, resulting in a new kind of “professional versatility” and career resilience.

Such “Multipotentialities” (as Emilie Wapnick mentions the term in her Ted talk (https://www.ted.com/speakers/emilie_wapnick) belong to those who can move out of their comfort zones and continuously reinvent themselves with incremental skills and expertise to grow, develop new opportunities in the ever-changing job markets.

Growth Mindset

Graduates need a growth mindset to develop career resilience. That means they begin to see temporary setbacks as lessons and growing pains and learn to bounce back so that they can pursue the next level of personal and professional growth.

It is common knowledge that the failures we experience over time are the lessons that can support success in the future. Being able to incorporate learning from these failures and moving on is essential to achieving success. Maintaining this positive and constructive mindset breeds resilience helps one to approach challenges with excitement, enables continuous learning and reinforces resilience.

Existential Necessity

Most graduates leave college without critical foundational knowledge for understanding what they must do to be employable. At best, they may take some personality development training. But, these graduates need additional coaching in order to understand the employer’s business, how the firm makes money, and what and how disruptions may impact the business, and where their work fits in the firm’s value chain. Developing this knowledge is an existential necessity to help them face challenges they’ve never encountered before, as well as to comprehend the competitive career path to grow up the value chain.

One way to support graduates for this existential necessity may be through courses that prepare them to face the changing realities of disruptive workplace and shape their career resilience.

Being consistently employable means continuously acquiring knowledge and competitive skills for current and future jobs. One way to support graduates for this existential necessity may be through courses that prepare them to face the changing realities of the disruptive workplace and shape their career resilience.

Higher Purpose

The race to find jobs and do well (by whatever benchmarks) in one’s career has resulted in forgetting that a higher purpose or mission is the reason why we exist. A higher purpose may be simply following one’s passion or making a positive difference in the lives around us or creating a legacy.

Conscious pursuit of a higher purpose for life bestows phenomenal career resilience since it might enable the experience of the union with one’s life’s “mission.” In other words, you become the purpose that you live for. Such pursuit also fosters enormous drive and energy to overcome temporary setbacks and stay the course to attain goals, whether these goals are altruistic or not.

At TrainedArrow.com, we have developed LearnAhead™ – a holistic online L&D course to prepare graduates for employability, workplace contextual acumen, and career resilience.

This quick and easy animated self-paced learning helps graduates prepare to:

  • Identify and prepare to win job opportunities
  • Lead at work, meet employer expectations
  • Create and succeed in new career pathways
  • Think big, think different and evolve as entrepreneurs
  • Develop a career with fulfillment and a higher purpose for life!

Learn more and Sign up to LearnAhead™ at …  www.trainedarrow.com … foundations for winning!

Focused but closed to life?

A few years ago, I had sent an email to a friend of mine, called up and left a voicemail, which contained a request to chat.  If everything worked out well, I had an offer for him to invest in or join up forces with a start-up. The guy never responded.  He ignored my attempts to reach him. Much later he did send a text message, which said he was busy, and he would call…which he never did. That start-up firm scaled up well and got sold many times its EBITDA a couple years later. My friend regretted so much for not being responsive to my efforts to connect with him. But, the reason: He was ‘busy and focused’, doing well and doing very well in his career, and thought I was calling him to ask or a favor. So, he ignored my attempts to reach him and was, perhaps, even discourteous.

My effort was clearly intended to involve him in an opportunity to create wealth and clearly I was thinking about the potential for making life more enchanting. We all reach out to our friends, acquaintances, and contacts for various things, such as a coffee chat to catch-up, knowledge about job opportunities, projects, and introductions. Contacting friends can entail needing help and offering to help! But, we find people, to some degree of surprise, unresponsive most of the time, thereby causing me to wonder if these people were ever open to life!

Self-imposed Limitedness?

I suppose, many of us live with ‘self-imposed limits’; that is, life limited to working, paying bills and well, just caring for our immediate families. Thus, nothing beyond these areas of focus and nothing else matters. Yes, we all should focus on and defend our priorities. This is prudent and important. But, on the other hand, ignoring other opportunities is shrinking from within as we measure life through this closed framework of ‘limited-ness’ and can actually be a self-centered and perhaps, a selfish outlook. We never treat anything beyond these priority areas as worth our time. We hold a ‘why bother’ attitude, and even at the extreme, we are convinced and believe we’re clever to stay away from those “aliens”!

Closed as we are with this career orientation of being busy, focused, professional, etc. – WE OFTEN SUFFER FROM POVERTY OF PURPOSE FOR LIFE! 

We actually lack “inclusiveness and being open to life!”

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

So, despite our busy lives, we should stay open to contacts and calls outside of our daily routines. We should be curious about learning and enjoying by meeting people who may be catalysts in our own business or career today or someday in the future. We all can gain through this more open approach in a somewhat structured way by:

Meeting new people

  • Being open to meeting and exchanging ideas – a quick chat in person or over the phone!

Considering new possibilities and horizons

  • Being enthusiastic about peoples’ endeavors – finding a new purpose for life!

Listening to interesting life stories

  • Learning about the life experiences of others – broadening your perspectives!

Sharing what you can afford

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

Standing up for a cause

  • Being a catalyst for a much-wanted change – supporting the righteous!

Mentoring and Advising

  • Sharing job references, career or business advice, etc. – making a small difference in their lives!

Try new stuff

  • Staying open to trying new things, even if these activities look crazy – exploring your life as a journey!

THINK OF OPPORTUNITIES TO CONNECT and SERVE, WHICH ARE ACTUALLY FAVORS YOU GET TO MAKE YOUR LIFE MORE ENCHANTING!

DO THIS AS YOUR GOOD KARMA, WITH NO EXPECTATIONS.

DON’T IGNORE … MAKE THE TIME … PARTICIPATE.

WITNESS YOUR ACTIONS! WITNESS YOUR OWN LIFE!

STAY OPEN TO LIFE!

These occasions can occur frequently. As such, I am unable to list all of them as part of this blog. But obviously, I wanted to reflect on and point the perils of getting dehumanized along the way.

Well, appreciate your thoughts.

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.

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