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Blog – Rahul Vitekar rahulvitekar.in

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The Peter Drucker Diary – Entry 4

The work of a genius or giant often presents an anomaly. Reverential regard obscures the real work. People know the name, but haven’t engaged with the work. In this series, we take one Peter Drucker quote or excerpt and seek to understand it. Entry 4 “Knowledge does not eliminate skill. On the contrary, knowledge is fast becoming the foundation of skill”                Knowledge and Skill get melded together in real life. Yet, when people reflect on both of them, they often make the error of looking at them in isolation. Focussing on one without considering the other often proves to be the undoing. Knowledge is ‘how things work’ The best management education provides knowledge, but if the skills of managing are not being practiced at the same time, this education is largely theoretical. Knowledge imparted without considering how it is going to be used ( skill) is like being given a manual without the real object. Management education is also received knowledge, handed down to us over the years. Real knowledge is created in…

LeaderPlay – Compensating for flawed employment

Sometimes, I believe that compensation is the perfect word for high salary packages. As leadership positions dwindle, how else can you compensate an ambitious performer who had been misled into believing he or she will be at the top of the heap one day. The unspoken truth about personal development within organisations is that the potential for self-growth for individuals working under the same setup for long is limited. There is no real exposure to the sheer range and diversity of the world outside. This exposure makes so much of a difference.You compensate the ambitious performer for not being able to provide them that; after all, you want your best racehorses cooped up in the stable. Funnily enough, the organisation can avoid this compensation by rethinking why it has to prevent employees from seeking substantive growth experiences elsewhere, if not outright multiple employment. And it is a win for the organisation as well. Enabling your employee to engage uninhibitedly with the world is the best engagement strategy one can think of. Universities who demand that full-time faculty also take on…

LeaderPlay – Are we truly developing high-potentials?

From the place I stay, there are two routes to reach a much frequented destination. 1- The Standard route ( shorter distance-wise, longer commuting time-wise) 2 – The Faster route ( longer distance-wise, shorter commuting time-wise) As is expected, the faster route is chosen. The other day, on Google Maps, for some reason, both routes showed the same estimated time. I still chose the so-called faster route. I believe most people would do that. Most Mumbaikars – as Mumbai residents are called – do the same thing when they are travelling by local trains. If the slow train is in front and the fast train is expected much later, they wait for the fast train even if both trains are expected to take the same time, or even if, the slow one is reaching earlier. Why? In their mind, people disregard the train waiting time and get a kick out of seeing the fast train breeze past the stations where it won’t make a halt. We let our minds trick us into feeling good! This got me thinking about the…

LeaderPlay – Turn your doubts into certainties and vice versa.

Leaders are given sensible advice. So sensible that the leader cannot think of it on her own. And if that be the case, perhaps, ‘sensible’ is not what leaders need. Just, maybe! What then? Out of inspiration or desperation, how can a leader break the monotony and gift herself something useful? How about an absurd idea, LeaderPlay as I call it. Start where you are as a leader, as a human being, really. LeaderPlay says, “Turn your doubts into certainties and your certainties into doubts.” We all have both – doubts and certainties. Leaders have them too – with higher stakes, that’s all. As a Leader, you doubt if you are a tolerable speaker. You have your doubts. You see, that is your problem. You are not 100% sure. And all along, you have been hiding and running away, not wanting to know. And you will do that till your dying day. Grab the next chance to speak. Be certain that you are awful in the eyes of the whole world. Congratulations! You have turned doubt into certainty. As a…

The Peter Drucker Diary – Entry 3

The work of a genius or giant often presents an anomaly. Reverential regard obscures the real work. People know the name, but haven’t engaged with the work. In this series, we take one Peter Drucker quote or excerpt and seek to understand it. Entry 3 “Success always obsoletes the very behaviour that achieved it” Think about the courtship period of a couple. There is a notion of ‘cute’ that every man and woman remembers their partner having bestowed on them – during this lovey dovey period. This cuteness makes the heart go bonkers in crazy, stupid love and then..the wedding bells ring!  And then what? The same behaviour now makes your partner come after you with a sledge hammer or Thor’s hammer! You scratch your head and wonder – what’s changed?! The great Henry Ford famously said that the customer can have a Ford car in any colour as long as it is black! Ford was the perfect practitioner of Frederick Taylor’s ‘Scientific management’. His assembly line was the embodiment of maximum efficiency so that production could be scaled up…

Organizing Ignorance

Not ignorance, but ignorance of ignorance is the death of knowledge. – Alfred North Whitehead Indeed, Peter Drucker used to emphasize that what matters more is not how much you know, but how aware you are of what you do not know. He used to say that we should organize our ignorance. Organising helps us become aware of the structure of our knowledge and understanding and the limits thereof. For example. All of our knowledge of AI and robotics and it’s potential impact is important. What is it that we do not know and are perhaps not even aware of?! What we do not know or not strongly aware of is our own self-conception of being human and how intimately our ‘self-efficacy’ as a species is tied up with technology. We are ignorant about how profoundly AI and robotics is going to interrogate the meaning of being human. The more we explore and organize ignorance, the more we make visible the dark space within which the Knowledge Universe exists.

The Fog of War

We and you ought not to pull on the ends of a rope which you have tied the knots of war. Because the more the two of us pull, the tighter the knot will be tied. And then it will be necessary to cut that knot, and what that would mean is not for me to explain to you. –  Nikita Khrushchev’s message to John F Kennedy during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis as interpreted by Robert McNamara in ‘The Fog of War’ India and Pakistan sharply tugged on their ends of the rope this last week. And at the time of writing, they still have their hands on it. John F. Kennedy, the US President, knew what cutting the knot meant; what Khrushchev was alluding to. Most ordinary citizens of these countries at the brink of war don’t. And they need to. If only because the war is purportedly fought in their name and the consequences are also for them to bear. Robert McNamara in this spellbinding 2003 documentary – The Fog of War – shares his hard-earned insights…

The Peter Drucker Diary – Entry 2

The work of a genius or giant often presents an anomaly. Reverential regard obscures the real work. People know the name, but haven’t engaged with the work. In this series, we take one Peter Drucker quote or excerpt and seek to understand it. Entry 2 “What Everybody knows is frequently wrong” Just like Entry 1, this assertion seems to be straightforward. And yet, while we may find inscrutable sense in it, our behaviour and actions follow what everybody knows. Everybody knows ….. (whatever you want to put in here) and whatever you fill this with, Peter Drucker says, it is likely to be based on beliefs and assumptions that are untenable. Peter Drucker urges us to go beyond the surface, uncover the beliefs and assumptions, and hold them against the shining light of here-and-now reality. Everybody knows the Emergency Room in a hospital is to save lives in an SOS situation. Everybody knows the crucial promotion is the final one to the top position. Everybody knows immediate and unanimous agreement in a meeting on a topic is a harbinger of unity and…

A playschool experience

Parents of playschool kids. Huddled together in the school-room. Awaiting their little stars. Who were going to enter the room and one by one, stand in front and sing rhythmic melodies. First, the girls were ushered in. All of four years and looking prim and proper, they all filed in with super poise and purpose. They sat down as indicated and almost seemed to have a sense of occassion about the whole event. As each girl stood up and approached the center to sing, the rest maintained an astonishing degree of calmness and audience discipline. For four year olds, this was special. Then, the boys were ushered in. By the way they conducted themselves, we all felt a familiar touch to the proceedings. They straggled, strayed from their sitting place and did all the things that we expect four year old kids to do. On the way back from the event, my wife shared her appreciation of how the girls conducted themselves. I wasn’t so sure. And when I explained why, she agreed with me.  

The Peter Drucker Diary – Entry 1

A genius or giant brings a big handicap. Reverential regard obscures the real work. In this series, we take one Peter Drucker quote or excerpt and seek to understand it. Entry 1 “Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their jobs done” On the face of it, this is an almost plebeian observation. We have all got fed up with bureaucratic procedures or red-tape and railed against how complex and convoluted the whole damn thing is. However that’s just the easier surface-level reality that this Drucker quote speaks to. In the name of improving productivity, incentives are created that make people stop contributing elsewhere. In the name of appraising performance, people spend more time logging in sundry details. In the name of engaging people, team members search for good things to say to each other in public and struggle. Incentives skew the direction of effort and the allocation of time. Before incentives, I had time to help my colleague structure a work-proposal. After incentives, I want to maximise what I can earn. Teamwork…