Learning

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.

Aiming for team excellence? Make yourself dispensable as team-leader.

You are a fast-rising team leader intent on learning strategy & the big picture. You get feedback that you need to focus on helping team members get better at operations. How does that feel? A bit frustrating, of course.  It is like halfway up the mountain, you are looking at the summit, charting your own route and then, you are asked to retrace your steps and climb down to base-camp. Is there something you can do, something different? Yes, you can. Be strategic about the whole thing itself. Yes, you are asked to work on tactical excellence by helping your team members. But no, you need not get tactical in your approach. Be strategic. Create an elaborate & systematic plan of action.  How? Tactical is doing things one at a time with each member. Believing that I have to myself sit down with each and help them learn the ropes. Strategic is refusing to accept that you have to do this all by yourself. Instead you ask, how can I get them to learn largely on their own? That does not mean…

Events, Seminars, Conferences- Do you learn anything?

Business events are for networking and business generation. Well and good. They are marketed as learning opportunities. Not so well and suspect. In my limited experience, what you get to know are things that you could possibly know by reading on your own. If the speakers have inspirational quotient, go ahead and indulge yourself. Once you have indulged enough, even that becomes mundane. Why does the learning not happen? Dialogue is missing. An event can be a community in the making. But organizers do not look at it that way. To build a community requires staying connected throughout the year. A shared purpose, collaborative projects, assessments and surveys keep the fires burning. The event is then ripe for a dialogue, a conversation that goes beyond exchanging information. In a dialogue, people explore meaning, purpose, and values. They challenge and support each other by combining enquiry and advocacy. But most industry meets are seasonal events that are folded up lock,stock, and barrel until the next year comes. The events are ends in themselves. So, what do we have, right now? Instead of dialogue, we have experts addressing us. Sharing…

Learning from every experience. A shift is all it needs.

It was an uneasy conversation. You have this very capable subordinate. She had asked for a change of job responsibilities and duly got it. But she is new to this work in which you are an old hand. So, you offered to help and mentor her. The immediate context was that you  overheard her struggling to connect with a valued client. You just happened to pass by her desk when she was talking. When you called her in to offer help, she knew where this was coming from. And her demeanour showed she did not like this one bit. She politely declined any offer of help and said she will ask for help when she needs it. You quietly reflect on the conversation.Here was a capable individual who could do with a little help. But she takes quiet pride in her work and is very sensitive about any offer of help. She interprets such an offer as a lack of confidence in her. You accept you got it wrong from the word go. Given the context, she was going to react this…

If its so bad,why not make it good? A case for learning.

Have you heard this said about a movie,”It was so bad that it was really good!” Many people actually celebrate this ‘so bad,its good’ movies & even make money by spoofing or reviewing it.That is value-creation! People scrounge for value once they accept going in for the experience.As audience in a speech or trainees in a learning event, we can do the same.Why not? What else is there.Can you raise the bar for yourself as a learner.The measure of doing so would be to transcend & go past the ability of the content,process or the trainer.And to create meaning & value by identifying substance!

Putting a Price Tag & Losing out on Intrinsic Value – in Life & at Work.

A social experiment in Israel is a good reason to explore the after-effects of putting a price-tag on desired behaviour. Our performance assessment & reward structures are built around paying good money for a job done – on specification. And a penalty or lack of increment for sub-par performance. The system works. Or does it? Here’s what happened. Parents in day-care centres in Israel used to keep anxious kids & a tired teacher waiting well past the pick-up time of 4 pm. They were habitually late. Economists monitored ten such centres for four weeks. On an average, there were eight late pick-ups per week per day care centre. The parents hurried onto the scene half guilty, half worried. Fifth week onwards, they imposed a penalty of 3$ for a more than ten minute delay. The parents were paying $380 per month. By the twentieth week, the average pick-ups per week per day care centre had shot up-to twenty, more than double the original average! Daniel Cohen, French economist puts it well, “There are things we do because we cherish them.…

Peter Drucker – On the first job

“On the whole young people have a tendency to hang on to the first job…beyond the time when they should have quit for their own good. Your first job may turn out to be right for you—but this is pure accident. Certainly you should not change jobs constantly or people will become suspicious rightly of your ability to hold any job. At the same time, you must not look upon the first job as the final job; it is primarily a training job, an opportunity to analyze yourself.” – Peter Drucker Drucker also advises people to leave their first job if they are not learning enough or if the company is not willing to heap responsibility on people in junior positions. In few words, Drucker liberates readers; he takes them to a vantage-point  from where they can see things most clearly.

The Most Powerful Words for Guiding Human Resource Development in Organizations

In the fewest possible words, can we get a guiding principle for developing people in organizations? In my search for something that works, something not necessarily lofty, but nevertheless validated by success, I can think of no better one than the one below. Every organization develops people. It either helps them grow or stunts them. –       Peter Drucker The power in this profound observation escapes the casual reader. Make no mistake about it. For those who haven’t yet grasped the significance of these words, there is a new world waiting to be born! These are the most powerful words for any leader in any role to really reflect on, be it CEO, HR Head, L&D Head or a Business head. What makes them so powerful? They illuminate a truth we seldom consider & act upon. Our most over-used cliché is that people are our best asset. We accept that developing people is the key to organizational success. But do we really think that by not helping people grow, we are stunting their growth? To stunt is to permanently impair the ability…

Designing a (corporate readiness/ campus to corporate/ soft skills for work) course curriculum – Three Key Questions

India’s educated youth lack the basic skills to become employable; ready to be absorbed into work by various sectors. According to Higher Education in India: Vision 2030, a report made by Ernst and Young for FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry), 75% of IT graduates are deemed ‘unemployable’, 55% in manufacturing, 55% in healthcare and 50% in banking and insurance. NASSCOM says that only 10-15% of other graduates are considered employable in the IT/ITES segments. These are staggering statistics. What is meant by being unemployable? Quite simply, it means even though the job candidate has all qualifications on paper, companies do not consider them job-ready. They lack the basic skills to communicate & participate in a team, to understand the context of what their job requires, & to adapt what they know into specific output on the ground. A skills-gap of epic proportions. This crying need has led many colleges, educational institutions & corporate companies to try their bit & plug this skills-gap by imparting skills-training, especially in soft-skills. The result is the emergence of corporate readiness…