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The Peter Drucker Diary – Entry 5

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 5 “Expect the job to provide stimulus only if you work on your own self-renewal, only if you create the excitement, the challenge, the transformation that makes an old job enriching over and over again”  A job, especially in the context of an organisation, is in place for producing consistent results as demanded by the nature of the task or the wish of the customer. This creates routine. Any routine becomes mindless after some point of time. People go through the motions and deliver the minimum acceptable results that bear the stamp of consistency. For the organisation, most such results are low-stakes and deemed acceptable; and so, everybody plays their part in the drift downwards towards mediocrity. Peter Drucker puts the onus for a positive handling of the situation on the job-holder. Do not expect the…

Virat Kohli : The tough and the warm actions

Yesterday, Virat Kohli during his batting innings, urged indian supporters to stop booing Steve Smith. Kohli encouraged them to applaud Smith instead. This action won Kohli a lot of appreciation. And rightly so. Thats how leaders are expected to be. During the 2017 India – Australia test series, Virat had accused Steve Smith and the Australian team of cheating when it came to using the DRS review system. At that time, because it became a ‘your word against mine’ scenario and also because the two cricketing boards had to protect the reputation of their national teams, we did not appraise Virat Kohli’s stand too well. The South African tour ball-tampering scandal rocked the cricketing world later on. The rest is well-known. My contention is Kohli’s action in confronting Smith and Australia then is equally deserving of the same appreciation that people showered on him when he urged supporters to move on and not hound Smith. To call a spade a spade. To do plainspeaking is also how leaders are expected to be. In organisations, we have many a leader who…

Why is empathy so hard to experience?

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the thoughts and feelings of another. Empathy is prescribed as an essential attribute for leaders and managers.  When you are able to understand and identify with the thoughts and feelings of the people you work with, you will succeed. Empathy is such a natural human response to life,why then is it prescribed? After all, nobody prescribes breathing as a way to live. We breathe on our own. And so do we empathise on our own, don’t we? We instantly empathise when a stranger on a train or a flight speaks about a recent bereavement. We maintain peace and quiet for a colleague hard at work, even though usually we like to ruffle their feathers; because we know that their next meeting could be career-defining. We can identify. We can relate. On the other hand, social life and work-progress is also based on moderating or disregarding empathy. A hard thing to accept, for sure! Our much loved team leader has fought hard at a meeting of higher-ups. He did his best for all…

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…