Articles

Indian Cricket – Asking the Wrong Question. Not Dhon(i)

As we head into the Cricket World Cup next year, the public discussion centres around one question – Should Mahendra Singh Dhoni be in the team? And that does not bode well for Indian cricket. The critical question is – What will it take for the Indian Cricket Team to win the World Cup? The critical question comes first and dictates all efforts. Every other question and answer has to be subordinated to the critical question. This requires disciplined effort. It is much easier to focus on individuals, their performances and their claim for a place on the team. Far tougher is the effort to begin with the task and its requirements; that then lead to the identification of skills and capabilities, which in turn, throws up the team configuration and the performance-based names of individual players. We, on the other hand, are busy talking up or playing down the merits of Dhoni. It is good to ask a pointed question – Will Dhoni’s absence from the World Cup team cost India the 2019 World Cup? Shane Warne was the…

Agility – Why is it elusive in organisations

Agility is the ability to move quickly and easily in any direction. An agile organisation anticipates, senses and responds to its external environment in ways that create a competitive advantage. Organisational leaders often feel dragged down by the weight of an organisation’s structure and the rigidity of its processes. Being in vantage points, they can see or perceive the workflow and blockages. These leaders are best positioned to appreciate the value of agility in making an organisation nimble enough to seize fleeting opportunities and make quick comebacks. If that is the case, why are they not able to bring themselves to change and be more agile? And what can be done about it? There are a few aspects of how leaders function in organisations that can explain why it is hard to embrace agility in organisations. Addressing these aspects with a systems perspective can point the way forward. Sticking to Current Competence – An organisation is a system. How a system performs is a result of the interaction of its parts, not a consequence of how the parts function separately.…

Peter Drucker – Why does Emergency Room in a hospital exist? Brilliant!

Can anybody tell doctors what a hospital’s emergency room is for? Of course, not. Turns out Peter Drucker did. A legend in his lifetime, Drucker was once consulted by a hospital. They wanted him to help the Emergency Room (ER) of a hospital become more effective. Drucker started where he always does – mission. A mission statement answers the question – Why do we exist? Drucker asked the stakeholders in ER, “What is your mission?” At this point, put yourself in the shoes of the stakeholder. When I do, I answer, “The mission of ER is to save the life of everybody who is brought in” That is why it exists. Isn’t that true? People are wheeled into the place because it is, as the name suggests, an emergency! A life is at stake. We must save the life of this person. For Drucker, my answer won’t cut it. To him, the mission had to be so clear that it spells out in operational terms what to do next to achieve it. And that is his real genius! If we go by…

Significant Leadership : How to find where it lies

Take a look at the accompanying visual. Visuals simplify the appearance of complex reality. With the caveat of this being a conceptual model, it is still a useful one to find our place in the world. Significant leadership is the space where your greatest competence, your greatest passion and the world’s greatest need overlap. Where does one begin? Sachin Tendulkar began with his passion, and you might be surprised to know it was not batting! Tendulkar wanted to become a tearaway fast-bowler. When he went for Dennis Lillee’s fast-bowling camp, Lillee saw him bat and told him to forget about fast bowling. Isn’t that interesting? One of the greatest batsman in modern times needed feedback on his greatest competence! What comes in the way of identifying our competence? Ironically, it is the sheer ease of it, so much so that we do not think about it at all. What comes easy to us is dismissed. You can reflect on what is it you find very easy to do that is something of a task for your peer group ( people who…

Winning is not the only thing : Australian Cricket in shambles

Winning is not everything. It is the only thing. – Vince Lombardi The world loves winners and worships the idea of success. When Donald Trump won, there were people who against their better judgment, rationalized that the win made him fit to be the President of the United States, undoubtedly the most powerful leadership position in the world. These folks were not his supporters to begin with. Trump’s win made him legitimate to them. If he won, he must have been right, he is fit and able – so they said. Much the same rationalization seems to have been in place for the Australian cricket team, the team with the best winning percentages in cricket. They win, they must be right. Right in the way they play their cricket tough and go hard at the opposition. Now, after Steve Smith admitted to cheating, there is a sense of disbelief. This sense of disbelief is what needs to be reflected upon, perhaps more than the act of cheating itself. The cheating did not take place in isolation. It transpired against the…

Jan 2018 diary

26th Jan Nazis – A warning from history This documentary film series examines how the Nazis came to power in Germany and perpetrated their unspeakable atrocities leading upto the World War. When we think of Hitler, we perceive a monstrous leader in absolute command. We think he must have absolutely dictated in chilling detail every barbaric deed the Nazis were involved in. This broad understanding is easier for us to accept and explain the horror of concentration camps and the destruction of war. One man. One evil monster masterminded it all. The documentary reveals a different story. Adolph Hitler commanded absolute power and had legitimized Nazism as the ideological underpinning of his grandiose plans. However, as a ruler, Hitler was not at all hands-on with the nitty-gritty, the minutae of adminstration and terror. Sure, he was charismatic in his dealings with those who came with problems. His charisma infused a demonic zeal in his officers. However, he spoke in broad visions and gave vague directions on next steps after every momentous decision. It was left to those immediately below him –…

Improv – Deserving of a wider stage

At a play – The Diary of a Madman – the wonderful British performer was right into his solo-act as Poprishchin, a minor civil servant in Nicolas I’s time. Poprishchin is going mad and his descent into insanity is subtle & deceptive. That was in the script. What was not there was that there would be a constant titter of mobile phones ringing. The audience was getting mad in it’s own way and this descent was not so subtle; it was rather obvious! The actor was sane on this count. He carried on unaffected. And then it happened. He was half-way into his delivery of a particular monologue when an earth-shattering musical ringtone started to reverberate around the auditorium. Even before all of the audience had heard it, this actor started swaying to the rhythm of the ringtone, even as he continued his talk. It was so effortless that one could almost wonder if the ringtone music was intentional. At another critical instant, a girl sneezed. Without batting an eyelid, the actor said, “Bless you” and carried on! Both adaptations were a…

Nov 2017 Diary

22nd Nov Rukhmabai Raut in Google Doodle One of the best contributions of Google is it’s doodles on less known or unheralded icons. Today was on Rukhmabai Raut. On reading about her at Wikipedia, it is interesting to know that her defiance of the cusutoms of her day & unwillingness to go stay with her husband were considered to be the result of an English education. No less a person than Lokmanya Tilak said that. Centuries later, the least we can do is look at what transpired objectively. Individual stories played out against the larger backdrop of social change & political struggles. And individual self-interest or liberation suffered at the hands of duly acknowledged Indian leaders. For reasons that would now cause an uproar if leaders & icons were to play them up. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rukhmabai 21st Nov Jana Novotna’s passing Sad to know about Jana Novotna’s passing. She had an out and out attacking game and was lightning fast at the net. She cried in 1993 after losing the Wimbledon final. Millions of viewers, including me, could feel her heart go…

Indigo Fracas – Flawed Disciplinary Action

Indigo Airlines flew directly into a storm kicked up on the ground! Two Indigo staffers were caught on video trying to pin down an abrasive passenger. This was a fight more common among kids at school. Not at an airport. The incident happened in mid-October. The video, shot by an Indigo cargo handler, came out in November. Curiously enough, the cargo handler was removed from the job. As per Indigo’s public statement, he had instigated the other crew and was directly responsible for things coming to a head. Still, no matter what the cargo handler did, there is no way the people who actually got physical can be let off the hook. This is where Indigo seems to have gone completely off the radar. Let us accept for now that the cargo handler was the instigator. Even if that was the case,were the two other staffers such mindless automatons that they would just follow someone’s bidding, even if that be of their own supposedly senior colleague. Indigo claims the staffers used force to rein in an out of bounds passenger as a matter of…

The Elphinstone Stampede – Getting back on our feet

On 29th September 2017, an overcrowded foot over bridge at Elphinstone railway station, Mumbai witnessed a horrific stampede. 23 people died. What can we, as a society of organizations, do in the aftermath of the Elphinstone stampede? Let us explore the way forward using systems thinking. It might be a good idea to start with a description of the mental model we carry in our collective consciousness. Mental models are the very foundation, the source of how we create our own social reality. Mental Models Here is an articulation of the current mental models as I perceive them. ” Mumbai is the city of dreams. The financial capital. The corporate hub. Everything worth striving for is in Mumbai. We must go to work where the offices and establishments are. The best way to travel? The Mumbai locals – hands down. Cheaper & faster than anything else. Sure, it’s risky. Rush-hour.Packed trains, people falling off, getting run over. Part of the deal. We have made peace with it. Brave everything you encounter because there is a job to be done and food to…