Sunday, February 7, 2010

Middle Class-a driver to Global economy

The booming middle class of China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Russia contribute in their own way for driving the future economies. There are some very strong similarities in the middle class across the world in general and more so in developing economies.
There will be differences if we microscopically look at the daily lives as the culture and outlook are different depending on history. For example a youth taking to drinking alcohol or smoking in Russia at an early age can be normal as irrespective of class this is normal. But same will not be the case in India for example.
To look at differences and elaborating it is probably a way to defend why we should think complex but to look at similarities is a way to look at world as one.
Being the middle is always a challenge. Those born with Silver spoons don't bother too much as there is everything even without asking for it. Those born in poverty struggle with getting basic necessities of life as they cannot think beyond next time meals. Those born in the middle class have to prove to their parents that they can achieve and be disciplined to get something they wish to have. This sets a performance/reward culture in them. Since the surplus is not too much they realize the difficulties of the poor much better. This makes them more sensitive to the society they live in. There is an opportunity for the kids to spend time with their grand parents who usually have moved up the society with their hard work and know the value of education. They get to know the basic values of life from them. This is different from the rich parents who neither have time/is not a priority or the poor parents who cannot afford to spend quality time with their kids.
This setting is quite ideal for the children of middle class as they aspire to grow with their hard work and learning. The fact that Obama mentions several times that the skill set of Indians/Chinese students is much higher is that a developing economies are in the middle-not like US a developed economy and accompanying ego state or not like some African countries an under developed country where survival is an achievement.
Therefore to say that Middle Class will sit in a driver seat to shape the future Global economies is an understatement. They will be the brain, energy and fuel (as they will also be consumers to the products/services) and aspiration to the future. There is no doubt that the moderate middle class will also slowly force more aggressive and repressive regimes to change. This makes me feel more comfortable that the future is in safe hands. Let us hope that the middle class in their aspiration to grow don't get the success in their heads and spoil the next generation. To sustain a few more generation of middle class power with middle class mind set is key to a bright future of the world. I also hope there is some more cross collaboration among the middle class of different economies to ensure we move to a quicker learning and adoption across the world including Green Initiatives.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Philosophy of Silver Bullet

If you believe in Werewolves, Vampires and all those demonish creatures you know what a Silver Bullet is. The surprising thing is that this belief is of 20th Century origin-now the term Silver Bullet is used to indicate a quick solution to a difficult problem.
As human's we always want a panacea for all problems. I remember when I was young watching a fake herbal marketer shouting to a crowd with his mesmeric voice that the Fox Horn(do foxes have horns?) powder he has can cure almost every malady. I was amused when some very educated looking (!)men buying the stuff. Maybe for some it can appear to work as it is Pshycological.
Silver bullet works on the premise that there is one fixed way to attack the problem which is monstrous to imagine. There is no other known solution and no harm to give it a try. This is different from Alchemy which is driven by greed to make gold from some other metal. A person trying to do Alchemy is probably searching a short cut to become rich and famous. The positive aspect of this is that they probably end up learning something in ssearch of this skill. On the way they find something else and settle for it which is better than what they had been. It is like aiming for Moon and landing in on a hilltop. But still they landed somewhere higher than where they originally are. This is positive about trying to become an Alchemist.
However Seeking a Silver Bullet is slightly different. For example if US stuck in Afganisthan is hoping that the Taliban will melt with time or make a peace deal with them by legalizing them to be part of Government-then they are looking a silver bullet solution. The problem is demonic with different dimensions and solution cannot be simple.
Several times I hear this when the negotiations are getting tough-look for a face saving formula. I smile at presentations which try to show the best of a worst situations (how service has dramatically improved when reality is market is down and inventories are sky high) as this is also a face saving formula. Face savers are not silver bullets..they are self deceptions. Politicians will want it but not others. Power is not lost with such efforts of people and soon it starts to eat the core of character.
Silver bullet is by scale much larger-promise and belief of an impossible thing to fix a problem. Devil is in details and Silver bullet is the exact opposite of details as it is a hypothesis. Six sigma thinking and Emotional Intelligence are two antidotes for Silver bullets. For example it is common to hear people saying a state of art ERP system will solve all their problems. So be it says the management and then the demons change shape. Now it is a different Silver bullet we want as today's solutions are tomorrow's problems.
Therefore wanting a Silver Bullet is not quite unreasonable but to find one is usually an unreasonable expectation. Managers keep their jobs as Silver Bullets evolve as werewolves arrive in different forms. Hope remains to find solutions for all problems including Global warming which is driven by human greed..this is the philosophy of Silver Bullet.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Where defensiveness dares...

Inspiring stories, life experiences and poems of people always gives a ray of hope in all humans. For example when one reads" Lead Kindly Light" of Tagore surely there is something inside our minds which gets a ray of hope. Similar is the case with the perseverance of people who not only survived but also took it as a responsibility to motivate others survive in the concentration camps in World War II. Hope is clearly a remedy for pessimism which is probably a natural defensive action mind resorts to during adversities. Being defensive is not a bad behavior but once it becomes a habit it starts to suck away the real reasons of failures. On the other end of spectrum being over confident has a similar effect when it becomes a habit. When defensiveness becomes a habit we fight for status quo or start to be perceived as a bottle neck in a change situation. Leaders of change may start to avoid getting opinions from the person with such behaviors though there can be some fence sitters motivating to continue to dare. Such people end up in being forced to look for new jobs and they probably never recognize that the reason for their malady is within them.
Over confidence that there can be nothing which can go wrong has other effects. Such people are cultivated by Leaders to be a catalyst of change in some situations only to realize that after sometime their effectiveness wanes. The reason is people around who look for logical reasons of why this will succeed find that it is more words and feelings than logic that drives the individual. As a corollary there can also be an instant belief in an hope giving enthusiastic leader if the earlier leader was a pessimistic, image drainer for a group/country. Classic example is Obama. As it can be seen very soon the belief drains when people start to realize that life is more than just giving hope and speaking the right vocabulary.
There are some general rules to test if we have the sickness of defensiveness:
1) If we shoot down new ideas even without taking it for discussions
2) If we are trying to project all the showcase items (good news) and cover up dissent
3) If we are wanting to manage/alter the KPI's for short term reasons of bonus or justifying headcounts etc
4) If we generally exhibit all the passive aggression characteristics
5) If our humor is hurting a change manager who is sincerely trying to make a change
6) If our informal communication is exactly opposite of formal communication
7) If we explain the problem is not here but elsewhere and we can't do much
8) If we say dotted line reporting can achieve only so much
9) If we say we have tried it earlier and it will fail as we are not ready
10)If we smile when something which we say will fail actually failed.
The list can be longer but when defensiveness dares there cannot be much progress is a fact individuals and organizations should recognize. The more healthy a person is (both physical and emotional) the less insecure he/she is. The less insecure a person is the less defensive he/she is. For example last year I tried to introduce diversity in an alumni e-group which was a male only. Most of them were uncomfortable but some were so defensive that they felt that even if a women is classmate she should not be added for it takes away the joy of men talk/humor.
There were some who said by virtue of being a classmate they have a right but were pushed through with humor and peer pressure. I had the responsibility to go back and inform the bad news but I chose a new way. I asked the most resistant person to draft a nice communication which can be shared. After one week I got a reply that he did not find a good reason and realized that maybe we should make it an inclusive group. I appreciated him for the introspection made the defensiveness vanish. We went ahead but I informed the concerns some had to the women. To our surprise she said" Nothing new" and went on to add energy to our group. The group is more active than ever. In a recent communication I got a person saying that adding her was one of the best decisions made. Progress is made only when we get our masks and start accepting realities. We cannot live in our silos and believe that if we get out we step on fire. Dare to recognize this and be a leader...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fire for regeneration...

The concept of destruction as a seed for new creation is not new. However the pains of destruction and the emotional attachment to the old creates a constant dilemma for leaders, slowing down the emergence of new creations. Timing is crucial for the seed to germinate and any delays to create the right environment will only stunt the next generation growing naturally resulting in a sense of disbelief instead of confidence.
A clear example we can look at is Forest fires..forest fires are now more and more man made (Unintentional,so they say. But forest fires have always existed. The trigger has been Lightening strike on the tall trees. If it does happen in a dry season then it sets off a forest fire killing every possible life it can gobble. Some fires burn for several weeks. The heat on the floor of forest takes several months to subside or need to wait for a monsoon rain.
A pessimist will say that is the end of fertility and power of life. But nature has found ways to find life in this adverse condition. Certain variety of pine cones have been waiting for several years to open up. As they are hard and wax coated the only way to open it up is fire. The seeds jump out in joy and start to germinate. What a wonder...very soon the fertile soil provides place for younger and newer species of life. Was the forest fire bad? Yes for the older generation. But it provided a base for a new generation which otherwise would not have come to live with us. The concept of Shiva performing the dance of death and firing up lives opening the Third Eye when things need to be destroyed is to be viewed as an act out of pity rather than anger. The anger part is just to ensure there are no emotional reasons to slow down the destruction which slows down next creations. The reason to have bias less entity to destroy (as it will be difficult for a creator himself to destroy..I cannot imagine Brahma sitting on Lotus Flower can perform this task as the attachment/admiration will be preventing doing this. Remember Brahma was so fascinated by the creation of Thilothama that He forgot the reason fo the creation and started to lure her).
And why do I write all this? Life in corporations are similar. A product line which has outlived its utility is a constant dilemma for a company whose founder is attached to the product than the realities of market. Bajaj Scooters is a classical example. Owning a Bajaj scooter (Chetak) was a pride of several fathers and sure it was considered an ideal middle class family vehicle. Recently I read that the company decided to stop production of this. There were some emotional discussions of the founder, creator of the product. Maybe the decision should have been made 5 years ago to avoid drain of resources. I don't say that with this decision everything will change but the courage of destroying what has been created earlier is a Fire that should come at the right time. It takes will power to execute this decision as old people see it as Rash, safe players think that this fire will create total destruction etc. But a leader should take the decision without passion or attachment to ensure that the next generation thrives. Maybe there are some pine cones waiting for this fire.
Having said that it is important not to destroy for the pleasure of destroying. When I hear people telling me in Interviews that " Reducing Headcount is my key focus area. I have always championed this cause" I get really worried. Improving efficiency and output can be a focus area for everyone. One of the several consequences can be reducing resources that are no longer relevant. If the focus is other way then probably they are passionate about destroying rather than creating which makes them unfit for leading fires for regeneration.
Next time you find such a person tell them what we are looking for a person with third eye which opens only when really needed and not a sharp shooter who shoots only to check if his guns are working or his skill of sharp shooting is intact.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Believer or an Atheist!!

The question of belief transmits from generation to generation as children are shaped with belief and cultural manners by parents when they are quite young. The shaping up is more rigorous in middle class family children than in upper class or under privileged class as there is lesser time parents have for children or some other extreme reasons of survival/freedom definitions.
Whatever be the bring up, the beliefs get questioned in Teenage. Several of them consider to be an Atheist at an extreme case or consider being neutral to beliefs of God/super natural elements. This is part of evolution of human mind but it is important to recognize that being an Atheist is also a form of religious belief and should be respected.
Social consciousness is a necessary sensitivity one should build during the Teenage evolution. If this is built very firmly and a person becomes an asset to the society he lives in by actively contributing to it then it does not matter if he remains a believer or an atheist. If a person becomes a believer (or a strict follower by social design/adaptation to his relatives/friends)with not developing a sensitivity towards the social causes then the person adds to the population and will probably remain an also existed category. The fact that the social consciousness and the realization that we are part of a whole and are connected with a responsibility is an essential condition to realize soul. The objective of any religion is to realize the divinity of soul and get the best out of human.
Attending Sermons, wearing religious symbols and reciting words with meanings not understood or internalized is probably a way to create a self image which can reflect what others want to see in us. But this neither helps self or others as it is not connected to the society we live in a positive/active way.
There is one more opportunity to review our actions and belief..this happens in the early forties. Questions from children and a trigger of dissatisfaction of constantly telling what is not fully accepted by our mind to them makes this review. Usually people ignore this or show out frustrations avoiding this disconnect. But a few take it seriously and try to find the truth of life. They make significant changes in life including trying to do something tangible to the society. They become calmer and more satisfied. Usually they are very approachable and emit positive energies. Don't wait for retirement to do the self introspection as options will be limited and maybe health will not co-operate as living a self deceptive life is surely more tiring.
Define success as what we do for society and then you seek the divinity within. You will find it sooner than later. God is within us and it takes some effort of giving back to the life HE has created to find HIS reflection and feel it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Achievement orientation!!

To look at people as flesh and blood powered by a motivation to survive is probably a very basic way of looking at life. While there are different motivational levels at different point of time in life for people there are still a lot who believe that they require external reasons to be motivated. Such people get motivated and demotivated as easily as loosing charge in our mobile batteries. I am not saying that there should be people who should never seek to recharge but I only mention that the recharge should be for the soul powered by self. For sure when we are young we need to have the right inputs and attitude built up by exposure to good books and great thoughts. Once we are of an age where we can vote to choose a government this should change. However I really worry at people who mention in social networking sites "I am depressed and need alcohol to boost up" etc sort of confessions. Maybe they are not enjoying what they are doing or in a rat race they never want to run.
Coming to topic of Achievement orientation, I think people should read the feelings of people who have done something considered impossible like climbing Everest without oxygen. Why they set on such a task, what motivated them to stay on course and why they are still motivated after loosing most of their toes to the frost bites. When you are alone and deprived of oxygen facing a question of survival versus achieving a goal most of us fail the test taking the survival option. But achievement orientation is about even when you are alone and feel threatened how can you remain motivated. Don't look for a mother (somebody comforting you or assuring you that you are good) but look within yourself for the flame of achievement. For sure this flame will need some refueling but much lesser than charging of our mobile phones. We need to feel the soul and re-energize it with right thoughts and goals. We cannot follow survival paths and still say we will be achievers. There is nothing written in stone is the famous quote I hear frequently but there is something more rigid when it is written in the soul-achievement orientation is one such winning quality. There is no one way to get this imbibed but it evolves over time but with constant internal focus and belief.

Friday, January 8, 2010

On a Lighter Vein!!

A lot of my friends confirm that though I am not a very serious person in real life I make it appear so in this Blog site..I had to make a posting in Lighter Vein. So those who appreciate my conceptual, confusing and often tangential philosophies please excuse me for this deviation. This is also an effort that will make me feel a little lighter by not taking myself seriously.
When I was young I travelled to my Aunt's place in Kumbakonam. Vacation was something every kid look forward to and it was fun in the train with other kids in similar holiday moods. When we reached my Aunt's place I was so thirsty I directly went to the kitchen in search of water pot (this was the poor man's fridge those days). Usually the pot is kept in a dark corner of the room. I picked the glass kept in the cover and started to fill in water from pot when I heard a huge roaring sound behind. I was astonished with an old lady standing with a huge stick..I dropped the glass in the pot and tried to shout. But my voice was stuck inside. She positioned her stick towards my head with a victorious voice "Finally I got you the Black stealing monkey". I gave a shriek. Fortunately my aunt walked in and held the stick back saying " Paati (Granny), that is our boy who has just come to visit us". Granny did not believe I am human..she actually said " I want to check if he does not have a tail as he exactly resembles the stealing monkey which yesterday ran away with my spectacles". I had to turnaround and show that indeed I have evolved to be human by dropping my tails some generations ago though the resemblance is unavoidable. From this time onwards Granny always called me "Black Monkey" though I used to protest saying that I am reasonably fair ( I accepted the fact that probably I was a Monkey). This sticks to my memory as maybe this was the first genuine nickname I earned by just drinking water in a dark corner.
I was an introvert through my childhood and used to hide when relatives visited our home in an obvious display of shyness. Fortunately not many took that as an insult and used say " People who are shy when they are young become loudmouthed as they grow up". I am sure most will agree that this prediction has come true. Talking something about everything is probably my weakness but I am sure it is better than being a depressive individual. In those days if you need to be a captain of a cricket team you need to own the cricket bat and ball. Though I was not a great player I had convinced my father to get me a bat and ball as a quid pro quo of not disturbing him when he was correcting exam papers. Then I became the captain of the street cricket team..I chose when I will be out. Very unfair but most of the other team players acknowledged it was fair enough without a grumble. I remember once hitting ball over to a construction site nearby where the painter took the ball and dropped it in a well. I was happy that I got a six and the player who went to pick the ball came empty handed saying the ball is gone in the well. When you are 10 years old and are the captain you feel that you can lead the I went to the site and asked him " How dare he dropped the ball in the well?"..the painter (possibly a weigh lifter) lifted me with my collars and hung me in the well in split second. I had a sense of flying and I looked down it was water below..he was probably shouting some not so words threating me for my arrogance. Childishness is sometimes loosely used to represent foolishness--I bit his hand in anger and he just dropped me in the well.
I am not sure how swimmers enjoy the vertical landings and win prizes...but I felt just fear as I landed in water. The well was deep and I landed exactly in the I was safe (this was what people who recovered me told me later..what a definition of safety). The moment I landed in water and starting to drink water (which was salty) through my mouth and nose, I don't remember anything more as I fainted out of fear of death. But when I woke up the painter was really scared and there were people who had taken him to task for what he did to me. Inspite of all the pathetic performance and life/death encounter I smiled as a hero. I had a nick name for this but I will not tell what it stayed on till I went to college. Several of my street friends remember me with this name. There is much more but maybe this is boring enough..but makes me smile on hindsight.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

3 Idiots-learnings

The success of the new film 3 Idiots is not surprising as it touches some key aspects of life in a very entertaining way. The aspect of not taking self seriously and live life in its true spirit is very clearly the message.
It is very true that a lot of middle class, disciplined parents think the children need a lot of help (X type of Management)including predeciding the line of specialization they will do. This may puzzle a lot of Westners who give complete freedom for their children to decide what they want to be (Y type of Management). The best model is probably a mixture of both (XY type of Management) styles.Coming back to the learnings fromt the movie-I personally think it is the simple facts of stupidity we take for granted being challenged in a most innocous way. There can be no denial of the rat race-a lot don't want to run it but know for survival they have to. So everyone is stressed but don't know how to stop others but fact is they can stop running. Success is defined in a particular way by society-how much one earns, how much assets, how many gadgets etc...but we forget the soul which is happy only when it does what it thinks makes it happy...not about others. It is true that inspite of the fact we talk a lot of family, friends finally we live life for ourself. Faking this will not achieve true success. Belief in self (as one idiot recognizes that praying for success is not a solution but accepting self is), follow the dream(as one idiot recognizes that it is photography not engineering his forte) and learn for creating something new than earn a degree(as one idiot shows what innovators stand for) is a complete package of learning. Not taking self seriously is the best way to avoid one's ego being hurt. And what better state than considering self as an Idiot. Sure it takes a lot of courage to proclaim self as an Idiot but once we do this we are much less under pressure from outside and listen to our inner voice. A first step to self realization and universal peace. No power quest, just knowledge quest and happy to fail mindset with a never give up attitude. Wow..I wish I learn to be an Idiot.

About Me

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Gothenburg, Sweden
Still finding introspecting to find who am I? Waiting for a Guru!