Tag Archives: Agile

Change under crisis or constraint is compelling; but it is costly n chaotic!

abc“Change” is the most celebrated term in corporate life, leadership circles, professional and personal lives and even in country governance across the globe. Most people take pride in speaking for change, but fall short is imbibing and implementing it. Many talk about it but don’t know what to do with it.

An aspirant gets a new job of his choice and hence he loves it and puts in hard work. Years pass by and his conviction gets consolidated that he would never like to leave such a job. His management starts to perceive him as a liability; but he believes in his loyalty and one fateful day, he faces termination.

You develop a taste for sugar coated donuts and get hooked to eating couple of them every morning. You believe you are young with no family history of blood sugar problem; so, why not enjoy it. In time to come, you discover alarmingly high level of blood sugar and then you start spending time and money on medical experts and medicines; at the same time, you find it painful to miss taste of donuts.

Look at the iconic companies like General Motors, Ford, Siemens, BlackBerry and many more. These organizations did not change in or with time and hence faced blow to their businesses or serious crisis, resulting into painful restructuring, sell offs or even closure of several of their units.

Rise of right wing voices or parties in USA, Europe and Brexit are clear indications of ruling parties giving a cold shoulder to changing their policies in time and now their people are forcing them to change albeit in wrong direction.

Is it not a clear indication that waiting for crisis to come and then change is very costly and complex? Very often, changing under constraints may not be a blessing but a bane.

Why “Change” receives more of lip service than living examples

It has become a fashion to talk about change; but hardly anyone is willing to walk for a change. Celebrities proudly pronounce “Change is the only constant in Universe”, not knowing what exactly it means. Change is a continuum; not a constant. Universe actually has no constant.

Then, we are ever ready to pass our sermons how and why others should change, forgetting that if we want to change others, that change has to first originate from us. A step ahead, people talk about grand changes in systems at company, community or country level; but most prefer to be spectators and fight shy of becoming part of system. Unless you become part of change, bringing change is only a pipe dream.

In more than 90% of cases, it is a decorative word in speeches and essays, until crisis descends.

Biggest confusion is “Why and what change”

Homilies aside, herds hardly understand correct definition of change!

Nothing is static around us. We and our environments are continuously changing. So, change is nothing but adjusting to changes happening internally and externally to us with time, so that we can accomplish our short and long term goals in least time and resistance.

So first of all, to talk of change without your goals in mind is foolhardy. Then comes, identifying what incremental changes have happened in and around you, followed by planned steps to effect the change.

Crisis comes out, when accumulated changes crash the system

By and large, people like to be inert to changes, because of inertia that they develop from their comfort zones.

Changes not made but accumulated over time burst out in form of crisis or even conflicts. You or people at large than have no choice or time but brace or face changes thrust upon you. You like it or not, such forced changes are bound to be painful; some of these may be right but a lot would not be. You would react against such forced changes; but would have no recourse left and hence, these become chaotic.

Changing by choice is indeed chaste

Very fact that change is continuum tells us that we must live side by side of changes that are arising and align with them in time. This alone can make us very efficient, ebullient and agile.

Changing by choice makes the Change a pleasure and not pain; it can be a nice asset but never liability.

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Throes of a dilemma – to be thick or thin skin!

Being happy and lucky at same time! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

Consciously or unconsciously, everyone faces predicament that in a given situation, to be sensitive (thin skin) or insensitive (thick skin)! Trend of sensitiveness is set by one’s genes; but it is very much possible to alter it by making conscious efforts and practice. A right degree of sensitiveness helps a lot in your relationship, liaison, career and general effectiveness, and it also has lot of impact on your health and state of mind.

Interestingly, if you look at larger areas of population like that of a country to globe, you would discover that people from west and north regions tend to be thicker skin and those from east and south regions nearly opposite. Mind it – this seems to be the order at macro scale; you would always find exceptions at micro level. Important is to notice the trend! It looks probable that it has something to do with prosperity and environment including weather. A body that can withstand tougher conditions yet be accomplished by own hard work is bound to be a shade less sensitive!

Since nothing in nature is one sided, thick and thin skins have their pros and cons.

If you are thin skin!

Here below are pluses and minuses and tendencies, as you become thinner skin:

  • Stage 1
    You are likely to be kind, caring, compassionate, sincere, mild by temper and you would be particular in delivering what you promise.
    Your body would show sensitiveness to weather changes.
  • Stage 2
    You would become an emotional person and would often be anxious to get good results. You may easily get upset, if what you plan gets usurped.
    You would not get sound sleep and hence cease to be a morning person. You can become finicky and cleanliness freak!
  • Stage 3
    Your kindness would give way to inflated ego and you would become prone to biases. You are likely to expect or demand perfection, shortfall in which would be bothersome for you. You would start to reject realities!
    This stage would shorten your temper. You might show signs of IBS, sleep disturbances, skin disorders and body aches.
  • Stage 4
    Anger and anxieties would take command of your life. You would start to worry about what would happen in future. You would be highly sensitive to what others have to advise or say about you.
    You are likely to become victim of high blood pressure, cardio ailments or depression.

If you are thick skin!

  • Stage 1
    You would be mostly stress free, smiling, quick decision maker, efficient and able to manage conflicts well. You would not be overly concerned what has happened in past, able to move forward and be agile!
    You would enjoy good health and better immunity against common ailments!!
  • Stage 2
    You would enter comfort zone/s and put up resistance to change. You would become carefree and start to lose efficiency and pragmatism, because of developing inertia.
    You would go easy on fitness aspects and may develop liking for junk food or erratic habits.
  • Stage 3
    You would become self-centered and face loss of productivity. Stage would now be set for you to become careless and casual. You would falter frequently on delivering your promises. You would start to ignore realities!
    You would talk more but walk less. You might collect more fat on your body!!
  • Stage 4
    Lethargy and apathy would overtake your life. Your career would go completely for a toss and you would face isolation.
    You would encounter inactivity and weight related ailments like diabetes.

So, how thick your skin should be?

You like it or not, believe it or not; nature demands balancing! You must not be too sensitive or insensitive; you must not be too sincere or insincere; don’t be too loyal or betray either!!

If you pay attention to above stages and analyze, you would conclude that you must stay and sustain the mix of stage 1 of both thin and thick skins. To do this, replace your sensitivity by sensibility, regardless of what stage you are at and status or clout you enjoy! 

That alone can give you right thickness to your skin! You would then be happy and go lucky!!

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Sharpen your personality by sharpening your brain/memory!

Bless your brain! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

“Your persona is how your mind is”, this is what a body language expert would say! This is very true!!

Let us first understand what we mean by “how mind is”. Mind is the most powerful and precious part of a human body (it is also true of every other living being). Principally, nature has gifted equally powerful mind to everyone. It means that there is nothing like sharpening a mind! This may be surprising but a reality!! The only differentiator from person to person is kind of thoughts, which a mind carries and activates body’s nervous system, which is seen as physical response. There are essentially 2 types of thoughts:

  1. Thoughts, which are developed by the observation being made now through 5 human senses
  2. Thoughts, which are triggered by human memory

If 2 persons are making same observation, then 1st type of thoughts would be exactly same in the minds of both persons. It is the 2nd type, which would always be different from person to person and that is what makes behavior/response of every individual different from other! Therefore, what assumes crucial role is memory system that resides in human brain, which has 3 types of memories – sensory, short term and long term.

So, “how mind is” means what types of thoughts your mind carries. Note that you have control only over 2nd type of thoughts, which are triggered by your brain or its memory system.

What is meant by sharpening brain/memory?

This is an area of utter confusion thus far! Does it mean remembering same thing again and again, so that you never forget? Does it mean thinking fast and store in your memory equally fast? Is it using your brain a lot or storming it with ideas?

It is none of the above!

Sharpening brain or memory means retrieval of stored thoughts quickly and correctly. For example – you have to answer a question and you know the answer, then “how quickly and correctly you could pull out the thought from your memory, as an answer” would determine sharpness of your memory or brain! Faster you do it accurately, sharper is your brain and hence mind.

How to sharpen your brain/memory

A sharp memory or brain makes a mind sharp! A sharp mind makes a man agile, versatile, observant, attentive, responsive and hence smart!

You find some people are great communicator; some are very spontaneous; few make great impact by their presence and interaction or from their smile and sight alone – such effects actually come from a sharp brain or mind behind!

Here below are few steps, which may come as surprise to you; but can surely sharpen your memory/brain:

  1. Avoid at every cost a mind cluttered with thoughts or closter phobic with images or activities.
  2. Don’t do multitasking, as it necessarily needs multiple thoughts, which would only make your mind chaotic!
    You can do single tasks or sub-tasks in sequence.
  3. Don’t brood over past and bother about future!
    Focus only on “Now”.
  4. Conflicting thoughts are most constraining and debilitating.
    More than 50% of time, we have conflicting thoughts. Your biggest opportunity lies in minimizing these. Challenge yourself when conflict occurs in your mind and hold on to only right thoughts.
  5. Drop as many emotions from past as possible.
    These always make your mind to function erratically. Initially, you may get a feeling of emptiness; but that is only a psychological illusion. Ignore it.
  6. Avoid being in rush! Learn to live with patience.
  7. Practice focusing on single thoughts!
    Spend at least 10 minutes twice a day (out of which once should be in morning before starting your routine) by simply observing single thoughts passing your mind. See that these single thoughts are passing as slow and clear as possible.
  8. Meditate and focus on your breathing.
  9. Never get overwhelmed by any development; remain on ground!
  10. If you are stressed, take a pause or break.
  11. Close your eyes and speak out very slowly but step by step “one – two – three”. While doing so, notice thoughts which come at each step.
    Now, quietly recall with eyes remaining closed these thoughts in reverse order i.e. thought/s that came in your mind when you spoke “three” 1st to be recalled, followed by what came when you spoke “two” and in last those for “one”. More accurately you can do this; more powerful would be your brain’s ability to recall.

Above 11 points can propel you to be “sharp and savvy, intellectual and imaginative, decisive and decent”!

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Good has limits; but bad knows none!

Source: http://www.flickr.com/

When going is good, we see no limit! Then, a stage comes when we start to take U turn. Good starts to become grim be it growth, success or relationship. Our belief that sky is the only limit gets grounded! To be truthful, “Sky is the limit” is only a phrase. Contrary to popular perceptions, anything that is good has limits and limits are essential for anything to be good! On the other hand, what is bad or wrong has no limits!

Turn the pages of history; small controversies within a family to international conflicts start for wrong reasons and could have irretrievable consequences. It is only when good sense prevails, that it begins to peter out. Look at World War I and II, Cuban missile crisis or Iraq conflict; these had spelt serious threat with no limits but for wisdom that eventually prevailed.

Take another example – Michael Schumacher; everything seemed to be going good for him. One fine day, while skiing may be that he tried to exceed the limit of “his confidence” or “fun that he was having” and it took a split second to put him in the lap of worst time of his life! Many would just wish away by saying it was error of judgment or part of his destiny. But, the fact remains “good” took turn for “worse” and it is not that it had befallen from sky. And, now no one knows what would be his fate!

So, what and where is the bottom for bad?

Bad has no bottom!

A word of caution – majority around us believes in brinkmanship! “If good has limits, then why not go for bad; if being right does not deliver results, then do it wrong” is what many people tend to believe, rather than trying to find to find out where are they committing mistakes. May be that very perception that they are good or right enough is not correct.

If some supervisor is manipulative or a boss is toxic, would you ever know the limits to which he or she can go to? Please take a pause and ponder – if you become angry or frustrated, do you know in that state to what extent you would go? You would not; and if you do, then your anger or frustration would start to wane!

People, who indulge in greed, manipulation, corruption or anything negative, become headless; they have no sense of proportion or direction. Many believe that dishonest or dubious people are more successful, make money and live a comfortable life. Yes, we notice when they make money but we don’t care to know or never come to know when they lose many things – happiness, sleep or credibility and eventually money too!

So, being bad on any count is a bad idea and has no bottom. It is senseless and directionless. So, be wary of what is bad or wrong!

Good is self-limiting!

If you take any attribute or parameter, it always has a scale. Look at few examples:

  1. Confidence
    Confusion –> Confidence –> Arrogance
  2. Empathy
    Apathy –> Empathy –> Emotional
  3. Agile
    Docile –> Agile –> Aggressive
  4. Innovative
    Dull –> Innovative –> Disruptive
  5. Decisive
    Dither –> Decisive –> Desperate or Deadly (paced)

Above shows that good resides in between 2 extreme ends of the scale of any parameter or characteristic. It generally starts at 20% and tapers off at 80%. It’s 80:20 rule! On left and right sides of 20 and 80% respectively, it is bad. It can go negative (below 0%) or above 100% to make it even worse.

It is precisely for above reasons that good or right is always self-limiting. If leaders or legends fail or fall, it is because they attempt to exceed these limits.

You know what is good; but then why you fail to get a grip!

If we observe ourselves without emotions, we would discover that time and again we are tempted to praise “Bad” and raise doubt on “Good”! Our faith and patience with Good is fractured. We flirt with Bad, since our ego gets boosted and emotions get satisfied.

Net result is that we flick from “under-do” to “do” to “over-do” what we believe is good for us. It throws us out from range of good to region of bad and then back! This cycle keeps repeating. In the process, we do not get grip of where we want to be and should be!

So, if you want to drive the life your way, your only choice is to adopt “Good” and abdicate “Bad”! And equally important is to learn the range of “Good” and remain within it come what may!!

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Our Comfort Zones not only create Inertia; but also inhibit Efficiency & Growth!

Psychologically and biologically, we are always tempted to create comfort zones at work as well as in personal life and our natural tendency is then to live in those! Our comfort zones are actually the cause of our inertia, inefficiency and inadequate growth.

When individuals, management included, in companies start creating comfort zones, the result is unwieldy systems, structure and processes, rendering them uncompetitive. That is when companies have to go for costly ways of restructuring, reorganization or reinventing themselves!

Why we fall prey to inertia created by comfort zones

  1. We like path of least resistance.
  2. We talk of challenges; but hesitate to walk the same.
  3. We have implied liking for gap between our desires and drive.
  4. We relish things on a platter; that’s what comfort levels can provide.
  5. We are mostly risk averse and hence like to wander on roads most traveled.
  6. We carry false notion for developing expertise by only doing repetitive activities over a long period of time, which is devoid of challenges and instead develops comforts.
  7. We like Change; but don’t like to change ourselves!

What we crave and create, we own and don’t want to abandon i.e. comfort zones; this is what invites “inertia in our thoughts and actions”.

How inefficiency and stagnancy creep in

Comfort zones are big barriers to achieving higher efficiency and growth.

  1. Comfort levels are invariably coupled with complacency. So, people like to perform same function or work same way, they are used to do. They do not seek or even see areas to improve.
  2. Every activity or function has 2 parts – (a) what needs to be performed on a repeat basis and (b) what can be changed and done differently.
    Part (a) has possibility to execute faster through use of tools, methods and/or experience. But, if one is in comfort zone, he/she would be averse to apply the same, as mentioned under point 1 above.
    What is far more damaging is reluctance, which comfort zones create against implementation of part (b)! It is this part, which brings new ideas, innovation and usher in real change.
    When part (b) remains dormant, it drowns companies or individuals into gross inefficiency and ineffective growth and development!
  3. Rut of routine and repetition make leaders to lose their luster!
  4. Comfort zones are like cancer, which would only spread, unless cut away.
  5. Comfort zones are the cause of illusion that direction is right and drive is smooth.
  6. Companies and cadres lose momentum and rhythm; therefore, they are no longer vibrant and agile.
  7. Being devoid of Change and Innovations, all stakeholders would go downhill and degenerate.

When we are aware of consequences, why we still crave for comfort zones!

There are two main causes:

a. We constantly live in fear of known or unknown. It is because of this that we humans have become habituated to save our skin, seek safe routes and create secured environments!
Above succumbs most of us to tested and tried things. We start to relish things, which are routine and repetitive! That is how we develop inherent inertia and invariably resistance to Change!

b. This is strange; but true! It is easy for us to be complicated; but difficult to be simple. Therefore, we tend to complicate matters, methods or means, rather than simplify the same!

This is rampant across the globe. Such complexities make us to spend more time and energy in doing our things, test our patience and create fatigue. Feeling of comfort comes in when we gain experience by doing or executing these over number of times or we discover some steps to do these faster (which is actually not a simplification; but using familiarity for faster actions).

Comfort zones are nothing but emotions of ease in execution, which arise from past experience; but these are not necessarily efficient and are barriers to new Ideas and Innovations!

How to kill or come out of comfort zones

  • Contrary to your belief, comfort zones provide only temporary relief. It is the constant drive for Change, which provides continuous thrill. So, you have a clear and only one choice – cut out comfort zones!
  • Comfort zones would eventually kill or throttle your career.
  • These can enhance your experience; but not efficiency.
  • Preference for little constraint over comfort would always pay you.
  • Shed away your emotions for comfort; just capture experience or knowledge, which past instances have created. Your inertia would vanish, if you truly do that!
  • Very important to know is that it is easy to complicate matters; but difficult to make those simple.
  • Simplification brings elegance and efficiency.
  • When we reinvent, we actually convert complicated things into simple ones; not other way around.
  • Put stress on simple thoughts and approach, actions and executions. That would bring you out of your comfort zones and make you:
    • Agile
    • Vibrant
    • Innovative
    • Courageous to traverse on roads less traveled and discover how your dreams become realities!
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