Tag Archives: Change

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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Why history repeats by itself at professional and personal levels!

Reminiscent of history! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

A survey shows that about two third people around the world believe that history always repeats by itself; but one third not!

Fact is history does repeat time and again at micro and macro levels, albeit it does not replicate exactly. Its tendencies and trends, types and turn of events are similar in nature.

Famous US President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in a theater by a man, who fled to a warehouse. Another well-known US President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by a man from a warehouse, who then fled to a theater! Turn the pages of history of several battles fought; it repeatedly shows that one side in the battles was generally outmanned and outgunned, but it always managed to win the battle because it had better leadership! Every era of peace and prosperity has been followed by era of turmoil and troubles and vice versa. Countries, companies and individuals – leaders or preachers alike look invincible during their hay days; but become vulnerable and gullible soon thereafter. Inflation is followed by deflation in country economics and then inflation raises its head again. Cycles of historical highs and lows keep repeating unabated!

You feel hungry at 5 p.m. and treat yourself with junky food. Next morning, you read in newspaper how junk food junks your health and you decide not to eat it again. But again that afternoon, at 5 p.m., you end up eating junk food.

As per famous American author Mark Twain, no occurrence is sole and solitary, but a mere repetition of a thing which has happened before and perhaps more often!

Negative historical events seem to repeat more frequently than positive ones!

Have you notices that? Historical records point to same – wars, accidents, natural calamities, rebellions, deaths, setbacks and sicknesses!

My great grandfather died before my great grandmother. Someone had told my grandfather that history would repeat with him. It got stuck in his mind as worry for remainder of his life and he did die before my grandmother!

If a father became bankrupt in his business, one of his children in business would also become bankrupt in future!!

Reasons why history repeats!

Where do events, which occur, get stored? Are heavenly hands responsible to recall history? Astrology would dispose it is repeat positioning of planets that makes a given event to repeat!

Don’t be surprised to know – every day you repeat more than 90% of things that you did yesterday like getting up in the morning around the same time, brushing teeth and having breakfast in hurry, driving on the road with similar frame of mind – agitated or assuaged to your behavior at work. If this is the case, nearly 90% of things that happen to you would be a repeat of past.

Now, when large number of people do the similar things as above, then lot of events that are likely to happen at larger levels would also be same – simplest examples are cleanliness, traffic congestion, temperament or culture of public etc.!

Logically, repetition of history is not metaphysical or mysterious phenomena. History or past is not stored anywhere in nature or universe but in your own mind. It repeats, simply because consciously or unconsciously you repeat your thoughts and actions, regardless these are positive, negative or neutral, to the extent of 90%!

When you repeatedly think same, you are bound to attract similar events or environments that you have witnessed in past. Conversely, similar events would revive your memory or thoughts. That is why some scenes always tend to instill fear or some faces or faiths invoke prejudices in you!

Why we tend to repeat, more so what is negative or wrong!

  1. Inertia
    Like gravitational force, inertia is prevalent in every object, leave alone humans. So what we start, we tend to continue, unless we decidedly act against it.
  2. Comfort zones
    We have strong tendency to develop our comfort zones and then, feel cozy in same, since we start to like those and feel secured.
  3. Habits, traits and beliefs
    Above 2 points give birth to our habits, traits and beliefs. These 3 attributes have great influence on our repeat thinking and behavior.
  4. Falling prey to negatives
    We are more emotional than rational. Therefore, we are vulnerable to negativity and that makes us very conscious of same. Negativity at individual or mass level is the precise reason, why negative historical events occur more than positive ones, as mentioned above!
  5. Ego and biases
    All of above points promote ego and biases in us, which in turn prompt contradictions and conflicts.
  6. Ideas and images at the back of our mind
    This is a major revelation – you can’t estimate enormity of things at back of your mind! Call it back of your mind, memory storage or subconscious mind; what reside there regulate your moves. You decide to keep only positive memories and discard the rest; but you would realize soon that negative memories still reside and those become active, when you see anything negative. Your drive against what you don’t like keeps same very thing live and lingering.
    Mind knows only to store or ignore; would not differentiate good or bad, positive or negative, when it comes to storing! So, decision to keep only right things does not help; only ignoring does!! Is not amazing?
    What resides at back of your mind is single biggest factor behind your repeat behavior and stimulates history to repeat. 

This brings us to very striking conclusion – what you repeat is not a Change and hence Change is only one that can repel events, you don’t relish! And if you want to reverse the history, work on above 6 points relentlessly!!

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Nothing can be sustained in steady state; so what’s in your hands!

Calm or chaotic? Source: http://www.flickr.com/

When going is good, everyone would like it to keep going! But, then soon, you would get tired, bored or jittery, much as you would not like it happen and your rendezvous with gala time comes to an end.

You are happy that most of your customers are highly satisfied with you and believe that you can now breathe it easy. And, suddenly comes a communication from a very angry customer. This is followed by more disturbing news from other customers or your bosses or buddies.

When you thank your stars that for days, your spouse has been lovely in treating you is the time something lousy crops-up, derailing your dreamy run! When you feel proud that you have not fallen sick for months is what seems to attract a sickening month. When you think that your trouble are finally over is actually the onset of new troubles.

There are top notch organizations like Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Siemens or Dell. They have rarely been able to stabilize for long and always face risk of getting toppled by rivals or internal issues!

USA has gone strength to strength from its policies and principles of peace, democracy, secularism, civil and economic freedom; but despite foolproof security, advance warning and mock exercises, it got hit by unprecedented terror strike on 9/11, 2001; encountered great economic meltdown in 2008; it is facing threats from increasing number of religious outfits and rise of its real economic rival – China with no democracy and free market!

From above, it is clear that much as we would like it to be, nature does not allow steady state, continuous run or growth for too long! It allows all other possible alternatives to creep in and create chaos or disturbance!!

Signs that steady state can’t last long!

There are several footprints of nature that corroborate this:

  1. 2nd Law of thermodynamics
    This is highly celebrated law, which states that entropy i.e. heat energy of any body can’t remain constant. It would always increase with time. It applies to molecules of our body at micro level to universe at macro level.
  2. Our Universe is ever expanding
    Experimental observations till date suggest that universe in which we live has been expanding ever since its birth 13.8 billion years ago. We would face full scale calamities, if it ever contracts.
  3. Every particle or planet is in dynamic state
    Nothing in universe is steady or static! Idea of a steady state is only an illusion and desire for the same an impossible dream!!
    Atoms or sub-atomic particles, of which every substance or scenario is made, are constantly spinning and moving.
  4. Time is constantly moving forward
    If time was to be static, there would not be any life anywhere! It is constantly moving forward at speed of light. If arrow of time ever reverses even in a laboratory, there would utter chaos and things would go upside down.
  5. Continuous biological changes in our body
    Because of above, our body is constantly subject to changes and that leads to our aging with time.

Despite above dynamics, the only thing, which remains constant is our Mind!!! Never mistake mind as your brain. Are you surprised? But, it is true. What actually change in our mind are our observations and thoughts!

Hence, nothing holds out a higher promise or potential than your mind!

So, what in our hands?

A lot!

From foregoing, we can conclude nature loves to disturb or change, whereas we like to continue with what we love!!

How do we manage this contradiction – probably one of the biggest?

Here is the key – if you manage the opposite, you shall master the main! It is like – if you manage your weaknesses, you would automatically become strong!!

This reinforces a well-known message – “Manage Change”, but it actually comes with a master stroke of “Mastering the Steady State”! 

Disturbances, chaos or changes are of 2 types – one, which is beyond your control and second, which is within your control.

Here below are two top secrets, on which most humans flounder and blunder:

  1. Chaos or change, which is beyond your control
    Accept and appreciate!
    But never resist or react!!
    Yes; it is as simple as that to manage, yet you find it hard to do. You can break your head over what has become real; but reality remains!
    Chaos is local as well as at large. Consider local chaos as a circle with radius r. If you embrace it, r would either remain same or reduce; if you don’t, r would enlarge!
    Take an example – your dear one got hurt. If you lose your head, you would be anxious or angry and would fail to think in time the next step to alleviate her/his hurt. However, if you keep your head cool, you would swing into right action to address it.
    Nevertheless, by 2nd law of thermodynamics, if you contain or collapse local chaos, it must correspondingly increase it at large. But, that is not your headache.
  2. Chaos or change that in under your control
    Drive it right away and right way!
    But never put it away!!
    Everyone knows it; but seldom does it. Common chore is to allow it to descend and then drive into action. By then, it is generally too late. It is not that all changes are good. If random changes run down to become realities, you run the risk of facing wrong changes.

Key conclusion is – it is in your hands to shrink local circle of wrong chaos/change and swell that of right one! If you do that, it would give you steady run and stable growth!!

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Creativity and Innovativeness come, when we kill fear and create freedom!

An Innovative idea! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

All of us need to be a good manager, supervisor or go getter; but that alone is not be good enough to keep us going. After a certain point, we experience a level of saturation, things appear to have come to a plateau or we face a knot. What was motivating becomes monotonous; excitement ebbs and our performance becomes poorer for what we were otherwise good at!

Everyone encounters above phase or phenomenon consciously or unconsciously. Only exceptions are those who are creative or innovative! Creativity and innovativeness are 2 qualities, which you need to keep your interest and initiative alive and drive in the fast lane. Common perception is that one can run her/his life without these 2 qualities. Yes, one can but then, it would lack luster, liveliness and charm. It would be mired in inertia and comfort zones!

Further, the most talked about word is “Change”. But, most of us are ignorant that very important constituents of “Change” are creativity and innovativeness. Then, there is a misconception that creativity and innovativeness are gifts of God or it comes through genes and it is difficult to develop the same. Such ideas need to be dumped; if you make an efforts, you can become creative and innovative at any stage of life. Only obstacle is the wall built by you in your mind! Key to become creative and innovative is to overcome fear and own freedom!!

Look at some of the top creative and innovative people, who have changed the world and lives of billions – Einstein, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Leonardo Da Vinci, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Larry Page of Google. They have discovered path breaking ideas to usher dramatic change/s. Most common characteristics with all of these people are or were fearlessness and freedom to think!

Fear and freedom are nothing but opposite states of our mind! So, how to drive fear away and derive freedom?

Overcoming fear!

Fear is essentially a negative emotion, which emerges out of past negative experience or memories. Challenge is that there are host of negative emotions arising from your past – anger, anxiety, arrogance, greed, obsession ad like. You can’t pick and choose one negative emotion i.e. fear and believe that you can drop same. Doing that would only have temporary effect and then it would resurface, because you are still holding on to other negative emotions! As a matter of fact, you would be surprised to know that you should not be passionate about positive emotions like pleasure, thrill, ecstasy or even consolation arising out of your past experience or memories. Reason is that when you recall such positive emotions from past, you would not be able to help prevent negative emotions also from past to surface. This is one of the main reasons, why most people are not able to overcome their fears!

The best bet is to use past memories as a source of knowledge but never a source of emotions! It is the emotions that evolve out of present, which alone can give you excellent feelings and make you frolic!! 

So, to drop fear:

  1. Do not give importance to emotions, which are connected with your past memories. Ignore!
  2. Minimize your preconceived notions.
  3. Believe in putting trust on people and banish doubts.
  4. Focus on efforts but not on results.
  5. Practice to drop hesitation or inhibitions.

Owning freedom!

There is lot of ill-conceived notions about freedom. Freedom does mean right to express oneself through any medium and working at one’s own will. But, many consider getting bound by duties and discipline is loss of freedom, which is bunk. Freedom does not mean exercising no control or restrain and be able to do freely what you desire.

You can own freedom, only when you accept that others have a right to own their own (freedom)! Freedom has more to do with absence of mental barriers or restrictions than physical barriers/restrictions; no doubt the latter is integral to freedom but it loses meaning without the former!!

Now, to own freedom:

  1. First and foremost is to overcome fear, as mentioned above.
  2. Be prepared to break conventions and customs, if need be.
  3. Be an optimist and open minded.
  4. Drop hard notions and prejudices.
  5. Traits, habits and ego could be show stoppers for your freedom.
  6. Believe that nature offers infinite possibilities and mankind has so far discovered only a small portion of the same.
  7. Biggest challenge to your freedom or free thinking comes surprisingly from your faith, culture, traditions, rituals, gurus, mentors and role models. You generally need them for a guided and balanced life; but at the same time, they inculcate in you predetermined ideas and perceptions, and hence limit your ability to go beyond, explore and experience something entirely new.
    So, you need a very careful tradeoff between traditional beliefs/practices and true freedom!

To conclude, it is a glorious idea to get rid of fear and ride on freedom, which would bring creativity and innovativeness well within your reach and you would be able to reap rich fruits!!

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Do Companies bring Change by choice or under compulsion of a crisis?

Is Change not Charismatic? Source: http://www.flickr.com/

“Change” is the most celebrated word across the world – from individuals to communities, corporates and countries! But, how serious are we, when we say “Change”?

Change encompasses innovations, ideas, redefining, reviewing, restructuring and redeeming! Change represents a dynamic state and breathes new and fresh. Catch phrase of nearly every celebrity is “Change is the only constant in universe!” Such splendid is the significance of change; but unfortunately it is seldom understood in its entirety!!

If companies are not changing proactively, then they face decline in 5 stages, as per Jim Collins, author of best seller “Good to Great”:

  1. Hubris born of success
    Great enterprises get insulated by success, though momentum already set in carry them forward while their leaders lose discipline and make poor decisions. This stage kicks in when people of these companies become arrogant and believe that success is their entitlement!
  2. Undisciplined pursuit of more
    This stage comes, when companies start to think we are great and we can do anything! They go for more scale, more growth, more acclaim and all what bring pat on their back from those in power. All these happen in undisciplined and reckless manner.
  3. Denial of risks and peril
    At this stage, internal warning signals begin to mount but external results of the company remain strong. Management explains away disturbing data or declares difficulties as temporary.
  4. Grasping for salvation
    Now, decline of the company becomes visible to all and talks of salvaging begins.
  5. Capitulation to irrelevance or death
    At this point, enterprises start to face threat of extinction. They struggle to survive.

Paradoxically, most companies are unaware of their decline that creeps in during 1st three stages! By the time crisis is visible at 4th stage, they are already deep into the same!!

General Electric and Toyota Motors of Japan are some of very few companies, who have been proactively changing and hence ever thriving. Apple Inc., Intel and Samsung are among those, who did dip to stage 1 or 2; but bounced back by quickly by adopting changes. IBM, HP, Xerox, Merck and Numec were iconic companies at one stage but fell to stage 4; however their leadership showed courage to stage a comeback. However, one time icons like General Motors, Ford and BlackBerry are among those, who have been languishing at stage 4 for substantial time and no one knows whether they would ever be able restore their old glory. On the other hand, one time gems – Arthur Anderson, MCI WorldCom, Pan Am, General Foods Corp., Compaq, RCA etc. went down to stage 5 and became extinct!

It is apparent that most company may clamor and claim for change proactively, but they actually change only when they are in crisis and hence, run risk of not reaping fruits of change and chance of their success is odd.

It would be highly interesting to know that even decline of a successful individual happens over 5 stages:

  1. Getting overwhelmed by success and becoming opaque to realities – superiority complex!
  2. Clamoring for more successes, ignoring steps followed to climb initial success – overconfidence!
  3. Denial for presence of defects and difficulties – arrogance!
  4. Start to worry about increasing woes – anxiety!
  5. Loss of identity – condemned!

What does above scenario reveal?

Change under crisis is compressed but quick!

A crisis brings do or die situation! At any scale from nations to natives, under crisis, one either swims or sinks!!

It is ironical but true that the brink brings out the best or worst. Changes under crisis are costly but very quick. History shows that great innovations, ideas, courage, cohesion and all what we call as Change came about during wars or setbacks.

Here below are pros and cons of bringing change under crisis:

  • Crisis presents a binary situation – bounce back or get banished.
  • Changes, which happen, are costly, compressed and concentrated, since focus is on coming out of crisis. These changes are often not wide spread.
  • A by-product can often be good momentum to progress, which continues beyond a crisis. That is good.
  • But all of above may not be good enough to change character or DNA of country, company or individual.
    This poses high risk for entity or individual to go into cycles of successes and setbacks.
  • One of the most serious implications is while in crisis people tend to lose balance and belief in good. Prudential principles and practice can take a back seat or beating! 

So, crisis is a great initiator or destroyer, but not a creator! Creation of new or different comes only post extinction!!

Changes by choice are expansive and elite!

Changes by choice means changing proactively through contemplation, self-evolvement and self-drive! Doing it by choice brings ownership and motivation.

Change by choice is no longer a change by charter, as happens under crisis; instead it becomes a change of character and culture!

Often companies or individuals, despite good intention to change by choice, trip midway because their attempts to change is non-inclusive. Look at some examples, which are doomed to failure:

  • Change in favor of empowerment; but not having trust on who to be empowered!
  • Resolving to be sensitive to employees, but with lack of empathy!
  • Promising fairness; but not being free from biases!

So, when change happens by choice and is inclusive and expansive, then it is sustainable and supremely beneficial from all aspects!

So, why not change by choice, instead of waiting for crisis to coerce us?

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