Tag Archives: Crisis

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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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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Why Worst brings the Best in us!

Turn the pages of history from yester years to yesterday, we would find that when individuals, families, communities or countries face the worst, they take the best foot forward! Take examples of Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs. They faced a number of setbacks during their career and emerged stronger every time. After World War II, Germany (West) was in ruins and that united its people to put in exemplary efforts and turned the country into a major economic power house at a speed no one imagined.

It is strange but true that crisis brings courage, ideas, focus and unity. It creates a purpose, which has power to drive one and all!

Does that mean we need worst to become best, setbacks in order to shine or crisis to create common vision?

If we look at statistics, the answer would come out as Yes! It would only prove that in every aspect of our life, without going through pain, we cannot get pleasure!!

In reality, nearly all of nature’s rules apply both ways. In other words, if worst brings the best, then best would bring the worst, success would bring the failure and good would bring the bad. It appears scary; is not it? Would it not demotivate people to be better, be accomplished and strive to be successful? Research and experience show that we, most of times, go through cycles of up and down, rise and fall, comfort and constraint.

The silver lining

Cycle of “positive and negative” is a reality; but not a nature’s rule!

It is actually man’s making!! If we have a closer look, we would find that length and intensity of positive and negative parts are not exactly same. It varies case by case. Sometimes positive part of cycle lasts longer and stronger than the negative one or vice versa. People with right and disciplined approach face lesser troubles than those who lack that. This applies to all societies and countries as well!

How we goof, when going is good!

There are very common mistakes, people commit, when situations are favorable, time is opportune, results are showing up and success is on horizon:

  1. We become complacent or arrogant.
  2. We become over-confident and over-enthusiastic.
  3. With better possibilities and resources at disposal, we go high on consumption and low on conservation.
  4. We get addicted to power, position and/or popularity.
  5. We focus more on what gives success and less on what causes failure.
  6. We turn our passion into obsession, ambition into greed and virtues into vices!
  7. We ignore small issues, forgetting that big ones were small to start with.
  8. We tend to be less respectful and grateful.
  9. We start to neglect lessons learnt and rules, which have made current going as good!

These are the gaffes, which attract Worst to take over from Best!

How we act differently, when we face worst and stage a comeback!

When crisis, setback or worst overtakes us, there are 2 possibilities. We may keep going down or we are able to halt it, reverse the trend and stage a comeback. When we start doing the following, we do take a U turn and comeback:

  1. We gather courage and discover a purpose to restore or regain what we have lost!
  2. We are far more focused.
  3. Having gone down or lost, we shade fear of losing.
  4. Our ego ebbs.
  5. We start to put our strong faith in value system.
  6. We feel compelled to implement all what we knew as good and prudent, which were earlier mere intentions.
  7. Sobriety descends on us.
  8. Wiser counsel overtakes our weak or vicious thoughts.
  9. Since fear of losing has disappeared, we are willing to take on challenges and risks.

Look at above 9 points. There is nothing that we cannot do when going is good or we can do these only when we counter crisis. If we keep going through cycles of good and bad, it is because crisis drives us to do what is right and we do what we should not, when going is good.

So, do not wait for worst to inspire you to do what you know as good; do it even otherwise and most of the times. You can then retain and sustain the Best in your professional and personal life!

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Monumental Mistake many make by not quitting at correct time!

Humans are infested by inertia and love to do what they have been doing. One fine day, they start facing issues, crises, stagnancy and decay. Often, the cause their troubles is that they had stuck around the place way too long and ignored the signals their surroundings were giving to quit and seek change! It is true that majority misses the boat for bolstering their career and craving for a crest!

One caveat for quitting – do that only when you have another appropriate alternative in hand.

Judging right time to quit

By quitting, I not only mean current employment; but also present position in your profession or pursuits. You should quit, when:

  1. You don’t feel happy with what you are doing, despite your sincere efforts and you don’t see a chance of a change.
  2. Despite 3 nos. of candid conversations over a period of time, there is no comfort level between you and your boss, even though top management had intervened. Remember the rule 1-2-3 & Go; it applies to everyone every time!
  3. Despite being well meaning, you are often mired or pulled into conflicts or controversies over a year.
  4. Your company is not changing and growing, and hence your management is able to offer you only stability and promotion; but not growth in real terms.
  5. Your senior managers and management are not interested in addressing your genuine concerns and issues. Be sure about genuineness of your concerns!
  6. You are excelling and reaching climax. It the best time to quit!
  7. When you start to enjoy comfort of your job and don’t want it to be compromised.
  8. When your management makes promises and fails to deliver at least 3 times.
  9. When your management does not hold moral and ethical grounds.

Hype and Hypocrisy on Employee Retention

Ludicrous is the style of that management and its HR, whose focus is to retain employees by hook or hammer; rather than encouraging and stimulating employees to see and shape their future with the company!

Most management reward for retention, create comfort zones for employees and show love for loyalty more than performance! Seldom they realize that by creating comfort zones, they are killing creativity and initiatives in employees.

Real leaders and managers are those, who tirelessly create opportunities, develop and grow their employees and if they can’t, then would graciously come forward to offer deserving ones a choice to relocate to another company or give honorable exit.

What we need are Constraint Zones, not Comfort Zones

Do not mistake Constraint by controlled and freedom limiting zones. Constraint zone aims at encouraging employees to give more for less – again don’t confuse less means less salary; it means less time, less energy, better efficiency, innovative ways to accomplish more and so on.

Banes of Comfort Zones

  • Inactiveness and inefficiency
  • No drive to learn and change
  • Hatching covers for comforts
  • Taking things for granted
  • Taking time to manipulate and justify inactions

Only blessing that comfort zones offer is stability, uneventful and peaceful time, before degeneration takes control.

Blessings of Constraint Zones

  • Auto drive for value system
  • Self-motivation to learn and change; employees don’t do it otherwise
  • Promotes productivity, creativity and value creation
  • Realization for value of time, energy and cost/money
  • Gunning for greater growth

How quitting at correct time can unleash new order and opulence

Normally, people do not understand how sometimes a single decision can have amazing power to become game changer in your life. The game of quitting under duress or distress is radically different than to quit by design, which can leave irrevocable imprints on your career and character!

  • When you quit plan fully, it makes you confident and courageous decision maker – very rare qualities to progress and excel.
  • State of your mind when you quit and quest for Change would shape your future successes.
  • It can open flood gates of opportunities.
  • It empowers you to shape your destiny.
  • Its best impact is to inspire you to drive events, rather than those driving you!
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Your Barriers mainly come from your Notions, Perceptions and Traits

In Corporate and elsewhere, we always talk of barriers and the need to overcome these. But unfortunately, in none of the debates, discussions or development programs it is brought out what makes barriers to surface and how to manage those. The main source for barriers is your own Notions, Perceptions and Traits (NPT). Are you surprised?

It is a simple nature’s law that “What Helps could also Hurt”.

Understanding NPT

Notion, Perception and Trait belong to same family of human characteristics, which is responsible to build up our understanding or belief and helps us to respond /act. If we were to put these on a scale, then notion would be on the left end and can undergo change easily and trait would be right end, which is hard to change like our habits. Perception resides in the middle and plays the most significant role in our behavior and responses.

How N-P-Ts are born or built?

There is general agreement among experts in field of psychology, psychiatry, philosophy etc. that notions and perceptions are created and built by situational comprehensions. But, the traits are fixed from birth and genes; this may be only partially true. Following factors and situations play strong role in giving birth or building human NPT:

  1. Comprehension from routine observations, communications and discussions – reading, hearing, viewing and all such activities, which activate our sensory responses.
  2. Influence from whom you feel the awe – your role model, mentor, leader, boss, one you respect most or are obsessed with. Mind it, opposite is also true – you also get impacted by whom you indeed hate or feel repulsive!
  3. Factors, you believe have given you success, ecstasy, fun or failure.
  4. Crisis, conflicts or controversies at any stage of your life or time play a critical role to build your NPT.
  5. Childhood memories, in particular, provide strong dosage to build NPT!

An individual would have several notions, perceptions and traits, some of which may be right or others wrong, may be in synchronization with realities or against. Right N/P/T would give right results. The ones, which are wrong and out of sync with realities, create barriers.

All of above sources are essentially observations, which always translate into your memories (including images). These then branch out into your notions, perceptions and traits, apart from knowledge, information, emotions etc. We can draw strong analogy of NPT with how a computer memory works:

Main memory – RAM <—> Cognitive part of human memory, channeling info between senses and memory stored in brain

Hard disc memory <—> Knowledge and information storage in brain

Cache memory <—> Emotions (happiness, pleasure, anger frustration, ego..)

Read-only memory – ROM <—> Genetic info, which partly contributes to traits and habits

You can, now, comprehend that:

  • Notions are your “repetitive and reinforced” knowledge/info and stored like on Hard Disc in brain. Hence, these can be over written or changed with new observations; but do need efforts!
  • Perceptions are actually combination of your “notions, emotions and traits”. The emotions part of perceptions is stored like Cache memory and notions as above. To some extent, perceptions are influenced by traits, which are stored as mentioned below.
    It is because of “emotions + trait” part, which makes it harder for you to change your perceptions as compared to notions.
  • Traits are combination of “some part of genetic info and emotions”. The genetic part of info is stored like ROM and emotions like Cache memory.
    This is the most difficult combination to change; but not impossible.

Revisit and rediscover some of very common NPTs

Notions

  1. Employee friendly approach would only raise their expectations to unmanageable level.
    But, someone shows you can be friendly, which motivates them; yet manage their expectations at reasonable level.
  2. Working long and hard is dedication and sincerity to company.
    However, a true leader says this is bunk! It is all about working smart, efficient and with ownership!
  3. People get influenced and impacted by forceful expressions and plentiful explanations.
    But, people are actually swayed by short and simple sentences, and savvy manners.
  4. Keep a distance from difficult bosses or colleagues.
    When you get in more difficulties, you realize that you can only manage by narrowing distances.
  5. You can’t change others!
    Next day, you hear your leader or celebrity saying “Change is the only constant in Universe” and decide to drive a change. What would you change, if you have already erected a barrier??

Perceptions

  1. Mind and soul are 2 separate entities in our body.
    No branch of science has any clue what and where these are in our body.
  2. Heaven and Hell are located somewhere in Universe.
    Science has no evidence; but have experimentally found out everything – galaxies, stars etc, are moving away from us. Are Heaven and Hell also moving away from us?
  3. My destiny is fixed by date and time of my birth and traits by my Zodiac sign.
    Where and in what form/ language (there are many in our world!) the destiny has been written and what makes it fixed when everything is in dynamic state in Universe!
  4. I can do my best; but if I do not get results, it is my bad luck!
    You believe that you are doing your best; but it is actually not! Reality is if you do really best, you just cannot fail!
  5. God is everywhere!
    Then, why we keep seeking Him at specific places and keep fracturing above very belief?

Traits

  1. Suspicious in nature and hence your 1st reaction or response is to doubt.
    On leadership platform, you boast the relevance of trust!
  2. Negativism and pessimism – 1st thoughts always around possibility of failure and what is if things go wrong.
    And you believe leading by example and motivating your team?
  3. Highlight virtues and hide vices!
    But, preach honesty and transparency to employees/public?
  4. Pick on what is not done or not there, instead of praising what is done or appreciate what is there.
    But, lose no time to boast of being broad-minded and request people to be rational and reasonable!
  5. Throw towel in the face of difficulties!
    And advocate managerial courage and conviction to win?

Towards the End

One can, now, understand how your own Notions, Perceptions and Traits not merely create barriers; actually can block and choke your way forward.

Puzzling paradox is that as long as you hang around with your N-P-Ts, there no way for you to realize that there is something wrong and needs to change!

So, how to figure out what is right or wrong, real or unreal of your N-P-Ts, please wait for my next Post.

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