Wednesday, 5 July 2017

  By V K Talithaya

The image of grand leaders with great qualities such as charisma, charm, the ability to inspire, persuasiveness, breadth of vision, willingness to take risks, grandiose aspirations and bold self-confidence is associated with many of the successful entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley. But, this image is showing signs of cracks lately. What gleans through the cracks is another side to this image, a picture that is engendered by these very qualities. This is the picture of impetuosity, a reluctance to listen to others, or digest well meaning advice, impulsiveness, recklessness resulting from an air of infallibility and lack of attention to details - in short, the picture mired in 'hubris syndrome'. 
  'Hubris Syndrome' is a disorder of the possession of power, particularly power which has been associated with overwhelming success, held for a period of years and with minimal constraint on the leader. But, when hubris syndrome becomes the part of the larger culture of the society, it has more serious consequences than individual frailties. How else can we explain the series of recent events in Silicon Valley, of venerable leaders discarding the veil of political correctness and displaying the true nature of the arrogance of power and success? Uber's Travis Kalanick is forced to quit despite being the builder of the most valuable start-up because of unacceptable behaviour. Hubris seems to be all pervasive in Uber's management culture. As a result Uber is in the midst of several crises such as claims of sexual harassment, a lawsuit over alleged theft of intellectual property, departure of a number of senior executives and the probe into use of illegal software to track regulators. Recently, David Bonderman, Uber Technologies Inc director, resigned from the company's board following a remark seen as offensive to women, which he made during an Uber staff meeting. Having two women in the Board, he said, would mean more talking!

Nor is this a syndrome limited to Uber. The recent New York Times story on women's voices against what it calls 'the culture of harassment' of women is an eye-opener to the Valley's hubris syndrome. The article goes on to say, "The new accounts underscore how sexual harassment in the tech start-up ecosystem goes beyond one firm and is pervasive and ingrained. Now their speaking out suggests a culture shift in Silicon Valley, where such predatory behaviour had often been murmured about but rarely exposed".

A new survey by Stanford University researchers has revealed that nearly two-thirds of women working in Silicon Valley tech firms have experienced incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace. Of the 60 per cent of women who had experienced "unwanted sexual advances", 65 per cent said these advances had come from one of their superiors, according to the Elephant in the Valley survey. For half these women, such an advance had happened more than once. One in three said they had been made to fear for their personal safety because of work-related circumstances, while 60 per cent of those who reported such harassment were dissatisfied with the course of action taken after reporting it.

Silicon Valley is the very epitome of success, and it is a victim of the pitfalls of success.

America is a society committed to politically correct behaviour, particularly with regard to sexual harassment, sexual or racial discrimination, child abuse etc. The problem with ';politically correct' behaviour is that such behaviour is hardly skin-deep. Behaviour is 'correct' because it needs to be, not because one believes in its correctness. Politically correct behaviour is often neither anchored in the person's deep seated beliefs nor in his emotions. Here, then, is the rub: when a behaviour is skin-deep, the real emotions sometimes show up, throwing the veil of political correctness asunder. It is not external circumstances or pressure. The challenge lies within the individual. It is what we think deep within ourselves that shapes our authentic behaviour. Arnold Toynbee quotes the poet George Meredith in his Study of History:
"In tragic life God wot,            
No villain need be! Passions spin the plot:
We are betrayed by what is false within".
And again, he quotes C.F.Volney who says, "the source of calamities ...resides within Man himself; he carries it in his heart".

Hubris Syndrome causes certain changes in the brains of the extremely successful people, the leaders which in turn makes them suffer from a number of undesirable characteristics. losing touch with reality, taking excessive pride in one's actions, lack of empathy towards others, taking decisions or acting without deliberations because of overconfidence are some of these characteristics. No wonder, in the Darwinian society where nothing is valued more than success - and success at any cost - the individual's self-esteem overreaches him. A sense of infallibility overtakes. Finesse and niceties are discarded as unnecessary frills distorting communication. Directness of communication yields no space for emotional distractions and vacillations of parental values.

A few words of advice by Mathew Arnold may help our very successful, lonely leaders:
"Perfection...is not possible while the individual remains isolated: the individual is obliged, under the pain of being stunted and enfeebled in his own development if he disobeys, to carry others along with him in his march towards perfection, to be continually doing all he can to enlarge and increase the volume of the human stream sweeping thitherward".
By V K Talithaya
vktalithaya@managementmasala.com
      


Monday, 5 June 2017





By V K Talithaya

"The global landscape is changing. Digital is creating world-changing innovations, but also disrupting industry and how people work. At the same time, economic nationalism is rising around the world, largely resulting from parts of society not benefiting from years of increased globalization. Sustainability has also evolved. Business must now lead and not depend on government to be a beacon for sustainability. We must think about what types of jobs and opportunities they are creating for society."
                          -  Jeffrey R. Immelt, Chairman & CEO, GE
President Donald Trump has done it! He has decided to walk away from the Paris Climate Change Agreement (the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - UNFCCC). President Trump believes that his concern is Pittsburgh and not Paris. He is the President of the United States and not of the world. But is he? Can the US President stay aloof from the world? No matter how much the President of the United States wants to shrink from the world, the world seems to be unstoppable from engulfing him. North Korea, Syria, Afghanistan, IS - the global concerns of the President are not something he can coolly walk away from.
The President may be too eager to abdicate from global leadership. But the US can and needs to still retain some aspects of global leadership. That onerous responsibility lies on the shoulders the managers of US industries. They have a chance to keep US leadership in the global economy. If their commitment to sustainability, limiting greenhouse gas, waste reduction etc. mean anything at all, they have a duty to ask themselves whether they want to limit themselves to government policies (including taking advantage of them) or to their stated policies.

"We believe in building a responsible cloud. For Microsoft, this means moving beyond datacenters that are already 100 per cent carbon neutral to also having those datacenters rely on a larger percentage of wind, solar, and hydro power electricity over time".  

Governments make policies which enable environmental protection. But those who have to act to make it happen are the industries, the farmers, the service providers and so on. Therefore, no matter what the government says, whether the government owns the Paris Accord or disowns it, we as industries operating in the global market have the responsibility of contributing to mitigating global warming. It is to these little drops of contribution by US industries that the world will be looking forward to, in the face of a government which has disowned its duty to the future of humanity. It is the managers of America's GMs and Fords, GEs and DuPonts, Microsofts and Googles who really have to make it happen. This commitment goes far beyond the legal and justiciable - it is a moral commitment.
"Proucing environmentally conscious products is ethically responsible and something that consumers and governments are beginning to demand. Corporations are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of environmental issues to consumers, additionally they have become aware of the importance of environmental issue to their shareholders as disregarding these issues may expose the company to risk."  
A look at GM's environment policy reveals the corporation's intent to restore and preserve the environment, reduce waste, educate the public on conservation, develop less polluting technologies, work with the government to develop environmental laws, and to also continually assess and improve the environmental impact of their processes and products. Elon Musk's deep concern about climate change is well known. He and Bob Iger, Disney's CEO, walked away from the Presidential Councils in protest against the President's decision to dump the Paris accord. Others like Jeffery Immelt, CEO of GE clearly articulated their views that the Paris Accord matters for the future generations. Happily twelve states, including California and New York and 125 cities have proclaimed, "We Are Still In" - that they are committed to the Paris Accord. Google and Facebook have joined these cities in pledging their support to the Accord. It is hoped that many more US industries will lend their support.  All these provide the hope to a beleaguered world that the US industries will be on the side of the future. Their managers have great responsibility, indeed. The world is awaiting with bated breath.      

By V K Talithaya
vktalithaya@managementmasala.com

Monday, 29 May 2017


By V K Talithaya
The economist/sociologist, Albert Hirschman, in his famous book, Voice, Exit and Loyalty, discussed how people working in public or government organisations respond to unethical actions or decisions, (a) by raising their Voice against such decisions or actions, (b) by withdrawing themselves from such organisations or situations, Exit, or (c) acquiescing with such decisions or actions, no matter whether they agree with them or not, Loyalty. Though Hirschman propounded these ideas in the context of ethics in public administration, they are equally relevant to business organisations particularly in the context of ethical transgressions by large and reputed organisations and the raging debate on the rights and protection of whistle-blowers in business organisations. Voice is important in public organisations because it upholds our democratic values. It is the channel for dissent. Dissent is the very epitome of pluralism. What about dissent in business organisations? Voice stresses the need for organisational transparency. Transparency is in public interest or stakeholder interest. Yet, transparency is often compromised in the name of confidentiality. Confidentiality in whose interest? When managers become too powerful, and owners become too diffused and anonymous, dissent loses its Voice. What little Voice is heard is feeble, from those who play distant supervisory role as shareholders. Voice, therefore, is rare in business organisations. From Enron and JP Morgan in the US to Satyam in India, from Tesco in the UK to Toshiba and Olympus in Japan, it is the sad saga of acquiescence. The VW case of cheating the detection of greenhouse gas in thousands of cars could not occur without connivance of a large number of managers at all levels. The total absence of Voice of managers at all levels on this blatant attempt to cheat the law is disturbing.  What we see is not Voice, but a submissive Loyalty. In business organisations one sees no heroes like Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D Ruckelshaus who refused to obey what they thought was the illegal orders of their boss, President Richard Nixon to fire the Special Prosecutor, Archibald Cox during the famous Watergate scandal (known as the Saturday massacre). When managers know of misdemeanours taking place in the organisation, their silence is a betrayal of the shareholders and other stakeholders in the organisation. Legislative protection to whistle-blowers has not done much difference in exposing misconduct in business organisations. 


The alternative to Voice are Loyalty and Exit. Loyalty is not simply being passively silent; it is acquiescence with the misdeeds of the mighty and powerful in the organisation. Unfortunately, Loyalty is not an exception in organisations, but the rule. Rare is the CEO who does not love to be surrounded by senior managers loyal to him. Loyalty to the CEO or to one's superiors is more important than to the organisation. That is the subtle difference FBI Director, James Comey made when he answered to President Donald Trump's demand of loyalty, "Honest loyalty". Loyalty to one's oath, Loyalty to one's call of duty and principles is what Comey might have meant by "Honest loyalty". Loyalty of executives and managers need to be to the stakeholders. In fact, John Kenneth Galbraith in his book, The Affluent Society, wondered if senior managers in business organisations are paid very fat salaries to ensure their Loyalty. The question that begs is again, Loyalty to whom?
Exit as a response to organisational misdemeanours is opted much more often in business organisations than in public bodies. It is a very effective option in business organisations because there is always the fear of the manager joining a competitor. There is also the possibilities of the manager spilling the beans after his Exit. The response of business organisations to Exit in modern times is hefty hush money. It is not only retiring senior employees who are given liberal separation packages, the golden parachute, but also those who opt to separate on their own, but who know a couple of things too many to be allowed to part without being sweetened. Organisations are learning to fortify themselves against departing whistle-blowers more by silencing them rather than by changing their own behaviour. Today reputation is very important to organisations. The hush money, therefore, is in proportion to the organisational concern for its reputation and the potential to damage it by the exiting employee.
Lack of realism to provide an appropriate forum for freely expressing genuine views shut the Voice in the organisation. Expectation of personal Loyalty rather than "honest Loyalty" encourages sycophancy. The intolerable situation created by both leads to Exit. But honest Loyalty to the organisation will nudge the employee to stick around without cooperating with the wrong-doers. Eventually, when staying within becomes unbearable he may raise the Voice. From that point of view Loyalty is preferable to Exit.
From the organisation's perspective providing sufficient space for genuine Voice, encouragement to organisational Loyalty will be the right policy in the long term. If these two are in place Exit will not be threatening driving the organisation to pay hush money. Exit in this case will be mainly for personal reasons or for reasons of conscience, that is genuine disagreements.


By V K Talithaya
vktalithaya@managementmasala.com                             

Sunday, 21 May 2017


By V K Talithaya

     A TRIBUTE TO THE GENIUS IN SEARCH OF A DEFINITION OF QUALITY
ROBERT M PIRSIG (Sept 6, 1928 - April 24, 2017)

Management and Philosophy do not blend easily. Their concerns are as far apart as T-Twenty and Test cricket, the one focused on quick action and immediate result and the other on patience, meditation and artful action. If, however, there is one aspect of concern to both, Management and Philosophy, it is Quality. Robert M Pirsig, the redoubtable philosopher, who died on April 24, 2017, was on a challenging and exacting journey of discovery of the definition of Quality. His formidable book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, is a journey through the weird land of philosophy in search of this definition. His unflagging quest takes us far beyond the mundane world of management thoughts such as - Quality is what the customer wants, or the famous Japanese formulation: Quality is customer delight. Early in the book, differentiating between the world of physical forms and the world of ideas which created the physical forms, Pirsig says, "...we are at the classic-romantic barrier now, where on one side we see a cycle as it appears immediately - and this is an important way of seeing it - and where on the other side we can begin seeing it as a mechanic does in terms of underlying form - and this is an important way of seeing things too." Is Quality something we see on the thing, the motorcycle, in this case, or is it in the concept or the idea of motorcycle? Does Quality go along with the motorcycle which is dispatched from the shop-floor? Or does it still remain with the creators of the products, notwithstanding the product having gone to the customer, and the customer being satisfied? Take a step back, and think of it - the product you have sent to the customer is neither fragments of steel assembled to some shape like a motorcycle, nor is it some codes and signs put together as a software - it is primarily ideas. The motorcycle is made of steel. But where steel comes from? and from where ore comes? Eventually everything originates with idea. So, have you dispatched ideas to your customers? 
Does it mean that when idea meets the material Quality occurs? That is a tentative position Pirsig takes. Still, he cannot say what Quality is. He ponders,"...if you can't say what Quality is, how do you what it is, or how do you know that it even exists? If no one knows what it is, then for all practical purposes it doesn't exist at all". Yet, Pirsig has no doubt that there is Quality. He says,"I think there is such a thing as Quality, but that as soon as you try to define it, something goes haywire. You can't do it...Quality is a characteristic of thought and statement that is recognised by a nonthinking process. Because definitions are a product of rigid, formal thinking, Quality cannot be defined". Thus, Pirsig comes to the conclusion that Quality is neither amenable to scientific inquiry nor to rigid formal thinking.
For Pirsig, the real purpose of scientific method is to make sure that Nature has not misled you to thinking that you know something you actually do not know. Having got stuck with the limitation of scientific method, he explores lateral knowledge, that is knowledge from unexpected direction. Study of scientific method by science destroys the validity of its answers. In science objectivity is all important. Pirsig believed that if subjectivity is eliminated as unimportant the entire body of science must be eliminated with it. Therefore, he changes tack to philosophy, particularly that branch of philosophy called Realism which says,"A thing exists if a world without it can't function normally". There are around us a number of phenomena which we cannot define clearly, yet their absence will not allow our society to function normally. Morality, beauty, honesty are some of the terms that do not allow clear definition. Philosophers have have quarrelled over their meaning and written treatises, but we still do not know what they are. Yet, we know our society will not be what it is without any of them. Similarly,"The world can function without Quality, but life would be so dull as to be hardly worth living. In fact it wouldn't be worth living. The word worth is a Quality term". 
For Pirsig, the world is composed of three things - mind, matter and Quality. Quality cannot be defined. Quality is not a thing, it is an event. But real understanding of Quality captures the system, harnesses it to work for fulfilling one's own purposes and one's 'inner destiny'. People's purposes are different, their 'inner destinies' are different. They are different in terms of their experiences. That is why they differ about Quality. To put Quality in one box is futile. Howard Roark, the inscrutable architect in Ayn Rand's famous novel, Fountainhead, refuses to follow any architectural tradition, not because he had an swollen ego, but because Quality for him was what helped him to achieve his 'inner destiny'. Tradition is system, and when you follow the system it loves you, and you lose your unique identity. "Quality is the response of an organism to its environment...It is the continuing stimulus which our environment puts upon us to create the world in which we live". That is exactly what Howard Roark does. Not for him the work to please and get approvals and endorsements from devious art and design critics like Ellsworth Toohey.     
Pirsig says Quality is scientific reality. Quality is also the goal of art. We are used to assign Quality to subjects and objects. We do not look at Quality as the event which is the relation between what we create and the thing we create. "The real ugliness lies in the relationship between the people who produce the technology and the the things they produce, which results in a similar relationship between the people who use the technology and the things they use...At the moment of pure Quality, subject and object are identical. This is the Tat tvan asi (Thou art That) truth of the Upanishads".  
What is the message in all this to managers? They can be summed up as:
1. Quality is not a thing or a feature you put into a product.
2. Quality is the event or the process of one's involvement in creating the thing or the idea, be it a technology, a product or a software.
3. Quality is also the event or process of one's involvement while interfacing with the thing - the technology, product, software - while one uses them.
4. Quality is an internal process in individuals. Only when one identifies oneself with one's task or the product being created or used Quality is possible.  
5. Managers have the onerous task of creating the environment in their organisations which enables this involvement, this identification of the self with what employees do, create and use.    
 
By V K Talithaya
vktalithaya@managementmasala.com     

Monday, 15 May 2017

By V.K.Talithaya

"But Phaedrus is no shepherd either and the strain of behaving like one is killing him. A strange thing that has always occurred in classes occurs again, when the unruly and wild students in the back rows have always empathised with him and been his favourites, while the more sheepish and obedient students in the front rows have always been terrorised by him and are because of this his objects of contempt, even though in the end the sheep have passed and his unruly friends in the back rows have not."                                                                                                                                                     -  Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert M Pirsig 

Eloquent lectures, great topics, learned and colourful presentations, participants listening in rapt attention - you are somewhat thrilled that your one-day training programme has been a great success. You come home from the programme with a sense of satisfaction; feeling you have done a wonderful programme, a brilliant performance. In the quietude of your office you review the feedback of the participants. They liked the lectures. The topics were carefully chosen. The presentations were clear, colourful and attractive. The setting was immaculate. Overall rating was good. But to the one last question - what is the single most important take-away from this programme? - the answers are vague and equivocal. You are perplexed by comments such as: I am happy; I am a better communicator; I am clear about my goals and so on. You wonder what, indeed, is the take-away from your programme! And, this is not the first time you feel it. Yes, you are about to be caught in the Trainer's Trap.
A young, aspiring trainer tells me how well his three-hour session went on. "It came out very well. I started off with the introductory stuff, gradually moving up to choices, aspirations, goals and so on. The group was kind of mesmerised as the programme progressed". I ask him what was the percentage of time he spoke in those three hours and what was the percentage the trainees spoke? He says, "Why? Naturally, I spoke most of the time, say, almost ninety per cent, and they enjoyed it". This young, budding trainer also is caught in the Trainer's Trap.
Many trainers approach training as teaching, hectoring or preaching. According to them, training is like filling empty vessels with knowledge - and knowledge usually takes the form of information. The trainer believes that he is the repository of all knowledge that needs to be gifted to the participants. That is how most of us were taught in our schools. Is that not a time-tested technique of teaching? The teacher sees the eagerly listening, studious students in the front rows of the class - the ones who never fail to get the best grades. The teacher admires their keenness to accept whatever he teaches. Often, when one of those apparently mischievous looking 'trouble makers' in the back benches asks a question or expresses his views the teacher shuts him, "Your views are not sought here, you are expected to follow the lesson". Teaching takes place from this high pedestal. Years later, the teacher wonders why his front benchers did not make the grade in life, whereas the despised back-benchers made the grades as start-up entrepreneurs, innovative businessmen or CEOs of good companies. We have many instances of long forgotten back-bench alumnus making to the highest positions in global companies. The colleges and teachers remember the erstwhile student only after reading about him in the media. When he becomes famous thus, they discover great qualities in him. 
Is training same as teaching? The essence of training is enabling 
participants to learn, providing them techniques to respond to their environment, to the challenges they face. Learning enriches their experience. From this perspective, the purpose of training is enhancement of potential and building capabilities. Enabling participants to learn is important. Learning is more than receiving information. Learning involves creative use of information or data, as we call it these days. How much does the trainer enable? Often he collects information, repackages them, and dispenses them as his programme. Games, team plays and sometimes outdoor engagements are thrown in as embellishments. After all, marketing is important.
In programme over programme the same inputs continue to be dispensed, because the trainer believes that it has been "received" well. The tragedy is that the trainer does not learn from each of his own programmes. He has stopped learning long ago, when his first, second or third programme "clicked"! That is why over a period of time his programme remains same, including the spicy jokes, anecdotes and stories, which were added to enrich the flavour in the recipe. The trainer had arrived at the mountain of knowledge long ago. He has no more peaks to climb. It is for the participants to trudge that path. That is the Trainer's Trap.     
When success thrills, but fails to provide lessons on the secrets of the success, it ends in peril. Those who are caught in the Trainer's Trap are prone to like their own voice, feel that their programmes are wonderful, believe that participants' listening is participation. They look at the training programme as a performance like that of a musician or magician. Indeed. a training programme is a performance. The trainer needs to have the same emotional involvement with his performance as the musician or the magician. But there is one important difference between the two - for the musician or the magician the performance is an end in itself; for the trainer the performance is a means to convey a message and secure the involvement of the participants. When the trainer fails to appreciate this difference he is in Trainer's Trap.  
            

By V.K.Talithaya
vktalithaya@managementmasala.com  ➪

Tuesday, 9 August 2016




Barack Obama | Famous Face
Foreign policy and management may look poles apart. Not always. managers and industry may or may not subscribe to Obama's policy formulations. Even foreign policy experts have their quarrels about his foreign policy. Yet, a new book on Obama's foreign policy strategy has a lot for managers looking for new ideas on business strategy and decision making. An unusually long titled new book by Derek Chollet, The Long Game: How Obama Defied Washington and Redefined America's Role in the World, throws light on how Obama formulated sustainable strategy by articulating a number of principles which should be applied while making strategic choices and managing US foreign policy.How effective these principles have been in managing US foreign policy is a matter of debate for foreign policy experts. But, there is no doubt that a look at these principles will convince any manager how useful they are in business strategy and decision making.
Chollet enumerates these principles and explains them in terms of foreign policy. While discussing and relating them to business, we take the liberty of explaining them in the context of business as against foreign policy. Obama's focus was long term; hence the title of the book, Long Game. The urge to leave a legacy beyond one's term is natural for any president of the most powerful nation. What makes Obama's principles unique is that in spite of the temptation to leave a legacy, he is able to look beyond his presidential term, into the long term interests of the country. The obvious question is: will it be difficult for our business managers to look beyond the quarterly results and immediate benefits? Are business managers prepared to overlook demands for immediate grand results, which may have little chance of being sustained in the long term?
According to Chollet, the following principles guided Obama's decision making, keeping the long term sustainability of the outcome:
1. Balance: Long term policy needs to ensure balance between interests and values of the organization, and between the conflicting stake-holder interests. Managers also have to look at balance between the sustainability of the policies in the long term and the need to ensure healthy financial results in the short and medium term.
2.Sustainability: Managers need to ask the question: Can the commitments I am making now be sustained by the organization in the long term. Managers need to note that commitments which will cost heavily are, indeed, difficult to sustain. How do  we make the commitment which will not impose unbearable cost, yet will yield the desired long term outcome?   
3. Restraint: Too often managers are tempted by capabilities and possibilities. This leads them to ask the question: What can I do now? What can be done, of course, is less important than what needs to be done. Therefore, the more important question managers need to ask is: What should I do now? 
4. Precision: Power tempts one to wield the heaviest weapon, no matter what the situation demands. Often that results in not only wasting valuable resources but also creating more unmanageable collaterals. That means: Wield a scalpel if you can avoid wielding a hammer. Act with minimum pressure and noise, but with intense focus.  
Pics Photos - Barack Obama S Foreign Policy Advisors Are More Likely ...
5. Patience: Policies need time to yield result. They follow the law of the farm: what you sow takes time to yield. Allow your action the time for fructifying.  

6. Fallibility: You are not God. Managers are as prone to fallibility as politicians, doctors, economists etc. Therefore, realism and readiness to face the eventuality of failure of policy and appreciation of the limitations of achieving the outcome are hallmarks of long-term success.
7. Skepticism: Discount those peddling easy solutions and allow the floor to the devil's advocates who may pose difficult and inconvenient questions. Skepticism provides multiple perspectives.
8. Exceptionalism: Beware that as a leader on whom the organization's future depends, you carry unique responsibilities. As one who is invested with the authority to show direction to the organization, you cannot shirk your responsibility.
No doubt, these principles can become tools for procrastination and dithering in the hands of doubting Toms. On the other hand it can become the framework for realistic decision making and prudent action in the hands of thoughtful managers. Like all tools, these principles by themselves cannot yield results; in the end it is the one who wields the tools who gets the outcomes.
By V.K.Talithaya
vktalithaya@managementmasala.com

Friday, 8 July 2016

Idea concept"All of us are creative. Every time we stick a handy object under the leg of a wobbly table or think up a new way to bribe a child into his pajamas, we have used our faculties to create a novel outcome."
                                                                        Steven Pinker in How the Mind Works 

So, if you think that you are going to hire a creative genius for your creativity famished organization you will only end up paying a hefty compensation getting in return more or less what the other guy can contribute.

According to Pinker the image of the creative genius as a wonk, getting struck with ideas like lightening, which distinguishes creative geniuses, is inherited by us from the Romantic movement of two hundred years ago. That image is so well entrenched in us that "Creativity consultants take millions of dollars from corporations for Dilbertesque workshops on brainstorming, lateral thinking, and flow from the right side of the brain, guaranteed to turn every manager into an Edison."

The reality is that every one of your managers is creative. If the organizational environment provides them the motivation to slog like the "creative genius" they will all be able to generate creative ideas. After all, as Pinker says, creative people contribute by pursuing ideas, correcting mistakes and improving on earlier unsuccessful attempts. Creativity, therefore, is not the story of striking diamonds from a big bang but collecting little grains of sand gradually making it a bagful with a few shiny grains here and there.

Why then so much romance is built around creative geniuses? Pinker says."...creative people are at their most creative when writing their autobiographies. Historians have scrutinized their diaries, notebooks, manuscripts, and correspondence looking for signs of the temperamental seer periodically struck by bolts from the unconscious. Alas, they found that the creative genius is more Salieri than Amedeus".

Given that everyone of us is gifted with the creative grain, why do we still consider the creative genius as a rarity? The answer is with the way the organization provides the environment for nourishing creativity. Few organizations provide that environment. Taking cues from Pinker we can mention some of the important aspects of the organizational environment which nourishes creativity:
1. The typical genius slogs at least for ten years before contributing anything of lasting value. The organization should be patient enough to provide this long rope before expecting big returns.
2. The creative genius keeps an eye on the competition and "a finger to the wind." They are discriminating or lucky in choice of the problem. Therefore, the cut-throat competitive environment of modern business organization is a stimulant to creativity. Nurturing a system of support to identify the right problem will be useful. Good system of mentoring can come handy.
3. The esteem of others is important to the creative genius. The teams need to support positively. The huge challenge to the organization is backing the genius with esteem of the team while at the same time keeping the place hot with cut-throat competition between individuals.
4. Creative geniuses work too hard for long hours. They leave behind mountains of sub genius works. Organizations need to appreciate that pure gold is found amidst mountains of mud. Patience on the part of the organization pays.    

It is worthwhile remembering always that creative geniuses "...are not freaks with minds utterly unlike ours or unlike anything we can imagine in a species that has always lived by its wits. The genius creates good ideas because we all create good ideas...".  
___________________________________
V.K.Talithaya
vktalithaya@managementmasala.com

Sunday, 3 July 2016


Above View Of Business Team Sitting Around Table And Working

 "If someone can do it, anyone can do it. That is the basis of modelling. ..Modelling is a state of curiosity...It is a desire to listen, watch, respect, and learn from others as well as ourselves."[1] Learning from others is our second nature. Consciously or unconsciously everyone of us models after someone to some extent. We observe others - our parents,  teachers, seniors and heroes, and try to imbue those qualities in them which we believe made them successful. Imbuing those qualities may help us in many ways. But many management trainers take modelling a step further and urge aspiring leaders and managers to model after those whom they admire consciously and deliberately. This is based on the theory that  that what we observe in others from outside represents their inner qualities and capabilities. So, if we model after their observable qualities, actions and behaviours we can imbibe some of their inner qualities. This makes us  as effective as them. These experts call this 'pacing'. This is true to some extent.
Useful as it is, modelling is an incomplete process. It is akin to building ourselves after someone else. The extreme form of modelling may even be some kind of imitating. Yet, modelling helps us learn capabilities, skills and behaviour. But our personality is beyond our capabilities, skills and behaviour. Our values, beliefs, convictions and world-view are important parts of our personality. These influence our effectiveness - they make us who we are. Modelling does not help us in shaping us and strengthening us based on what we already are. Our is a model. The person after whom you model does not know he is your model. Therefore, he does not convey any message to you directly or consciously.
It is to overcome this limitation that we need to look at an alternate way of getting inspiration from others. We do talk of mentors. The mentor guides the mentee, helps in finding his way, provides him support. This is the way of accepting someone as one's Guru. The word Guru describes the concept better than 'mentor'. The Guru means all that we mean by mentor. Like the mentor, the Guru is someone you have accepted as your guiding light. He or she has direct contact with you. The Guru knows that you depend on him or her for enlightenment.
Unlike the model, the Guru leads you on the path to find the answers you seek; but to seek it in your own way and not in his way. The Guru or mentor shows ways of acquiring knowledge. Does not ask one to follow him. Enlightens but does not preach. Sheds light but does not walk you through. Reflects and helps one to reflect but does  
pic of guru - Guru Master Mentor Leader Professional Concept - JPG not teach.  
The Guru may not tell you what to do; but he will pose before you the challenges and some of the responses. In the end the Guru expects you to find your own responses to your challenges. Modelling helps you to learn skills and behaviours. Guru influences you to think deeper issues which matter to you. When you accept a Guru you do not model after the Guru. You accept that person as your preceptor. He guides you, shows you the path to better life or resolution of your challenges. He enables you to reflect to find your own responses to your challenges. Unlike the person after who one models, a Guru is the source of wisdom and enlightenment. The Guru is not a prophet. He or she is a wise person. What the Guru can do for you is to make you wise. He can give you only what he has, and since what he has is limited, he stimulates you to exploit your potential to the maximum limit, and helps you get much more than what you had. He [provides the anchor to your life and career. By guiding you to think beyond skills and behaviour, he enhances your potential. Modelling is the anti-thesis of innovation, creativity and originality. The Guru is the fountain of new ideas. He nourishes ideas. He does not put the seeds, but prepares the bed for you to put the seeds and nourish the plant. Your model chains you; but the Guru unleashes your individuality and creativity.
Therefore, while you will model yourself after someone willy-nilly, you need to look for someone who will play the Guru for you. He needs to be one who inspires confidence, who listens, shares his thoughts with you, enables you to reflect not only on issues of immediate concern but also your values, career, ideals and world-view
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[1] NLP At Work by Sue Knight.

V.K.Talithaya
vktalithaya@managementmasala.com