Monday, July 20, 2015

95 Top Quotes From The Book- "The One Thing"

I was recently recommended to read this book- The One Thing.

This book comes in as a refreshing change at times when our attention levels are probably at the all time low with most of us staring at mobile screens while carrying out any endeavor.  With attention spans reducing due to mobile revolution and other distractions, human race's capability of focusing on just one thing is also diminishing.
This book comes in as a refreshing change in today's time when user's attention is as precious as currency. A while back, i wrote this article on how can one manage multiple passion effectively. It turns out, as i learned from this book, even managing multiple passions and interests can be best done by focusing on just one-thing-at-a-time. This concurs well with the famous quote-

"If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one- Russian Proverb"

In this blog post, i just present some of the key quotes that stayed with me and i have organized these based on the key themes.

Read on to further as the core question this book asks is...

"What's the ONE thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary ?"


Theme#1: In the big-bad world, "Going small" is powerful
1. "Going small" is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do. It's recognizing that not all things matter equally and finding the things that matter most"

2. "Getting extraordinary effect is all about creating a domino effect in your life."

3. "Extraordinary success is sequential, not simultaneous. What starts out linear becomes geometric. You do the right thing and then you do the next right thing. Over time it adds up, and the geometric potential of the success is unleashed."
"The key is over time. Success is built sequentially. It's one thing at a time."

4. "There can only be one most important thing. Many things may be important, but only one can be the most important."- Ross Garber 

5. "No one succeeds alone. No one." 

6. "Passion for something leads to disproportionate time practicing or working on it. That time spent eventually translates to skill, and when skill improves, results improve. Better results generally lead to more enjoyment, and more passion and more time is invested. It can be a virtuous cycle all the way to extraordinary results."

Theme#2: Every task isn't equal. And don't treat them so.

7. "Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least.- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe" 

8. "Equality is a lie. Understanding this is the basis of all great decisions" 

9. "The things which are most important don't always scream the loudest.- Bob Hawke"

10. "As Henry David Thoreau said, "It's not enough to be busy, so are ants. The question is, what are we busy about?" Knocking out a hundred tasks for whatever the reason is a poor substitute for doing even one task that's meaningful. Not everything matters equally, and success isn't a game won by whoever does the most. Yet that i exactly how most play it on a daily basis." 

11. "While to-dos serve as a useful collection of our best intentions, they also tyrannize us with trivial, unimportant stuff that we feel obligated to get done- because it's on our list." 

12. "Achievers operate differently. They have an eye for the essential." 

13. "In the world of success, things aren't equal"

Theme#3: Do you have a to-do list or a success list ?

14. "Achievers do sooner what others plan to do later and defer, perhaps indefinitely, what others do sooner. The difference isn't in intent, but in right of way. Achievers always work from a clear sense of priority." 

15. "A to-do list is simply the thing you think you need to do; the first thing on your list is just the first thing you thought of. To-do lists inherently lack the intent of success." 

16. "Instead of a to-do list, you need a success list- a list that is purposefully created around extraordinary results. To-do lists tend to be long; success lists are short. One pulls you on all directions; the other aims you in a specific direction. One is a disorganized directory and the other is an organized directive." 

17. "A to-do list becomes a success list when you prioritize it." 

18. "No matter how many to-dos you start with, you can always narrow it to one."

19. "Setting a doable goal is almost like creating a task to check off your list. A stretch goal is more challenging. It aims you at the edge of your current abilities; you have to stretch to reach it. The best goal explores what's possible. When you see people and businesses that have undergone transformations, this is where they live." 

Theme#4: Multitasking isn't a virtue

20. "Researchers estimate that workers are interrupted every 11 minutes and then spend almost a third of their day recovering from these distractions." 

21. "Juggling isn't multitasking. Juggling is an illusion. To the casual observer, a juggler is juggling three balls at once. In reality, the balls are being independently caught and thrown in rapid succession. Catch, toss, catch, toss, catch, toss. One ball at a time. It's what researchers refer to as "task switching""

22. "Task switching exacts a cost few realize they're even paying." 

23. "Author Dave Crenshaw out it just right when he wrote, "The people we live with and work with on a daily basis deserve our full attention. When we give people segmented attention, piecemeal time, switching back and forth, the switching cost is higher than just the time involved. We end up damaging relationships." 

24. "doing the most important thing is always the most important thing." 

25. "To do two things at once is to do neither."

26. "High multi-taskers are the suckers for irrelevancy."

27. "Multitasking is a lie." 

28. "Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.- Steve Uzzell"

29. "Multitasking is about multiple tasks alternately sharing one resource (the CPU), but in time the context was flipper and it became interpreted to mean multiple tasks being done simultaneously by one resource (a person)." 

30. "Its not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it's that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have." 

Theme# 5: Willpower isn't as strong as we think it is...

31. "Willpower is always on will-call is a lie." 

32. "Willpower has limited battery life but can be recharged with some downtime."

33. "The more we use our mind, the less minding power we have. Willpower is like a fast-twitch muscle that gets tired and needs rest."

34. "Willpower is like a gas in your car...When you resist something tempting, you use some up. The more you resist, the emptier your tank gets, until you run out of gas."

35. "the is willpower and there is won't power. Most people bring won't power to their most important challenges without ever realizing that's what makes them so hard. When we don't think of resolve as a resource that gets used up, when we fail to reserve it for the things that matter most, when we don't replenish it when it's low, we are probably setting ourselves up for the toughest possible path to success."

36. "What taxes your Willpower"

37. "Don't fight your willpower. Build your days around how it works and let it do its part to build your life. Willpower may not be on will-call, but when you use it first on what matters most, you can always count on it."


Theme# 6: Great lives are lived on priority items...

38. "When you act on your priority, you'll automatically go out of balance, giving more time to one thing over another." 

39. "Your work life is divided into two distinct areas- what matters most and everything else."

40. "We overthink, over-plan, and over-analyze our careers, our businesses, and our lives; that long ours are neither virtuous nor healthy; and that we usually succeed in spite of most of what we do, not because of it. I discovered that we can't manage time, and that the key to success isn't in all the things we do but in the handful of things we do well."

41. "The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.- Mark Twain"
42. "Big picture and small focus. One is about finding the right direction in life and other about finding the right action."

43. "To be precise, the word is priority- not priorities- and it originated in the 14th century from the Latin prior, meaning "first". If something mattered the most it was a "priority". Curiously, priority remained un-pluralized until around the 20th century, when the world apparently demoted it to mean generally "something that matters" and the plural "priorities" appeared."
44. "Productivity isn't about being a workhorse, keeping busy or burning the midnight oil....It's more about priorities, planning and fiercely protecting your time- Margarita Tartakovsky"

Theme#7: Thinking big...

45. "Historically, we've done a remarkably poor job in estimating our limits. The good news is that science isn't about guessing, but rather the art of progressing."

46. "Thinking big isn't just about business. Candance Lightmer started Mothers Against
Drunk Driving in 2980 after her daughter was killed in a hit-and-run accident by a drunk driver. Today, MADD has saved more than 300,000 lives. As a six-year-old in 1988, Ryan Hreljac was inspired by stories told by his teacher to help bring clan water to Africa. Today his foundation, Ryan's Well, has improved conditions and helped bring safe water to over 750,000 people in 16 countries. Derreck Kayongo recognized both the waste and hidden value in getting new soap into hotels every day. So in 2009 he created the Global Soap Project which has provided more tan 250,000 bars of soap in 21 countries, helping combat child mortality by simply giving impoverished people the chance to wash their hands."

47. "how many times have you set out to do something that seemed like a real stretch at the time, only to discover it was much easier than you thought ?"

48. "When Scott Forstall started recruiting talent to his newly formed team, he wanted that the top-secret project would provide ample opportunities to "make mistakes and struggle, but eventually we may do something that we'll remember the rest of our lives." He gave a curious pitch to superstars across the company, but only took those who immediately jumped at the challenge. He was looking for "growth-minded" people as he later shared with Dweck after reading her book. Why is this significant? While you've probably never even heard of Forstall, you've certainly heard of what his team created. Forstall was a senior vice president at Apple, and the team he formed created the iPhone." 

49. "People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the only one who do."

Theme# 8: If you are seeking right answers, ask right questions
50. "The quality of any answer is directly determined by the quality of the question"

51. Voltaire once wrote, "Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers." Sir Francis Bacon added, "A prudent question is one--half of wisdom."

52. "Life is a question and how we live is our answer. How we phrase the questions we ask ourselves determines the answers that eventually become our life."

53. "Anyone who dreams of an uncommon life eventually discovers there is no choice but to seek an uncommon approach to living it."

54. "What's the ONE Thing I can do / such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary."

55. "Most people struggle to comprehend how many things don't need to be done, if they could just start by doing the right thing."


Theme#9: Power of purpose...

56. "The most productive people start with purpose and use it like a compass. They allow purpose to be the guiding force in determining the priority that drives their actions. This is the straightest path to extraordinary results." 

57. "A life lived on purpose is the most powerful of all- and the happiest."

58. "One of our biggest challenges is making sure our life's purpose doesn't become a beggar's bowl, a bottomless pit of desire continually searching for the next thing that will make us happy. That's a losing proposition."

59. "Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.- Alan Lakein"

60. "Love with purpose and you know where you want to go. Live by priority and you'll know what to do to get there."

61. "Purpose without priority is powerless."


Theme# 10: Do less with more time...

62. "My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.- Francine Jay"

63. "Extraordinarily successful people launch their year by taking time out to plan their time off. Why? They know they'll need it and they know they'll be able to afford it. In truth, the most successful people simply see working between vacations."

64. "In A Geography of Time, Robert Levine points out that most people work on "clock" time- "It's five o'clock, I'll see you tomorrow"- while others work on "event" time- "My work is done when it's done."" 

65. "Paul Graham's 2009 essay "Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule" underscores the need for large time blocks. Graham divides all work into two buckets: maker (do or create) and manager (oversee or direct). "Maker" time requires large blocks of the clock to write code, develop ideas, generate leads, recruit people, produce products, or execute on projects and plans. This time tends to viewed in half-day increments. "Manager time", on the other hand, gets divided into hours. This time typically has one moving from meeting to meeting, and because those who oversee or direct tend to have power and authority, they are in position to make everyone resonate at their frequency."

66. "To experience extraordinary results, be a maker in the morning and a manager in the afternoon."


Theme# 11: Don't be a victim. Be accountable.

67. "Highly productive people don't accept the limitations of their natural approach as the final word on their success. When they hit a ceiling of achievement, they look for new models and systems, better ways to do things to push them enough." 

68. "When life happens, you can be either the author of your life or the victim of it. Those are your only two choices- accountable or unaccountable. This may sound harsh, but it's true." 

69. "The accountable manager looks for solutions. More important, she assumes she's a part of the solution: What can I do? The moment she finds the right tactic, she acts." 

70. "Granted, "victim" is a tough word. Please know that I'm describing the attitude, not the person, though if kept up long enough these could become one and the same ting. No one is a born victim it's simply an attitude or an approach. But if allowed to persist, the cycle becomes a habit." 


Theme# 13: Saying "No" is often hard but right

71. "Focus is a matter of deciding what things you're not going to do- John Carmack"

72. "No one knew how to go small better than Steve Jobs. He was famously as proud of the products he didn't pursue as he was of the transformative products Apple created. In the two years after his return in 199, he took the company from 350 products to ten. That's 340 nos, not counting anything else during that period. At the 1997 MacWorld Developers Conference, he explained, "When you think about focusing, you think, 'Well, focusing is saying "yes", No! Focusing is about saying no. Jobs was after extraordinary results and he knew there was only one way to get there. Jobs was a "no" man."

73. "Master marketer Seth Godin says, "You can say no with respect, you can say no promptly, and you can say no with a lead to someone who might say yes. But just saying yes because you can't bear the short-term pain of saying no is not going to help you do the work." Godin gets it. You can keep your yes and say no in a way that works for you and for others. " 



Miscellaneous Quotes that i liked:

74. "Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.- Walter Elliot"

75. "When i first began to time block, the most effective thing I did was put up a sheet of paper that said, "Until My ONE Thing Is Done- Everything Else is A Distraction"

76. "The people who achieve extraordinary results don't achieve them by working more hours. Tey achieve them by getting more done in the hours they work."

77. "Michelangelo once said, "If the people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn't seem wonderful at all." 

78. "Mastery is a pursuit that keeps giving, because it's a path that never ends. In his landmark book Mastery, George Leonard tells the story of Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo. According to legend, as Kano approached death, he called his students around him and asked to be buried in his white belt. The symbolism wasn't lost. The highest-ranking martial artist of his discipline embraced the emblem of the beginner for his life and beyond, because to him journey of the successful lifelong learner was never over." 

79. "The truth is, it's a package deal. When you strive for greatness, chaos is guaranteed to show up."

80. "Oscar-winning filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola warns us that "anything you build on at large scale or with intense passion invites chaos." 

81. "If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then is an empty desk a sign?- Albert Einstein"

82. "The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.- William James"

83. "If the people you spend your time with are high achievers, their achievements can influence your own." 

84. "No one succeeds alone and no one fails alone. Pay attention to the people around you." 

85. "Screenwriter Leo Rosten pulled everything together for us when he said, "I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy, I think the purpose of the life is to be useful, to be responsible, o be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all." 

86. "To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping.- Chinese Proverb" 

87. "Living large is that simple. Let me share a way you can do this. Write down your
current income. Then multiply it by a number: 2,4,10,20- it doesn't matter. Just pick one, multiply your income by it, and write down the new number. Looking at it and ignoring whether you're frightened or excited, ask yourself, "Will my current actions get me to this number in the next five years?" If they will, then keep doubling the number until they won't. If you then make your actions match your answer, you'll be living large."

88. "One evening an elder Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people. He said, "My son, the battles is between two wolves inside us. One is Fear. It carries anxiety, concern, uncertainty, hesitancy, indecision and inaction. The other one is Faith. It brings calm, conviction, confidence, enthusiasm, decisiveness, excitement and action." The grandson thought about it for a moment and then meekly asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?". The old Cherokee replied, "The one you feed."

89. "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.- T.S. Eliot" 

90. "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover"- Mark Twain

91. "Go live a life worth living where, in the end, you'll be able to say, "I'm glad I did, ""not "I wish I had." 
92. "You can become successful with less discipline than you think, for one simple reason: success is about doing the right thing, not about doing everything right." 

93. "Habits require much less energy and effort to maintain than to begin" 

94. "People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.- F.M. Alexander" 
95. Be like a postage stamp- stick to one thing until you get there- Josh Billings


Images source:
http://www.amazon.com
http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/big-or-small-whats-the-right-sized-firm-for-you/
https://jspivey.wikispaces.com/Compare+the+caste+system+to+other+systems+of+social+inequality+devised+by+early+and+classical+civilizations,+including+slavery+Jenn+E+Block
http://www.theschemeteam.com/blog/2015/5/12/hows-your-day-successful-or-accomplished
http://linked2leadership.com/2011/01/14/multitasking-leader-or-loser/
http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2011/09/27/control-yourself-people/books/squaring-off/
http://www.logility.com/blog/karin-bursa/february-2012
http://blog.entrepreneurthearts.com/2012/05/08/the-dream-act/
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140820165325-19360894-secret-to-success-ask-the-right-question
http://wakeup-world.com/2014/09/23/are-you-waiting-for-inspiration-or-intuition/
http://pastors.com/how-doing-less-can-help-you-achieve-more/
cheese
http://www.the1thing.com/
http://www.gettingrealhealth.com/blog/entry/say-yes-to-saying-no
https://www.haikudeck.com/the-one-thing-wcr-santa-cruz-mastermind-book-club-uncategorized-presentation-N0R1UVhDqo




Thursday, July 16, 2015

Some Thoughts On Leading Change- A Talk Addressed To Emerging Leaders

I was recently asked to give a kick-off talk around the theme of “Leading change and Innovation” to a great team of Emerging leaders in my organization. Having been involved in delivering these talks in conferences before, one of things that I was always looking to improve was to share the transcript of my speeches and presentation either in video or text form in my blog. This time I am trying to share the stuff more or less in the same flow as I spoke. I took sometime write it post the talk- that's when the thoughts are ripe in the mind. Though it looks like a bit longer (for a 20 min talk), I would appreciate your comments. Here we go-

Starting thoughts:
Standing in front of the talented set of people like all of you, one of the first thoughts that run into my mind is that almost all of us (including myself) remain emerging leaders throughout our careers- probably at different stages of emergence. I would like to count myself as an emerging leader too.  My belief is that when we think that we have become accomplished leaders, we stop growing. I love sports- play a few of them and follow a lot of them. I can quote example from the world of Cricket.
When the Australian team was winning almost everything in the Cricket field from mid-90s through most of 2000s, their captain during the initial stages of its transformation Steve Waugh shared a secret of their success. I remember him once saying that internally the Australian team used to consider themselves as world no. 2 (though they were undisputed #1). This feel of them not being #1, even though artificial one but deeply internalized one, helped them get better even when they won. If they won by 10 runs, they did make sure to celebrate but more than that set themselves the goal to do win by a bigger margin in the next match. So this team remained emerging and constantly strived towards reaching great heights.

There is another opposing example, again from the world of sport, which proves what happens if we believe that we have reached a level of accomplishment and expertise and we are devoid of any challenge. There was an England bowler named Monty Panesar, who was bowling in one of the Ashes tests. Commentating in the match and seeing Monty bowl, Australian legend Shane Warne said 
“Is Monty bowling in his 33rd test or the 1st test for the 33rd time?”

Monty probably stopped growing and probably he started to think of himself as having been an accomplished bowler after getting a break into England playing 11 and didn't improve as much as the situation demanded.

I fully embrace this thinking I shared so here's an emerging leader talking to a group of emerging leaders.

A little about myself:
Further to kind introduction HR gave, one thing I want to tell about myself is that inside office, I try to lean myself towards achieving expertise in the area of my choice- and outside of office, on a lighter note- I try to become the best "Jack-of-all trades". I do try to indulge myself in newer areas/hobbies as I believe this helps you learn a lot about life at a broader level and a lot more about self at a narrow level. Among the things that I have indulged myself in and that has surprisingly stayed with me consistently over the years is the hobby of Technology journalism. I do write on technology areas frequently and this indulgence, more than anything has made me a student of various events that happen in our industry. And my intention is to decipher the events, finding meanings and relevant learnings that could be applied at the workplace.
 
Ben Horowitz in his book "The Hard things about Hard things" describe the legendary Netscape
founder- Marc Andreessen as someone who is not only a genius in technology but also a master of history of computer science profession. This sense of history, Ben says, is quite important to have as such knowledge often helps give perspective on handling current problems, as much as it does to help to pave way for the future.

I have been a student of learning about leading change. As much as I have thought in the past that I have mastered learning about the change, I have always fallen short as newer situations keep emerging. Having observed our industry quite closely for a considerable time, I can safely vouch that we live in a very dynamic industry in which no two days are the same. In this little talk, I would like my focus to be narrow.  And I would just try and focus on some things that I have learned in my journey around managing change and in doing so, I will try and lean a lot on the learnings that I have had in the field of technology journalism as well as my personal experience.

Key points that I shared about leading change...

Point#1. Anticipating change and adapting to it is a skill…
…and if we don't treat it as a skill we leave a gap open to become victims of change. And one of the things that I often tell myself and my team is that we should not let ourselves be labeled as victims. Being a victim (and sometimes pretending to be one) is not one of the nicest and positive feelings at all. Our attitude should make us accountable to ourselves and own-up things.

One the key events that we saw happen in our industry was the stepping down of John Chambers as Cisco CEO. I call it as a key event because he was at the helm of Cisco for considerable period, around 2 decades. We live in the times when companies find it hard to even survive for even 1/4th that tenure he spent as CEO. In our career times, we have seen some legendary companies like Sun Microsystems, Compaq, Digital Equipment etc. either merge with bigger companies or bite the dust altogether. What makes some companies and CEO tick? Recently, Chambers wrote a piece in Harvard Business Review on his/Cisco’s longevity and associated the same with his ability to stay ahead of technology shifts. Did Chambers view the technology shifts and changes as a “threat”? He says-

“When you’re a large company with significant market share, it’s tempting to view market disruptions as a threat, but we view them as an opportunity. When a market isn’t in transition, gaining market share is hard—you’re fighting to take one or two points of share from competitors. That’s why we’re transforming our entire business, expanding to capture growth, and thinking very differently about the future of information technology.”

While describing how Chambers saw leading change as a skill, he considers listening to the customers are one of the key ways to gain insights about the trends. He further says-

"The best indication of when to make the jump frequently comes from our customers. That’s been true in nearly every market transition. Many years ago, before the market moved from routing to switching, I visited Ford Motor Company, a key customer. Executives there told me they were exploring a new networking technology called Fast Ethernet. I’d never heard of it before. A week later I called on some Boeing managers, and I asked them about Fast Ethernet. “Yeah, we think that might be the way to go,” they said. They told me about a company called Crescendo Communications that was making advances in that area. We ended up buying Crescendo to help us make this transition. 

To generalize the view which Chambers presented, in my thinking, as a leaders we should keep our eyes and ears open and build systems that can help us sniff change and formulate the ways to connect the dots and make sense of what trends and happenings in our industry means to us, to our products, to our teams and to our careers.

If we don't look too far ahead, i feel Citrix as an organization is a great example of how the technology and market changes are anticipated and our response are planned. Citrix started in 1989 and has successfully weathered the storm created by many technology changes that has happened from the pre-Internet days of 1989 and today's times when we are doing all the work that we need to do on miniature devices.

Referring the text from Citrix’s journey-
Citrix's transition: From our humble beginnings as a small start-up, we’ve always envisioned a different and simpler way of computing. Our goal was to centralize applications, virtualize them, and optimize their delivery over any connection available. This core thinking continues to be the essence of our vision for application delivery, and how we imagine a world where people can work or play from anywhere. 

Point#2: As much as we try, it's not possible to anticipate change every time

The second point that I present here is in a way contradicting with the point I just presented and it is that- As much as we try and want, it's not possible to anticipate and predict the change every time accurately. And when we cannot predict it, we should do the next best thing- respond to the situation like the best in the world.

Prior to joining Citrix, I was working at McAfee- which is a well-known company dealing with security software products. When I was there more than a decade back, its product and selling proposition used to be an anti-virus (AV) software. AV software, by definition, works on the premise of preventing the known threats. It creates a layer of security that prevents all the known threats from happening. Over the last decade, the security landscape has changed drastically as much as that it is no longer possible to predict all the threats from happening. The best thing that could be sometimes is the faster detection of vulnerabilities and swifter response to minimize the damage when the security is found to be compromised. Another security product vendor, FireEye- recently acquired a company called Mandiant which essentially deals with faster response after the security has been breached.

Taking a cue from this experience of mine and use this as analogy, it is not always possible to anticipate change as we don't live in predictable world anymore. In those situations, it's better for us to gear us up for a faster response. Sharing some more examples-

The companies that survived the aftermath of 9/11 attacks weren't experts in dealing with such situations. But they were the companies that were most responsive to change, they were the ones who were willing to work on the ground, they were the ones who changed their plans by every hour and do all that was need to get back on feet despite numerous odds. Southwest airlines was one example which survived post 9/11 situation when most airlines just couldn't cope up with the gravity of the situation.

In the similar way, even the great economists couldn't predict the banking disaster of 2008 that lead to wide-spread recession. The companies that were most responsive to the change came our victorious during this time. I remember having been a part of Citrix in 2009 and one of the decisions we made then was to make our core platform product- XenServer free. Whether this move was successful or not is a debate for a different time, but the fact is that we didn't shy away from making a bold move. The intent here was to help our customers who were cash-strapped to try any new technology and pay for it, thereby helping us build a good footprint of the platform, which would have later helped us sell the management applications on top of it.

I would like to quite another case study that I adapted from the book- Nimble: How Intelligences Can
Create Agile Companies and Wise Leaders. It goes as below-

In 2000, Philips N.V faced an "Act of God" disaster. The semiconductor chip manufacturing facility of Philips caught fire after a lightning strike created electrical surges across the state of New Mexico. They had automated sprinklers and a trained staff, as a result of which, the fire was put off in 10 minutes. At the first glance, the damaged seemed minimal. Semi-conductor industry has a concept called as "Clean Room" where silicon wafers are produced. Due to the requirements, this room is kept a thousand times cleaner than operating theaters in hospitals. Philips estimated around a week's delay in production as the water from sprinkler and the smoke itself had done some damage to Clean room. 
Philips semiconductors had 2 major competitors as its customers at that time (who sourced the chips from Philips)- let’s say it- Company A and Company B for the time being. Company B, upon receiving the news about the fire and shipment delay; quickly checked its inventory. It determined that it had enough chips in stock to tide over the week's delay. Thus, they waited for the Philip's factory to be restored.
Company A, on the other hand, went into classic firefighting mode. It took some steps-
1. Setup a team to monitor the progress of the repairs to the factory. It figured out that the problem was bigger than was originally thoughts.
2. As a result of this knowledge, they went fast and contacted other supplier who could help them fill the void. 
3. CEOs got engaged and Philips got into action to rearrange production in its factories in Asia.
4. It redesigned portions of the critical chip so that the chop could be manufactured in other plans.

By the time Company B woke up to this situation, it was too late and Company A took the lead. Company B, not surprisingly, incurred amounting to more than 100s of millions. Company B was Ericsson. Company A was Nokia.
Nokia rode on such thinking and agility to win more than 50% of market by 2007.

What happened after 2007 to Nokia is also widely known and written about. Though operationally, it had the best brains to take them past the fire-like situations with suppliers but strategically, it probably lacked the anticipation machinery that could help them assess the impact of disruption iPhone and Android were about to cause. 
Another aspect in this case is that Nokia failed to part ways with Symbian OS when Android seem to be becoming a de-facto standard.

The author of same book- Nimble: How Intelligences Can Create Agile Companies and Wise Leaders further argues that instead of engaging in the futile exercise of predicting inflections, companies and individuals should develop capabilities that will allow them to deal with the inflections as and when they occur.

 Point#3. During the early days of change, focus more on people who accept change fast than the ones who don’t

I have been quite inspired with former HCL CEO Vineet Nayar's bookEmployees first Customers
second and the management philosophy that he shares. He brought about a massive change in HCL while keeping key focus on what he calls as true value zone for any knowledge based company True value he says, is not generated by the top management or middle management but it is the people who are closest to the product and the customers. In a way, the change he brought, turned the traditional management paradigms upside down.

As Vineet says, a change initiative can’t be termed as successful if affected people are not onboard. It is generally not possible to have everyone onboard right from the day the change was introduced. When he first began to drive the changes in his organization, Vineer Nayar understood that not all people would come on board immediately and in fact there are three different groups of people depending largely on the way they embrace change-

Transformers: Transformers are the people who were just waiting for someone to initiate the change and they join the bandwagon almost immediately. They are the ones who are usually aware of shortcomings in the current environment but probably were not the influential enough to drive the change themselves earlier on. They are the people who not only embrace change but also are ready with suggestions, ideas and raise their hand to implement some to completion.

Lost Souls: They are the people who would never support any kind of change. They always have this negativity surrounding them and they somehow are never able to lift themselves from their hopeless state. They somehow believe that every new initiative is an eye wash from the management or the organization. Whenever the new idea is suggested they would simply go ahead and dismiss that not only in their minds but also knowingly and unknowingly try to spread their negativity by airing their views.

Fence sitters: These are the third bunch of people, who generally are reluctant to share their views, rarely would ask the questions and would rather play a wait and watch game. They may not openly criticize the change but won’t either embrace it with wholeheartedness. When asked their opinions, they are likely to say nice things rather than be upfront honest. They would closely watch "Transformers" and the "Lost Souls" and may even change their opinions in short time. In any change initiatives, such people are usually in the majority. They get easily influenced in either direction.

During my early years as a leader, while driving any change initiative I used to focus too much on getting a buy-in from the Lost Souls as a measure for success. As I learned from Vineet's experience here, I figured out the leader should focus more on Transformers at the start of change initiative and empower these set of people to show positive examples of adopting the change to the Fence sitters and Lost Souls and use Transformer's energy to help get buy-in from Fence sitters first.

In my experience, in any hierarchical organization, any mid-level leader plays the role of a leader to his/her team and at the same time- plays a role of a follower to his or her boss. Thus, we get to play the role of initiator and a leader of the change in some cases and in some, it is aptly following the change and ensuring the alignment of the teams. Both these situations requires different skills to get the buy-in from the team and from the management upwards and leaders should be willing to think of these differently. 

 Bonus point: Have a beginner's mindset
Years ago, the original product of Intel was D-RAM which is basically memory for computers and they had just started to invent the micro-processor. They had a real business problem, the Japanese were killing them in the D-RAM market, just destroying their market share.
So Andy Grove and Robert Noyce were at the office late one night and they were talking to each other.
·       Andy says to Robert: Wow we got a problem!
·       Robert says we sure do.
·       Andy asks- If Board says we would get the new guys to solve this problem, what would the new guys do.
·       Robert says Oh that’s easy, they will get us out of the D-RAM business.
So Andy Grove says, Yes why don't we do that before these other guys get in.

To me, Andy’s question about “what would new guys do” is quite profound because it reflects that Andy was more willing to be a beginner again. And to me that is what is needed the most when we drive the change efforts.
Most of the organizations fail to cannibalize the stuff at the right time.
                                                                                                            
As John Chambers also said-
"For Cisco, each transition required a decision about when to jump from selling a profitable product to a new technology—often one that would cannibalize our existing product line. These jumps were critical, though, if we wanted to stay ahead of the curve."

Even when we attempt to reinvent our careers, most of the people tend to focus a lot of learning new stuff but in reality the harder thing in any reinvention efforts is to unlearn what we already know that will not be needed in the future. As a leaders, we should help our teams unlearn stuff that’s hampering the growth to drive the positive change.
 
The Book “One Thing” narrates this story about Steve Jobs that reflects further on adopting beginner’s mindset.

"No one knew how to go small better than Steve Jobs. He was famously as proud of the products he didn't pursue as he was of the transformative products Apple created. In the two years after his return in 1999, he took the company from 350 products to ten. That's 340 nos, not counting anything else during that period. At the 1997 MacWorld Developers Conference, he explained, "When you think about focusing, you think, 'Well, focusing is saying "yes", No! Focusing is about saying no. Jobs was after extraordinary results and he knew there was only one way to get there. Jobs was a "no" man."
As a key learning, we should be ready to cannibalize something that's working for the sake of something better that you foresee coming.

Closing thoughts:
I will close the talk with the words of our CEO, Mark Templeton that he shared after one of our difficult change initiatives-

“Truth is people don't like change. And the older you get, the less you like it.
Change has to start here (pointing towards mind). You have to move mind before you move your bodies. Change is an intellectual process that you have to work to see it for what it is. It’s about staying relevant and not becoming a dinosaur.”

Thank you.





Images source:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Out-My-Comfort-Zone-Autobiography/dp/0718148339
http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/03/the-hard-thing-about-hard-things-ben-horowitzs-honest-and-real-take-on-entrepreneurship/
https://marcus3877.wordpress.com/
http://thenamopatrika.com/pm-narendra-modi-asked-us-to-make-india-our-home-cisco-head-john-chambers/MarkT- take it from mobile
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mcafee.png
http://www.amazon.in/Nimble-Intelligences-Create-Companies-Leaders/dp/8184005733
http://www.technochilly.com/2013/09/see-first-mobile-nokia-museum-gallery/
http://www.amazon.com/Employees-First-Customers-Second-Conventional/dp/1422139069
http://cc.ee.ntu.edu.tw/~ywchang/Courses/Pic/3people.jpg
https://www.citrix.com/go/25.html
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-One-Thing-Surprisingly-Extraordinary/dp/1848549245

Monday, May 11, 2015

Two necessary but oft-underrated career skills

I was recently reading an article shared by Tathagat Verma (referred to as TV below) on his Thought Leadership space in Facebook. This article titled as "Downsized IT dream" was about the changing dynamics in the Indian IT space (probably not limited to India alone) where most companies, under the secular business pressures, are rethinking a lot about the kind of talent that will help them leap forward. What the IT services companies are finding is no surprise, that in many cases, the kind of talent they have isn't same as what will be needed for future. I would recommend you to read the article to gain further insights but for the purposes of this discussion, i am citing a part of interesting discussion that happened on the Thought Leadership Facebook page and organizes the discussion below in terms of two main skills that are needed to thrive in today's competitive world.

Underrated career skill#1: The value of networking/work-relationship building:
The discussion started with TV mentioning the following at the start of post-
[TV] “This was always waiting for happen, and I am neither surprised nor have any sympathy for the "victims" because seriously, no one in their right minds will take an IT job as an entitlement, and if you don't go out and build your network proactively, contribute to building the community, pay your dues and help people with your volunteer skills, and eventually build you own brand outside of being an employee with a large company, then, frankly speaking, shame on you! ‪#‎career ‪#‎IT”

He clearly cites the value of networking in today's world. This is an aspect of our work that i have seen most of the people take for granted and don't put conscious to build it proactively. The part of discussion went into the "excuse" mode around introverts not being very good at networking naturally, to which i humbly disagreed and provided a below perspective.

[Anuj] "This discussion related to introversion and extroversion misses a point IMHO. Its not that the people who are introverts cannot network effectively, if that were true- by that logic- people who are extroverts will find it hard to code because that job requires solitude which is more of an introvert's strength (by popular definition). I fully agree personality orientation is not right or wrong and its just the way it is, In my opinion, its just that an introvert would need more additional preparation and efforts to network effectively than an extrovert. I see many people who are introvert are able to socialize better than so called extroverts by recognizing and putting in efforts in right direction. People need to be convinced of value of networking rather than expecting that "work will speak for itself", which does happen- but not that often."

Underrated career skill#2: Have a reasonable view of future of our chosen profession
The Downsized IT dream article focused a lot on seniority of people who were being asked to go. To me, seniority is not the root of the problem but rather a symptom. My thoughts around it were as below

[Anuj] "I disagree with the article on the lines that it is not the seniority of the affected people that's the core of problem. To me, its more of not investing time and efforts in understanding the ongoing industry trends and proactively aligning careers. Skills, like medicines, have expiry date and denial to accept that and forcing self value based on current skills usually boomerangs. To me, its more about asking self regularly, a personal version of Peter Drucker question- "if I were starting my career today, what skills would matter the most" rather than being blinded by pseudo false comfort "years of experience" gives oneself. Its just by chance that senior people fall in this trap more so but at junior levels too people may be stuck with this mindset. I agree networking is very important but to me, it comes close second in the list."

Do you agree with these thoughts ? or disagree ? Do share your thoughts.

[I deliberately chose the word "skill" to describe the above career forwarding attributes. I see the word "skill" so narrowly used only to describe technical aspects of work. Ok, i have seen people refer to communication as skill but the case in the point is i have not seen many people practicing various aspects of mastering communication as well as they would practice, say C# Java nuances. In this blogpost also my intention in calling these two as skills to emphasize the point that if you don't know these yet or you find yourself lacking in these, good news is that like any other skill, these can be learned by adequate amount of commitment, focus and practice.]

Monday, March 23, 2015

Are you the CEO on your career ? -II

Its been almost an year that i wrote this post- Are you the CEO of your career ? When i wrote this one, i had the privilege to learn about career planning lessons and philosophy of the former Microsoft India MD, Mr. Ravi Venkatesan.
In this blog, i would like to share the career lessons from another renowned Industry veteran Mr. Sudhakar Ramakrishna  during one of the company gatherings. These were delivered by means of an informal talk that he conduced. Do enjoy some of the profound points below and take-away what you like!

Key points from Sudhakar’s career talk:
·       1.  Have a role model, learn from everyone but important to be yourself.
·       2. Know your True North (moral compass)
o   From career perspective, you need to know where your compass is pointing at all the time.
o   Be true to yourself.
·       3. Do the right thing all the time.
·       4. Power of Influence is more than the Power of control.
o   Inspire. Instill Quiet Inspiration

·       4. Don’t manage with fear and Don’t fear to manage
o   Leading with fear is a short-sighted thing.
o   Managing with fear can work for a short period of time but not for long period.
·       5. Artificial harmony
o   Be ready to have direct conversation but be super-respectful.
·       6. Always work to build and demonstrate Inner courage.



7 7. Luck is when preparation meets the opportunity
o     Look for the ways to intersect opportunity with preparation.
·   8. Be Relentlessly persistent
o   Abraham Lincoln quote: “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle”
·    9. Balancing Paradoxes
o   Having the ability to balance two contradictory things e.g. have a high quality software is necessity but at the same time presence of bugs in software is a given.
o   Ability to balance confidence with humility
·    10. Have a clearer idea of what growth means to you, what gives you joy.
·     11. Be confident, humble relentless, do the right things, focus on fundamentals and know where your true north is.

·      12. Success is something you define. Don’t measure your life with somebody else’s yardsticks.

    Image source:
       http://over-coming-social-anxiety.blogspot.in/