Sunday, December 31, 2017

Road to Redemption

We shift gears, 
Learn to be agile,
Do the bidding, 

yet we leave a lot to finish.

While we succeed, we also  
hide our scars,
Forget the sacrifices, 

yet we leave a lot to finish.

May the goal be not be to finish, 
But that, we pull up, 
chin up, dust off, 
Get ready to roll, 

And we are eager to start a lot.

Another day, week, month year, 
Set forth our redemption, 
To finish what we should, 
Continue what we need, 
Replenish our souls, mind and body, 
To the greater purpose of our lives.

Happy new year 2018 :)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Evolved Learning

The one great luck I had in this sabbatical was the nature of the learning evolved. 
Books (published), still are the charm I long for, and the best stress busters.

However, the love for learning makes you cross boundaries every time you come across a great service. 

Three great services I got introduced and subscribed are Kindle, Blinkist and Audible. 

KIndle: Arguably the best reading experience "after" a physical book. The choices, varieties and ease of experience to purchase and sync across devices make it an awesome choice for avid readers. 

Blinkist: I still remain a fan of getAbstract, but blinkist provides similar service at a fraction of the cost. All the summaries are of a definitive length, can be quickly completed while in a coffee shop queue and building your own massive library is "free". Give it a try and you would fall in love with their distilled essence from the books.

Audible: The "gold" subscription is costlier for my standards, yet I tossed a lot to go for this one and only service available at a good standard. Given that nothing beats reading a full book by the authors, this gets your commute and traffic jams enjoyable. If I enjoy a blink, I get a full copy to listen.  The programming, production quality and the narration by professionals and authors themselves makes us long for more drives. I get restless to get on road again just to complete the book. The reproduction in audio format is more appealing given that we could have a multi-tasking attention. Listen in your gym, commute and long flights with eyes rested. 

All the above, transform your smart phone and your car into a learning powerhouse. Don't miss converting your mobile device into a learning junk box and appreciate that commutes are actually our road to self-actualization.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Distractions and the pitfall of the "best"

I have seen distractions play a havoc in my blogging life.

First are the choices in platforms: Blogger, wordpress, typepad which are mainstream blogging tools and then catch up of Facebook, LinkedIn that gives you an audience ecosystem, new age publishing systems like Medium, smaller sites like squarespace and the ever ego to have a branded full fledged paid hosting site of your own.

I don't argue the merits or otherwise for each of them here. When I started looking around, I was consumed to look for the best because I felt my thoughts deserve them.  In this search for the best, stopped doing what I was trying to improve.

What I learnt from all of search is gold.

1. There is merit in the saying "Don't fix what is not broken yet". This suggests that we don't abandon what we do and jump and hop without  a destination in what is "new". 

2. Get comfortable with anything new before making the switch. In hind sight, I could have continued sharing in this platform, while "following" other channels and getting comfortable with the idea to switch. 

3. Change Management matters: I was introduced to this concept in my profession and yes, it applies every where. If I had the desire to switch, the process of change management could have eased me out of the pain. 

4. When in distress, seek to talk: The unfortunate event that happened around this time was that my already small blogger friends circle  pushed themselves away from this endeavor. May be, we all could have benefited from the withdrawal symptoms and reassured each other to refresh and re-look.

5. The calling of "Why" needs to be answered as a mantra: I started blogging by accident and it became my obsessions and then my love. At some time, probably, I couldnt answer  "why" am I spending time here. And should I continue just because I love and dont see value ? The nag eventually gets shriller and gets a shell we live comfortably. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The hiatus that wasn't to be

Have you ever felt the disappearance of Mojo one fine day and struggled to get it back. ?Started wondering why, and erased all memories just as we tend to hide the first crush of our lives that re-surfaces on a sudden event ?

This blog was one such event of my life. After the last post in 2015, I couldn't muster the energy to pick myself up and pen down what I wished to. And eventually my struggles weakened me until this time. 

Outside the blogger life, it has been a hectic journey, lots of new learnings, developed maturity with the onset of older age, overcoming crises and mostly an avid consumer of learning and a reticent contributor. 

Picking up my love once again to blog. Counting on your support to go from here.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Review: Doing What Matters Doing What Matters Doing What Matters

Doing What Matters Doing What Matters Doing What Matters Doing What Matters Doing What Matters Doing What Matters by James Kilts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is often a rare book that resonates with you. The reverberation is so strong that you wish to align with each and every line written as a wisdom that is talking to you.

This is one such wonderful book. I did not just read this book, but learnt it as a text book in university syllabus. I read it, took copious notes of each and every nugget, now have realms of pages of written notes to synthesize frequently.

If there is a practical actionable insightful book to excel in a management role, do not bypass this text.

View all my reviews

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Instruction Design: A Process centred outcome or a Creative pursuit

It is a emotionally charged question with no definitive answers, as I realized when I was discussing this with my leadership team in a late evening coffee shop conversation.

The middle road and an easy answer can be that it is art as much as science. A variation of the same is that, while IDs follow a process it is creativity that makes the training package outcomes unique, tailored, relevant and effective. And to think of it, any work, job is always the same. A process is defined and individuals using their thinking skills to deliver unique value in every job that exists in the world.
However, the trigger to this post, is to highlight that when decisions are to be made on people, such middle ground exercise is a danger. Because, people need to be selected, oriented, trained, motivated and given responsibilities to build them up for success. Thus, the leaders and operating teams views matter only if it is either way - so that decisions are consistent and fast.These decision, then determine:
  1. Hiring and selection,
  2. Retaining the right fits, and,
  3. Choosing the type of customer where successful partnerships can be built.
My argument and stand is that, Instruction Design is a pure process driven domain satisfying most (well, almost all) of the needs of corporations and programs commissioned to resolve learning gaps. Supporting my case is:
  1. Analyzing content to meet the learning needs (follow a structured traceability) has to be a process-driven to get solutions in time,
  2. Content/Context/Environment/User devices/time availability and attention span, drives logical decisions for crafting the learning paths/modules, repeating learning objectives and defining interaction patterns, deployment mediums and
  3. The important step of writing instructions, has to be style guide driven, just as in editorial rooms for maintaining standards, consistency, understanding, error-free, audience appropriate, build brand identity, which all has to prove to be successful instructions to drive the learning which is the aim of the whole exercise.
  4. Determination of Learning Object is a collaboration between developer on what can be implemented as a SCO (if made SCORM compliant). 
Having said this, it is important to clarify that the thinking behind all this is not to create a large step by step documented procedure manual and that robots can replace humans in this field. The human mind wins in developing instructions for fellow humans. Over-hyping this piece of a process, probably gives Instruction Design a narrow window of evaluation to prospective talents who could make a successful career. Instruction Designers can be successful, where natural competencies are being good at process management and can deliver good outcome with the reserves of empathy, Learning Agility (mentored on best practices that are available to read aplenty on the SoMe world).

Next time, when you are in job market understand the hiring manager philosophy to your job and if it aligns to the job perception you hold, express your wish. It will save both the manager and individuals from the path of draining the energy and enabling success to reach the business.
I took Instruction Design as an example, as the in-world, in-person discussion happened on the question, which am sure is applicable in any industry, domain, work.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

7 principles inherent in any Lean Enterprise and how to be good at it

1. Shed fat: Continuously. Unlike a weight loss program, keep getting at it often. No, this is not to mean cutting resources or going for a re-org. These are at best symptomatic treatments that lasts a fall.

Shedding fat, in Lean, implies to keep looking at ways to continuously drive away what we would accumulate as we grow, produce and do new things. Things could be excess inventory, unused or rarely required tools, never ending projects, cost escalating services, unproductive events, inflated processes, innovation lacking teams, etc.

Focusing on  Rapid Improvement Events, standard work and following the associated playbook eliminates Mura (uneveness, irregularities), avoids Muda (waiting, surprises, shifting priorities, scrapping of work) and empowers teams to avoid Muri (over-burden, working without clarity). It is therefore, an essential quick win and showing the results motivates your entire team to keep getting good at Lean philosophy.

2. Be clean: Cleanliness is godliness and it is a fact. Keeping surrounding clean, allows to identify dirt and dirt making elements, helps shed fat sooner rather than allow them to fester. A clean environment brings in productivity, drives discipline, lets in sunshine, promotes transparency, discourages dark rooms, limits back side gossips, rumors or lingering bad after-effects, and above all encourages us to be clear in thoughts, words and deeds.

Daily Kaizen, Kaizen events and an ever-attentive focus on 5S(sort, set, shine, standarize and sustain) helps to instilll the spirit in teams to keep the surroundings and environment clean. Environment and systems are the pillars that promote transparency and ethical behaviors in business dealings.

3. Allow honest confrontations: A big letdown, often is the case in diversity focused teams, is leadership style. Teams tend to perceive, due to their diverse experiences and backgrounds, different interpretations for actions, unrelated attributions, seeing seeming patterns that might just be an aberration, probable theories in decisions and many other relationships that suits their mindset. Interpersonal strife and collaborative challenges rule until open communications and reiteration of meanings serve as the key.

Continuous coaching, feedback and teaching treating these instances as learning opportunities along with transparent dialog becomes the guiding light that determines leaders and teams actions. Being Genuine and feeling empathy are not weaknesses in leaders.  Counter-intuitively, they in fact, make the leaders stand tall and helps them work adapting within the teams mental models.

Lean culture encourages the practice of Gemba walks, take decisions after Gembutsu, rely on Genjitsu and Genri that ensures quick navigation back to standard work and Genichi styles and working in self formed quality circles enable honest conversations in the workplace.

4. No penalty culture: It is not about affixing responsibilities to people but identifying what misses led to this fall ? An occurrence of an issue inevitably leads to  a gap in the process and if detected late means audit system in turn are non-existent. As my boss, often says, a disaster is never because of one event. It is a series of misses that blows up making people believe a cause and effect relationship to the last blunder.

Make mistakes - Share problems, Fail often - Post Improvements, rely on recognizing that process and not people are the cause of any screw up. It is always about: Why did your system allow the person to fail? In almost all cases, a process gap or failure to follow a process or lack of understanding, missing warning systems are identified as primary causes and Lean teams acknowledge and celebrate these improvements together.

The spirit of acknowledging mistakes and treating every opportunity to listen to feedback  and as a learning need will build the spirit of continuous improvement. Continuous Improvements are the cornerstone to promote innovation and free the spirits high to soar.

Lean is all about learning and improving. This makes the Lean program learn-able for every one where lean practicing teams bond stronger than beat each other in the journey of optimizing productivity and changing direction.

5. Customer Satisfaction is the center of all action: It is not the end result as some training programs and managers speak it out to be. The end result is company's profitability (can exist if they can sell to customers), value (can happen only when they deliver quality and have high perceptions on the abilities with employees believing high on their company), and brand (only when they do more than just exist for commercial transactions) in the marketplace.

Wastes for customer is the hidden, unusable, rarely used, not so important feature that costs them but isn't delivering a value or never used at all. A product with Value is essentially a product that rings in customer satisfaction every time of use and is produced eliminating waste: For user, customer and people working on the project. Waste from production lines(scrap, unused inventory, longer work in progress times and many more) add to the costs that skews on the pricing.

Lean has identified 7 forms of waste. Continuously eliminating them from production lines and end products helps enhance the value. Takt time, One piece flow, stopping the line are all hallmarks that great, disciplined teams can alone perform. High productive and inherently quality products emerge from Lean environments that provide repeatable and remarkable benefits to customer.

6. Put premium on process: Rewards should go to people who enhance and improve the process, not their importance. Following and practicing structured problem solving approaches will make individuals successful and teams scale performance benchmarks by addressing root causes than just symptoms. A team of stars could remain just that: People as stars in their individual right. A team, bonded by a system, glued by processes, incentivised to become teachers for others, survive, thrive and emerge as great champions.

Hoshin Kanri, Takt time, Poke-Yoke, Visual Management, Kanban and other tools help provide the framework for professional collaboration and grounds-up empowered decision making teams.

7. Measure and reach targets: What is visible gets recorded, What is recorded gets improved and what is improved is appreciated. Lean is so good at this cycle.The purpose of any system is to track data. Recording necessitated and planned data is an integral element in successful teams. In Lean and in any quality system, the fundamental premise is to Do what you say, and Say what you do. In other words, what is acted upon is documented as a process. A documented process is audited for its performance. A performance gap is mentioned as an opportunity for improvement. All improved and benchmarked processes are certified. All improvement opportunities drive towards consistency, predictability, stability, and team satisfaction. Heijunka, Stop the Line and other quality tools with

Lean help establish a metrics driven culture in teams for all-round excellence, every minute, for long years to come.

A cycle of positive spiral using the above 7 principles enables Lean teams to get "Lean" and be good at it for years to come as the culture starts moving in this direction.

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