Sunday, October 15, 2017

Succession Planning through a Shoe

The other day while I was coming back home after my daily walk, my favorite shoe gave up on me .
I was saddened by this sudden event as it had become an integral part of me over the last 18 or so months. 

What was, obviously, more concerning was the fact that I,now, needed to buy another pair and with no visible sale around, either on web or in the brick and mortar space, the loss was to pinch a bit more . Doing the maths around the loss and a bit of planning on the next purchase, I over came the immediate challenge of walking back about 2 kms back home. Obviously, it was not an easy walk back home as I took almost double the time which disturbed my entire planning for the next events of the day. 

After reaching home, as I narrated my thoughts to the Financial Controller of my house (read wife), she helped me recall that I did make a purchase of a back up running show about 4-6 months back as I had anticipated that my current shoe had kind of lived its tenure. I rushed to my shoe rack and yes, here it was, a bright blue brand new walking shoe. 

My wife didn't miss the chance to tell me that there are back ups I create for almost everything - shoe, blazer, suit, shirts etc etc. While she was being sarcastic and try to remind me this was an unnecessary habit, I was beginning to link this habit to my profession and oops, popped up the concept of one of the biggest challenge at work - Succession Planning

These series of event was like a real event at work and a little bit of planning and foresightedness helped me to mitigate a sudden event and expense. Isn't this the succession planning which we dread so much, on which we spend hours of time to plan and more often than not it does not give the results which we always anticipated. 

I think this incident teaches a lot on how should one approach succession planning 

  1. Understand the fact that the position is critical and it will impact your daily operation significantly. This proactive realization is the trigger for planning for eventuality. If this is not there, nothing else matters 
  2. Accepting that we are all resources and there may be various reasons for the association between the resource and the organization to cease - planned or unplanned, wishful or forced. Hence, it is important to acknowledge that how ever bright or loyal the resource holding the position is, back up is essential 
  3. Start early and invest wisely - the backup shoe was not purchased just a week back or at MRP, it was done much early and wisely invested. The point is to first read the symptoms through data and historical analysis, understand your future needs, hire at the right time or hire early (-1 or -2 positions), train wisely through on the job or classroom 
  4. The shoe needed just one backup for immediate future. Imagine if it was a trouser or a shirt or a blazer, you would have not just needed one back up, you may have needed more backups as it would have directly dependent on what you are wearing, occasion etc etc. So it is mandatory to plan in a way that you just do not look to have 1:1 resource ready, may be it would be good if you have 1:2 or 1:3 backup. You may never know what kind of skill or competency the situation may demand and you may allocate the right resource accordingly 
  5. I did not have a choice but to straight away start using the new shoe. Ideally I should have started using it here and there before the old one was discarded. So, ensure that all your 1:1 to 1:3 resources get the feel of the role before hand so that they are role ready and you are also confident that they would adapt and deliver instantly. Imagine, if the shoe did not behave well and gave me a shoe sore. I would have to take precautions in using it. You would not want that and hence On the Job scenario exposure to highs and lows of the role is important 
  6. I immediately knew the expected life of the new shoe and started thinking and planning when would the next shoe had to be bought and what kind of basis my requirements going forward. So, do not start feeling good that you had a good succession planning. Pat your back and do not get complacent, start it afresh. Keep reviewing the new person's management and growth, keep looking for new talent, keep investing. Be conscious that the business requirements will change soon and what clicked today may not click tomorrow. 
Guess, if we approach succession planning in this way, we may always be sleeping (in my case walking) comfortably. 

Hats off to the shoe, helped me for all the time it was my number one waking shoe and when it could no longer pull itself, helped me learn and demistify such a complicated aspect. 

This one's my fav shoe :-) 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Time to introspect

I realised something strange yesterday while flying from Mumbai to Jodhpur. 
For the two hours I was in the aircraft with no access to my I phone and blackberry for mails, messages and phone calls. During that period my emotions wavered from anxiety to restlessness to relaxation to introspection. It gave me moments to think of my life over the last few months, relations @ home with my parents and wife and the relations with the outer world
The point that I am trying to bring in here is the fact that we have become such slaves of technology that we really do not spend time away from them. While we are connected with the world we have restricted ourselves from connecting with ourselves. From my limited exposure to life the way we look in and search our core, defines the way we approach the outside world. The no of hours spent with ourselves impact our relations with the world exponentially. 
The biggest realisation that I had was that I am becoming more and more doer than  creating. After all we all are human beings and not human doings.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Line and Staff - The Origin

The term "Line Managers" is much used, but not understood fully or is understood differently by different people. Many people use the term "Line Managers" simply to mean their own immediate boss, or to mean the manager of any work group in any function - but these are not the original meanings.
One may refer to the book The Third Wave by Alvin Toffler for the origin of the terms "line" and "staff."

The early American railroad companies were the giants of their day. They were massive in terms of number of employees, capital employed and geographical spread. They created new forms of organization based on centralization of information and command. Employees were divided into two categories - Line and Staff. "Line" was concerned to the day to day operations of the rail road line. "Staff" was concerned with all the support work that was required to make this happen - accounting, marketing, legal and so forth.

So, "line managers" are concerned with the core activities of the organization.
"Staff" managers are in charge of the specialist support functions which make sure proper procedures are followed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A lesson well learnt from a Sales Man

 We all learn different kind of lessons in life through our surroundings, the people we talk and the people we report into. Off late, based on my interactions with a lot of people from the sales force I have started to be impressed with a few traits of a typical sales man. And to my utter surprise, I find consistency in this behavior across the various hierarchical levels. This is an ode to the person call sales man who ensures I find the material I want on the shelf whenever I wish to make a purchase. He knows, in his own way, when will I actually need the same product or service again. While we scoff at the number of calls we receive in our phones or the representatives who ring the bell at the odd hour or who throngs on to you when you visit a departmental store with a new product , salesmen work inside out to ensure our needs are taken care. 

Negotiation gone right !!!!
The first thing that has intrigued me is the motivation and optimism levels these guys have. We go to many motivational gurus to get advice. I would suggest you spend a day with a sales man. You will get lessons on this topic like never before. I am sure you must have been approached by a salesman offering a product or service. I am equally sure that 99% of the time you would have shooed him off. Many-times not even bothering to look at him. This is been done not once to the person but time and again. Have you ever noticed what happens after the rejection? No, he doesn't sulk standing there. He takes that in his stride and approaches the next customer with the same rigger, zeal and enthusiasm , sometimes, even more. He doesn't hesitate to smile. To me that is motivation - an ability to continuously focus on the target without worrying of the road blocks in the way. He is also optimistic that if this day is not good, tomorrow will be better. 

Let us look at a better scenario and assume you have given him an order. He accepts it with a smile, thanks you and ... Well, if you ever noticed he doesn't just start celebrating the success or takes a break. He knows that he cannot take the success on to his head and this is just a momentary phase in the longer war that he is battling. Another lesson for all of us. Never loose sight of your ultimate goal. You will find success and failure during the course. 

Amazing ! Isn't it. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Reaction versus Response

A lot of people quite often ask what is the difference between Response and Reaction. Here is a snapshot of the difference: 

Reaction is untrue action - behavior that arises from the damage and impoverishment of our personalities. We react according to our conditioning - and not to what is. Such reaction may sometimes be decisive, but ultimately can never be creative, because it does not come from a free place. 

Response, on the other hand, is always creative. Response is true action-behavaior free from personal agenda. It is the action of the inner child, and therefore genuinely open to good in the situation. It will cling on nothing,except tthat which is best.

Reaction is mechanical, response is spiritual, and it is not hard to distinguish between the two as we reflect on events. Most human personality is not response, but reaction - behavior arising out of false identifications. 

(Excerpts from The Enneagram , a book by Simon Parke)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Team Work

A long wait since I last wrote! Here is my take on team work -what should ideally make a good team bond and work together! No gyan just a reflection of a couple of observations

A very famous basketball player of his time, Magic Johnson, once when asked about what he thinks makes a good team work together, replied "Everybody on a championship team doesn’t get publicity, but everyone can say he’s a champion." If any team remembers this and works relentlesly towards the ultimate goal, I think it will make a hell lot of difference.

Let me quote this from my experience. Table-tennis is not a great team event like a football or a soccer or a basketball is. But it is still a team event! If the two players dont understand each other and work in unison, the championship will never be theirs. I and a good friend of mine played table tennis together. By the time we had graduated from college, we had won almost every tournament together - singles or doubles. While he won more single tournaments then I could and was the more flamboyant player than me that attracted more adulation than I could even think of, I even once didnt feel bad about it. I am not mentioning this to garner sentiment points or to show my greatness. What I am trying to emphasise here is pprecisely what Magic Johnson said. Today, I can proudly write that we were champions, I was a champion.
Another important fact that a good team should possess is respect and adulation towards each other. I am sure, if I am asked today who was a better player, I would not hesitate to mention that my partner was a better player. And I still remmeber, he always mentioned to everyone that I was a better player I dont apper to be one because my game was formulated on a defensive approach and his was an attacking game. Now thats what I call respect. We always knew and will always know, that on our days, each one could give the other a challenge and could win. But at no point did we thought that about"I" am a better player. This is something that gives a team its stability.

I have seen many teams having stars but loosing the wars. Even in corporate world, you may have a great team on paper from the best f the institutes but sometimes a smaller and lesser known team just throws you off guard and wins the battle. And believe me the team hat wins is the one that fights like one and let none take their position.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Identify Enneagram no!!

Please identify the enneagram number :

1 always wears bright color and has an agressive approach. 1 reacts first and then thinks. 1 always builds a process chart or diagram around any problem that is brought in. It can be assumed that he does not like to take people along with him and rather uses his power/influence/position to sell his views and imposes it. He is never satisfied with any one else's views. If after a lond discussion in which he is part of, you send the Minutes of Meeting , he will always have something to add to it. However, he doesnt appreciate if someone gives a suggestion to him.

1 is percieved to not forget things and is full of vengence. However, he is too disciplined. He rarely misses a deadline and becomes too stressed about someone else missing it too.

In team meetings, he enters and exits the meeting at his pleasure. He is always hungry for data and even people based decisions he takes based on facts and not on gut feeling. He presents himself as risk taking but to me, he is too scared of taking risks.

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