FOG: The Future of Growth…

Two years into the pandemic, everyone’s wondering again and still about the Future of Work. Talks and webinars and conferences are being organized to understand what organizations and people are going through. With Wave 3 (Omicron) peaking, it is pretty much agreed that the resilience of humans has ensured that we found ways to continue to operate, and economies are reflecting this resilience.

The Future of Work seems to be safe. ‘Hybrid’ is what the consensus is. But it is increasingly becoming apparent that the pandemic is in for a longer spell than we had hoped for, and the question we now have to start thinking about is – “What is the Future of Growth?”.

This question gains significance because the fresh workforce which was recruited during the last two years would have never experienced ‘pre-pandemic’ work in offices, and some of these people would also be coming up for their first role change into a bigger role, maybe supervising people remotely. But what does that mean?

We need solutions for the new problems being faced today. Many instances of “I don’t want to attend meetings” are being reported. We need to address the root of the problem (meetings were not effective nor defined with required agendas), not try to replicate what used to happen. The new joinees have never experienced in-person meetings, or workshops where they could see their colleagues face-to-face, or eye-to-eye, nor do the old KRAs/KPIs make complete sense when used for determining promotions.

There are new questions that the #futureofgrowth will need us to think about, from everyone’s point of view, the subordinates’ and the supervisors’. The realization is stronger now of the social fabric in any organization. What is the social fabric made of, what does it enable or inhibit, and how can it be replaced with wholesome and productive mechanisms.

Some questions that may have interesting answers now…

Questions From the Subordinates’ Point of View

  • How will my performance be assessed?
  • How will my promotion be decided?
  • What is the extra I can do beyond what is assigned to me, and which will win me brownie points?
  • How will I Learn by Observation?
  • From where will I Absorb Tacit Knowledge
  • Who are the Leaders? From the Social Media universe, Influencers are the leaders, do they become organizational “Gurus” as well?
  • Interpersonal motivation – how and from where do I get it?

Questions From the Supervisors’ Point of View

  • How will managers develop subordinates?
  • How to assess the competencies of subordinates?
  • How to identify the potential growth areas for subordinates?
  • Situational Leadership? What is that going to be driven by?
  • How will coaching and mentoring evolve?

Challenges For Everyone

  • Many of the familiar ways of working no longer help in the new Organization Dynamic
  • Mastering/Leveraging New mediums of self-expression – text, voice, video, language
  • How will we learn emotional intelligence?

Many questions like the ones above are beginning to gain importance, and we will have to find new answers. It is an exciting future for sure!

— O —

Ethics in Training & Education

Ethics in training and education carry a very different significance from ethics in say, selling groceries.

The biggest difference lies in the fact that in buying groceries, the customer knows what they are looking for, what they should get, and how to qualify it, whereas in buying training or education they do not know (beforehand) how to qualify or specify what they need or should get.

They usually only have some idea of the outcome they’re looking for, like getting a job, a raise, etc., but have little or no idea about what the training input should be like.

This lays the onus of ethics of training or education on the providers – the institution, the offering, the teachers, the trainers, etc. I share below some ethical values I have seen addressed by many providers. There will certainly be more that I will have missed. Please share those in your comments and feedback.

Ethics of the Training Organization

  • Training Organization will identify the most relevant and effective Training Needs for learners as part of a sustainable society
  • Training Organization will define curriculum that are relevant and efficient in helping learners progress towards their learning objectives and goals
  • Training Organization will make all efforts to keep every promise and commitment made to Trainees – before, during, and after the training.
  • Training Organization will ensure Trainers have the required caliber for the training delivery assigned to them.

Ethics in the Offering

  • The offering (training program/intervention) will be focused on takeaways for every participant that are relevant and effective in helping them move closer to their learning objectives as easily and efficiently as possible.
  • The offering will uphold all applicable Laws of Copyright and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).
  • The offering will focus on meeting every commitment made or implied to the learners.

Ethics of Trainers

  • Trainer will make all efforts to demonstrate relevant, current, ASKBs (Attitudes, Skills, Knowledge, and Behaviors) for helping the trainee in meeting their Learning Objectives and Goals.
  • Trainers will make all necessary efforts to:
    • Appreciate the goals and learning objectives of learners.
    • Appreciate the trust and faith reposed in them by their learners, and never ever misuse it or betray the learner.
    • Identify the Training Needs of learners. Distinguish between learners’ needs, expectations, and requirements, and collate those that will benefit the learners the most in their context, while being socially sustainable.
    • Identify all subject matter that is relevant to meeting the Training Needs – research for the latest developments/implementations/developments in progress at the time.
    • Determine the facts and truth in subject matter. Share only what is unequivocally true with learners.
    • Develop the training strategies most suitable and efficient for learners – Presentations, Reading materials, Audio, Video, Activities, Debriefs, Simulations, etc.
    • Declare and clarify what objectives learners can expect to be met.
    • Use the training strategies to help the learners assimilate the relevant subject matter.
    • Involve every learner, and provide a safe and fair learning and assessment environment.
    • Give learners a sense of closure in meeting their learning objectives.

Ethics of Learners

  • Learners will engage and interact with the trainer, to enhance their learning experience.
  • Learners will pay attention and attempt to comprehend the experience they receive from the trainer/teacher.
  • Learners will diligently follow instructions of the trainer/teacher regarding their learning.
  • Learners will deploy their learning in endeavors which drive and support the sustainability of society.

If these seem to be too many, try going through them again and identify those which can be deleted as they may be redundant or unimportant.

I would love to hear your feedback and comments.

— O —

Also: “An Industry of Hope, Belief, Trust, Integrity, and Responsibility”

“Ethics at Work”

Driving discipline

Which of the following driving disciplines do you follow, or see being followed?  Add 1 point for every check. (Points are for traffic that drives on the left of the road, else switch right with left)

  1. Traffic on your right always has Right-of-way – in lanes, at a round-about, or at an intersection
  2. At an intersection the one who reaches it first, gets right-of-way to cross it
  3. Always overtake from the right
  4. Don’t overtake a vehicle which is overtaking another vehicle itself, or if there is oncoming traffic
  5. Distance from the vehicle in front of you should be enough to let you see its rear wheels touching the road
  6. When going down an incline, shift down to the same gear you would use when climbing it
  7. Instead of applying the brakes, try shifting to a lower gear and letting the engine do the braking (release the clutch)
  8. Don’t ever switch off the engine to free-roll down an incline
  9. Don’t drive with the clutch pressed halfway while cruising
  10. Maintain your position in you lane and switch lanes carefully watching other traffic
  11. You must not move to your right if a vehicle is overtaking you
  12. Thumb rule for shifting gears – shift gears according to speed should be 16Xgear kms/hr, i.e. upto 16 kms/hr move up from the 1st gear, upto 32 kms/hr imove up from 2nd gear, upto 48 kms/hr move up from 4rd gear, upto 64 kms/hr move up from 4th gear, and upto 80 kms/hr move up from 5th gear (if there is one)
  13. When facing oncoming traffic at night, never look at their headlights, instead keep your eyes to the left verge of the road you are on
  14. Try driving with foresight of what others are going to do/doing on the road, and take proactive measures so they don’t need to change their path

These are lessons gathered over years and generations… If you’d like to add some points, please leave a comment.

If you got a score of:

More than 10Bravo! Way to be…
6-10Great, you must already be a driver blessed by others on the road
3-5Hmm, you must definitely try more of these to get a better drive
Below 3You probably never knew these, but now you do

— O —

Money is Only Worth its Spend

Many years ago I had come across a truism I liked: “The riches of a person are reflected in how they spend their money, while their wealth may be measured by how much they have.”

There are many sayings I’ve heard about ‘the color of money is the same’ regardless of where it comes from, but over the recent years I’ve realized that the ‘quality of money’ can be established too.  I did think of the sources of wealth, some honorable, some dishonorable.  I thought of the names we give to sources of funds, and to heads of expenses.  Nothing seemed to pass all tests until I hit upon a very useful test for the Quality of Money.  The quality of money depends on what it is spent for, what it makes happen, or what causes it funds.

Spend vs Invest

When we speak of spending money in different ways, the question also pops up “Money can also be invested, how is that different from spending money?”.  A simple difference to understand between spending and investing money is to see that money that is spent, is consumed, it doesn’t return in any way except to sustain the status Quo.  In this regard, money is time, and vice versa.  Money invested however, returns manifold, or should return manifold if the investment is accompanied by attention, industry, and doing what it takes to meet the objectives of the investment.  In this way, money that is invested returns bigger, stronger, better over the time that we pay attention, are mindful, and industrious.

The Need and Money

In the bigger picture money gives us time, say by providing sustenance, shelter, and security for another few days/weeks/years, and we make our decisions of how to spend this time.  If we are blessed with fortune and wisdom, we invest this time to return stronger, better, bigger.  Which of our needs do we fulfil first with the money we have, defines a lot about the quality of money we have.

Mapping to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs also gives some great insights into the quality of money that we spend or invest.

Examples of money spent or invested at various levels of Needs

Level of Need Spend Invest
Need for Self actualizationPracticing all what we are able to do, what we truly know.In Self – mind, body, soul
Need for recognition– Fees paid to enter competitions– Self improvement
– Excelling at meeting useful objectives
Need to belong– Socio-Cultural alignment (lifestyle)
– Fees for club membership
– Attending social events
– Build relationships Networking
Security needs– Maintain a house to live in– Educational qualifications
– Monetary savings and investments (stocks, banks)
– Agriculture
Biological needs– Food Shelter from natural elements

We can review the Quality of our Money, and what we are likely to achieve with it, by appropriately mapping our expenses to the needs, and classifying them as spend or investment.  This review of what we are likely to achieve with the time and money that we expend, can give us insights into how we should change, if required, our spending and investing strategies.

It is important to note that Time is a significant factor that affects the quality of money.  At different times, different needs become virtuous. The amounts of spend and investment at the various levels of needs will also change with time for each of us, across different phases of our lives – from child, to adolescent, to adult, with a family, through professional phases, etc.

What is the Quality of Your Money today?

— O —

Independence

This anniversary comes around every year, and so many people share what they think independence truly means, and what we should do with it.

As I think of independence, it strikes me that just like the only Rights we have are what we Defend, we must realize the only Independence we have is what we Exercise! We may think of our independence as freedom of thought, freedom of speech, or freedom of action… in the end it will only be the freedom we choose to invest and manifest, that our independence will become.

If I were to list what my prayers for independence this is what they would be: I pray for independence to live my life the way I determine, I pray for independence in choosing how I make a living, I pray for independence in making lives for the people who need to, I pray for independence in choosing the struggles I wish to win over.

Today, however, is our day to celebrate the independence our great country gained in 1947, our independence to govern and administer ourselves, our independence to coexist peacefully with our neighbors, our independence to defend our sovereignty, our independence to choose what is best for us and to become the best.

— O —

Ethics at Work

Whose responsibility is work?  The worker, or the supervisor who gives the instruction to the worker?  Whose responsibility therefore, is work ethic?

Ethical work definition is a pre-requisite to work ethics, though in some situations you find the work ethical even without ethical work being demanded.  Lets take a closer look at what work ethics are, and what ethical work is

.

Work ethics is honesty in working, ensuring integrity of outcome, labor, and time.  Often the only thing associated with work ethics is whether the worker puts in the contracted amount of time to her/his station at work.  But I think it goes much further than that.  I believe work ethics is about ensuring that I do not leave any stone unturned in meeting the intent of my assignment for meeting the requirements of the outcome.  This means to me the selection of the right methods, tools, technique, and then to execute my assignment responsibly in ensuring that my work integrates with the work of others in the team.  It means sincerity and diligence on the worker’s part in understanding the big picture and how they can contribute the most to the team through their individual assignment, and even other contributions they can make.  It means the exhibition of requisite skills by the worker to ensure the most integral outcome in the least time and effort as a whole.

Lets look at the ethical work definition and its outcomes now.  Ethical work definition means the definition of work and work breakdown structures such that they align with the competence and capacity of the team, and which when completed meets the intent of the customer, who can be an internal customer too.  Ethical work is the result of work definition by managers typically, while work ethic is the individual endeavor of each team member.

W.O.R.K. = When Outcomes Result from Knowledge!  This means a great deal.  First, work that does not have any result or outcome is a waste of time.  Second, work is based on knowledge, the knowledge of the doer.  If it is not based on the knowledge of the doer, it is actually someone else’s knowledge, while the job is just being executed be the worker.

What do these thoughts mean to you as a worker?  What do these thoughts tell you as a supervisor or manager?

Which do you now think is more important – work ethics or ethical work?  Or are they both equally important for an ethically operating enterprise? 

This sets the stage for what today’s students are struggling with.  Students who are eagerly gathering degrees, diplomas, and certificates to present to employers who have no clue of what the work involves, except knowing that the kinds of people who have succeeded in growing their enterprise in the past had far fewer qualifications (and much more ethics).  Work ethics for ethical work!

— O —

Talk the walk!

That’s right!  We’ve been used to hearing and reading about it the other way around.  ‘Walk the talk!’ is the constant refrain for leadership.  You should ‘do as you say, practice what you preach’.

I’ve found that while the (almost cliched) saying “Walk the Talk” works fine for those situations where we may benefit from it, there’s the flip saying also which is very effective in growing and spreading a greater understanding.  Most people don’t give a second thought to whether what they are saying is true about themselves.  This may be fine as long as you ascribe the authorship of what you say to someone else, someone greater than yourself, but why do we treat what we say as separate from our own behavior?

You may be very sincerely giving advice to another from the storehouse of quotations you carry in your mind.  In such a scenario you are the medium through which someone (the author’s) else’s learning is finding new ears.  It doesn’t make any difference to how you may be.  Or at least it gives you the liberty of some time before people may expect you to follow what you have said, to demonstrate in action the same wise words.  So let’s consider another approach.  An approach to changing yourself for the better forever.

Let’s say you hold yourself very responsible for saying something that you do not practice.  In such a case, out of a sense of integrity, you would diligently also mention that these words have been said by so and so.  Lets also assume that you don’t want to have to keep remembering what other people have said simply to share them with others, but you use them more to make a difference to who you are.  In such a scenario, one very simple thing to do is to only share what you do, and how you yourself are. 

Choose to only share those aspects or facts that you have already worked upon, and the changes you have already caused with them. Make sure you always have something  new to talk about.  With this approach, it follows that you will first practice differently, analyze the results for yourself, and then talk about the successes, the lessons.  If you are trying out new ways of doing things, of being yourself, you will always have many lessons to talk about.

When you talk from personal experience, and from the rewards that you yourself have reaped, it becomes something far more engaging and valuable.  Such conversations have far reaching depths, and impact that may just be the change that was needed. It’s our integrity with ourselves. It’s living personal integrity as alignment between what we think, believe, say, and do.

— O —

What does meaning mean to us?

We humans are a social animal. The structure of our needs has been shown by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs… from Biological up to Security, to Belonging, to Recognition, and finally of Self-Actualization.

Each one of these needs beyond the first two, from Belonging upwards, depends a lot on the meaning we build as our own from our community(ies), the recognition (appreciation) we gather, and the new (personal/original) meaning we are able to convey (add) to our community (the world we understand). What does meaning mean to us?

The book, “The Three Laws of Performance” makes the point so emphatically – “How things occur to us depends on the language we use”. What does this mean? Does language lead to meaning, or is it the other way around? Is its meaning important for us? And therefore to us?

Of course, language is a natural form of communication, and as such there will be varying degrees of ‘language’ used by different people, all of which we need to be accommodated in our understanding. That notwithstanding, does the widespread adoption of a wide vocabulary, clear, consistent, correct, and precise language have a direct correspondence with the growth and evolution of a community?

This is an invitation to a conversation on the meaning of language, and what it means to us, building from what it means to each one of us. You’re invited to be a part of this conversation right hereClick and post your thoughts and read what others are saying as well.

What does meaning mean to us?

What role does the (correctness of) language mean for all of us?

— O —

Trainers Don’t Need To Be Trained!

Do Trainers need training?  Yes of course they need training, but they do not need to be trained.  This is what makes them Trainers at the cutting edge. 

Obviously, if they need to be trained, then they are the learner.  If a trainer believes they have outgrown the learning stage, they are actually doomed as a trainer.  All trainers worth their salt accept that they need to keep learning constantly, just to keep pace with the rapidly learning youngsters who will ask them questions during their training sessions.  The better trainers learn faster than anyone else.  It’s just that simple.

So how do Trainers learn so quickly?  What do Trainers do to learn without being trained?

Trainers are experts at focusing on learning objectives and asking questions, assimilating answers, and practicing without inertia.  This expertise of asking questions is the expertise knowing which questions to ask, how to ask which question, who or what to tap for the answers, and what questions need to be answered first.  This expertise naturally gets them the answers before anyone else, and that is what creates the opportunity for them to be Trainers.

Trainers develop the ability to assess the purpose for every piece of information.  While good learners need to know how to answer all the questions they are presented with, good teachers need to be able to reverse-engineer the questions from looking at all the information (‘answers’) that they perceive.  Trainers have to be able to determine the objective from the response.  And, the best trainers are able to ask new questions, questions they have never been faced with.

— O —

Read, as if your life depends on it…

… for most likely, it does!

One of the most significant changes that people are dealing with is the fact that in the lockdown stages they don’t have people in front of them telling them what they have to do, but rather they need to read instructions (most likely in a chat message or an email) telling them what they what they need to do.

Don’t underestimate the magnitude of this change. This is a sea change for most people. Where people didn’t need to read words spelt out, they didn’t need to understand the written language because they could always depend on the person in front of them explaining to them, could depend on them to infer the particular confusion that they chose to have at that point. From that point they need to actually change to make sense of a few words written in front of them. Many people don’t even realize the handicap they give to themselves by refusing to read.

Over the last few years. I realized that most people who are so-called literates are effectively illiterates. They’re only people who can write somehow. And I say this because most people don’t read. They may have the ability to read. But that doesn’t make them literate. Because they choose not to read, and behave like illiterates. What do you say?

Why do I say this?  Lets take the example of sign-posts.  Or that of emails people receive.  Even signages that point out dangers are glossed over as if they never existed.  They probably don’t exist for the masses.  This phenomenon is even more striking for me because I work in a profession that lays the highest importance on Safety, which in turn means that paying attention to signages is the foremost responsibility of every worker and officer.  Even so, the literacy of people is evinced to the same extent as in the rest of the region of South Asia. Most people depend on being told by someone, rather than having to read anything.

This aversion to reading, even the one or two words of a sign-post, has always remained a mystery to me, when I know the person can read.  It is the ultimate disrespect to the person who wrote it, and also to one’s own intellect and ability, to not use it.  Our life certainly doesn’t seem to depend on it.

Notice that Kerala has had the best response to the pandemic in recent times, and is it a coincidence that it is the state in India with the highest literacy rate?  Thank God at least some of those people (if not many) actually must have read the advisories, the analyses, the way forward, and communicated with many others as civilized thinkers.  Reading and writing polishes thinking.

Ultimately, reading and writing help us develop the discernment that comes from being well-read, and being sorted in our thinking. Our life depends on it…

— O —