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Possibility Thinking – A sine qua non

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I would like to start my blog with a famous story of two salesmen who were sent to Africa by a shoe manufacturing company. Both reach Africa to explore the market opportunities. Surprisingly, both present divergent perspectives on their market research findings, when they speak to their managers.While one excitedly looked at the opportunities the continent offered for developing the shoe business, the other one cribbed about the lack of opportunities, as no one wore shoes! For him, it was impossible to sell an unknown product to such customers. So here, one saw possibility while the other didn’t.

  • ‘Possibility thinking’ goes beyond ‘Positive Thinking’.

Whenever we hit the end of the road, we generally say, “I am stuck, what do I do now, to get out of this situation?” We begin to feel like victims. However, if we use possibility thinking, the same situation can have innumerable solutions.

HOW?

Possibility thinking is a simple practice – which I call ‘Walking Talking’ meditation. We need to prime our brain to use possibility thinking every moment e.g. when watching a TV show, I look at those aspects of the show which I can correlate to my outer world and question myself, how can this correlation help me improve my overall quality of life or to solve a problem that I face every now and then.

  • How possibility thinking benefited my friend?

Not only do I use possibility thinking extensively in my own life, but I also influence my family and friends to apply it at all times. Though, the concept is so simple to use, very few use it. It can be used as a self coaching tool and also an effective instrument for leaders to help their peers and juniors to break out of the rut.But for doing that we need to have a good amount of knowledge to connect the dots to culminate the random thoughts into possibility thinking.  This way, it becomes our new way of life.

My dear friend who is an educationist was once narrating an incident about her mobile data possibility thinking story. Her usual internet usage is restricted to wi-fi which is easily available in her office and home. But on few occasions, when she couldn’t book a cab, she realized that it was important for her to have at least a basic mobile data pack. On enquiry, her telecom service provider offered her the cheapest Rs. 150 data plan which in her case was of no use.

She wanted a data plan which offered her flexibility and convenience of using it whenever she needed. With this question in mind, she went to the store.To her surprise, after little resistance, the customer care eventually offered her a reshuffle plan which allowed her to use internet only when she needed it. Though some part of her data plan still remains unutilized, but she is happy. She had found a possibility!

  • Seasoned professionals also forget this simple practice:

On the professional front, I met a Senior Human Resource professional of a leading MNC in Mumbai. She was really frustrated with her new junior who was taking undue credit for work done by her. My coaching session started with me asking a very basic question, “What actions have you taken to resolve this issue?”

As she was going through an emotional turmoil, her thinking had become foggy. She had got into victim mode! She had not thought of any possible steps to resolve the issue. I then asked her, “Do you send status updates of the work you are doing to your boss?” I never expected the answer to be in negative, especially from a seasoned human resource professional like her. As she was not updating her boss regularly about her contributions; her boss obviously ignored her work in the organisation.

  • Task master to a friend:

A senior auditor who works with one of my clients was labelled as a fault finder by his colleagues. After my session on possibility thinking; instead of finding faults he actually teamed up with procurement team to find alternate fruit vendors to save on the organisational expenditure on procuring and servicing fruits to employees. He initiated this just to test the efficiency of the concept, but both he and the organisation were eventually benefited because of this exercise. People see him differently now – A fault finder converted to a solution provider.

In a nutshell, we can say, “Possibility thinking is a tool which when effectively inculcated in our day today life will definitely help us to get out of the rut and think creatively.  We will always feel motivated and thus see enhancement in our overall quality of life.”

By  Dr.Niloufar Aga

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Changing Paradigms of Leadership

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Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_JohanSwan’>JohanSwan / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

In the recent Leadership summit organized by MCCIA in Pune, we had eminent speakers share their thoughts on the current business environment and structure of the organisations. They also shared various tips to lead the business to success.

We are living in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and ambiguous) world where today becomes yesterday and we can be taken by surprise. There is a complete paradigm shift, and hence it is quite possible for the organisations to lose relevance if they don’t adapt fast enough.  Following are the key pointers that were touched upon in the summit:

  • Current Business Environment:

Today’s business environment has changed from complicated to complex. A complicated environment can be correlated to a game of chess where we have limited opening moves. As the game unfolds, the possibilities of potential moves increase. Hence, the players gradually get prepared for the future uncertainties.

However, a complex environment is like a game of snooker where every stroke is full of uncertainties and innumerable probabilities right from the start. Hence, a leader needs to address this disruptive world with a more comprehensive approach.

Aftermath of recent surgical strike operation on the Line of Control is another example of VUCA. Once the strike was carried out, it was difficult to predict the possible counter moves from the opponent, leaving no scope for planning a programmed response.

  • Proposed Organisational Structure:

Now the question arises, what should then be the structure of today’s organisations?  The earlier organisational structure had a committee approach with no intermeshing of departments or key groups. An organisation with compartments will soon lose its relevance. The old businesses with a conventional approach have either vanished or are finding it difficult to survive in today’s world of disruption. Models of the past like reductionism, super specialization and core competence may not work in future. Thus, need of the hour is to have shared awareness within various groups of the organisation and a fluid understanding.  Role of a leader is to lubricate the system to reduce friction.

  • New Leadership Styles:

Following are the leadership styles that were recommended by the speakers in the summit:

  • Tenacious: Flying against the storms will help overcome any situation.
  • Nurturing: Nurture one person at a time to make future leaders not followers.
  • High flyer: The ability to fly high and swiftly come down will help leaders be adaptive.
  • Wholesome Leadership: A combination of connecting with the inner self and expanding the leadership context outwards to embrace the whole planet. A model of Shubh Sankalp (good intentions) and Shubh Laabh (successful end results) is recommended.
  • Leaders should have the ability to see things differently, be imaginative, build the culture of speed and trust, know behavioural science and have tolerance for ambiguity.

Such leaders will sail the organisation through all the uncertainties and lead it to new heights.

  • In a nut shell:

In the VUCA world, leaders need to be able to take fresh and divergent perspectives and yet be able to reach a shared understanding. Remember, it is a complex world; we need to choose our battles carefully and take up one thing at a time. Recruit the best pilots and trust them to fly your best plane. Connect to inner self to draw the positive energy. Build bridges to people through emotional trust and lead with prudent balance of empowerment and governance.

By Vivek Yatnalkar

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Why Wholesome Leadership is Needed in a World of Disruption

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The external environment for an organization today can be confusing, simply because things change so fast, making it difficult for leaders to get a handle on them, and take the right decisions. This used to be called VUCA – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous, but these days I prefer RUPT – Rapid, Unpredictable, Paradoxical and Tangled.

When the world is RUPT, you can be sure that someone will DISRUPT! Someone will come out with a completely new paradigm, possibly a product or service so revolutionary that it leaves everyone else behind.

The only way to survive in this RUPT world is for us to be the ones who DISRUPT, find new paradigms and solutions that will be relevant in the future.

Organizations that couldn’t do this fell by the wayside, even one-time giants like Kodak, who didn’t see the impact of digital photography on their business, or Xerox, who couldn’t match the competitive costing of Canon.

Today, there are even more revolutionary and far-reaching changes affecting the business environment. The reality of today has caught up with the science fiction of only some years ago. An example is a ‘medical tricorder’ in the Star Trek TV serial, where many medical parameters of a person could be gauged by a single device, and that too, remotely. Today, the technology exists for this to be possible.

Those companies will survive that will be able to continuously deliver value to all stakeholders.

It’s clear that everything will be disrupted, the only question is ‘when?’.

So how can the leaders of today navigate this disruption and create organizations that flourish in the future? I will share two key concepts that are very valuable in this context.

The OODA Loop:

A model created by Col John Boyd of the US Airforce, who’s considered the ‘father’ of the F-16, the OODA loop was defined for combat flying, but is so relevant to business. OODA is an acronym for :

  • Observeloop
  • Orient
  • Decide
  • Act.

Before we see how it applies to business, let’s understand it in its original context – combat flying. If I’m a fighter pilot, I need to constantly see what the enemy pilot is doing with his aircraft. I need to observe closely, and in 360 degrees. Then, based on the moves he’s making, I have to orient my thinking very fast, and, with the help of my thinking, knowledge, intuition and creativity, I must evaluate my options. Next, I need to outsmart him, and decide on what would be the best course of action for me. Then of course, I must act based on my decision. But in the meantime, he has moved as well, and once again, I must observe his moves – that’s why OODA is a loop.

Let’s see how OODA applies in our world of work.

Observe:

We need to observe how the world is changing, and our perception needs to be accurate. But perception is not a simple thing, it’s a complex thing, because you can see the same thing in many different ways. You may have to look beyond the obvious, and a lot of good entrepreneurial practice comes from good observation.

What’s happening in your field of work? What will be the impact of high speed communication, such as 4G, or of the Internet of Things (IoT)? Can you find new ways to offer value to your customers, before competitors do? We need to observe culture, values, technology and cost structures to find the answers to some of these questions.

Orient

When you observe in 360 degrees, you may gather intelligence about many different types of development and changes. Now the challenge is to integrate this knowledge, and orient yourselves as to what your choices are. This is the time when you need to innovate and connect the dots, using creative thinking, and even your intuition.

For instance, in my work in Learning & Development, I can see that 4G will revolutionize communication and connection. I can also see the new concept of Accelerated Learning, and I know that medical science is making rapid strides in the area of neurosciences. Can I integrate these seemingly unconnected developments and create the connection? Can I disrupt learning by providing breakthrough value through this integration?

Decide

You have used your creativity and innovation to identify the choices before you, now you need to decide which choice you make. Is it new product development, or a new services, or a new way to manage operations and costs, or delivery? What’s your chosen mode of disruption?

Act

Act on your decision. There are new and interesting ways to launch, such as ‘frugal experimentation’. In today’s world, you need to move fast. Before others even know what’s happening, you have already observed, oriented, decided and acted.

By Arun Wakhlu

 

 

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