Maximise your personal and professional potential with a Coach

Why should you bother having a coach in your life? Does it really help? Should you be a senior levels to have a coach?

Having a coach in your life helps you to transform your personal or professional life through a deeper level of self-awareness and clarity. A coach is someone who will be there for you, motivate you, and guide you to uncover the potential that you have within yourself. It is not necessary to be in a senior role to work with a coach; anyone can benefit from working with a coach in order to reach their goals and live a more fulfilling life.

‘I wish i had signed up a coach 5 years back in my life’ is a regret i commonly hear from the senior leaders who i coach. 

So is this the right time for you to have a coach? Let’s look at how ICF (International Coaching Federation), the most respected credentialing body across the globe defines coaching. ‘Partnering with a client in a thought provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential’.

So getting ‘inspired’ to ‘maximise our personal and professional potential’ is the core of coaching. It is all about unlocking the true potential lying within us. A coach could help us to discover the things about ourselves that often don’t come up in everyday conversations.

Having a coach will help to open up avenues which are a mix of different techniques, processes and approaches. Together both the coach and the coachee can explore multiple perspectives and ultimately arrive at the best outcomes. 

A coach will support you to build resilience, stay focused, and make sure that staying on track becomes easier. Coaching empowers individuals to take ownership of their own development and growth, and to pursue their ambitions.

It can allow us to step back and observe our own thoughts and recognise our patterns of behaviour, so that we are more aware. 

Given these benefits it is imperative that we seek a coach in our life and unlock the true potential we desire and deserve. 

How do you know who is a good coach for you? I have seen people often using two yardsticks. One, is the person certified as a Coach? Two, some common reference checks to to ensure our comfort with the person. 

Whatever is your method of identifying, my invitation to you is that please find one and embark on the journey that challenges your limiting beliefs and breaks you free for more purposeful pursuits. 

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In 2016, the Conference Board’s Global Executive Coaching Survey conducted for that year coined the term BOCA (Blurred boundaries, work Overload, increased Complexity and Addiction to technology) to describe the workplace of the future – a workplace that is a response to a VUCA world.

Leadership is the ability to guide and inspire individuals or groups to achieve a common goal. It is a complex and multifaceted concept that can take many forms, depending on the situation and the individuals involved. Effective leaders possess a range of skills and traits that enable them to influence and motivate others to achieve success.

One of the key traits of a leader is confidence. Confidence in one’s own abilities and in the abilities of the team is essential for a leader to be able to make tough decisions and inspire others to follow. A leader who exudes confidence will be seen as more credible and trustworthy by those they lead.

Another important trait is the ability to communicate effectively. A leader must be able to clearly and concisely convey their vision and goals to the team, as well as provide regular updates and feedback on progress. This allows the team to stay informed and motivated, and to work together towards a common goal.

Leadership also involves the ability to make difficult decisions and take calculated risks. A leader must be willing to make tough calls when necessary, even if it means going against popular opinion. The ability to take risks and make decisions is essential to achieving success in today’s fast-paced and constantly changing business environment.

In addition to these traits, effective leaders also possess a range of skills, such as strategic thinking, problem-solving, and the ability to manage and delegate tasks. They are also able to build and lead high-performing teams, fostering a culture of collaboration, open communication and trust.

Leadership is not just limited to the business world, it’s also crucial in politics, community organizations, non-profits and any other organization. A leader in any of these fields can inspire and motivate others to achieve a common goal, whether it’s increasing voter turnout, raising funds for a cause, or improving the quality of life in a community.

In conclusion, leadership is a complex and multifaceted concept that requires a range of skills and traits. Effective leaders possess confidence, the ability to communicate effectively, the ability to make difficult decisions, strategic thinking, problem-solving, and the ability to manage and delegate tasks. They also inspire and motivate others to achieve a common goal.

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Demonetisation; Dharnaas and Development

Source :
Source :

Lights! Camera!! Demonetisation!!!

This action happened on 8th November 2016 and we saw some interesting scenes emerge in the last 3 weeks of this action. Common man’s agony (some of it genuine and some over projected); debates; dharnaas; allegations and counter allegations. It had all ingredients of a perfectly engaging movie. The difference was that this movie was impacting our lives directly. 

The key question – Has the demonetisation act impacted or changed our behaviour?

A week after the demonetisation announcement, I went to a kirana (grocer’s) shop that’s closer to my residence. This is not the first time I was going there. My issue – I wanted to buy stuff worth Rs. 300/- however I had a freshly minted Rs. 2000 note with me. My skepticism vanished when I saw a small, yet significant change in this shop. The shop had, for the first time, a swipe machine and a Paytm option. I think thousands of merchants have quickly adopted to this change to give convenience to their customers and ensure continuity of their business. The urgency principle for behaviour seems to have worked perfectly well.

There have been talks of what happens to the 6 lakh villages and their adoption? Especially when 233 million (around 75% population equivalent of US) Indians do not have any type of access to the bank as indicated in PwC data.

Rs. 16 trillion worth of old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes are in circulation. Rs. 8.44 trillion deposited or exchanged till 27th Nov 2016. Rs. 2.16 trillion withdrawn from the bank. Overhauling this entire thing is obviously going to take time.

My Dad was having a chat with some of his friends. Topic obviously was Demonetisation – Boon or bane. Someone spoke about the almost cashless economy of Sweden and the other spoke about 50% quick adoption of M-Pesa by Kenyans. One apprehension the group seems to have in common is how can we not see and touch and feel the cash? How will the other person get the money if we do not physically hand over the cash?

So, will we adopt to this change, especially when we have just 3% of payments done with credit cards?

Nandan Nilekani, former Infosys head and the chief architect of Aadhar in a recent column said “Indian economy is largely informal. But once a taxi driver becomes part of Ola, then in fact he (or she) becomes part of the formal economy. He is able to use data, get a loan, buy a car and start paying taxes. So, a formalization of a few hundred million Indians will spur growth”.

 Unified Payment Interface will add a booster in our journey towards digital economy. This interface

Source : Mint
Source : Mint

allows money transfer between two banks using smart phone. Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog was recently on one channel taking calls from people addressing their concerns about the security of online payments and whether a feature phone can also be used to make these transactions. What is heartening being the fact that for the first time such extensive technology enablement conversations, clarifications are happening across the country.

Vijay Kelkar (Chairman, NIPFP) and Ajay Shah (Professor, NIPFP) write “There is a game of musical chairs being played. One day, the music stopped playing and the persons who were holding the cash were penalized by 25-50%”.

Vijay shekhar sharma is amazed by the growing number of transactions on Paytm. “We are doing more than 5 million transactions a day” says he in a recently given interview. Since 9th November, Paytm claims to have registered a 700% increase in overall traffic and 1000% growth in the value of money added to Paytm account. The company which was expecting to to achieve a billion dollar GMV (gross merchandise value) by 2020, now expects to achieve that by March 2017 owing to demonetisation.  Other companies in this space have seen sudden surge in traffic and fattening e-wallets.

We can certainly take lessons from Keya’s adoption of M-PESA. As the Economist points out that Kenya had several factors in its favour, including the exceptionally high cost of sending money by other methods; the dominant market position of Safaricom; the regulator’s initial decision to allow the scheme to proceed on an experimental basis, without formal approval; a clear and effective marketing campaign (“Send money home”); an efficient system to move cash around behind the scenes; and, most intriguingly, the post-election violence in the country in early 2008. M-PESA was used to transfer money to people trapped in Nairobi’s slums at the time, and some Kenyans regarded M-PESA as a safer place to store their money than the banks, which were entangled in ethnic disputes. Having established a base of initial users, M-PESA then benefitted from network effects: the more people who used it, the more it made sense for others to sign up for it. 

The Fintech space in India is becoming more exciting and according to Kalaari capital’s recent report

Source :
Source :

there are more than 800 start-ups working in this space whom they surveyed that will further accelerate the process of digitizing the economy.

Any change is painful and the journey is likely to have some initial bumps but as this eases out the benefits appear to outweigh the damages

Well as Vijay Kelkar and Ajay Shah point out in their article the action must extend to 6 areas for the larger good. Gold, Hawala, Real estate, Taxation, Administration and Politics & elections.

For now, let me just get into the bank queue to take my Rs. 2000 note.

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Do you have a Resource Investigator in your team?

As a part of our profession, whether entrepreneurial pursuits or service in an Organisation, we come across different kinds of people. When some of 3d White people and red man leadership. Leadership and team workthese people come together or brought together for doing a project or an assignment we see a great deal of dynamics playing within them. Agreements, disagreements, fights, nods and all sorts of things. Eventually when the scope of work gets defined as a team, we see different people behaving in different ways.

One such person tends to reach out to the external world, connects with them, explores and exploits newer opportunities, develop new ideas and enthuse others. Dr. Meredith Belbin has named this role as ‘Resource Investigator’.

About Dr. Meredith Belbin’s research:Dr Belbin

The research of Dr. Meredith Belbin in the late seventies lead to the development of Belbin Team Roles, nine clusters of behaviour that individuals adopt when participating in a team. During extensive experiments at Henley Management College it became clear that teams comprising a balanced mix of team roles outperformed unbalanced teams.

Subsequent research has also demonstrated that teams consistently outperform individuals when dealing with high risk complex issues where a wide range of complementary behaviours is required.

Today, the Belbin Team Role model is used by over 40 percent of the top 100 companies in the UK, the United Nations and thousands of organisations throughout the world to enhance individual and team performance.

The diagnostic and advisory information provided by the Inter place reports has proved to be invaluable for:

People management mind map, business strategy concept

    • Enhancing self-awareness and personal effectiveness.
    • Fostering mutual trust and understanding.
    • Ensuring managers and organisations have a better understanding of the natural talents of each employee.
    • Matching people to jobs.
    • Selecting and building effective teams.

Who is a Resource Investigator?

RESOURCE INVESTIGATOR – A role requiring someone to make external contacts, to explore and exploit new opportunities, to develop ideas and to enthuse others.


Resource Investigators are often enthusiastic, quick‐off‐the‐mark extroverts. They are good at communicating with people both inside and outside the company. They are natural negotiators and are adept at exploring new opportunities and developing contacts. Although not a great source of original ideas, the Resource Investigator is effective when it comes to picking up other people’s ideas and developing them. As the name suggests, they are skilled at finding out what is available and what can be done. They usually receive a warm reception from others because of their own outgoing nature.

Resource Investigators have relaxed personalities with a strong inquisitive sense and a readiness to see the possibilities in anything new. However, unless they remain stimulated by others, their enthusiasm rapidly fades.



Resource Investigators are good at exploring and reporting back on ideas, developments or resources outside the group. They are the best people to set up external contacts and to carry out any subsequent negotiations. They have an ability to think on their feet and to probe others for information.

Look at your projects:

Now look at your enterprise or projects that you are responsible for. Do you at least have one resource investigator in each of these projects? If not, it’s important to induct one for all the above reasons we discussed. If you already have one, you know the best way to keep the person going is to ensure that the other team members keep the resource investigator stimulated.

Isn’t that the smallest price to pay compared to the benefits resource investigators bring to the table?

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Positive thinking for success? No, not always!!!

If you track US Open, you may vividly recollect one special semifinal.. The semifinal between number 1 ranked Serena Williams and Reberta Vinci. Serena-RobertaVinci has had successes In doubles tennis over the years however she had never reached semis in singles. So the predictions of the match were excessively in favour of Serena Williams and for all the right reasons. Her proven track record, consistency, strength, focus, confidence etc. In fact in the post-match interview the interviewer revealed that Vici was underdog 300 to 1.

In spite of all this, Roberta Vinci won the match against Serena Williams.

Here are some of her reactions given by her in her post match interview.

“I tried to stay focused and didn’t think about the match, about Serena’s incredible play”

Interviewer : When you woke up this morning what gave you the belief that this moment was possible?

Her Answer : No (laughs), really it is true. When I woke up I said Okay, I have a semifinal today. Try to enjoy. Don’t think about Serena. Play, enjoy. But I didn’t expect I will win.

In my mind I said, put the ball on the court. Don’t think. Try to put all the balls on the court. Don’t think Serena is on the other court and run. And then I won.

Watch her post-match interview here :

Most of us know the story of David and Goliath. Victory of a small and tiny over big and mighty. I am sure you have come across many such examples where the underdogs have won.

The key question is what gives them the strength to face someone who is strong, mighty and has a very successful winning track record?.

Eustress :

My friend who works as an assistant professor of Psychology once told me about this concEustressept. Usually we associate stress with something that is undesirable. However, she told me that we need some amount of stress to get into action.

Eustress means beneficial stress—either psychological, physical (e.g. exercise), or biochemical/radiological (hormesis). The term was coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye, consisting of the Greek prefix eu- meaning “good”, and stress, literally meaning “good stress”.

Staying the course :

I was speaking to my friend Shankaran who is a marathon runner for the last 5 years nowBusiness man pointing the text: New Mindset New Results. Shankaran is not a disciplined exercise person and yet he completed half marathon 5 years back and is regularly completing it since then beating his own record year on year. His secret? An advice from his runner friend/mentor. The advice was it does not matter how fast you run, what matters is how long you stay on the road. This changed his entire perception and made him comfortable with self. So no grand vision, but a bit by bit practice, mental orientation to stay long on road and finally making it to completing the half marathon and beating one’s own record year after year.

Focusing one shot at a time:

One finds the similar approach that Roberta Vicni spoke about while facing Serena Williams. “In my mind I said, put the ball on the court. Don’t think. Try to put all the balls on the court. Don’t think Serena is on the other court and run. And then I won”.

Getting over obsessed with winning can burn you out. Focusing on one shot at a time can keep you in the game.

Does this approach apply to work?

“Whether we have a job, a start-up or a business we are required to do multiple simple or complex projects. Thinking about the magnitude of the project can saturate our thoughts and lead to confusion, energy drain, heart burn, project delays and lot of embarrassment” says my friend who works at a senior management position in a pharma company.


Eustress, Staying the course and Focusing one shot at a time does have its merit to take on the Goliath’s in our personal and professional life.

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3 performance lessons from PV Sindhu’s final match

I will not be surprised if the sports shops see a surge in sale of Badmintonpv-sindhu-medal-2016 rackets and shuttles. I will not be surprised if the demand for badminton coaches surge dramatically. Most youngsters and equally their parents would start seeing a career and opportunity in sports in India.

That’s the power of your influence and inspiration PV Sindhu.

It was a treat to watch the Women’s single badminton final match in Rio Olympics. PV Sindhu and Carolina Marin were at their best. One of the best matches we have seen in the recent past.

PV Sindhu becomes the first women to win the Silver for India. And she is just 21 years of age. She has many years and lot of badminton left to further deepen her mark on the game and on the generation.

Question is what helped her reach at this level and play one of the finest games? The other one is can us, in our respective work areas benefit from the traits she has displayed?

stress diagramConsistency of training the body and mind:

The game has to be played well. Very well. This requires commitment and discipline to practice.

While profiling Sindhu’s career, a correspondent with The Hindu wrote:

“The fact that she reports on time at the coaching camps daily, travelling a distance of 56 km from her residence, is perhaps a reflection of her willingness to complete her desire to be a good badminton player with the required hard work and commitment.”

Her coach Pullela Gopichand says “the most striking feature in Sindhu’s game is her attitude and the never-say-die spirit”.

While running your business or while handling different challenging assignments at work, it’s good to check ourselves through these filters.

Importance of having a role model and a coach:

Businessman pressing touch screen interface training checkbox

One of the newspaper headline says ‘PV Sindhu will finally be allowed Phone, Ice-Cream by Pullela Gopichand’. Just imagine the kind of influence a coach has on the life of a sports person. An attitude of subordination is equally important if we want to excel in our professional and personal life. So whether you work for an Organisation or have your business, check if you have a role model and a coach. Importantly check if you are willing to give controls to him or her so that the process helps you in enhancing your personal effectiveness and scale up to the next level of performance. 

Calming down :

Aggression and calming down has to go hand in hand. This may appear to be paradoxical. But just think if you are able to practice and master this skill? Do you think it will benefit you In your personal and professional life? In the Rio Olympic semi- finals for example, in the second set against Okuhara of Japan, neither Sindhu not Okuhara wanted to give up. There were situations where the scores were 7-7 than 8-8 and soon 10-10. This was the moment when Sindhu needed to calm down, minimize her errors and wait for the opponent to show signs of mental and physical exhaustion. PV Sindhu did follow this strategy. The result. She defeated Okuhara to reach the finals.

So here are the three things that can help us greatly in our personal and professional life :

  1. Consistency, attitude and never-say-die spirit
  2. Having a role model and a coach. Role model will give the benchmark and coach will help us unleash our true potential.
  3. Developing the skill and the ability to speed up and slow down at the same time.
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Why we remember negative experiences more than the positive??

I recently read two articles. These two articles are not related to each other. One article challenged whether India has really grown by 7.6% in FY 15-16. The other spoke on 30 valuable insights for individuals as they rise to become world class. The first article is analytical and attacking. The second article (tips) is positive and inspiring. Both the articles are written by eminent personalities in their respective fields.

So all things being equal (well largely), which one do you think has had a greater impact on me? In other words, which one would have had a better recall value?

Here is the link to both these articles, just in case you want to give it a try and check it out for yourself.

Article 1 :

Article 2 :

Article 2 gives some of the important and time tasted principles for leading an inspired life, yet for me the recall of the analytical and attacking article (Article 1) was high?

Let’s take the situation of 2 days in our life. On first day three events happen. We lose money, our friends abandon us for some reason and we receive criticism. On day 2, we gain money, we gain friends and we are praised.

Which day are we likely to remember more? Events giving negative experience (day 1) will have higher impact than the events giving positive experience (day 2).

Think of the feedback you may have received from your customer, boss, and colleague. We tend to remember negative feedback stronger and longer compared to the positive feedback.


Why does this happen?


Reasons :

A new study suggests that we recall bad memories more easily and in greater detail than good ones for perhaps evolutionary reasons. Researchers say negative emotions like fear and sadness trigger increased activity in a part of the brain linked to memories.

According to science daily, emotions and memory are indivisibly linked to human brain. Hence the more emotionally disturbing experience, the more it sticks with the memory.


Bad is stronger than good :

Roy F. Baumeister, a professor of social psychology at Florida State University, and Ellen Bratslavsky, from Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland captured the idea in the title of a journal article, “Bad Is Stronger Than Good”. The paper gives an extensive account of various research done in this as well as related subjects. It deals with various aspects of life like reacting to events, close relationships, emotions, learning, information processing, memory, forming impressions etc.

Threat requires more attention :

Their paper says that throughout the evolutionary history, organisms that were better attuned to bad things would have more likely to survive threats. Survival requires urgent attention to possible bad outcomes, but it is less urgent with regard to good ones.

Adaption level effects tend to prevent any lasting changes in the overall happiness and instead return people to their baseline. After a short peak in happiness, people become accustomed to new situation and are no more happy than they were before the improvement. After a serious misfortune however, people adjust less quickly.

One bad deed equals Five good deed :

People satisfied with their relationship (eg Friendship; marriage; partnership and families) communicate with more verbal positive behaviours (eg agreement; confirmation; constructive problem solving; politeness; expressing forgiveness) and non verbal behaviour (eg smiling, nodding, caring or concerned voice etc). On the other hand people dis-satisfied with their relationships communicate with more negative verbal behaviours (eg Insults; threats and criticism). In order for a relationship to succeed, positive and good interactions must outnumber the negative and bad ones in the ratio of 5 to 1.

Why bad would be stronger than the good :

It is adaptive – Bad events signal a need for change, whereas good ones do not. Negative stimuli have a greater influence on the neural system than the positive stimuli. Negative traits, relative to positive traits have a greater influence on the overall impression of the other person. Lessons learned from negative experiences are retained permanently so that same mistakes or costs are not encountered repeatedly.


Good entails consistency across time and events which cannot be created by a single positive event but can be destroyed by single bad event.


Well let me now sign off to start counting my good deeds to mitigate the bad ones. I think I started with one by writing this piece.

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Cognitive Ambidexterity :: Competence that can bring you closer to your success

First things first. The words used in the title may appear jargons. So let’s clarify what cognitive ambidexterity means before we understand its importance and relevance to our success.

Cognitive thinking

Reasoning, Mental, Intellectual, Cerebral are some of the synonyms of the word cognitive.

Just think of the last one week in your life. How much information do you think you would have received from different sources? Printed material (could be meeting documents, review papers, news-papers, magazines etc). Electronic medium (e-mails, social media etc).

Every day we are bombarded with information via our senses. It’s up to the brain to receive, process, store, and access that information as we need it. Handling incoming information well can give us the tools we need to succeed in our personal and professional life. And the power to do all that comes from the brain’s core cognitive skills.

So when we say cognitive thinking or cognitive skills or cognition it includes elements such as  knowledge, attention, memory and working memory, judgment and evaluation, reasoning and computation, problem solving and decision making, comprehension and production of language etc.

The brain’s cognitive skills include long- and short-term memory, auditory processing (making sense from what we hear), visual processing (making sense from what we see), processing speed, and logic & reasoning. These are also the same skills that IQ tests measure in order to determine IQ.


If you have seen the Hindi movie ‘3 idiots’, you may recall a college scene where Prof. Viru Sahastrabuddhe (played brilliantly by Boman Irani) is shown using both the hands efficiently to write on the board.

Ambidexterity is the state of being equally adept in the use of both left and right hand, and also using them at the same time.

So does it mean that you and I have to start practicing writing with both our hands (preferred and non-preferred) to be successful? After all we have never done this in our life and we still are successful in our field.

In our context, ambidexterity is the ‘thinking’ that goes in an individual that empowers her with the ability to write with left and right hand at the same time.

In short it’s the ability to use both sides of our brain effectively.

Cognitive Ambidexterity

Combine these two and one is talking about a competency that takes efforts and practice to acquire but the rewards supersede all the efforts that we would take to develop this competency.

So what is different in someone who practices cognitive ambidexterity?

Decision making

If you are running your enterprise or working with the Organisation, what are the things that you are required to do? May be set goals, gather information, identify alternatives, evaluate alternatives and close. At each of these steps of decision making, we see these individuals following different way of thinking and arriving at conclusions be it in meetings, while dealing with clients, investors or any other stakeholder.

Ability to deal with complexity

Today’s problems are more complex to deal with and we live in the world of VUCA. It’s an acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. Look at anything around. The dynamics with which things are changing is very different than earlier times. There is lack of predictability. There are multiple forces working at the same time leading to confusion and chaos. There are mixed meaning of conditions, haziness of reality.

A person practicing cognitive ambidexterity also faces the very same issues however the way she responds is different taking herself, her unit or Organisation forward differently and decisively.

Bias for action

This is the tendency to act without analysis or informationContemplation is performed later. “Peak performers and high achievers have a bias to action”  says Bill Cole, a sport psychology coach. According to Cole, who coaches Davis Cup Tennis Players, Olympians and executive achievers: “high achievers can’t wait to get started, they want to take action now, have a can-do attitude, and a ‘good as done’ vision of success that drives them.”.

We spoke about (i) Decision making ability; (ii) Ability to deal with complexity and (iii) Bias for action. The first two points talk about thinking and deliberation ability and third point talks about inclination towards action without much deliberation. This may appear to be contrasting however that is the beauty of someone who practices cognitive ambidexterity.

It’s the ability to traverse between thinking and action effortlessly.

Can we learn cognitive ambidexterity?

The good news is we can. The not so good news is it requires being consciously aware and consistent.

Here is what experts say that can help us develop cognitive ambidexterity.

  1. Be in an environment that fosters thinking, challenges logic and encourages you to solve simulated or actual problems. Interactive games or business simulations, incubated projects, handling a real time situation are some things that can keep us in that environment.
  2. Be in an environment that fosters creativity. Language, poetry, appreciation of art and nature could be one such way. Developing observation capability for seeing innovative designs, solutions and connecting them in your context could be one another way.


So here is a quick summary.

  1. Cognitive ambidexterity is the ability to use thinking and creation logic simultaneously.
  2. It helps one make faster and better decisions, deal with VUCA better.
  3. Fosters thought through bias for action.
  4. Being in an environment that encourages thinking and logic (Left brain)
  5. Being in an environment that fosters creativity and innovation (Right brain).




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How Learning Competency can keep your Organisation Relevant and Competitive?

I recently attended one conference and had an opportunity to listen to leaders from different industries. Usually in conferences, one gets an opportunity to learn from whatever is said from the platform and also get to learn lot of things during tea or coffee break or on the sidelines of conference.

The topic of the conference is besides the point here. What I want to highlight is the conversation of group of senior executives on the sidelines of the conference.

The main point of this discussion revolved around these two questions.

  1. How can we survive disruptions or how can we stay relevant?
  2. How can we have or maintain competitive advantage?

Someone spoke about Eastman Kodak Company. Despite having invented digital photography, the company failed in identifying the shift in the industry and went bankrupt. They could only imagine themselves as being in the film business rather than in the imaging business. Other person spoke about Nokia, yet another spoke about Blackberry.

The discussion then shifted to the new age companies and how their innovation is shaking and sweeping the other industries. One person spoke about taxi aggregator companies and how they have shifted the entire taxi business in customer’s favour.

Yet another spoke about the E-commerce companies and their influence on the topline & bottom line of Brick and Mortar companies.

From Artificial Intelligence on how machines are becoming intelligent by the day to Internet of Things (IOT) to 3D printing to Driverless cars to the impact it will have on employment, the discussion ranged on various developments and was confirming one thing. These things are for real and they are not too far. In the next few years these may start hitting us as realities and can cause lot of shakeups for people and for industries.

So what is the thing that will keep the industry and companies relevant and competitive?

While there are no easy answers to this as I could understand from the discussion, one common thing that emerged is this.

The Organisations’ that have learning culture will have better chance to survive these disruptions, stay relevant and remain competitive.

The group shared multiple views on creating a learning Organisation and the impediments thereof. Here is a gist of these discussions.

Learning to peek in future:

An Organisation’s ability to peek in future and see where the industry is headed, how the different forces of this change can impact the core activities of the Organisation and what kind of alignment and re-alignment is required are the issues that will determine its relevance and competitiveness.

The group said while this is largely the responsibility of the senior management, if one is able to develop this approach across levels within the Organisation, it helps greatly.

So how does one go about developing this? Strategic enclaves at senior management level with a relook at it at a defined periodic frequency. At other levels, knowing the Orgnaisational strategy is the first step. The other step is to get into periodic discussion as a group and practicing to look into the future for their division or unit or products in alignment with Organisation’s strategy will help. Managers and leaders consciously building such platforms and opportunities for their teams will be an important step in this direction.

The fundamental element for building this is the competency of learning as an Organisation.

Learning to translate Information into Intelligence:

Sample this. Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion (1 X 10^18 or 1 X 10^30) bytes of data. This is 18 zeros on 1 in some countries and 30 zeros on 1 in some other countries. This means as much as 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, and cell phone GPS signals to name a few.

The ability of an Organisation to translate the relevant industry and organisational information into meaningful intelligence can act as a great differentiator for them to stay relevant and competitive.

So how do we do it?. Today many plug and play softwares allow the business intelligence team to get the meaningful insights from the jungle of data out there. The insights need not be just the function of BI teams or need not restrict to senior management. At division level or unit level, the concerned heads should build the culture of larger teams getting into understanding these insights for Organisation and division or unit levels. The important benefit of this will be better engagement of employees since they will know ‘Why’ they are doing ‘What’ they are doing.

The fundamental element for building this is the competency of learning as an Organisation.

Learning to align activities around Customer:

Companies exist because of their customers. So aligning activities around customers may sound to be a logical and obvious thing. However the discussion of these executives revealed that to create a customer centric Organisation involves resource investments like systems, processes and most importantly the attitude of the employees towards customer.

The fundamental element for building a customer centric Organisation requires the competency of learning as an Organisation.

So fundamentally, three broad things emerged out of the conversation of these executives.

  1. An Organisation having a competency to understand, analyse and act on the changing landscape.
  2. An Organisation that has the competency to mine the data, draw meaningful insights and have a bias towards execution.
  3. Organisation that has the ability to build their activities and offerings around the needs of the customer.

Building learning competency (having knowledge, skills, attitude and behavior of learning) is one powerful way to acquire these things.

This the group concluded can be one of the ways for Organisations to be relevant and stay ahead of the game.






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My expectation from Budget 2016


Dear Finance Minister, I am writing this on 28th Feb 2016. I know you must be really busy giving final touches to your budget presentation slated on 29th Feb 2016. However I still thought I will share some of my expectations from this budget.

Taxes :

The obvious things that we commoner expect is some respite on the taxation front. We don’t see 33% (at the highest slab) of our earned money Dear FM. They are deducted at source and the remaining amount is credited to our account. I know the government needs money to run the show. All I am saying is please get more people to pay taxes and rationalize the tax rate. Today on a base of 125 crore (1250 million) population, only 3.5 crore (35 million) people pay taxes. Can you take this number to 7 crore (70 million) quickly? So even if you reduce the tax rate, the Government still earns more money.

I heard our chief economic advisor on the economic survey. The survey says 5.8% Indians are in 10% tax bracket, 1.6% are in 20% tax bracket and merely 0.5% are in 30% tax bracket. The other thing that the survey indicates is the ratio of tax payers to voters. It is at 4% currently. It should be 23%.

Dear FM, in this budget can you make an announcement of how you structurally and decisively intend to cover this gap?

The indirect taxes have seen a decent rise but please convince the floor to agree on GST (Goods and Services Tax) and implement it from 1st April 2016. This is beneficial to all of us, including the Government.

Inflation :

Frankly, I am confused.. We seem to be looking at 2 indicators. The wholesale price index (WPI) and the consumer price index (CPI). The WPI is telling us that we have dis-inflation (-5%) and CPI is telling us we have +5% inflation. CPI has larger basket of products in it and the good news is it is structurally reduced from double digits to single digit in the last 2-3 years In spite of all this there are some events that really pinch our pockets. 18 months back it was Onions, few months back it was Dal (pulses). While this has to do with demand supply gap, i am sure you have mechanisms through budget route to contain such surprises for us.

Savings and Investments:

The economic survey indicates a GDP growth of 7 – 7.75% (I don’t know whether Old series or new series). One of the ways this can happen says the survey report is through demand boost due to consumption boost. This is expected to happen due to additional liquidity coming out of 7th pay and OROP (One rank one pension).

While on one side you expect the people to loosen their purse string, the other side of savings and investment also needs to be looked at. Our savings to GDP ratio has seen a constant decline over the last few years. This used to be around 38% in 2008. Now it is sub 30%. This is quite a departure from the usual nature of Indians.

So please announce some schemes that can be lucrative enough for improving this rate. In addition to this our people need to be encouraged to make investments in equities. The maiden age of India is 28 years. Now if I go by the thumb rule of equity investments (100 – current age = Equity percentage) equity should be 72% of the total savings. I don’t have to tell you the current levels. They are not even in double digits. Please announce some generous tax benefits to investments in equity, if retail investor is doing either directly or through mutual funds or ULIP (Unit linked Insurance plans) route. You may want to put some lock in period as that of ULIPs or ELSS so that the money stays for longer period with the companies and individuals get the benefit of staying long in equities.  This can be a great source of generating funds that can be used to fund projects like ‘Make in India’ and ‘Start-up India’.  Our entrepreneurs get the funds through large public participation and the public gets to participate in the large movement in the making. So you see it’s a win-win.


Some time back my Dad and some of his agricultural friends were discussing on what the budget should consider for farmers. Surprisingly they were not in favor of waiving off the loans given to farmers. They however were of the view that the right type of assistance to farmers at the time they need will help. This could come in the form of subsidies for absolutely needed things. I am sure this budget will look at them and eliminate the wasteful subsidies.

So in nutshell my expectation from this budget are :

  1. Tax rationalizing by getting more people in the tax net.
  2. Giving one indicator to understand inflation and controlling sporadic high rises of some items.
  3. Spurring consumption and at the same time launching schemes to encourage savings and Investments.
  4. Subsidising the right things and eliminating wasteful subsidies.



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