7-Lessons from Harry Potter

I revisited my “Harry Potter” collection a few days back. It was just a routine commute over the dusted folder. As you can foresee, from my peachy tone, I was just expecting some fun but it tottered my thoughts more than I’d wished for. Nevertheless, it arose as a panacea to my search for some life learning and believe me, coming lessons worth a plunge.

1) Find your own wand:
A wizard, before diving into a world of magic, needs to find his own wand to evoke energy. The more powerful his energy is, the more powerful would be his spell. Likewise, before you bustle your way into this helter-skelter society, you first find your own thoughts and resolute your actions. That’s your wand. And similar to the previous contour: the sturdier your thoughts are, the more overt your impact would be. But the question is: Do we choose our thoughts or they choose us? Its for you to think!

2) Sorting Hat:
Remember that infallible hat; sorting young wizards at Hogwarts. God! I wish we’ve it at our schools and colleges. But why I say so: People having similar personality (by similar personality I mean how they process thoughts and behave in certain manner in different circumstances) should be brought and grown together as a team assiduously. Doing so, would ensure a confident and strong environment for learning. We learn by various methods. Some learn by reading, some by writing and others by listening. If we are able to distinguish each type (which is, no doubt, an onerous task with young flittering minds) then we can form a community where everyone’s talent can be acknowledged and may be, there is more harmony in such a structure.

3) Invisibility cloak:
Gifted by a father to his son, Harry Potter. He used it either as a shield in dire situations or to get cognizance on something obnubilate. In a quandry everybody needs an invisibility cloak to umber any kind of attenuation. By now, you might be thinking what or who could be my “invisibility cloak”. I say: your face. Yes! your face, your expressions, as they can outdo any imminent maim. And till the time you’re not ready to take on, you can fake it rather than withdrawing.

4) The Mirror:
It shows nothing more or less than the deepest and most desperate desires of our heart. It gives you neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away in front of it. Even gone mad” Prof. Dumbledore told  Harry Potter. “The Mirror” as I named it, in real life could be our big dreams or high expectations. I’m not at all suggesting having high standards is abject but don’t let them hamper your short-term milestones.

5) Expecto Patronum:
A powerful charm to counter Dementors, the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, and hope out of the air around them. We too, face dementors in our real lives (known as goons). To outgun them, like Harry did, we need to invoke a staunch memory from our past. Meaning: whenever one is shrouded by dejection and pessimism, he should focus on good things that happened to him and be awesome instead.

6) Pensieve: To connect dots between what happened, what’s happening and what can happen, Dumbledore usually siphons decisive memory from his mind and pour it into Pensieve (a basin). Similarly, on being rebuffed in a critical situation, instead of hunkering himself, one should try writing the new experience in his annals for future prudence.

7) Horcrux: Voldemort, hid a fragment of his soul in objects to attain immortality. In real world, immortality comes from materialistic things, for say: money. Thus, instead of stockpiling all your money in one bucket, you should consider investments to avoid any beset.

harry-potter-books

Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power to that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared. –  J.K. Rowling

The Chinese Renaissance

Only recently, I came across an article, eliciting how China’s one-child per household policy has promulgated its economy assiduously. The thought, without any disbelief, is subtle with knotty implications but we all, with consensus, have to agree that it was a winning stroke by Chinese government, during the times when their fortunes were darting in a wrong direction. This made me spent a few hours to find a rationale on how China made its path to the top. And here are my findings:

First, lets look into the not-so-good factors:

1) Working population: Population, generally, is divided into three groups: young age, working age and old age. With one-child per household policy, the old age group held (still hold) a larger portion in Chinese population, which saddled China due to:

a) Decrement in the % of population involved in any productive work.
b) Distribution of large chunk of Chinese money as pensions.
c) Shortage of funds for investments in various avenues.

2) Supply-Demand ratio: In a large population, like China, demand for basic necessities was relatively higher. But supply too, due to low % of working class people, was low. Hence, there always a disruption in the supply-demand ratio from time to time, which lead to raise in prices, and shambles the economy.

3) Dearth of natural resources: To satiate the needs of a rampant population, and with attenuation of resources, China forced itself to increase imports. This again put Chinese government on back foot.

Inspite of many caveats down the road, China is now able to compete with the USA and other top economies because of following upheaval:

1) Foreign Investments:  China was (and still is) a humongous consumer market and interests from abroad were thus quite imminent. In return, it bolstered infrastructure, and valorises copious job opportunities to Chinese masses. With more and more people now earning healthy income, stirred the demand for better life quality, and lead them to technological renaissance.

2) Education: Plentiful job opportunities, urged Chinese government to invest heavily on education to produce skillful work force. With educated employees and technological support, China’s productivity quadrupled, and its growth became inevitable.

3) Decentralization: With the backing of a huge labor force, it became easier for firms to decentralize labor. This division of labor caused a greater increase in production than any other factor and lead to universal opulence in China.

4) One-child policy: Single child parents, with a  huge pile of money [as they only had one child to spend on] under their beds, created a gemutlich environment for all market segments.

Along with, all the above discussed factors, behavior too helped them to achieve a great success. And I hope they could see back on what they were and help others achieving big without any rancorous. Now, as usual, I would leave you with a quipped quotation.

When I was growing up, my parents told me, ‘Finish your dinner. People in China and India are starving.’ I tell my daughters, ‘Finish your homework. People in India and China are starving for your job. – Thomas Friedman

Pointers by Dominic Barton

Last week, I was a part of a rampant YouTube drive [my own creation], revving my knowledge on major business issues. It, not only, retrenched my intern work but also galvanized office bandwidth. It was a fun week as I was less saddle with onerous work. My drive shrouded by Dominic Barton and here are his pointers to the business world:

1) Center of gravity of world’s GDP is shifting back to Asia (North of India).
2) Technology is running at a jarring speed as compared to management.
3) China, Indonesia and India have copious investments opportunities.
4) Ethics among business executives is an obnubilate topic.
5) World is facing an adrift inequality (42% people in Spain are unemployed).
7) Need to shift focus from “Time” management to “Energy” management.
8) Agri-Food has a humongous business potential.
9) Businesses have to study consumer markets as cities not as countries.
10) Infrastructure is a solid motivation behind China’s GDP.
11) Issues related public, private and social sectors are now interconnected.

His advice to future leaders:

1) Take risks to learn resilience (one has to fail a lot to succeed).
2) Chuck out boring aspects of your personality (Be a story teller).
3) Coming days will be about “who leaders are” rather than “what leaders do”.
4) Leadership is about character (it is a muscle and can be build).
5) More successful people have more bad luck. Posturing should be avoided.
6) The more you give (without expecting to get back), the more you get.

Business, more than any other occupation, is a continual dealing with the future; it is a continual calculation, an instinctive exercise in foresight. – Henry R. Luce

“Rocket Science” behind Team Building [Part-3]

After, hiring and decentralization and coaching, one may argue that’s it. I hired, prepared teams and also coached my employees well for both good and worse times. I’m done with my part. I ask you! is he right to assume that his role is finished. Sadly, the answer is NO. There still one task left for him i.e. finding his successor; that is what we are gonna dig deep in this post.

Last brick in the wall: Finding your successor

I, recently read The curve of Talent, in which, Eric Paley, the writer, discusses about A, B, and C type of players in an organization; A being the most productive, basically the top dogs, B are good followers and C, the least productive. So, by common sense, finding a successor is a easy pick. One must put A on the hot seat! Isn’t it. Sadly, the answer again is straight NO. This step is similar to the hiring process [we discussed in the first part of this series], the only difference being that, it is a much broader and difficult task as here, we are looking for someone who could take the whole organization forward.

But, before jumping into the appreciable qualities of a successor, we must see why an organization needs a successor? Here are some of the reasons:

a) Age constraint: Though, with age every manager becomes more and more wise, the problem here is actually not his age but his energy management. Yes, you are reading me correctly. If you are at the top level of management, you have to deal with regular meetings, high-profile clients, fraud and sue cases, competition, so many freaking mails and not to mention your spouse and children. Thus, you have to be efficient in how you manage your energy. With time, of course, everyone face health issues. This calls for someone who is both young [relatively] and efficient to take everything and everyone forward.

b) New era of thinking: Different times, need different type of leaders. This fact perfectly explains the success gathered by the great American president Abraham Lincoln and British politician Winston Churchill. Sometimes, with experience one becomes more rigid and it becomes increasingly tough to bear new ideas. Even if that’s not the case, time and time again organization needs a new era, a new vigor, to shuffle up things around. Thus, the need of a new leader.

c) Not up to the mark/involvement in mal-practices: The former can be sorted out as even the most efficient people sometimes don’t perform to the level others expected of them due to a variety of reasons. But that doesn’t mean the organization should scapegoat them. Instead, everyone should help them out. If surroundings are getting more and more foggy with time, even after dealing with all the issues, then its the right time to look for a new candidate. As far as, mal-practices or wrong doings are concern, there is no room for a another chance. His/her employment should be terminated effective immediately [obviously, after looking into every aspect of his/her fraud].

Now, lets look into the appreciable qualities of a successor as I pointed out earlier:

a) Should be a people’s person.
b) Tough but fair [though sounds more like a filmy dialogue, but its a must].
c) A person who not only has seen success but a lot of failure too.
d) Broad knowledge, a lot of experience, empathy, humility, and conceptually strong.
e) Firm believer of his/her own thoughts and actions.
f) High level of commitment for the organization.
g) A person with highly effective time and energy management [as discussed earlier].

I may be a little off with the facts in this series but that’s what I believe. This completes my 3 posts series on “Rocket Science” behind Team Building, I hope you’ve enjoyed it thoroughly. I will leave you now with an inspirational thought:

I don’t need a successor, only willing hands to accept the torch for a new generation. – Billy Graham

 

“Rocket Science” behind Team Building [Part-2]

In Part-1 of this series, I looked into “Hiring” process. This post revolves around Decentralization & Coaching.

The word “Decentralization” was first introduced by Peter Drucker. It includes dispersal of employees [based on their skills/attributes] in the sectors like engineering, economics, psychology, management, consulting, and many others.

But the question not lies in what it does but in why we need it? To answer this question, you’d to have a basic understanding of a term civilization. From ancient days, people are living and working together as a group [or civilization]. Thus every civilization had its own culture, values and structure. This shows we love to live with people who share same knowledge, beliefs and thinking. But why? Its simple, having same kind of people around, we feel more confident, we take more risks, and we tend to feel happier. And this altogether lead to more productivity.

Now apply same theory to the question: why we need decentralization. If employees having same skill-set, attributes and thinking process work together on a day-to-day basis, they will learn faster, understand each other much better and their productivity would be much, much higher. For that reason only, we have teams within a team i.e. dividing a project into several small tasks. All working simultaneously but differently, which not only saves our time, and money but also ensures us better quality. Therefore, managers must carry out decentralization keeping above explained fact in mind.

…..Now, what next? Coaching!

Well! you hear this word quite often in sports but in business world, its not that popular. Lets look upon reasons behind its unpopularity:

1) Firms are too mainstream i.e. they invest money/time on customers/products to get ahead in competition [not to mention, all the time], thus they left with less or nothing to see what their employees are thinking/doing.   

2) Managers are too bossy to involve with their team at personal level.

3) “Who gives crap about development, it would happen automatically with time. I want money. It satisfy me.” attitude of employees.

4) “My firm is making money, employees earning profits and most important of all I’m getting riches” attitude of managers.

These are some of the problems we all face while leading a business. But think for a second, if your people are not competent enough how you gonna survive in a long run. To my knowledge, it’s a manager’s job to look upon his/her team members’ shoulders. Managers have to step-up and do what they have to do.

1) Follow a parent-child ideology [spectate when they talk, scold when they go off the mark, go out for a dinner to know what’s going in their lives, arrange tournaments to know how they react to stiff opposition, push them hard when they take things too easily].

2) Get ready a feedback mechanism to review how good they had perform over last 3-4 months [Remember! give them a good amount of time to prove themselves].

3) Ask them their opinions on matters you think they are too young to handle [you may be amazed].

4) Starting mentorship programs, seminars, etc. are okay. But also carry out some sort of survey to see whether your spending is on right track or not.

Before I end, just want to add: DON’T neglect the importance of coaching as it is a stepping stone for success not only for an organization but for your country too.

“Rocket Science” behind Team Building [Part-1]

Building a team is tougher than it sounds. There is no chemical “X” which could offer you a miracle. Instead, you have to push yourself to the limit to pull out decisive steps to prepare a team for present and future. The three phases in a team building [In my view, of-course] are:

1) Hiring 2) Decentralization & Coaching 3) Finding your successor

I’m going to cover this broad topic through a series of 3 posts. Each post  precisely covering one of those 3 phases. So lets begin!  

1) Hiring:
“Get ready to fire up your brain and prepare some kick-ass interview questions”. If that’s your first reaction, then you better stop and settle down first or you wouldn’t be able to dodge bullets later. Here is what one must do.

a) Decide min. no of applicants you want aboard.

b) Heat-up your applicants by a written test [This is your golden opportunity to test applicants’ thinking process. Don’t waste it by asking stupid standard questions; Give a case study].

…….Now come interviews.

c) By this step, you already knew your interviewees’ thinking process [to some extent]. Therefore, to be absolutely sure, give them a modified version of the previous case study [it should sound/look absolutely different].
Whatever their answer is, just tell them the opposite. For say, if there is no variation in their approach; ask them why same concept to two different situations and if you see some variation, then question: why different approach to a same situation.

Sole purpose here is to check: interviewee’s sharpness and whether or not they have an eye for details. 

d) Final stage: Ask them tough questions [to dig deep]; preferable ones are:

d.1) What similarities and differences you can point out b/w you and “ABC” firm?
d.2) Whom you talked with, in “ABC” firm and what did he/she say that inspire you to join us?
d.3) What initiative(s) you took? What challenges you faced? Do you consider yourself successful in those challenges? and why?
d.4) How much changed person are you now?
d.5) How much “ABC” firm can help you with your long-term prospects?
d.6) What you want to be remembered for, lets say after 15 years from now? And how you gonna achieve it?

You can definitely add more to the above list as per your liking. But remember! judge your interviewee on behavior and not on attributes.

I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.
– Larry Bossidy

Online Education

This HOT topic for college undergraduates is getting trendy also among young school students. The new online education cum fashion [atleast for some time, I would say] can be considered a revolutionary breakthrough for education sector. But the question is: Will it be as promising as it sound? I guess, no-one has the answer except future. But we, for sure, can discuss its pros to justify all the hype and cons to see if there are any holes to fill.

First, lets talk on PROS:

   1) May put some breaks on sky-high tuition costs of our leading world-class education centers.

   2) World’s top institutions’ [Harvard/ Stanford/ Berkeley, etc] course material/ video lectures would now be in everyone’s reach.

   3) Students don’t have to invest 4 years [which I consider too much, even if it is for high quality education] of their life in/on one institution and may focus more on hands-on industry learning. Hence, they will be more productive and sharper.

   4) College faculty and administration have to come up with better course structure to enhance their reputation and to attract students.

   5) Parents’ debt may decrease sharply thus helping them to invest in other important issues.

   6) “Educational” savings could be invested into other requirements to ensure a good quality life, which would also boost consumer market.

   7) It, for sure [in my view], will cause complete downfall of coaching cum business centers.

Now look at some CONS:

   1) Market entry in education sector may become explicitly tough, which in return may lead to monopoly by few institutions.

   2) Learnings about human relations/cultures will be very limited.

   3) Some health related issues can also arise as students will spend most of their time in front of a desktop, tablet, laptop, etc.

   4) May hit people who want to(are) seek(ing) teaching as a career.

   5) Parents will play two roles: a parent and a teacher. And this clearly suggest that they have to bear more pressure.

My Final Take: Education could never be a fun without classrooms.school kids

Often, it’s not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be.
― Heath L. Buckmaster

P.S: This particular blog is inspired by HBR article on future education