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I welcome you to my blog

Dear friend,
This blog is an effort to share all the mistakes committed by me in my Life. I wish to share them with a hope that you may learn from my mistake and avoid committing them all over again!

I am blending my wisdom with that of all great Masters who have shown me the Light.

This blog is dedicated to everyone from whom I learned. Wish you peaceful life ahead.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Stature – Mystical Ingredient – Episode-5 (Rocking the Boat)

The phrase “Rocking the boat” refers to one of the characteristics of a person who refuses to accept “status quo” however successful the organization he/she leads at any given point in time. It is also applicable for our personal life as an individual. Common man feels that the Leader creates an unnecessary turbulence during an apparently peaceful state. This phenomenon is referred to as “Rocking the boat”. Essentially, rocking the boat refers to the risk taking aspect of a human being in general. Let’s look at an example:

Lucas-TVS in early 80’s   were one of the monopoly companies having 90% market share in auto-electrical in India. Almost at the same time Premier Automobiles had 10 years order book making people to wait for a decade to have the pride possession – the Fiat car! Both the company need not have to do anything to remain in business.

Mr. TK. Balaji the Managing Director of Lucas-TVS has chosen to “Rock the boat” by taking up a major organizational transformation by virtually dismantling both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing systems of the company. For a common man, it was un-warranted as in his stand point the company is doing very well and why do you need to change anything at all. During the same time Premier automobile did nothing and continued in slumber merrily enjoying the market share without taking cognisance of the opening economy in 90s. By the time the global economy opened up in 90’s Lucas-TVS geared up with the most agile and efficient Lean manufacturing systems almost double the output with the same number of people and resources. During the same time Premier automobile virtually perished.

I had the privilege of being a member of the management team that challenged the status-quo in Lucas-TVS then supporting Mr Balaji to realize his dreams. The famous adage “If you wish to remain static, keep running” reinforces the quality of a leader who rocks the boat. In one of the board room meeting I heard Mr. Balaji saying “I am able to see the storm forming at a distance where as my management team feels that there is sun shine”. Seeing something ahead of time which others cannot see is the role of Leadership! It is not only seeing, but “Rocking the boat” against all odds the action the leader is known for.
What is the main point?

Majority of human beings are keen to remain in their comfort zones although it trades off with a mediocre outcome. Most of us are afraid of riding in a roller coaster where as few dare devils try the most frightening gadgets in the world. Many of us have standard menu both at home as well as when we go out for dinner. Even though we seriously review the menu card, we finally settle with our item which we are sure of. Very rarely we ventured for an unknown dish and figure out there are many such unexplored opportunities and avenues. There are two wrong lessons we were programmed by the parents; one is aversion to meet strangers and second, not to take a chance on unknowns – risk aversion! Unfortunately, both these are the real opportunities for growth. In the modern society risk aversion is a common disease that haunts the human beings. Mathematically expressing, Growth is directly proportional to the risk; higher the risk higher the growth.

Charles Darwin
The scientist traced the evolution of species in this planet starting from ice age which they say, it started as a single cell organism, became a fish, birds, mammals and finally human beings. They say the fish took risk by coming out of the water and became a reptile which took risk and started flying as birds and so on. Risk taking is our innate nature and the legacy passed on by our predecessors. Somewhere down the lane we all settled down to our slumber and lost our ability to come out of our comfort zone and take risk. 

Christopher Columbus
Columbus set out his sails towards west in the Atlantic Ocean risking his and fellow sailors life and found the great land later became United States of America. Columbus risk taking discovered the un-founded land. Later all risk takers from many countries followed the path shown by Columbus and migrated to this new found land. They built the great nation as super power in less than 500 years. Few critics say that those who could not succeed in their home land have run away to US on those days.

Wilbur Wright 
I personally don’t subscribe to this view for the simple reason; if it is true, that land would not have given motor car, jet plane and space craft to mankind. Most of the scientific inventions like electric bulb, nuclear energy and so on are from that great nation which had created an environment where people have freedom to think. Freedom encourages risk taking which leads to prosperity.

Let’s look at an Indian example for the same point “Risk takers create prosperity”. In India Mumbai contributes to 10% of countries GDP and it houses approximately 1.5% of Indian population. Most of the people in this great city have ventured to leave their home land, migrated to this place and created a cosmopolitan city. Today Mumbai is one of the commercial cities in the world which has the largest people who left their native place and got adjusted to the fast life style of this great city. This is yet another proof that wherever the land is occupied by “Risk takers” it will be a prosperous place.

I would not have the audacity to say that I am a risk taker. I still stay with egg fried rice after reviewing the menu card several times! Still I can narrate the little progress I made by taking risk in my 60 years of human existence. I rocked the boat every time I turned out a decade of my human existence. At 20 I rocked the boat by migrating from my home town to Chennai to work in a design department of TAFE which was my baby step to learn this art of challenging the status-quo.

 At 30 when I am married with a daughter, I went back to evening college to continue my engineering education and continued my educational pursuits till I finished my Research in IIT. I was virtually riding 3 horses for nearly 10 years namely my job, family and education trying to excel in all avenues. When I came out of my college I was 38!

At 40 I left my lucrative job from Lucas-TVS and shifted to Bombay which was not the characteristic of a typical south Indian at 40s. It was a risk in real sense as my children were grown up and had to study local languages in Maharashtra. I am of the view that you need not have been frustrated to rock the boat – you can be full and contended while you explore new avenues. The main point is becoming uncomfortable with calmness! Strange thing; but it works well.

In the words of Swami Chimayananda “Nature’s plan is activity – Inactivity is death – If you keep your arm in a sling at rest for few days, you cannot even move your fingers; this itself is the proof that nature’s plan is activity while the organism is alive. You have to act and you must as long as you are alive”

The pinnacle of my “Rocking the boat” has happened when I was almost 50 when I wanted to build an institution which will facilitate Indian industries to transform as a customer focused organizations. When this idea hatched in my mind, my daughter was due for her marriage and my son was in his engineering college. I hardly had money for settling my mortgages from my final settlement of leaving my job.

I am from a typical south Indian community which is known to be in service and hardly encouraged to become an entrepreneur. People close to me said I was insane to leave my job when I was a star performer and enough positions left in my corporate career. The only person stood always on my side was my wife Meera who encouraged all my “Rocking the boat” episodes. The only investment I had while I founded Six Sigma Alchemy (P) Ltd (SSA) was my determination and obsession for success.

Today, SSA is a well known Business Excellence consulting company facilitating many corporate to inculcate business excellence practices. If you are pursuing a lofty vision, the whole universe will conspires to support you to succeed. It is evident from the fact that SSA has 25 professionals pursuing my dream to build a World class consulting company. All my family members are in the management team of SSA carrying on the legacy I will be leaving behind. If I have not chosen to “Rock the boat” probably I would have missed the opportunity to explore the hidden potential in me and many other youngsters working for building this great institution called SSA.

I am of the view that we have taken human form to act and according to me there is nothing called “hanging the boot” till nature takes its decision to call you back. I wish to conclude this episode with the French essayist Michel Eyquem de Montaigne:
“The value of Life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them; a man may live long yet live very little” 
In summary:
  • There is a Columbus in you waiting to manifest to explore the unfounded avenues.
  • Status-quo gives a notional comfort and be aware of it for mediocrity.
  • Risk taking is our innate nature passed by our legacy.
  • "Rocking the boat” is challenging the status quo for new ways of thinking & working
  •  You can discover great potentials only when you cross your comfort zones.
  •  Growth is directly proportional to risk – higher the risk; higher the growth.
  •  Freedom encourages risk taking – encourage your children to explore the   unknown
  • If you wish to be 100% successful all the time, you develop risk aversion and settle down to mediocrity.
  • The only way to avoid mistake is “not trying anything at all!”
  • Forgive yourself for a failure – after all Edison failed 1200 times before he could find the great invention of an electric bulb.   
  • Finally, watch out for comfort zone resulting out of “status-quo” and “Rock the boat” to challenge them.
  • When everyone settles down for “Comfort zones”, a Leader looks for “Rocking the boat”   
  • Rock the boat and progress in Life to figure out your un-explored potentials.

Look forward to share more tips on Leadership. See you next week. Till then Good bye.

Jai Gurudev

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Stature – Mystical Ingredient – Episode-4

Know Why? vs Know How?

Lord Krishna drove the chariot for Arjuna during the Mahabharata war. Even on those days the job of a “Pagan”  (Sarathy?) - the charioteer is a menial job which Lord Krishna has chosen for himself. While young, I was curious to know why God had chosen the menial job as a charioteer. The significance was he wanted to guide and protect Arjuna who was his close friend. The Kauravas were doing injustice to Pandavas and Bhagwan wanted to be on their side. But still why he had chosen to be a Charioteer? 

Like a pilot in the plane, a charioteer knows where to drive and when. In addition showing physical direction to Arjuna during the war, Lord Krishna showed him the path when he was confused in a hysterical state before the war. Lord Krishna redeemed the great warrior from his depressed state later came to be called as “Arjuna state of consciousness”. In other words Lord Krishna knew the “Know Why” while Pandavas were told the “Know How” of the war. The role played by Lord Krishna is today played by the CEOs of modern corporate. 

Developing countries collaborate with developed countries for manufacturing cars and other similar products. Sanjay Gandhi dreamt a small car for common man of India and started developing it using Indian design capabilities. To cut short the time to make the car available Indira Gandhi’s “Thinking” set out to get the “know how” from Suzuki of Japan to produce the Maruti-800 car. This has nearly democratized the cars for common man in India. Now Ratan Tata through Nano nearly completed the dream of Sanjay Ghandi to make cars available for the middle class people in India. Those countries who were ahead made money by selling the “know how” of obsolete technology to the developing countries.

What is the main point?

It is the “Thinking” of a few leaders that brought the prosperity and comfort to the people at large. The “Thinking” ahead has helped the developed countries to make money from the people who are not able to think ahead. In short the difference between a Leader and follower is this ability to “Think”.  

John C Maxwell in his book “How successful people THINK” says:

“If you know how, you will be employed; if you know Why, you will be made as a CEO!”

What is he really saying? He says that the Thinkers generally become CEOs and not doers. Strange! Is it not? Our understanding is every one of us does think and what is the speciality of this “Thinking” all about? Let me cover “Thinking” as the next ingredient of Stature building skills of a Leader!

I am writing this blog while on vacation in Finland a cold place where the land ends in northern Europe. This is the land where Nokia which “connected people” was born. Today Nokia is synonymous to cell phone. I was trying to find the genesis of this great invention. It is said that in winter the people are so separated from each other and at extreme cold you wish to contact people who are outside their home. This “thinking” of a man brought the cell phone for everyone to use.

Henry Ford’s “Thinking” in 1906 brought the automobile which has changed our life style and brought economical growth. Rights brothers “thinking” to fly inspired by the birds in 1908 has resulted in commercial air planes in 1935. It took nearly 30 years to convert the Rights brothers’ idea into a safe gadget in which human beings can fly. 100 years later now we have jet planes which carry 400 people and flies across the continents without stopping anywhere.

Steven Covey said in his second habit as “Everything is born twice – once in the mind of the creator and later in reality which can be seen by everyone”. When Disney Land was inaugurated, Walt Disney was no more. In the inaugural function two people believed have had a conversation. One of them said sadly “Disney is not there now to see this great invention”. The other man has quietly said “He has seen it before you and I could see it”.

 “Thinking is the prerogative of mankind but for some strange reasons only a very few human beings “think” on a regular basis. In fact the faculty which differentiated human from the earlier species is “thinking”. Does this argument hold good for the CEOs as well? Does that mean those who have climbed the highest rung in the corporate ladder are the scientists? In a way yes!

Let’s explore this in greater detail.

When Ford conceptualized and perfected the idea of an automobile, he faced a great difficulty in manufacturing cars in large numbers. There was no mass producing industries before Ford Motor Company to take reference. He has visited many places for getting an idea and finally got the breakthrough when he visited a butcher’s shop where he saw the jobs split into many small activities and assigned to the individual people. From this inspiration Henry Ford split the car manufacturing into small operations to produce parts and assembled them together. This is evident from Henry Ford’s famous saying “I am going to build the motor car using people who don’t know how to build them!”

 This milestone in mankind has brought the division of human beings as “Thinkers and Doers”. Thinkers would create a path and Doers will follow them behind”. As thinking is difficult and few only can do, they were obviously paid higher than Doers. Now you will appreciate “Know Why” is thinker’s job and “Know How” is Doer’s job that explains what John Maxwell is saying.

When I started my career as a Trainee in TAFE (Tractors And Farm Equipments) in 1970, later as Product designer in Lucas-TVS till I grew as the Head of Technology in Crompton Greaves, I was keen on knowing everything about mechanical component design. I did not know this eagerness to learn is “Know How – to design components” although it helped me to grow in the technology stream. When I did my Change Leadership course I learned that for leading an organization as a CEO, you need to have “Big Picture”. It took some time to know what this stuff “Big Picture” is all about. Later I recognized that it is about seeing the organization at a 30,000 feet altitude. It is not the physical altitude, but is the mental altitude! I realized that it is also a form of “thinking”. I recognized to Lead, you need to Think ahead. A pilot sitting in the cock pit sees everything ahead and is the first person to arrive. Likewise the CEO has to think ahead of time to lead the organization.

The simple fact is “If you want control something you need to know how it works”. As a CEO you control the destiny of the organization you lead and hence you need to know how it works. It is very difficult to visualize why the person who knows how to build the airplane in Boeing was not chosen as the CEO while Jim Mc Nerney from 3M has to take over Boeing as a CEO to change its fate. How Mc Nerney has understood the complex functioning of the airplane design and manufacturing company without growing up in the same discipline. The CEO need not know the “Know How” which is taken care of by many people in the organization. For leading an organization we need people who know “Know Why” which is the rarest capability.

A CEO develops the creative ability of thinking about the future of the enterprise he/she leads and directs it passionately. The ability to think also helps the CEO to diagnose the weaknesses and opportunities of the enterprise he/she leads there by develop strategies to strengthen it. The major difference in common man’s thinking and CEO’s thinking lies in “Quality of Thinking” – the common man thinks about “How” where as the CEO thinks about the future and creates a “Know why” which brings prosperity. In other words the “CEO chooses the right forest while the followers choose the right trees”. In the words of Peter Drucker “The leader chooses the right crank and the follower is trained to turn it right”  

“Where success is concerned, people are not measured in inches, or pounds, or college degrees, or family background; they are measured by the size of their thinking.”

-          David Schwartz

In summary:

  •  Thinking is the prerogative of all human beings – but few exercise this faculty to create something that did not exist before.
  •  Thinking has transformed this planet a better place to live creating prosperity and global connectivity
  • The difference between a Leader and a follower is in “Quality of Thinking”
  • The Leaders think “Know why” where as followers think “Know How”
  •  Know why is a rare capability than know how – “know why” of Einstein what matter consist of brought quantum theory leading to Atomic energy.
  • Thinkers and Doers are different – Thinkers create and Doers follow the process
  • Leaders make themselves different due to the ability of Thinking and creating the future.
  • Thinking is not a great job that a common people cannot do – They have chosen not to do and remain as followers!

See you in the next episode with more tips for Stature building.

Jai Gurudev