Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘05 19’

The article ‘Wisdom at Work: Why the Modern Elder Is Relevant’ appeared in Wharton’s Knowledge publication (Jan 24, 2019) here. It’s a transcript of an interview wherein Airbnb executive Chip Conley discusses the benefits of having an inter-generational workforce (He argues his case in detail in his eponymous where everyone brings something to the table).

This post is almost entirely extracted from the interview transcript, lightly edited and heavily re-sequenced for clarity and easy reading.

Here we go:

**

A new challenge for the org:

The fact that almost 40% of workers have a boss younger than them — that number is going to be the majority by 2025.  In fact, some studies show that power is 10 years younger today than it was 20 years ago. But we’re all living 10 years older. So, if power is moving 10 years younger and we’re living 10 years older, society has created a new 20-year irrelevancy gap for people in mid-life and beyond.

It means that we need to start asking ourselves, how do we create an ‘intergenerational potluck’ so that people bring what they know best? And what do they now best?

A challenge for the elders:

The three-stage life of the past — you learn until you’re 25, you earn until you’re 65, and then you retire until you die — that model is evaporating. Also, as the pace of technology innovation increases, companies promote more tech-savvy younger workers into supervisory jobs. Meanwhile, older workers are staying employed longer due to such things as the disappearance of early retirement schemes, recession, etc.

With the power shifting to the young and the irrelevancy gap threatening to widen, there is this period of life, bewildering and anxiety-producing, unless people constantly remake, reinvent and repurpose themselves in ways to make themselves relevant for the second half of their life. It’s not easy because it requires you to shift out of some of your habits and mindsets that you’ve held onto for a long time.

Conley’s proof of his own continued employment and what he brought to the table:

“For 24 years, I was the founder and CEO of a company called Joie de Vivre based in San Francisco that created 52 boutique hotels. We were the second-largest boutique hotelier. In the Great Recession, I decided to sell the company. I had been doing it for a long time. I was ready to move on. Then I spent a couple years thinking about what was next [for me].

There is a great Robert De Niro quote from the movie The Intern [about a senior citizen who became an intern at a shopping startup], which is, “Musicians don’t retire; they quit when there’s no more music left inside of them.” I knew I had music inside of me; I just wasn’t sure whom to share it with. I was lucky enough that Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb, asked me to be his in-house mentor and then come in as the head of global hospitality and strategy, which was supposed to be a part-time job but quickly became full time.”

“Younger people who are digital natives have a digital fluency that may be greater than someone 25 or 30 years older than them — that is true. But to think that someone’s acuity and fluency in one particular scope of work means that they can apply that to anything else is forgetting about all of the human element of business, which requires a certain amount of collaboration and emotional intelligence and leadership skills. Brian Chesky is an amazing CEO. But when I joined, he was 31 and I was 52, and I was his mentor and he was my boss. That was a fascinating relationship — to be mentoring my boss. But five and a half years later, I’m still here.”

“When I joined Airbnb, I think I had been brought in because I was a seasoned expert in my field, which was boutique hotels, hospitality and the travel industry. When I joined five and a half years ago, Airbnb was a very small company, and there was not one person in the company who had a travel or hospitality industry background. I was brought in initially because of that knowledge. That was helpful, and a lot of my networking of people I knew helped. But ultimately, what I think I was able to offer them was this sense of emotional intelligence…”

On Wisdom:

“There have been a number of studies on this, and they’ve shown very little correlation between age and wisdom. As a guy who’s 58, it’s hard to hear that, but there is some evidence that shows that it is not necessarily a correlation. What is correlated is that people actually make sense of their life and their mistakes and their experiences along the way. If you have a process for doing that, then age is correlated with wisdom because you create a pattern recognition.

Wisdom is about being able to see the patterns in things faster than when you’re younger because you’ve seen a lot of patterns and you’ve seen the implications or results of certain things. I think wisdom can be correlated [with age], but it isn’t necessarily correlated. So, just because you’re older doesn’t mean you’re an elder.”

“I think knowledge worker is a term to retire now because knowledge is in the computer, it’s in the cloud. You can get out there and find knowledge. In fact, we’re sort of awash in knowledge. But what we could use a little more of is wisdom.

Wisdom is not a plus, plus, plus equation like knowledge is. Wisdom is more of a division equation. You distill the essence of something into what’s important, and that’s what is valuable. I really think that we should change the term knowledge worker and replace it with wisdom worker, because wisdom includes a certain amount of intuitive and human quality that you don’t necessarily get from AI or from your computer. The idea of wisdom making a comeback at a time when we’re so technologically advanced is not that surprising.”

On cognitive diversity:

“And there’s no doubt that cognitive diversity is hugely valuable on teams. If you just have a bunch of 25-year-old guys on a team together, they’re going to compete with each other and try to one-up each other to see who’s the smartest. Put a couple of women in that group, people of color or some older people [and the dynamic changes]. When we think of diversity, we often think almost exclusively of gender, race, and maybe sexual orientation. We don’t think about age very often, even though age is one of the most obvious demographic changes we see.”

On collaboration:

“People go, “Oh, it’s a tech company. It’s just all engineers and individual people in their cubicles doing their work.” No, actually it’s full of teams. And to operate well, teams need to collaborate. Google did a famous study two or three years ago called Project Aristotle and found that the No. 1 common factor among successful and effective teams was psychological safety — people feeling like they could collaborate well without any kind of retribution.

So those collaborative skills are a really important thing that someone in midlife or later can bring to the table – because we have more emotional intelligence is pretty well empirically proven and emotional intelligence is something that can grow with time.”

His message:

* To his generation: “Listen, you can mine your mastery. And while you may not be running the company, you certainly can be an ally to a younger person, as long as we figure out how to create a fluency where we can learn from each other.”

“The hierarchy of the past that says the physics of wisdom only flows from old to young doesn’t make sense anymore. The physics of wisdom moves in both directions; it just depends on the subject matter.”

“The modern elder is appreciated for their relevance, not their reverence, because they’re as much of an intern as they are a mentor.”

* And to the organization: “I started to realize that there are some things they could teach me, like digital intelligence, and there are things that I could teach them, which is emotional intelligence, leadership skills, strategic thinking, etc…”

I recall a story narrated to me some time ago by a young man working in SF based software company offering sales-force automation solution.  It was review time with his boss. He expressed he wasn’t too happy in his current position, role…desired a change to more interesting positions he saw opening up in other parts of the operation. Discussion ensued, the boss tried his best to retain the talented young man. When he (the boss) saw latter standing firm on his move, he ended the discussion and gave a good letter of reference helping him find quickly a new position of his liking in the organization. Which he did before long. As he was settling down in his new role, he got his review results – a promotion, coming from a boss to a youngster who no longer worked with him! And quite predictably the young man till date is doing very well working for the same organization.

The boss had the emotional intelligence to ensure the man got his just due and the organization did not lose the talent.

On Tesla founder Elon Musk:

“He’s 47 years old, if I’m not mistaken. Could he use someone like that? Sure. But he’s relatively far along in terms of his career. He’s a bit of a genius. The thing we have to put to rest is the idea that singular geniuses do this alone. There’s always more than one person involved. The question is, who are you surrounding yourself with? To me, the answer is that you should be surrounding yourself with a diverse group of people, including some people who have some seasoned wisdom at the table.”

**

In conclusion: All is far from lost for the modern elder as long as he brings his strengths to bear on what he is doing at the workplace.

End

Read Full Post »

Went to a well-known shop in Chennai this morning to buy sweets for Mumbai friends.

On the glass-door at the entrance was this message greeting customers:

Am given to twisting and turning in my mind messages leaping at me. Nice amusing game while it lasts. So it was this time too. Went up to the manager and suggested a word, just a word, may be added to the message to make it…

He thought for a moment and broke into a smile when it hit him. He said he’ll get it done which I doubt very much.

Anyway, here’s the suggestion made:

While welcoming all customers, new and old, light is now specially shone on the repeat customer – the most sought-after in any commerce. Hinting at habit forming?

Adds an engaging dash of intrigue: Why do they come again? Unique fare, good prices, courteous staff, nice ambiance…some tribal knowledge to flaunt when in company?

To think a mere adverb, usually trite and superfluous, could work a magic on the message!

The nice little game left me feeling good for a short while.

End

Read Full Post »

This happened in the seventies-eighties and has relevance and great learnings even today in business, politics, military, religion….Read on.

It was/is a brick-and-mortar organization with over 3000 employees, listed public, engaged in light engineering and large projects in addition to distribution of imported hitech instruments and products of well-known brands. Managed by the founder family, more humane than most others in its class with reasonably clean and professional work environment. It had multiple offices pan-India and even with in cities like Mumbai, Channai, etc.

The one cloud in the sky was the employee union – each office had a local union and banding them together was an umbrella federation – with a hyper-active federal leadership, their heads filled with outdated unhelpful misconceived ideas. Quite unfortunately it saw the enterprise more as a theatre playing out the class-struggle between the capitalist owners and the exploited working class- concepts hardly understood by the members, nevertheless herded together. Even if there was some merit to their case, it was bent on blowing up situations, small and big, into disruptive breakdown of normal operation. A key contributor, it has to be said, was the inept local administration, staffed with loyal’s with no professional competencies, handling matters anachronistically with a heavy hand, untainted by objectivity and finesse.

On the whole there was no sane dialogue or even a desire to have between the parties at any level with perfectly trivial incidents fire-balling into ‘wars’. More harmfully it bred a toxic culture of indiscipline in the offices, factory and service centres, all over, severely undermining the authority of the management. There was even occasional violence.

After a while, the management perceived this weakness.  And took a decision that all such incidents should no longer be handled locally and be referred to an Industrial Relations cell at the HQ. This small team would take it up with the Federation to put out the fire – a task neither easy nor quick before doing the damage locally.  

An intractable situation, it seemed. For want of a better solution the practice with its drawbacks was continued for some time until…

One day, a man walked in as the new head of HR appearing most ill-suited for the role, until one dealt with him! A sardar, resembling Buddha more than any other sardar, who would readily agree with you on your issue until you realize he hasn’t yielded an inch.

After an initial period of getting into the groove, he came to life: one day he called a meeting of executives in one of the key offices. And, said from then on it’s for the local executives/managers to handle the local issues. The IR cell would no longer be available for passing the buck.

There was pin-drop silence. What was he talking about? They were nowhere equipped to handle the militancy. This sardar with his new-fangled ideas was making their job more difficult…sure to fall on his face flat.

He proceeded to explain:  In the daily operation the executives had no problem of routinely tasking these employees – secretaries, stenographers, peons, workmen, etc. Things turned ugly only when there was some incident which then spread like forest-fire. Even here, their disaffection seemed to be targeted against the big bosses, not their direct manager for whom they worked every day. As a first immediate step, he asked the executives to consciously strengthen the relationship and the prevailing cordiality with their reportee’s by being more sensitive and solicitous and extending small favours, some even personal – like letting them leave early occasionally to attend to personal chores. .

And when one of those incidents happened, they were to respond immediately and collectively to defuse the situation through a mix of patient listening, explaining the rationale behind certain decisions and if needed even call in those favours shown.

When he was done and out, the executives were left wondering: Was that all? Too simple – would it work? Was he serious? It was nothing at all like they had feared. It was like going to a doc with a serious ailment and he recommending a walk in the park.

In a short time, he took his message to all offices across the country.

Lo and behold it worked!!

All those unsavoury confrontations that erupted with the regularity of sun rising in the east were on the decline becoming quite infrequent now.    

Why?

For one thing the employees felt obliged more than ever before to their managers not to blow up incidents themselves or to encourage others doing it – this was important; those few bent on mischief-mongering suddenly found themselves rather isolated among their own colleagues. No one was too eager to vitiate the cordiality with his/her manager and colleagues whom they lived with daily at the workplace.  Their leaders did not find them too pliable for incitement anymore.

Something else was also at work here. Earlier it was between the Federation and a thinly staffed IR cell. Suddenly they had to contend with some 600 executives additionally.  The equation had changed dramatically.  When required, more than one executive swung into action to jointly address the issue.

The operating principles:

“Expand/escalate the ‘war-front’ as long and wide as possible with favorable forces deployed. And, importantly, get everyone to contribute their bit to the common cause.”

No leader can fight battles all by himself. Explore the possibilities – it may not be obvious in the first glance. As said earlier, it’s a universal strategy that works in most spheres of human endeavour.

Of course certain situations demand entirely different strategies to be deployed. Example: a (pre-emptive) counter-terrorism move where the engagement is short and swift.

The battle the sardar waged and succeeded is legendary, an object lesson for turning the tide organization-wide – it did not receive the attention and accolades it deserved in the professional community, I thought. No case-studies…Though he was well recognized and rewarded, rising to the highest echelon’s within the organization.

It’s with great regret I learnt a few days ago this brilliant strategist is no more; as also a key leader on other side, of progressive ideas and unimpeachable integrity unfortunately in minority among his kind.      

End

Source: image from inditales.com

Read Full Post »

Well, the show is over, results declared the day before…the 2019 General Elections in India. Without a hitch, barring some very sporadic incidents and the usual whining of a few losers.

No consultants from the Big 5 or premier management schools, no Rs.50-lakhs-an-year-Project-Managers called in!!!

The show rolled out entirely by a dedicated team in the Election Commission (EC) Office assisted by a large number of government personnel doubling for poll duty, all paid government salaries!!

An expertise they should be offering in the international market to countries, states…wanting to hold free and fair elections.

You’ll know why when you look at some facts and figures to get flavor of this mind-boggling operation:

Everything about Indian general elections is colossal – the Economist magazine once compared it to a “lumbering elephant embarking on an epic trek”. The largest the world has seen. The number of voters is bigger than the population of Europe and Australia combined.

Voter Stats: 900 million registered voters, 10% more than in 2014 polls. 432 million eligible voters are women. 84.3 million first-time voters.

About 15 million voters between 18 and 19 years of age are expected supposed to be casting their votes in this election.

In the last Indian election in 2014, there were more than 830 million registered voters. Of them about 553 million or 66 per cent of the eligible voters came out to vote, up from 45% in 1951 when the first election was held.

A voter can now carry any of the 12 approved identity cards to the polling station and not just the voter slip.

Candidates: Fight is for 543 of 545 seats in Lower House of Parliament, Lok Sabha. In the last election there were 8,251 candidates including 668 women, from 464 political parties, nearly a seven-fold increase from the first election. On an average 15 candidates per seat, the maximum being 42.

For the first time, the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and postal ballot papers would carry the photographs of all the candidates along with their party names and symbols.

In a first, candidates with criminal antecedents have to advertise their criminal records in newspapers and through television channels. Earlier they were required to give details of their criminal cases to the poll panel through an affidavit but it was not mandatory to make it public.

Polling Stations: 1 million polling stations set up, 10% more than last time. EC guidelines say no voter should be more than 2 km away from a polling station.

Around 1.8 million electronic voting machines (EVM) were used to cast votes in the last election. More than 80,000 polling stations lack mobile connectivity; nearly 20,000 are in forest or semi-forest areas. In the 2009 general election, the EC set up a polling station in the Gir forest of Gujarat, home to Asiatic lions, just for one voter.

At 15,526 ft Tashigang in Himachal Pradesh is the highest polling station in the world.  
Reportedly a group of election personnel will hike for an entire day to reach a lone voter in Arunachal Pradesh this time.
For the first time, 12 big-sized EVMs will be used at every polling booth, in the Nizamabad district of Telangana, as a whopping 185 candidates compete. Earlier it was thought that the EC will have to use ballot papers here.

For the first time, Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) will be used in all EVMs across the country. VVPAT allows the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended. When a vote is cast, a slip is printed on the VVPAT printer containing the serial number, name and symbol of the candidate voted. This remains visible to you through a transparent window for seven seconds. Thereafter, this printed slip automatically gets cut and falls into a sealed drop box.

Voting Schedule: Voting will take place in seven phases spaced out over six weeks (39 days) from April 11-May 19.  The voting in multiple phases is to allow officials and security forces to re-deploy. India’s historic first election in 1951-52 took three months to complete. Between 1962 and 1989, elections were completed in four to 10 days. The four-day elections in 1980 were the country’s shortest ever.

Counting of votes for all 543 constituencies is done in a single day!

EC: Election Commission of India, an autonomous constitutional body, is overseeing the polls with 300 full-time officials at Delhi HQ.

Over 11 million government officials will travel by foot, road, special train, helicopter, boat, and sometimes elephant, to hold the election.

The 2014 election cost approximately 38.7 billion Indian rupees ($552 million), according to Election Commission estimates.

All in all, an incredible feat, you agree?

Special kudos to these unsung heroes for pulling off this greatest show on earth!

End

Sources: scoopwhoop.com/news/interesting-facts-about-lok-sabha-elections-2019/, Hindustan Times, Twitter, India TV, Reddit, DNA India, NDTV, Business Standard, The Hindu, Inkhabar.  Livemint, bbc.com/news/correspondents/soutikbiswas and dawn.com/news/1475146

Read Full Post »

Even If It’s Hard Work And An Unvarying Routine?

Check this out:

vide Rubi Navaratnam and Gopalakrishna Sunderrajan 

Go here if the clip doesn’t show.

End

Read Full Post »

Vide விஷ்வாமித்திரர்

Drawing water using manual pumps (If the clip doesn’t show, go here):

End

Read Full Post »

and the Reason Why is Eye-Opening.

Seven hours of video, 70,000 words in the combined transcript like a 200-page book were analyzed. And a single unavoidable takeaway emerged, specially to be noted by those making presentations, only strengthening what we knew about all along.

Read all of Bill Murphy Jr’s imaginative analysis and inescapable conclusions
here.

End

Image: AIESEC India Learning Academy

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »