The flame

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A flame ignites our imagination. I have always wondered what does “fire” consist of. I have not found an answer as yet. I was a student of chemistry but still could not understand it. One thing I have understood is that fire generates light and heat.

A flame could mean different things for different people and in different contexts. Lets start with a teenager or an young adult. A flame could mean a person of the opposite sex, who ignites the passion in this person.

A villager may look at a flame as a source of fuel to cook food or keep himself warm during winters. It could also be significant from a religious perspective too. The flame in the forest could mean loss of life or livelihood.

The flame is a symbol of religious significance for a Hindu. A flame is burnt every day by the Hindus at homes and in temples to worship God. It is also used in religious ceremonies to offer our salutations to God. A flame is God in shapeless form.

When a building or a factory is in flames it is destructive. It can lead to loss of lives, property and livelihood. But a spark neglected may light the flame. This could be a good lesson in life. Are we neglecting sparks in our lives, which may lead to flames and ultimately destroy our lives and livelihood.

A flame is also a symbol of God in churches and other religious institutions. This symbolises that all religions lead us to the same destination. In my view, various religions are different paths leading us to the same God. We may call God by different names but the end is the same.

One of the interesting aspects of the flame is that it has no bias. It provides light to everyone with equal measure. If you tamper with it, it may burn you without any discrimination. It does not discriminate between the haves and have nots. One lesson the flame teaches us is to be unbiased in all our dealings in life.

Another interesting dimension of a flame is that it gives heat and light without expecting anything in return. This is a good quality to imbibe. It may be worthwhile to attempt giving to others without expecting anything in return. It is like the saying that the left hand should not know what the right hand is giving.

In the darkness of night, a flame can be the only source of light when electric power may also fail. It is interesting that man made sources of power and light are not always dependable but flame is. This shows that nature is beyond human imagination and we need to protect and preserve nature.

There is also a flame within us. We may call it our spirit or our soul. It keeps us ignited and always on our toes. It helps us to distinguish between the right and the wrong provided we are willing to listen to this internal flame.

Let the flame be lighted within us always.

S Ramesh Shankar

The ecstasy and agony of working as an HR professional in organizations today

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I became an HR professional by choice and not by chance. Now, if I look back at my career it has been a mix of ecstasy and agony at different periods of time. Both the organization and the environment contributes to it. But, I suppose it has been up to me to convert every agony into an ecstasy by creating opportunities for myself.

Let me reflect on some events of both agony and ecstasy to make my point. The first instance was more than three and a half decades back. I was posted to an iron ore mine more than 100 km away from a steel plant in central India. The joy of being selected into a public sector steel giant vanished after my training was over and I was posted to the mines. Within the first 48 hours I was gheraoed by the unions for more than 24 hours. It was agony at its worst, to say the least. However supporting managers and a great team helped me to convert this agony into a valuable learning experience. Even today, I am able to work collaboratively with unions and win their trust based on this experience.

The next big experience was in an automobile company more than two decades back. We had a big dream to evolve a vision and involve all employees in the change process. This was one of my best learning experiences of managing change and successfully implementing it. We introduced the “large scale interactive process, wherein we involved all the 1000 employees working for that business to evolve a common vision, understand where we were, where we wanted to go in 5 years and how do we get there by implementing the action steps. It was one of my most ecstatic moments as an HR professional. I have been practicing this learning even today to involve a large group of employees and implement real time strategic change efforts successfully.

About a decade and half back at an FMCG company I learnt the art of building trust. We had lost the trust of our employees and management lacked personal credibility. Again, although it was a crisis like situation, the support of a new enlightened management team helped us to re build that trust and gain employees’ confidence back over three years. Yet another situation of anxiety converted into an opportunity.

Today I work for a MNC. As a HR professional, I have learnt that we can convert an organizational crisis into an opportunity. Our customers were unhappy with the company. We worked with the management team and launched a “Customer first” intervention and trained more than 8000 employees to win customer confidence back. In this process, we not only earned customer loyalty but trebled our customer engagement scores. This has been one of my most gratifying experiences in HR to make a direct positive impact on our end customers.

Another learning experience in my current organization has been transforming our relationship with our unions. Although, we have internal unions, we had a evolved a love hate relationship resulting in at least one labour case filed by our union every month against us. We worked on this issue in a very systematic manner through establishing communication channels, reviewing all pending disputes in a fair manner and mutually withdrawing court cases and settling them through bilateral discussions. This has resulted in zero court cases filed in the last three years. This has been possible only due to objective support of both the union and management representatives.

All the above experiential learnings have taught me one lesson. Every crisis is an opportunity. As an HR professional, we cannot expect that our career journey will be filled with roses. It is always thorns and roses. It is up to us to convert every thorn into a rose by working on it.

One thing is true in today’s organization for all of us. What I learnt yesterday may be useful today. but may not make me a winner tomorrow in the market place. The rapid transformation of technologies and its impact on people, processes and organizations will have a huge impact on the role of HR.

One major impact I can foresee today is that although technology has provided multiple channels to efficiently communicate with people around the world in seconds, it has not enabled the effectiveness in the human connectedness. We may have a landline, two mobile phones, a tablet, video conferencing and IP calling facilities today but we do not talk to each other and understand each other as human beings. While I am a big fan of technology, I am equally concerned about the human alienation and loneliness within families, organizations and societies. This is a a big challenge for the HR professional to address since it will have impact on relationships within and outside the organization.

The generational shift will have its own consequences. Our ability to manage and balance multiple generations will be a strategic advantage for organization if HR is able to plan optimal interventions. Further, the VUCA world will challenge business models and impact the future of work. In my assessment, this will get impacted in five distinct spheres – work, skills, space, technology and life. All this will mean leaders have to adapt their styles to manage these radical shifts in organizational mindset of employees. HR has to partner employee and co create the future together with them and their manager in a digitized world of the future.

Diversity & inclusion will be an added dimension as a challenge to the HR function. It will be expected that the HR function facilitates diversity and inclusion as a culture in the organization of tomorrow as it is no longer a fad but a strategic advantage for better business outcomes.

As in the photo above, when five girls join the shop floor of your digital factory, you feel diversity is in action and not a slogan anymore.

One vital question for the HR professional today could be the survival of the function itself? Some thought leaders are questioning the need and survival of the HR function in the future world. I would think that as long as human beings exist, HR function will exist. However, tomorrow if an organization is going to be run by robots and AI then HR function may not exist. Having said that, it is important that HR function continually adds value to the business to ensure it is future proof.

Today’s environment is changing even before we realize it. Data analytics may alter business models and decisions. Cloud computing and artificial intelligence may crunch response times. Internet of things and connected devices may radically transform the way we experience life today. But human emotions and empathy will remain. It is up to us to anticipate this change and thrive on the chaos and convert every agony into an ecstasy by empathizing with our employees, suppliers and customers.

Every agony when reversed becomes an ecstasy.

The choice is ours.

S Ramesh Shankar

Leadership in a digital age

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Leadership is a challenge for every leader every day. The challenges of leadership have changed over time. It is not only the people you lead but the environment in which you lead determines your style.

I wanted to reflect on what will leadership challenge look like in the digital age of the future. I explored it from five different angles – work, skills, technology, space and life. I then examined how a leader could deal with the challenges in each area.

Work – Let us explore as to how the world of work will change over time. The first and foremost distinction will be that the line between work and home will blur. People may work from anywhere and will not be comfortable with drawing distinct lines between home and work. They would prefer flexible working hours. An employee’s needs, wants and expectations from work will change. One cannot motivate employees by money alone. Purpose and values may be be more important than money. Life long employment will be history.

Skills – The skills acquired by a person will determine their value, not age or experience. Employees will tend to own their career and skills as they would like to be at the steering wheel at all times, not their boss or others. Automation and AI may make skills redundant sooner than expected. The only differentiator human beings may add to skills will be emotions.

Technology – Leaders have to continually master technology to have the cutting edge with their teams. Artificial intelligence and technology will replace routine jobs. Human beings need to add value with resonating emotions. Collaboration and co creation will become a way of life. Social good will overtake organisational selfishness.

Space – The cabins in offices will disappear. Work environment will embrace open architecture. Hierarchy will be a thing of the past and cross functional teams will drive organisations. Organisation boundaries will merge. People may work in multiple organisations and are committed more to their profession than to any organisation. Dress codes will be determined by individuals and not organisations. Formals will give way to casuals as comfort rather than impressionistic dressing will be the norm.

Life – Family as an institution may disintegrate or even get redefined. Society will evolve as a network of individuals rather than families and communities. Relationships get established through social media than real ones. Marriage as an institution may break down or change. This may impact relationships within and between families and communities. Stress will manifest in complex ways. As human interactions minimise, social interactions will increase with the use of technology. This means while technological connectedness may increase due to social media, bots, AI etc, human relatedness may decrease due to limited face to face interactions. Values have become relative as compared to absolute in the past. It is no longer black and white. It is grey most of the time and subject to interpretation.

So, if we look at leadership from these angles – work, skills, technology, space and life, we will understand that leadership in a digital age has varied challenges. They need to be dealt with differently from the past. Let us examine each challenge and on how a leader in the digital age can deal with it.

Work – The leader has to to be flexible and an adaptive networker to bring out the best in his people. Without laying rigid guidelines, the leader has to create the space to bring out the best in his team.

Skills – A leader has to be a challenger of their team and at the same time provide continual opportunities to learn and grow. If we can ensure that neither we nor our team members are complacent, we could be a winner.

Technology – A proactive adopter of technology and the latest trends will make a leader deal with the challenges of the digital age in an adaptive manner.

Space – A leader who behaves like a hierarchy less space creator will thrive in the emerging digital age. Our ability to cement collaborative teams to work together will be the differentiator for the future.

Life – A leader of the future has to evolve as an emotional anchor. The break down of family and marriage as institutions in the future will create more stress to the individuals and less coping mechanisms to deal with same. This means that leaders in the future have to be emotional anchors and fill the vacuum created by the emerging social trends. Leaders have to deal with relative value systems as compared to absolute of the past. This means what was considered inappropriate in the past may be considered normal or appropriate in the future. This means the role of listening to one’s conscience will be more important than ever before.

Let us learn to lead in the digital age of the future.

S Ramesh Shankar

8th July 2018

The red carpet

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I have always wondered as to why we use a red carpet to welcome important people on festive occasions. It could be a tradition or custom. It could also be a symbol of celebration. I should confess that I have not done any research on this subject. But I felt it may be worthwhile to spread my wings and let my imagination fly for the reasons.

In many religions red symbolises goodness. This could the reason. It could mean the occasion is auspicious and hence the red carpet. It could mean that you are remembering God while welcoming a guest.

Red could also a symbol of blood. It could show that you are welcoming your guest with your body, sweat, blood and soul – in a way whole heartedly. Blood may also relate to life and relationship and hence a connection is established between the host and guest.

In some countries red cars symbolise energy and youth. I understand that red cars are even charged more insurance. This is because they are likely to drive fast and more likely to make insurance claims. Thus red could represent energy and enthusiasm while welcoming a guest.

Red in Hinduism is sacred. It is supposed to protect you from all evils. This may also may be a way to welcome your guests and protect them from evil eyes being cast on them. It is fascinating how a colour could reflect so many things.

I wonder why the carpet could not be blue or yellow as they are also primary colours. I have no reason to believe why it is so. A simple logic could be that red does not fade easily and hence it may be easy to maintain red carpets unlike other colours.

It may be useful to reflect that colour of the carpet does not make the difference. It is the spirit in which it is used. In India there is a quote, which states that ” Respect your mother like God, Respect your father like God, Respect your guest like God and Respect your teacher like God. “. This means that the guest has to be respected like God. This could also be a logic for using a red carpet to welcome guests.

The red colour reflects royalty. It possibly is linked to the kings and queens of the past. If we look at the world of cinema, a red carpet is the symbol of the Oscar ceremony and may be reflects a regal ceremony.

I have no doubt that red is royal and regal. It expresses the emotions of the host to the guest in visual form. We have no doubts that a visual representation speaks more than a million words. This could also be the reasons for using red to welcome guests.

Red is used in most advertisements and this may also be a factor. Red could represent a colour which is striking and will be viewed by all. We can either believe our past and agree that there is logic in using a red carpet for any or all the reasons above. On the other hand, we can forget the past and change the colour to blue or yellow and see what people around us react.

The choice is ours. Red or blue – the emotions remain.

S Ramesh Shankar

8th June 2018.

The Appraiser & the Appraisee

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It is performance review time in most organisations.  The year is over and the appraiser has to review the performance of the appraisee. In most organisations, the appraiser is expected to have a pre-appraisal dialogue before she appraises her reportee to understand how the year has gone and what went well and what could have been done better.  Many appraisers do not take this step seriously and even give it a slip. In this step, the employee is expected to speak and the manager listen.

The appraisee fills in the form and based on the understanding of the same, the appraiser assesses the employee.  This then becomes a one sided appraisal as the manager has not been able to return to the other side of the story.  It may be said that principle of natural justice, wherein you give a chance to defend yourself before being judged has not been followed.

In the next step, the manager assesses the performance of the employee and fills in her comments and feedback to the employee.  This could possible be discussed in an appraisal group and then it is time for the manager to give feedback to her employee.  The manager is expected to fix a date and time and preferably do a face to face feedback session.  Most managers do it casually and in an informal setting like a canteen over a cup of tea.  I recently met a manager, who stated that his boss met him for breakfast and gave him feedback in exactly five minutes.  This negates the very purpose of a feedback session. In this step, the manager is expected to speak and the employee listen.  The manager is expected to give feedback with real life examples of what went right and what could have been done better.

The appraisal is expected to be complete, when the manager sits with the employee and agrees on the targets for the next year and also the development actions.  This enables the employee to focus on key areas during the next year and also helps the employee to take ownership of his development.  This could be reviewed periodically with at least one review every six months.

The real conflict arises when the appraiser and the appraisee have opposing view points on the performance of the appraisee.  This conflict could be resolved by asking for clear examples of high and low performance.  It can also be substantiated by feedback from peers and internal or external customers.  This may help the employee to get a realistic feedback and also take necessary steps for the next year to improve.

In most organisations, performance appraisal becomes a ritual and not so liked phenomenon.  This is mainly because managers are not trained and do not possess the necessary skills to listen, appraise and give feedback.  Both the appraiser and the appraisee dread this process and want to get over it more to tick a box then to celebrate the process.

As in the photo above, two way communication is critical for a successful appraisal dialogue. Listening more than speaking by the manager may facilitate a rich conversation.

One can make a performance management process rich in content and delivery by honing the skills of the employee and the manager.  Each has a distinct role and has to play it effectively to ensure overall development of the employee.  The real test of a good performance dialogue could be if it is inspirational or perspirational. The day the performance dialogue becomes inspirational, we have achieved the end as much as the means to the end.

S Ramesh Shankar
December 2016

The plight of decision makers in a crisis

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I have always wondered how difficult it would be for decision makers to make decisions in a crisis. The current Covid crisis is not an exception. Every country is trying to deal with the crisis in their best possible way. However the citizens are unhappy with the decisions being taken by their respective governments.

In a democracy, it is much more difficult to take decisions as compared to other forms of governments. Here, if you decide you are criticised and if you don’t, you are criticised. Either way, there will be people waiting for you to take a decision and then they are ready to pounce on you as to how bad a decision it was.

I sometimes wonder if these critiques ever put themselves in the shoes of those who decide. If there is a lockdown, they say livelihood is lost and if there isn’t one they say lives are lost. Those in governance are finding the right balance between protecting lives and saving livelihoods.

The beauty of a situation like this is that everyone becomes an expert on everything. We have common men and women advising us on how to deal with preventive health to deal with the virus. Whereas, even doctors and health workers are finding it difficult to deal with an unknown virus.

We have arm chair economists advising us on how to revive the economy and save livelihoods at the cost of lives. Some business honchos have even gone to the extent of saying that the economic downturn will result in more loss of lives than the Covid crisis.

The governments in the centre and the states are trying their best to decide what they think is in the best interest of its citizens. However, we all are restless and are ready to pounce on any decision taken by the state or the centre in our country. We do not realise that the people we have elected to take decisions supported by smart and knowledgable bureaucrats have more information than we have to decide on matters to deal with this crisis.

While we all have become public health experts, economists, administrators and futurologists, we forget our duties as citizens. We are the first to violate a guideline set by our local government on the pretext of being educated and knowing what we are doing. We go out to buy things which are not essential or demand for services from others risking their own lives for our comfort.

We do not realise how difficult it is for the urban and the rural poor. The situation is tough especially for the urban poor and most developed cities today run on the work of the migrant labourers. As citizens, we need to find ways to support these people during this crisis and not sit back and blame only the government in power for not doing anything. Are we capable of taking care of our security staff, our maids, our gardener’s, housekeeping staff and so on. If each of us commit to take care of people who touch our lives every day then the problem is simpler for the government to handle.

In a crisis, the most important factor to remember is that there is only one leader and all of us have to be diligent followers. Like in the Army they say, the word of the commander is their religion. So, we need to behave. We have elected governments at the centre and the states and we need to trust our people in power including politicians and bureaucrats to deal with this crisis effectively.

Let us learn to be trusted followers rather than quack experts in every field especially in a crisis. If I can put myself in the shoes of those in governance, I may realise how difficult it is to decide. I am an office bearer in our community association and can tell you that it is very difficult to deal with community decisions in a crisis like this. We have only 25 families living in my community. Imagine someone deciding on behalf of a billion people or even a few millions in a state.

As in the photo above, it is wiser to sit at home and admire the pond heron eating fish in your pond rather than sit in your arm chair and criticise the decision makers in a crisis.

Trust is key in a crisis. Follwership is our duty. Let us empathise and appreciate the difficult role of the decision makers by being self disciplined and following whatever guidelines are given to us.

Let us make a difference by being positive always and being enablers rather than detractors in a crisis situation.

S Ramesh Shankar

2nd May 2020

Critical eye

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I have met people in my life, who have a critical eye for everything around them. They will read the newspapers word by word and will always be in a position to point out a spelling mistake or language misuse. I am not one amongst them but I do admire them a lot. I have never been meticulous in my life. I am self-disciplined but live life leisurely and sometimes may slip up. I love the critical people around me as they add value to my life.

It is not fair to say whether critical people are good or bad. Each of us have our likes and dislikes in life and have a right to live life on our own terms. I love critical people as they can always point out areas for improvement in our life. They look at things from different angles than ourselves. They have the ability to see things you are not able to. For example if I write an article, I may not find any mistake in spelling or use of language. But they can read the same article and point out a couple of mistakes easily.

It is equally valuable in organisations. We need to have people of different thinking abilities in our teams. Some may think the same way as we do. We need others who think just the opposite way and some in between the two extremes. This not only adds variety to work but also challenges our limits. We are able to think on the same issue from multiple perspectives and this adds value to our work.

If we look at our family environment, it may be worthwhile to have members who think differently. A critical person is able to add value in the family too. It may help us improve ourselves and also our ability to take decisions in different circumstances. We may also sometimes not take wrong decisions because one valuable member of our family cautions us against it. On the contrary if everyone toes the line of the senior family members, we could end up in mistakes, which we could have avoided.

In a democracy, we need a critical opposition so that the government is on its toes. Unfortunately, we do not see this in our parliament nowadays. But one can recall outstanding speeches made by our own parliamentarians as opposition leaders. They have not only been critical of key government decisions but have enabled the ruling government to make mid course corrections.

Even in team sports, it may be worthwhile for captains and coaches to have critical team members in their teams. These members may help team strategise effectively in every situation. They may think differently or even question the team strategy. This may help the team to re craft their strategies or make mid course corrections. Sometimes, this may also help teams to renew themselves against tough opposition.

On the other side, it may not be easy to live with and deal with critical people in your life. One may feel irritated or defensive when one is questioned on everything every day. It may be easier to have like minded people in your family or team. Life is cosier and easy to navigate. We need to develop the magnanimity to encourage diverse thinking in our teams and appreciate the value of it. We need to learn to adapt to critiques.

As in the photo above, my wife Meena R Shankar has a critical eye and hence is my life long editor of all my writings. She is always capable of giving alternative perspectives.

Life may be boring if it is monotonous. Imagine watching a TV programme or movie in black and white all the time. Once in a way it may look interesting. However, we always like things to be colourful around us. The same is true in life. We need to have variety and spice to make life full. We need people thinking differently and diversely. We need to learn to respect them and deal with them effectively.

Life is fun with diversity.

S Ramesh Shankar

What others’ see, we don’t ?

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We need to continue to explore to see the unseen. A child may remind us of something in front of us, which we see every day but have not really observed. We sometimes miss the obvious and its not exclusive to us. All humans experience this phenomenon. This may be because we perceive things around us differently and hence tend to see what we perceive. After all perception is reality.

I have experienced this phenomena right through my life at all stages. As a kid, you tend to focus on things that interests you. You are oblivious of all other things around you. Then in the youth, we get influenced by your friends more than your family. This makes us look at things which excite us. As we move to adulthood, we tend to put a value to everything around us. We value things which we perceive as worthwhile to us.

It may be interesting to share some examples in this regard. We may be attempting to solve a puzzle for hours without any success. A kid may come in and crack it in a few seconds. We are perplexed. We wonder what we could not see which the child could do in seconds. As we grow up in life, logic takes over our lives. We forget our gut and our feelings. A child is more perceptible than an adult because they are always expressing themselves in emotions. They are not bothered how others are going to perceive them. We are worried how the stereo typed society will view us. Hence our behaviour is determined by the people around us rather than what we want to do.

It is sometimes interesting to note that a child can create multiple options within minutes. I was recently with my grand son who is 7 years old and he could pose in ten different ways within a matter of a few minutes. I might have struggled to even think of the possibilities before I could pose for similar photographs. I would have evaluated how others would perceive me when I am seen posing in such photos. That would have determined my behaviour. We are inhibited by our own limitations.

I have often seen that when I work with a group of young millennials at work, they can come up with multiple whacky options on any issue. The experienced employees tend to become prisoners of our past experience. We are worried that it did not work in the past and hence may not work in the future. We are bothered how are seniors will react to a crazy idea. A young employee is open, quick and spontaneous.

As in the photo above, the two langurs could spot a tiger nearby and cautioned us although we as tourists, who were looking for the elusive tiger could not spot it on our own. This happens in real life too. We do not see what others are able to see in every day life. It is either because of perceptions or because of conditioning of the mind. In a jungle, the langurs are the first to spot danger of a tiger and alerts all living being around them of a possible attack.

In reality, life is not different. We tend to see things which we want to see. It may be a good idea to challenge ourselves by the people around us. They can help us to see things, which we miss out in life. The time to explore the unseen is now. It is never too late to learn.

Let us start today.

S Ramesh Shankar

Spaces

IMG_1649Each of us love our private space. At times, we like to be left alone. Nobody can define what is the right space we need at any time in our life. There are times in our lives, where we feel comfortable surrounded by friends or relatives. There are other times, when we want to be left all alone. Each of us define our space based on time and our personal needs. There is no right or wrong answer to define the space we need.

The interesting aspect of space is that sometimes we want people around us and at other times we do not want. This is true for individuals, communities, societies and nations. Every individual enjoys her or his personal space. Although, we cannot draw a circle and define our space, we tend to evolve it based on needs and moods. It could change with time, space and stage of our life and it is fine to be that way.

It is important to realise that while we enjoy our space, we need to respect the space of others too. We get irritated if someone intrudes into our space but are less concerned when we do the same. This is the lesson to learn in life. The territory of others is as valuable to them as it is to us. We realise the value of it only when our space is infringed by others. It may be useful to respect others’ s spaces without being reminded of the same.

Interestingly, this phenomenon is equally applicable across nations too. In a global conference, social scientists can interpret relationship between states by the distance they keep between them. It is important to realise that every sovereign country likes to protect its space. No country likes its space to be intruded by others. We can note that even in international boundaries, there is always a neutral zone between states. This is also to ensure that no country intrudes into the territory of others even by mistake.

Another dimension could be the space we occupy even in our offices. If we try to trespass into the space of our colleagues at work it is not appreciated. On the other hand, if we keep a distance from other team members they feel ignored . We need to strike the right balance between proximity and intrusion. The line is very thin and we may learn by experience. Different people and different organisations may view this differently.

Even in our neighbourhood, it is delicate balance to maintain the right distance. If we get too close to our neighbours, they may consider it as an intrusion. On the other hand, if we keep a safe distance, they may interpret it as aloofness on our part. What is the right distance to maintain is again not defined by laws of physics or sociology. It is learnt by experience and is also situational. In a crisis situation, neighbours would appreciate closeness and proximity. On the other hand, on some other occassion, they will prefer to be left alone.

Interestingly the concept of spaces could be experienced even within the family. What is right distance you need to maintain with your elders or with your children is difficult to define. If your ignore your parents, they will feel neglected. On the other hand, if you your start advising them every day on everything, they may feel suffocated. The same may be true for your children. When should you get close to them and when you should leave them alone to learn from their own deeds is a matter of judgement.

As in this photo, the distance between friends was not planned but happened as we sat across a table in a marriage reception. We all liked it and the conversations were cordial and friendly. I am not sure if this was caused by the space between us or in spite of the space. It may be just incidental and may not have any basis at all. Hence, it is not worth spending your life thinking and planning about spaces. But, it may be a good idea to learn from our mistakes.

Lets keep the right distance.

S Ramesh Shankar

Change is good

Change is the only constant in today’s world. The most interesting aspect is the rate of change. Earlier, we would be happy to anticipate a change once in a few years. This became months, days and now life changes almost every minute. One of the reasons could be technological breakthroughs in society. I remember in the eighties we would get an update of the world news on television only once a week. Today, we are updated every minute through news apps.

Organisations and individuals are constantly dealing with change every day. Let us first examine it from an organisation perspective. Every organisation is confronted with change at every stage of its evolution. If it is a startup, dealing with change is the foundation of its existence. After an organisation matures and becomes stable, change in the environment helps the organisation to shake itself out of slumber and learn and grow.

The story of change is no different for us as individuals. In the earlier years, we had the luxury of following age old practises without being challenged. Today the rate of change of the environment is faster than we can believe. It changes very rapidly and impacts us in multiple ways. Our success lies in anticipating the change, accepting it as our current reality and learning to adapt to the change to our best ability.

Our society is also dealing with change in every way. Nations, communities and societies are experiencing unprecedented change. The boundaries of nations get blurred with economic unions cutting across countries like the European Union. This makes change inevitable. Both suppliers and customers benefits from such changes. It also impacts regulations and taxes across countries.

The biggest challenge of change is our ability to accept it and adapt to it. If we resist change, then we get overwhelmed. I remember the first days of the computer and the email. Senior managers were wary of this change and felt powerless without their secretaries sorting out snail mails for them. They even resisted the use of computers for word processing and database management. Today the computer is gradually getting replaced by the mobile phone. Our office resides in the mobile phone and every activity can be done on it if we are willing to learn to do it.

I am aware of grand parents attending computer classes to learn to send emails and chat on video platforms with their grand children who live across the ocean in different continents. Age, sex, religion or nation will not matter to adapt to change. It is our mindset to unlearn, learn and relearn. It is important to remember that change is the only constant in an ever changing world around us.

The earlier we are able to anticipate this change and adapt to it, the more successful and happy we would be in life. Most of us spend time in denial. We then try to postpone an issue claiming that a particular change is not for me. It is this attitude we need to change. The moment we realise it, we become a winner. We are able to lead the change and reap the benefits from it much better than others.

Playing football in the pouring rain made me realise that change is good. If I could play in pouring rains, I could do better during normal weather.

It is important to realise that change does not wait for us. It encircles us and moves on. If we do not learn to change, we may get changed forcibly and that experience may not be good. It is better to master change then be engulfed by change. This is true as individuals, communities, societies, organisations or even nations. As someone nicely said, ” The future has a habit of suddenly and dramatically becoming the present.” If we learn to foresee this future, we lead the change.

Lets change today.

S Ramesh Shankar