This post could be an evolving one and may keep updated for sometime until I find it well refined. The post is the result of a chain of events happened over last 3 – 4 years where my focus was on people, people & people. I think I can say that I have transformed at a great pace, helped transforming many but for atleast last one month I was going in circles thinking about “why some people perform and others fail”. In other words some manage to transform and others get lost in a maze & the chances of someone getting lost is directly proportional how smart that person is ! Though somehow my idea was invest people, motivate, give room for mistakes / errors so that they learn from the same. But there was something wrong.
A very shocking event was, A young boy completed a simple task which another set of people I loved, supported, considered very smart and creative couldn’t do in more than six months in less than 2 hours. I had decided to give room errors to this particular group and did the same my organization as well. Instead of hiring from outside decided to “blaze” up folks from the team and create a scenario for growth. Personal, professional, organizational – carefully designed a scheme after working for months. Involved some external teams which I thought also could help and achieve organizational growth. The end result was, I found a pattern, inability to rise to the challenge.
Now this was a big learning for me, no I am not putting it as a failure but I had actually found a pattern, a common trait over a period in four years.
- I believed in People, People and People – but failed to understand not everyone likes challenges. I purposefully acted as a facilator of challenges which others took as problems ! That too the ones without solutions.
- People hated the need to change which came along with Challenges
- Though everyone thinks, including me that they are capable of raise to the occasion face challenges, when faced with a given challenge we all tend to fail. In short the challenges ended up as hurting egos than an opportunity to learn !
- Why – My interactions with groups and with internal team was always about telling them about “why we do what we do ?” Passed on the message that, we are passionate about technology and should use our passion to create tools and solutions that can help stakeholders, clients, employees, users to enhance their lives. From my interaction with the external group also I learned they also do the same – they are passionate about something and they are on it. Two things went wrong here, internally the “why” was either misunderstood or never communicated beyond my immediate circle. With the external group I was talking to stakeholders who understood the “why” in their scenario but was working with those who never understood the “why”
- I entrusted people with the duty of great things, after measuring them up & thinking that they will love it. I was also jealous that I was never given such opportunities while I was just obeying instructions – oh yea, it didn’t work too. Apparently, its difficult to understand and measure the opportunity at hand.
- Ego – I am not sure whether it was my personal ego that I can do this or overconfidence and dependence in people or egoistic about the people around me. The ego part become much more destructive when I learned about Ricardo Semler & “Managing without Managers”. I became more confident about what I was doing, my ego told me that the folks around me can take up ownership. My ego told me that the groups I am involved are much more capable of Semco’s 10,000 odd people. The last nail in the coffin was the book “The Lean Startup”. I found some similarities, which made me tell this to a friend “We are doing something very unique here, partnered with few exciting people & though this is little bit crazy, I am quite sure that we will be studied in B-schools and management schools.”
- I passed on ownership to people – my version was I was empowering them ! Now I realize that along with it I ended up spending too much time teaching people many things from scratch and spending more time with someone who was performing well. It seems those who were stuck, lost & became more frustrated, but I believed in the ultimate power of human mind which can fight any challenge. As for the external group, the PoC couldn’t even respond to emails & it was a completely lost game.
- Over estimated myself – my ability to multi-task, ability to motivate, ability to pass on the answer to “why” to everyone ! This also resulted me liking people for what they are not, what they are not doing because my theory was all that needs is motivation and hard work. Kept on investing on this wrong assumption.
- I ended up doing the same things again and again, ended teaching people the same things which was very unproductive. Instead of evolving or transforming, I was going in circles. I was simply frustrated.
What is next ?
Take a pivot, a deviation from what is being followed now & address each one of the above. This was where I was spending time for quite sometime. I met a friend & mentor this week. We talked for some 7 hours, I even argued.
Now I am at peace. Because I think I have it figured out. I am also proud, very proud that I have many transformed, some special cases whom I choose just by looking into their eyes and seeing the sparkle or the eagerness to finish a task though not matching any criteria – has came back to me about talking things I had no clue whatsover But more than that it burned when seeing yet another group failing just to transform.
This is what I think what’s to be done right now. Just like facing the fireballs in the video below & I am not alone or shattered.
Answer the why
This is the most important aspect. Need to focus on making everyone around it understand this. May be there is a need to re-connect with many but its essential. Every stakeholder should be clear about why we are here & everything that we do are just means to achieve it.
Don’t train people from start !
Experience matters. period. We need experienced hands who are trained and who can answer why.
Don’t be too personal.
This comes as a trait when someone is too passionate something. Professional aspects are overrun Personal aspects. There has to be a clear balance between personal, professional growth finally contributing to the organizational growth.
People are different !
Very. Not everyone likes challenges or don’t even understand what they are. Sad but one can achieve anything if they wish for it is not true for everyone.
Now, I think this makes me at peace, helps me with a turmoil to certain level. And yes, very happy about learning something very useful.
Note: incomplete musings, there will be more upcoming versions. This may help people who are lost in their careers to look into themselves and fix them up & organizations which are growing organically.