Spontaneity in innovation – Does unbridled exuberance lead to success?


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Spontaneity, that eureka! moment, when it seems that the whole universe is prodding you to succeed, is a key factor in innovation. However, it’s not that it comes to you right out of the blue. Behind it is years of research, struggle, experience, application, trial and error, call it whatever you want. Whether active or passive, much has gone into bringing on that one idea with which you shall change the world.

However, the debate has been whether innovation thrives in an unstructured environment where you let it come to you unannounced or in a more structured environment where you create the ambience for innovative work focused on revealing what the next big thing is. Perhaps in a step-by-step fashion and eventually, it will unfold and show returns.

Studies have shown that with more formal innovation structures and processes, there is higher satisfaction and better outcomes. However, there needs to be some chaos, the ability to imagine and dream, even within formal structures in order for the unconventional to reveal itself, break the mold and set a trend. It’s important to have a product management and development structure within organizations but, its more important to separate the people focused on current products and releases that follow schedules to meet current client needs from those whose role is to imagine, dream, try to test out new things without the pressure of supporting ongoing business needs. Ensuring there is an open line to receive client feedback on current products can help influence the direction of research to keep it close to the markets being served. However, there is a balance that needs to be drawn here to ensure that the influence is not so much that the team ends up serving client custom needs but is actually focused on creating better products with better outcomes, sometimes in a sense that may even create a new pivot.

High cross functional collaboration, greater risk tolerance appetite, research driven organizations with supportive eco systems tend to do better than those that are narrowly focused on bottom lines. The truth is that true innovation results in improved employee morale, spontaneity and better bottom lines naturally.

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The Paradox of Expectations


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“Work hard, you’ll succeed and be prosperous.” What if you do not?

“Study well, get straight A’s; you will land a great job and have a successful career.” What if you do not?

“Follow your passion and you will find success.” What if you do not?

These are ingrained expectations and notions that we grew up with and we continue to pass it along to our children. How sure are we of these? Did your life turn out the way you expected? Did these assumptions work to your expectations? Did you not hit a wall, feel around and find your own way? If not, you are a rare anomaly and I would like to hear your story.

The truth of the matter is that everyone seeks security, shuns insecurity. We all need a great paying job, a nice house to live in, a well fed family, kids in good schools preparing to live the secure life similar to what we wanted, if possible, better.

There are expectations and guarantees needed. If I do this, I need to be assured that. Not just assured, I deserve that! Anything that takes this plan off course causes pain, frustration and doubts. Where does the issue lie?

It lies in setting expectations and seeking guarantees. Is having an expectation wrong? Not at all. Aspirations are good for progress. Have them; imbibe them in your kids. But, leave the path to be traversed open to freedom. Show the path, don’t give guarantees. Show examples of doing what begets what but don’t make promises that you do not have control over.

Freedom to think, act and achieve should be left to the aspirant, the doer. Freedom is costly, comes with the promise of facing fear, risk and failure. But, it also provides the excitement of doing something phenomenal and reaching goals that are new, exciting and further lay the road for the next adventure. The excitement of the unknown, the tension of seeking it out is what living fully is all about.

Do not embrace of preach complacency, don’t draw boundaries with expectations based on performance. With expectations, come disappointments upon not meeting them and as a result, de-motivation. As a result, with the lack of further pursuit, you only fail once.

Leave it as open as the wild, wild, west with no promises of what’s out there. Just know that you’ll have the adventure of a lifetime and you might walk away with the treasure. Well, if it doesn’t happen the first time, you now have lessons learned to keep going forward and those lessons applied, pave a different path taking you on a new adventure, with newer rewards in sight. With a failure behind, there is nowhere to go but forward, for success beyond, eventually to seek out that success.

Seek freedom, pursue freedom, attain freedom for what its worth.

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Is there a short cut to Self-Actualization?


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Maslow must have studied human behavior really well to have propounded the theory of hierarchy of needs. To refresh you with the theory that came about in the 1940s, human behavior is motivated to fulfill needs in the order of Physiological, Safety, Belongingness and Love, Esteem and Self-Actualization.

It is the logical order that keeps the wheels of human interactions going. If you are struggling to fend for yourself, you are always worried about where the next meal shall come from. Once your hunger is satisfied and you have taken care of it, not just for today but also for the near future, you look to the next need of shelter and companionship. Next, you want to defend what you have built for yourself. Living a relatively secure life, you crave for recognition and a status in society. Most of that is achieved with your professional position, extended further into societal placement. All along, it is primarily about elevating yourself in your own eyes. Finally, when you have it all; then, the need to fulfill your intrinsic needs comes into play. This is where your creativity, your interest in self-expression through your passion to the best of your abilities peaks. The goal at this point is personal satisfaction and happiness, oblivious of all that it could entail in terms of name, fame and money. Sometimes, this is also called the point of spiritual realization.

Now, coming back to my question, is there a short cut to self-actualization?

Maslow believed that in order to fulfill the need for self-actualization, all other needs would have to be not only satisfied, but also mastered. On this particular note, I differ. I believe there is a short cut to self-actualization. There are several amongst us that pursue a passion as a profession for the love of it. This allows for their creativity to peak since they enjoy what they do. Happiness and bliss become perennial. Self Esteem is also at its peak or they are oblivious to it. Name, fame & money follow when you excel at what you do. It’s often said that in order to be successful, pursue your passion, not money or other emoluments for when you obsess over them, success eludes you. Every one out to achieve success, dismisses the struggle they go through. They recognize the sacrifices made but do not pay much attention to it, when in pursuit of what they enjoy. Ultimately success happens. In more cases than not, they are oblivious to even success. They practice a passion for the love of it and success, which in worldly terms means the fulfillment of all the other needs follows through. Even if it doesn’t follow through to the extent where you can say that they have mastered the other needs, they really don’t care for they are absorbed in practicing their passion and that itself is success for them. That is self-actualization and it can be independent of the other needs.

As someone said, it’s not the destination but the journey that needs to be experienced and enjoyed. What more can be a better outcome than this?

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Mind What You Hear & Speak Your Mind!


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Greetings, Folks!

I have been out of the loop for a while. Sorry about that, had several things competing for my time over the last few weeks. However, I shouldn’t let this suffer, our interaction.

Last week saw the demise of a great motivational guru, Zig Ziglar. Zig has lived a rich and diverse life, a well-deserved one, one that he chiseled the way he sought; as you can gather from several of his talks & writings. I have always been deeply inspired by the simplicity, yet profoundness of his words. I love the way he gets his point across, through simple stories from parables to his vivid experiences. In my mind, he is the father of motivational speaking of this era. I spent some time reviewing some of his videos and talks today. They are as inspiring as ever, every time you listen to them. Here’s wishing him peace where he rests today.

LinkedIn has started sharing a smattering of posts from various popular print media that have been termed as posts by “influencers”. In the current information age, there is abundance, a tsunami of information of any kind that you choose, coming at you from every direction. A few decades ago, before the spread of technology as we know it today, collection of information was a big deal. Any access you had to any kind of media was much appreciated in order to increase your horizon. Today, there is a huge influx of information coming at you without your asking for it. The issue today is very different; it’s about sifting through what comes at you, selecting what you want to spend time on and then, deciphering what is fact from fiction, and finally, assimilating the facts to help with the enhancement of your horizon. At the same time, it’s also about interaction. You can no longer just be the receptor of information. Technology places immense power at your hands to help you react within a matter of seconds, if not minutes and share the same with millions across the world. The fall of Egyptian & Libyan autocracies from the recent past are examples of the influence of information exchange among the masses.

Although there is abundant information out there, some fact and some fiction with effort needed by us to review and validate before we assimilate, the advantages of having access to an abundance of information at our finger tips outweighs the problem of validation of what’s available.

Most importantly, do not just be one that is absorbing and assimilating information of your choice. It’s time that you start providing a voice to your thoughts, your reactions as you take in what the world has to offer you. Take your stand, make your statement, and let your voice be heard. That is what makes the dialogue meaningful and ensures its authenticity and growth on the rightful path. It’s beneficial to you and everyone else.

Would you rather lead from the front or follow through?

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Leaders and Followers are both vital to the fabric of any organization. As much as you need leaders to set the path and motivate others to follow through, you also need productive followers who are willing to listen, learn and execute on the plan set before them. No organization can do without one or the other.

The world is mostly made up of followers and a subset of leaders. Of course, leadership is a learned trait and most of us play both roles within certain limits.

Leadership is about:

  • Developing a vision, sharing it and building support around it.
  • Strategizing and planning execution to realize the vision.
  • Leading execution of the strategy while overseeing the completion of planned goals.

These tenets are universal to any organization and are mostly measured through fiscal success, I mean EBIDTA, profits, market share, stock value etc.

But, true leadership has other dimensions as well; corporate social responsibility and emotionally intelligent people management being two of these.

An organization that aspires for success ensures that every associate in the organization knows and lives the true reason of its existence. In order for this to happen, every leader in the organization, from the CEO to line management needs to imbibe and practice the principles of valuing the people assets of the organization. Customers and those that serve them are equally important to the organization. Motivating associates to perform to their potential by managing their individual hot buttons and then, channeling this work to meet the needs of the clients is the salient execution principle of any successful organization. This ultimately leads to the realization of organizational goals, the yardstick it measures its success by.

At all levels of management, a prime factor of success is optimal people management. The amount of effort put into strategizing and planning an organization’s path also has to be put into managing and growing the people assets who are instrumental in realizing the plan. With leaders that share in the vision and willing followers, any organization is destined to meet its set goals!

Finally, an organization has to think and act beyond itself.  Making an impact in the community it thrives in and standing up to be a pillar of the community’s progress enhance the perpetuity of the organization and take it beyond the plans it was conceived with. That, in sum is the true culmination of its existence and success.

Now, ask yourself some key questions to understand where you are and how you need to fine-tune your work style to get where you want to be;

  • What do you do for work? Do you believe in the vision set forth by your organization?
  • Are you a leader or follower?
  • As a leader,
    • How much do you value your team? Do you take time to listen to them or are you just giving instructions most of the time expecting follow through?
    • Do you treat your team with the same respect that you expect of them?
    • Is your team totally sold on your idea of execution so that it will be a success?
    • Do you know your team members’ hot buttons so you can work on keeping them motivated and provide direction and help in the realization of their goals?
    • Do you exhibit enough appreciation for what your team does?
  • As a follower,
    • Do you truly believe in the vision and plan set forth by your leadership? If not, do you question and make suggestions?
    • Do you listen and follow through per expectations? Do you go beyond?
    • Do you feel a valued member of your team? If not, do you express concern and work with your leader to ensure mutual transparency and work to build a plan to help get there?
    • Do you offer suggestions and new ways of doing things?
    • Can you be the best lieutenant your leader can ever find?

Find your answers, make your course corrections and let me assure you, the journey towards your goals will be as fulfilling as attaining them!

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Be the super human you are meant to be!!


Much before Superman and Spiderman, there was a superhero in the East; Hanuman. Indian mythology has several superheroes and supervillians; one of the most popular of them is Hanuman. Hanuman is revered as a monkey-god. Legend goes that when he was a kid, he was very mischievous and troubled sages at several ashrams. One such powerful sage was not much amused at this nuisance and cursed Hanuman that he would forget his super powers and wouldn’t be able to use them. When Hanuman’s mother pleads for mercy, he reconsidered the curse and said that Hanuman would realize his strength and be able to use it when he was reminded of his powers by a trusted source. This finally happened and there was no looking back for Hanuman!

The reason I relate this story is to exemplify a simple truth. Every person has latent super powers within, i.e. skills and talents that have not had an opportunity to flourish or a chance to even rise to the fore as a result of one’s pursuit of life in the tracks one has fit in. In some instances, this is a case of square pegs trying to fit in round holes or vice versa. Some have been lucky enough to fit snugly as round or square pegs in the same shaped holes. In those cases, there is a greater opportunity to leverage one’s potential and realize the deserved benefits.

Another point to note; many people live under a glass ceiling which they have learned to accept and as a result, have never aspired to great things; and if the aspirations exist, have hardly tried to realize and exercise their true potential. It’s imperative that you consciously look for and find a motivator, a mentor who will support you to develop and maintain a positive attitude & outlook and moreover, make you realize constantly that there is no end to what you can achieve or impact. This mentor may be your friend, partner, parent, spouse or even your child. Find your mentor, the one who will help you realize your potential and motivate you to strive and excel in your chosen vocation.

Adverse situations or circumstances can trigger positive aspirations and outcome as well. Such an intervention demands a strong personality and resilience. There are several examples we come across and admire but the depth of their struggle to succeed is only truly known to them. Cherish such experiences and outcomes and draw inspiration from them.

There is no limit to what you can achieve! Be the super human you are meant to be!!