I am sharing here a somewhat longish video on Youtube.
Loved the extremely thought provoking and insightful conversation between Prof. Michael Sandel, author of ‘Tyranny of Merit’ and Yuval Noah Harari, author of best seller ‘Sapiens’.
The conversation covers the following aspects:
What is behind the recent phenomena of the spread of authoritarian popularism and the rise of authoritarian hyper-nationalists?
What has led to the increasing divide between Winners and Losers and the rising socio-economic inequality over the last four decades of Globalisation?
The increasing support for Meritocracy has a dark side. The strain between the hubris amongst Winners versus the resentment amongst those left behind. Unfortunately, the created Inequality of Income and Wealth has in fact led to a much serious issue of inequality of Honour and Esteem. What could be a way forward to decouple this strain?
The study of History has been such that we can very accurately explain WHAT happened but not WHY that something happened.
The urgent need to reconceive and reimagine the mission of social democratic politics of today.
The increasing obsolescence of the classical Nation State model due to the easy movement of Capital, Technology and Labour across the globe. What could be done to prevent the collapse of Nationalism in its true sense?
If one were to accept the core premise of the conversation, it would imply that Meritocracy, which dictates that a few succeed and the balance fail, is not compatible with democracy which is about majority decision making.
A more worrying aspect seems to be loss of political space by left of center parties who have been espousing the cause of the masses but have supported the meritocracy structure in their socio-economic decisions.
I was in a meeting with my new Chairman. I was passionately elucidating my future plans for the business.
The Chairman looked at me, made a sign of smallness with his fingers and said, “Your businesses generate too small a revenue!”. The stress was on the smallness, the inconsequence of all that I and my businesses were doing.
Stumbling out of the meeting, I was in a daze. To be told by your boss that all your efforts and dreams, all that you stood for, did not matter in the larger scheme of things, was devastating.
As I look back at that crucible moment, I can see how it changed the trajectory of my life thereon.
For days afterward, I was pummeled down by negative thoughts and low self-esteem. I swung between anxiety, anger and bitterness.
The way it occurred to me, there were all these guys, less qualified and with less competence, who were being acknowledged because they seemed to be ‘at the right place at the right time.’
I felt small. I hadn’t done anything wrong to deserve what I had heard. From that one conversation, I seemed to have lost a significant part of myself, opening up hitherto un-noticed doors to self-doubt and self-flagellation.
But then a thought came to me, ‘Had I done enough right?’
I unburdened myself by speaking about the incident and my thoughts to my wife and a couple of trusted workplace colleagues. I felt less like an idiot when I shared what I learned from screwing up. This helped me to move beyond the dark side of my self-doubt and low self-esteem.
The incident supported me to work on that crucible moment question, “Had I done enough right?” It taught me the practice of Self Reflection. It is this that opened up for me new possibilities and opportunities of growth.
In his Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestseller, ‘The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights’, author Doug Conant speaks of his own journey of self-reflection and discovery that revolutionized his leadership and transformed his career trajectory.
Doug condenses his remarkable leadership story into six practical steps.
Reach High – Envision
Dig Deep – Reflect
Lay the Groundwork – Study
Design – Plan
Build – Practice
Reinforce – Improve
In today’s world of uncertainty and disruption which can leave us stuck and overwhelmed, the above six steps have the potential to lift our leadership and performance to heights that would bring us career success, joy and fulfillment.
Yesterday, my daughters arranged for an all-Italian supper of pasta and Pizza with garlic bread for their Baba. As I was washing down all that great food with a glass of coke I felt so blessed.
In my younger days, we neither had the awareness nor the luxury of such DAYS to acknowledge our loved ones. The only days I recall celebrating were Birthdays and the occasional special anniversary (the tenth, the twenty fifth etc.). Those were simpler times……
Times change. The bond, the love, that heavenly security in one’s father’s arms remain. This is how the feelings, the thoughts, the conviction to take one’s rightful place on the world stage flow down from one generation to the next.
My father Late Debabrata Ghosal gave wings to my creative imagination since childhood. He inculcated the ‘can do’ mindset in me. Decades after he has left my side, I continue to sense his guiding compass when confronted by life’s situations.
Though I too held my daughters in the same manner that Bapi held me decades earlier, have I been able to pass on the right values and mindset onto them? I suppose only time will remain a witness to that ……
Dr. Viraj P. Thacker, the best-selling author of ‘The Myth of prosperity: Globalisation and the South’, has remained passionate about continuing his Late Mother’s work of a lifetime in the areas of Women & Children, the Environment, Sustainability & Social Justice. This has also led him to set up ‘Manushi for sustainable development’ of which he is the international executive director.
I am sharing a collage of the events associated with the above initiative as well as a thought-provoking article on Globalisation that he has published recently.
Environment, sustainability and Climate Change are areas I remain passionate about. My next book might just be in this area…..
Blogger Archana speaks of my profound way of articulating the tragedies of life.
I believe this articulation comes from seeing it as ‘Life Is’. The way we see situations as good or bad, tragedies or otherwise is really our perspective based on the experience lens we use to look at and make sense of them.
Moolya Foundation is a global non-profit organisation with an aim to bring greater inclusivity in public affairs through digital leadership.
The mission of Moolya Foundation is to expand the conversation surrounding public affairs and empower every citizen in the digital age where marginalisation of the common people is fast growing.
To abridge the socio-economic, political and information inequalities in digital societies, Moolya Foundation envisions creating future leaders in public affairs who shall be at the forefront to represent the interest of the common people.
Do see this first part of my freewheeling session with Neha Gour of Moolya Foundation in which we discuss ‘Is Digital Leadership a Skill or a Mindset?’ As happens at such times, The Chronicler of the Hooghly also gets discussed!
Admitted to the hospital with severe injuries from a gas explosion, Anjan keeps meeting Savio, a friend from his childhood. In the interactions, Savio holds up the moral mirror for Anjan to come face to face with the private demons from his past.
The explosion unearths a long lost letter which explodes his relationship with his wife Jaya.
“From Jaya’s diary: What do you say when all that which gave meaning to your life lie broken and anguished in the space-time continuum which was once your own?”
Fault Lines is part of my forthcoming book, ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories’. Should you wish to receive exclusive previews and the chance of winning a free copy of the book, do write to me @ firstname.lastname@example.org
The Three Horizon methodology was developed by Bill Sharpe to provide a simple framework to envision the future and how to engage in constructive conversations about how to achieve that future, This becomes all the more critical in an environment which is uncertain and complex.
The three Horizons framework, to me, is a powerful reboot tool which we need to keep in our toolbox for an environment that we are currently into.. It allows us to coordinate disruptive innovations and create transformative change which has the best chance to succeed.
As per the methodology, envisioning the future always needs to deal with three horizons at play, which are always there, with the capacity to impact the future.
Y Axis is the dominant thinking or WorldView.
The first horizon ‘H1’ is all about how business is done at present, but there is something in it which is not fit for the future. It thus contains the seed of its own demise over a period of time.
The third horizon ‘H3’ is the future we desire and there do exist green shoots of that today. We would like them to grow and become the predominant way of doing business in future, replacing and improving upon H1.
The second horizon ‘H2’ is the most interesting space as this is where disruptive innovation takes place. Disruption can take many forms. It could be technology fueled like the Electric car, it could be event fueled like the current COVID19 pandemic or it could socially fueled like Occupy. Disruptions usually lead to innovations, new ways of Doing or Being. The opportunity of change actually exists in the space between the crests of H1 and H3.
The key question would be, “How would the disruptive innovation effect the transformation between H1 and H3?” To answer this, we will take the example of the current predominant transportation technology using the Internal Combustion engine. This is a H1 model which has survived over a century with its negative impact of Carbon footprint and Climate Change.
Now let us look at the disruptive innovation of Hybrid Technology. This technology actually is the creation of the old world H1 horizon. The problems of H1 are somewhat reduced in this innovation but remain; they in fact get accentuated by addition of another layer of technology on top of the existing one with suboptimal utilisation of either of them. This is called the “H2-” innovation as it is captured by old dominant structures to extend the life of H1 horizon. Why we are using the word ‘capture’ here is because its innovative energy is not being used to help the H3 horizon to emerge.
In contrast now let us consider the same disruptive innovation technology but now paired with the H3 horizon, to support the emerging future to emerge and help to hasten the decline of H1. It would be the pure Electric car technology of Tesla, which essentially is a transformative exercise of building some kind of a computer on wheels; it is envisaging the future ground up. This is called “H2+”.
For the 3 Horizons Reboot tool to be effective, we need to do an enquiry based on three questions:
What is being born and how could we support it emerge and succeed?
What is dying and how can we help it to let go?
What is being disrupted and how can we harness it as in H2+, not be captured as in H2- ?
Enquiry questions for conversation about how to achieve the future:
H1 Horizon :
What is business as usual, the key characteristics of the prevailing system?
How did we get here, what values, cultures, regulations, events led to this?
Why do we believe it is failing its purpose and no longer a good fit? How fast do we want to see its decline?
Is there anything about the old system that we would wish to retain rather than lose?
What is the future that we would like to bring about, its key characteristics, how it looks like, feels like to be there?
What are the green shoots of that future visible in the present?
Whose ideas and work are the present possibilities built on? What history, values, culture are they embedded upon?
How can the possibilities be scaled and spread?
What are the competing visions of the future being pursued by others? Can we collaborate with them or are these essentially competing visions? If the latter, how do we prevent their vision from derailing ours?
What is being disruptive in terms of technology, social, economic, ecological and cultural aspects? What are the roots of those disruptions? For each of those identified, what would it look like if captured as in H1-? Or harnessed as in H2+? What could be strategically done to ensure it is harnessed?
If you are a disruptive actor viz, Tech. Innovator, social movement etc. what kind of guidance can you set for yourself to ensure that your disruption is harnessed under H3 ( H2+) rather than captured under H1 )H1-)? What allies will you seek, what actions will you take, how will you assess potential offers of collaboration or finance?
How do you maximise your influence and impact in a fast changing environment?
A Do-it-yourself plan.
Some years back in my work life I came across an individual who for anonymity’s sake we will call Shib.
Shib was insecure and hankered for a leadership role as a way to get out of insecurity. At every opportunity he would showcase and ‘beat his drum’ about his past experience. He refused to accept that in the disruptive environment that the business was facing, experiential learning was ill suited to handle the situations being confronted.. More significantly the ‘All knowing, All doing’ defensive shield that had become his second nature prevented Shib from acknowledging that he might be lacking competences needed to engage with the situations. These two over time became a dangerous mix for an increasingly inauthentic and damaging behaviour with the guy resorting to his positional ‘Command and Control’ power more and more as the organisational performance nosedived.
What does use of positional power lead to? Like termite it starts to eat into the existing credibility and trust structure of an organisation which takes a long time to build. Once credibility starts getting lost, influence gets diminished and impact gets diluted.
The Shib Case study made me recall what Malcolm Forbes, the publisher of Forbes magazine, had once remarked:
“Those who enjoy responsibility usually get it, those who merely like exercising authority usually lose it”
In the increasingly uncertain and fast-changing business world of today, many of us may be falling into the ‘Shib trap’ of over- reliance on positional power without even realising it. We thus need to do a periodic dip-stick test to review our sphere of influence and efficacy of our impact. Should we notice operational zones exhibiting uncertain influence and impact, it could be time to take action.
So what could you do to enhance your influence and increase your impact?
To create a coordinated effort, you and your team members need to be accountable to each other in terms of tasks, actions and time lines. Ask this question of yourself:
‘Are you willing to be accountable to your team members about your performance as you would like them to be about their performance?’
Do you have a Learner mindset? Are you willing to discuss with your team the skills and behaviours you are developing for your own self? Are you willing to be vulnerable about yourself and your own need and efforts to improve yourself?
Do you personally invest in others? When things go wrong, are you willing to take a deep breath, desist from fault-finding but rather say to the team, “I know how stressed you guys must be feeling at this juncture!”
Are you willing to align ‘Who you are’ with what your team members perceive about you? To gain an insight into the extent of this alignment (or not), you may wish to see how many of these questions you answer as “YES”:
When you give space to others, do they see you as passive?
When you are compassionate, do your team mates see it as weakness?
When you display energy, do others see you as being pushy?
When you take a decision, do your team members see that as controlling?
Be willing to become vulnerable by asking your team members to tell you about what they perceive as your top three ‘bad’ areas. These could be aspects like Arrogance, Passive, Self-opinionated, Impulsive, Indecisive, Untrustworthy, Close minded, Impatience etc. In case they feel uncomfortable to tell you these on your face, it is okay to get this feedback anonymously.
Identify the top three negative characteristics that you embody in the eyes of team members and stakeholders. Then ask them these two questions for each of these characteristics.
“What is that one thing I could do that would stop me showing up as arrogant ( or impatient, untrustworthy etc) ?”
“What is that which I should stop doing that makes me show up as arrogant (or impatient, untrustworthy etc.) ?”