Once when the emperor was going through Chandni Chowk, my predecessor offered sweets to the royal entourage as well as to the Emperor’s elephant”, said the shop keeper.
“And what did the elephant do?”, asked the children in unison.
“Oh! It was a very intelligent elephant and he liked our sweets very much. So after that day, every time the royal procession would come this way, the elephant would stop in front of our shop, shake its head and refuse to move on till it was offered sweets. The bells hanging from its neck would keep on ringing till it finished the sweets. This is how we got our name”.
Did you know that the Ghantewala Halwai, iconic sweet shop in Chandni Chowk, Delhi: Set up in 1790 AD, it is arguably the oldest running sweet shop in Inda. It has catered to Mughal Emperors, Presidents and Prime Ministers….
Ghantewala Halwai features in the story, ‘Ashtami’ , 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 @ email@example.com
The original building had two stories and projecting wings. In 1756, the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj Ud Daulah, attacked the Fort and temporarily conquered the city. This led the British to build a new and a more defensive Fort in the Maidan. based on Robert Clive’s directive. The new Fort William was built with open spaces on all sides to allow 360 degree visibility of any approaching enemy.
Fort William features in the story ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly’ part of my forthcoming book of the same name. Should you wish to receive exclusive previews and free copy of the book, do write to me @ firstname.lastname@example.org
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 @ email@example.com
In Ashtami Sujit, a Junior Clerk in the British administration in Calcutta, with his young wife Bina, is forced to migrate to distant and dusty Delhi as the capital of the British Raj shifts. Shanti, born of a forcep delivery process gone horribly wrong, comes into their lives, physically and mentally challenged.
“Shanti sat there in the engulfing darkness desperately holding his dying brother’s hand. A low pitched moan emanated from him; a sound of utter helplessness that ricocheted on the closed doors and windows of the nearby houses, and failing to open them, got lost into the night…”.
Ashtami 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
In the Pandemic, the events span a century between the pandemics of 1919 to 2020; between Dipen and Indranil who have a tenuous link over four generations and arising from an old and decrepit palace and its Shiva linga.
When confronted by tragedy, the vastly different societal conditioning and development of a hundred years, cannot detract from the eerily similar impact.
“The pandemic did go away. But it left in its wake corpses, both dead and living”.
The above is a blurb from Pandemic, one of the four stories of my forthcoming book, ” The Chronicler of the Hooghly”.
Should you wish to receive exclusive previews and free copy of the book, do write to me @ email@example.com.
When Samir embarks on a sunset cruise to ‘get away from it all’, he had not bargained on meeting the enigmatic Chronicler. As the Cruise travels up the Hoogly, the Chronicler travels with Samir through two and a half centuries of events, surrounding the curse of a fabled pearl necklace, as mentioned by his dying mother.“The Hooghly has seen it all. The ebbs and flows of history as well as life itself. From the greatest betrayal in History to becoming the crown jewel of the biggest colonial empire the world has ever seen….”.
The above is a blurb from one of the four stories of my forthcoming book, ” The Chronicler of the Hooghly”.
Should you wish to receive exclusive previews and free copy of the book, do write to me @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
At my ripe age and stage in life, I have finally achieved what I have been wanting to do for the last couple of decades. Which is author a book. The book, a collection of four stories, is my maiden foray into the world of fiction. ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories” is currently under publication. I seek guidance and good wishes of all my acquaintances. As a start may I request you to visit my Author Page on Facebook, like, comment and share it.
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?
As we Reboot and enter a world with a new normal, we need to know that Uncertainty and Unpredictability would be part of that normal.
A great tool to use in under Uncertainty and Unpredictability is the OODA Loop, first articulated by US Colonel John Boyd in the context of air combats. In its simplest form it consists of the four stages of OBSERVE, ORIENT, DECIDE and ACT, looped as under.
OODA Premises :
When circumstances change, we often fail to shift our perspective and instead continue to try to see the world as we feel it should be. We need to shift our “mind models” to make sense of the changing world – in order to deal with the new reality.
As we make specific observations about something, we would experience more uncertainty about another; this is the limitation of our ability to observe reality with precision.( Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle).
Closed Systems viz. individuals or organizations that are cut off from the outside and new information would experience increasing mental entropy or disorder ( Second Law of Thermodynamics)
I propose to use an Airline, it could be Indigo, Air India or even Emirates, to showcase the OODA tool.
A more detailed model of the OODA Loop is shown below.
Stage -1 Observe :
We must focus on external parameters and quickly filter out what is important. In this data collection stage we seek and absorb and evaluate all manner and forms of data to gain a more accurate insight.
What shifts in demography, buyer behaviour, traveller behaviour, Regulations and Technology are taking place that might directly affect our airline?
What changes in the environment are taking place that might impact our airline and its business? Now or later on?
What information do we have in terms of : (1) Routing options (2) Capacity deployment (3) Alliance opportunities (4) Marketing strategy (5) Gross revenue, costs and profits.
Mechanics of Observe: As we consider new information based on above questions, our minds move from being closed to becoming an open system. We thus start forming new mind models and gain the ability to “see” the emerging situation differently. We overcome confusion inducing mental entropy of closed systems.
Stage- 2 Orient :
Orient is the heart of the OODA Loop because that’s where our mental models exist, our mental models shape how everything in the OODA Loop works.
So how does one orient oneself in a rapidly changing environment?
We constantly have to do “destructive deduction” i.e. break apart our old paradigms and then do “Creative Induction” by using these old fragments to form new mental concepts that more closely align with what is really happening around us.
In the context of shifting customer profile, buying and travelling behaviours, how do we :
3. In view of shifting customer mindset relating to travel, how do we :
(a) Optimise route network?
(b) Deploy Capacity on routes?
(c) Enter into alliances with other airlines and associated service providers?
(d) Marketing partnerships with hotels, ground transportation, destination services?
4. In view of emergence of new regulatory frameworks,how do we:
(a) Engage with and support Governments and Regulatory authorities for creating worldwide / regional standards for hygiene and operations?
(b) Ensure an overall smooth and consistent customer experience?
Mechanics of Orient: We formulate new approaches using refreshed mental models and paradigms. As we analyze the data collected in the Observe stage, we deep dive into our business’ internal capabilities to assess our current reality.
Stage-3 Decide :
We choose among the various alternatives generated in the Orient stage to move forward with our best hypothesis viz. “possibility” about which mental model(s) will work.
What booking process will we roll out to inspire customer confidence in terms of fairness and transparency in pricing, adherence to regulations and ease of use and refunds?
What Airport Check-in process should we implement which will ensure ease of passenger handling, customer comfort, adherence to safety protocols, improved operational efficiency and aircraft turnaround time?
What routes, frequency and aircraft capacities should we deploy?
What internal resource group do we need to create to work with Governments and Regulators to ensure smooth, consistent and safe customer experience?
What Alliances and Marketing partnerships have we shortlisted?
Mechanics of Decide : As we start deciding on the courses of action, we need to be aware that Success or failure will be based on our competences, our practised experience and the quality of our observations and orientation. For every trip around the OODA loop, new data will be transformed into new information, driving new suggestions, giving us opportunities to modify our decisions and drive subsequent actions.
Stage – 4 Act (Test) :
Why “Test” has been put next to “Act,” is to emphasise that the OODA Loop is not only an execution decision process, but also a learning system; we get to perpetually test our new hypotheses in a shifting world. Action stage is where we find out if our mental models are correct. If they are, we achieve the objective; if they aren’t, then we start the OODA Loop again using our newly observed data and modified models.
Evaluation and reporting of the following parameters:
Revenue and Expense accounting
Interline billing of alliance partner airlines
Proration and fare audit
Loyalty and marketing program effectiveness
Mechanics of Act: . Making a decision and taking action will have an impact on the data you have observed, which drives the information you’ve created and influences the decisions you have made.The loop perpetuates until the opportunity is fully resolved by either completion or disengagement.
How we could use OODA Looping speed ( tempo) to gain competitive advantage:
In an uncertain and volatile environment, mission does not solely end with deploying the OODA loop effectively. It is also about how relevant our organisation ( airline) can remain in comparison to other airlines under constantly shifting parameters.
An organisation should operate at a faster tempo or rhythm than its competitors or, preferably, get inside the competitor’s decision time cycle ( OODA Loop) to gain an advantage.
Analytics: Our Airline system generates a large volume of data at a very high velocity. How could we use Analytics to collate and analyse this data in the subsequent looped Observe (1) and Orient (2) stages ?
How could we synchronise our pre-departure processes like Check-in, flight operations, airport operations, transit services, post travel issues etc.with real time shifts in market conditions and own performance?
How could we do inventory based dynamic pricing upto flight departure to force competitors review their pricing strategy ( Observe & Orient stages)?
Mechanics of Looping Speed ( Tempo)
By continuously collecting, connecting and testing data that is generated the airline would create a data repository for use in any phase of its decision process (Strategic or Tactical). This would also enable an upstream and downstream impact analysis of all decisions.
How can you apply the OODA Loop to your own domain and business? Feel free to reach out to me.
Acknowledgement: The Tao of Boyd: How to Master the OODA LoopByBrett & Kate McKay, May, 2019