The only thing which you can control in this equation is what are you doing while you are growing up. Why are you doing that? Is that making you happy? You only have one life so we should make it count.
Finding that purpose requires balancing many things. You need to find that one thing which makes you happy. Our companies and leaders used to say we are sacrificing this for the greater good of the company, world, or country. I don’t disagree with doing what the world needs because it is important, but it should not be at the expense of your happiness. You might think of doing what you do best makes sense, but will anybody pay you for that. Because at the end of the day you need money to survive in the world.
This is when the Japanese principle of IKIGAI comes into play. IKIGAI means “Reason of Being”.This refers to having a direction or purpose in life.
This principle can be used not just be individuals by also by the companies.
Before defining a catchy slogan, they should focus on finding the purpose and values. The companies with a strong sense of purpose and value will always perform better than their peers.
If you could align your Ikigai with those of the employees working with you, then that creates motivation and drive which eventually creates an environment with positive energy. People who are working in that environment will be driven to do their purpose and will be perfectly aligned with the company’s purpose.
The companies follow the same patterns as life ie. “Startup, Scaleup and Screwup” like “We Are Born, We Grow Up and We Die”. As a company, you should focus on postponing that inevitable. That is why it is important to find out the purpose, “the IKIGAI”. If that is found and served by generations of people the company can live for centuries.
Spend your time in finding the purpose of your company and your team. Your company’s vision/product vision will not count if it describes “the what and not the why”. This cannot be done by writing catchy phrases on posters.
Finding the IKIGAI is a lengthy process, So I suggest spending the time with your leadership team and team members. This should not be a one time exercise this should be done frequently so the purpose is served. The quickest way ( not the effective way) to start with is to print the prepared canvas of IKIGAI.
Give the smaller version to the individuals and stick the bigger version in the room. Ask every team member to write in their answers and post it in their small versions of the canvas. Keep in mind overthinking will over complicate. Hence don’t overthink and time box the activity to 5 to 7 to minutes per section. So that you could finish this in 30 minutes. After this map, it to the bigger canvas. When they map it to the bigger canvas ask them to explain it. This will help you in identifying the IKIGAI (purpose )of the company, team, and individuals.
We are Born, We Live and We Die. So choose wisely and make every moment count.
Once I was having a chat with my friends and we were joking about the digital transformation claims of different companies. One of my friends shared a story.
Two or three years back he joined a company ( A pretty big IT services Company) and there was one part in the induction program called “ The Digitalization Journey of the company”
My friend was eagerly looking forward to that session and surprisingly that ended up being the fastest session in the onboarding process.
The Digital Transformation Officer came for the session and opened up his slide
In fact, he had only two slides in his presentation (One heading and one content slide)
He said “ Hi guys Digitalization is a dream and buzz word for every company. It was the same for us. We were thinking about it for a long time!”
Then he showed the second slide which was a small video (2minute 30 sec) showing the employees using systems, Company infrastructure, and other digital platforms”
Then he concluded saying:
“One day we decided that we will become digital and then we became digital’
That is it! It was that easy.
What do you think?
If it was that easy then why many companies fail in digital initiatives or digitalization?
The company is a group of different functions which is indeed is a group of different people. So when a company decides to change they need to change from the root. I.e. people and process.
This is one of the core reasons for the success of any digital transformation initiatives.
The majority of the companies which are trying for digital transformation were following the old factory model working of 8 hours per day with all the dirty hierarchy which you could ever imagine.
Hierarchy is like the “Apple which is given to Adam and Eve!”.
Its like Dope, once you get the kick of it people will chase behind that. During the journey will also make sure that their route to the top of the corporate ladder and the chain below is maintained. So they will always remain relevant and important in the organization.
This, in turn, will result in an approval process. As the hierarchy grows the time taken for any small approval will automatically increase.
I will tell you another story about a friend of mine.
He joined as Chief Digital Transformation Officer in a company. For some initiative, he needed two white tables and four chairs in the big room near to the warehouse.
He called up the office boy and asked him:” Could you please arrange this in the room we have a meeting at this time.”
The next day he thought of checking the room but, the tables and chairs were not there.
He called up the office boy again:
“What happened, where are the tables and chairs?”
Office boy replied “ Sir, you have to send a mail to the Facilities Manager and he needs to approve that, then only I can provide”
He straight away sent the mail to the “ Facilities Manager “
There was no reply from this guy for two days. So he decided to pop into his big cabin.
He introduced himself and mentioned about the mail he sent.
The facilities manager replied: “ Who are you?”
He explained he is so and so and his role.
Facilities manager “ But Who are you to send that mail to me,? When you join a company you need to first learn the hierarchy, I don’t report to you. We have a process for doing everything here. As per the process you have to send the request to the CEO because you are reporting to the CEO. Then send me that approval mail”
He continued: “Our SLA is 2 days after that approval. So no use of popping into my room.”
I consider this as a classic example of the bad effects of hierarchy.
So the first thing to change is the Hierarchy and Mindset of people
When you closely observe any process you will realize that majority of them are just a CYA ( Cover Your Ass) strategy.
Hierarchy creates insecurity and politics which will result in loss of trust among colleagues and departments.
So change the CYA process to ESW (Expose strength and weakness ) process.
Companies should start considering people as there core assets ( many are saying this in papers and presentations, But what I mean is “from the heart”).
Richard Branson once said: “ Clients don’t come first. Employees do. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients. “
This plus ESW is the key mantra for digital transformation.
People will be honest only if they trust the person next to him. You will open up only if you trust someone. No one will figure out your strengths or weakness till you open up
Once your college knows your strength and weakness then it’s easy to share the work and support each other.
So second is build up this culture ( we need a separate write up to explain further on this)
Rewards and Recognition:
Getaway with rewards and recognition. There is no point in awarding the best performer because we work as a team and the team is as fast as your slowest member.
So the role of everyone is to support each other and bring everyone to the same speed. When you start recognizing one person you are actually hurting 90% of others (because we are humans we have egos and others will start finding ways in that cooperate ladder).
This is the reason why many Agile organizations are finding it easy to do Digital transformation.
But what the hell is this Digital Transformation! ?
“It’s the Integration of Digital technologies into all areas of business which will result in changing how you operate and deliver value to customers. This start with cultural, status quo change sand getting comfortable with failures”
We briefly touched upon the people’s change. Now I want to briefly touch upon the failures.
What’s the acceptance rate of Failure in a Hierarchy driven traditional company?
Every failure will be marked in the yearly review and will be cross-questioned during the appraisal meetings and you can even fall in PIP ( Performance Improvement Plan) because of failure.
PIP is another funny process. “ It’s as if like we are machine just tune the engine and it will perform better.”
Oh please!!, Please learn to consider your employees are humans.
Because of this every individual and every department fears failure. We have to break this dirty chain.
We are humans and we are bound to make mistakes. Human nature is to make mistakes and learn from mistakes. That is how we learned to walk, eat, talk, etc and it’s going to be the same for Work.
So we have to accept failure, but make sure you are failing fast and learning fast. Once we start accepting failures people will be more willing to take up new initiatives and this will result in new ideas, new products, new ways of doing business, etc.
According to the Digital Transformation Officer in my friend’s company, it was so easy to transform the company:
“One day they decided that they will become digital and then they became digital “,
Realistically this won’t work.
I am not saying these alone will make you digital. There are other reasons like silent disagreements in the management layer, failing to take the iterative approach, belief that buying a platform will transform, and many others. But the ones I mentioned above are some of the basic things to start with. It’s a long journey that will force you to change many of your behaviors, process, systems, also embark and respond to changes quickly.
If you really want to transform, then be brave and be ready for the change.
There are more ways things can go wrong than right.
Imagine you are placing a deck of cards inside a box. Then you started shaking the box. It’s possible that the deck of card is reassembled in the same order after that vigorous shaking. But in reality, that never happens. Why? Because the odds are overwhelmingly against it. There is only one possible state where every piece is in order, but there are a nearly infinite number of states where the pieces are in disorder. An orderly rearrangement is incredibly unlikely to happen at random.
The difficulties of life do not occur because the planets are misaligned or because some cosmic force is conspiring against you. It is simply entropy at work. It is nobody’s fault that life has problems. It is simply a law of probability. There are many disordered states and few ordered ones. Given the odds against us, what is remarkable is not that life has problems, but that we can solve them
You can fight back against the pull of entropy. You can solve a scattered puzzle. You can pull the weeds out of your garden. You can clean a messy room. You can organize individuals into a cohesive team.
When you are in a mission to change things always keep in mind that, changing your/people’s minds are harder than it looks. The more you believe you know something, the more you filter and ignore all information to the contrary.
The moment you start sharing new ideas, information, your knowledge etc. People will start thinking and searching google for what they believe. Our tendency to search for and favor information that confirms our beliefs while simultaneously ignoring or devaluing information that contradicts our beliefs.
This is why I started with Murphy’s law. When you plan something the probability of the things that can go wrong is always higher. For making any change you have to expend energy to create stability, structure, and simplicity. Successful relationships require care and attention. Successful houses require cleaning and maintenance. Successful teams require communication and collaboration. Without effort, things will decay.
It’s not easy to change the way people think, but that doesn’t mean that you should not try. We should and it is not going to be easy.
There will be another set of people the “know all types”. When you are driving a change, you should not waste your effort to convince these group. They will neither accept nor reject the change. These groups are like magnets of -ve energy. The more you fight against them, the more they attract -ve energy. So be focused on your views, these types will eventually die after the period of chaos.
Given the odds against us, what is remarkable is not that life has problems, but that we can solve them all.
Take the case of that box and deck of cards. If you add more cards to that box or increase the size of that box, it will result in more chaos.
Chaos is an after effect of entropy and entropy accelerates Chaos. The way to control chaos is to set examples. What this will do is people will start looking at that and the entropy effect will slowly come down and the chaos can be managed. Look at history, a leader emerges from every chaotic situation and people started following that leader. Eventually, the chaos would have ended or slowed down.
In chaos :
Try to always find something good to point out and something positive to contribute.
Lead by example and set a standard in light of unreasonable expectations.
In Chaos, leaders and people will be quick to point out mistakes and shortcomings. Counteract it by acknowledging your own work and bringing attention to your (and your teammates’) contributions
Learn to keep speaking up and speaking out, and find solutions to every “but,” one at a time.
When you know where your boundaries lie, you know when you have to speak up — or even walk.
Rise above the dysfunction of existing leadership and be an example of the leadership that can work.
Above all, don’t allow yourself to believe that it’s an acceptable way to live or lead.
“Let things go wrong, but you should keep doing the right thing. It will slow down entropy”. More than anything this defines a character, a solid powerful character in you.
An organization is a group of diversified people from different cultures, educational qualifications, and different interests. It’s like a subset of the economy. It’s essential that , everyone has to work together to deliver great results for the company.
When working with many companies we might have noticed that office politics were always affecting the productivity of the resources and the company itself. There is politics in almost all companies. But the question is how unhealthy it can become.
But have you ever thought why politics happens in companies, many a times the answer I get is companies are the reflection of an economy so there will be politics inside every company? But why!?
Things start getting complicated or political when
People want more power and positions
When people want to prove that he /she is better than others in the group
When people want to prove the worth
Insecurity is directly proportional to politics
I would like to see a workplace without any politics and people are motivated to do their work and go home with a sense of satisfaction and happiness. It might sound like an ideal world.
Before we march towards the future lets think about what can happen and what can we do.
COVID has badly impacted many people’s lives, many lost jobs, whoever is remaining with jobs are working with a lesser salary.
Psychology of people
The secure feeling they had in the companies has gone forever. Once they know their position is not safe then people will automatically stop sharing info and knowledge, because they want to keep the dependency on them. At the same time, they will try to learn what the person next to him/her is doing because the more I know the safer I am.
This attitude is going to create more friction and lesser productivity in the workspace.
More workload on people.
Many of our teammates have lost jobs during this pandemic. This means the same amount of work needs to be done by a lesser number of resources.
Now we all will be ready to put that extra effort and finish that, one because we are worried about our jobs and we will be forced to work on that extra load.
Second, we know that we don’t have any other options now and if we don’t do it the companies can get people in lesser salaries because the workforce is abundant in the market.
It might look productive for now but in the long run, people are going to burn down and this is going to impact the company culture, personal and mental health, and is going to impact the family life.
The salaries have gone down but the living expense hasn’t. What will people do in this situation? This is going to add much more mental pressure to each of us. This is going to reflect in the workplace and families.
People will become less loyal to companies. Loyalty was already a scarce commodity and it’s going to be even more scarce now. Employers and businesses should be more empathetic to the employees and customers. If you try to get more sales or demand more work from customers and employees respectively, then psychologically you are not going to have any place in their minds.
What Leaders, HR’s and Companies have to do :
More than ever you have to give priority to the mental health of the employees. Make a genuine effort to make a connection with the people around you. Try to transform the office culture into more fun-filled. It’s right that you have a lesser workforce and leaner budgets to achieve bigger targets, but always keep in mind that leaner team means they are more Agile, provided you give them clear directions and motivation.
The companies and the leaders should understand that, without managed trust people will show up to do their jobs and will primary about themselves. This is the root cause of office politics. The way to overcome this is by creating passion, it comes from the feeling that you are part of something bigger. If the people do not trust that “the company is organized to the why”. Then the passion becomes diluted.
You should work towards sending people home happily with a feeling of fulfillment. This will bring smiles in their homes and they will be less stressed and will be happy to come to the office every day.
If you start forcing and threatening the people then it going to end up in the unhealthy office politics. It’s your responsibility to keep an eye on this and always keep this under control.
We will overcome this situation and we are going to have a new life after this. But we have to make sure we plant the right seeds now because that’s what we are going reap that after corona.