Insights

Insights are our thoughts from the work we do and the learnings from them. As Henry Ford said - "Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it."

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Walking the Talk: Employees living your #Brand

While all companies create and articulate a set of stated values, vision and mission (the #brand that the organization wants...

“How YOU Doin’?”

This September will be the 25th anniversary of a show called “Friends”. Even after all this time, and practically all...

The 3 Rs of a Great Employer Brand

For all the Ponzi schemes and absolute debauchery that Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Jordan Belfort in the Wolf of Wall Street...

Above N Beyond Newsletter October 2019

Here’s the October 2019 edition of the Above N Beyond Quarterly newsletter. In this edition, we’ve explored various facets of employer branding right from what makes a brand valuable to what companies can do to create a brand that is real, relatable, and relevant. We…

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The 3 Rs of a Great Employer Brand

For all the Ponzi schemes and absolute debauchery that Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Jordan Belfort in the Wolf of Wall Street is involved in, one of the remarkable aspects of his organization, Stratton Oakmont, is the unwavering loyalty that it commands from its employees. While the…

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Walking the Talk: Employees living your #Brand

While all companies create and articulate a set of stated values, vision and mission (the #brand that the organization wants to be known for),  ensuring that these translate into the company’s daily operations and decision making is a whole other matter. November 26, 2008, was…

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“How YOU Doin’?”

This September will be the 25th anniversary of a show called “Friends”. Even after all this time, and practically all TV channels still showing reruns (in fact, as this piece was being written!),  Netflix paid a handsome $100 Million for the rights to stream the…

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What Does it Take to Build a Strong Employer Brand?

It is important for organizations to invest in building a credible employer brand that employees can identify with. When you watch Meryl Streep’s iconic performance in The Devil Wears Prada, one interesting observation is how well the character of Miranda Priestly personifies the brand that…

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When Personal Aspirations don’t Align with Organizational Goals (Part 1)

At the start of their careers, most people only have a vague idea of what they want out of their careers. It is only when they progress in their job and gain hands-on experience that they begin to shape a more realistic blueprint of what…

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Above N Beyond Quarterly Newsletter – July 2019

Here’s the July 2019 edition of the Above N Beyond Quarterly! Across industries, the biggest overarching theme is ‘change.’ Organisations are finding themselves at a point where change is inevitable in order to survive and thrive. This change extends to everything from technology to people…

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We’re Running Out of Water! Can we Wake Up and Act?

Ramchandra Guha recently wrote this evocative piece that talks about Bangalore’s water supply woes over the year and paints a pretty bleak picture of where the city’s water crisis is headed. The severity and urgency of the situation has prompted even PM Modi to launch…

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Knowing When to Ditch Your Plan is Key to Success

With the ICC Cricket World Cup in full swing, it seems to be the subject that dominates all conversations and discussions. One of the most awaited matches of the tournament was the India Pakistan face off which happened on June 16. Before the match, there…

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Don’t Let Funding Take Out All the Fun

Everyday other day, we hear news of yet other start-up getting funded in millions. Just in the last few days,  FreshToHome raised $11 million while CureFit raised $75M. There were many more. In just the first week of May, Indian startups raised close to $250M.…

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The Rise of the Female Sultan

Last week, Disney launched a new live-action remake of its animated ‘Aladin’ movie that was first released in 1992. While the storyline is almost the same as the original, there was one small but significant update. In the original, Jasmine’s primary goal was to marry…

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When Executive Leadership is Not Aligned

Indigo Airlines, the most successful airline in India currently, has recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Media reports say that Indigo’s co-founders Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal, who hold near-equal stakes in the company were not aligned; specifically related to the…

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How Do you Scale Culture During Growth Phases?

Each organisation has its own unique culture that defines and differentiates it, even at the start-up stage. It could be the camaraderie among team members or a strong family culture or a certain agility in decision making. As the company grows, there is a real…

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How do you Fight Fake News in the Office?

We are online 24x7, connected 24x7 and information is just a click away. But what about the authenticity of information? The Digital Civility Index report by Microsoft says out of the 22 countries surveyed, India encounters the highest amount of fake news (https://news.microsoft.com/en-in/microsoft-digital-civility-index-safer-internet-day-2019/) A New…

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What Makes Champions Bounce Back?

55 wins, 5 losses. Last Sunday, Kento Momota made history again, becoming the first Japanese men’s singles player to win the All England title. You don’t need to understand badminton as a sport to see the talent, grace and almost Zen-like approach that this 24-year-old…

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How to Keep Pace with Rapid Growth

Sustaining growth isn’t easy, especially when it happens rapidly. During the course of its existence, every organisation goes through different phases of evolution. Each phase, in turn, brings in a growth curve which presents its own share of excitement, opportunities and challenges. Add to this…

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A ‘G-Local’ approach to building Global Capability Centres

This is not another piece about the ‘India Technology’ journey. While the initial drivers for the growth of capability centres in India were cost arbitrage and operational proficiency, these are no longer a significant consideration. Today, all global organisations acknowledge India’s ‘deep-technology’ prowess and huge…

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Through the Looking Glass for 2019

2018 has been an interesting year for all of us. As we step into a new year with new excitement and anticipation, we thought we’d take a moment to reflect on the year gone by and see what lessons it holds for the new year.…

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Above N Beyond Turns 3!

And just like that, it has been three years! We officially launched Above N Beyond in November 2015. Since then, we’re proud and humbled to see how we’ve gone from strength to strength in terms of our client profile, breadth of work, as well as…

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What Does it Take to Drive a Successful Transformation?

We live in a competitive, dynamic age where change is the only constant. All around us, we see organisations that are in the race to transform so that they are prepared to survive and thrive in the new reality. Yet, a large percentage of transformations…

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How do we Challenge the Norm?

A few days ago, India watched with bated breath as the spirited quartet of Hima Das, M R Poovamma, Saritaben Gayakwad and Vismaya Velluva Koroth sprinted their way to a gold medal in the 4x400m relay at the Asiad Games 2018 in Jakarta. While the…

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Data, Data Everywhere, But How do we Use it?

Today, each organisation produces a humungous amount of data. Companies today are also more tech-savvy than ever before and are investing in data analytics and business intelligence solutions to gain actionable insights from the data. Despite all this data, organisations today struggle to define the…

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The Key to Effective Communication – Understanding ‘Their’ View

We always stress on the importance of communication within an organisation. Unless you constantly communicate your goals and values to your team, they are unlikely to align with the company’s vision and mission. Discussing short-term and long-term objectives of an individual, team and the organisation…

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The Bane of ‘Business as Usual’

Consider this: the Indian arm of a software MNC was a few years old in India. The company had seen phenomenal success during the first few years – sales growth was through the roof, attrition was minimal, and there was great work happening on the…

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How to be a Self-Aware Leader

In today’s dynamic business world, today’s leaders are consistently being challenged to achieve organizational business outcomes. As technology evolves at a frenetic pace and the millennial workforces redefine the nature of work, leaders need to equip themselves to address these many challenges. There are several qualities…

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Expert Take: How to be an Effective CEO

By Ashok Sudarshan, CEO - Complexcare Solutions. For any professional, becoming the CEO of a company, large or small, is an incredible privilege and an opportunity for a tremendous amount of learning. But it can also be a stressful experience knowing the pivotal role that…

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The ‘Winning at All Costs’ Culture

In September 2015, Volkswagen, the highly respected auto giant was in the news for all the wrong reasons. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had found that several VW cars sold in the US have been fitted with something called a ‘defeat device’ that basically…

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Employee Motivations Evolve as they Progress in their Careers

People management is one of the primary concerns for companies in the knowledge economy. Hiring the right people is only the first piece of the puzzle. The bigger challenge is around creating a positive environment and having the right processes in place to allow these…

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Are Boys and Girls equal? A question to ponder upon…

By Vivek Subramaniam ‘Are boys and girls equal’? A question to around 150 boys of class 6 and 7 graders… Guess the answer? A unanimous ‘No’. Boys are stronger, boys are more active, boys are smarter, boys are doctors, boys are astronauts, boys are mechanics and…

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Diverse Minds, But Shared Values

Often, when we think of diversity, we tend to view it through the extremely narrow lens of gender, race, language. While these are certainly valid, the kind of diversity that truly matters for an organisation is diversity of thought. Building a diverse organisation isn’t about…

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Workplace: Into the Future

By Pradipta Banerjee, Vice President - Human Resources, CGI When we think ‘future’, the images that are conjured in our minds are of a digital age, replete with robots, artificial intelligence, automation and technology. Organisations and businesses have been at the helm of embracing new…

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What Will it Take to be a Successful Leader in 2018?

As the countdown to 2018 begins, we can look back at 2017 as a year of some fairly dramatic trends, especially around technology. We saw some strong strides made in automation, robotics, machine learning etc. that have forced us to relook at how we plan…

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Driving the Transition from Secretaries to Celebrity Managers

By Vijay Subramaniam,  Founding Partner, KWAN Entertainment & Marketing Solutions Pvt. Ltd.  For the longest time, Bollywood celebrities have worked mostly with ‘secretaries’ whose primary job responsibilities were to liaise with producers/directors to push their ‘talent,’ managing the star’s calendar- shooting schedules, appointments etc. This…

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The Fuss About Ownership and Rightly So

Some common questions that leaders ask us: I just hired a very senior person with the hope that s/he would make changes. But, this person is just not taking ownership We are growing aggressively and there is a need for people to take ownership and…

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My Learnings as an Entrepreneur

By Nupur Prothi Khanna, Founding Principal, Beyond Built I am an urbanist with an education in Planning, Landscape Architecture and Heritage Conservation. Beyond Built Pvt. Ltd. (BBPL) was set up in 2003 in Bangalore (subsequently moving to Delhi) to deliver best practice spatial design based…

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Above N Beyond Newsletter: Edition 5

In the September 2017 edition of our newsletter, we have put together some interesting insights on leadership styles, employee core values and the metamorphosis of organisations. Happy reading! ​ http://mailchi.mp/b3e78f6f34e9/above-n-beyond-newsletter-edition-5

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Customer experience: The importance of being human

Above N Beyond Founder Vivek Subramaniam writes in YourStory about the importance of the ‘human experience’ in any business relationship. In a world where business results are often measured using cold, hard numbers, the human angle or the experience we go through seems to be…

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Hands Open or Fist Closed Leader?

Over the last few months, the ongoing developments at Tata and Infosys have shed light on the very real challenges that organizations face in bringing in new leaders and enabling their success. While it would be unfair for us to sit in judgement without knowing…

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Above N Beyond Newsletter: Edition 4

The July 2017 edition of the Above N Beyond Newsletter includes some interesting perspectives on leadership, scaling up and the importance of execution. Hope you find it useful and engaging. Happy reading!   http://mailchi.mp/63bca0fe5f87/above-n-beyond-newsletter-edition-4

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Do Your Employees Live Your Core Values?

For the past few days, Corporate India has been buzzing with news of a leaked conversation recording where an unfortunate tech employee was asked by HR to put in his papers by 10 am the next day, or get terminated immediately. Expectedly, it caused a…

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Leadership in the Age of Automation

To say that we live in uncertain times is an understatement. From Artificial Intelligence (AI) to robotics to Supercomputing to the ubiquity of the Internet, technology has been revolutionising the way we live our lives and run our businesses. Automation is changing the way we…

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Why Integrating New Leaders Well is Crucial for their (and the Organization’s) Success

In an earlier blog, we’d written about why it makes sense to consciously build a leadership pipeline internally; and why it needs to be done much before you actually need them to deliver. So, why should it be any different when it comes to hiring…

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Execution: The Secret Ingredient for Scaling Successfully

The most difficult part of a start-up is not the starting up, but the scaling up. This is because a start-up is a different organizational entity than a large established company. As the organisation grows, you need to actively work on acquiring a completely new…

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Vivek Subramaniam in People Matters: Aligning Capability Quotients with Business Imperatives

People Matters magazine recently published an article written by Above N Beyond Founder Vivek Subramaniam on how organisations need to align capability quotients with business imperatives. Every organization is composed of unique individuals who come from different backgrounds, talents, drivers and priorities. It follows that…

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Above N Beyond Newsletter: Edition 3

Here’s the April 2017 edition of the Above N Beyond Newsletter. In this edition, we’ve tried to put together an assortment of interesting perspectives on building an effective organisation, including on performance management. Hope you find it useful and engaging. Happy reading! http://mailchi.mp/2911e…/above-n-beyond-newsletter-edition-3

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Scaling Seamlessly

Most founders will agree that the biggest challenge in a start-up is not the starting up, but the scaling up. This is because start-ups are not just small versions of big companies. Rather they are different in every possible way – from goals, to measurements,…

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Start Building Your Leadership Pipeline Much Before You Need them to Deliver

In the early days of an organisation, building a leadership pipeline isn’t top priority. The focus of the founder/s is on growing the business, on getting things done. As the organisation scales, the founders start feeling the need to delegate because there are too many…

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Performance Management needs to keep up with the times

A few days ago, the NASSCOM HR Forum hosted a very thought-provoking session on the changing face of performance management. The event, titled ‘Decoding Performance Management,’ had three speakers who brought an interesting mix of perspectives on the issue through an  HR leader, business leader…

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Diversity beyond metrics

A few interactions I have had over the last month: Interaction 1: My daughter plays football (soccer). She started going for football classes about a month ago and is one of the 4-5 girls amongst many boys. This was a sport she picked for herself…

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Above N Beyond in My Big Plunge: Becoming a people-centric consulting organization, focusing on execution

In a world where consulting is perceived by many as something that is a lot of ‘gyan’ delivered through jargons, Above N Beyond has always been about making a difference on the ground. MyBigPlunge recently published a byline by our founder Vivek Subramanian that captures…

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The Devil Leader

There is a small tailor shop in our neighborhood. After staying in the locality for over 25 years, I heard the story of the ‘Devil Leader’ for the first time a few weeks ago… A story that that had Courage, Clarity, Candor and Care. Right…

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Above N Beyond Newsletter: Edition 2

Here’s the second (Jan 2017) edition of the Above N Beyond Newsletter. We’ve compiled some interesting insights around running an organisation and helping you get the most value from your people. Do read and let us know your feedback. http://us13.campaign-archive2.com/

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Investor-Founder Relationship – Finding the Right Balance

For a start-up, getting an investor is an important milestone. It gives founders some reprieve from the persistent cash-flow issues that start-ups seem to struggle with, and provide the impetus for growth. Also, there is a sense of validation because someone is giving you a…

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Technology Adoption is Tricky, but Hugely Valuable for Business Growth

A few days ago, we heard a very interesting talk by an industry leader who said that technology is no longer just an enabler for businesses, rather it is a driver. Essentially, this means that while for so long, we were telling technology what to…

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Why Reskilling is the Need of the Hour…And so is Responsible Growth

Given the rapid rate of change that we are witnessing, there is a good chance that the job you’re doing today may not even exist 20 years later. A report by CBRE has predicted that nearly 50 per cent of occupations that exist today will be redundant by…

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Why Emotional Intelligence Deserves more Attention in the Corporate World

The term ‘Emotional Intelligence’ has been around for close to three decades now. From a scientific standpoint, emotional intelligence is the ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships; and to manage your own and…

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What my Yoga Class Taught me about Leadership Styles

I go for yoga classes to a studio near home. There are two teachers who take the classes and it is interesting to note two very different styles of teaching for the same style of yoga. One teacher has an approach where he does not…

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Execution May be Unglamorous and Tedious, But it’s What Brings in the Results

Most discussion on management is heavily skewed towards aspects such as approach, strategy, concept and other ‘cool’ management jargon. But in all of this, ‘execution’ usually gets very little air time. In most cases, it is almost an afterthought. This is problematic because effective leadership…

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Above N Beyond Newsletter: Edition1

Delivering Organizational Success - Above N Beyond Newsletter Q4 2016 Edition

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Structured Change Management Aligned with Business Goals is Crucial for Success

A couple of years ago, Adobe made a major corporate shift from perpetual licensing to a subscription-based model. To make this transition successful, the company made several strategic structural changes that helped it align better with the new business model. Firstly, it aligned its digital…

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Introducing the Above N Beyond Blog

The why, what and how of a balanced approach to organisational consulting It’s been over three decades since Arthur N. Turner wrote his defining piece on consulting titled ‘Consulting is more than giving advice’ in the Harvard Business Review; but every point that he’s made…

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Sikander, The Tourist Guide, The Guide on Customer Experience…

We were in Agra a few days ago and as we were entering the Agra fort, a gentlemen walked towards us and asked if we needed a guide to show us around. He mentioned that he was one of the certified guides and would be…

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Business Recruiter or Postmaster?

Hiring is exciting, challenging and plays a significant role in an organization’s growth. In my mind, it is one of the most complex and interesting aspect of people practices. After all, the talent pool is finite and almost everyone is vying for the same set…

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How to Create a Great Day 1 at Work…

One of our friends recently moved into town. Their child goes to the same school as ours and is in the same class. She called a couple of days back asking if our daughter could help her daughter settle in class better. As a new…

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About the Golden and Platinum Rule…

‘Knock, knock, knock’… and it grew louder. I sprang out of my bunk to check what the time was and it was around 1:30 AM. This is back in my shipping days and on that day I was the duty engineer. On a ship when…

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About Offers and Counter Offers…

PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Dipa Karmarkar – Thank you. You make us proud. You fittingly deserve all the accolades and rewards coming your way… This blog, however is not about them, but about the interesting article that was doing the rounds last week –…

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Celebrate and Celebrate in Absolute

I was speaking with the founders of a company that has done very well and grown fairly rapidly over the last few years. They, like many organizations, are going through the challenges of scale and growth and trying to overcome them meaningfully. As the discussion…

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Better pay yes, but what about experience?

‘The person gets paid well, and hence should get the job done’, is a statement that I get to hear fairly often. This is said with very little thought on the experience that the individual goes through. While the theory that high pay means higher…

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The Need For Drama (NFD)…

The other day, I was chatting with a friend about reunions. It seems like ‘that’ time of the year, for most in our age group. He mentioned that while it’s great fun to attend reunions, being there is even more interesting! Everyone is there, trying…

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What is your ‘breaking point’?

Like any other organization, my partner and I were discussing about how we want to run and scale our company, when she turned around and asked a very interesting question: “What is your breaking point? Because the answer in turn will define a lot of…

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I, me, myself…

A very nice advice I once got from a captain from my sailing days was – ‘As a leader, before you make a decision always try and wear the other person’s shoes’. He also said, when in doubt ‘Ask’ and ‘get advice and inputs because…

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Office receptions and culture…

The next time you walk into the reception area of any office, look around… There is a fair chance you will get to learn a lot about the company. To create the first impressions, companies spend a lot of time doing up the decor, jazzing…

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Paradoxes in Leadership

Consulting is a very interesting field and it forces one to re-evaluate every rule in the book, to constantly observe, and to quickly learn and adapt. As consultants, we come across many paradoxes in organizational methodology, environment, etc. One such paradox is the ‘Paradox in…

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Rules, Rules and Rules…

Rules! Are they good? Are they bad? Some are carved in stone, some unspoken and some, my favorite type - just gentle guidelines. How does one choose - when to make rules, when to stick to them and most importantly, when to break them? Well,…

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Women Fighter Pilots in IAF – Breaking the glass ceiling…

Amidst all the major headlines that hit last week, one news that came as refreshing and away from the stereotype was about women fighter pilots being commissioned in the Indian Air Force. Earlier this year, the President of India had announced that the government has…

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The Art of Consequence Management!

Last week, I was at a forum with some senior industry leaders and the topic of challenges in growing and scaling their organizations came up. Many of them felt that one of the biggest challenges was creating the right next level, to manage scale and…

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Patience – Is it a lost virtue?

Last week, I was on a packed flight back to Bangalore. Once boarding was complete, due to air traffic the plane was in the tarmac for about 45 minutes. People were getting upset, consistently asking the crew why the aircraft was not taking off and…

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Say so long, farewell… but with a human touch…

In the world of business, hard decisions demand to be made constantly. From start-ups to large organizations, to institutions and even as individuals, we are all at some point in time faced with the challenge of taking some hard decisions. There has been some recent…

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Understanding the context before saying – Yikes!

The other day at home, I walked up to the lunch table, saw a box of sweets and instantly said ‘Yikes!’. My mother and my wife gave me looks that could have killed me. I am trying to be on a low sugar diet and…

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To risk or not to risk…

Last week my wife’s laptop charger stopped working. It was late in the evening and she was working on something critical, when her laptop went out of charge. She needed to finish the work that night, so a charger was critical. We called the manufacturer…

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Growth yes… At what cost though?

This week, I had an interesting conversation with a very senior individual who has invested in multiple organizations. The conversation was around how, in today's competitive market many organizations are just driven by revenue only. The observation was that it was important to build a…

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Automation, the road ahead and responsible governance…

This week saw some interesting news on trends and forecast of changes happening due to automation in our workplaces. There were three articles in particular that got me thinking on what potentially lies ahead. Broadly, this is what the articles said: 1. Indian IT industry…

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Sir, please open the vent…

This one is from my initial shipping days. We were sailing in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean when suddenly the engine of the VLCC (very large crude carrier) stopped. As part of the normal drill, the entire engineering crew assembled in the control room…

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Why I am ‘Dravid-ified’

It is the Indian Premier League (IPL) season and like all previous years, this year too there is excitement, animated discussions between colleagues at work, between friends after work, and once at home, with our families! Because, you know, when it comes to Cricket, everyone…

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Rude, Ruder, Rudest…

The other day, I was at the airport early in the morning, dropping my parents. As you may know, the Bangalore airport gets very busy in the early hours and there is a lot of traffic, with people trying to find a spot to stop…

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How do you deal with a fist closed leader?

This post is in continuation to my last week’s post, ‘Hands open or fist closed leader’. Many of us have had bosses who are 'fist closed' leaders. Dealing with such bosses for most parts, can be stressful, unpleasant and an experience that is not quite…

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Hands open or fist closed leader?

A very wise person once told me, ‘when you try to hold sand in your hands, you have two choices. You can either try and close your fist, in which case the sand will only fall out of your hand and you will be able…

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Sandwich to eat or say?

I once had a manager tell me during my appraisal, ‘Vivek, you have great potential, your intent is good but there are some very fundamental things that you are missing, you need to fix that quickly or else there will be impact but you are…

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Am I not here and human?

The other day I stopped at my usual coconut water seller to buy some coconut water. Usually there is a young guy, with the kindest of smiles who I talk with. But that day, there was an elderly man sitting instead of him. I asked…

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No… We Don’t Understand!

The other day, in a Leadership workshop with senior level managers, someone asked me – ‘How do you manage a person of the other gender?’ Not sure of the question, I checked on what he meant and he said ‘I am not comfortable having difficult…

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Kill Bell!

It is an idea whose time has come! It almost seems like we have made the legendary Bell Curve, the ultimate villain of the performance story and in true movie style, it is ‘Kill Bell’ in many organizations. In my many discussions with managers over…

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