Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Anne Donnelly Travels with these...Great quotes by Women

"Show up and be present, pay attention to what has heart and meaning, tell the truth without blame or judgment, let go of the outcome" - Angeles Arrien

"When we are deeply affected, when our hearts respond to an issue or a person, courage pours out from our open hearts. We have to be engaged at the heart level in order to be courageous champions." - Meg Wheatley

"Leadership through command and control is doomed to fail. As leaders, we must help people move into a relationship with uncertainty and chaos. We must enter the domain of spiritual traditions if we are to succeed as good leaders in these difficult times." - Meg Wheatley

"It is possible to prepare for the future without knowing what it will be. The primary way to prepare for the unknown is to attend to the quality of our relationships, to how well we know and trust one another." - Meg Wheatley

"From the places we have been instructed to ignore or rendered unable to see come the stories that change the world and it is here that culture has the power to shape politics and ordinary people have the power to change the world." - Rebecca Solnit

"The dismantling of the Big - big bombs, big dams, big ideologies, bit contradictions, big heroes, big mistakes. Perhaps it will be the century of the Small." - Arundhati Roy

"The answer to most questions is both; the best response to a paradox is to embrace both sides instead of cutting off one or the other for the sake of coherence." - Rebecca Solnit

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Collectivities - Going Nowhere Furiously?

I have noted of late a few disquieting trends. It reminds me often of the debate between being pessimistic and realistic. Am also reminded of anchors that may make me revel in thoughts other than the optimistic. However, denying a reality is no better than self-adulation and fantasy. Let us say my inspiration for this blog arises from the gritty bureaucrat who appeared on television at an event that sported anti-corruption crusaders. I record a few citations that make for my observations as below.
1.   The Indian bureaucrat working within constraints: He mentioned that in the space of a year, he was witness to an average of 4 transfers per official. He thought that was the limit to his powers, and the porosity of the social system. Stoking the appeal for a Team India, he talked of an SMS (Short Messaging service) based initiative that Indian citizens could use to upload evidence of wrongdoing via GPRS enabled software. Spoken as Vijay, and spelt as VIGEYE, the spirit of the man was not lost on me (
    The reason was that he referred to the Constitution of India as he mentioned the ‘individual’ and ‘collective’ responsibilities of the citizen towards the state. What an amazing sub-conscious to refer I thought to myself. The Article 51 on the Fundamental Duties of the Indian citizen states in section ‘j’ as follows “to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavor and achievement”. It has been no accident I thought to myself, that the civic society acts as a system too.
2.  Morality and Fate : I know of a group of 8 interested souls working on the contours of a proposal for Economic Development that will be a viable alternative to irresponsible capitalism. One among the 8, namely Shankar Jagannathan (http://www.corporatedisclosures.com/index.htm) shared a provocative and hard-hitting link with me. A telling web-site name http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/05/22-4 was not where the sharing stopped stirring me. Rebecca Solnit has a writing style, that is imperial and majestic in its sweep, and yet, liberating and pulsating in its effect. She assumes that the acts of Dominique Strauss-Kahn are a fait accompli.
      That apart, every argument she weaves is a testimony of our numb sensibilities. She writes “In one of the more remarkable apologies of our era, Bill Clinton -- who had his own sex scandal once upon a time -- told the United Nations on World Food Day in October 2008, as the global economy was melting down: “We need the World Bank, the IMF, all the big foundations, and all the governments to admit that, for 30 years, we all blew it, including me when I was President. We were wrong to believe that food was like some other product in international trade, and we all have to go back to a more responsible and sustainable form of agriculture.”  Clinton’s outpourings here are more intense than his public reputation and sadly it is less heard too.
3.  Going Nowhere - Fast :   The famous Development Dimensions International (DDI), founded by Bill Byham and Douglas Bray, were at it again in their forecast for 2011 (http://bit.ly/jsD55q ).  The opening lines of this year's post is very telling indeed of the signs of our times. “After six iterations of examining the state of leadership worldwide via our Global Leadership Forecast, you’d think nothing would surprise us. You’d be wrong. Here is a look at some of the findings. BUSINESS IS CHANGING… LEADERSHIP IS NOT If there’s one phrase that comes to mind when thinking about this year’s data, it’s “We are going nowhere. Fast.”  It is only recently that we knew of Lawler and Worley through their book Management Reset http://indiatimes.uread.com/book/management-reset-christopher-g-worley/9780470637982 . Within DDI’s report is a work of collaboration with Gary Hamel that reveals group dynamics at the top of the corporate hierarchy - it badly needs a relook.  You may like to add Rajeev Peshawaria's RED framework http://rajeevpeshawaria.com/book to your list of why there are more bosses than leaders today.
4.   Social Cognition is distributed Capacity :   The anchor that most strongly resonated with me was that of a bold theoretical proposition by Gabrielle Lakomski, when I met her at the University of Melbourne in January 2005. (http://bit.ly/mPknsd ). What she mentioned in that book on Managing without Leadership was a culmination of social cognition, tacit knowledge management and indeed general management theory itself. Today, we see more and more after the Great Reset, that the behavioral response of leadership has been one of buckling under pressure than being additive or creative about situations. (http://bit.ly/ioEpLR ). e.g. At CISCO John Chambers regresses away from council based structures, it is reported; even as fundamental questions about the management model of modern day enterprise rage on unanswered in the world. Lakomski was far ahead of our times, it would appear.
Facilitating the leadership space that holds answers to the link between the individual and the collective is but an obvious responsibility. The economy, the society and the realm of the subjective moral self seem to be coming home to roost faster than leadership and their facilitators are ready for. Perhaps, philosophical questions seem remote to the urgency of the situation. The importance of the issue is ignored at our peril in these essentially ‘developmental’ phases of our lives.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Being Alive past Illusion and Misery

That man is a social being is a familiar quote. However, the Society of Jesus produces those gems, that are rare. Anthony D'mello SJ is one such remarkable soul. I was told of him 3 years ago by Richard McHugh SJ.

I was spurred to buy his title Awareness - The Perils and Opportunities of Reality, from Bangalore's Sapna Book Stall. Published by Doubleday, it is a constant companion book.Quite likely that other titles by this exceptional thinker and being would be more than spirituality.

While reading him I thought the parallels between his utterances and that of Osho Rajneesh were so close. However, after going through the videos I realised that he is an Original. He is in the Minority of One, his Spirit at least. He died when least expected. Dick as we call Fr. McHugh mentions Tony's name with fondness, gratitude and sorrow. It was only this week,that I realised how dutifully, passionately and lovingly, someone has curated some video recordings of Tony D'mello's talks. Here are some of them...

Attraction is blind, not Love. Love is a Decision. The first statement is that of Tony D'mello. The latter from Dick. Dick whetted the concept through experiential reflection as also the rigor of scientific examination. Dick went on to become the first person on the planet to have a Doctoral study on Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). Dick studied the Masters of NLP, interviewed them, studied under them,  and studied about them. Michael Hall was his dissertation panelist. Dick's industriusoness is an easy contrast with Tony's flowing intuitiveness. Tony's spontaneity and facility with linguistic and tonal expression a clear clue to clear sightedness and insight. 

Dick refers to Tony as a friend, teacher and colleague in service. Just as Gestalt seems to be a field that stayed at it's premises before it's phase transition to something as more comprehensive and wholesome as NLP, so did Tony pass away before he could combine with the compassion of Dick to create something of a legacy in well-being.

Tony's works are nonetheless unique. The thought stream he represents would appear like a processing of decades. It is fundamentally uplifting, an invitation to reprogramming our lives. 'Cravinglessness' is a state of insight as much as freedom. Ambition brings tension, whereas energy in work is that which is delightfully participated in. As a student of life, I find this stream of thinking more than a relief. It is an exercise in the framing of premises about life. It is a paradigm, that if you catch, others will likely be infected with enthusiasm and liberation from untested dogma.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Paradoxes in Research as Enterprise

It was a very insightful experience at Christ University on Friday 6th May, 2011. I was there to primarily respond to a request to speak to the research scholar community assembled there from across India. The Center for Research’s Dr. Srikanta Swamy thought I may be equal to the task. Frankly, I had no choice in defending my own decision to speak, but to seek help from my colleagues at the workplace. I asked them opinions along three dimensions.
1.   How Research Projects are carried on in the corporate sector  - a general peep into reality – experience and expectations
2.   Quality measures – internal to organizations, varsity initiatives and encouragement for people to pursue Ph.D. Programs – the feel for scientific temperament per s

 3. Collaborations with Universities – a view on institutional networks in knowledge management.
The result has been a plethora of responses, which stirred my soul, if not my own understanding of how people from different callings from life view the activity of research. I had more than 80 bullet points in notes to glean from. Trainers, administrators, market makers, technology specialists, and knowledge management specialists responded.  What a myriad perspective that I was entrusted with. And boy, did it help? Wonderful search of possibilities, re-appraisal of phenomena, and anticipations of the future.
The moving revelation came from the earlier speaker at the conference. Dr. Desai mentioned how official rules in the 1970s and 1980s were least encouraging for research scholars to obtain a Doctoral certification. In his own case, he was allowed to allot time to research while on a teaching job, only on Saturdays and Sundays. It struck me only then, how archaic social conventions may have held back the potential and motivation of people interested in research. 
Nonetheless, there are six paradoxes or polarities of sorts that need attention, when it comes to viewing the relationship between research as an enterprise and corporations in India. Let me lay them out as below. In my view, that sums up as the climate in which researchers and industry leadership need to develop a dialogue for the future.Hopefully that should alleviate the pains of the research community and yield in productive outcomes for corporate entities as well.
1.Purpose and Curiosity
The purpose of a corporation is generally profit making. The researcher is driven by curiosity.  This balance could end up in value conflicts if the two are not reconciled before the marriage is arranged.

2.Novelty and Relevance
A researcher is often enamored by novelty, especially when a mark of his or her identity is pegged in the bringing forth to the world a new idea, model or theory. A corporation is bothered if it is an idea that is relevant to its own purpose. 

3.Volume and Complexity / Breadth and Depth
Profits are often accomplished through economies of scale. It is a dumb-ing down to a level of irreducible simplicity at which the value match is made.  Research enterprise is inherently valuable when intellect is presumed to have worked through complex relationships between variables.Complexity seldom scales.

4.Philanthropy and Expectation
Corporations often make contributions through public charitable trusts in a bid to impact society.  However, if they have a specific expectation from a research intensive institution that they fund for charitable purposes, it may end up as administrative control over research oriented resources, often at conflict with the aims of research itself. Here is where the philosophy of science is least understood.

5.Hierarchy of Social Role and Hierarchy of Knowledge
In organisation structures driven by scale, roles are designed to control outcomes perfected to a standard. It is not uncommon then that a supervisor of a process will preserve a rigidity in outlook even in the wake of emergent knowledge that has the backing of scientific enterprise. PhD qualified people end up competing with graduates for relevance and rewards at times.

6.Immediate Social Impact and Deferred Profits
Corporations have short-term imaginations of the nature of effort to impact relationships, even when the theme through which it is expressed is relatively enduring in nature. Research by itself seeks out new insight that if found contrary to expectations, may also end up as sunk cost without expected return. The stomach for such eventuality is rare and therefore research often seen as a risk in capital. 
Long journey ahead. Needs gritty leadership from academia and a resonant leadership in corporates to see such a future through.