Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Magic of Positive Visualization.

Have you ever tried Positive Visualization ? Have you experienced the magic ? 

In my positive thinking workshops I usually recount my own experiment with Positive Visualization.

About 12 years back, I had joined a US based Software MNC and I was located in the Delhi, India office.  The organization had a very well defined induction process. The group of new joiners went through a week long induction session and apart from learning about the organization, its vision, mission, policies etc., they were supposed to pick up a problem which they saw in the  organization and present the solution on Friday, the last day of their induction week, to the top leaders of the organization.

I had joined as a Project Manager and was the senior-most in the group. I had never worked in an MNC and somehow I was tongue tied and at awe. Because of this , I hardly communicated and contributed. A few people in the team noticed this and I knew that they were sneering at my back. So, on Thursday evening, when we had to decide as a team , who would deliver the final presentation, these people said “Well, Ananya is the project manager. Who else , but she should present !

I was very very nervous. I knew that if I failed to speak or make an impression, my job was at stake. And more importantly, my self respect in my own eyes was at stake !

I returned home at 8 pm. After dinner,  I sat with my notepad and started writing. I wrote each and every thing which I would say in the presentation the next morning.  I wrote details of when I would pick up the marker and go to the white board, when I would move my hands, when I will pause and of course I wrote each and point of the content. After I wrote it, I closed my eyes and visualized myself... talking... smiling... presenting confidently.  I visualized myself several times. I also visualized how the audience will applaud when I finish my presentation. It was in the wee hours of the morning that I caught up on 2-3 hours of sleep.

The next morning, I went to  the conference room about 30 min prior to the presentation and practiced. You bet , I was still so nervous.  But magic, when the presentation started, and I picked up the marker and went to the white board and then started my presentation , it happened exactly like I had visualized. The presentation ended with a big round of applause!

I relished the look of the people who thought I would fail. I was amused to see their jaws drop in surprise.  And the most important part .... I regained my self confidence. I could respect myself again !

That is the magic of Positive Visualization.

Try it. 

You will be amazed . 

Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Amazing Story of the Mumbai Dabbawallahs

This must be the nth time when someone is writing about the Dabbawallahs (It is a Hindi word which means packed lunch delivery boys). But the story is so amazing that I still cannot cease to wonder about it !

Four thousand five hundred semi-literate dabbawallahs in Mumbai (Bombay, in Western India) collect and deliver 175,000 packages within hours.

 Who are the dabbawallahs ? How do they do it ?  What is the driver for their success ?

Descendants of soldiers of the legendary Maharashtrian warrior-king Shivaji, dabbawalas belong to the Malva caste, and arrive in Mumbai from places like Rajgurunagar, Akola, Ambegaon, Junnar and Maashi. Mumbai's 5,000 dabbawallahs - ferry nearly 200,000 home-cooked meals from the outer suburbs into the city each day.

Forbes magazine  awarded the dabbawallahs  a six-sigma performance rating, which ranks them alongside the likes of GE and Motorola in terms of efficiency and quality of service.

Some numbers…. :
  • 175000 boxes are transported every day, it has to go to the right person, it has to start from a point of origination, go through transshipment in the infrastructure which is the public infrastructure in the trains of Mumbai in all seasons including the monsoon and it has to arrive on time in the right place in the right box."
  • 4,500 semi-literate members providing a quality door-to-door service to a large and loyal customer base.
  • Tiffins are collected from homes between 7.00 am and 9.00 am
  • After Lunch hour  the whole process moves into reverse and the tiffins return to suburban homes by 6.00 pm.
  • The railway provides sorting areas on platforms as well as special compartments on trains traveling south between 10.00 am and 11.30 am
  • If 150 tiffins are to be delivered in the Grant Road Station area, then four people are assigned to that station, keeping in mind one person can carry no more than 35-40 tiffins.
  • It takes about ten to fifteen minutes to search, assemble and arrange 40 tiffins onto a crate, and by 12.30 pm they are delivered to offices.
  • The dabbawallah have to make a minimum investment of two bicycles (approximately Rs 4,000), a wooden crate for the tiffins (Rs 500), at least one white cotton kurta-pyjama (Rs 600), and Rs 20 for the trademark Gandhi topi.
  • Service charges vary from Rs 150 to Rs 300 per tiffin per month, depending on location and collection time. Money is collected in the first week of every month.
  • Typically, a twenty member group has 675 customers and earns Rs 100,000 per month which is divided equally even if one dabbawala has 40 customers while another has 30. Groups compete with each other, but members within a group do not.
  • Meetings are held in the office on the 15th of every month at the Dadar

After the customer leaves for work, her lunch is packed into a tiffin provided by the dabbawala. A color-coded notation on the handle identifies its owner and destination. Once the dabbawala has picked up the tiffin, he moves fast using a combination of bicycles, trains and his two feet.

A BBC crew filming dabbawalas in action was amazed at their speed. "Following our dabbawala wasn't easy, our film crew quickly lost him in the congestion of the train station. At Victoria Terminus we found other fast moving dabbawalas, but not our subject... and at Mr Bhapat's ayurvedic pharmacy, the lunch had arrived long before the film crew," the documentary noted wryly.

The key ingredient to this smooth, effective and efficient system is teamwork and process. Logistics is the  mantra for building competitive advantage, the world over. Mumbai's dabbawalas developed their home-grown version long before the term was coined.

Their attitude of competitive collaboration is equally unusual, particularly in India. The operation process is competitive at the customers' end but united at the delivery end, ensuring their survival since a century and more.

This amazing system has been made the case study of top management institutes like Harvard and Stanford universities. The dabbawallah  representative were  invited to the Royal wedding of the Prince Charles !

Their motto seems to be "As long as people need tiffins we will be there to supply them."

Kudos to the  dabbawallahs and long live teamwork and  processes !

Friday, 8 March 2013

Who is fit for the role of the CEO ?

There is a very popular story in Indian Mythology called  Vikram aur Vetaal. Vikramaditya was a very powerful , popular and just King.  The legend says that the King,  in order to fulfil  a vow, had to carry a corpse (betaal) on his shoulder to another plac -  in absolute silence. Enroute, the Betaal would narrate a story and pose a question to the King . If the king knew the answer , he had to reply. Else ,his head would  be split into a thousand pieces.

I present this series of episodes based on real life scenarios. At the end of the incident, there will be a question which you will have to answer.  This is the second in the series . The first one is : The Curious Case of the Unwilling Emailer.

The Dilemma : Final Decision 

In  the wonderful land of Boogle,  there was a wise and just king named Barry Sage.  He had a few reliable and efficient managers who helped him in the day-to-day running of the empire.  Boogle prospered under the patronage of Barry and  his team of managers. The people of  Boogle were happy and satisfied with their work  and the amount of money which they earned.  The citizens were constantly innovating and improving their work  as well as their life and the King gave huge rewards for the innovations which were implemented and added value to Boogle. 

One day, Barry, the King was not feeling well. He consulted the royal physician and after examining Barry, the doctor was grave. He said " O King ! I have given you medicines, but it is my duty to inform you that your days are numbered. You will live not more than 4 weeks". 

The king was very brave and did not worry much about his impending death. Being a wise king, he was more worried about his kingdom Boogle. He wanted a good successor, who could look after his  dear land.  He thought deeply.  He had five managers but he had two stars amongst them.  John and Eric.  Both of them were equally efficient and capable.  He was in a dilemma. Who should get the throne after him ? He thought day and night but could not come to a conclusion.  At last he called  Steve, his 70 year old mentor. Steve was loved and respected by all the people of Boogle for his wisdom and loving demeanor.

"Steve, please guide me . Who is the right person to sit on the throne ? John or Eric ?"

Steve smiled and looked at the King. "O King ! Give me some details about them".

"Both of them are  intelligent, tough, determined and have vision. John is technically very sound , Eric is a very good negotiator . Both of them have good listening and decision making abilities. They are very trustworthy and can deal very well with ambiguity. Both of them have a strong drive to achieve.  They go along well with the people and can get things done on time. I am really very confused"

Steve said "Ok. I will ask you a couple of questions. This will help me in making the decision"

"Who can assess himself realistically and can laugh at themselves?"
"Who is optimistic , even at the face of failure ?"
"Both of them are optimistic but Eric sometimes loses heart when he fails. But  he collects himself up very soon and tries harder to succeed which he normally does"

"Have you ever seen them cry or get emotional ? "

Barry was silent for a while.

"I have never seen Eric crying. I have seen him go through very tough situation, but he had never cried. He has very steely nerves, I have never seen Eric get emotional. On the other hand, I have seen John cry twice. Once when his subordinate lost his arm while fighting in a battle and another instance was when a lady  working in his team  implemented a innovative idea which saved the kingdom from environmental damage. He cried because he was able to motivate her to succeed - she had thought she was not capable of anything, but John had confidence in her. I think John is a bit soft  ............. So, is the decision made ?" Barry asked. 

Steve smiled 

"Yes, the decision is made. John is the correct choice !"

Dear readers, can you tell me why Steve chose John for the role of the King , aka CEO ?