Welcome to PacozDiscipline

I have a flair for making people & communities successful. I yearn to excel in that arena!

This is a compilation of my thoughts and responses to others thoughts. Most of them are relevant to the world of learning & development, and may be of help to you. Please add your comments and views.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


The bane of today's corporate world

An ex-colleague and a  friend, Arup Sengupta, started a conversation recently, on Facebook, on the need to develop skill sets, around Transactional Analysis and NLP, amongst in-class trainers. While many of our friends added comments on the agreeing to the same, but in no time the conversation-thread moved towards the need of BootCamps which are BootCamps in word & spirit; no mollycuddling, but hardcore break-the-horse-and-make-a-stallion kind of BootCamp.

Someone even defined BootCamps as 'cardboard houses so that the trainers sound-the-part without any conviction'. This someone, Kapil Kant Kaul (hereon refered to as K3), also stated a stark truth about the mom-n-pop-stores kind of training companies, that the problem starts when these training companies, with their greater affinity to bottom lines look for trainers who are like onions; can be thrown in any recipe but unable to be a complete recipe in itself.

Well, I agree with K3, and somewhere we are responsible as well. We allowed that to happen under our nose, and like a child who closes her eyes and thinks that the world is calm & quite as nothing can be seen, we closed our eyes as well. These training outfits and trainers operate on the epitome of rehash of content; walk into any of these companies or take a peek into any of these trainers' hard-disk, and you would find 'generations of universal slides with only a different company logo', and as K3 states, that the skillset is only defined by how much can be crammed in a day of presentation and that is followed by a 'vomit' both literally and figuratively in a training session. This phenomenon is seen rampant across India, and while there are some exceptional trainers and training professionals and CLOs, they are outnumbered by these not-did-well-in-sales-and-hence-into-training trainers and training outfit owners... as my friend, Rajat says, 'there are people who live these behavioral models without having being 'certified', and there are more who live life vice-versa'.

I must commend K3 to bring out the bitter truth about cats & dogs... mediocre trainers inform, good trainers share and great trainers inspire; unless the trainer lives those values, authenticity and conviction may never come in. Training ought to be a profession of people who are passionate about actualization, both self and transcendental and not a last resort of burnt-out salesmen to get a regular paycheck.

As bitter the truth is, one needs to take an accommodative view... or should we not!!!

Rajat offers a pragmatic view, and while I agree with him, my understanding of 'mediocrity' gets shaped with what he says in the thread; and this is how it goes...

...and just like in any other profession, there is a range of performers, from passe to the excellent, also in training, there are training companies dealing with knowledge and basic transactions for the masses, there are a few 'evolved' training companies doing work around leadership, transformation, and OD, and, then there is the Aastha Channel (akin to the GOD Channel on cable); just like every sales person cannot be a CEO (of course, one can dream to be one!!!), similarly, every trainer may not evolve to be as inspirational trainer (again, one can aspire to be one!!!)

I do agree that the biggest killer is 'mediocrity', but lately, I have realised that 'mediocrity' also ensures that there is no stress. So, one of the questions that I ask trainers nowadays is whether they want to be good or they want to be superlative. I have seen a lot of excellent facilitators who have remained good and have allowed their round wheels become square wheels as the context changed, and this is my understanding of the initial indicators of mediocrity 'seeping in'; someone, who thinks s/he knows everything, and stops questioning & learning... or being questioned.

So, the question I ask, time to time, is whether its OK to remain mediocre; as no one is aware and hence, no one asks. And as no one is aware, I continue to make people believe that my 'this' current state is superlative. True-To-Heart, 'superlative' is a state, of which there is no single definition, but, many an indicators; the strongest one being, the want & ability to listen without barriers and learn; and to be OK to be questioned & challenged; and to fail.

Somewhere in the thread, one of my earlier supervisors, Rohit, talked about a certain set of trainers as the 'last of the breed'; are they really extinct!!! Well, it might be true, if we refuse to change & bend and be ahead of the pack. I also believe that there are quite a few facilitators or wannabe facilitators who can actually be superlative, and there are many facilitators who have become superlative, and I hope they continue to remain; and continue to encourage others.

Next is What!
(not Samsung)

First - A common-interest society is being formed to get the relevant executive and non-executive people in the fold.

Second - Standards for Roleholders at all L&D professionals, including specialists within the profession, and for all levels... They are in the pipeline.

Third - A 'College of Learning' is on its way.

I hope that my quest for words to capsulate my experience from my-war-of-two-decades-against-mediocrity, does not leave readers confused; India needs a transformation in the way our facilitators operate; but, no one is to blame, let's own up the fact that we all were together when Caesar was being stabbed...

Let's start anew!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Olivier Madel-Felicite's Gift to make us Better Leaders

10 question to make you a better leader...

1- What matters most?

The good news is, there's no right or wrong answer. Yet, what was most important a year or two ago may not be the driving force in the business or in your life today. Press the reset button and, together with your leadership team, clarify priorities and commit to keeping them in focus.

2- What is one "problem" I can turn into an opportunity?

No need for rose-colored glasses — just view a current challenge through a lens of opportunity. Think about past successes in the business and figure out how to apply those skills to the issue at hand. You grow by building on strengths, not "fixing" weaknesses.

3- What do employees need to hear from me?

Be careful about sending the message that you need people to hear. Think from your employees' point of view — if they don't feel understood, they won't listen to you anyway — and resist the urge to tell them how they "should" think or feel. Remember that inspiration doesn't come only from motivational speeches to the masses. It should happen more informally, too.

4- What is our customers' greatest pain?

Be relentless about knowing and meeting that need. Skip the complicated surveys. Instead, pick up the phone and ask. Listen and understand first — then get busy offering solutions.

5- What new business relationships will I pursue?

New opportunities come from new relationships. Inside and outside your industry, seek out opportunities where there is potential for mutual benefit — not just "what's in it for me?" Remember, too, that even in these boom days of social media, significant business relationships begin with real dialogue — not a tweet.

6- How will I be more strategic?

Skip the SWOT exercise. Strategic planning isn't an event — it's a discipline. Get serious about setting direction, always starting with a big-picture view of the possibilities. Resist the urge to discuss and deal with tactics until you're clear on what you want to accomplish. Even then, don't check strategy off your list — put it into daily practice.

7- How can I make swift yet smart decisions?

Now more than ever, you can't afford to overanalyze. Clear the clutter — the "mind clutter" that plagues even the best leaders — and make way for swift, smart decision-making. Hint: Slow down your thinking during the planning process, so you can make faster and better decisions later.

8- How will I recognize success?

You won't know if the business is on the right path if you haven't determined some key markers or indicators. What's more, not all measures of success are quantitative, so consider how you'll know when a result "feels right."

9- What is my biggest fear, and how will I face it?

Name it – and claim it. If you don't, it can be damaging, even deadly, to you and the business. After all, what you resist, you empower. Own your fear — before it owns you — and decide how you'll confront it.

10- What leadership skill can—and should—I get better at?

Fact is, your personal effectiveness affects the success of the business. Pick the leadership skill that most needs your attention—listening, coaching, or problem solving, perhaps—and commit to improvement. Small changes really can make a big difference. Just ask your team and others on the receiving end.

Don't be afraid to answer these questions honestly and openly; the goal is help you with the last one. Infact, if you have responded to the first 9, you would've anyways built an understanding around the leadership skills that you need to build.

Important: As a Leaders or wannabe leaders, you shouldn't be afraid of revealing your fears our doubts as you reach for new goals because it shows employees it's OK to struggle when striving for change.

Development in Kharghar

Kharghar, and in fact Navi Mumbai, is emerging as the 'killer' response for the chaos of Mumbai!

We have been staying in Navi Mumbai since the summer of 2004. Till about 2 years back, when I joined my current employer, we had hardly visited Mumbai as we would find most of our requirements fulfilled by Navi Mumbai itself. And today, but for my employer, some of our friends, and the airport, we really don't have the need to go to Mumbai. One may also attribute this to our needs getting fulfilled here; and while there are a lot of things to do on the island, but they are not on the top of our list of priorities.

Growth in Navi Mumbai - Today & Tomorrow

Starting from the landmark 'Siemens' building Navi Mumbai has grown leaps & bounds since.While a lot has happened, yet there is a humongous lot which is yet to be done. A lot of talk is in the air to make Mumbai, the Shanghai of India; good thought, but I am convinced that it will not be Mumbai, but Navi Mumbai which will steal the crown. Watch out, Mumbai!!!

In the first two years of our stay, there had been a lot of smoke & gas, but no fire. In the past three years, Navi Mumbai has gotten into canter mode. With Greater Mumbai (MahaMumbai) SEZ coming up, the New Airport near Kharghar, the Bollywood Hills project in Kharghar, a world-class Golf Academy in Kharghar, a Central Park in Kharghar, beautifully designed railway stations spread all over Navi Mumbai, integrated railway stations such as the one coming up in Seawoods, 3 metro-lines, India's largest ISKCON temple in Kharghar, the Sewri-Nhava Transharbour Link, the Urban Haat in Belapur (modelled in the lines of Dilli Haat), this is surely going to be an interesting place to live and  bring up my son... and your children. Please do take a look at the links, and feel free to contribute more links.

I personally feel that the Parsik Hills project should now be reinitiated with vigor; and how about getting the likes of ISB & IIM here. In the first para I had written about my priorities; well, I would like to qualify 'priorities'. The flexibility that I offer to my 'priorities' is directly proportional to the 'pain' in travelling / driving in Mumbai, and its a bane. So, what happens if we have a theatres playing Naseeruddin, amphitheatres flooded with Yanni's music & classical dance extravaganza by Hema Malini, book-reading by William Dalrymple, art galleries hosting Hussain, culture centres showing Akira Kurosawa's work, art centre teaching Origami etc etc etc... in Navi Mumbai!!! Well, in that case all of the above would gain priority in my 'list of priorities'; just that, I hope, that traffic doesn't become a bane here!!!

Areas of Improvement

We want a lot, but we should not forget that with developments come newer issues. What is important is that we forsee them and keep their remedy as a part of our plan. So, where all do we need to improve, and plan for 30years from today.

While a lot has to be done in terms of our 'attitude', let us go ahead and do our bit in terms of keeping the place clean, following traffic rules, making the place culture-sponsoring and also build profitable & sustainable communities out of the villages that dot the entire Navi Mumbai space. Technology is catching up in Navi Mumbai, but we need to have this place hot-wired into a wi-fi environment.

The Times of India's 2nd Jan edition had asked a question... "Do you think the Navi Mumbai roads are more accident-prone? If yes what you would suggest to make the city roads safe for commuting?". I responded to it (http://bit.ly/8GDzf8), but by the time I finished writing, I realised that so much could be done.

WE have to make living in Navi Mumbai safer for us and our children.

Links to Checkout...

Cidco plot for Kharghar film park fetches Rs 1,530 crore (http://bit.ly/7EBWTX)
1st phase of Navi Mumbai airport by 2013 (http://bit.ly/4WMy8w)
ISKCON's Sri Sri Radha Madan Mohanji Temple, spread over eight acres of land that will be more than just a temple (http://iskconkharghar.com/)
CIDCO's Navi Mumbai festival begins on 23/Jan/2010 (http://bit.ly/4rFV0Z)
Kharghar park to open doors next week to the 1st Phase of the Central Park (http://bit.ly/8itMfq)

Making Navi Mumbai's Roads Safer

Do you think the Navi Mumbai roads are more accident-prone?

The Times of India's 2nd Jan edition had asked a question... "Do you think the Navi Mumbai roads are more accident-prone? If yes what you would suggest to make the city roads safe for commuting?". This wasn't published for I think TOI must have found this extremely long to put up as an answer or too serious for a 'goody-goody' question or it simply didn't have the space available.

I have the following suggestions...

A) Commitment
B) Construction and Repair
C) Education
D) Enforcement of 'No Tolerance' behavior

A) Commitment: All personnel of Civic bodies, including the Police should follow a top-down signing of charter to make Navi Mumbai roads safer.

B) Construction & Repair
  • All repairs of roads including arterial roads, pavements, walkways, parking bays and bus-stops, and
  • Construction of skywalks, dedicated lanes for cyclists (like in Delhi), clearing of pavements etc need to be done, including erection of seats at regular distances to allow pedestrians to rest.
  • Construction of appropriate road-signs, and road-signs.
  • 'Public Conveniences' at closer distances (Sulabh Shauchalaya).
C) Education
  • Education drive in all schools & colleges, including private institutions like NIIT etceteras on traffic rules. The education has to be done in such a way that students take up onus on following rules, and at the least not allow those with them to flout rules. Children and youth are the biggest drivers of policy, and they are the future.
  • Identifying the best applicable standards, and Relicense all 'driving schools' and get them at par with international levels.
  • A month-long drive of 'no challan', where the traffic police offenders by educating them on the spot, and sending an intimation to them at offenders' homes. This is to be put in place for a certain set of violations, and can't work on violations that end up in occurence of an accident.
  • Education of the 'enforcers' on handling 'violators' by showing a mix of compassion & high-handedness, and especially when to use which behavior.
D) Enforcement of 'No Tolerance' behavior
  • After the 'education' month, all offenders will have to pay two kinds of fines, a) a monetary fine double (or more) of what is applicable on all offences, and b) a mandatory 'time' fine that all offenders would need to pay-up by attending an hour-long video on road safety.
  • Identification of 'No Tolerance' zones across Navi Mumbai (like in Connaught Place in Delhi).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Getting a 'Seat at the Table'... or not getting it!!!

Are you 'in', or are you 'out'...

This is a short presentation I made to a summit organiser, because they wanted me to present on the topic... Well, they didn't approve of the idea, I guess, because they sent me an invitation to attend rather than present. Nevertheless, it was worth it. And for many of my colleagues in the industry, it may be of some help.

World View of a 'Good L&D Guy'
  • Conducts good training & coaching
  • Plans to upgrade the L&D function to a Corporate University, and oneself as the (Chief) Learning Officer
  • Has a lot of training presentation from the previous assignment, and innovates on them
  • Talks about cost reduction by using innovative learning tools such as 'e'
  • Sends motivational emails and news items from leading journals
  • Has his numbers in place
...and also organises get-togethers

My View of 'What is wrong with that'
  • A lot of training happens unhappy happens, but people at large are still unhappy, unless I deliver myself
  • My boss doesn't understand as to why do I want to call the department a 'corporate univ.'
  • I build content from the repository that I have, but people don't like it
  • eLearning is costly to implement, but I am sure it will work out someday
  • I send motivational mails because people want me to
  • My MIS of 'how much have I done' is there in place
  • I thank Edward Scannell and John Newstrom for 'Games Trainers Play'
...I do what people 'expect me to do', so, why the fuss???

My Boss' View of 'Why am I not at the table'
  • My competitors have a L&D guy so do I now I'll figure guy, now… , the competitive advantage; we do conduct a lot of training
  • Learning is not our business; then why do we need a fancy name for the L&D department; I have other things to do
  • Its very standardized; I had the same slides in the previous company
  • I need to reduce manpower costs, so, we should automate learning; we should get eLearning
  • I need to remind our Training Head to keep me out of the motivational emails that the department sends me; they are very good
  • I also need to explain the data that I want to see
  • These guys are good at team building; the problem within the team is something that I need to take care of, same with our sales numbers, and also with my succession plan
So, what do you have to do...
Why are you still here reading this...

You should be off to your Sales Head, Marketing Head, Finance Head, HR Head and Ops Head… need to take care of challenges in their worksphere!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What to focus on when creating a training road map?

An old team member had posed this question and wanted a 'quickie' response. This is a basic question which almost all training professionals have struggled with and many continue to struggle. Incase you wish to have some more inputs, do write to me, and I'll be glad to offer my assistance. Keep one thing in mind... Don't get on a jehad to find a 'training' solution for every problem. Think like a business operator.



Only Step: Do a cut-paste job


Step1: Identify business goals.

Step2: Identify business problems.

Step3: Identify those business problems which you can solve (and to whatever extent).

Step4: Qualify by doing some interviews with stakeholders, operators and customers.

Step5: Analyse

Step6: Prioritize by severity of implication, recurrence and contextuality to your function.

Step7: Create a plan to focus at removing or reducing the impact of the business problem. Read HPT framework available at http://www.ispi.org/

Step8: Get basic buyin from stakeholders before you go into the presentation.

Step9: Buy & Read 'SPIN Selling Fieldbook'. Then apply the same on the presentation that you would make.

Step10: Incorporate feedback and implement with a strong review mechanism to ensure formative feedback.

PacoMarcSue Lamb

I prepared this a few days back. I am dedicating this to my friend Marc Ratcliffe for his penchant, for enjoying life with his family and trying out new things to cook for his colleagues at his office.

As always, my preparations are not for the faint-hearted, but the indulgent variety. Once made this preparation should taste a little tangy, remind you of green chillies on the tip of your tongue, and should clear your throat. Incase of any clarifications, write to me... you know my email ID.

I couldn't have done this without the 'marinating' help from my wifey, Sudipa (That was the Oscar speech)...



Get meaty & lean lamb chops and marinate them with curd, salt, green chillies, garlic paste and ginger paste. Keep it marinated for a minimum of 6hrs, but a day would be divine.

Heat oil in a wok (best) or in a nonstick frying pan, and sear the drained lamb chops. The purpose of searing is to seal the juices within, so the oil has to be hot. The purpose is not to cook the meat. In fact if it is properly seared, then the meat will become a little tough, but don't worry. Once seared, keep it aside, covered. Preserve the marinade as it will be required later on.

Heat oil in a wok (best) or in a nonstick cooking vessel (deep-bottom). Once the oil is hot, put in a spoon-full (or two) of regular grain-sugar, and let it caramelise a bit. Once the sugar gets caramelised, and oil is hot again (not too hot), add some chopped garlic, ginger, chillies and powdered black pepper. Once the garlic gets a little discolored, add the chopped onions (good quantity, as this forms the sauce) and fry them till they become brown in color, and the oil starts leaving the sides.

If you have turmeric, then add the turmeric paste (turmeric powder mixed with water and a little oil), once the onions have turned pink. You need to be able to handle the turmeric well, so, follow the instructions well. As the onions turn pink, use the spatula, and segregate the onions from the oil, then add the turmeric paste. A second or two later pour in a little water on the paste (which by now has started frying), and then a little oil on top of it. Why is this done... Well, this is to ensure that the turmeric doesn't get burnt (as the temperature required for it to cook is very low compared to the temperature of the oil)... and its my mother's way of doing it; so, just do it! If you are not using turmeric, then you needn't go through all of this. Turmeric adds a beautiful flavor to the meet. It is pungent, so, don't use a lot... just a teaspoon is all that you need for a kilo of onions.

Add the meat, and keep turning it over & over. This is a tedious process, as the meat should not get stuck to the bottom of the cooking vessel, and the onions should not get burnt. To control the temperature of the oil, use the marinade (mixed with some water). Keep on cooking till such time the meat becomes 75% cooked (use God's best gift to mankind to test that... thumb, index finger, and your teeth). Add water (warm water preferred) till it covers all the meat (and also if any marinade is left... which shouldn't be the case). Put a lid on the vessel, and let it simmer. Keep stirring it from time-to-time. You could ask your spouse to help you (my wife is insisting on adding this line)

Keep cooking it till the mutton gets 'almost' done, keep adding water (warm water preferred) if required. Once 'almost' done, the sauce should have the same consistency as that of the regular bottled tomato sauce.

When just five minutes away, add chopped coriander / parsley leaves mixed with mint leaves, a generous helping of lemon juice and sprinkle garam masala (use the packed version available with any indian condiment store or use a powdered mixture of cloves, cinnamon, cumin, coriander seeds, cardamom small, cardamom big, fennel seeds and bayleaves), and black pepper powder. Mix them together with the spatula. Cook for another 2-3 minutes on high heat, while turning the meat regularly & the gravy. Cut the fire, put on the lid, keep a heavy pestle or any heavy thing on top (incase the lid is not air-tight), and let it rest for 15mins.

Put the preparation in a serving-dish, sprinkle chopped coriander/parsley leaves & fine strips of deseeded green chillies & some pepper corn as garnish.

Have this with rice or tawa-roti/tandoori-roti/naan (types of indian breads) or french loaf (too spicy for dinner rolls). If you want this served as a complete meal, then make a bead of rice on a plate, make a hole in between (should look like a large rice doughnut), and place the sauce and meat in the middle.

E & OE