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.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

CLO Summit India... update

Organizational Learning
Impacting Business, Changing the Game
19-20 Nov, 2010, Mumbai, INDIA


From my last blog on the CLO Summit to now, a lot of movement has happened... and am sure you are keeping a tab on the developments.

This edition gives you an expose to some very critical elements which will help you strengthen your conviction on attending the summit.

So, do I get to see you...

WIIFM: What's In It For Me
  • Identifying best practices that could be replicated
  • Wisdom of the leaders in the field
  • Identify skill-sets required to be successful in the field of L&D
  • Possible diversification in the business of learning
  • Ways in which WE can help India Inc.
  • Demystifying Corporate Universities
  • Building Leaders in complex environments
  • Most importantly, Voice YOUR opinion

What's Going To Happen... What To Expect

  • Presentation of Case Studies and interactive session by Harvard Business Publishing
  • Individual sessions by CEOs / Business Leaders
  • In depth individual CLO sessions with ample opportunity for interaction.
  • Panel discussion with CLOs & HR Heads moderated by Harvard Business Publishing
  • A dedicated UnConference session
Broad Areas for the UnConference
Proficiency on ADDIE is good enough to be a good CLO
What will be your role in 2020?
What to measure in L&D… Business Impact or ROI? How?
Basic Rules of the UnConference
No Panel on the stage or Speaker at the Podium.
Participants to voice their opinions, and share their experiences
Keep posting their views on the topics during the course of the conference 

Topics Being Covered
  • Skilling India Inc. Bridging the National Skill Deficit
  • Establishing Certifications & Standards in India
  • Building Corporate Universities
  • Learning & Development: An Integral Competency for the CEO
  • The Business Mandate for Leadership & Competency Development
  • L&D Consulting for Internal Customers and Beyond
  • Learning Challenges in the Public Sector
  • Role of Learning in Innovation and creating new business models
  • The role of the CLO in organizations; A look at current best practices, challenges and needs for the future
  • Perspectives on L&D in Media & Journalism
  • Learning as a tool for Sales & After Sales Service
  • Leaders Build Leaders / Using blended learning to drive scale, impact and continuity

ReVisioning Our Lives

This one-day training program was created in October 2008 during the time when the financial crisis was at its lowest.

The program focuses on creating one's personal vision & mission, and then explores the reasons why we usually give up on pursuing a lot of things in our lives, including our vision, as soon as we face a couple of failures.

The latter is done though exposing participants on Martin Seligman's Learned Optimism, where we sensitize learners on how to recognize 'helplessness' before it starts making its voyage towards depression, and most importantly how do we help people come out of it.

Finally the garnish on the salad is a tool called the JoHari Window, which talks about our openness in relation to the important stakeholders in our life. Openness is a critical success factor when we want help & cooperation from others to help achieve our vision.

Today, standing on 1st November, 2010, we have already conducted this program over 70-80 times for over 1500 people, but each & every time I have conducted this, it has been a learning experience, and continues to be. This program has reigned as one of the flagship programs for EDGE - The Learning Academy of Reliance Mutual Fund

Thursday, September 16, 2010

CLO Summit India

Organizational Learning
Impacting Business, Changing the Game
19-20 Nov, 2010, Mumbai, INDIA

Just as the roles and positions of CFOs, CTOs, and CIOs have gained importance in recent years, so has that of CLO (Chief Learning Officers) in the current context of the knowledge economy.

The 1st CLO Summit in India was organised in Nov 2009 (www.closummitindia.com). This summit is an initiative aimed at the corporate learning & development, coaching & training community. The one-day summit witnessed the participation of Corporate Learning Executives, HR Professionals, Academicians and Students. The summit successfully laid the foundation for a world class platform for the organizational learning, coaching and training community in India.

This year the summit is scheduled to take place over 2 days on 19th & 20th November, at the Le Royal Meridien near the Sahar International Airport in Mumbai, INDIA. Visit the website for registration details, and keep following for updates on LinkedIn (http://bit.ly/bTwggR), Facebook (http://bit.ly/9LP2g2) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/CLOSummitIndia). The format this time will have panel discussions, individual presentations, paper presentations, unconference (!!!... new concept), and a whole lot of networking opportunities. Some spin-off events are also being planned, and they will be announced as soon as the confirmations are recieved.

The event is organised by LeapVault and TISS, and the following organisations and luminaries are supporting / speaking.

Knowledge Partner: Harvard
Academic Partner: Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Strategic Partner: National Skill Development Corporation
Change Coaching Partner: Who Moved My Cheese?
Supported By: EU India Chambers

Mr. Dilip Chenoy (CEO, NSDC)
Mr. Ranjeet Mudholkar (CEO, FPSB)
Mr. Bhavdeep Singh (CEO, Fortis Healthcare)
Mr. Prabhat Pani (CEO, Ginger Hotels - Taj)
Mr. Srikanth Karra (Director HR, HP)
Ms. Anne Dolly (Head People Development, Aditya Birla Retail )
Mr. Simarjeet Baweja (Head, Thomson Reuters Academy)
Ms. Annick Renaud-Coulon (Head, Global Council of Corp. Univ.)

...and more confirmations are pouring in

Hope to see you there!

Friday, September 10, 2010


An experiential exercise to initiate children to the world of Personal Finance

Once upon a time, a child was born in a lovely home with the quintessential hard-working disciplined father, the over-protective mother and the obnoxious sibling; and as the child grows up, s/he realizes quite early and unknowingly in their subconscious mind that it’s not all hunky-dory, and that everyone has to do one seemingly useless activity called ‘work’, for it pays for all of those things that one wants.

We, as parents try to do the same as well; we all want our children to do better than us and get more than what we got. And as our parents, we too have goals, dreams and aspirations and some of us have achieved them, and many of us are working towards achieving the same.

That’s pretty much the story for most of us.

As children, we were always told to evaluate between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’; and that is the understanding with which we all grew up. Some of us were fortunate and some not so fortunate. Nevertheless, our parents made all the efforts to ensure that we get all that we need and want.

Having said that many of us may benefit from a higher understanding of finance. Infact, you would agree that as we grew up, we were exposed to various subjects that enabled us to become professionals and earn money. However, personal finance was not a subject that we got adequate exposure to. And we would have benefitted had we got the correct set of inputs at the right age.

Keeping the same thought in mind, we went ahead and created FirstStep. The design of the program is such that the learning happens on the fly, as the exercise proceeds. Having said that the program has a formal debrief as well. The exercise aims at giving students an exposure in taking decisions about their expenses around their needs & wants, and bank deposits & investments which would fetch them a return. The game expects them to manage all of this for a period of one year (June - May).

The program is divided into four parts.
a. Briefing
b. The Game
c. The Score Card
d. Debriefing

a. Briefing
This section is the most crucial one, as we had to be extremely cautious about the fact that we are dealing with children. While children are quick at grasping, but because it is not a subject that they usually deal with, it takes them that much extra time to get a hang of it. However, thereafter, it is a smooth sail. The biggest challenge is to organise the students into teams of 5 and to get them seated without creating too much of confusion. Each team is to appoint an accountant in the team who interact with the Provisioner. 5 such teams are mapped to 1 provisioner. The provisioner is the person with whom the teams interact throughout the exercise. During the briefing, the children are exposed to 3 critical aspects of the game:
i) Understanding Income, Goals & Expenses, and the rules around them.
Income: The teams start with savings from last year, and they are told that they shall get a fixed monthly pocket money every month.
Goals: Teams have to decide upon two goals that they will have to achieve through the year. They are given a fixed choice of goals to choose from. These goals are things that they may want. However, in all cases the choice are such that the variants of the same products may fall in the realm of 'needs' and 'wants'. For example, in the entire list one could find a low-end mobile phone and a blackberry. The students are supposed to choose a minimum of 2 goals from the list.
Expenses: Students are explained that they will come across some mandated expenses such as canteen expenses &entertainment expenses, and some optional expenses. They have to manage within the budget available. They are also expected to buy two pairs of shoes and the goals have to be purchased within the year as well. For some purchases, there may be bonus points available, and they are a reflection of prudent decisions made.
ii) The activities to be done
To begin with, the students are given an accounting pack which contains the previous year's savings, an blank account book (two pages), pens, goal/expense cards etc.
The steps of the activity per se are fairly simple, however, the managing accounts is seemingly tough because most (~99%) aren't used to and they probably have never seen their parents managing their accounts as well.
Every month is for five minutes. During this time, the students will be shown the monthly expenses (regular / optional)
Step 1: Collect pocket money from the provisioner
Step 2: The participants need to fill up the monthly account statement (Expense, Saving, Banking, Investment).
Step 3: Rush to their Provisioner, pay for their expenses (regular/optional) and close the monthly account statement. Incase they decide to deposit money in the bank or invest their money, they need to collect bank / investment certificates. Incase they buy any of their goals or the two shoes, they need to collect cards against them.
iii) Money Management
This is section which decided whether they make the money or not. Participants have 3 choices for keeping their money. All the modes are completely liquid in nature; that is money can be withdrawn from the bank or one's investments whenever they need. However, interest is applicable monthly and on the money available in the instrument.
i) Cash-in-Hand: Doesn't give any returns
ii) Cash-in-Bank: Gives a return of 0.5% per month, however minimum deposit at one given time is of Rs. 200, and thereafter in multiples of 200.
iii) Cash Invested: Gives a return of 2.0% per month, however minimum deposit at one given time is of Rs. 500, and thereafter in multiples of 500. Investments, in our game, are not subject to market risk!!!
b) The Game
The game is simple to execute. There are 12 months on 12 slides that give them regular & optional expenses. The months are supposed to run for 5 minutes, however, the first three months take about 25-30 minutes, as children need to get used to the idea of filling up their account statement. The image is just an example of how a typical month looks like. The activity to be done is explained in point a (ii).

c) The ScoreCard
This is an important step. While designing we kept two things in mind in so far as the output is concerned; we wanted the children to feel proud of their accomplishments and at the same time get their minds of 'how much money they made'. The scorecard is complicated, however, it is effective in meeting our thought behind the output. The calculations are done manually. At this stage the bonus and interest accrued as a result of deposits in the bank and the investment vehicle are taken into account. Finally the Goal Card is filled up which factors in not only the accruals, but also rewards their work by increasing their asset value and further more uses a coefficient factor to turn the asset value into points. These points help decide as to which team has made more money out of the available resources.

d) Debriefing
The debriefing is important, and the learning needs to be drawn out from what happens in the session, although using the basic framework of questions mentioned below:
i) What was our objective?
ii) Why does the Goal Card give different weightage to goal achievement vis-à-vis cash-in-hand or why is there a different weightage for cash-in-bank vis-à-vis money invested?
iii) How could we play better next time?
iv) How do we differentiate between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’?
v) How is money earned?

vi) What are the avenues of saving?
a) Do you have savings goal?
b) What are the ideas on how to save more?
vii) Do you have your own savings account?
=> What about an Investment Account?
viii) Should we take loans?
ix) What are fixed deposits or Systematic Investment Plans?
=> How can they help you achieve your goals?
=> What do you know about the power of compunding?
At the final stage, we have reiterated that 'Habit comes from Practice', and that the children should discuss their goals with their parents or someone who can & will help them.

As a follow-up of this session, a special initiative for the parents is planned out. Under the aegis of various regulatory bodies of the Financial Services Industry, our organisation, Reliance Mutual Fund has planned an Investor Awareness Program which is essentially a Personal Finance Workshop designed especially for the parents, aimed at
a) exposing parents to the learning that have been shared with thier child, and
b) share inputs with them to establish and manage their personal goals such as children’s education & marriage, their retirement, their home etc by making simple systematic investment plans involving mutual funds.

As a parent myself, I truly believe that this two-hour workshop will help the parents, as a family. Their actions will become a model for their children.

Please send in your feedback & suggestions which will help improve this effort. The pilot program was conducted for 275 students of Ryan International School, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai.

A special thanks to Sumit Kati, Shyamac Jal, Maadhavi Samant and Jayant M Parneria for being part of the team which created the program, and to same set of people and Mihir Shah, Vikram Masand, Gaurav Warman and Krupali Jhaveri for helping execute the program.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Making People, Organisations & Communities Successful

India has seen a rapid growth in the last few years. This growth cannot be called inclusive as it has not been able to bring about development at the grassroot levels. It is important that any economy developmental activity in today's world takes into account emergent issues, especially to do with the underserved population at all levels, i.e., individual, organisation and community.

This write-up aims at giving a peek into my understanding of the same.

Individual Level

There is a lot of traction on the individual level with a lot of focus by Min. of Rural Development and special agencies like National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) coming into the forefront, and adding gusto to the existing set of efforts being made by various Not-For-Profit organisations to help the socio-economic fabric in the underserved areas of the country.

NSDC (http://www.nsdcindia.org/): excerpt

The National Skill Development Corporation India (NSDC) is a one of its kind, Public Private Partnership in India. It aims to promote skill development by catalyzing creation of large, quality, for-profit vocational institutions. It provides viability gap funding to build scalable, for-profit vocational training initiatives. Its mandate is also to enable support systems such as quality assurance, information systems and train the trainer academies either directly or through partnerships.

The NSDC was set up as part of a national skill development mission to fulfill the growing need in India for skilled manpower across sectors and narrow the existing gap between the demand and supply of skills.

The Finance Minister of India announced the formation of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) in his Budget Speech (2008-09):

"...There is a compelling need to launch a world class skill development programme in Mission mode that will address the challenge of imparting the skills required by a growing economy. Both the structure and the leadership of the Mission must be such that the programme can be scaled up quickly to cover the whole country."

Its objective is to contribute significantly (about 30 per cent) to the overall target of skilling / upskilling 500 million people in India by 2022, mainly by fostering private sector initiatives in skill development programmes and providing viability gap funding.

NSDC is also working very aggressively on setting skill-standards in India and am sure are researching and contacting skill-standard bodies in other countries as well. Setting skill-standards and then working towards a metricised approach to building competencies is the way forward. Do look at the skill-gap analysis available with them. Other apex bodies have established active workgroups to build a focus on skill-building (www.cii-skillsdevelopment.in/ and http://www.ficciskillforum.org/) and help establish Sector Skills Council (SSC) like the ones established in developed economies, like UK (http://www.sscalliance.org/)
There are a lot of organisations & individuals who are now preparing themselves or have already got into the fray of skill-building at the grassroot level, and that is commendable. In fact there is a clear business opportunity in this area and those who have the understanding of skill development and have the will to move out of their environmentally controlled cubicles, would see the scope. Organisations like Work Skills India (a Bharti venture), NIS Sparta (a part of Reliance Telecom), and IndiaCan (a JV between Pearson & Educomp) have already gotten themselves in this space, and like many other individuals & organisations are striving to help the country achieve their target. International agencies from all over the world are making their pitch to get into this next big wave of 'creating employable individuals'.

Organisation Level

The next level is that of helping organisations build at the small enterprise level and this is one area in which a lot of work has happened, and there are a plethora of organisations who are helping these organisations to establish themselves. The Indian government has a special ministry called the Min. of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) to aid the effort. Policy makers view MSME sector, which is the second largest employer after agriculture, as a critical vehicle for creating jobs and eradicating poverty. Accordingly, many MSME public support programmes have been in vogue in India for a long time. Such programmes have met with varying degree of success. Lately, to enhance outreach and efficacy of such programmes further, public schemes increasingly focus on MSME associations for tasks ranging from enhancing awareness to implementation to creation of support institutions in Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP). The issue of capabilities of MSME associations in design and execution of such schemes, has assumed critical importance.

Banks & Lending Institutions are also working on helping these organisations grow. Infact the Reserve Bank of India has announced the availability of loans upto INR 500,000 without any collateral guarantee (http://www.fisme.org.in/RBICircular.pdf). There is also Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) which is actively working with to empower MSME sector with a view to contributing to the process of economic growth, employment generation and balanced regional development.

SIDBI Foundation for Micro Credit (SFMC) was launched by the Bank in January 1999 for channelising funds to the poor in line with the success of pilot phase of Micro Credit Scheme. SFMC's mission is to create a national network of strong, viable and sustainable Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) from the informal and formal financial sector to provide micro finance services to the poor, especially women.
SFMC is the apex wholesaler for micro finance in India providing a complete range of financial and non-financial services such as loan funds, grant support, equity and institution building support to the retailing Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) including two-tier MFIs so as to facilitate their development into financially sustainable entities, besides developing a network of service providers for the sector. SFMC is also playing significant role in advocating appropriate policies and regulations and to act as a platform for exchange of information across the sector. The launch of SFMC by SIDBI has been with a clear focus and strategy to make it as the main purveyor of micro finance in the country. Operations of SFMC in the coming years, are not only expected to contribute significantly towards development of a more formal, extensive and effective micro finance sector serving the poor in India, but also ensure sustainability at all levels viz. at the apex level (SFMC), at the MFI level and at the client level to ensure continuance of such arrangement. Most importantly, SFMC has strived to create a mechanism in which there should be no barriers to growth. Under the dispensation, there is focus on innovation and action research.

The Federation of Indian Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises (http://www.fisme.org.in/) has been working to integrate the efforts. After opening up of Indian economy, close to the heels of establishment of WTO, eight state-level SME associations gave birth to FISME in 1995 to gear up the Indian SMEs at the national level to the challenges thrown open by changed economic realities. Today as umbrella organization of SMEs, FISME has associated associations in all the progressive states of the country.

A program called 'Capable' is being launched with the larger overall goal of improvement in MSME associations' awareness capacity and capability to facilitate MSME competitiveness enhancement. The objectives of the program are two-fold:
  • Capability Development of MSME associations to improve their a) efficacy & sustainability, and b) Implementation capability of MSME development programs and schemes.
  • Facilitating better designing, management and effective implementation of various Government sponsored schemes intended for MSMEs and associations.

Lately the entrance of the concept of Social Enterprise has also seen a lot of work. There are a multitude of people wanting to fund these. While venture capital an private equity funds have been helping start-ups build the foundation of some great ideas, there is now a new breed of organisations that are focused on building the social enterprise structure in the country. PE Funds like Acumen Fund are in the constant search for ideas that are exciting, and those which could be seeded to build as successful organisations.

Community Level
An economic community as I see it are of two types, basis their composition, however, emerging from the same concept of 'organisation':
  1. Community of Small Enterprises
  2. Community of Micro Enterprises

I have intentionally kept Medium Enterpises as they may possibly have the ability to handle themselves in terms of their growth in the perpsective that I am about to share. The challenge with most organisations in this sector are two folds:
  1. Unavailability of managerial competence
  2. Unavailability of reckonable brand

My thought around both are that there is considerable business opportunity around the two.

  • Managerial Competence
The right competence is something that I would like to see beforehand in case I want to invest in an organisation (running/start-up), as I want to be sure that the monies would be used properly and that I should have a decent return on equity. Having said that, the lag is the unavailibility of managerial competence in these organisations that take loans to build and/or run. Financial institutions should look a the way in which their funds are being put to use. One could be content that the money being given is a 'loan', so, how does it matter whether the managerial competence is available or not till such time the money is returned along with interest and that the proposition doesn't become a NPA. Here is the difference.
A usual lending agency would have this philosophy, however, lending organisations who are in the business of lending to high risk enterprises of considerably small size should be in a position to offer services which would help build the managerial competence, as this would aid in assuring assured and timely return on the money lent.
Can private agencies look at this as a business opportunity where SMSEs are trained and coached on increasing their own effectiveness as managers hence bolstering the chances of increased efficiency of their organisation. This will not only ensure that the return on investment is secured, but an efficient organisation would ensure that it takes more lending as the 'efficient & effective' organisation now starts to grow. The growth will also ensure better payout to workers and hence increasing consumption... and that's how the cycle moves on an upward spiral. This model could be adopted by lending agencies or they could get into a partnership with organisations which can build such competencies.
  • Reckonable Brand
I visited some villages and what came out strongly is that there are three specific activities that happen in a village. And one need not be an economist to understand the same; production, consumption and sale of excesses. The interesting component is 'sale of excesses'. The excesses are sold in nearby towns (accumulation centres) and from there it goes to distribution centres from where it comes to your and my house. The inefficiencies in this system is not something unknown to anyone.
However, in this environment we have the example of successful cooperatives such as Amul which went ahead and collected milk from everywhere and packaged it and retailed it. The model was so successful that it was replicated by some private enterprises too.
The business opportunity lurking in mind takes off from here. Let's look at an average MSME industrial belt. There are hundreds who manufacture various goods and they are sold across to those who need it which essentially are larger organisations or in larger markets. Let's take the case of the products that are designated to be sold to the market. The inefficiencies of marketing, branding and quality hound them; with every manufacturer having their own benchmark. On the other hand, one could look at a scenario where all the products are pooled together by a cooperative society for the cluster, quality checked against decided norms, and then packaged with a common brand.
For example, if I pick up all the goods produced in the industrial area at Kalyani (70kms from Kolkata) and brand all of the goods with 'Kalyani' as the brand. The cooperative that does it, is owned and funded by partnering manufacturers, but run by professionals. The benefits are that the brand establishes itself as a mark of certain level of quality, uses the 'pooled' funds to mobilise markets and uses economies of scale in distribution system; and hence becoming an efficient system and returning more value to the manufacturers. The manufacturers get to retain their identity and continue to sell to their existing customers as well. As we move on the cooperative could actually revive the organisations that have perished (bankrupt) by sensing the need of the market and getting the same produced. Everyone is a shareholder, so everyone benefits.
The same could work in the micro-industrial sector in another form. Let's say, a similar cooperative is created by a tribal village, and all of their excess produce and handicrafts could be branded by the name of their village and retailed to larger stores in big cities or fed to the same people who were earlier purchasing from individuals. Everyone is a shareholder, so everyone benefits.
This is an idea that I have been toiling with for sometime, and I spoke to a few stakeholders and prospective end users, but they have shown a mixed response towards it. The apprehension lies into venturing in the unknown and someone as the good shephard who takes the onus.

I urge all in the learning and development space to pay attention; the time has come to focus on things that will help the country grow and make it a superpower, and it is in your hands.

Please feel free to comment on this article. The pursuit is to become better.