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Friday, November 16, 2018

Career, Cricket and India - an attempt to analyse via Mandira Bedi

Over the past 4 years Whatsapp groups have become a huge source of learning and connections for me. Today I happened to see a discussion about how Women's cricket should not be compared to Men's cricket on a whatsapp group - where I had also posted a comparison and felt the need to explore this further. As I did my search for third party articles, I realised that this moment has within it an opportunity to help understand or connect to Career and career paths for individuals with  any Talent.  For this purpose - I would define Talent as anything that the seekers of that talent derive value from.

Now Mandira Bedi is an actor starting and Shanti was her major break in 1995. Her career path is explained via this Your Story article. To bring in the connection to cricket - let me paste a portion of text from this article below:
Her love for cricket took her straight to hosting the ICC World Cups in 2003 and 2007, proving to people that women could host cricket matches too, and look great while doing it! She was suddenly the ‘cricket woman’, with her noodle strap blouses and colourful sarees sweeping the cricketing world off its feet. She also hosted the Champions Trophy a couple of times, and happens to be the first female anchor for the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Of course - Mandira proved to the viewers that she did have a 'Love for cricket' - fair enough. But there happened to be a lot of women at that point of time in India who loved cricket. Why was Mandira chosen? The next paragraph may have some answers.

With Shanti, Mandira has become a household name during the 90s, as the female lead in one of the first daily soaps on Indian TV - Doordarshan’s Shanti - Ek Aurat Ki Kahani

So why would any Marketer want to place a women as an anchor / expert in a cricket show? Well, take a guess. It's just business. Most of us and that includes cricketers and officials across India may not know about the Serial 'Shanti' which made marketers choose Mandira as the Anchor for cricket when they did.  Shanti happened to be the first serial which showed Women in a 'Lead role' and as an exemplary figure for other women and men and became hugely popular among women. Now we may be in a better position to see the connection or the need. Basically, Advertisers need more women to watch 'anything' on TV as it's women who makes purchasing decisions. Advts are the source of Income of TV / media companies and it's share of that income that comes to BCCI as 'Marketing rights' for content aka - the game.

The above can also be seen as an example of placing Talent to an ideal role - to satisfy a business need and thereby create a Win-Win situation for the individual and the business.

Now that we have understood Cricket's need - it's also worth connecting to the impact this had on Mandira's career as this Times of India article quotes her as saying in 2017.  This is an important aspect which an individual with Talent needs to realise and better connect. The market may take only a particular part of your talent and not the entire thing - and business decisions are made based on market behaviour.

By now, I guess one is able to connect to the role that marketing has been playing in the conduct of Cricket in India and the ICC nations - from behind the scenes.  The fact that most cricket officials (like some functionaries even in successful businesses) are not aware of this 'control' were visible in the early days of this transition. As an example - this would explain why Kochi, a seemingly smaller centre from a national view, became the host of an IPL team when it did - and we know how it ended.

So to sum up, anyone planning a career (not a job for salary - that will take another post) is best served if they remain clued or connected to the market forces that can influence business decisions. This is applicable in all sectors of commerce - commerce being prerequisite for any career.

I sign off with this attempt at showing the relevance of Purpose / Why in any career - via this Ted talk from Simon Sinek.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

2 Reasons why I'm excited about SHRMiAC18

Here I am, blogging from an Uber rushing towards the venue of one of India's largest gatherings of Human resource (#HR) professionals, Vendors and newsmakers.  Yes, I had read what Keith Hammond had written about Why he hates HR some years back and from then on, I had been thinking about creating my own ways for getting stuff out of conferences like these. The roles I get to play in the function I chose back in 1997 had been giving me the opportunity (with some special access rights) to large gatherings of HR folks from 2012 onwards. For those interested in numbers, I have been attending upto 5 such events every year from 2012 - yes, every year.

With that as a context, let me delve into stuff that's making me excited about my 4th such conference in 2018, the Annual gathering curated by SHRM's India entity - the first version of which I had attended in Goa back in 2013.
1. The SHRM Social media Squad has been my special Learning network from 2012 Atlanta conference, my first time at a Global but US National conference as an international attendee. That lucky connection has led to the many invites which followed from SHRM, like this one from SHRM India - to be part of #shrmiac's Bloggers Squad.

2. I have always enjoyed listening to thoughts and conferences give me a unique platform (albeit curated / designed) to catch up on many thoughts shared by speakers as well as fellow attendees. This year, I'm excited at the possibility of listening to Mr. Sonam Wangchuk who I first heard about after I watched the movie Three Idiots, as the real life Mr. Wangdoo.  I will not have enough words to describe what I love about that movie - but here is a scene from that movie, posting this in the hope that visuals will help my readers connect to my excitement.

Catch up on my tweets and don't forget to follow all the members of the social media gang curated by SHRM India

Monday, July 09, 2018

Connecting for 70 years - and growing stronger...

June of 2018 had been a hectic month for me.  Let me attempt to list the things I got to touch in June to set the context for this post:

  1. My special times inside Kerala's IT SME Life...journeys via contributions to SME entrepreneurs. I had two retainer clients, one each in Kochi and Kozhikode who kept me clued in to the SME's journey. 
  2. Nipah scare in Kerala made some of my past clients reach out for help - to ensure they managed this scare staying within the freedom + responsibility approach that we had got them to take. 
  3. Last month of my term as Volunteer Secretary of NIPM Kerala Chapter - four programs to plan - Young Managers Contest, Corporate Citizen Award,  revamping Legal Update and Annual General Meeting
  4. Annual meetup of Citizen Science enthusiasts at Thrissur for deliberations on technology and crowd sourcing enabled Bird Monitoring in Kerala - will blog about this soon as this meeting made the early 40's brain in me to take up an online course in R - as it would help me create visualisations from my own ebird data 
  5. Last but not the least, my annual trip to US of A which now has ReUnions, birding and SHRM Annual included. This is my third year as an official SHRM blogger - excited as always to expand my world by being part of an elite gang of HR minded professionals who breathe social media
The months activities gave me a lot of opportunities to delve deeper into a subject which continue to intrigue me at all times. That subject is about possibilities that exist in human connections - a myriad of questions start flowing through my mind whenever I delve on this topic. This post I will devote to one particular question -  How can HR minds create a design for connections?

I got to delve deeper into these questions and possible answers at the 70th Annual Conference of the society of human resource management - SHRM or the shrm18. This years venue also gave me an opportunity to reconnect with my school mate and fellow CMS college cricket team mate and his lovely family who are now settled in the Windy City.

Conversations about this conference started off very early via the blog squad powered by SHRM's social media team which comes up with unique ways to empower and enable the #shrm18blogger squad - with over 100 pre conference blog posts! 

Here is a list of posts that struck a chord somewhere within me - sharing this as it will provide a recap of shrm18 as well.

  1. A call against structure by my good friend and master connector - Steve Browne 
  2. An excellent take by my fellow SHRM India blogger Kavi Arasu
  3. Quotes from SHRM18 by fellow blogger Kiran Ali who hails from Pakistan 
  4. A Millennial's take on shrm18 
  5. Possibilities for HR by Katrina Kibben - whom I wish I had connected for an #shrm18Selfie 
  6. Common stuff among differences - by my new friend Julie Ann Sullivan
So, now it's time for me to list my take aways / pointers for thoughts from SHRM18 - here goes:

1. Large conferences as Collaboration platforms - SHRM has been showcasing the possibilities that exists for collaboration among multiple stakeholders. Imagine 22k attendees, 700 HR Vendors and select speakers all under one roof. This collaboration has resulted in business success for SHRM as well - clearly making it Win-Win situation. This year the WFPMA has joined forces with SHRM - another feather in the collaboration cap for sure - watch out as this exciting global journey unfolds.  I'm delighted about this as the National Institute of Personnel Management, the largest body of HR folks in my country is also part of the WFPMA - opening up possibilities which my fellow members from NIPM's Kerala chapter can use as catalyst for learning. 
2. SHRM annual is to me a successful case of Marketing and HR collaboration - presence of over 700 HR service providers cannot be an accident. This year has broken all records for attendance - showing the success of this collaboration between functions which are seen to be at loggerheads inside many organisations - as this Fast Co Article tried to portray (or did it?) many years back.
Feels great to see that my function has moved ahead and is continually in a 'thinking' mode these days.
So HR leaders in the US have definitely been successful in designing the annual conference as a platform for fostering human connections over these years.
I tried capturing some of these connections moments from the conference and posted them in this Facebook album. 

All this brings me to more questions which I shall be attempting to find answers to during the next few months before I head to Las Vegas for my sixth SHRM annual conference soon.

1. What are the Design thinking elements which if copied will help create similar platforms for human beings at a State and country level
2. Can Crowd-sourcing be used as an enabler to expedite such human connections at a scale which will place human beings at the core as businesses and society grow?
3. Can Open Data be a catalyst for such connections?

Looking forward to your views.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Expand your world with #shrm18Selfie

So I've landed in Chicago for SHRM18 after a 24 hour journey (over 21 hours in the air) from my home in Kochi, India. I'm very excited about the theme that has chosen for #shrm18 - 'Expand your world' - here are my reasons:

  1. From the first time I attended this conference back in 2012, SHRM has helped me expand my world via HR pals, connections with whom they have catalysed via special events organised at the annual conference and exposition - the international delegates get really pampered at any SHRM annual. 
  2. Apart from being an international attendee, I have been lucky to be part of SHRM's blogging squad as well - this platform which gives me a 'behind the stumps' (Cricket Umpire lingo) connection opportunity to some of the best content creators at a global scale - they are - don't miss connecting with them as they help you traverse this year's conference via social media updates. 
  3. This excitement of being able to expand my world - while working in a remote corner of India - albeit the 'Gods own country' - Kerala had got my imagination flowing to such a level last year that I ended up introducing the #tag #shrm17Selfie last year with this blog post
I realised after taking over 50 selfies last year that this ability to visually capture moments of 'connection' for posterity can have a longer lasting impact on my objective of 'expanding my world'. Which brings me to place another challenge to every attendee of SHRM18 - this time as I'd love to learn more about another platform deeper, this challenge shall be connected to that platform - and it is Instagram. Instagram is chosen as a picture / video (visual stuff) is a must for a posting to this platform. 

I'm teeing this off by first challenging all the shrm18blogger pals to post visuals of special moments they create with their connections (old and new) at SHRM18 on Instagram with the hashtag #SHRM18Selfie. 

Let's get attendees to explore unique ways towards theirs #ExpandYourworld goals at #SHRM18. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

So, What's on offer at SHRM18 Exposition?

I had missed SHRM16 but had not missed blogging about why I thought large conclaves like the ones organised by are great social selling opportunities after reading about the power of social selling later that year.

SHRM18 too has a carefully curated list of service providers who will be showcasing their wares at the Exposition which will be open from 4 pm on 17th June - immediately following the opening general session which will be featuring Johnny C Taylor, Jr. the new CEO of SHRM and Jeb Bush. The would be over 600 exhibitors and I have realised, with each of my 4 previous conferences that there will be exciting stuff which will keep attendees glued to most exhibits.  Here are some tips that I found useful as one attempts to traverse this maze looking thingy that we can call the exhibition floor!
1.  Identify at least 25 Exhibitors based on your current role or your companies immediate needs by speaking to your colleagues about your the opportunity that you are heading to at SHRM18
2. Reach out to them via social media - looks like instagram will be very popular this year - twitter still remains a hit as always. This will save time.
3. Keep 30 minutes of your scheduled visit to the exhibition floor to roam around with a smile and prepare to greet curious exhibitors beyond the list you have made for yourself.
4. Follow the social media feeds from fellow SHRM18 attendees via the SHRM mobile app - this will ensure that you will not miss any special updates and events that exhibitors would be planning at their stalls.
So here is a link to the Vendor list - to get you started with Step No. 1

You may even get to bump into me on the exhibition floor seeking to expand my connections via #shrm18Selfie among other things I get to do as an official SHRM18 Blogger.


Wednesday, June 06, 2018

My fifth SHRM Annual - #SHRM18

So people keep asking me this question - why am I geeked about #shrm18?

Here's what on top of my mid now as I'm preparing for my fifth time at an SHRM Annual.
  1. SHRM12 opened out the world of possibilities to me when I managed to combine it with my annual visit to connect to work related matters with Arbitron (now Nielsen Audio) - I had blogged about it then - here is the first post written excitedly as I got to be part of SHRM bloggers for the first time!
  2. Here are the other posts from that year - looks pretty silly now I confess. 
3. SHRM has been my mentor on #socialmedia trends - I had blogged about some lessons after my second edition. This was the time when I could find my way around better and could connect to more learning stuff - this was at Orlando. 
4. The need to reconnect to social media got me back for my third shrm conference - this time at Las Vegas where I got to be part of SHRM bloggers once again. 
5.  My participation kept me connected to this special gathering of passionate HR folks curated by @shrmsocial - for some strange reason, my name and twitter handle was featured first in this list
6. I realised that there more to social media than just marketing and discovered twitter secrets and kept connecting to special pals and interest - all nurtured via SHRM. The opportunities continued when I got back to India as well - with SHRM India as well as People Matters two amazing curators of knowledge for the HR fraternity inviting me for supporting their efforts. 
7. My fourth time was at NoLA where I created some buzz for #shrm17 via a #tag i curated in an attempt to connect attendees in person for posterity with a picture and called it #shrm17Selfie. I also realised that each of the passionate bloggers are growing in depth and creating unique approaches on their own globally and my connection meant that I get to be part of all those knowledge networks. I'll just name #HRTribe as that's top of my mind now. 

So those are just 7 reasons that I am geeked about attending another SHRM Annual conference - an investment I'm making to create and nurture connections with able catalysts in the HR fraternity who are driven by purpose - a better HR. 

Last but not the least - did you notice that 2018 SHRM Annual is about 'Expanding your world'? I'm sure that role of connections would surely ring a bell to anyone following that road.  

Special thanks to SHRM India for this unique way to encourage my social media learning journey by showing that its possible for a normal HR professional from a remote corner of India to be worthy of finding a place among top 30 HR folks on social media.

Three other members of SHRM India's social media squad are joining me this year at Chicago.
Oh Yes - really excited to be part of SHRM's blogger squad once again.

You do HR Consulting - in Kerala?

Yep, this is one question I love to hear these days - especially when it is from someone based in my home state Kerala.
Some context: So I got back to my home state in Dec 2007 to become first employee of a US Media measurement major (Now part of Nielsen Audio) who was then setting up it's Captive Technology centre in India, yes a GIC as per NASSCOM. Post a global acquisition by the Market research biggie - I set out to form a Boutique Consulting gig with a purpose of catalysing the growth of the IT SME ecosystem in the state, combining with ex-boss - a Rocket-scientist turned Programmer turned CEO who I would need more than a blog to introduce.
I have to confess that it was a bit tough for me to answer them initially. To give my readers a context, here are the assumptions that people keep while asking this questions:

  1. HR consulting means 'recruitment' - that too 'sourcing' resumes - worst still - the keyword searching variety.
  2. After I shake my head with a (by now) naughty smile to show NO to recruiting, the next assertion would be - Ah, So you are a trainer? - again the type that can train 'anything' - as some visiting cards and websites would proclaim. 
  3. At this stage - about half would loose interest and would move to another line of conversation
  4. Some of those who persist out of curiosity will get to hear my refined answer. I take every opportunity that I get to refine this so I continue to add to my learning as I traverse this journey.

I had blogged about some disruptions which happened to my life in the year 2015 some time back.

So here is the 2017-18 version of my answer. I've attempted to simplify this but would love to hear from you all so that it can be refined further.

My partner and I act as doctors to whom companies get referred to. Yes, we love getting referred - will write another post about the advantages.
So typical of doctors, we are approached by IT SME companies who have heard about things #ArbitronIndia did around People, Technology and Culture between 2008 and 2014. These companies would usually be the ones who have found themselves stuck in various stages of growth and unable to find out reasons or a way forward.  We also get interesting request for us to 'come and spend some time' as well at times.
Anyway, one of us then gets into a diagnostic meeting(s) via in discussions / calls with key stakeholders (co-founders mostly) of the business.
After the first year, we had sat down and made a deck of stuff we did in 2015. This kind of gives an indication - but we have moved ahead from this phase. Some of the members from our team have also moved ahead for various reasons.

Coming back to HR consulting that I get to do, here are the games I get to play:

  1.  HCM or People Function Audit: Review / Audit existing Organisation starting from it's business practices and provide recommendations or remedial measures around design, structure, Talent and as well as Employer Brand positioning. 
  2. Connect Business leaders to approaches based on behavioural sciences, Evolutionary Biology and other science based methodologies to generate business results from their people. 
  3. Partner with existing or instituted (by us) People operations teams as they facilitate the business needs - by helping them place relevant but coarse metrics to track results. 
  4. Enable using #HRTech: Last but not the least - evaluate and explore use of Technology to enable business results for the organisation. 
Would love to engage / answer queries from entrepreneurs from any part of the world. The concepts that we employ are replicable and can be customised to any business which is desirous of getting results from people.  I can be reached on the following social channels:


Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Work itself as Motivation - Long way ahead?

June 2018 also means that I'm going to be stepping into my 20th year as a Human Resource a.k.a. #HR management professional. 
I remember being very excited when I got to hear for the first time via our Organisational Behaviour class that Work itself is a classification of motivators. Looking back on my first five years of Corporate life - I cannot remember many role descriptions from recruiters including the ones I made for my first employer (a Rayon yarn manufacturing plant) which exemplified 'work itself'. 
It's towards early part of 2010 that such descriptions were slowly found - albeit rare. 
Come to think of it most other forms of motivations propounded by theories, have now being questioned - the famous among them being Maslow's Hierarchy of needs theory. 
Why did it take over sixty years to question any theory is a valid question I have. 
Maybe this podcast about Why Bschools should be bull dozed - by the Guardian provides some answers ?  

Here are some more articles which question the Maslow's Theory:
1. Susan Fowler wrote in the Harvard Business review 
2. Steve Denning wrote in Forbes Magazine 

The Steve Denning article (link above) refers to 
another article by Pamela Rutledge from Psychology Today entitled “Social Networks: What Maslow Misses” (November 2011) points out that Maslow’s model misses the role of social connection. 
“Here’s the problem with Maslow’s hierarchy,” explains Rutledge.  “None of these needs — starting with basic survival on up — are possible without social connection and collaboration…. Without collaboration, there is no survival. It was not possible to defeat a Woolley Mammoth, build a secure structure, or care for children while hunting without a team effort.  It’s more true now than then. Our reliance on each other grows as societies became more complex, interconnected, and specialised. Connection is a prerequisite for survival, physically and emotionally.”

Modern work places and work tasks are more about achieving results via collaboration and less about 'knowing' or possessing a particular skill. This therefore brings added focus on the ability of the worker to connect deeply to the 'Work Itself' in my opinion. Let's take the example of the task being discussed in the TED talk below. 

How long will it take for leaders to connect to the potential that exists within the 'Work itself' to motivate probable employees? 

Success of volunteer efforts like Wikipedia and other open source crowd sourced knowledge initiatives to me proves this beyond any doubt.

Recent acquisition of Github by microsoft is another feather in the 'voluntary' cap for those who are connected. 

I'm hoping HR gurus of the future will review 21st century work situations that can impact motivation deeper and lift the veil on this knowledge. 
Till then, let's get our employees scheduled for the next motivation classroom talk or Training that's been rolled out by this 'innovative trainer' via an attractive marketing campaign.