Digital Learning Transformation Choreography: A 9-Step Rhapsody

Digital learning is about transforming the Learning Culture and any expert would tell you that any transformation process is never a solo activity but a waltz. One might argue that it’s more of a community group dance where the final outcome is dependent on every person in the group playing their part to perfection. Even so, the overall performance is dependent on your ability to understand your interfaces, interdependence, strengths and weaknesses, the scope and most importantly read those subtle signs you get to change the momentum. Just an added complexity – you will be required to constantly change your partners, like in a community social dancing event. Also, there are many more attractive, talented and eager alternatives, who would continue to pull your partner away from your waltz! Don’t despair yet, as in waltz, this transformation can be easily accomplished, one step at a time.

Here’s a possible 9 step digital learning transformation steps:

1. Scope the transformation process

To start define your digital learning goals/vision, specifically in terms of it’s scope, inclusions and exclusions. Digital learning requires an established communication path and orchestration across teams. It depends on collaboration and bringing data, process and people together. It is very important to define the learning paths and processes clearly outlining the transitions needed at each component of learning design, deployment, delivery and demonstration – the 4D’s of digital learning

2. Acknowledge and accept the current status

Take a realistic stock of your current e-learning. Assess what you have done well and determine areas that need improvement. Acknowledge the existing culture and people, identify who needs to adapt, and communicate why. This is a critical part of transition which when done objectively can ensure that the past (data and content repository), present (the people and the processes) and the future (desired outcomes) are well aligned.

3. Reassess and validate your present

How far have you progressed in the digital learning process? Do you have a process in place? Are the processes defined and streamlined to suit the current to deliver the current outcomes? Are they how they should be or just been running because no one assessed/evaluated them? Does it allow for automation, data capture, flexibility and growth?

4. Explore, Experiment and Discover

Identify your innovators and early adopters in the diffusion curve. Encourage questions like “why are we doing this this way?” if important create isolated learning labs. Offer a “safe” place to explore and experiment with learning approaches, tools and techniques, exchange experiences and ideas and most importantly discover the realm of digital learning.

5. Run the entire value creation and consumption chain

Digital learning rests entirely on its ability to offer value to the end learner on their terms within their defined value metrics. It is important that a clear connection to the learners’ pains and delights are mapped to actual action taken. Go deeper to understand the underlying dependencies, idiosyncrasies, insecurities and competency gaps. An unequivocal conviction in the digital transformation vision across the ranks and files is a critical ingredient for success.

6. Walk the baby steps first

Remember the old Chinese proverb – “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Digital transformation is a marathon, don’t try to sprint across the finish line. Take small steps keeping your focus on achieving small outcomes. Successes, most insignificant ones, add to the conviction and paves the way for major transformation minimizing resistance. Just a few more of those and everyone is convinced of the path to take.

7.Put yourself in the firing range

Be ready to bite the bullet and take every fall. The leadership needs to be directly involved and communicate clearly to the team that they hold the responsibility of failure. It is critical that the team trusts and rallies with the leader to push the digital learning transformation process. At the same time, beware not to become the bottleneck and be ready to step aside when needed. The sooner the team achieves the intuitive mode of execution themselves, swifter the transition.

8. Build the entire technology ecosystem

Digital learning thrives on an ecosystem that provides the smooth conduit for the idea to take a form and get delivered efficiently and effectively to the learners. While this process is tool/technology agnostic, you can’t ignore them either. The strength of a digital learning environment is the strength of the weakest technical link there. It could be hardware, software, connectivity, user devices, tech-support team or a third party media service provider.

9. Glorify successes and learn from the failures

Recognize the smallest success and let the biggest failures pass. In either of the cases be sure that you have learnt the underlying triggers of success or failure. Be positive and be optimistic, the success of the transition would draw and at times challenge most severely your belief and faith in the digital learning value. Be bold, objective and progress oriented while you celebrate every successes and failures.

Just as a well choreographed and well rehearsed waltz would always standout in its performance, a well planned and executed digital transformation process would deliver you the value goals with irrefutable evidence. When they look back at the journey, everyone would realize how beautiful your digital learning dream truly was.

Navigating into the World of Analytics

Big data, data scientists, BI, modeller and countless other fancy roles continue to scream out loud to anyone who is scanning any media today. The excitement of challenging times, the lure of big packages and career path, the possibility of hobnobbing with the decision makers, the tag of “genius” and many more silver linings adorn the profession. The insatiable demand for talent in the data space is no hogwash either. Reports from analysts, sectoral studies, recruiter briefings and the horizon gazers – all endorse analytics as the progression of the future . Endorsing the demand is also the fact that anyone and everyone has already launched a program in analytics or is planning to launch one soon. You can even find a series of open resources to learn the subject – . But then, a serious word of caution here, not all paths lead to the Eden of analytics.
Analytics today is more a core skill that cuts across any business discipline as it deals with better decisions. Any professional with an aspiration for growth needs to master this skill. As the information technology matures, more data is available to the manager to make a sound business decision. What seems to be lacking is the managers capability and understanding of the dynamics that impacts any decision. A course in analytics holds the promise to provide this competency, but there are a few caveat that need to be followed. This note attempts to highlight the same.
Decision making hinges on five critical pieces – understanding of the situation (context), influencing factors (variables), the controllable parameters (decision variables) the desired goals (outcomes) and finally the panacea – (actionable insights). While there are tools, technology, computational power, connectivity, algorithms and frameworks that enable this process, the most critical piece is an anxious, fertile and dedicated human mind – because Note 1: All analytics is not machine learning! Very simply put, a machine can only process the past data with identified set patterns. An insight can only be derived and recognized by a primed and willing brain. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to learning this.
Action insight – Chose a program that gives equal weight to the problem solving skills as the tools and technology side
Decide as a word has its roots in Latin dēcīdere; literally – to cut off. It is very similar to words like homicide, insecticide which primarily denotes pain. The process of decision making is really painful as it involves killing some of the options one has.  Note 2: All about analytics is not enjoyable and rosy! It involves supporting some hard choices and making hard choices. Not always will you have the perfect information to make the perfect decisions, however, the outcomes will show no mercy if your choice was wrong.
Action insight – Chose a program that allows you practice in realistic scenario with realistic data sets and simulations
In businesses, decisions are very involved and a continuously challenging process. Do not mistake this challenge as any edge of the seat thrills or adrenaline pumping experience. Neither is it an experience of “eureka” giving you a high. It is rather repetitive, expansive and thankless experience. Every time you make a wrong decision, it would be known, but the right decisions would be expected and hardly acknowledged. You would need to ask seemingly obvious and stupid questions, you will need to revisit every detail multiple times just to ensure that you are not misreading or ignoring any facet. Note 3: Analytics is about getting into the murky details! It often needs one to sift through mountains of data which a typical mining tool has missed because of the assumptions made in writing the mining algorithm.
Action insight – Chose a program that helps you develop immense patience and attention to details
When one analyses, the interest is to be able to accurately predict the future. You would be surprised that the same data when analysed, would communicate at least 13 different things if there are 12 people in the team. We all carry our own biases and stereotype of the world. Note 4: Analytics is about challenging your own and other people’s biases!  It requires a great degree of conviction to challenge the convention. It is also equally critical to be able to question every assumption and even the established norms. One needs to be able to see possible connections where none seem to exist to a less inquisitive mind.
Action Insight – Chose a program that pays equal attention to building your analysis and reporting skills
Last but not the least, the value a business attaches to any analysis is the impact of the action it leads to. Analytics is most certainly about actionable insights. One needs to be able to connect the models and mathematics to the reality and plan actions based on them. Note 5: Analytics is about action, it is equally important that the action is clearly outlined with the assumptions that have been made to implement the insight. What are the possible risks and challenges one could face in implementing it? Also important is to understand the actual performance of the process/decision affected by the action insights and ensure that adjustments, modifications or sometimes even drastic measures are planned based on the outcomes.
Action insight – Chose a program that clearly makes action the primary driver and the learning outcomes are clearly linked to the actionable insights
Having outlined the caveat, it is also important that I encourage you to gain a higher perspective to a career in analytics. Any decent analytics program would generally offer that as long as you have done your homework in fact finding, understanding and evaluating the analytics as a career option. It would give you a structure to make better decisions in general and it is your own efforts to learn to apply it to making a better decision about your career choice as an analytics professional!

Would you follow any link even today!?!?!


But sure April Fools’ Day is true… Happy Fools Day!!!

It is observed throughout the world now!

Practices include sending someone on a “fool’s errand,” looking for things that don’t exist; playing pranks; and trying to get people to believe ridiculous things.

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. – Douglas Adams

Read more: April Fools’ Day: Origin and History Pic source: someeecards

Learning Quarters

Learning is probably most seminal aspect of any life. If one believes in the evolution theory, you can attribute the emergence of Homo sapiens entirely largely to the process of learning. The question that one can ask is – if learning is built into our very genes, why this hullabaloo about education? As the most evolved being (even if by our own admission!) there is a need to bring the finer aspects of this process to the fore of our consciousness. One such aspect is the continuously evolving cycle of learning. To understand this an old Sanskrit subhashita (unconfirmed source: Udyoga Parva of Mahabharata) gives us a great insight into the process.

AchAryAt pAdamAdatte, pAdam shiShyaH swamedhayA |

sa-brahmachAribhyaH pAdam, pAdam kAlakrameNa cha ||

A quarter from the teacher, a quarter from learner’s own intelligence

A quarter from the co-learners, and a quarter from the passage of time…

To truly appreciate the value of this subhashita, one needs to delve a bit deeper and a more bit wider for a complete understanding, most critical of that being the cycle of learning.

A teacher being the initiator of learning is an indisputable truth, the first teachers could be one’s parents, siblings, social connects or the formal school teacher one had at the start our life. This also signifies that learning is first a process of absorbing. Science is just beginning to understand the impact of early learning in our build up to a mature adult. During this part of learning, we develop the medium, the context and the structure for learning. Bear that this goes on to provide the foundation of all learning in the future. If we were not fortunate enough to be born in an intellectually and economically endowed family, the chances are that our learning process is constantly playing a catching up game with those who had this fortune. One of the reason why we see the need to advocate for “affirmative action” or class based quota and offer a privilege of access to people who were not fortunate enough to compensate for the foundational learning component.

As one absorbs the foundation to learning the path for synthesizing future learning develops. The learner’s intelligence that evolves with the first quarter of learning is the backbone or the complete support mechanism for additional learning. It is built upon a learners’ foundations of context and structure intertwined with one’s awareness (to take notice of opportunities to learn), inquisitiveness (ask questions and fill our learning gaps) and ability to interconnect (linking them to the existing learning to make new learning relevant and accessible). This is what gives one the label of being an expert (master of a field) or a novice (a beginner).

As one matures, the learner begins to appreciate the pervasiveness of learning. She can learn from her peers who are all equally initiated into their own pursuit of knowledge. She would learn to respect this pursuit of others and learn to live in a society where multiple points of views co-exists. She gains respect and learns to respect others, their perspectives, likes & dislikes. The harmonious co-existence of differing (sometimes contrary) views builds the critical acceptance of plurality. This learning is also the layer of revalidation and acceptance.

However any learning can never be complete nor can it cease to evolve. In the cycle of time a learner begins to expand their knowledge, understands its relevance, general applicability and learns to question one’s own thinking. By definition learning is about changing and therefore a dynamic concept. The need to improve, pursue perfection and persevere the quest to challenge the unknown continuously keeps the learner involved in timeless pursuit of learning. This is the layer of continuous development of learning.

Once we go through this understanding we reach a deeper understanding of the virtuous cycle of learning. We become a teacher for the future generations. Most importantly we learn that we learn the most when we teach. It is then just a cycle that learning quarters are, probably the bases of the baseball where you play different roles depending on which base you are on. The critical realization hidden in this metaphor is the fact that soon enough the two players would be exchanging roles when the innings switches!

Thanks JK (Unimity) for reminding me of this timeless piece!

Digital Learning 3.0

If version 0 was using digital technology for publishing and storing; version 1.0 was about actively digitizing available learning content; 2.0 was about serving the content in a more interactive, comfortable and collaborative manner; what could be the next phase of the Digital learning evolution process?

We have already seen some far reaching innovations in the technology side in creating, storing and serving digital learning. We are witnessing huge excitement around open learning resources and platforms to easer their access. Do we see noticeable change in the acceptance and excitement around digital learning an so on?

I think we will now see changes around three dimensions – the meta learning or learning about learning digitally, the ecosystem of learning – content, device, facilitators and the ontology (conceptual map of digital learning) and a fundamental mind set change that makes the regulators, thought leaders and formal degree granting institution to adopt, promote and populate the digital learning ecosystem.

As formal learning gets closer to the natural involuntary learning, some of the assumed aspects of learning needs to brought to fore. Do we all have the answers to the questions like – “what is learning?”, “why do we learn?”, “how do we learn/what is my preferred learning style?”, “where do I learn?” and “who do I learn from”. each of these question weigh heavily on the way we would experience the unfolding of digital learning 3.0 and beyond…

No Problem – Really?!?

Right through one’s life, you face a constant tryst with problems. For eons now, we have always looked at problems as a part and parcel of every life and every activity. But really, how much do we understand them?

As a part of my work in the area of business analytics and decision making, I have been looking at multiple facets of a problem. One of my early eureka moments in this endeavor came, when I realized that I was possibly missing the forest for the trees when I concentrated mainly on diagnosing a problem. Plainly speaking, the value to be had by trying to diagnose the antecedents to a problem is fairly limited. There are two reasons for this:

  1. One can never establish beyond reasonable doubt a clear cause-effect relationship between the problem and its antecedents (bounded rationality being the primary reason)
  2. However complex or simple the precursors, it is most unlikely that the sequence of events would repeat itself to throw the same problem again (no two snowflakes are alike)

More value can be harnessed, if the impact that a problem would have is given higher importance. The logic points towards looking ahead, and not in the past, to establish the nature of a problem.

So, what is the nature of a problem? Drawing from the universal laws of motion, I propose the following “Natural Laws of Problems

First, why should laws of motion be relevant to problems?

There have been many such instances where extending the context to establish wider relevance and generalizing the interpretations have helped further the frontiers of our knowledge. A reason to use the laws of physics in this realm is simply to bring in a degree of separation between the emotional connect and objective assessment of situations which many a times has been seen as a valuable approach to addressing things.

Sooner we realize that we are constantly juggling a fine interplay of problems and our response to it, easier and more prepared we are to lead a better life. Just as the laws of motion and gravitation explains the delicate cosmic balance and any physical happenings, one could see problems and our response as the natural forces explaining the social and personal balance.

The Natural laws of Problems

  1. A life continues to stagnate in a steady problem state unless one keeps enhancing it with an evolved change
  2. A problem can neither be created not destroyed, one can only recognize its existence and address it by being more aware of the situation
  3. Every problem has an equal and opposite opportunity

The explanation of the laws:

1st law – the Law of Steady State: “A life continues to stagnate in a steady problem state unless one keeps enhancing it with an evolved change” – often we find ourselves in a state of artificial bliss by assuming that the steady-state is a desired state of being and it maximizes the value of one’s life. The reality however is that our life is in a state of constant flux. By being stationary we would be worse off than before. It is therefore important to keep a pace of change even if we want to maintain status quo. Intuitively as we collect more information about the future, we would be better served if we continued the process of evolving our life. Therefore change is a necessary and valuable part of each life

2nd law – The Law of Perpetuity: “A problem can neither be created not destroyed, one can only recognize its existence and address it by being more aware of the situation” – we spend a considerable amount of time establishing the cause of a problem. We would like to find someone or something to blame for every problem. This however is a wasteful exercise, by being able to find someone to blame doesn’t necessary make the problem vanish. Instead we just create another artificial bliss that we won’t be affected by it. A better approach is to think that a problem will always be around if we look for it closely. There are some triggers around us that helps us see these otherwise hidden problems. Related to this is also the treatment of the problem, we lose a significant amount of energy trying to rid the factors that cause the problem. One actually just needs to move on having spent adequate amount of time and energy to capture the learning associated with it.

3rd Law – The Law of Returns: “Every problem has an equal and opposite opportunity” – if the earlier two laws made you uncomfortable, this final law should help ease the discomfort. Hidden in every problem is an opportunity, an opportunity to enhance, evolve, grow and excel. By trying to see a problem in this manner ensures that you will have the best response in your favor. Remember your personal or social life is not a zero sum game and resolving a challenge is not equal to passing it to someone else. It is a less efficient and effective response. Looking at the opportunity in every challenge would ensure that you find most effective and efficient response to it every time.

So, how does it affect us?

Just as laws of motion brought a new found clarity into everything to do with mechanics, the “Natural Laws of Problems” could be used to bring a new perspective into the way we approach problems. While traditionally we think of a solution the moment we have a problem; we associated problems with failure. Using the laws, one could begin to give a more robust and closer look at the problem itself. Understand the importance of problems in any life or situation and approach them with an excitement of learning rather than the burden of failure.

On the basis of the first law – “The Law of Steady State”, we could use it to look at the absence of a challenge as a possible early signs of stagnation and evolution. On the basis of the second law – “The Law of Perpetuity”, we could use it to develop a better sense of developing response to problem and also draw energy from each problem we face rather than feeling drained and defeated by it. Finally on the basis of the third law – “The Law of Returns”, we could use it to harness the hidden value in each problem. Look beyond the obvious sheath of hindrances to unveil the core of opportunities that comes with the recognition of each problem.

The Greek approach to problems was one of dialogues and questioning. The relevance of such an approach has become more established in the knowledge age we live in. We might not have Socrates, Aristotle or Plato to hold our imagination through a web of smart questions; but we have numerous possibilities of enhancing our learning with every problem if we can learn to ask the right question and deep dive into the digital web to seek it.

So remember, next time you have a problem, value it and look straight into it with a question that gives you the larger value for your problem, than just a way to skirt it.

Flower of the Woods – Concept and Design

fow4Flower of the woods is a fictional narration of a junglekid Mali, presented in poetry form.

Mali is born in a very beautiful village called Floria which is nestled in a faraway land among the forests. Mali’s parents – Giri and Nadia go through the usual anticipation of her birth but choose too abandon her because of the evil omens at birth amplified by eerie looks she had.

Not known to anyone, Mali is bestowed with a special gift that spreads as  she grows up. Abandoned in the jungle, Mali is adopted, cared for by a hog family with piglets as her siblings. As Mali grows, her special ability of making everything around her merry by just her smile manifests unbelievable miracles in the jungle. Animals, birds, plants and everything around her just blossom in unified exhilaration of her presence.

As everyone begins to experience this miracle, The news of a special junglekid Mali’s spreads, first within the jungle and then to the villages. It reaches Giri and Nadia who are still trying to find their lives and happiness before they let Mali go. Nadia is especially unable to bear her plight and she finds herself losing her love for Giri unable to convince Giri to change his mind. She finally sneaks out into the jungle hoping to get a chance to hold her precious angel one more time. She is in for a surprise and fate does a turn for her too…

The story weaves around the interaction between good & bad as the characters and emotions mingles with happiness, grief, optimism, envy, trust, fear, compassion and resent shaping the consequences. The interplay unfolds a wondersome world of fantasies and dreams. Using a rhyming form and subtle illustrations, I try to convey this message in the form of a story woven around characters of the jungle and the village.

The key characters of these books are “Mali” – the junglekid whose story unfolds as the she is born and grows up with the forest animals; her parents – “Giri” and “Nadia”; “Sante” – village wiseman, “Balon” – village Strong man, “Ari” – wood gatherer, Mali’s hog parents “Swarna” and “Swari”, “Swupi” the hog kid and Maali’s best friend, the king of Jungle “Kesha” and “Aema” the lioness, “Kalan” the scheming fox who feasts on helpless animal kids and is the King’s sworn enemy.

While the target audience for this book will be children between the ages of 8-14, I believe that there is enough excitement for serious readers and some general readers with an exploring mind. Being in rhyming poetry form, it would be a great learning tool for children with different abilities and learning disorders.

This book also offers an opportunity for parents of younger kids to use this as a read along book for them. The poetry format allows both of them to paint the details with their own imagination and build a life-long memory.

To give an easy and sustained pace this book is organized in chapters and each chapter has a distinct start and stop. I would also got some illustrations worked out to enhance the appeal of the book to kids. I haven’t finalized an illustrator,  but have some sample illustrations and I am on a look out for someone who would be committed to illustrate the whole book.

The plan is to have about 60 chapters with 8 stanzas of 4 lines each for the book one. The plot however offers the scope to be expansive and can be extended into a series based on the readers response.

= = = FLOWER OF THE WOODS = = = >>

Eklavya – the unfortunate reality of modern learning

Long time ago, there was a Guru of far reaching fame and unparalleled accomplishments. His pupil could learn from him just by thinking of him and practicing the basics again and again… He came to know about one such pupil and was really surprised to find that a pupil he had once rejected on the grounds that there was no room for him among his more illustrious students (Pandavas & Kauravas) who he felt had a higher potential to reap benefits from Drona’s efforts. This pupil had taken rejection as a challenge and just by his dedication and unwavering resolve mastered the art by himself. His only failing, he dedicated his learning to this one man – Drona. The Guru feels cheated; he after all felt that he had an unconditional and exclusive right to all the knowledge that existed in that field – archery. He wanted his returns (vengeance?) – he got that by incapacitating this brilliant pupil – Eklavya, from ever practicing archery again!

How can one justify such an act? After all teaching has been defined as a selfless service. How can the idea of guru dakshina (meaning – alms to your teacher; interpreted as an equivalent to genie’s all-encompassing wish) be held together with the concept of vidya daan (meaning donating knowledge; equivalent to the toughest promise of performance). The age old belief of Guru being the highest form of relationship (even higher than the Almighty himself) one possesses is founded on the importance learning has been given in our legacy. In the same thinking is held a belief that the teacher is a sea of wisdom and answers to all the questions that a fertile students mind is capable and willing to soak. It is humanly impossible for any teacher in the current information age to accomplish such a feat.

Modern learning has unfortunately not seen much progress from that mindset at least in India. The other day I was sitting in a key note address given by a renowned and veteran teacher who compared a teacher to a tree. Like a tree, a teacher should unconditionally spread the fruits, wood, shade and other valuables to all the seekers. Teacher should expect nothing in return as teaching is a noble profession. Wonder, why no one stood up and raised the question – why should the charity begin and stop with the teacher?

Being a teacher once myself, I can accept that there is a Drona lurking behind each one of us. Any amount of cover up to make the profession noble and all giving just doesn’t cut ice. After all who is not looking for a return for the investment they make? How can one find their motivation to continue the process of transferring the learning if you don’t get the returns? Modern teachers do make a packet today if they are capable and catering to the needs of value conscious learners.

The conundrum seems to be resolving itself (for me at least) when I try and understand learning in its truest form – mutual, expansive, evolving and transformational. At any point in time when I reflect back on my teaching experiences I can easily remember the classes where I felt happy. I can relate to them on all the four counts mentioned here. I was mutual because I learnt something in that class too. It was expansive as I did not rule out the natural connections the class (including myself) made as we progressed. It was evolving because I had new experiences to share even when I was running the same course for a new batch and it was transformational because both me and the class felt that we went through a noticeable change either in our awareness (or expertise), behavior (overt or implied) or just the way we looked at ourselves (most difficult one to achieve).

After all wasn’t the objective of my class to learn? The course outline I shared with my class clearly mentioned something to the effect that “at the end of the session a participant would learn to…”. Did it not apply to me too? I feel really sorry when I meet a “professor” (quotes restressed) who seek applause because their course material did not change decade after decade. I only wonder, if they did not learn anything from their own course in decades, who could have possibly learnt any thing by being taken  through it just once?

That brings us to a new paradigm critical in modern learning. An age where content is free and readily available for anyone, an age where you can create a one-to-one learning relationship with each of your student using technology, an age where memory no longer establishes you to be a higher intellect, and most of all the age where learning is so evolved that the returns have to be visible for everyone.

Today it is implicit that the teacher plays more of a role of learning facilitator. To my mind that was always the case, only that today it has become more explicit. Please remember, learning is a very personal act, a teacher can only lead a learner to the water, but the act of soaking it is entirely the call of the learner. The effectiveness of a teacher is measured by her ability to facilitate the process of efficient (input/output) learning. This I contend can only happen, when unlike Drona, we seek our Dakshina in the mutual, expansive, evolved and transformational learning we acquire after each session we conduct.

It would hold equally true even in the eLearning context. All the comments that you leave for me after you read this post is my learning…

My interpretation of the ancient wisdom – from the Bhagawad Gita

Karmanye vadhika rastey – 2-47, Bhagwad Gita

Original Verse

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥ २-४७


Karmanyev adhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,
Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani

Word meanings

Karmanyev (only action) adhikaraste (in your control), Ma (not) phaleshu (of outcome) kadachana (ever) Ma Karma Phala (outcome) Hetur (to cause) Bhurmatey (you do not) Sangostva (link) Akarmani (inactive)

My interpretation

One only needs to take charge of one’s action and not try to let the outcome take charge, without letting outcome drive your actions or losing the focus on things to be done or let the attachment lead to inaction

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4, Verse 7-8: Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya

Original Verse

यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत ।
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ॥४-७॥
परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् ।
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे ॥४-८॥

Verse in English

Yada yada hi dharmasya glanirbhavati bharata |
Abhyuthanamadharmasya tadatmanam srijamyaham ||

Paritranaya sadhunam vinashay cha dushkritam |
Dharmasangsthapanarthay sambhavami yuge yuge ||

Word meanings

yada yada hi (as and when) dharmasya (the code of greater good), glanir bhavati (challenged) bharata (of Bharat’s lineage), abhyuthanam (rise) adharmasya (lawlessness) tadatmanam (realize at such time) srijamyaham (resurrect yourself) Paritranaya (reinforce) sadhunam (the good), Vinashaya (terminate) dushkritam (evil deeds) Dharma sansthapanarthay (establish the code of greater good) Sabhavami (possible) yuge yuge (for ages)

My interpretation

Whenever one is challenged to pursue the code of greater good leading to rise of ambiguity; one needs to rediscover ones conviction and the strength of belief in goodness and not follow any evil acts thus giving the strength to persist with one’s duty to make the greater good last eternally

A to Z of Employability

Employability is an economic qualification that any of us (actually any economic entity) should have to be an active part of the economy. It is equally applicable if you are self-employed or in a non-for-profit set up or a classical corporate job. We have tried to capture the multi-dimensionality of the construct to sensitize the current and future employees by way of creating an A to Z of employability. While we have made a choice among the most relevant trait for a particular letter, we are by no way claiming that any other trait starting with the same letter is not important. Also, a variation of the trait that you might find relevant for a particular letter might be represented by some other letter in our lexicon. We hope to keep updating this list as we get feedback from you all for the same.

A is for Aims & Ambition

Having optimism for your career, dreaming about being a success and working hard to make that dream come true is what gives career a meaning. When you face challenges it would remind you why you’re doing this and what it will be like when you get to the top. Your goals need to be tough but achievable. Struggling with impossible goals that cannot be achieved will not build resilience. You need to see a consistent progress towards your goal in return for the strain involved.

B is for Basics

Remember whatever levels your reach, the basics never change. Be it asking the basic questions, making the basic assumptions or remembering the basic rules, they apply to all situations. Keep refining your basic skills like literacy, numeracy, listening, intuitions, and mentoring etc. Make sure that you never forget the basics because it is the most fundamental skills that you have.

C is for Conviction

To move successfully into a career you need to believe in yourself, your capability and your ability to make things happen. In essence, you need to know you can make it a success whatever happens. No-one is going to be totally self-confident all the time. As a very successful business man once said “If things are going really well you can’t get overexcited because you’re not a genius; but if things get difficult you can’t get too downhearted because you’re not a fool either.” Remember you will only find your conviction within yourself.

D is for Dare

Dare to aspire to whatever heights you wish and let no-one tell you that you can’t achieve the impossible as it is simply beyond them and their mindset not yours!  To make a success of career you need the courage to do more than what you think you are capable of doing. There is no challenge in being average and so there are no rewards for it either. You will need to learn to lean on all the support from people close to you who can help you through the tough times. Don’t try and build external safety nets and fall back options, your career has to be your safety net and you can only thrust forward with it.

E is for Enthusiasm

As a young professional the organization expects you to be a source of boundless enthusiasm. When you’re employed, you’re a critical source of energy for your firm. You need lots of energy within yourself. You must have the energy to be self-starting, self-inspired & self-enhancing. Your vivacious and exciting persona is a value that your superiors and contemporaries would surely appreciate. You will need to consciously replenish your faith so that when going gets tough you find your inspiration and ability to bounce back and keep the enthusiasm. You also need to keep a good control on your enthusiasm and remember you can’t replace your professional role with enthusiasm.

F is for Flexibility

Research shows that people who are successful in careers are flexible & resilient when the going gets tough.  Inevitably, there are pressures associated with your career which would seem like making a compromise. If you are inflexible, these pressures lead to worry and anxiety which in turn reduce the drive to keep going. Flexibility also gives you the window to peep in and give you facts to decide whether you want to accept the change or is it truly a compromise. Flexibility is also the starting point of resilience which is a critical to keep pushing on the progress path.

G is for Group effectiveness

Remember that all through your career you are a part of a team that jointly works towards producing results. You are only as good as the weakest member of your group. Your output would be hugely dependent on the ability of the most inefficient person to deliver for the team. When you start your focus should be to ensure that you are not bringing the effectiveness of your group down. As you move up in your career, remember all the mentoring and support you received when you were learning and extend higher support to the newer members of your team.

H is for Hard Work

Success takes hard work. To accomplish your aspirations in a career there’s only you who you can bank on, you have responsibility for everything and have to take on tasks that you once considered well beneath your status. Since you’re always in charge, there’s no deferring and you can often be torn between priorities and juggling the many factors beyond your control. People who make a success of a career are motivated to work hard. They know what they really want out of life, they’ve identified that employment will help them achieve it and they’re prepared to put in the necessary effort to make it happen.

I is for Inspired Spirit

In the early days of career and working with many people, you might struggle to adjust to the office environment and people around you. You need to build around you a group of like-minded people who are in a similar position to you who you can socialize and interact with. And those interactions don’t have to be face to face. With the wonderful technology now available to us, it’s never been easier to engage with others no matter where they are. You would require all your imagination, inspiration to ensure that all your interactions are worthwhile and create long term value for you.

J is for the Journey

When you’re starting up on your career, you are embarking on a long journey. While it’s important to have a destination, focusing on it can have the opposite effect to the one you’re trying to achieve. It can seem such a far way off that it paralyses and demotivates you. So don’t worry about the big picture for now. Instead, think about what would be different if you were just one step closer and what you need to get there. Keeping your focus on the journey would make the experiences apparent and help you learn from them and enjoy them.

K is for keeping focus

You have to be very clear right from the start on what is your target market is and what you are offering them and avoid the temptation to be all things to all people or what people want you to be. The challenge is not about lack of value that you could offer. Instead it is about finding something that you love doing, are skilled at and that others will pay you for and that can involve a fair bit of letting go of things that you could do and used to do.

L is learning orientation

That means that self-development has to become a constant element.  Nurture relationships with mentors. Surround yourself with other people who are successful and respected in their own careers. Apart from helping with the occasional lack of social contact, only they understand what you are going through and will be more than happy to share their personal stories of having traveled the employment journey themselves, the barriers they’ve encountered and how they’ve kept going! The work you do to continually develop your knowledge and skills will determine your employability and how marketable your skills are.

M is for moral values

In an employment you need to remember that you are most often working on behalf of people who have trusted you with their valuable resources. Keeping this trust and ensuring that you maintain highest standards of ethics and moral conduct is critical. There would be times when opportunism might seem like a natural choice and you could even see a clear get away without being caught in the act; however, your efficiency and commitment would be surely compromised and in the long run, you will see the value of maintaining ethics.

N is for Network

Networking and relationship building is part and parcel of being employed. It’s not just an element in working; it’s one of the requisite skills to ensure success. If you don’t enjoy networking, then the quality of your work will be lower and less healthy than it should be and you will feel rather lonely and left out in the business world.

O is for Overtness

Be ready and willing to be open and observable; not hidden, concealed, or secret outsource to others the things that they can do better than you. If you are really bad at something in the long list of things that need to be done to be successful or if it’s something you really don’t want to do, get help from someone who’s good at it. It’s better to get the basics right and then coordinating with the team to ensure that the output is not compromised.

P is for Positive Attitude

Being employed can be very rewarding but also very sapping.  You need to stay positive, keep your focus on the good and not get too caught up with the bad. Learn from your mistakes but sustain the belief in yourself and what you have to offer. This means picking yourself up after challenging times, being determined to win through and having the tenacity to keep going when you may feel like giving up.  Positive emotions and a positive outlook are very powerful in producing an upward, positive spiral of achievement. It would also make you the respected buddy among your peers.

Q is for Quality

Above everything else you need to deliver a great product and service.  You don’t need to be unique in your offering; you simply need to be better than anyone else at delivering it. Make sure that you keep highest standards of perfection and do not willingly deliver or accept suboptimal output. However, you will need to be productive at the same time. Learn to ensure that you follow the path of excellence and in the quest for quality, learn to work around the oversights and errors,

R is for Return

Remember the primary motivation for your career is the returns – financial and non-financial. The same should translate to all the activities that you undertake as a professional. Be generous in putting the efforts but build a sense of return on efforts for everything that you do. Build your own list of rewards that would keep you motivated. Besides monetary, it could be recognition, comfort, personal space, self-realization and social contribution.

S is for Self-Awareness

When you’re employed you need sufficient self-awareness to know what to do to set yourself up for success. It is about making decisions that allow you to meet the needs of your clients and perform at your very best.  That means knowing how to manage your energy levels, knowing where your skills and talents lie and knowing what support and resources you need to do a good job.

T is for Transformation

Many people who start up on their career do not have the plan to transition into a role from a student, and then to transform from an entry level executive to a corporate leader. The thing to remember is that there is a lot to do to get into the shoes of a responsible, respected and rewarding career professional. The more you can do and prepare for before the actual move, then the better position you’ll be in.

U is for Unique Talents

To have a sustained success in your career, you need to have a unique value proposition.  That means you need that special quality, that X factor that means when people have a problem that you can solve, you are the name that comes to mind or gets recommended to them.  What stands you apart from the crowd? Reflect on the skills, knowledge and experience you have gained. It is worth asking your friends, family and colleagues for their feedback on this. Quite often our unique talents come so naturally to us without conscious effort that we don’t realize they’re talents.

V is for Vision

Research shows that people who are successful in their careers have a clear vision for what they want to achieve both commercially and personally. In other words they know what the skills to work on, to which sector and to which geographical markets to concentrate on. They also know what is important to them as individuals and what personal success looks like.

W is for Wisdom

One of the most critical components for career growth is to accumulate one’s own wisdom. Wise men do not achieve enlightenment in a single moment but through a painful process of accumulating wisdom from their personal and shared experiences. Be active and responsive to your experiences. Learn to listen intently and take time to reflect upon your experiences, seek counsel for the ambiguities and questions that you cannot answer for yourself. If possible maintain a personal blue book of success mantras that is applicable to you.

X is for eXcellence

Sustained pursuit of excellence is the fundamental mindset that would take you from a college graduate to a corporate leader of repute. Remember this is a long continuous journey drawing on foresight, application, and commitment. Set for yourself marginal achievable progress and improvement targets and commit wholeheartedly to accomplish them. You might not feel immediately how you are setting yourself apart from the crowd, but when you look back into your past, you will understand your accomplishment. The corporate world would surely notice your orientation and reward you for it.

Y is for Your (personal) Life

When you become employed your personal life and your work life become blurred, especially early in your career.  You need periods of respite. One of the most challenging things for people dedicated to their career is the pressure to work all the time. Such attitudes are unhelpful and counter-productive – both in the immediate term and in the long term. Tough challenges will build resilience but only if they don’t go on too long. So you need to take regular breaks. This simply needs to be something different. Shutting your mind at he the end of the day is critical – but do relook at your interests that you had to ignore when you were going through the pressures of study – bring out your stamp collection or your bird book or the camera. You now have the money to fund them better.

Z is for Zeal

To make a success of a career you need to have huge servings of zeal, not only for the work you do but for turning it into a long term goal.  You need a passion that can stimulate self-motivation and give you a reason to get up in the morning and go to work – even if it is not done at the most exciting place of work.   If you’re passionate about what you do you’ll find it easier to ride the waves of change and keep going when starting out. You’ll also find that others will be attracted to your zeal and will be more likely to help you make your career a success.