Wednesday, November 21, 2007

S2 Personal Challenge : Wish My Dad Recovery

It is a testing time for me as I come to grips with a personal crisis. My Dad had a massive heart attack this Sunday (India Monday morning), was rushed to the hospital and went under a heart operation. He is on life support as I write this blog waiting to board my flight from Frankfurt to Delhi. I pray and hope that God is merciful and gives my family the courage to come through this testing time. I am confident about it and I am sure he will recover for he has been an inspiration to me in terms of his sheer will power and defiance of any form of defeat. He is a fighter and he is going to fight this out too. But the events in the last couple of days were a humbling experience from two perspectives. One is on the personal front where sitting 8000 miles away, I could not provide any comfort and care to my mom and dad in the difficult time. Your success as an individual in terms of professional achievements and personal assets is naught when it could not help your very parents who are fundamentally responsible for your success  Second is a more philosophical in context. The very fact that we as humans have created this illusion that we are in control of our environment and surroundings. Scientists and doctors make us feel that we know more about our human body workings than ever before. It is true in one respect since we can control many life threatening events from the past but we are far from conquering the body and its working. I have a suspicion that we will never conquer the uncertainty of life and we just need to learn to accept it, adapt to it.  As I close this blog write-up, I just hope that my Dad is recovering fast and furious since I expect no less from him since he inspires me every second with his energy in life at his age and his zealousness to his work (he teaches kids physics these days).


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Halo Effect: Delusions and Critical Thinking

After a very long time I completed a book end to end. The book title was ‘The Halo Effect’. Many of you may already observed that on my IM personal message few days ago. I was intrigued by the book only because it started with assertion which closely lined with my personal thinking. The very thought all books whether self help books (rich dad, poor dad), business mantras (Good to Great) make success sound a simple prescription of certain core principles. It is a good story to tell but as we have all experienced, life is not that simple and success not that easy. You can follow and apply to heart the 7 habits of effective people and still may not be effective. As an organization you can follow all the tenets of Great companies and still be struggling to sustain your business. The reason lies in our attempt to simplify things in a framework model. We as human beings cannot handle continued chaos around us and need to develop a plausible hypothesis for every event. However we forgot our unique context (environment, people social interactions and culture since every organization is unique in its setup) and apply these so called seduced theories (like applying ‘Best Practices) as instant cures to the problems. I always believed that books should only be read to simulate one’s thinking. One should use them to invigorate new ideas, invoke new thoughts, assess and evaluate situations critically. I guess the very fact that we need to respect that life is uncertain, business is influenced by variables and forces beyond an organization and /or an indivuals control, recognition that decision making is all about trade-offs and nothing in life and business is absolute is highly unnerving. Today outcomes drive the assessment of the execution and our decisions. Decision making and execution is excellent and the management team phenomenal if you meet the desired metrics (Wall Street quarterly earnings at one end to meeting your deliverable on a simple software project at the other end). On the contrary the decision is flawed and management team are a bunch of losers if the output is not in line with the expectations. This mindset is the root cause of those fleeting Wall Street darling companies and is at the heart of the flip flop stories covered by the various business journals and magazines. Outcomes driving the assessment of the situation is by its very nature flawed (surprising to many). This applies to personal frame of reference as well. We like to create a semblance of order within the chaos  that surrounds us. We create simple decision models that help us evaluate and assess a given situation or a problem. However our individual decision making framework models is influenced negatively by flawed facts collection (skewed by our predispositions and/or existing haloed data)and simple but inaccurate cause and effect theories. As the author of the book outlined, we need to respect the uncertainty and account for inherent risk of failure in every decision whether it is personal or otherwise. The failure does not necessary imply that we need to change our decision making model but makes us recognize that luck,chance and probability of bad events exists and is fundamental to our sane and continued existence in the world.