Thursday, September 08, 2011

Management Lesson

Former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam : 'A Leader Should Know How to Manage Failure'

India Knowledge@Wharton:
Could you give an example, from your own experience, of how leaders should manage failure?

Kalam: Let me tell you about my experience. In 1973 I became the project director of India's satellite launch vehicle program, commonly called the SLV-3. Our goal was to put India's "Rohini" satellite into orbit by 1980. I was given funds and human resources -- but was told clearly that by 1980 we had to launch the satellite into space. Thousands of people worked together in scientific and technical teams towards that goal.

By 1979 -- I think the month was August -- we thought we were ready. As the project director, I went to the control center for the launch. At four minutes before the satellite launch, the computer began to go through the checklist of items that needed to be checked. One minute later, the computer program put the launch on hold; the display showed that some control components were not in order. My experts -- I had four or five of them with me -- told me not to worry; they had done their calculations and there was enough reserve fuel. So I bypassed the computer, switched to manual mode, and launched the rocket. In the first stage, everything worked fine. In the second stage, a problem developed. Instead of the satellite going into orbit, the whole rocket system plunged into the Bay of Bengal. It was a big failure. 

That day, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, Prof. Satish Dhawan, had called a press conference. The launch was at 7:00 am, and the press conference -- where journalists from around the world were present -- was at 7:45 am at ISRO's satellite launch range in Sriharikota [in Andhra Pradesh in southern India]. Prof. Dhawan, the leader of the organization, conducted the press conference himself. He took responsibility for the failure -- he said that the team had worked very hard, but that it needed more technological support. He assured the media that in another year, the team would definitely succeed. Now, I was the project director, and it was my failure, but instead, he took responsibility for the failure as chairman of the organization.

The next year, in July 1980, we tried again to launch the satellite -- and this time we succeeded. The whole nation was jubilant. Again, there was a press conference. Prof. Dhawan called me aside and told me, "You conduct the press conference today."

I learned a very important lesson that day.When failure occurred, the leader of the organization owned that failure. When success came, he gave it to his team. The best management lesson I have learned did not come to me from reading a book; it came from that experience.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Help Your Employees Do More in Less Time

Because of thunder storms in Atlanta, the flight from Dallas to Atlanta had been delayed twice. On the third attempt, we were boarding and I felt hopeful of actually getting off the ground. My hopes faded fast when the tired-looking flight attendant came down the aisle quietly announcing that if we were not permitted to take off in the next 15 minutes, the crew would have exceeded their 16-hour work day and we would have to taxi back to the terminal and await another flight.

We were not given permission to take off, the crew's time expired and as we taxied back to the terminal I felt mixed emotions. I kept thinking, "But we were right there ready to take off. How could 1-1/2 more hours matter?"

Just as airlines are concerned about overworked pilots and flight attendants, employers should be concerned about overworked employees. Why? Errors, accidents, and low productivity for a start.

My mixed emotions as we taxied back to the terminal are similar to the signals our culture sends today about long work hours. In one breath we agree with employees having a pity party about how hard they work and with the other breath, we award employees a "red badge of courage" for having the guts to go the extra mile.

A study by the Families and Work Institute concludes that overworked employees should be taken seriously. Employees who are overworked are more 

likely to exhibit anxiety, make mistakes at work, harbor angry feelings about their employer for expecting them to be on the job for long hours and resent coworkers who don't pull their share of the load. The study documents that nearly half of employees who feel overworked report that their health is poor and 8 percent of employees who are not overworked experience symptoms of clinical depression compared with 21 percent of those who are highly overworked.

Helping Employees Feel Less Overwhelmed:

What can the organization do to help employees feel less overworked while still finishing their tasks in a given day? Using time efficiently at work is an individual and an organizational issue. On the organizational side, managers can help employees reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed by:

·  Training employees in time management principles

·  Discouraging the practice of eating at the desk and working through lunch

·  Insisting employees taking vacation time

·  Permitting flexible work hours when appropriate

·  Encouraging non-interrupt zones in the day when workers can focus on their tasks

·  Assigning tasks well in advance of the drop dead date

·   Helping Employees Be More Effective 

A tried and true principle states that to be efficient, you must first be effective. For instance, the maker of buggy whips might be highly efficient in manufacturing techniques, but if no one buys the buggy whips, the process is not effective.

To encourage efficiency and effectiveness, managers can:

·  Have clearly stated goals with built in deadlines

·  Insist employees make a daily "to do" list

·  Make certain equipment works properly

·  Supply the necessary materials for job completion

·  Train employees on software packages that enable more efficient work

Ensuring the above items are taken care of is essential to help employees leverage their time while in the office and be more productive. 

Realizing a Productivity Culture Change:

Managers should make a concerted effort to grease the wheels of productivity, and not be the stick that gets caught in the tire spokes, catapulting the rider from the trail. By attending to these issues, managers can help workers feel less overwhelmed and enable them do more in less time. You'll like the results. 

- By Karla Brandau

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Develop A Clear Vision

The one quality that all leaders have in common is that they have a clear and exciting vision for the future. This is something that only the leader can do. Only the leader can think about the future and plan for the future each day.

Take the Time to Think :

Excellent leaders take the time to think through and develop a clear picture of where they want the organization to be in one, three and five years. Leaders have the ability to communicate this vision in such a way that others "buy in" and eventually see the vision as belonging to them.

Motivate People to Give of Their Best :

It is the vision of the future possibilities, of what can be, that arouses emotion and motivates people to give of their best. The most powerful vision is always qualitative, aimed at and described in terms of values and mission rather than quantitative, which is described in terms of money and numbers.

Money is Important :

Of course, money is important, but the decision and commitment to "be the best in the business" is far more exciting.

Keep Your Cool :

Another key to leadership success is for you to "keep your cool." A study at Stanford Business School examined the qualities that companies look for in promoting young managers toward senior executive positions, especially the position of Chief Executive Officer. The study concluded that the two most important qualities required for great success were, first, the ability to put together and function as part of a team. Since all work is ultimately done by teams, and the managers' output is the output of the team, the ability to select team members, set objectives, delegate responsibility and finally, get the job done, was central to success in management.

Practice is Everything :

The second quality required for rapid promotion was found to be the ability to function well under pressure, and especially in a crisis. Keeping your cool in a crisis means to practice patience and self-control under difficult or disappointing circumstances.

People Are Watching :

The character and quality of a leader is often demonstrated in these critical moments under fire, when everyone is watching, observing and privately taking notes. As Rudyard Kipling once said, "If you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, then the world is yours and all that's in it".

Your job as a leader is to have a clear vision of where you want to go and then to keep your cool when things go wrong, as they surely will.

- By Brian Tracy

Monday, August 29, 2011

True Peace

True peace can be experienced only when we stop giving and taking sorrow. In order not to give sorrow we need a clear heart that has no ill feelings and for not taking sorrow we need a big heart that can tolerate and help other souls to get over their weaknesses.
- Unknown

The mistake many make in meditation is one of subtle pride (ego). It's as if we say, "Look at me, I've got the best seat on the train. Look at me I made it to my peace. Didn't I do well?" This of course is one of those old-fashioned self-centred thoughts. As soon as you create it you go against the very essence (nature) of your true self, your peace. To go with the essence (nature) of truth about peace is to realise your peace is not just for you, it is for the world. It is for giving, for radiating, for transmitting, for sharing.

It is a subtle recognition that your peace can only be sustained (nourished) and increased when you give it to those who are peaceless around you. When you realise this, you will also recognise how the vibration of your peacefulness radiates outwards. When you consciously release your peace to others and to the world, that's when you will feel its power.
- Brahma Kumaris, Mt. Abu

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Journey Of Life

Life is a Journey and we travel for a destination,
We aspire to reach It but it’s only a fascination.

Our journey begins since the time we are born
Until we breathe our last the journey continues to go on.

Journey sees drizzles, on the way, off and of finds heavy showers.
But the sun too accompanies the journey and so does a host of flowers.

Journey comes across many things, many phases of life it passes through,
New experiences it gathers and discovers the earlier was not true.

Life has no respiration if no journey in it,
The moment journey stops, the end of life you shall meet.

It’s continuation, a long walk along the roads of life.
Let it not stop or no point in being just alive.

- Author Unknown

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ramadhan - Lessons From The Son...

One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people can be.

They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?" "It was great, Dad." "Did you see how poor people can be?" the father asked. "Oh Yeah" said the son.

"So what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.

The son answered, "I saw that we have one dog and they had four.

We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.

We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.

Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.

We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.

We buy our food, but they grow theirs.

We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them. "

With this the boy's father was speechless.

Then his son added, "Thanks dad for showing me how ungrateful we truly are"

You can't buy any of these things. You can have all the material possessions you can imagine, provisions for the future, etc., but if you are poor of spirit, you have nothing!

Too many times we forget what we have and concentrate on what we don't have.

- Author Unknown

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

In A Different Way

In A Different Way
Live each single moment,
As if it were your last.
Look forward to the future,
Forget about the past.

Taking time to value,
Exactly what you’ve got.
Appreciate the now,
Use what you’ve been taught.

To further your enjoyment,
Of each new passing day.
Try learning something new,
In a different way.

Expanding your horizons,
By trying something new.
Makes life seem much larger,
You’ll know just what to do.

When you have a problem,
You can not seem to mend,
Somehow try it different,
Mind and thoughts must bend.

To learn to live life better,
In a different way.
Be open to suggestions,
Every single day.

- Author Unknown