Saturday, 30 November 2013

Angela's Ashes

Angela's Ashes  is an extraordinary childhood memoir  of its author Frank McCourt(August 19,1930-July 19,2009) , as he grew up from a five year old to nineteen years old.I read it second time recently, and was  moved , as much as  I was when I read it first time .It makes you" live" the poverty, powerlessness , struggles and hopes of Frank,his mother Angela and his brothers.It tells us how hope still, somehow emerges in a situation of total hopelessness.One reason why  this book is so popular is that it makes the reader realize  how lucky he/she is , to be able to lead a life which so much more secure and well provided.
                             I  had always wondered what made McCourt  choose the tittle of this book as Angela's Ashes.Are these the ashes that fall from Angela's cigarettes, or are these ashes  in the fireplace which she continuously stares at blankly?Do these ashes represent the weakening hopes and dreams of Angela for raising a healthy , happy family and wanting Frank to become  much more accomplished and successful  than only  a messenger boy ?The best thing is that despite all setbacks  and disappointments , her ashes are still warm(?)  about her dreams , which in some way prepare a mindset in Frank to save money enough to go from Limerick in Ireland to New York.Hovering between his indecision to leave for a better future or to remain in Limerick  in a small but secure job at post office  , he manages to keep his dreams alive and sails to New York .
                     I recommend you to read this very powerful and inspiring book .It impacts  its readers on all their senses , it provokes them  and makes them think  and feel  .

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Leadership and Change

             It is my firm belief that among all values of a true leader, courage is the essential and the most important value. This is a value which makes other values happen. Courage is the touchstone of leadership. Courage becomes hope and faith on one side and love on other side. The three Christian virtues of hope, faith and love are united in courage. Leading transformation needs courage and risk taking and over coming fear.
                                                 We must be the change we wish to see in the world"- Gandhi. Provide personal example. Throw your full weight on the side of change. You must wear your heart on sleeve so that all can see who you are, where you are coming from and where you are going. Never ask others to do what you are not willing to do yourself. Good example gives you the only real influence over others that you are likely to have. It also gives you the moral authority to ask for sacrifice.
    If you do not motivate others by  example, it amounts to manipulation. Good example is self- effacing. It does not draw attention to it self. 
                                               Leadership capacity involves
1-               Freedom of Self.
2-               Courage , confidence and Fearlessness.
3-               Competence.
4-               Integrity & conscience.
5-               Non-attachment /unconditional love
                                 In a transformation, change is in all senses and directions. There is physical/economic change, mental and emotional change and spiritual change. In other words you have changes in
1-    Hierarchy
2-              Structure
3-              Processes
4-              Systems
5-      People and beliefs
                                             Tools for transformation
(1)      Cross-functional teams and collective leadership.
          Breaking down of departmental barriers and empowerment of teams. (A cultural change)

(2)    Development of leadership Capacity throughout the organization by:
(i)                          Providing freedom for action
(ii)                       Instilling confidence through  discussion.
(iii)   Providing skills and competence through training & workshop.
(iv)                     Providing resources for change (A cultural change)

(3)   Change & monitoring of processes through ISO 9001:2000 standards. These standards represent international consensus to monitor in the best possible way those processes which influence quality & enhance customer satisfaction & performance. (A cultural transformation).ISO results in simplification, decentralization and consumer processes and gives continual improvement.
4.                HRD issues gain priorities
         Quick redressal of employee grievances builds self-esteem & energy of employees.
5.                Involvement of all employees
Employees are given meaningful work & active participation in change. It releases their energy for organizational purpose. Job mastery experiences release energy. Assign jobs according to abilities & skills.
6.                Internal Transparency
When employees do not know what is happening, they withhold their energy from organizational activities.
7.                Openness & accessibility
Ideas of (ownership) by all are incorporated into vision mission & transformation process, at every stage.
8.                Change in attitude of Employees
Two ways
(i)                          Presentation of analysis.
(ii)                 Arousal of emotions. Coercion can not produce change agents.
Repeated affirmation is essential.

9.           Change in design of products
Designs have to be in accordance with cultural values aesthetics, desires & needs of consumers. Designs must be changed creating an emotional relationship with people.
    10Other Supports
(i)                          Rituals, ceremonies, music, poetry & songs.
(ii)                       Active participation in community programs
(iii)                    Listen to role models & get emotional support.
(iv)                     Appreciate others.
(v)                        Apply Stress Reduction techniques.
(vi)    Participate in personalized management development programmes 

I am only one
But still I am One
I can not do everything
But still I can do something
And because I can not do everything
I will not refuse to do
The something that I can do
                                                          Edward Everett


Saturday, 16 November 2013


An excerpt:

"Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Today i completed the reading of Knut Hamsun's Hunger.It is truly a great book written in 1895 when Hamsun was 31 years old.What a terrific book!It is semi autobiographical.It reveals what it means to remain honest while facing poverty and hunger.I started feeling smallness of my sacrifices for following truth compared to those faced by the hero of the book.
It raises the fundamental questions:what is pride?what is is insult?what is conscience?Is conscience a luxury?what is love for a poor man?How does your poverty affect love of others for you?What does starvation really mean?
No wonder it is one of the most influential books in the history of mankind."

Saturday, 9 November 2013

The line between home and work

In this age of internet , laptops and mobiles, it has become necessary to revisit the issue of drawing a line between work and home .I believe, it is essential to draw the line firmly, though it is not easy to do so .The line becomes fuzzy when we start talking about home offices and alternative work places.We are in a new kind of Mobility Paradox 
                        If you are in an office of public utility and your mobile number is in public domain , the chances are  high that your mobile will continue to ring at odd hours .The mobile has eliminated the role of private secretaries screening your official  calls.The spill over of official fatigue and worries chases you till you decide to put your mobile in the  silence mode  at some time in the evening.The border line becomes further blurred when you get mails in large numbers  on your computer from unknown quarters .If you respond to each of these calls and mails ,the slow fizzle of chronic fatigue , cynicism , negativity  is likely to set in till you have a burn out .And still you  may get a complaint from your boss  in the morning that you did not receive his call when he called you on your mobile in the late evening.The work has a tendency to spill over  for 24 hours a day.
                            Does this efficient communication internet and mobile , obviate the necessity of  meeting people in person ?NNot necessarily .People may not be satisfied with  your quick return calls.You are never free.
                 Lou Gerstner(former chairman of the board   and  chief executive officer of IBM  from April 1993 to 2002 ) had a habit of bringing suitcases of work home with him every night.But things have changed drastically since then .There was an era when people sought connections with each other, by moving around .We are now in an era where we have to decide when and where to disconnect  -both electronically and socially.We have to face this new Connectivity Paradox.There is no other choice.