Organizational Learning – The 2020 Outlook

#L&D #OD #Learning #Leadership #Futureofwork #Change

An ancient Chinese story, retold by Phil Jackson, coach of the phenomenally successful Chicago Bulls basketball team, defines what really is changing in the training needs of organizations today.

In the 3rd century BC, the Chinese emperor Liu Bang celebrated his consolidation of China with a banquet, where he sat surrounded by his nobles and military and political experts. Since Liu Bang was neither noble by birth nor an expert in military or political affairs, some of the guests asked one of the military experts, Chen Cen, why Liu Bang was the emperor. In a contemporary setting, the question would probably have been: “What added value does Liu Bang bring to the party?”

Chen Cen’s response was to ask the questioner a question in return:

“What determines the strength of a wheel?”

One guest suggested that the strength of the wheel was in its spokes, but Chen Cen countered that two sets of spokes of identical strength did not necessarily make wheels of identical strength. On the contrary, the strength was also affected by the spaces between the spokes, and determining the spaces was the true art of the wheelwright.

Historically, we have seen training play many roles – Inducting new people, on-boarding people for different projects, managing people on performance improvement plans, helping keep the social vibe ‘happy’ in crisis, complacence or casualty, keeping people busy when without work, ensuring that an organization gets it’s ISO audit cleared, flagging or justifying change either before, during or after it, train or even entertrain (entertain – pun intended!) all this while usually playing the emcee to that all important company event where one might get ‘exposure’.

Review this list carefully and you will notice a similarity between the story, the tasks and the spokes of a wheel. Any good organization uses training for the tasks above and there is nothing wrong with that.  However, great organizations go beyond this. With time passing by and news of senior HR leaders becoming business leaders and vice versa pouring in, traditional HR being questioned, altered and challenged, people writing left-right and center about why the HR person needs to speak business lingo – Even training will transform! Here are top 5 changes that you need to keep up with to stay on the path great organizations take:

A. Future is closer than the past – Learning has been a reflection of the past and is often well understood that way. What the great George Bernard Shaw said as ‘History repeats itself’ is the foundation of such learning. However, this is more untrue today than ever before.

The past success is no guarantee of future success because it’s very nature in the world has changed from replication to disruption. Training is and needs to be changing with it. It needs to be more about what the future could have, than what the past had. More and more great organizations are investing in simulation, gamification and action based experiential learning that could help people prepare for what the uncertain times ahead hold . Workshops like ‘Managing Ambiguity’ are coming up and adaptability is quickly replacing capability as top leadership strength.

Think what would have happened if Tesla decided to learn only from the more established automakers?

B. Leadership is not at the top anymore – Yes, the tables have turned, the channels have shortened, organizations have flattened, talent has won the war and consumers are more aware than ever. Today, the leadership credibility added by the CEO is simply not enough. The world is looking for leadership stories all over the company.

How the delivery guy made it special for the birthday boy. How the customer service agent took accountability and personally got the issue resolved before the SLA. How the receptionist waived off the Internet charges for a discomforted guest! Great companies understand this and want their people to learn about both systems and situations simultaneously.

They are working on creating self and situationally aware individual leaders who can measure the pro’s and con’s to take a call in benefit of both the business and the consumer. This does present the business risk or giving too much empowerment down the line, a risk that is now ripe to be taken.

Ever wonder how many people on the Uber team are managing the entire fleet in your city? The answer rhymes with free!

C. Learning is free for those who want to learn – Technology and social media has certainly impacted the literate lifestyle of the urban professional. This is an old story now! It has also influenced the rural farmer and the cave dweller’s lifestyle for good.

This farmer today gets up and tunes in to a special agriculture centric radio show at 5 every morning that tells him what to do today from the expert’s desk. The small time-investor learns to keep a pulse on the market on his android app. The effervescent learner signs up for free online mass courses with professors and content from the worlds top universities.

We are living in an era where the well intentioned can learn better on his own compared to what he can at his local government college. This trend is catching up with companies too with them sponsoring self-initiated learning more than ever. More of them are opening up to the idea of cross skilling, community learning and personalized learning opportunities. This is somewhat responsible for a whole gamut of individuals interested in learning how to think and learning how to learn. Fundamentals are getting clearer and companies are giving the due leverage to its employees who take the first few daring steps in this direction. This kind of training is a little out of hand for any training team but end of the day, if every learner knows what to learn and how to go about it – why would we need a training team?

Even Google is going back to ‘Alphabet’ and fixing it’s abc, you should do something special for those who are willing to learn. Don’t you think?

D. Classroom is dying – Frankly, nobody has time to find the best-fit homogeneous set of people to put in a room for two days with a set of unclear achievables that have clear objectives. The matrixed-multi-layered business models of today just do not allow for that to happen.

A lot of organizations are moving away from fulfilling the traditional training man-day mandate to a more sensible learning outcome measurable. This often means learning can happen anywhere, in much smaller groups, with more meaningful custom content and action learning projects. Teams, training, transition and tradition are all going virtual. With technology behaving better each day, this trend will see steady upswing only.

After all, what could we teach the Wright Brothers (Inventors of the first Airplane) in the classroom?

E. Elephants are buying skates – Elephants are the organizations – Large, Heavy, Brute, Slow and caught in their own worlds. And they are out of the jungle and on this highway where speed, agility, timing, adaptability and fuel are need of the hour.

The good news is that the large businesses today acknowledge it and a lot of them are out for buying skates as we speak. It’s a start!

In any organization, training is the driver of learning and at a time when a lot of historical learning is laid waste, this department will be needed to shoulder more weight than ever. In simple terms, training will be everyone’s need and responsibility rather than remaining a mere departmental checkpoint. The sooner an elephant buys this point, the earlier they will have their skates delivered.

Just imagine, what would happen if Ola, which is doing a great job of teaching professionalism and technology awareness to the people driving their vehicles, stopped training them because the manual wasn’t available?

The crux of the matter is, great organizations are making training work on the space between the spokes that makes their wheel work better. Other’s are still looking to re-polish the spokes.

Training is changing, only because the learner, the learning, the skill, the organization, the market and the world are changing. The only choice we have is either to get a surfboard and ride the wave or gasp for air in between.

By Abhinandan Chatterjee – The Author is an L&D, OD and Leadership Consultant who has worked with over 130 organizations across South Asia and is the author at . Connect with him on twitter @humanwareworks / Originally Published on LinkedIn Pulse

Why #leadership development #fails & #How to #fix it!

What’s with the # – It’s for #twitter. But imagine if everything was written with a ‘#’, if everything was a keyword? How would that work?

Well, it is no different for the first time leader. A new language, new words, new meanings and too much information which can be blinding. A new place where everything has an alternative and every decision has a repercussion, more than ever. If you are already what one can call a ‘leader’ you know the pressure I am talking about.

The pressure to change, to live up, to manage, to drive and to deliver! But how? With a world where everything seems to be top priority, like the # or the keyword, every new leader takes one of two ways  :

A: Ignores all hashtags ‘#’ and goes with the best guess any way! OR B: Tries to deal with all of them and eventually burns out!

While our poor protagonist is making the wrong choice or the wrong choice, the mounting pressure teaches him/ her to either pretend or defend. That’s the behavioral approach which is the social equivalent of being either a lifelong victim or a ‘know it all’. Where is the ‘leader’ in all this, you ask? So do I!

Add to this, a dose of the ‘leadership development workshop’ and the person in question hears the following :

#Sources of power for a #leader | #Types of #leaders | #Leadership principles | #Leadership Best Practices | #Leadership Models | #Delegation | #Situational Leadership | #Action centered #leadership | #level5 Leadership | #Feedback | #Lead by #example | #Team-Management | # Task-Management | #Conflict Management | #People & #Project Management | #Inspiration | #Problem solving | #Decision making | #Motivation”

Thats pretty much every two day leadership workshop ever designed. To you, me and every other L&D / HR professional these are must have skills! To the protagonist, nothing but more words.

How do these words benefit them? What should they do when, under pressure, these words frankly just don’t occur to them?

The answer is not to change everything head over heels and de-credit what the best of thinkers and management maestros have thought up. All the buzzwords and # (hashtags) are both important and relevant. The challenge however is in how these are driven and drilled down the to-be leaders #neural network?

The answer may be in Bloom’s taxonomy. Blooms taxonomy is a model that demarcates levels of adult learning. Understanding this could be the key to teaching and driving leadership development.

Most of current leadership content takes people (learners) to the receiving andresponding level i.e. they understand the definitions and are able to recall it when faced with the terms in day to day conversations.

Some workshops, practice oriented sessions and customized learning experiences do manage to take this leadership learning to the organizing level i.e. participants are able to plot valid responses, scenarios and tools together. But is this enough to prepare these learners for the real world challenges and expectations?

To make meaningful difference, we need to take this learning to the ‘Valuing‘  and ‘Internalizing‘ levels. How?

While even through workshops that are limited in content but deep rooted in practice, some amount of this is certainly possible. However, I have always seen the best results through #gamification and #simulation.

Here are some ideas that you can use for the next set of people you work with :

1. Use theatre – It’s nothing complicated and there are many ways of using this. For e.g. Make and prepare a drama club in your office and use them to drive situations where learners participate and get to respond to complex workplace conversations as leaders and managers. Feel free to take this to other avenues of learning like communication and customer service. If not this, give simple scenarios and get teams to role-play them without knowing what the opposition plans to do.

2. Use Gamification – I don’t mean to complicate at all, but this simply means to create content where people get to decide on their own, pay for the consequences and build rewards on their own with limited supervised learning. For the nay-sayers, this is not idealistic because the activity is still very much supervised, the learning is not! For e.g. here are few things you can do :

  • I designed this simulation called the ‘6talk plan’ for managerial development.
  • This is basically the 6 key conversations every manager needs to have with their subordinates – 1. Start of the annual goal setting 2. Quarterly / Incidental Review 3. Half Yearly Review 4. Personalized feedback / teaching moments (Task based) 5. Personalized feedback / teaching moments (Behavior based) and 6. Annual review and appraisal discussion.
  • I recommend that you go the whole hog and invest a week in building content for this. You will need a Fictitious company brief, a CEO brief (To whom everybody reports including the protagonist), a Manager Brief, Team member profiles 4-5 (Fictitious). This is just background.
  • Then you need situational cases for each of the 6 conversations and cue cards for concepts / models that you would like people to use. If possible, even video record these briefs as personal anecdotes instead of words on paper.
  • Each case then needs to be played by unique trio’s , Manager – Team Member – Observer (Regulate roles here!)
  • You can also record an ideal conversation on video so that people can learn and compare to.
  • Quick-tip – Make it tough and realistic at all times. Too basic and you will have people bored, too complicated and they will disengage. Don’t be afraid of some trial and error.

3. Use Business Simulation – Personally, I am a big fan of Ram Charan’s and Larry Bossidy’s book called ‘Execution’. I feel it effectively describes what every leader should know about getting things done. In essence it says that there are three key aspects to perfect execution : People, Operations and Strategy

Points 1 and 2 in this article work really well when teaching ‘People’ and to some extent ‘Operations’ aspects. But for strategy the key is to teach people about the broader picture. Strong debrief, business leader feedback and buy-in are crucial here. If you have a good budget, maybe you can go for some real time online simulation like Capstone etc., if like me the budgets are often tighter and the management wants ‘Harvard’ like learning in ‘private-tuition’ costs, try using Monopoly and/ or Human Chess!

What I have shared here are merely some quick ideas of building more meaningful leadership development options for your workforce. Needless to say that the intent is not to prove that theory isn’t important. The question simply is how to treat it the right way to ensure application?

While you try your hand at the above tips, please do use your judgement focusing on how to leverage on these ideas and not just replace everything else. Let me leave you with a story that tells us why this judgement is critical for both , leadership development and learning in general :

This is allegedly a true story. Engineers at a major aerospace company were instructed to test the effects of bird-strikes (notably geese) on the windshields of airliners and military jets. To simulate the effect of a goose colliding with an aircraft travelling at high speed, the test engineers built a powerful gun, with which they fired dead chickens at the windshields. The simulations using the gun and the dead chickens worked extremely effectively, happily proving the suitability of the windshields, and several articles about the project appeared in the testing industry press.

It so happened that another test laboratory in a different part of the world was involved in assessing bird-strikes – in this case on the windshields and drivers’ cabs of new very high speed trains. The train test engineers had read about the pioneering test developed by the aerospace team, and so they approached them to ask for specifications of the gun and the testing methods. The aerospace engineers duly gave them details, and the train engineers set about building their own simulation.

The simulated bird-strike tests on the train windshields and cabs produced shocking results. The supposed state-of-the-art shatter-proof high speed train windshields offered little resistance to the high-speed chickens; in fact every single windshield that was submitted for testing was smashed to pieces, along with a number of train cabs and much of the test booth itself.

The horrified train engineers were concerned that the new high speed trains required a safety technology that was beyond their experience, so they contacted the aerospace team for advice and suggestions, sending them an extensive report of the tests and failures.

The brief reply came back from the aero-engineers: “You need to defrost the chickens….”


Abhinandan Chatterjee (Article also available independently at / / LinkedIn)

Connect on twitter for #HR folks : @humanwareworks

#HR Vs. #HRBP – Research findings about the #HRBP fad #IIMC Project Report

What’s in the name; said Shakespeare – Little did he know that one day the entire #HR fraternity will struggle with this! Whether to call it #HR, #HR generalist, #HR Ops, or #HRBP seems to be tougher then deciding the KRA’s for all of them.

This is a critical issue, and one that can potentially push a lot of us out of jobs over time.

Out Of Jobs? Yes, thats what I said and its because the way its going, people may just soon loose jobs because of the term they used on their LikedIn profile regardless of the work they actually do ! While doing the PG, Strategic HRM Course, at IIM Calcutta, me and my acquaintances were provided with the  task of creating a project report based on realtime inputs.

We chose : Aligning HR & Business Strategy to impact bottom line through the HRBP framework 

So, I am just sharing the report for which we even found some sound validation from Peoplematters and CEB-SHL surveys!

Read it on slideshare at

L&D 2.0 – Why Learning in Business needs a Makeover?

learning_0 (1)Let’s get to the point – L&D, when too simple – is a farce and when too complicated – doesn’t deliver. I am not saying this, but a lot of organizations have come to prove this statement true over the past few years. The ROI myth is still going strong and neither people (learners) nor learning leaders seem to be able to take accountability.

How? – you would ask.

With research, technology, expertise, education and the good old fashioned trial and error, we know that people, culture, leadership and organizational learning are more critical today than ever before. We also know that its possible to drive if all small pieces in play come together. And we also know that this entire process is -Fragile!

For an organization to learn , there are no simple ways. Where there are ways, they are complicated and people just don’t seem motivated enough to see them through.

A lot of talented professionals spend years of work to drive results through L&D but how many can take credit and say that they contributed to the business top-line – or bottom-line directly through what they did. My problem is that when the effort is made the result should be visible.

Having worked with over 200 world-class organizations as a consultant, I now feel the need to work long term (say 3 years) with a single corporate and help them see through the change, later in my career, lead the HR team from a business standpoint to deliver numbers that add to net profit and grow enough to become the CEO of a regular business. I have at least 25 years of a career left ahead of me, so I m sure I will get this done!  But for this to happen, either for me or for anyone else, we need organizations that are great at learning, high on adaptability, comfortable with change and aligned to the same business objectives regardless of the department. Along with this, we need HR that has business acumen and aspires to become the CEO some day.

As of today, we have a long way to go!

From an Operations lens, there are three kinds of HR team cultures in organizations (Across the company for SME’s and in pockets and silos for large , multi-layered corporates). Hence,  approaches towards people, culture and learning management are only usually a blend of these three. Not based on the Org. charts but on the actual culture, these are:

1. HR as Service Provider – HR is just the ‘yes’ man and the part time office boy who gets what operations asks for. There is rarely any depth to the actions and its usually about compliance. In all this the learning perspective is :

  • Organize generic programs to keep people occupied
  • Meet the ISO mandated number of training days
  • Don’t take too much pain to find what is needed but give only what is asked
  • Nobody invites you to the serious business talks, accept it!
  • Play up to an audience and show the CEO your accomplishments to get next years budget!

2. HR as a News Anchor – In this case, the companies seem to have a little more faith in HR, they are given the news (Good, bad and ugly)  and the responsibility to share it, specially when it is bad and ugly.

While the key role is still keeping discipline and managing payroll, its usually after a key discussion of ‘serious business’ , they are called in to the board room and told about the judgement. ‘What can I do, it is a business decision’, is one statement you would hear often in this culture from the HR representatives. In all this the learning perspective is :

  • Business takes priority, learning takes a backseat.
  • Learning is often looked as an event and not a solution/ application process.
  • Managers, learners and unfortunately sometimes even learning leaders want crowd pleasing ‘fun’ driven learning as opposed to things that can actually make business sense.
  • Budget is decided before outcomes are decided – which are usually vague (Ref: the ROI Myth).
  • Basic L&D deliverables are rebranded as super successful and good looking (On Paper) outcome drivers, not much changes in what it actually happens. Add some pre and post tests if you will!

2. HR as a Business Partner : Agreed, its a novel concept. But what matters is where the designations have changed, have the organizations changed too? Many a places still call the new HR guy a ‘business partner’ but discusses no business with him!

In an ideal world, this would mean using HR as a strategic driver to ensure business outcomes. Ram Charan and Larry Bossidy, in their book ‘Execution’, talk about business being driven by – Strategy – Operations and People. Equally and not selectively. But I will leave it to you to judge how often that happens!

In all this the learning perspective is :

  • More business driven , so at least a TNA happens and ops is on board as a client where the HR is consulting.
  • The moment is gets too ‘businessy’ HR pulls a step back and says things like ‘I can do this much but the rest is up to you’
  • In words of a senior ops. professional talking about Sr. HR business partners, ‘it’s like working with the MD’s son. They come, they ask, they tell – throw some weight around and propose a change or two. Then they get busy with their own thing!’
  • There is a blend of calendar programs (Kool to do) and the need based programs (Need to do to shut ops. up) along with ‘Value’ based initiatives, glorified and often exaggerated e mails for what has been achieved.
  • No doubt, this leads to some short term successes which is more than what can be said for the first two approaches.
  • On the positive side, there is a lot of work that gets done – but it is affected when participating in all this just becomes voluntary and optional for every employee.
  • A lot is expected from Ops in terms of implementation assistance which seldom comes through and everybody finds some data to validate post which everyone lives happily ever after.

Isn’t this sounding all too negative? Take a moment to think what all have you experienced as a professional so far?

These to me are good reasons to believe that learning indeed needs a makeover. Here are some of the key things that I have figured out based on research, technology, expertise, education and the good old fashioned trial and error which would certainly feature on my Learning 2.0 Agenda :

1. Say bye to calendar programs – Its important to meet your ISO or whatever other certification standards you want to meet, but the the first element of learning 2.0 is about being deadly serious on ROI. Generic programs add zero to no tangible value, take them online, replace them with e learning and create internal champions who could do seminars from a business standpoint. (This qualifies certification hours)

2. Teach HR to talk business – Whether you do it through committee based decision making or more business oriented HR hiring, if your HR team talks business, they help create a culture where the operations team trusts them and can truly look at them as partners. It  is simply about credibility.

It is this credibility that HR/ L&D needs to build and bank upon while driving initiatives that make people take accountability.

3. Teach business the value of HR : Lets look at it this way – what are the key moments when ops. guys have to play HR type roles ? Annual Goal Setting / 4 Quarterly Reviews / Final Appraisal – I call this the ‘6Talk Plan’. If you can ensure effectiveness in just these 6 touch-points to start with, I will bet my money on the fact that you will see positive changes in your culture over 12 months or less!

This is why every manager needs to have the HR pill, whether they like it or not. To take this a step further, drive managerial cross skilling to build empathy and unity within your managerial audiences.

4.Executive coaching is not the only type of coaching – Its expensive to get an senior and certified executive coach , honestly, its somewhat irrelevant as well if you are doing this for mid to junior level professionals. So create internal coaching systems and maybe even create a new designation, the idea is to use OJT (On job training) more sincerely and create a blend of generic + feedback based learning. For Eg. a coach who can talk about Maslow’s hierarchy while giving feedback on team management to a first level supervisor. Get your internal coaches to mix models and meaning to make magic!

5. Create curriculums and reward learning success – There are many ways of doing this meaningfully. The most common one that you too would know are MDP. The issue is not that they are not done. At many places, they are not done seriously enough. Either senior leaders do not value them and propagate them or Ops/HR does not follow up hard enough.

It can also be done through MOOC’s on Udemy, Coursera etc. Only word of caution is to ensure validation.

One way I feel this can be done is by asking people to pay for their own learning and if they complete it successfully, reward them with a 3X payback. Adding curriculum completion points for IJP’s / Promotions and Even appraisals may be a good idea. Now this is what an IDP (Individual Development Plan) should look like!

6. Action Learning Projects – This is nothing new, but I have not seen it being done to well, so it is still on the list! Every program is done with a set of clear achievables which are documented by individuals and teams as projects. They don’t choose independently but from a list of business approved projects that add real-time value. Don’t give up on the follow ups and calculating ROI will be easy.

7. Teach Twitter (OR any social platform, even internal!) : Most people who don’t use twitter do so due to a lack of understanding. Teach them how twitter can help them, maybe even schedule twitter time and let the tweets flow. Stay away from touchy topics – this is just developmental. Not a platform to discuss policy but just to learn! This has tremendous advantages when it comes to social learning, recognition and award systems. There are risks, but where are they not?

Maybe even make IDP’s as Individual dev. plans as individual dev. profiles. Get people to want an all-star rating for their profile which helps with appraisal and also gives them a reason to keel learning!

8. Do more with less : Your L&D offering does not have to have a 100 elements. Let it have 5, be focused on quality and depth of application. Not on quantity. I even advocate ending full day workshops (Business loves this!) , make it frequent, make it small, and make it application oriented. For eg. Teach a time management technique in an hour, get people to commit to applying and schedule a review next week. Reward doers, give the nay-sayers another chance but document it all. Map this to commitment and accountability during appraisals.

9. Spend Wisely – Use the ops and finance expertise to plan you L&D budgets.  A lot of companies plan for processes , i.e. 20% for Technical training / 30% for Behavioral Training etc. ; Instead, plan for outcomes, what do you want to achieve, how much could it impact business, how long term is plan, is the task maintenance or progressive and lastly, what % of my budget should be allocated to that. Then plan for how to use the money towards the best possible outcome!

10. Target Harmony – Organizational Harmony – I can learn from James bond here, when he is in a tough spot (Like he always is, much like HR), he has to prioritize, make tough choices; So if I asked you to choose only two things that you could do as HR / L&D leads in you organization – What would they be ?

This question has bothered me for a while now here is what I have finally come to terms with :

  1. Align Values > Competencies > Vision > Mission > Strategy > Targets > KPI’s / KRA’s > Rewards > PMS > On-boarding and Exit as one experience with a simple goal – People should know 100 % of what their piece is and a 10,000 feet overview to everyone else’s. In simple terms, writing and pasting this at the reception is not going to help. These things have to become a part of the lingo, the everyday talk in teams and the manager’s feedback in high stress situations for everyone else but HR. (HR is busy talking business – Remember!)
  2. Make the ‘6Talk Plan’ Work – What people care most about in any system is how they were treated. it is about respect, fairness and trust. These 6 conversations (Point 3 from the above list) is what can be a solid foundation to a culture that makes this happen.                               (While these two things are not small and easy things to accomplish, they are only two, and as HR , I am sure that you have done much more!)

Thinking about a MDP project that I worked on recently got this thought going. I would love to hear from you about what you think about these pointers and if you would also recommend anything else.

I feel L&D today needs a makeover – Do You?

Also posted on my linked pulse feed.

Corporate Accelerator

The First Job – 3 Things you cant do without

Some people are lucky to have good jobs straight out of college and some are not! Are you and / or your loved ones that Lucky?

As Malcolm Gladwell would say Luck = Opportunity + Preparation. But honestly, and I will bet my 10 years of working with more than 200 global organizations as a people and culture consultant, luck has nothing to do with it!

A 2014 CII (Confederation of Indian industries) report co-authored by Wheebox says that only 1.5 out of every 5 Indian graduates are unemployable in India. This is a number that should scare you – it scared me!

So, here are 3 things you can’t do without to get hired for the first time :

1. Be worldly-wise and not just book-wise : When I was studying, there were all kinds of kids in class – the talkative ones and the quiet ones, the strong ones and the intelligent ones, the bookworms and the doers, the good-boys and the mis-chiefs (Pun intended) and finally, the toppers.

I got along well with most and I had somewhat of an opinion about who would succeed in life. Here is the order of people from successful to not so successful that I thought will happen : Toppers > Bookwise > Intellectuals >Good-boys>Doers >Strongmen>Talkers>Mischiefs>ME (Happily, this didn’t turn out correct!)

Today, after many years that I see what has happened, the order is insanely different. It is: Talkers > Mis-chiefs > ME> Doers > Good Boys> Toppers>Intellectuals …. and so on. I also validated this observation with friends and family and somehow , almost everyone said that it’s strangely true!

So, the first thing you need is life experience – the more you have tried, the more you have failed, the more you have seen – the better are your chances to succeed.

Focus Skills : Agility and Adaptability

2. Be the ‘Why’ Guy (Or Girl) : There is a boat-load of people who seem to have an opinion about what needs to be done. When you apply a filter to that list saying who knows ‘why’ and ‘how’, you will be surprised to see that the list has shortened by about 80%. What does this mean?

This means, that while a lot of people can be smart enough to know the right thing, they are unable to execute. When any business looks to hire, they want people who can deliver.

A while ago we were taking interviews for our business at; we interviewed more that 50 valid resumes to learn only one simple fact – Credentials do not guarantee skills!

So as a fresher, you should focus on ‘why and how’ you did things and not just on ‘what’; when you land that interview. You have a simple agenda – Project yourself as someone who knows how to deliver!

This alone will make you a memorable candidate and push you to the top of the shortlist.

Focus Skills : Focus on ‘Why’ and Communication 

3. Become work ready : What really changes between college and work? I have asked this question to more than 1000 people across the many Campus to Corporate workshops we delivered for clients like Maruti, Sapient, Sterlite Tech. and many more. The answers I get include Money, Lifestyle, Loosing Friends, Social Circle, Needs, Responsibilities, Routine, Boredom, Less fun, Being answerable etc.

What I wanted to hear but never did, is – Expectation.

What your parents, college, and you expect from yourself are nothing similar to what a business, an employer, expects from you. That is why, what you did yesterday which worked well does not necessarily work well today (When you are at work).

You will complain that you need to be who you are, you can’t change your personality and the business needs to learn to deal with you. You will own every success and blame every failure on the effervescent – SYSTEM! But it will not help you grow.

What you need to learn is that ‘To change a system you first have to be a part of it’. Therefore – For the first 6 months or so, suppress your urge to change things, master the system and keep an open mind by listening and learning.

If you are at a place where you are not learning a lot, don’t worry – Ask!

Doing this and other simple things like ensuring right email etiquette, manners , phone etiquette, dressing well (Even if others are not doing it!) will give you something that many take years and years to build – Credibility.

Without credibility even the best ideas are worthless because the way this business world works – An idea is usually as important as the person giving it.

Focus Skills : Listening, Learning and Etiquette

I know that there are many naïve people out there who may not agree with this straight up commentary and will give a different advise. Listen to them too because what they say is not wrong. Just remember, an year later, you will be in a position to give advice and I hope that you then give what you truly believe.

We wanted to do something to help fix the issue of low employability and therefore this article. But that is not where our accountability ends, having been in learning and development for over a decade with many world class organizations, there is certainly more that can be done.

That is why we established the IERF (International Employability Research Foundation) and sculpted the Corporate Accelerator program. Simply put it does three things :

  • Corporate certified assessment – skill evaluation which allows the employers from 200+ organizations to see the potential talent of each student and how quickly they can deliver results once hired
  • Psychometric Evaluation – allowing recruitment to be a lot more focused and ensuring that the right talent is hired for the right job. Something that students will not have access to anywhere else in the country
  • Profile Showcase – students who certify through our program have their profile uploaded to our recruitment database which is an access point for our corporate partners to conduct their recruitment.

Here are two presentations that will tell you everything you want to know. Don’t wait, if you have outgrown this but wish that you knew about it when the time was right – please share with those who CAN use it today!

The Idea :

The Program:

We are just starting out sharing this but we spent the last 7 years building it. I will be very keen to know what you think about the ‘corporate accelerator’ idea. Looking forward to hear from you.

For sign-up, participation, referral or if you know a college that we can pitch to or anything else that you may think of , please write to

– Abhinandan Chatterjee

How to tell a story

Have you ever spoken to someone, where you shared something interesting and they still lost interest – or you did! Have you ever wondered why some people are better than others when it comes to communication, influence and building trust/faith?

One of the major things these ‘better’ people do is to tell a story really well. Have you ever told a story?If yes , you can make it better and if no then you must try! This is one skill that can go a long  way with and for you to. Whether it is about landing your dream job or getting your dream partner – If you can tell a story well; you will have a better chance at being heard, being understood and being believed upon!

That is what my message was to the 1000 people present at TedxJUIT in the Solan Valley – November 2014. Here is my TED talk titled –

How to tell a story !


This talk was described on the Tedx website as follows :

“This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. The talk is woven around three short stories of a businessman, with each story having a moral of its own.

He describes how communication plays a chief role in depicting the thoughts while simultaneously conveying a message with a meaning. Telling stories are about questioning the question. The stories go around the world of four keywords – what, why, where and when.

Stories communicate emotions and not merely facts.He gives his mantra of telling amazing stories. This mantra constitutes the hook, the bait and the pull. Hook is about what you want the audience to be interested in. Bait is something that makes them believe that your statement is correct. Pull is about truth that drives the story.

Another point of focus was ‘Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma Phaleshou Kada Chana’. This vision of working without any dreams of bearing fruits is challenging the very basic idea of the existence and the way it is today thereby generating circumstances to create amazing stories.

Abhinandan Chatterjee is a storyteller. His forte lies in his ability to get people to learn through participation, thought and action! “Learning is not compulsory, neither is change, nor is survival”, is his idea to enable learning for grown-ups. He has been assisting learners for over nine years and comes with an excellent understanding of participant behavior and adult learning best-practices. He is also a people performance consultant and the managing partner at I Train.

In his current role he works with over a 175 organizations like McKinsey, PepsiCo, ILO, Philips, Google and many more around South Asia to help develop their culture, people and learning initiatives.

His education has been about business, psychology and human resources from institutions like the University of Stonebridge and IIM Calcutta.

When he is not with groups or individuals, assisting them in their professional development, he is often clicking pictures, eating or writing either for his blog at or books and articles. ”


Please do share what you think about this. Cheers – Abhi

Believe them!

Why fairy tales don’t inspire anymore!

Believe them!

Believe them!

Who does not like a little story? A good plot, some identifiable characters, a little background, a convincing story-teller sprinkled with some emotions

  •  Little Red Ridinhood didn’t listen to her mother.
  • Jasmine was in a live in relationship with Alladin.
  • Snow White alone lived wid 7 men.
  • Pinnochio was a liar.
  • Robin Hood was a thief.
  • Tarzan walked without clothes on.
  • A stranger kissed Sleeping beauty n she married him.
  • Cindrella lied, sneaking out at nite 2 attend a party..
  • These r d stories our parents raised us with n den they complain our generation is spoiled!!
  • Jasmine was in a live in relationship with Alladin.
  • Snow White alone lived wid 7 men.
  • Pinnochio was a liar.
  • Robin Hood was a thief.
  • Tarzan walked without clothes on.
  • A stranger kissed Sleeping beauty n she married him.
  • Cindrella lied, sneaking out at nite 2 attend a party..

These are the stories we grew up with and still the they complain our generation is spoiled!!

There is one thing that has continued to bother me though. How is it that as kids we looked at the good sides of these stories and loved them. What really changed by the time we grew up? Today, even when we hear a good story, lets say – a politician doing something good , we still think there is some sneaky self interest involved somewhere.

I mean , by all means, please be a pessimist if you will but then either stop telling children lies or start looking at the truth in them as a grown up!

What really has changed is a term coined by Motivation theorist Ashland –  UPR (Unconditional Positive Regard). In  simple terms when you meet someone for the first time , you think of them as good people who are there to help and help them if needed.  Today however, you reach someone who you don’t know and you are taken up as a disturbance if not a conman already.

What is this happening to the world around us? I asked around , many poeple, and what I got was ‘The world is not a safe place place any more?’ Where do you intend to go – I ask!

So here are three super simple things you can do the bring the UPR back :

1. Realism – Tell children (and adults) what is with the risks and the good sides.

2. Make a Opinion marker – For E.G. I tell myself that I will make an opinion about someone only after meeting thrice. This works, if i did’t do this, trust me I would not have been married yet!

3. Share – When people make you uneasy, say things that you disapprove, share your feeling without accusing other of being wright or wrong.

Do this and slowly and steadily UPR will return to your life. Once you give it, you will get it and then the fairy tales will inspire again!


Creating Shared Value : The business of development & 3 things YOU can do !

Understanding businesses today

Part 1

Long time ago, there was a tortoise and a hare who had an argument about who the faster runner was. They finally decided to take on one another for a race.

As the race started, the hare sprinted ahead briskly for some time. Realizing that it will take some time for the tortoise to catch up with him, he decided to seek shelter from the sun under a tree before continuing the race. As he sat under the tree, he gradually fell asleep. The tortoise, crawling at a steady pace, eventually overtook him and won the race. The hare woke up and realized that his complacency cost him the trophy.

Moral: By the 1970, the industry and government was working on their own agenda and businesses felt that being slow but steady would get them to win the race.

Part 2

The hare realized that he was over confident, complacent and took things too easily. He decided to have a re-match with the tortoise. The tortoise accepted his challenge.

This time, the hare ran with all his might and didn’t stop until he crossed the finish line.

Moral: Fast and consistent will always beat the slow and steady. By 1980’s business were realizing the need to be faster and agile, India saw a splurge of global interventions that was to make Indian businesses work faster.

But the story doesn’t end here.

 Part 3

This time, it was the tortoise that did the soul searching and he realized that if the hare didn’t stop, there is no way he will beat him. He thought hard and decided on a different course and he challenged the hare to another re-match. The hare, of course, agreed.

With the lessons learnt from his earlier failure in mind, the hare kept on running once the race started and didn’t stop until the route leads him to the bank of a river. He was taken by surprise and he did not know what to do, since he could not swim. There were no bridges in sight and no one to ask for directions. As he was cracking his head, thinking of ways to cross the river, the tortoise strolled slowly along, dived into the river, swam across it and ultimately, finished the race before the hare.

Moral: Know your strengths and take on your competitors in areas of your core competency. Do you remember how all of sudden all doctors were specialists by 1990, It just wasn’t the doctors, but all businesses.

While the governments were busy with their bureaucratic tantrums, the industry learnt to discover its strengths and live through a quickly globalizing fast-paced market. By the 1990’s, everyone was specializing, everybody who was doing everything was now picking battles that appealed to their personal strength.

The business and government were both becoming technically savvy but at different levels.

The story still hasn’t ended.

Part 4

With the hare and the tortoise spending so much time together racing, they have learnt to live together, they have also developed mutual respect for one another as they realized that they are both different and they have different strengths. They decided to race again, but this time, as a team.

As the race started, the hare carried the tortoise and they sped to the river bank. There, they switched positions and the tortoise ferried the hare across the river. On the opposite bank, the hare again carried the tortoise and they crossed the finishing line together. They completed the race in a record time that both of them can never achieve if they were to do it alone. They also felt a greater sense of satisfaction than they’d felt earlier.

Moral: After the year 2000, it has been increasingly the sense of partnership governing most successes in businesses and otherwise. We a seen a remarkably higher number of government and industry partnerships. A higher number on mutual decisions that benefit most and most importantly a say in the policy making. While it has its glitches but for good cause people do come together.

Driving CSV for the future – Impacting the bottom line

In all this slowly has emerged a third partner, society, it elects the government and is a supplier to businesses. A very interesting position to be at.  Society is now at the driving seat towards the future and it only will decide the fate of government and and business in the years to come.

Simply put, growth of the nation depends on the education and decision making abilities of the society which in turn will govern the sustenance of industry. It is multi-dependent situation to be in and everyone has something at stake. One can’t function without the others any  more.

That is what makes this era, the era of Creating Shared Value between society and business.

Enough with the background. I know this sounds good for people with Moolah to match. But Not Everyone – right ?

Nestle is doing a good job with their bit in helping the society and in the process helping themselves.  Read more about how they are creating shared value at

But is the Nestle story enough to convince the SME’s to give a hand with CSV?

Here are three things you can do as an SME with the reasons why :

1. It’s a give and take world : As a business if you want to take people’s money, it’s just not going to work any more. People are smarter and penny-wise. Look at what can you give back to the immediate society.

Example: You are a small business owner who manufactures candles. Maybe you can look at starting at candle making school for local population and take their material at a good price. That’s much cheaper than hiring people and drives considerably more commitment.

You are getting a finished product with a better margin as a business and people are becoming entrepreneurs in return. That’s CSV.

2. Give enough and you will get it back – compounded :What you do for the society drives as leverage. Sounds almost Utopian? It’s not.

Example: Fab India – What started as a small venture led to employment of thousands of people. recession and inflation came and went , unions were set up and dissolved – They never really had a strike that impacted their output. While all their neighbors did. Guess why – Because their workers stood up for them in difficult times. That’s what you get when you give with an open heart.

3. Take only what you need: While most people (SME business Owners) work on the philosophy of ‘Take what you can!’ ; ‘ Take only what you need’ may be the change in attitude the society is looking for. CSV is not an annual investment or tax benefit, its not CSR, donation or charity. It about you as a business being an enabler for the society.

Example: What can a small NGO do which has absolutely limited budgets ? There is one story that I know of; a small kid introduced to his first camera in an orphanage. Today he is one of the best photographers in India. Google up – Vicky Roy – INK Fellow.

In a simpler sense, all I am saying is spread hope.

To summarize – three things all SME’s can do to create shared value :

1. Find common ground where you can get what you want from the society directly while helping them become employed.

2. Build social credibility to drive social commitment to your business.

3. Spread hope that allows people to believe in the possibilities.

Other than Nestle, another organization that makes me want  to work with CSV is Maruti – when they came to India in 1982, they did not have any vendors or suppliers. So they found people and enabled them with the technology, learning and skills required to be their suppliers. In some cases even the investment needed.

Today those vendors are multi-million dollar companies.

So take a step – go the extra mile – create shared value!

The Biriyani Lesson – How adults learn

Biriyani has always fascinated me !

What is more fascinating is what we can learn if we become a little more curious and observant of our own lives…

And to say that there is more to biriyani than just eating it, nothing better than that !

Here is me talking about how adults learn based on a few biriyani related experiences.

Its time to biriyani.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please do comment !


Abhinandan Chatterjee

Amazing life #6 – Go help A Little

Some of you may have read the other articles on the  ‘Amazing Life Series’, this video captures so well what I have only dreamt to share.

Mostly we get caught in the battle of ‘If’ and ‘Then’; ‘If i get help from my team, only then will i offer to help them next time.’ Here is a video that teaches us otherwise and shares how a small action can be big step towards making the world a better place to live in …

So go, help a little and spread a little love because that is what humanity was meant to do !


Abhinandan Chatterjee

Creating Shared Value : The ‘sunrise’ direction

What can a business do?

Like most of us who run, transact with or know businesses will say that a they can only make money! Not true any more !

A really interesting Initiative that I came across was the ‘Nestle Creating Shared Valueand their perspective towards the role of business in development is simple, clear, driven and the way I understand – Very practical.

In my humble opinion, they seem to believe ‘If they build a better world, even they will benefit from it’ something that everyone should learn from and strive towards.

Read more about their work here . Or watch a video here

I believe in this idea and want to learn more, after receiving an invite recently from the Creating Shared Value Forum,2012 (Organized by Nestle SA and FICCI) to be held in New Delhi, India on Nov 5th as a Key Online Opinion Leader, my focus is now to see what is actionable and write about it.

Stay tuned here for two more articles on this thread :

1. Creating Shared Value : The business of development

2. Creating shared value forum 2012 : Top 10 actionable items that your business can start tomorrow.

Connect with the forum directly on twitter at  

#NestleCSV stay tuned for my tweets from the event day

OR connect with them on facebook at

Personally, since I am doing a workshop on ‘Execution tactics’ for a leading automobile company today, I feel the best way to sum this up for now would be to quote The Tonite Show anchor and entrepreneur – Jay Leno

“Life begins at conception and ends at execution’

Preamble – The real route to independence – Part 1

” WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY, of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation; IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949,DO HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION. ”

You would certainly have read this before in 5th Standard Civics… Remember!

Maybe you were too young to understand then, but now that you are old enough to read, can understand and choose your actions well – What do you do to uphold the constitution of India?

No; you do not have to read the constitution !

Just understanding the PREAMBLE and doing some little things at a very individual level should be enough – For now!

Let’s dissect : “WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:”

Leaving everything aside, all Indians are alike and equal. Can we treat our fellow Indian’s that way? Or is it okay if a rich man has rights and a poor man gets ‘Rights to admission – Reserved!’ even on government offices?

In 1949, we agree to be good people who care for each other.

Are we really SOVEREIGN ?

“The people’s will is in theory –  sovereign”. When we rule India as Indians, free from the pressures and politics of the world by being righteous and real.

The simplest way of being sovereign is to be aware – Yes, there are problems, but mostly because people love what’s easy and not what is correct.

It is time to stop looking at the constitution as something that stops us from doing things out of our own free will and start looking at it as something that gives us our share of the system, of  rules and more importantly – our rights.

The right to speak and be heard, right to be who we are and do what we want to without discrimination; as long as it is not hurting anything. We find it confining but it allows us to marry across cast, creed and culture while the society may not agree.

Take away : To be sovereign, know your rights.

Are we  really SOCIALIST ?

“To understand socialism, we need to understand the word ~ co-operation”

Be it economical, political or even historical; socialism is simply the act of being co-operative for the greater good. I think of the freedom fighters often – they had their share of problems like we do but they came out in the open to disagree with what was incorrect. They came together disregarding all biases. Considering now we are free, it should be easier for us to do so. Isn’t it?

Unfortunately the act of winning is more to do with ensuring that others fail rather than working harder and running faster. Co-operation is not against competition but it sure does favour ‘fairness’ in thought and action.

Take away : To be a socialist, think for more than just yourself by doing something good towards fostering equality in India. Be it just once a month you teach underprivileged kids  or donate in cash or kind.

Are we really SECULAR ?

“Humanity has no religion, it is one” – Gates foundation press release

Secular is simply the lack of bias. Not only religious but also social, cultural and in 2012, adding economical is not a stretch. Upholding what is available to all by abiding with law above religion. Being an Indian above an Hindu, Muslim or Sikh. Propagating humanity and not gospel is the real act of god, I guess. Still how many of us are comfortable with the religions that we do not understand. For a country with a constitution that claims to be unbiased and secular; the largest opposition party openly claims to be religiously inclined and downright intolerant on matters on religious equality.

I totalled up all the major religion driven deaths post 1949 (TOI, Archives), it took me 2 hours( that is how high the count was! ) to find that 1450000 Indians have died in various attempts of riots, terrorism strikes, honour killing, socially compelled suicides and post event trauma for all of the above.

It’s funny how certain religious institutions in India gross more money in donation and returns on investments than what is the educational budget for this country with over 50% population under 18 years of age!

Take away : To be a secular, read more about history and religion, a aware mind is less likely to be superstitious. Have faith not because you have to but because you want to. All that any religion ever led people towards was a better and peaceful world to live in.

Are we really DEMOCRATIC?

‘Between death and dungeon what do I choose?’ Voters turnout across country in last general election was less than 60 % and we were proud of it. A local Gurgaon newspaper survey suggested that the turnout at exit poll for urban Gurgaon booths were 20-25 % only. Local’s when asked ‘why so?’; 29 % people said they did not want to choose either of the candidates. Democracy is about the right to choose, the right is there but the choices are limited to be somebody’s pet peeves.  Did you know that you could actually cast blank votes if you do not prefer any of the listed candidates and RTI can also give access to the number of such instances. There are three aspects that make us less of a democracy:

  1. People – Democracy simply is ‘of the people, for the people, by the people’ where no individual is above ‘people’ but everybody seems to be missing this point. To vote or not to vote is not simply a choice; it’s a duty that we all have. But we are either lazy or busy.
  2. Options – I can choose between right and wrong like most people but in the art of choosing between two wrongs – I am not competent. Today, whoever gets elected says something and does something else. Even movies have stopped mocking this scenario now because it was over used! How do I trust such people, who do I trust with my vote and my future?
  3. Power – The thing that seems to control everything including the Judiciary and the law. Police is scared of a lot of things like politicians and their distant friends (A group that everybody in Delhi seems to be a part of); Press and the Fake I Cards like the ones that say ‘zalzala akhbaar’ and ‘Rohtak Mirroring’ eventually passing for journalists and their own ‘Babu’s’ who have taken so many favors from so many people that they now return even without asking.

It is comic but real that a man is not more valuable than a 21 INR toll ticket for which he got killed.

Take away: It is slow cooked broth reduced over 65 years and is not going to change overnight. Fight the wrong by being aware. Start with the traffic rules by reading them on The only way to rebuild democracy is to rethink our actions. That includes accepting  fault when you make one!

Are we a REPUBLIC ; yet?

On official documents – YES!

Republic noun state in which the supreme power rests in the body ofcitizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them.


How powerful is the citizen today and how much does he trust his elected representatives? I asked 15 people in family and friends to understand if they trust whoever they voted for last. I told myself that even if I get 1 person who says ‘Yes’, not all hope is lost! But as I expected, I could not manage 1 confident ‘Yes’. Instead, it opened a Pandora’s box of foul language and dissatisfaction. Need I say more.

Take away: The words that made us a republic (SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC) are not yet in action after 65 years of independence. 4 words we could not hold true in a country that boasts of the Longest constitution in the world. What you can do is start with the four words today!

We will talk later about the rest of the preamble later because the bruise from the first line will take a while to heal. Tell us what you think can you do at an individual level. Comment now!

Story Time: How Buddha learnt a lesson?

Gautam buddha was sitting underneath a banayan tree, meditating.On the other side of the tree two local musicians met and were discussing their work.

One of them wanted to learn the ‘ektara’, to increase his expertise.

The other musician, to express his expertise, started talking about the ektara.

He said ” The ektara is a beautiful instrument. If you want to learn how to play it , you must first learn how to tune the string. Make it too loose and it will not sound desirable, make it too tight and it will break.”

He concluded by repeating “not too tight, not too loose”

Buddha left his meditation and jumped up to stand. It was almost like someone had told him something unbelievable.

He had realized the secret to happiness or ‘moksha’.

Like the string for the ektara, too much or too little of anything is the reason for most sorrow.

Be it money, love, knowledge or even life. This philosophy gave birth to the idea of ‘madhyama marga‘ or the middle path.

How many such opportunities have we missed, is anybody’s guess.

Source: Public Domain - Abridged and rewritten from Upanishands (Compiled by Abhinandan Chatterjee)

Progressive politics – India 2012

The Past 

It’s not vaguely under cover; how Indian politics shackles down progress. The budgets get weaker, the closer comes the elections. And a woman makes it her own right to change news and history to suit her taste.

I am a voter, but where is my choice? Or is it about living with a mistake? …One that I made last elections.

Questionably, is that what has become of what was meant to be a democracy – Of the people, By the people, For the people.

Somewhere in their hearts,people of India are burning of rage and are gripped by fear, a rage to change but in fear of the initial consequences. We have always had issues with the ‘Big Picture Perspective’ (Why else did the British manage to rule us?), haven’t we?

I know friends who did not vote – not because they were busy, but because they did not want to pick either of the nominees. With more than a billion people; that is how low we are on choice?

Frankly, it looked like dooms day for Indian politics about 3 years ago, misreported by the media(they need breaking news…), misinterpreted by the opposition (on purpose, just to slam), mismanaged by politicians (they only order in chaos is what makes to their bank accounts), misjudged by the voters (Fabricated facts can only create fabricated reality) and mislead by personal agendas (It is never about making India work, but about ‘Not’ upsetting a counted few).

The Present

Then a welcome change of wind came by, all of a sudden politicians were going to talk shows that were real and were asked the questions which the common man wanted to(E.g. The Big Fight). They were replying to e-mails and for the first time were answerable to the public. The public too was commendable and became assertive to a full. They asked questions now, not waited for the answers.

The RTI, Right to Information Act , 2005 – contributed tremendously in getting people to their own might. While it had been around for a while, people had now learnt to use it well.

That was the birth of progressive politics. A choice that all politicians are presented with in today’s world.

What is Progressive Politics?

In my view, the philosophy is about connecting with the real people even after the elections. Connecting for real issues and being responsible for solutions. It is about intention, a good one, for the country and it is very much visible.

The best I could define progressive politics would be: A state of politics were nominated members act as a medium of communication between the government and the common men and women of the constituency instead of being rulers, singular decision makers and power mongers.

How is Progressive Politics different from the regular politics?

The following factors should help you identify:

  • Priorities – The state of the nation, its growth and international sanctity is the more important than strategic development for coming into power the next term.
  • Decisions – Choices are created, shared and mutually decided on matters of importance between the nominated member and the voters with the overall benefit of the constituency in mind and not personal, regional or community based benefits.
  • Communication – The politicians make a genuine effort to communicate and connect with the people on a regular basis to sense their needs and expectations. They reach out to the people and people who reach out to them are answered well. Not the same as standing in a que for 8 hours just to get through to the peon or PA at a minister’s office. Social media certainly has helped.
  • Responsibility – ‘Under promise over deliver’ It is more like customer service than being in charge of your organization. Service is the key and the politicians understand that the public values sincere service, real and visible, more than the face value or the fact that they are in their centennial year in Indian politics. Work counts – age does not.
  • Support – Progressive politics both needs and drives, support. It is an interesting paradigm because it is self-sustaining. As long as the cause is potent and real to the masses, it will be driven through support from the masses. Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption was a good glimpse at this. Why have we never had a political movement to drive change at this level?
This is a welcome change in the way politics works in our country. I am certain, this is what the forefathers of democracy dreamt of.
Out of the politicians today in India, many have taken the route to progressive politics already.
The days of ‘we need change’ are gone and over. Now it is about supporting and standardizing this change. That is one area where I feel a lot work will be demanded.
But let me share with you why I feel this is the way forward – Change is constant. A lot of well established and repeatedly proved  management theories about change may give an insight to our situation. The situation of Progressive politics in India.
The figure on your left called the ‘Diffusion of innovation’ (Source:  Everett M. Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations (1962).)
Let’s quickly understand the model in context to Indian progressive politics.
The  bottom terms represent the way Indian politicians will take up progressive politics and the curve represents the number of people in each category.
The height of the curve also represents the majority of public commitment  that a  particular groups’ effort will drive.
Just to add some more perspective in terms of progressive politics in India, here are some examples of the politicos who are into the muddle already –
Opinion Leaders – Sashi Tharoor,  Narendra Modi, Agatha Sangma
Early Adopters – Meera Sanyal, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Naveen Jindal, Jyotiraditya Scindia
The names are my personal views only and may differ from yours. Another aspect of Progressive Politics is empathy and listening. A world where different opinions may live peacefully and co-exist. Feel free to share your views in the comments section below.
We are at a stage where the early adopters are still building up. The key here to understand will be, that social networking may be a good medium but is not Progressive politics.Social responsibility is. 
The public is smart enough to spot who is here to play politics and get votes on twitter and who makes change happen – for real – even if it is through Facebook.
Mathematically there may be a few flaws in this alignment and it calls for a lot of research to find the real trends and do it justice. However, for me this analogy is just a lot of hope.And hope does not have to be mathematically correct. :)
The good news still is that CHANGE IS HERE. Knocking on the door. Chetan Bhagat (@chetan_bhagat) Tweeted yesterday
  • “In reaction to the TOI column, Civil Aviation minister Ajit Singh called me. Commendable of him to reach out.’
  • “Had a long call with the minister. He shared his thoughts on making AI better, but reminded me of practical issues like unions/culture”
  • “Invited me to meet him. Will do. Must say good to know there are some politicians who listen and are keen to change things. Ray of hope.”
This was in response to an article by Chetan “Burning money in the sky,” in TOI 21 April 2012, , about the current state of  Air India.
While Chetan was heard from his article on the TOI, but a lot of us will not write articles or go out to protest. We could be next on the list of people who might be heard next.
Support progressive politics, politicians and processes. Support the change for those trying to be it!
– Abhinandan Chatterjee

The other side of business – The True Story of Ratan Tata

‘It is futile to mix business with emotions!’ A well established fact that fuels lay-offs, inhuman sell-off’s, stone hearted acquisitions and the ever diminishing regard for people in businesses driven by people.

There is story that presents the other side of this picture. To top it up, it happened right here in India.

Ratan Tata is the chairman of Indian Hotels who owns the Taj Mahal Hotel Mumbai, which was the target of the terrorists on 26/11/08.

Hotel President a 5 star property also belongs to Indian Hotels.

Lets talk about what he did.

A. The Tata Gesture

1. All category of employees including those who had completed even 1 day as casual were treated on duty during the time the hotel was closed.

2. Relief and assistance to all those who were injured and killed

3. The relief and assistance was extended to all those who died at the railway station, surroundings including the “Pav- Bha ji” vendor and the pan shop owners.

4. During the time the hotel was closed, the salaries were sent by money order.

5. A psychiatric cell was established in collaboration with Tata Institute of Social Sciences to counsel those who needed such help.

6. The thoughts and anxieties going on people’s mind was constantly tracked and where needed psychological help provided.

7. Employee outreach centers were opened where all help, food, water, sanitation, first aid and counseling was provided. 1600 employees were covered by this facility.

8. Every employee was assigned to one mentor and it was that person’s responsibility to act as a “single window” clearance for any help that the person required.

9. Ratan Tata personally visited the families of all the 80 employees who in some manner – either through injury or getting killed – were affected.

10. The dependents of the employees were flown from outside Mumbai to Mumbai and taken care off in terms of ensuring mental assurance and peace. They were all accommodated in Hotel President for 3 weeks.

11. Ratan Tata himself asked the families and dependents – as to what they wanted him to do.

12. In a record time of 20 days, a new trust was created by the Tatas for the purpose of relief of employees.

13. What is unique is that even the other people, the railway employees, the police staff, the pedestrians who had nothing to do with Tatas were covered by compensation. Each one of them was provided subsistence allowance of Rs. 10K per month for all these people for 6 months.

14. A 4 year old granddaughter of a vendor got 4 bullets in her and only one was removed in the Government hospital. She was taken to Bombay hospital and several lacs were spent by the Tatas on her to fully recover her.

15. New hand carts were provided to several vendors who lost their carts.

16. Tata will take responsibility of life education of 46 children of the victims of the terror.

17. This was the most trying period in the life of the organization. Senior managers including Ratan Tata were visiting funeral to funeral over the 3 days that were most horrible.

18. The settlement for every deceased member ranged from Rs. 36 to 85 lacs [One lakh rupees tranlates to approx 2200 US $ ] in addition to the following benefits:

a. Full last salary for life for the family and dependents;

b. Complete responsibility of education of children and dependents – anywhere in the world.

c. Full Medical facility for the whole family and dependents for rest of their life.

d. All loans and advances were waived off – irrespective of the amount.

e. Counselor for life for each person



1. How was such passion created among the employees? How and why did they behave the way they did?

2. The organization is clear that it is not something that someone can take credit for. It is not some training and development that created such behaviour. If someone suggests that – everyone laughs

3. It has to do with the DNA of the organization, with the way Tata culture exists and above all with the situation that prevailed that time. The organization has always been telling that customers and guests are #1 priority

4. The hotel business was started by Jamshedji Tata when he was insulted in one of the British hotels and not allowed to stay there.

5. He created several institutions which later became icons of progress, culture and modernity. IISc is one such institute. He was told by the rulers that time that he can acquire land for IISc to the extent he could fence the same. He could afford fencing only 400 acres.

6. When the HR function hesitatingly made a very rich proposal to Ratan – he said – do you think we are doing enough?

7. The whole approach was that the organization would spend several hundred crore in re-building the property – why not spend equally on the employees who gave their life?

It is funny why was this not repeatedly on the news?

Moreover, it drives attention to a rather undervalued aspect of business in this competitive era. That side is Kindness.

Source: Facebook Post with personal commentary.

Amazing Life # 5 – Going to School

‘Amazing life’ is a regular thread about little things that make us happy. Today’s weird little thing is Going to school

‘What days were those!’ everyone out of school would gasp. No matter what the school was, big or small, urban or in a village or even whether you were the person who got picked the most upon.

Along with the fun, a school was still a lot more than a promise of future, a statistic, a job guarantee or a social obligation. For some it was life’s playground and for all it was hope.

Yet, what did we really learn?

Learning was about sharing and never about competition so sharp that could split a hair in two. It was hard to get up everyday and difficult to stay up before examinations. A lot would refer to that as hardship.

But, is that as hard as it gets?

I call myself fortunate to have been able to get education at a good school, though at a point in time I did not have money to pay the fees and believe it or not my teachers paid it from their pockets; it was a 30 km bicycle ride and a still a lot of upset relatives; but I would still call my self fortunate. This is still a lot better than a lot of others who had it worse.

Take APJ Abdul Kalam for instance; who had to walk miles to get to his school every morning or these girls who do even more to get to their school in Nepal which happens to be in a different, distant village .

What is it that drives so much effort to school?

What could it mean? What Does it stand for?

What does it lead to?

These questions have been with me since I was at school but  to my vain I haven’t been able to answer them yet.

The only thing I could figure is that I owe it to the school to give back to the world. I owe it to the school to get those to experience the joy of learning who do not get to.

Answer the above questions for yourself if you can. But answer one for me first – What have you given back to people, that you took from your school? Sounds too idealistic!

I genuinely acknowledge the people and organizations who have dedicated their existence to help this cause. However, lets face it … not all of us can and not most of us will!

Here are a few simple things that led to me believe that it is not as difficult as we may think of it to be!

1. Give it back – When ever you can, what ever you can, how much ever you can – I am no philanthropist, it did not take much to go to McDonalds ,spend 500 bucks on a few – well actually 25 – McVeggie burgers and drive around Gurgaon. Look for the kids, playing around and share it with them. What a weekend! I ate 5 of them burgers myself , over 3 hours of driving around but the shining eyes of those kids can make all the effort worth it. Here is ‘Appu’  with his sister ‘Rani’  and the little dude. Some of the kids i had lunch with. Try it if you can and see for yourself how fulfilling it is while being a lot more interesting than lunch with your colleagues!

2. Teaching is the best way to learn (Yes, even the small things) – I remember, about 14 years ago, we had a person who used to do the cleaning etc. for us in our Jabalpur home. Her name was Sashi and we called her Sashi didi, she wasn’t too old – about 23, mother of two. My brother was in kindergarten and I never sat to teach him anything… it was boring.

One day I did, and her elder daughter (5) walked up to the book, picked it up and kept looking at it. She had a big smile. It was majestic, so I decided to teach her and my brother,that is the day, with very little help for me ‘Pooja’ wrote her name in English for the first time. My brother took another year to do so :P all in good spirit but he was just 3.

Pooja had then become the most literate member of her family and it cost me nothing to share those three minutes of joy and see her mother proud. Would do that again in the next opportunity I get.

3. Donation is great – Charity is good, but does not always cost. At least a simple thing that I have tried a last couple of  months works just fine. When ever you go out to buy some thing for yourself, buy something for others. Even if it is just a pencil. I refrain from buying food because it just doesn’t appeal to me. I would rather share some hope and if it costs 5 Rs. and can write, I sure don’t lose my savings over it.

All I am trying to say is that life isn’t the same for everyone and that is something I learnt at school. That is why it was such an amazing thing and now its my turn to return.

Just to get you started, here are some stats:

    • Less than half of India’s children between the age 6 and 14 go to school.
    • A little over one-third of all children who enroll in grade one reach grade eight.
    • At least 35 million children aged 6 – 14 years do not attend school.
    • 53% of girls in the age group of 5 to 9 years are illiterate.
    • In India, only 53% of habitation has a primary school.
    • In India, only 20% of habitation has a secondary school.
    • On an average an upper primary school is 3 km away in 22% of areas under habitations.
    • In nearly 60% of schools, there are less than two teachers to teach Classes I to V.
    • On an average, there are less than three teachers per primary school. They have to manage classes from I to V every day.
    • High cost of private education and need to work to support their families and little interest in studies are the reasons given by 3 in every four drop-outs as the reason they leave.
    • Dropout rates increase alarmingly in class III to V, its 50% for boys, 58% for girls.
    • 1 in 40, primary schools in India is conducted in open spaces or tents.
    • In Andhra Pradesh (South India), 52 upper primary schools were operating without a building in 2002, while in 1993, there were none.
    • In Maharashtra (West India), there were 10 schools operating without a building in 1993, this has climbed to 33 in 2002.
    • More than 50 per cent of girls fail to enroll in school; those that do are likely to drop out by the age of 12.
    • 50% of Indian children aged 6-18 do not go to schoolSource: 7th All India Education Survey, 2002

Going to school made me stop wanting help and taught me to take responsibility and stand up with dignity. That is exactly what these 8.1 million children need. The whole world can be a school if we choose to make it so.

After all, what does life have to offer if not a little hope?

For you to do, not just read ; Abhi