On 3 year strategic plans

One of the ancient artefacts organisations hold dear is the 3 year strategic plan. 

While there are reasons to do it, for example, forecasting scenarios or preparing for difficult situations, the reason to do it comes from a very basic psychological comfort. That is to bring about a sense of security that the organisation will live for 3 years, because there is a document that says so.

No one can predict the future precisely. No one can, it is impossible. 

Certainly no one can predict 3 years, let alone a week. Organisations lose cash in periods of unexpected scenarios like terrorism, climate change, recessions and trade wars, which forces them to shut down their businesses. 

3 year strategic plan has its’ fans because no one wants to show that they are short sighted. No one likes to tell that they are looking at the next 3 months instead of next 3 years. All the visionary statements look for the future and it is easier to speak in audacious targets and goals when you have too much time no one can keep track of. 

Organisations who are doing well by having their eyes fixed on what’s happening in-front of them are the ones who expand organically and have the ability to adjust to changes in their environment. They may not speak audacious goals, but they might well survive and grow for many years. For them flamboyance is an accessory, much too expensive to waste.

Creating that space

It’s been just over a year since I moved from a full time job to be a business consultant. I have the opportunity to be working in several places,with different teams, including my final full time place of work. 

Initially I thought the transition would be easy. In-fact for first six months, I enjoyed the freedom of having the time to think more and the opportunity to work with different teams. It was exciting. 

In the next 6 months, it got tougher. It’s not that work has been too challenging. It is the change of position. From a position of power and authority, to a position of not having power and authority. From a position of leading to a position of influencing, not knowing if the changes I think needed, might take place. Without a warning, sometimes emotions can wreck me. For example, I can see a change is needed immediately, and I am thinking why others cannot see it. Yet after sometime I realise my job is not to effect change when I want to. Speed is not a sustainable success factor for me now.

My job is to create the space for teams to realise a specific change is needed or to articulate a need with clarity for all. (and sometimes with in that space, I realise, may be that change or the need, is not what we thought it would be)

I read many books, took online courses, discussed with many mentors, but this insight from my experience, is so important for my happiness and teams around me. 

We have different perceptions about the term ‘consultant’.

‘expensive people who have quick answers to problems of others’

‘experts who can talk, only talk,not having to sweat the new changes they bring in’. 

I am not surprised, because most of us had bad experiences with consultants. In my transition, in order for my work to be successful, to create that space, I have to wear different hats: Sometimes I am a moderator, sometimes I am a coach, sometimes I am a counsellor. There are times I am a nobody. I just be there. Not trying to fix anything. Yet, fully aware of the issues, trying to see a different angle, from the people around me.

How I got started in online learning.

elearning.lk got me to chat about how I do online learning. This video covers basic information that would help you to start your online learning. The chat is in Sinhala. We did this to encourage Sri Lankans to get on to online learning. I also mention about how to get all the great content with out paying. That is called auditing the course. ( In auditing mode, you don’t get the certificate)

Do check out elearning.lk for online courses available in Sinhala and Tamil languages. They are sailing against the outdated winds of Sri Lankan education system. It’s an uphill task. Yet a task that is worthy of pursuit.

permission to sell

Sri Lankans did not like excessive netflix ads placed on youtube, right at the start of each video. This happened around new years eve. That felt like a nasty friend who goes and stand up right in-front of TV every time I start playing a video.

Direct disturbance of user, especially when that user ( me) is already a subscriber, is the polar opposite of permission to ask and sell. There’s no permission given in this forceful ad. I have waited in irritation for 4 seconds to pass to hit ‘skip ad’.

Throwing tons of ads on face of a user is not a good tactic. Not in 2019.

In-fact funny thing happened afterwards. I have unsubscribed netflix and subscribed to prime video. I am not saying those ads was the sole reason to switch, but I can safely say, that irritation was a trigger for me to find an alternative. Price wise it was a $12 to $5 switch. That made it more easier.

Age of quality digital content

Both mega budget movies from Shahrukh Khan and Aamir Khan at the end of 2018 have failed at box office. Usual thinking of big Khans pulling crowds have come to a grinding halt.

Because of social media. The early adopters ( first day viewers) posted negative comments on social media and the audience got thinner ever since.

Quality realistic movies like ‘Baadhai Ho’ have done surprisingly well at bollywood Box office. ‘Sacred Games’, the Indian Netflix series have done well. Internationally ‘Bird Box’ was a sensation.

Goes on to say, in social media driven age, our online opinions drive the demand up or down. Digital content is freaking transparent . No fake news can get you to go in to a cinema hall and make you pay.

What am I ( not) ?

We like to get the answer to the question ‘What am I ?’

It’s a loaded question. And the answer changes from time to time.

What I thought I was at 15, was a laughable stock when I was 25. And at 35, I am struggling to define what I would be.

Then I realise, rather than looking for a definite answer for What I want to be, I can easily find answers for ‘what am I not?’

What am I not?

The answers to this question validates my values. When I peel away the things I don’t want to be, I am getting closer to What I want to be.

It’s easier and clarifying.

Time after vacation

Gone are the days when vacations meant relaxation. These days vacations are another stack of ‘work to be done’. Get togethers, trips, dinners, maintenance stuff and all of a sudden, the vacation is over.

I can’t think of any generation that was time deprived as this generation. I can only predict it would get only worse.

I would hope and wish that we all would have a slot of time to just relax and take a breather with out having anything to do. Time to be just be with oneself.

An enough time to reset the mind.

Thank you !

I wanted to reflect on 2018 and write a whole picture story. I wanted to bullet point the brilliant things I did and things I messed up. I wanted to write a story about things I achieved, those things I thought I would never be able to do in this year.

I wanted to do a photo collage. Share it in this blog. I wanted to cherish it with some inspirational quotes from some big names. I wanted to really pat my self in the back and motivate for the next year.

Instead I am so contented to say ‘thank you’.

( To all who believed in me. To all who doubted me)

Update: I completed 9 online courses.

Yesterday I completed Digital Transformation, my 9th course online. It is on LinkedIn Learning. 

It is an amazing journey. With in last few months I was able to get tutored by world class experts with in my own terms. That is, whenever I had free time, from the comfort of my home, at an insanely low cost. Learned from Ram Charan ( the leading business coach in the world) about how to coach high potentials. Learned from John Maeda ( a world authority in design and tech) about business, design, and inclusion. Learned from Tony Schwartz why managing my energy is far more better perspective than managing my time.  

All of these courses have been life changing. It helps me and the people I work with in organisations. It gives me better insights and helps me to  build enriching relationships. It trickles down in to happiness of my family and other communities I interact with. 

Also this keeps me at the edge at all times. That I need to get updated. That I do not know everything. This isn’t just about getting a certificate tagged in to the linked in profile. (Of course it helps to be motivated and showcase my skills), it’s about using that knowledge in everyday practice. I can use that knowledge today, right now. This is the most liberating thing about internet for me. 

The real note book

I am a fan of note 9 stylus and apple pencil. It makes my life easier with getting notes on the go and creating eye catching diagrams. Sharing them is so easy because the notes are already in digital format. I do not lose the notes and no need to carry note books to meetings. I have everything with  me when I open my phone. 

But lately I’ve found out for creative long haul work, like writing a book, is better on real physical note books. Real pencils and pens are therapeutic tools in situations I need long time duration focus. It is obvious because when I am on real note books I keep my phone away. And that is a good thing because when working on phone, some notification pops out and even for a fleeting moment I will lose focus. Getting focus back is a strenuous activity. The more disturbances, the more it gets harder to come back to the work at hand. That is why we cannot get creative work in an office, because there is so much distractions going on. Our attention gets divided in to small time chunks. 

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