Sense-making and trendsetting

Economic downturns are like storms. They don’t show-up in the face. They always start small and in the distant past, gather momentum and show-up when you are not ready. If you build capabilities to track the contributing factors, analyse the trajectory based on previous experience, it is possible to predict. Like storm-notifications and rescue effort preparedness. But still, damages occur and need attention to fix and get-back-up. But, as we learn and adapt, predictability and impact will multiply.

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What we do modifies us more than what is done to us

This is the famous quote attributed to Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Read it one more time. Yes. It seems as if we are in-front of a piece of a mirror. Many of us think, we are the children of circumstances. We may also believe change is harder. Then, how is it a small incident changes the course of life? As we have seen in cases of great achievers or losers, it is always that turning-point we attribute the change to. The course of life might change in the instance, as long as we notice it and take it. Else, the path is always there. Not perturbed by who takes it or not. 

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Experiments without any goal or a method is some random time spent. If time is the currency, then you burnt it. There’s no way to bring back what is burnt. So, is the spent time. But even if you don’t spend it, time gets burnt. There’s no way to store it, share it. That’s what makes it unique. There’s nothing like it in the world. You can associate an opportunity cost if you wish. The opportunity and its value you missed and can’t get it back. It will only makes you feel bad, a little more.

Experiments do cost money. Another important resource. If you lose it, there’s a chance of getting it back. Of course, by spending a lot more time and effort. Which could have funded other meaningful projects. Effort, or energy in specific, is burnt along-with time and money for any experiment you carry out. Again, getting it back requires more time, money and effort! So, it is prudent to follow a method to experiment.

A method that proves or disproves the hypothesis you wish to test. That is the experiment. First frame the hypothesis, fix it’s boundaries and choose a method to test. Observe, analyse and interpret the results. That entire act qualifies as a valid experiment. Observations of the process, dependencies and results teach a lot more on the subject. It is also powerful learning – as you prepared, conducted and saw the act, yourself.

Experiments do help in avoiding larger embarrassments at a later stage. The risk you have taken to carryout the experiment makes you courageous. Experiment is curiosity put to action. That builds confidence. Confidence is critical to success. So, experiments might pave a path to success.

Small experiments build a basis for larger ones to follow. Break complex hypothesis into small and meaningful ones. Generalisation do not help in specific understanding. As small and specific you get, the results will be solid to take you right on the journey. Favour the small. Plan, do, check, act and learn. Manage your time and energy.

Build a portfolio of small nuggets through regular experiments. Use them as you might like in the course of your journey of life, business or profession. Failure to experiment is akin to failure to live life in full.

Remember, Experiment is curiosity put to action!

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Third Conditioning

Approvals. Yes. Expecting and taking approvals is the third conditioning. 

When you are new, it’s natural. Not interested in being the bad apple in the mix, you look up to your seniors and bosses for approvals of your action. Just to be sure. Approvals are required to ensure governance and compliance too. But why do you need an approval, a permission to do your best work?

When approvals and permissions become a way-of-life, the workplace turns mechanical. Life becomes routine. Automation finds its way. People soon find the exit routes more frequented. A great opportunity to challenge. Innovation is knocking the doors. 

Innovators find it toxic to be contained in a system governed by rules, regulations and approvals. Operational freedom, permission to try, fail and explore is critical. 

It starts with your mind. Ability to think and break barriers for good. Find the constraints of the system early on. Devise your method for small experiments. Show and tell. Results change the system. When not challenged, people believe that system is working well. More approvals will be required in due course. 

Don’t get caught in the web of approvals. Permission to try is always there. Just embrace it like an uniform you may wear to work.

Practice leads to excellence

We prize comfort over everything else. Comfort never leads to excellence. It took us so long to get here. Why not rest and enjoy? This mindset will not let the champion to retain his position in the next match. There’s that next player waiting to upset him. Still we see champions like Roger Federer retain their position for so long. How do they do it? Practice better than the last. 

Practice in a way it hurts, stretches and grows you. First win is where your practice begins to play. Set the bar to next level, every time you practice. This practice leads to excellence. 

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