July 2010


I was starting from Chennai to Madurai. It was going to take 8 hrs by train and I will reach by 8:30 PM. So my anni (bhabhi) gave me a box with lunch. Usually I am against carrying such stuff. But perhaps ageing (31) has changed me a little bit. I did not make any fuss and accepted the “tiffen box”. There was only one request – “don’t forget to bring it back” :) I have to give some background here. I have a notorious reputation of forgetting things (in fact it’s so common among my bros that all bhabhi’s gang up on this topic when we meet together). My brother came to rescue, “amaa thanga thatta koduthu vidura” (hmm… that is a golden plate or what). I promised myself that I will not forget and decided that I will be “double” careful. My bro gave me a tip, after eating put the box in your laptop bag!

When I reached railway station, I realized my e-ticket for AC chair car got cancelled as it did not move. I decided to take an unreserved ticket and travel with the crowd so that I did not have to wait longer to see my son and wife. In a way I did want to enjoy going in unreserved compartment. :) After 7 years in US one misses a few things I guess. I was lucky to get a seat. I was trapped in a seat with so much crowd standing that moving out of seat for say going to loo was out of question. The problem with unreserved compartment is that food or pantry services are not available when the train is in motion – partly because of the crowd and mainly because the unreserved compartment is cut off from the rest of the vestibules without a connecting path. So the personnel from pantry car can’t come to UR compartment. So the tiffen box was a boon – really! I felt hungry in between the journey and ate the delicious contents of the tiffen box. I had a good habit of thanking people then and there. So I called up my anni and conveyed how tasty the food was and how I would have had to stay hungry had I not carried it in unreserved compartment.

I stacked some more “Manapparai” murukku, a delicacy from the place I grew up (Manapparai) on the way, in the bag I carried for the tiffen box.   Because of incessant rains, I reached Madurai one and half hours late. I just had to get in the crowd and the next thing I found myself in the platform ;) Took an auto without wasting much time and was on my way to wify!

Half way thru a lightning struck! What the heck? I had forgotten to take the bag with tiffen box and manapparai murukku!!! I asked the auto to turn about and go back to station. It was not about the monetary value or anything just that when someone had been so kind I can’t be so careless. I was so ashamed that I spent about one hour searching, walking all the way to the end of the train to the unreserved compartment, asking people whom I should talk to for “lost and found” service(in Indian Railways unreserved compartment!!?? I just lost my sanity). My efforts turned futile. Not losing hope I went to the railways police station and gave a verbal complaint (!!! Come on) b4 leaving to my in-laws place. This time I did not want to take an auto instead took a public bus. I felt so bad that I wanted to deprive myself of any comforts!

I started lamenting to myself on my way. What the heck – I called her up thanking when the true thanking wud have been to bring back the box thoughtfully filled with other delicacies and then thanking in person. If only I had not forgotten! After two stops in the bus one thought came to my mind. Was calling her less important than not forgetting? Isn’t it a paradox that when reflecting on past we always want negatives to have been avoided and take the positives for granted??? Like in this case, I should have avoided the “forgetting”; calling her back was not a big deal against not forgetting. Let us for one minute think of the vice versa: Negatives would have happened and the positives doesn’t happen. Had I not called her on the way, I wouldn’t have had the face to show up and say “I forgot”! Since I called her in between that at least gives a true picture of me – that I am careless in some things and I am caring (show love/thanks) in other things. Wud our life be better if we don’t take our positives for granted and be over critical on our negatives??!!

Recently I was thinking about how to effectively sell transformation or big change. [This was from a PPT perspective but still this is a good approach, I thought].

There are three major aspects – one, be clear on what is the macro level objective – what are we after? Two, address customer’s major pain point or dream. Three, demystify change.

1. First, value must be simple to be understood.

2. Second, what does every CXO/function head dream of?

The most pertinent question is “How will my company/function mature with time?”

This is the reason why SEIs Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and Gartner’s Hype Curves are famous – they show how a phenomenon/company matures or transforms with time.

ð  Insight: With time as an axis show maturity progression & savings at each stage

3. Third, what will de-mystify change?

Big bang brings opacity and high risks;

Baby steps and phased approach de-risks change/transformation for customers & us equally.

ð  Insight: Sequence activities/changes;

What comes first, Why so?, How much savings, What is the stage-gate etc. Again in my opinion, sequencing is the reason why CMM was so successful: first repeatable process then defined process, then measureable processes are quantitatively managed – this gives a structure to how you are going to evolve in a continuum – to me this is critical in any change management process.

Ps: How an individual faces change and how an organization faces change are very different like B2C and B2B marketing. I once read this “Who moved my cheese?” book on managing change when me and my wife were grappling with a change. My initial reaction was: ok there is some truth but this is an idiot’s book – telling what is apparently clear! But as days passed I started thinking I am not all that one-dimensional when it comes to change – sometimes I even resisted change! [Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw are mice characters in the book. Sniff – foresees change; Scurry – adapts to change quickly; Hem – is lethargic in changing; Haw – totally resists change. This book is a great (and quick) read either as a professional or simply as an individual.]