October 2011


Pre-read: First 90 days – prelude; This is about strategies for leaders in new roles/jobs.

MW makes two points relating to initial 30 days. First, he says refrain from taking ground breaking changes and focus on learning in first 30 days. Second, refrain from key decisions before forming your informal network.

But that is easier said than done. You will have to make a call on few things. Steve Jobs says follow your instincts you will one-day be right. But this is about following standard framework when possible. We will use Steve’s dogma when pushed to it :-)

Remember, you are walking blind (and naked) in the first 30 days. Blind – because you don’t know the environment; naked – because you don’t know the informal network and alliances; In most cases, it is not possible for you to make the right decision just by yourself. So trust your boss’s decision. He/She is aware of the environment and current situation, certainly more than you. And, remember, your win is important for his/her win too. So the decision will be more grounded.

What if that does not work, what if you believe your boss is not making the right decision. Try telling what you feel. Mostly you should get a reasonable logic or may be they will brainstorm from that angle. This is also a great way to know about the environment. In the brainstorming, you will get to know key details about people, their preferences; system, its behavior; and strategy. Besides, you already took a call to take this job/role and this is not the time to judge. If you fail, you can always change course later or, perhaps, even change role/job. Given the choices you have made, you will give yourself a best chance to succeed if you trust your boss.

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#BaldevSingh suicide allegedly due to depression in job change made me to write about the book I read on “critical success strategies for new leaders”. Mr. Singh had taken over as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s Director of Corporate planning and marketing few weeks before his suicide. Before that he was Executive Director Flight Operations and the Chief Test Pilot.  If you thought he just wasn’t capable enough to handle job change, read this: Sqn Ldr Baldev Singh did early schooling in Bangalore at St. Joseph European High School and later joined St. Joseph College. He joined the National Defence Academy in 1970 and graduated from the academy in December 1972 and was commissioned into the Indian Air Force in June 1973 as a fighter pilot. He is a Qualified Flying Instructor and holds a diploma in Aviation Flight Safety from the Naval Post Graduate College, Monterey Bay, California, USA. He was 58 when he moved to the new role.

By the way, whether his death had anything to do with job change or not, I had realized reasonable enough value in the book that I wanted to blog about it. The book “First 90 Days”, written by leadership transition expert and Harvard Professor Mr. Watkins, gives Dos and Don’ts when moving to a new role/job.

Disclaimer: A lot of things said are common sense. But unless this is your 5th job in 10 years, you are less likely to intuitively do these things right. From personal experience, I can confirm I have had my bumps. Moreover, it brings a structured framework/approach to the transition and I am sure you will find it useful. Fyi – Author has claimed many executives/HR after reading this book have made First 90 Days as structured transition kit in their organizations.

And by the way, I am moving to a new role within my company. The next 90 days are the first 90 days for me! So keep watching this space as I write about my insights from my “trial” run in the next 90 days.

First step: Follow this link to browse a 20 slide PPT that tries to summarize the framework. [Well I thought I would create this PPT but its been crazy settling in the new job, new location, new BU, new people plus finding place to stay, school for my son and managing to disengage from current commitments including school fees, gas transfer and what not! Add travelling from one corner of the country to other for celebrating Diwali with family! So I figured if you are curious enough you would read the first comment in the amazon link I gave earlier on the book name. If not, here it is again: First 90 Days. On my part, I will not assume you have read the book or any reviews or any excerpts when I publish insights! Deal?]

I will certainly publish the PPT later. So here you go: The PPT is and is not certain things:

The PPT is not a step to convince you about the framework. For that read the book. This is a clear step by step guide assuming you are a “BELIEVER”.  I have also tried to sequence steps and put a timeline (hhmmm… what’s with us Project Managers in sequencing and adding deadlines). Author has not given timeline explicitly. This is just an attempt by me.