Running is always special

Its good to have spring back in India as we brace for a hot Indian summer in 2017. I usually look forward to spring to take a stock of how the year has fared so far for me and how am I going to utilize the next 9 months.

One of my decisions from the dusk of 2016 and dawn of 2017 was to start running – for weight loss. Years of sedentary job and spending most of the awake hours in front of a laptop has led to addition of significant mass around my waist. My once lean and sharp personality is now covered with layers of fat that need to be discarded.

With few half attempts in the past, I decided that 2017 is the year for my physical transformation. I was excited with my younger brother’s loss of 30 lbs in over 4 months with running.

That introduced me to the fantastic app called ‘Running for Weight Loss‘. The app gives good, strict, manageable workouts that gradually increase the intensity of training with more running sprint – with breaks for walking. As I stand at the end of week 1 of training, I feel proud to have comfortably complete the first step. Its an 8-week program, so I am 12.5% through.

The fact that Facebook has a dedicated group for ‘A Year of Running‘ further motivates me to go further on this.

Below is my tool kit for this year of running:

  1. Asics T500 shoes
  2. Regular Tees with Inner Support in shorts
  3. CrossBeats Raga Wireless Earphones
  4. iPhone 6 (my current phone)

To me running so far has provided the following:

  1. Taming the Monkey Mind: Monkey Mind is the whimsical, capricious, restless, fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable” part of mind.

More on Monkey Mind and Running in a future post.

2. Physical endurance

3. Break from the regular daily routine and go for a refresh

4. Just re-energize

In a short duration it has become a fundamental need of my everyday routine, just like coffee.

Bots can beat the noise

Technology as we know it, was supposed to reduce the stress from our lives and improve the general productivity. As obvious outcome is to deliver more in same or lesser amount of time. People were supposed to focus more on the more productive ideation side while technology was supposed to relieve us.

However what have we got? More noise, more distractions, more non-productive interactions, pervasiveness killing time with meaningless conversations.

Analyse this:

funny whatsapp picture messages desktop

While desktops graduated to laptops, the real killer app came in the form of smart mobile phones. The smartphones broke so many barriers that technology has become a necessity, availability continuous and reach pervasive. Consequently, we are mired with too much of noise than actual work.


Consequently, the noise and distractions have caused somewhat a dip in productivity, or least has not led to the promised gains.

One of the key challenges that one sees in the corporate world today is the need to have more and more meetings – on time, with all the required stakeholders – to make decisions.

Many service and tech product organisations are moving to Agile Methodologies of project execution. Manufacturing units are moving to extreme fast prototyping. Besides, almost all businesses are undergoing the disruption to move faster, fail faster if that be the case.

In such an environment, the noise from technology can be a deterrent to the velocity that the organisation wants to attain. When combined, it can lead to monumental losses of time, resources and employee engagement.

Interestingly, the answer to navigate through this noise could lie in technology itself.

The recently popular chatbots provide an effective way to take care of some of the regular repetitive tasks done by individuals. These tasks should not require human being.

Picture this. Almost everybody is needed to fill the timesheets to provide inputs to the management about the project cost and expended amounts. However, there is always a strike rate of 10% failure in timely submission of timesheets.

Now, you may argue that people get emails. It is fine. However, in the world of automated responses and cluttered mailboxes, these emails can get easily lost. What are you left with? Ping the person who has not submitted the timesheet on time and ask him to submit their timesheets. What did we gain in this transaction? Largely nothing, as the time has already elapsed for the person to fill her timesheet. What did we lose? We lost time of atleast one individual in follow-up.

Lets say we can build a chatbot that can do these automatic pings. Wouldn’t it be easy and convenient and fast with no manual intervention.

This appears to be a strong use case. When you lap it up with the organiser pings, who are patiently waiting for you in the meeting that started 10 minutes back. But since you were so busy in preparation that you just ignored the calendar reminder. Instead of this, if a chatbot pings you and reminds you that you need to attend the important meeting.  Its not only cool but also convenient to all.

With many such use cases, I believe there is a way to improve the managerial productivity in the workplace. These are simple solutions that can take stress out of the system. While I am not very familiar with the chatbots world, it sounds truly intriguing to think about it and build something around them.

Watch this space as I discuss my progress with the chatbot in following days.

Delay for Velocity

If you look around the world today ‘Speed to Market’ has evolved into a compulsive obsessive behavior of managements and teams. Its become a compulsion in everyday business terminology.

We need to be agile.

We need to be quick in responding to market.

We need to blunt our competition by sheer speed.

On the contrary, if one looks around and sees the best things in the world, inventions from as old as an electric bulb to as recent as a Tesla Self-Driving car, all are mired by delays. When Steve Job’s Apple was foraying into its own retail setup against the traditional marketing-through-agents model, Ron Johnson, the Apple Retail Chief found that the setup for the initial plan of designing the store around the products categories was ‘not so Apple’. It was a leaf out of traditional retail stores. Instead, he suggested and concluded and executed that the store should be designed on people’s experience with these products. This led to making of the genius bars and theaters . But this shift led to a delay.

Delays are often for want of better understanding of the problem.

Delays are often for want of better solution of the known problem.

Delays are often for want of a grander long term vision than a tactical short term fix.

Delays are mostly for want of better quality. As long as your best hands and best minds are working.

Unfortunately though, people get trapped in a long marathon of short sprints. For want of speed to market, they keep ‘hoping’ that the delay should be short circuited – ultimately leading to short quick runs of accumulated delays that ultimately look like a long broken and painful marathon. Generally why this happens –

People have superficial understanding of deadlines;

People have superficial understanding of problem;

People have general tendency to instill a purpose of speed;

People have no patience to think and act.

So what is the remedy? A sense of purpose is more important in teams and individuals than a purpose of speed. A purpose of velocity is important not speed.

Classic definition of Speed is rate at which something is able to move or operate.

Classic definition of Velocity is speed of moving in a specific direction.

The sense of purpose automatically builds a velocity in the team in the desired direction of favorable outcome. A purpose of velocity comes from a clear vision, right attitude in people and most importantly patience.

It is important that people, not just leaders, build a purpose of velocity and not speed. Its important that reign of decisions is with marathoners and not sprint runners.


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