The value of decisiveness

Being decisiveness in life is like playing Tetris, every random block that emerges at the top is a decision to be made. It is your choice to not make the decision but then you also don’t get to play for long and have fun.

Keeping this in mind, thought of sharing a simple perspective with you.

These days before booking Uber and Ola, one needs to pray. My wife was getting late for work. We tried booking the short trip to her office multiple times but had no luck. I was even more worried because it became my responsibility to drop her the moment this happens. 

The clock was ticking. We both were just badly hoping for some rider to confirm. At the same time, we were cursing the service. 

Hope is a bad strategy. What is the probability that someone will accept the ride in the next five minutes?

A decision had to be made here. I have to simply get up and drop my wife to the office instead of wasting more time. And I just did that. It had to be done. It took a 30-minute round trip. My wife was happy that she reached out just in time for a meeting. 

This is so trivial as compared to the more significant decisions that life demands.

Indecisiveness kills. You either hope for a miracle to happen or curse the situation. 

Every change that you long for needs some decision to be made immediately. Wish to be more fit, what is the decision that you need to take right now. Wish to find a better role? What is the first decision that you need to make today?

With every decision, your life changes a bit. Consider it has a left or right turn while driving.

A slight right on the GPS will take you on a flyover, a slight left might lead to a service road.

#decisiveness#change#life#career

The Value of Planning

The value of planning in career progression.

In my first job, as a trainee maintenance engineer, my core duty was to just read the open job register in the morning and allocate resources to get the job done. Issue tools and new components from the store to a person who is supposed to do the repairs. Update what has happened in the workshop at 5:00 PM. Go home. 

Once I sign out for the day, there was nothing on my mind. I was free. Solving for the day is more fulfilling. There is a bliss that comes once you close the job because you don’t have to think about tomorrow. 

One day I issued an imported expensive ball bearing for a non-critical job. The following day my boss asked me, Alok, do you know how many days we have to wait for this bearing to arrive once we place the order? Do you know what will happen if you face a supercritical breakdown?

I was taken aback, am I not doing my job?

I was solving for the day. I hit the reset button in the evening.

The technicians were the happiest people. They solved for the hour. They wouldn’t know what their day will look like after the lunch hour. 

On the other hand, my boss solved for the week. “Alok, next Monday, please go and see the status of the newly installed pump at the water treatment plant” 

My skip level bosses solved for the month. “Next month we have an audit, let us prepare for the same”

When my boss used to share his insights during the monthly review meeting with the chief engineer, he talked about what will happen next year. Big changes, and shifts and how we need to get ready for the same. 

Every component in the execution chain is critical. But if you are thinking of career progressing, just reflect on

Are you solving for the hour?
Are you solving for the day?
Are you solving for tomorrow?
Are you solving for the month?
Are you solving for next year?

Your perceived value to the organization depends on the planning window that you are responsible for.

You always need a conflict

Growth only happens when you resolve your existing conflicts. Just recall all the movies that you have seen so far. Almost all movie scripts are based on a conflict. Here are the types of conflicts that are used in movie plots.

Character vs. self (Joker)
Character vs. character (Dark Knight)
Character vs. society ( Rang De Basanti)
Character vs. supernatural (Dr. Strange)
Character vs. technology (Avatar)
Character vs. nature (Interstellar, or any dystopian movie)

From a viewer’s perspective, they see a character growing through these conflicts. It is entertaining.

Conflict gives a purpose and direction to the plot. Conflict enables character development.

Our lives are no different from character curves. Conflicts provide us with an opportunity to grow and have a direction. No conflict, no growth.

What’s your conflict? 

Biryani and Decision Making

Biryani and Decision making.

According to a report, Biryani was the most ordered dish on Zomato in 2021.

As I look back, I must have ordered Biryani more than 20 times so far in 2022. 

I love hot steaming Biryani, Who doesn’t?

I hate making decisions on the food ordering app, especially when hungry.

Ordering food is impulsive—hunger pangs limit decision-making. 

A default staple item on top of your mind always wins.

In which case, Biryani always fits the bill. Delivery times for Biryani are always faster than let’s say Paneer Makhhanwala.

That’s because Biryani is not Make to Order ( eg: Pizza)

Biryani is Make-to-Stock. There is a pot of Biryani always cooking based on forecasted volumes. This means your Biryani is always ready for delivery!

Zomato and Swiggy know this. 

The kind of data they are generating is unbelievable. 

What if they harness this information to come up with Biryani joints in the localities that consume high volumes of Biryani?

Zomato is actually a data company.

If you feel like opening a food joint and making it profitable in record time, include Biryani in your core offerings. 🙂

The root of all evil

Our careers and lives are shaped around the type of insecurities that we all harbor within ourselves. 

Our insecurities bring out the worst in us. When we are insecure we pick the extremes. Fight or flight. 

For instance, financial insecurity might lead you to choose a stable job with poor growth opportunities or a very high-paying job with a poor work-life balance. Saying “Yes” to things that are not aligned with our values and beliefs. 

Insecure about your position? You tend to deploy all the deviant and unacceptable behaviors to secure it. Work long hours take credit for someone else’s work, backbiting, the list goes on. 

Insecure about your image/appearance/self-worth? You might start belittling others, compare and avoid others whom you feel are better than you.

Insecure about the relationship? You might end up becoming the controller, aggressor or simply become submissive. 

Insecurities intensify when we feel life and progress are a 0-sum game.

What’s your take?

Just blame it on the environment!

The tallest mountain on Mars is called Olympus Mons. It is 16 miles (24 kilometers) high which makes it about three times higher than Mt. Everest.

What makes it so tall? 

Lower gravity as compared to earth allows volcanic formations on mars to grow higher. 

Why I am even telling you all this?

The environment has always played a major role in shaping things and lives.

A life form that thrives in the depths of the ocean has poor sight or even no sight. They simply don’t need it.

So environment matters. Home, workplace, or your neighborhood shape you in ways you never imagined.

So sometimes when you put all the blame on your surroundings and the people you hang out with, guess what, maybe you are right!

Don’t be so harsh on yourself. 

The challenge is there is too much developmental burden put on the shoulders of the individual.

Thanks to self-help books and Warikoo’s of the world.

Why there is so much emphasis on self-development? There is no good answer for this but perhaps it makes more business sense. 

Why there is no focus on managing the environment? because it is very tough. 

By no means I am undermining self-development.

But it helps if we also have a look at the environmental factors that might be disabling us. 

There is a reason we don’t have a Sachin Tendulkar in Kenya or a Michael Schumacher in India. 

What’s your take?

#development#selfdevelopment#environment#people

Are you a 7-11?

Are you a 7-11? Or Ram ki Bandi? 

7-11 is a famous grocery chain that is open 24 hours a day. You don’t have to worry when it is open, it is always open.

“Availability” is the keyword here. Stores like to be “available” that’s how they differentiate.

If you are not from Hyderabad (India), you might have not heard about Ram ki Bandi. 

Ram ki Bandi is a famous Dosa/breakfast joint in Hyderabad that only opens from 3 am to 9 am in the morning. 

Back in 2015 when I was working in Hyderabad, I could never visit the place. 

I only heard anecdotes about its fame. 

Anyway, the small joint worked on “exclusivity”. It differentiated on product and did not care so much about availability. The owner expected people to turn up in the wee hours, still sleepy but excited enough for the offerings. 

So are you a 7-11 or Ram ki Bandi?

Are you playing on “availability” or “exclusivity”?

I see so many people working hard to be more “available” when it comes to working.

Very few work on building the competence to be “exclusive”. 

Is there anything wrong with being more available? 

Depends on the “cost” you are paying to be more available. Oftentimes the cost is poor work-life balance. 

What’s your take?

The value of a lie.

I visited this hair cutting salon for the very first time.

There was just one customer who was having a haircut. One more was waiting for his turn.

I asked the barber, there is just one waiting right? Are you the only one available today?

There was a hesitance on my face that he read. A prompt reply with a smile followed “ there is one more person who has gone out to get tea”

I was a little relieved after hearing that. I assumed that I don’t have to wait for my turn. 

Much to my dismay, after 5 minutes or so, the person who returned was just a teen boy, holding three teacups. I was taken aback.

The boy was just a support staff running errands. 

And now the person who was already waiting had made himself comfortable on the barber’s seat. 

It was apparent that I was told a lie that an additional resource will service my request.

The barber now smiled apologetically and said just give me 10 minutes, iske baad aapka turn”

Maybe he knew this situation arises all the time. His response had some finesse to it. A mixture of shame and apology.

He disarmed me. I didn’t know how to respond to him.

The situation was diffused. I wasn’t so bothered now as I became more aware of my surroundings.

I could see how 7 chairs were idle. The business had hit rock bottom.

On one corner, a note read “we are low on staff, expect a delay in service”

On one wall, there was a Shahrukh Khan painting with some quotes on fate. On other walls, there were nicely done sketches of Ranvir Singh.

The errand boy offered me a cup of tea as I sat there waiting for my turn.

Morality is a tricky area. The kind of morality sold to us through movies, books, religions are based on basic scenarios. 

Morality is much more complex to deal with. The background and context matter. 

In that barber’s shop, I digested a lie sold to me. I was in a dilemma, should I question it? or just keep quiet and never return?

Was it justified because he didn’t want to lose an impatient customer?

Who knows 🙂

#moral#business#ethics

Do you really need a 10-minute delivery?

Zomato’s 10-minute delivery sounds like 2 minute Maggie noodles.

Can you really fix noodles in 2 minutes? 

But for decades we have had this on top of our minds. 2 minutes is something very quick. 

Noodle is a quick fix for your hunger pangs. Do I really need my noodles in 2 minutes? Not really.

Do I really need the delivery in 10 minutes? I don’t think so.

10 minutes is super fast. Hence Zomato can deliver something faster than the alternatives. Zomato equals speed.

I am limited by imagination when I try to think about how this is even possible, especially when there are humans involved in making this happen.

Nevertheless, 10 minutes has created the necessary buzz. A win for Zomato. 

#zomato#marketing#buzz

The fridge Vs Hyperlocal Delivery

A recent ad by Dunzo, a hyperlocal delivery app goes as “Ab Fridge ka Kya Kam hai” (what’s the use of the fridge now?)

Time for a lesson on operations management. Here we go!

Seems like the 10-minute delivery proposition erodes the utility of a fridge.

It is a battle of inventory Vs JIT (Just in Time)

We hold inventory to eliminate variability. In short the vagaries of the supply chain. Do you sense a shortage? Hoard more!

Holding inventory requires some planning and accurate forecasting. You need to take into account the quantity and time factors here. When to order and how much to order. Needless to mention the active monitoring, how much garlic do we really have in stock?

Forecasting takes into account the trend of past consumption. All this leads to the frequency of ordering. I and my wife have set this frequency to once a week. We order on Sunday evening and get a Big Basket delivery on Monday morning. 

The downside of inventory?

Holding costs. We might unnecessarily hold items that might not be consumed immediately. What’s the point of ordering paneer on Sunday evening if I am not going to consume it until Thursday noon. 

The second big challenge is that human estimates are subjected to errors. I might order fruits that I might forget to consume. Or I might forget to order fruits altogether. 

Actually, inventory is a waste. We maintain inventory because we have not yet cracked the equation to match supply and demand in real-time. (at household level)

And that’s where JIT or just in time comes into the picture. Japan mastered this art in the 70s and attacked the west on its own home turf. Overnight eroding the competence of giants like Ford. But that’s a different story. 

Coming to the present.

The fridge is like a micro warehouse that holds inventory.

The 10-minute delivery is JIT.

Holding the inventory needs planning, forecasting skills, time, and effort to order many things at one go and at a set frequency. This also comes with slippages and waste.

JIT works on a whim, you are out of lemons and coriander? Just order it now! JIT gives you the power of now. Don’t plan, just order. 

So it all boils down to the human behavior of Planning Vs Impulse.

The power of now will win in the long term. Because the sticky behaviors are the ones that are easy to adopt.