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.

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. 🙂

Mind Sweep

If you are really feeling overwhelmed at this very moment, just do two things.

1. Take a notepad and write down what is occupying your mind space.

2. Next to it just write down what you are going to do about it, just write an action step that you wish to take 

It will just take 2 mins, try it out. You will feel a little better. Incomplete tasks trouble us because they occupy a lot of mind-space. Once you know what you are going to do about it, some steam is released. You might change your action item later, but for time being just do it.

Simple tactics often work but we are quick to dismiss them.

Source: Getting Things Done by David Allen

DIY and the death of Jobs

I recently bought a Wi-Fi booster. It is a simple device that you plug in and extends the range of your main Wi-Fi. As simple it might sound, it does need some very basic skills to set it up. 

First, go to YouTube.

Second, find a short video that gives step-by-step guidelines in a language that you understand.

Three, follow the steps.


There was one more approach.

First, scan the QR code on the box.

Second, download an App on your mobile.

Third, follow the steps to set up the Wi-fi booster.

Easy and neat. It took me around 10-15 minutes to get this done.

Had it not been for the guidelines, it was someone’s job to guide me through a customer support call. Youtube and the QR code eliminated that job. 

The same goes for creating your websites. WordPress has the ecosystem and community that enables you to set up a website in minutes.

I can assemble an Ikea chair with their instruction guide. That eliminates few wage hours that economy could offer to a person in need.

Do it yourself or DIY seems to be a bigger threat to jobs than automation.

Why is DIY possible?

A community that is ready to help for free (YouTube)

Technology (QR code)

And most importantly, you are ready to help yourself.

Isn’t that Atmanirbhar? 

Leave your thoughts!

Indecisiveness, Stress, Recovery

When I was a runner in the making, I could manage a couple of kilometres before my calf muscles gave-up.

My legs went through a structural stress because of the weight of my body and the shocks from the road. This stress was painful. Some suggested to dip my legs in cold water, few others claimed it will go on its own.

Every time I went through pain, I was apprehensive to return next day for my run.

Should I even run? if this is what it takes?

But then I pushed myself and faced the reality. Underwent stress and pain and took the much needed time to recover. This became a loop. Over the period of time, my legs muscles became strong. 

Now the early memories of pain are faint. Have I became a good runner? to an extent yes. Once I fixed my legs, it was time to fix my core muscles and heart muscle for endurance. The 2km limit has definitely expanded to 10km and sometimes 12km.

If you feel you aren’t growing personally or professionally, there are three key elements we need to manage.

  1. The resistance or worry before you go through stress. Call it indecisiveness
  2. The stress itself which comes after the desired action
  3. and then the much needed recovery which follows action

If you compromise on any one of these elements, you might suffer in the long run.

The resistance is usually the analysis/paralysis mode, should I go or should I not go.

The stress is where you take action, you might go to that much awaited trip to the mountains. Take a new job or shift to a new home. Action will lead to some stress. Every new action in new situation or event will develop high stress. 

Without action you will be trapped in the infinite loop of being indecisive or apprehensive about a possibility.

This loop leads to an organic restructuring in our brains, our muscles. 

After action, you recover the way I used to dip my feet in cold water. You can only take so much stress and then take a pause to heal. If you don’t relax, the stress harms you.

Once you take enough rest, you are ready for the three steps again. Because if you get trapped in the loop of infinite rest, you might not make any progress in the desired direction.

Toxic Culture in Edtech

Toxic culture in Edtech. We don’t need to name any organization but I am sure you have come across many posts articles and videos that speak volumes about the toxic culture.

What is toxic culture? 

Toxicity at workplace is characterised by set of nasty behaviours that don’t contribute to psychological safety, security and overall mental and physical wellbeing. 

What are these nasty behaviours? 

Disrespect, unnecessary workaholism, unhealthy politics, unhealthy recurring conflicts, etc. The list is endless but this should suffice for the sake of argument.

How we define behaviours?

Behaviours are natural/deliberate responses to situations/stimulus. Behaviour simply means how you chose to react to the happenings around you.

With that foundational knowledge let us try to understand what is happening in Edtech.

Edtech organisations are nothing but sales organizations. They have a tech core, software engineers who build the platform and educators who use that platform. And then there is an army of sales people who aggressively push the product/service to the masses.

At any given time sales employees outnumber the core employees by a ratio of 1:5 (for every one core employee, there are 5 sales employees, I am using conservative numbers, the ratio could be much higher)

Which makes any typical company in Edtech as a sales organization. The product/service is highly scalable so much so that for a 10x growth you might need only 2x core employee rise but a 5x rise in sales force. 

Now just imagine, what kind of environment/situation a typical B2C sales employee faces in his/her routine?

Uncertain, dynamic, stressful, targets that always remain elusive, stretch goals, exhausting. These are all situations.

Then what are the resulting behaviours? 

We have already discussed that. 🙂 

So I believe it is not surprising that culture in most Edtech companies in characterised by toxicity. Only difference is that this toxicity is being reported more often. 

Should we deduce that all sales organization are toxic? I don’t think so. It depends on the environment they function in.

OYO, Oracle , Insurance companies can be termed as sales organization because they have a small core and large sales functions.

Are they toxic? Do tell me in the comment section.

Shared Psychosis and Religions

Shared psychosis is a phenomenon wherein a group of individuals share a delusional belief or an absurd alternate reality. For instance, if you and your folks believe that the moon will crash onto the earth on December 31, 2025 and erase all life, that is a delusional belief. It is absurd but a small group of people has developed a strong shared belief around it. And perhaps there could be a reason for this shared belief best known to them.

Recently, I watched a documentary on Netflix that narrated a disturbing event. In 2018, a family of 11 committed mass suicide by hanging themselves. To cut the long story short, among the dead was a 45 year old man who influenced everyone to die along with him. But the seeds for this event were planted in 2007 when the psychologically disturbed man started writing notes on how the family should behave. He was seen as the family leader and a patriarchal guiding light. The notes were elaborate and dictated each member of the family to behave in a certain way, follow routines and mannerisms. It was a cult practice. What was more shocking was the consistency with which the notes were written. One note-book per year was written. Everyone lived by the book and kept it a family secret. Even the kids followed the doctrine diligently. The date and process for the mass suicides were also dictated as per the book.

Now let us look at religions. Without naming any religion, don’t you think every religion is somewhat a shared belief. We call it a shared belief and not shared psychosis because religions are seen from the lens of divine idealism. Millions of people follow it, most follow it blindly and few consciously. Obedience is virtue. Thousands of years back the seeds for the hundreds of religions and cults were probably sown through shared psychosis. Absurd but surreal beliefs of one single individual that percolated across a small group.

Few religions reached an inflection point where they could gather the followership of masses. These religions succeeded because the ideas and philosophy transcended beyond the individual who incepted those. Apparently those ideas were sustainable and to a degree conducive for human sanity long after the founder passed away. Inflection points for young religion or cult practices happens when the greater good and wellbeing of followers supersedes the vested interest of the founder. In the case of the mass suicide mentioned earlier, this inflection point manifested in form of death.

Taliban version 2.0 : How they are different?

How can everyone quietly observe the Taliban overthrowing the Afghanistan Government?

How can the US quietly withdraw its troops and diplomats?

How can China declare friendly support to the Taliban?

What are we missing here?

It is the Taliban version 2.0

It took 20 years for version 2.0 to be released

Has the Taliban changed its ideology?

Are they more civilized now?

Not really.

Did the Taliban win the hearts of Afghans?

They don’t have to.

Then what has changed?

Taliban learned the Art of Diplomacy.

It took two decades in the making.

You must listen to Taliban Spokesperson Suhail Shaheen.

He speaks of policy, reforms, and non-violence.

Do we need to believe him or the Taliban for that matter?

Not really.

However, what they have earned the hard way is “The Benefit of Doubt”

Somewhere there is a hope that the Sharia law will work in Afghanistan.

That benefit of the doubt was enough to throw the world into a standstill, a spiral of inaction and indecisiveness.

Afghanistan is no longer as strategic as it was in the 70s and the Taliban is not really perceived as a terrorist organization by outsiders.

It is seen as an organized army of 75000 that has taken city after city without major conflicts.

The world forgets, we have a short memory.

The ability to organize, plan, and ability to communicate that plan to the world is a skill in itself that the Taliban has built over the years.

Back in 2001, they didn’t have it.

All they could think was Hijack a couple of planes and ram them into the twin towers.

It is a wait-and-watch game as to how the Global powers will play this out.

But there is a reason Afghanistan is called the graveyard of empires, it has not failed to live by that sobriquet.


Normalization of Death

Manali Memes are all over the internet. You see hordes of people on the busy streets of Manali.

For the uninitiated, Manali is an famous hill station in North India. Currently it is in news because hordes of people are visiting the place after the lift of second lockdown. These tourists don’t really follow Covid protocols and put their lives at risk. This is a sign that an 3rd Covid wave in India is imminent. The second wave has proven fatal to millions.

Given the above scenario, the rational mind questions such behavior of people . Why are people even risking their lives?

If you reflect, this could be a direct consequence of the normalization of death.

Let me explain.

Death has been normalized in religious scriptures.

Mythology says you live and then you die.

However, acceptance of loss has never been easy.

Death is a rarity, you only die once.

Death is a rarity because in your lifetime you could only closely witness a few deaths.

You mourn and revive. You accept and move on. It is an organic process.

Death in that case is an event. Obviously a sad one.

Now let us have a look at the havoc unleashed by the pandemic.

The pandemic has claimed millions.

During this period, death was seen through the “mechanized lens”.

The sad event was reduced to mere operations.

Haste, quick, mechanized.

Book beds, allocate breathing devices, manage supply chain, optimize beds.

Prioritize the sick, decide who doesn’t need the bed and who does. 

Manage logistics for the deceased. Waiting lists and resource allocation.

Bottle-necks and workstations (pyres)

Does this ring a bell?

The scene was no different from the Auschwitz concentration camp.

If death is normalized then we might not really appreciate the longevity of life but the “shortness” of it.

A trip to Manali in that case is just a bet on life, now that it has lost some of its value.

It is okay to live grand and short life taking all the risks because it is okay to die as well. 🙂

The aftermath of the pandemic has significantly reduced the fear of death?

Do let me know in the comments.


How do you feel when someone disagrees with you?

How do you feel when someone disagrees with you?

A few days back, I commented on an Instagram post.

The post had thousands of likes. The creator was a woman with more than 50000 followers.

She stated that “fitness” is subjective. It was her belief.

I usually don’t comment on Instagram posts. But that day I felt like doing so.

I said, “Fitness is objective, the world is moving in that direction. If fitness is subjective, no one is really fit.”

It was my worldview and belief.

“100% untrue”, came the reply. 

She went on to explain at length why she believes so. 

Now I had a choice, to leave the debate or push my point further.

I decided to push it a little further. This time with some more logic.

I said “if fitness is subjective, then why fitness tests for jobs, any gym, or sports are so objective? There are series of checkboxes. Hence, fitness is nothing but a checklist, hence objective”

I received no reply after that. 

The next morning, I received a notification. She had again written a long reply. Now she brought logic and scenarios that were confusing or simply beyond my comprehension. 

I decided to yield for two reasons.

The opponent was actually trying too hard to be right and win.

Reason two, it was her turf, with all the zillion followers, it was a hornet’s nest.

Here are few reflections:

The true test of your character will happen when someone disagrees with your beliefs and opinions and how you react after that.

Are you big enough to accommodate a thought, an idea, or a principle that directly counters yours?

Anyway, on LinkedIn such confrontations are rare.

LinkedIn is the world of “I agree”

We all live in harmony here, don’t we? 🙂