Breakout 2

3 shifts caused by a new wave of entrepreneurs

An entrepreneurship wave is sweeping the world. With the inspiration provided by Steve Jobs and the emergence of young and successful role models like Mark Zuckerberg, Phanindra Sama, Evan Spiegel and so on, the wave is continuing to grow, especially among the younger generation. Business incubators and accelerators are mushrooming in every part of the world from Cordoba in Argentina to Kochi in India. There are specialised tools like Business Model Canvas, The Lean Startup and Design Thinking to help aspiring entrepreneurs develop their ideas in a structured fashion. It is worth noting that entrepreneurship is not restricted only to businesses. It also applies to those who set out to solve complex problems on their own.


With increased access to capital, low barriers to entry and reduced risk as far as getting back into job tracks are concerned, this increasing interest in entrepreneurship has three major implications for large companies.

Business models need to be more ‘open’

Attracting top-class talent to work for large organisations will increasingly become a challenge. Enabled by technology and by increased access to capital, any young, talented individual can set up shop anywhere in the world. In fact, not only are large corporations losing top talent, they also run the risk of getting disrupted by the start-ups launched by this talent.

“One of the ways companies are leveraging young talent and fresh ideas is by designing open innovation models in areas which are very strategic to a company.”

Large companies can leverage the asymmetries between them and start-ups. Start-ups excel in paving the way for the first mile of a business while large companies can take proven business models for the rest of the distance because of their scale and reach. One of the ways companies are leveraging young talent and fresh ideas is by designing open innovation models in areas which are very strategic to a company.

Networking giant Cisco, for example, launched a new start-up innovation programme called Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) that allows the company to directly engage and support early-stage start-ups working on game-changing ideas for the Internet of Things, Cloud services, Big Data/Analytics and other areas that are strategic to Cisco’s future. Through their engagement with these start-ups, Cisco aims to connect the previously unconnected and see the future direction of its industry as well as opportunities to co-create new business models. It also helps Cisco to learn what trends are affecting their business model and prepare to defend against disruptions. Companies like Johnson & Johnson, Unilever etc. set up their own VC arms that invest in promising start-ups in their strategic focus areas. Large companies also partner with incubators and accelerators to stay closer to start-ups.

The Global Community Partners of the Global Shapers Community, Coca Cola and The Abraaj Group, launch annual global challenges inviting scalable models from theGlobal Shapers and supporting the winners with a seed fund. This gives a sense of what issues young people care about in different parts of the world and allows them to design their sustainability strategies in tune with global realities. The winners of past challenges have addressed a range of issues such as empowering young people and women in Phnom Penh, Ankara and Rabat, developing myoelectric prosthetic limbs for disabled women and children living in rural areas of Kolkata, tracking crime patterns for a safer culture in Puebla, and generating electricity through solar power in Nairobi.

“Entrepreneurship is redefining every industry and young people are the enablers of this movement.”

‘Open’ models are increasingly becoming mainstream in various industries. Companies can use these models to send employees to work in these start-ups to a) fulfil some of their entrepreneurial ambitions; b) bring start-up culture into their organization; and c) Prepare to defend against disruption.

Marketing needs to think of community and not just customers

As business models become more open, marketing departments need to adapt and change. In a way, one of the biggest shifts in the marketer’s role is the emergence of community management as a key function. The success of a marketing manager lies in her ability to engage and manage communities in both the real and virtual worlds to create meaningful value for the company as well as for the customer.

Companies like Apple initially created online forums that leveraged the power of peer networks to solve routine problems faced by customers and in turn created value for both the customers as well as for the company. Over a period of time, the iPhone/iPad platform enabled individual developers and small companies to develop apps and created the iOS developer communities.

The extremely successful 3D animation software, Maya, currently owned by Autodesk,developed an API (application program interface) during its initial versions that were used by developers to create specialised plugins to help the animators. Maya then integrated some of the most successful plugins as a regular feature into their software and it turned out to be a big hit in the animation industry. In the case of Apple and Maya, value creation happens through the power of communities enabled by an open business model. In addition to managing entrepreneurial communities, marketers also have to create value through online communities (examples include Nike+ and Jawbone) and also manage customers who vent their anger in social media whenever they experience bad service.

Marketing departments now have to expand “customer relationship management” to include “community management”. They now have to create guidelines, policies, rules of engagement and be available all the time.

HR needs to re-imagine the future of work

HR Leaders need to re-imagine job descriptions, organisational culture, as well as training and development to leverage this growing trend.

“Highly talented young people are not just looking for companies with a good purpose but also jobs that can give more purpose to their lives.”

Job descriptions need to offer more than work: A recent survey done among the Global Shapers Community, made up of high-potential young leaders in the age group of 20-29, revealed that these young people rated “an opportunity to make a difference to society” as the top thing that they look for in a job. Jaideep Bansal is a Global Shaper from the Chandigarh Hub. He has been working for a leading multinational corporation in India after completing his mechanical engineering degree from IIT, Mumbai. Last year, Jaideep joined the Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) to set up sustainable energy and education-based infrastructure in remote Himalayan regions. As part of the expedition, Jaideep, along with GHE team, carried solar equipment on horseback and walking in the steep mountains at 14,000ft for more than two days to reach a village which had never seen electricity before. The villagers danced and celebrated when their village was electrified and Jaideep had one of the most fulfilling experiences of his lifetime. He has taken a two-month sabbatical to repeat this journey to light six other Himalayan villages.

How are we going to engage the Jaideeps of the world? Companies like SAP are now offering social sabbaticals to encourage their employees to pursue some of their personal passions that give them the entrepreneurial jolt. It is important that companies start figuring out how to integrate more purpose into their job descriptions. Highly talented young people are not just looking for companies with a good purpose but also jobs that can give more purpose to their lives.

Also, while traditional training approaches are still relevant, companies need to increasingly think of how they can create an “entrepreneurial culture” in their organisations to stay in sync with the needs of young employees. HR also needs to invest heavily in training their senior executives to recalibrate the way they do things in order to keep up with the times. HR teams now need to find new ways to facilitate and bridge the “approach-divide” between Gen X and Gen Y to create entrepreneurial culture.

Eileen Guo is a Global Shaper and the founding curator of the Norfolk Hub in the US. A few years ago, Eileen went to Afghanistan and launched Impassion Media, Afghanistan’s first digital media agency. Despite the difficult conditions there, Eileen incubated a new business in Afghanistan. In September 2013, Eileen brought together over 200 of Afghanistan’s social media users from 24 provinces and abroad for the country’s first ever social media summit.

The lessons that Eileen learned in Afghanistan are very unusual. Her rich insights on designing for extremes, building an eco-system to target non-consumers and how to build and operate new businesses in such complex settings will be of great value to any business leader. HR departments need to think of how they can design scalable “reverse mentoring” programs for senior executives wherein they can bring such experiences and insights through young talents like Eileen. HR also needs to identify and integrate exceptional young talents into the boards of their organisations to disrupt the status quo at the very top and enable an entrepreneurial environment.

Entrepreneurship is redefining every industry and young people are the enablers of this movement. Understanding the above implications, engaging young talents through their business models and rethinking how different departments within an organisation can capture value from this important trend are important to the long-term success of any global corporation.

This post was originally published in agenda.weforum.org:


This post was re-published in alrabiya.net:


This post was also published in Huffington Post India:


Image Credits: Muhammad Hamed/Reuters/weforum.org

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OK Kanmani – Movie review

I watched OK Kanmani along with my wife here in Geneva yesterday. Once in a while a movie or a technician or an actor/actress will come and redefine one dimension in filmmaking. In recent times — Mysskin’s movies, Gautam Menon’s VTV, Dhrishyam, Bangalore Days, Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kanom set new trends either in narration or in visuals or in script and so on and so forth. ManiRatnam used to set new trends with every movie starting from Mouna Ragam until Alai Payudhey and through this movie, he set a new trend and probably, the most difficult to emulate — Simplicity.

In OK Kanmani, ManiRatnam takes a social stigma around ‘live-in relationships’, challenges the status quo around ‘marriage’ and provides the audience a space to think and judge for themselves whether this idea is good or bad. The refreshing aspect of this movie is that the protagonist in this movie is the ‘Youthful passion & Experimentation’ and the antagonist is ‘Status-quo & Stigma’.

It shows the advantages and disadvantages of ‘marriage’ through the ‘old couple’ and the same for ‘live-in relationships’ with the ‘young couple’. This movie handles a paradox — between an individual’s need for freedom & an individual’s need for dependence. It is a paradox between the youthfulness of the present and the fear of ageing in the future in the context of social stigma and parental failures from the past.

The two lead couples ‘confront’ the problem and face them instead of doing cheap tricks. For example, a. Adi brings Tara to meet the old man and asks his permission. b. Tara confronts her mother and shares her feelings. c. Ganapathy uncle and his wife talk everything very openly. The lead couples are realistic when it involves their larger family and mobilize support through the old couple to tackle the family. The two couples mirror each other and the two individuals within each couple mirror each other showing the contrasts effectively.

Towards the end, after challenging the status quo around ‘marriage’, they understand why it exists and with the realisation, they define ‘marriage’ in a way that suits them and not for the society. The film teaches you to ‘Be Yourself’ while being ‘compassionate towards the needs of your partner’ and that a space exists for both.

ManiRatnam’s success in this film lies in his relentless pursuit in keeping it simple from the start till the end. By selecting Dulquer and Nithya, Prakashraj and Leela Samson, for the lead roles, he saved himself from complications in the first half as all of them effortlessly carry the first half with their simple and pure approach to acting. Dulquer is one of the few actors who can bring in the personality of a character and Nithya Menon is a revelation. The scene where Dulquer sits opposite to Nithya in a train to Ahmedabad and his eye movements & Nithya’s facial expressions are one of the many such memorable bits. Prakash Raj’s strength has been his ability to exude intensity and in this movie, his old character demands exactly the opposite and he does it with aplomb. Leela Samson was every effective as an Alzheimer patient and so are the other supporting characters.

ManiRatnam and PC Sreeram combo after 15 years shows why age has nothing to do with youth. If you watch Nayagan or Idhayathai Thirudaathey, you will realize what good cinematorgraphy means and in this film, PC shows a colour palette never seen before in Indian cinema. The camera travels under the bed sheet, it travels from the herione to the hero through the wedding in the church scene and it shows the world through a new lens. Youthfulness comes from experimentation and Sreeram+Mani combo is always full of experimentation. One stand out shot is the opening sequence — the train flashing between the two characters on opposite sides of the platform, Dulquer revealing through the door when the train stops and the whole mood between light & dark revealing the life crisis and opportunity was brilliant.

We all hate cliches but there are a few cliches that we love. Superstar Rajnikanth’s intro song is one and Mani+PC cliche is another one. The train station shots, the shots inside the bus, the Gateway of India shot with pigeons flying in the backdrop — Signature shots. No complaints.

Sreekar Prasad’s editing is like cutting cheese with a sharp knife. The opening sequence, the church scene between Adi and Tara, the ‘You are Dead’ gaming sequence when tara enters the house etc are proof of the impressive editing. Again, we cant credit the editor alone as the cinematography, music, production design and the beautiful costumes with the excellent color schemes all create a texture and feel that is visually pleasing. ManiRatnam’s patent on this one still remains unchallenged.

Maniratnam and AR Rahman — Music was always a pillar in Maniratnam’s movies and I dont know what instruction he gives to AR Rahman. The songs and background score adds to the youthfulness and the clever use of carnatic music bridges the old and young couple. Malargalai Ketten was outstanding and especially the closing sequence when AR and Chitra sing together was magic. Kaara, Mental Manadhil, Parandhu Sella Vaa, Aye Sinamika — Dream Album. The sound quality that Rahman gave in Thiruda Thiruda, Kadhalan etc. is still not matched by any music director in India and so, the 20 year gap between him and others still remain.

Costume designer, VFX team for the gaming sequence, Art Director, Make up team all deserve appreciation. The one thing that could have been addressed better is to show the ‘claustrophobic’ feel of Mumbai and since I believe the movie must have been shot in Chennai for the most part, the integration between these two cities could have been better: Still, it was a great effort and this will be noticed only by people like me who had lived in both cities.

Ahh..This review talks only about the strengths and no weaknesses. When I finished watching this film, I got only positive feelings about the film. My mind was immersed in the good things and even after a day, I haven’t thought about what wasn’t good. In the name of creating balance, I would not want to write things that I didnt experience while watching the film.

ManiRatnam brings simplicity back to filmmaking. Good film ketten, briliant film thandhanai!

OK Kan’mani’ratnam!

Written by Vijay Raju; Image Credits: Madras Talkies

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From problem to paradox

Our attempts to frame all the difficulties that we encounter in the world as ‘problems’ may be one of the reasons why it is difficult to bring these difficulties to an end. Each of these problems have inherent paradoxes and a solution to a problem leads to new problems. We solve the problem of transportation through new innovations and create new problems like air pollution, traffic jams, cutting trees etc. There are some problems which are defined in ways that are loaded with several assumptions. For example, we want to eradicate child labour. To solve this problem, we create laws that ban children working in factories and set up mechanisms to monitor these cases. But when children act in a movie or participate in TV reality shows, we don’t complain that it is child labor because it is assumed that big money and popularity is not bad for children.This paradox is inherent in all our thinking across different subjects.

In this post, I am going to take you back in time to two social innovations that came from my country – I grew up with the former and the other grew on me over the years.These innovations are the outcome of the deep understanding of the paradox inherent in every problem. My belief is that by surfacing out the contradictions and understanding these paradoxes, a greater level of awareness can be created about the problem and a solution resulting from that awareness can address the problem in the best possible way by thinking holistically about the problem.

Mid Day Meals by K. Kamaraj:

K Kamaraj was a former Chief Minister of my state Tamil Nadu in India between 1954 – 1963. During his term, the state was grappling with several social challenges that included malnutrition in kids and low literacy rates.Once during an official trip to South Tamilnadu, Kamaraj had to stop at a railway intersection and he got out of the car and waited. He saw a few boys busy with their cows and goats. The Chief Minister had asked one of them, “What are you doing here? Why didn’t you go to school?” The boy immediately answered, “If I go to school, who will give me food to eat? How can I learn when we don’t have food to eat?”. Confronted by the paradox inherent in the answer, the CM who also dropped out of school when he was a kid to support his family, launched one of the greatest social innovations ever – ‘The mid-day meal programme’. By offering a meal at schools, his government started nudging students to attend schools and as a result, they tackled two social problems which are low literacy rates and malnutrition in kids.

We had this program in the school where I studied in my hometown Madurai and several of my classmates from extremely underprivileged backgrounds used to bring a plate along with books in their school bag. The government over the years has introduced eggs(it is a privilege for these kids) once a week and also, used this programme to give employment opportunities to women.

The impact of the program ranges from attracting children from disadvantaged sections (especially girls and the Adivasis) to school, reducing school dropouts, increasing nutritional benefits, integrating kids from different castes and also, creating employment opportunities to women. The programme has since then been adopted by various state governments in India and is also extended through public private partnerships with organizations like Akshayapatra and others. Today it is the largest programme in the world serving 120 million children in over 1.27 million schools and Education Guarantee Scheme centres.

Non-Violence by Mahatma Gandhi:

Non violence is THE greatest social innovation that I know of. Non-violence by Gandhi is an outcome of the understanding of the paradox in the conflict between Indians and British. The paradox: At an individual level of identity, whether they are a Brit or an Indian, they are opposed to the killing of another human being, oppression etc but when it comes to their national identity, the same humans are ready to kill each other. A low level identity like ‘nation’ precedes our high level identity called human beings. Gandhi’s Non-violence used this high level identity to resolve conflicts between low level identities. Gandhi realized that it is not a conflict between humans but rather one of identities and he cared for the British Humans as much as he cared for the Indian Humans.

In conflicts all over the world, the ‘status quo’ is that there are a bunch of soldiers fighting while millions of citizens stay disconnected from the violent engagement between two sides. The traditional way to engage the citizens is to give them military training. Gandhi turned it upside down. He was successful in engaging millions of people by disengaging this idea of armed soldiers & weapons. Non-violence is disruptive to the traditional violence based model because it attracted more people who are non-consumers of violence who otherwise would have avoided participating in this movement because of the following reasons.a). Ordinary citizens wanted to contribute to Indian independence but are scared of taking weapons or loss of life. b) Their value system/ religious affiliation would not allow them to kill people.c)They were afraid of taking the law in their own hands fearing that it would leave them with ever lasting guilt. d)They couldn’t take the shame of going to jail and they didn’t want to spend time and efforts to undergo military training. e)They wanted to contribute without doing all that what is being generally done.

Non-Violence satisfied all the above and even delighted the common person because they were revered for their moral courage and discipline, imprisonment became an honor because they are doing it for a bigger cause and it left them with no guilt instead causing the opponents to feel the guilt.Also, it gave self respect to people who otherwise would not have used their power in any other way.Instead of fighting in battlefields, new initiatives like Salt Satyagraha, Quit India movement (the equivalent of ‘Go to Market’ models in the business world)were created to influence and mobilise people to join the cause.

We have a proven, healing innovation called ‘non-violence’ that is available but unfortunately, the modern world wants to stay with the status quo of violent approaches to resolving conflicts. Countries spend billions of dollars to strengthen their military capability when millions of their citizens don’t have access to shelter and food. For a war that will not happen or for a war that is going to happen in the future, countries are de-prioritizing their present realities. The above examples demonstrate that it is possible to solve these complex problems if we understand the inherent paradoxes.

Can’t food security and national security be tackled with one solution?

You can also read this article in WEF agenda via http://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/06/problem-paradaox-2-social-innovations-that-have-changed-india

Image Credits: indianexpress.com

Disclaimer: All the opinions expressed are those of the author and they do not reflect the views of his organization or any of his affiliations

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The Dolphin’s Eye View

‘Bird’s eye view’ or big picture thinking and Worm’s eye view’ or detail orientation are terms that are often used when we talk about leadership.A leader is expected to see things from a bird’s eye view so that she is strategic in her approach and to see things from a worm’s eye view to demonstrate strong attention to tactics and details. Usually, a leader’s ability is judged by her ability to move between these two views.But in my view this is not sufficient. What a leader needs is a ‘Dolphin’s eye view’.

A dolphin serves as a better analogy to me as it is important to recognize and capture the dynamism as we move between the big picture and the details. This dynamism affects how we see a problem. A leader needs to not just move between these views but also between contexts since the contexts change the nature of the problem.With a dolphins eye view, a leader may be better positioned to achieve the following

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Staying with the question

One of the common challenges that we face in professional and even, personal settings is that people argue whether a particular idea is good or not without really knowing what the idea is for and what the argument is for. Also, when you go with a question to your peers or boss, there is always the possibility that they may ask ‘What do you think we should do about this?’. Everyone wants ‘answers’ and ‘solution orientation’ is celebrated in organizations. But this overemphasis on problem solving brings its own side effects wherein quick fixes get visibility and real problems get sidelined because of ‘lack of answers’. Innovation efforts and new initiatives get affected the most as for new initiatives, there may not be enough data points and people start to evaluate an idea through their own opinions. A leader’s ability to drive new innovation needs to be judged by his ability to stay with the question and influence people to come along with him.

In 2012, I was part of a team that designed a business model for a large corporation to help low income patients to afford expensive cardiac therapies in India and we were running a pilot in a hospital in a few cities. Since financing the cardiac procedure is a key component of the model, we introduced the idea of patient counselors who can help the patients who go through the procedure. These counselors had a station in the hospital where patients and their families who need support can go and get advice. After a few months, during a team meeting, two of my colleagues came with the idea of moving this station outside the hospital as they felt there was a risk that the hospital and even the patient may perceive this as ‘non-neutral’. But when they presented the idea, it received immediate push backs within the team saying that the process design will go for a spin. Another colleague argued that managing the staff will become complex. His argument was that we may have to change the organization structure to accommodate a new manager to oversee the staff and also, an administrator to run the office if it is not part of the hospitals which has its own implications on budget when the model is scaled across so many cities.

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5 Countries, 5 Insights

2014 was a great year for me – I was able to unearth many dimensions/blind spots of me and became more aware of myself. Happy New Year to all of you!

From a rural and orthodox society in South India to the sophisticated Switzerland, there are so many great experiences that I have encountered and these experiences have shaped me. I am grateful to these experiences and through this post, I want to share my learning from these experiences living in Japan, USA, Sri Lanka, Switzerland and India.

Japan: Japan is the first country that I saw outside India. Everything about this country was an eye opener for me. If you ask who is the great leader from India, we would say Mahatma Gandhi. What about USA? Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln… What about Singapore? Lee Kuan Yew and similarly, every country has their own share of great leaders. I tried to ask this question in Japan when I was studying there. Who led Japan in their transformation after the world war tragedy? I asked many people during my time in Japan. The answer I finally got through my own reflections was ‘Every Japanese’. Japan changed my idea of Leadership. It is not necessarily an individual who creates a vision and drives his followers towards the vision. Here it works like how fish schools and bird flocks work together where everyone leads and follows at the same time. It is magical. in Japan, collective consciousness can be experienced and Japan reminds me of my favorite quote that I learnt from my rowing coach at Wharton ‘The melting of the individual into the collective consciousness is the ultimate realization of the human potential’. I met my wife there and I got a scholarship to study there and this country has given me so much. In fact, I like Japan so much that I named my daughter ‘Midoari’ which means green in Japanese.

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‘Not knowing’ liberates you

My son asked me the most complex question ever. Who came first? Chicken or Egg? Before jumping into giving an answer, the idea of helping him ‘explore’ stuck me. My question to him was Q: ‘What do you think?’ A: Chicken. Q:Where did the chicken come from? A: Mother chicken. Q:Did it directly came from mother chicken? No. Mother chicken put a egg and it came from it. Q: Where did that egg come from? A: Mother chicken. Q: Where did that mother chicken came from? Egg. After a while, it was so confusing for me. It left me wondering what was my original objective. Next question. Ok. Ok. Who came first? He said ‘Chicken’.

He was convinced by his answer and his conviction was more convincing than the answer itself. He taught me a powerful lesson. Sometimes, the answers may all look the same or there may be no clarity or probing more may lead to a vicious circle. In those times, we need to have the conviction to make a choice fully knowing that we don’t know enough about the problem and be comfortable with the uncertainty. Not knowing does not necessarily stop action and in fact, could become a powerful approach as we can learn from the example below.

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My Uber predictions

Last week, there was a ‘rape’ incident in New Delhi that involved a cab driver who was part of the Uber network. It created quite a storm in India with protests from all quarters and subsequently, Uber was banned in New Delhi and several other states. I wrote the post below in 2008 when I was a MBA student in Japan. I predicted the emergence of a taxi service model riding on the social networking technology and also, predicted that such a service could be misused by criminals if not managed well. Both the predictions have come true. More from the post below but before you start reading, please don’t forget to rewind back to 2008 when social networking sites were in their early days.

11 January 2008

We had a great guest lecture at campus today through the Mobile Consumer Lab of Prof.Sugai. Mr.Jonathan Brown from Forrester Research gave an inspiring lecture on Mobile Social Computing among Japanese users.My mind was immediately thinking on how we can use this for practical applications in India.

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What to teach

In my last post, I used Bruce Lee’s ‘No way as the way’ as a theme for how to think about approaching a problem without frameworks. I was questioning myself on two things 1. How would one transfer knowledge and best practices to others with this approach and ‘how do we teach’ what one learnt through his/her experience. 2. How will one adopt such a thing without replicating the model. As I thought more about it, I realised that the real question is not ‘How do we teach’ but rather ‘what do we teach?’. I have a couple of examples – 1. one that involves children who don’t have any fixed frameworks and help them create a structure 2. The other that involves senior executives who have strong ‘models’ and how to challenge and move them from their models. We need to combine the two – creating models and dismissing models that may lead to the Bruce Lee state.

In 2012, I attended a parenting workshop of Magic Hive in Bangalore run by my friends Subha and her husband, Parthasarathy S. I was the only father in the company of 10 mothers and it was such an enriching experience seeing the kids’ world through the mothers’ eyes. All of us had so many questions – What should I do for this situation with my daughter? My son is not listening to me and How do I solve my son’s problem?. In a way, we wanted Subha’s model that we can replicate in our homes and create great outcomes. Subha’s question to us was ‘When your kids ask questions to you, what do you do? Do you feel anxious and you go out of your way to find the ‘right answer’ for your kids?’. Almost everyone said yes and we were feeling proud that we were giving so much time for the kids. She asked us to stop ‘answering’ and start ‘exploring’ the answers with the kids. If a child asks ‘Why is the ocean blue?’, instead of giving a scientific explanation, ‘explore’ with the child on why the ocean is blue.

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No way as the way

In recent times, I am fascinated by philosophy and its approach to solving problems from business to parenting to relationships. One thing that is common across problem solving is the use of frameworks. As a MBA student, I was taught various frameworks from 4Ps to balanced scorecard to 5 forces etc. When I was a consultant, I was using the disruptive innovation framework, BCG Matrix or any new age innovation frameworks so on and so forth. I loved frameworks at that time because it helped to quickly size up a problem and come up with a model that helped everyone to understand my approach to framing and solving a problem. While these frameworks help at a certain level, these frameworks are a synthesis done by someone studying a problem in some context. While the synthesis is explicit knowledge which can be adapted to some extent in other contexts, it doesn’t tell anything about the ‘tacit knowledge’ that went behind creating it which includes moods, contexts, combination of ideas, interpretations to name a few. I realized that these frameworks are affecting my ability to go to the root of any problem and to come up with my own structure to solve it.

The famous spiritual teacher J Krishnamurti had summed it up beautifully long ago saying ‘Truth is a pathless land’. If we want to pursue the truth around anything, it cannot be pursued through anybody’s path. Whether it is individuals pursuing truth or organizations pursuing the truth around a problem, the path has to be created by themselves.

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