And then there were none…

Social networks are addictive. In most of them I am “barely” present – the profile is kind of like a pebble or a placeholder that is there on the off chance that I may meet up with some old friends. These days one such pebble has unleashed a flurry of conversations between friends long since disconnected. As it is wont to happen slowly but surely the talk comes around to one of the following topics: wives/partners/marriage, children, jobs, parents, houses/cars/material things once the novelty of talking about the “good old days” wears off. So some weeks back (stop passing snide remarks – this blog is actually a lost+found draft) we ended up talking about jobs – the job environment ie the social commune at workplace and of course the managers. On hindsight even though the representative sample size was woefully inadequate, a strange pattern emerged – [1] working in a monolithic corporate does not automatically mean that folks are happy/unhappy [2] managers are nearly completely responsible for enjoying current workplace commune [3] working from $HOME in India at least is more often than not counterproductive [4] many fear the query “what am I doing today” and thus do nothing
[2] above is kind of surprising since it is a general dogma that factors like payouts, bonuses, freebies, workmates etc among other things determine the kind of joy of work. From a sample size cutting across broad general classes like Medical, BFSI, IT and Education, 20% agreed that they had managers who “managed by walking around” and they liked talking about issues at work during the walks. Of the remaining once the concept of MBWA was explained, they contrasted with their current protocol of fixed meeting times/days and arrived that MBWA might be a good idea in the flux jobs they had. Especially since MBWA includes the element of making notes of the “hot bricks” and attempts to get these out of the way as soon as possible. What was more surprising is that only 25% of the sample have scheduled, invariant one-to-one meetings with their managers on a regular basis. The remaining just have ad-hoc interactions. Note, in cases where the layer of a {Tech|Team}Lead is between Manager and associate, the MBWA bits apply both to the manager and the Lead. This is a bad jolt actually since the first thing that collapses when a company scales (and this is most seen in startups than anyplace else) is the MBWA and effectively clear communication. Folks become too busy in work that is not ordered according to priority and talking with the team breaks down.

However what bothers me more is [4]. When I started out, one of my mentors had drilled into me that “Fear is the Key” but don’t let it cramp your style, instead use its presence to chart out new work areas and attempt new things. When I see that a large number of my friends and associates get all hot in terms of “let’s not take risks” I feel a bit unhappy. Taking risks is something about pushing the limits of one’s capacities. Sometimes some risks do border on foolhardiness and on rare moments they are pure idiocy, but just because risks would push one out of the comfort zone of a well defined role does not mean that one should not take risks. Fear of failure is not unusual – in fact it might as well be one of the natural human reactions. What I observe is the fear of success. Since if the risk is successful one would be out of the current comfortable presence and start working on making the same if not more comfort appear in the new venture. One has to fear the moment in the future when we wake up and the brain pops the question “what have you done till now ?” As the quote goes

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”

Books and stuff…

Finished reading A Long Way Gone – normally I am a very fast reader, but this book just holds you on to each page and makes you think over what is written. Highly recommended. Currently on the second reading of Strange Pilgrims and All Quiet on the Western Front. This does mean that my “ToRead” book list has become very short with only 3 books read to be gone through. For a month’s worth of reading it has been a nice trot.