Tyranny of the Triads

You wish they taught you this. Before you mature, they kick you up the corporate ladder and you find yourself at the pearly gates of the first Iron Triangle (a.k.a Project Management Triangle). The triangle typically helps analyze project success, as your ability to deliver a required scope, at reasonable quality, within sanctioned budget and schedule. Most of us rush in, to balance the puzzle without a background. Looks very reasonable, until you realize the ‘trilemmas’ they entail.  A trilemma (like dilemma) can be expressed logically (1) as a choice among three unfavorable options, one of which must be chosen, or (2) as a choice among three favorable options, only two of which are possible at the same time – courtesy Wiki
Here, project control and success lies in finding that optimal point where competing priorities reasonably trades off. Maximizing quality and scope while minimizing cost and time has always been the Holy Grail. Like the enigmatic ‘Rule of Three’, these trilemmas ha…

Confronting Leadership

In our search to become a leader, we run into diverse views on leadership. Executive coach James Scouller identifies three levels of leadership—Public Leadership (how to influence many; 34 traits), Private Leadership (how to influence one-on-one; another 14 behaviours), and Personal Leadership (inner level; 3 more). One too many, I dare say.
There are no leaders; there is only leadership. I say this for two reasons: First, it is our inability to perceive leadership in the abstract which makes us latch on to the person quintessentially demonstrating leadership. In the perpetual conflict between our heart (trying to identify and love the person, i.e., the leader) and our mind (trying to grapple the abstract, i.e. leadership quality), the heart wins. Even political parties based on great ideologies dissolve into larger-than-life leaders.
Second, leaders do not always or continuously demonstrate leadership. They are not magical beings, but human beings with human frailties. The faultless, c…

Entropy in every breath!

As the day winds down, sipping cognac, I take stock of the day shutting down. Did things settle down today or did they just get bigger, one leading to another, never really settling. Typically, you keep a to-do list handy to track and close the endless items but haven’t you noticed that it never ever clears up. Eventually, you lose interest and dump the laundry list. This disenchantment has led me to a visceral suspicion of something more fundamental at play here. So why is there always something to fix or clean up? Why cannot perpetual ‘order’ ever be achieved setting us free?
Interestingly, in physics, they got a funny definition and rule for this apparent ‘lack of order’ or shall we say, gradual decline into disorder. Entropy! Technically, it is a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work (Phew!). Simply put, it represents the degree of order or randomness in a system. They even conjured up a law for it.…

Ikiru's Secret of Happiness

Strangely funny, Harvard would conduct a 75 year study to convince humanity that the secret to happiness lies in relations. In other words, outside your ‘self’. However, Kurosawa, in Ikuru (To Live, 1952) furthers the point that it actually lies in selfless action, Nishkama Karma. One of the best scripts ever written with dialogues so measured that every line hits hard like a punch line. Watch it (Ikiru (1952)).

The Living Dead - We see a man like you and me, completely defined by bureaucratic machines of modern society and the meaningless busy-ness (business?) it ensues. He does nothing except protect his position by doing nothing, better still, by appearing busy. We see a noble idea, to covert a sewage to children’s park, get entangled in meaningless complexity called human society. A permission needs the nod of departments ad infinitum…Park Dept->Health Dept->Sanitation Dept->Environment Sanitation Dept->Dept of Prevention of Infectious Diseases->Division of Pest Cont…

The Runner is the Run

When you run, everything is different. You feel like a constant with everything around you moving. A sense of detachment sets in and it helps see things differently.
On weekends when I do longer stints, I cross the Akkulam bridge and see the ‘african payal’ eat up what is otherwise a beautiful lake. Just then, the Zen couplet made perfect sense…

“The wild geese do not intend to cast their reflection The water has no mind to retain their image”
Ironically these beautiful lines seem to negate something beautiful. Because in objective reality, neither the geese nor the lake in the setting expect the onlooker to ‘react’ to the spectacle. Alan Watts once joked ‘the clouds are not floating peacefully for the artists to be painted’! I guess, we human beings have a problem. We have this irresistible urge to ‘interpret’ and ‘judge’ what we see. Of course, it is essential mechanism to our survival. It is perhaps a natural outcome of consciousness and intelligence’s evolution itself. This process …

On Causality

Writing in itself is tough, writing on Causality is next to impossibility. Let me explain. Causality is defined as ‘cause’ of something. Say, an event A is ‘caused’ by number of preconditions and reasons. Of all variants of questions (such as What? Where? When? How? Why?) you throw at something, to comprehend it, ‘Why’ perhaps seeks the core. What ? – tries to explain nature of event witnessedWhere? – handles the  ‘space’ aspect of event witnessedWhen? – typically handles the ‘time’ aspect of itHow? – handles the very process that happened  But Why? –captures the REASON why it happened after all!WHY seeks to tackle Causality, the cause of anything. In fact, Science has built its foundations on Time, Space and Causality. By logical reasoning and scientific empirical rigor, we study why something happened. If event A and B caused event C to occur, then A and B become for us, the sole reasons, to why C exists. Suddenly the MEANING of C becomes A and B. That’s how …

Without Limits

“All of my life, man and boy, I have operated under the assumption that the main idea in running was to win the damn race. Actually when I became a coach I, I tried to teach people how to do that. I tried to teach Pre(fontaine) how to do that. I tried like hell to teach Pre to do that. And Pre taught me, taught me I was wrong. Pre, you see, was troubled by knowing that a mediocre effort can win a race. And a magnificent effort can lose one. Winning a race wouldn't necessarily demand that you give it everything you have from start to finish. He never ran any other way. I tried to get him to. God knows, I tried. But Pre was stubborn. He insisted on holding himself to a higher standard than victory. A race is a work of art. That's what he said. That's what he believed. And he was out to make it one every step of the way. Of course, he wanted to win. Those who saw him compete and those who competed against him were never in any doubt about how much he wanted to win. But how he…