What do you stand for?

 

If you are like me and given a few exams or tests, you would have encountered the popular multiple choice questions where the question is followed by a choice of potential correct answers. To make it a little dodgy for the test or exam takers, there is also a choice given ‘ none of the above ‘.

 

I think None of the Above gets us thinking about how we “other” people in our lives and how society teaches us to turn away from the unfamiliar.

 

Probably the choice is easier. Rather than stand for something and back it, you take the route of being against because that is the easier choice. None of the above absolves you of responsibility in a way because there is something on offer without being on offer if you know what I mean.

 

So, life’s exams will throw up ” None of the Above ” or even ” All of the Above ” as choices- that said, it is up to us to direct our responsibility in the direction we need to.

 

 

Mover over IQ | EQ: How’s the AQ( Adaptability Quotient)?

 

IQ and EQ have been part of the nomenclature for aeons now. And EQ over the past few decades have won pride of place in our scheme of things and is considered the bedrock for sound and progressive leadership. That said, the Covid-19 threw up a new necessity since a lot of organisations and individuals were caught like a deer in the headlights. And that was the crying need for adaptability. AQ(Adaptability Quotient) is certainly the new kid on the block.

 

Kids have the greatest sense of agility and adaptability. They can go from petulant and sad to happy and effervescent and switch contexts in an instant. As we grow older(and mature?), adults struggle with this. As we grow older, our ability to reconcile and thrive in a new situation or context diminishes. The law of diminishing marginal returns begin to apply. That is because we have not made such effort to change the default. The good thing is that with deliberate practice, we can change the muscle memory setting and enhance our adaptability quotient.

The same applies to organisations too. In an always on, dynamic and unpredictable zeitgeist, where the next new normal is being continuously disrupted, organisations that have agility and adpatability as its prized assets, are the ones likely to survive and thrive.

 

Because resistance is wily !

 

I remember when I was growing up and the reluctant cricketer in me and the generosity of my elder brother were always at loggerheads. He wanted my bat and pad to be close together while I remained happy with doing what I always did, inspite of the fact that it closed the door to newer, better, correct options.

 

I suspect status quo is the domicile of comfort. Playing safe. Of being deliberately in a state of impasse when change is resisted. When it is looked at with suspicion. As they say, when your fist is in a tight clench, little do you realise what is slipping through your fingers. And mind you, a lot is. When a toddler is crawling, it is only a natural preamble to her walking- she has no intent to remain in crawling mode forever.

We hang onto the coat tails of what was. At the cost of exploring what could be. We are afraid that whatever we have gained or whatever we have accomplished could be lost should we tread a new path. Our status, the connections we have made and the competence we have earned, though interim, is cherished and therefore protected with all vigor and rigidity. And we shut shop. Letting go becomes difficult.

 

Emotional enrollment is the bedrock of learning. That is what mentors, coaches, leaders are looking for when in the quest to moving the needle from ” what got you here, won’t get you there ‘. “Ignore sunk costs” is the critical lesson of useful decision making. More on this in an earlier blog post here.

 

Better will remain a slippery slope should the idea be to rever the status quo. We will find a thousand ways to maintain the narrative of security, entitlement or culture( people like us do things like this).

 

The ebbs and flows in our lives can be better managed. Are you defending sunk costs, sticking with projects simply because that’s easier( remember that domicile of comfort called the status quo) than leaving them behind? Which flows could be improved with focus and effort?

 

The decisions we make today( read probably hard choices) can lead to better outcomes later. The present(today) is a present(gift) and real but we still spend most of our lives living in later.

Get it over with !

 

The other evening around 9.05 pm I get a call from an over enthusiastic sales person of an AI in Marketing company. No preamble, no polite enquiries but cutting to the chase with a sense of entitlement that cried out aloud ” that I am obliged to take his call, irrespective of the time, the context or what have you “. That is not it. When I asked him that is this a time to be making a sales call and how disappointed I am at being subjected to this unwanted intrusion, he had the audacity to tell me that it is company policy and it is NOT his responsibility to check on primary courtesies. Even when I reassured him that I will never do business with his company, he kept on saying that he is ‘doing his job ‘.

 

This is a classic template of the mindset of most(there are some exceptions fortunately) corporate customer acquisition | service personnel where they love doing either or ideally both of the below:-

 

– If at all possible, evade responsibility

– When you can, get it over with

 

So, when things go wrong and you want a response, it normally is this refrain ” It’s out of our control “.

 

There’s a flip side to this which is a far better alternative. Think of what you ‘could have ‘ done under the circumstances. Instead of hanging on to the coat tails of minimum legal and compliance, run away from the responsibility and under deliver and disappoint the customer( and lose her forever), explore what the maximum you can do to understand, empathise and resolve the customer’s problem. Like owning up and saying, we could have done better. We could have informed you and given a true update on the ground situation instead of hiding behind the customary ” there was a technical glitch “, ” it’s another department that is responsible ” etc etc.

 

So the next time you say ” let me escalate this to my manager “, actually do it, send good advice upstream, follow up and offer the customer perspective to find a solution and not follow the call centre script(designed to ensure customer problems are not resolved).

 

It is simple- organisations who win the race are the ones who are going way beyond the minimum( read this example of what happened with the Titanic to understand the gravity of what can go wrong when you opt for the safe and minimum), the ones that figure out that they could do it.

 

What could you do?