Wednesday, September 17, 2008

CSIM Session 4

Today I decided to shed off little laziness and write about my previous sessions. There is too much to write and so I start without any foreground background.

Session 4 - We had Vishal Talreja from Dream-a-dream come and talk to us. He was young, dynamic and of course very inspiring. The session was focussed on leadership. We discussed some of the aspects of a leader and then did a case study which was very interesting.

Here is a jist of the case -- Ravi is the head of DWF foundation which supports around 800 children in Bangalore. Over the period of time, he feels that organization has become stagnant in terms of growth. So he comes up with a project where DWF can start supporting children in Chennai and Mysore. There a couple of organizations who wants to partner with DWF for this. Now, Ravi takes this proposal to his team, everyone is excited about this but are not willing to take it forward. The reasons being they are stretching themselves already and will not be able to give time to any new work, how can they trust the credibility of the partners and how can they get to know their work ethics, what if their mission is very different. The case ended with the question - If you are Ravi how would you take this project forward and convince your team.

On a first read, the question resonated a typical corporate team behaviour. How many teams we would have felt that we are already over working and our manager comes with some new task thinking we have all the time in the world to do it. All the while, I was seeing the problem from the eyes of someone working in the team. With this case study I was forced to reverse roles, tables turned and for once I pitied all my managers and thought of the tough times they would have had convincing someone like me :-)

Coming back to the case, we were 4 in our team and each one was thinking tangential to the other. Somehow at the end we managed to streamline our thoughts though one person was totally against Ravi's decision. There were 3 teams. The first team's presentation was awesome - J had come to present and for the next 10-15 minutes we only saw Ravi there and not J. Truly fantastic presentation I should say. Hats off folks. They gave ideas like Ravi would take the lead and go to chennai and Mysore to start these operations. This way, he would move out of Bangalore and give way to the team to lead the efforts in Bangalore. Most of their points was based on this key idea. Though it seemed to work, the project now looked like Ravi's child and not the teams.

The second team presented ideas on how to solve the existing problems in Bangalore so that the team can start working on the new projects. The idea was good, they had a plan in place to solve the issues but the only point that was missed is what if they get caught in the loop of solving the problems in Bangalore. There were couple of comments from other teams as the plan did not bring out the qualities of a leader who would empower his people to solve their problems.

Last was our team and we knew that our analysis of the problem was not enough. We had brought out ideas like how to partner with the local NGOs, how to reduce the work load of the team so that they can take up new work. Also we split the growth numbers into smaller chunks for it to sound realistic and achievable. Somehow we managed to get appreciation from other teams.

At the end of the case study, we came up with a list of qualities of a good leader. A few of what I can recollect (those which sounded very important to me) -
1. Transformatory thinking or think big and out of the box
2. Empowerment of people
3. Understand the people
4. Have a vision for the future

Apart from these are the essential values like integrity, honesty and others.

That was how our session ended. It was a fabulous case study with a lot of thoughts flowing from everyone.

More to come on the 5th session.

God!! Please help me get up early so that I can blog my thoughts.

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