Thursday, May 16, 2019

‘RACE’ towards positivity at workplace

“When leaders adopt positive practices for change, it has significant outcomes”

Positive organizational change has grown out of the newly emerging field of positive organizational scholarship (POS), which refers to the investigation of positive outcomes, practices, attributes, and changes that occur in organizations and their members.

Positive change examines factors that influence adoption of a positive lens, focusing on positively deviant performance, effects of an affirmative bias, and impact of virtuousness or best of human conditions.

Individuals who energize others performed higher than even those who were in the central role in the network.

After the global financial crisis, there was an urgent need for change at a Middle-Eastern financial services firm. The management team designed a positive business initiative called ‘RACE’, which involved various sports, arts, cultural, and everyday business activities, intended to engage employees and build their psychological strengths.

The RACE initiative had four major events—

Marathon (daily business parameters), hurdles (business challenges), sprint (sports), and relay (arts and cultural).

The WOW factor of “RACE”:

  • These practices engage the employees cognitively, emotionally, and physically.

  • These positive practices generate positively deviant performance.

  • Individuals feel safe to express themselves in these informal settings.

  • The fear of underperformance gets converted into the joy of participation.

  • On an ongoing basis, they set goals and identify alternative pathways for goal achievement.

  • When routine jobs are converted into games, employees are more likely to work with intensity and invest their energies into it.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Is blockchain the future of finance in India?


Currently, the financial system depends on a number of centralized trusted intermediaries.

Until a decade ago, it was commonly assumed that these central hubs were extremely unlikely to fail. More importantly, it was supposed that they were too big to fail (TBTF), so that the government would step in and bail them out if they did fail. The Global Financial Crisis of 2007–2008 shattered these assumptions as many large banks in the most advanced economies of the world either failed or were very reluctantly bailed out.

Repeated instances of hacking of the computers of large financial institutions is another factor that has destroyed trust. When trust in the central hubs of finance is being increasingly questioned, decentralized systems like the blockchain that reduce the need for such trust become attractive.
The blockchain is a decentralized, replicated, tamper resistant (immutable), append-only ledger of transactions.

Benefits of the blockchain


  • A full audit trail is available to all participants. Moreover, the inbuilt cryptographic integrity checks ensure that this audit trail is verified by all of them. The result is a significantly lower need for trust in central hubs.
  • Second, the blockchain is partition resistant: if a few nodes fail or are disconnected from the network, the rest of the nodes can continue to function because they all have a copy of all the data.
Blockchain is still an evolving and therefore immature technology; it is hard to predict how successful it would be outside its only proven use domain of cryptocurrencies. History teaches us that radically new technologies take many decades to realize their full potential. Thus it is perfectly possible that blockchain would prove revolutionary in the years to come despite its patchy success so far.


Worth-exploring reads also from Vikalpa:



About the journal:

Vikalpa: The Journal for Decision Makers is the journal of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (www.iima.ac.in/web/iima). Launched in January 1976, this peer-reviewed journal is
published quarterly. The word Vikalpa, in Sanskrit, carries a rich repository of meanings: diversity,
alternatives, logic, and freedom of choice.

Connect with us here.

Data Storytelling – What is that?


‘Data’ and ‘Storytelling’ are two commonly used English language words which when combined can often leave people perplexed. Even the ones who have heard about ‘Data Storytelling’ earlier are always curious to know what exactly does it entail and how can I use it?

If either of these questions were raised in your minds, then you are not alone. Although the essence of Data Storytelling has been around forever, the term in itself is quite recent, a by-product of the Data big-bang I believe.

At it’s core Data Storytelling is about communicating effectively with your data – the findings, analysis, insights, and message. This Data communication in business is often written or visual; through emails, reports, presentations or dashboards. All of these can be made much more effective, impactful and engaging when painted with the Storytelling brush. Storytelling is believed to be the best tool for impactful communication, hence it is the most preferred choice when communicating with data as well.

If you are doing the following, you are not communicating effectively with data:
  • Your charts and writing are number heavy with no clarity of underlying insights
  • The audience requires to analyze the chart (just like with a data table) to decipher for themselves what’s going on?
  • The audience is compelled to re-read the writing and still might not get the desired clarity of the message
  •  The data points or insights from one paragraph/chart to another seem to be jumpy and you aren’t always successful in understanding how they connect

If you are doing the following, you are conveying an impactful Data Story:
  • The key insights, conclusions, and messages are clear at first glance (for a chart) or first read (for writing)
  • You can sense the invisible thread that logical connects all your data points giving it a much-needed flow and structure
  • You are not giving numbers to your audience, but you are taking them on a journey
  •  The audience finds your charts and writing to be interesting and often agree with your conclusions

If you believe that you need a little help or guidance in transforming your data communications into Stories to make them more impactful and engaging for your audience then welcome to the world of “Data Storytelling”.

Insights from the book: The Power of Data Storytelling by Sejal Vora                                            
                             Click here to know more about the book

About the author

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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Caste, as it is experienced in everyday life!


Let us begin with a story where a woman makes a strong gesture of anger against an old man who insists on knowing her caste before drinking the water she offers when he is thirsty. When the old man almost chokes on a betel nut, one of the other passengers helps him out. He is a doctor. He tells the woman: Madam, you might feel compelled to show that you do not believe in caste. I don’t. Even though I don’t believe in it, it still stays sticking to me. I just have to keep dusting it away as I go. I should not allow it to make me, or the others who are close to me, lose self-respect. That is all I care about….


Caste, as it is experienced in everyday life, is the pièce de résistance of a recently published book by SAGE, ‘Black Coffee in a Coconut Shell’ that talks about living, loving and dying with caste as an indelible marker. Thirty-two voices in the book narrate how from childhood to adulthood, caste intruded upon their lives—food, clothes, games, gait, love, marriage and every aspect of one’s existence including death. Like the editor, Perumal Murugan says, caste is like the god, it is omnipresent.







 Award-winning book on casteism that you must-read

“If you insist that you do not know me, let me explain myself … you will feel, why, yes, I do know this person. I’ve seen this man.”

With these words the author, Manoranjan Byapari points to the inescapable roles all of us play in an unequal society. It talks about his traumatic life as a child in the refugee camps of West Bengal and Dandakaranya, facing persistent want—an experience that would dominate his life.


Thursday, May 09, 2019

5 valuable lessons from entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs


A ‘start-up’ is the ultimate expression of who the entrepreneur is and what he values and in India, start-ups have become a mainstream phenomenon.
India is ranked 77th for ease of doing business in the world but budding entrepreneurs often tend to make mistakes which they could have averted if they had proper guidance.

WORRY NOT!
Here are 5 valuable lessons from entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs

    Funding
Take external money only if you want to grow super-fast in the short term and don’t mind risking long-term sustenance and free control.

    Hiring
Understand that the right people to hire are those who are dependent on the salary led to building a good on-field workforce.

    Design
Focus on the visual aspect of the product as it turns out to be an important selling point in most cases, even if it means hiring a professional to do it.

    Figure out channels that work
Put money in figuring market channels in the beginning as it helps in achieving the long-term objectives.

    Right incentives
Start-ups are often tight on money but freedom, responsibility, and equality are a kind of incentives that empower the team.

Insights from the book: No shortcuts



 Click here to order your copy today!


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

“Planned urban development will be a vehicle for India’s transformation” —Prasanna Mohanty


India’s urban population, estimated at 410 million in 2014, is projected to reach 814 million by 2050.

The country will have three times as much population in cities and towns in the next 75 years.
It is not cakewalk to lead a city or nation into reduced poverty and accelerated growth. It requires years of planning, merit and tools to be able to bring home progress.

Let us take the example of Smart Cities Mission launched by the Government of India with the objective to promote sustainable and inclusive urban development. This mission targets the improvement of civic services through “smart” solutions. Effective planning and management of urban land and transport are critical for this mission.

In the light of this urgent need for reformation and planning of cities for a better tomorrow, Professor Mohanty “calls for incorporating the economic approach to cities into urban planning. This approach advocates a people-centered, rather than place-centric design of the city.”
—Excerpt taken from Planning and Economics of Cities

Drawing from theory as well as practice, Planning and Economics of Cities is an exemplar resource that adds value to our understanding of urban planning as well as development strategies.

Mohanty posits a solution that the nation awaits.

To find out, order your copy here.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The ‘borderless’ and ‘boundaryless’ markets


The power of digital is everything business and marketers should have hoped for. There still remains this doubt about whether digital will make any difference to those that buy and sell at the Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk, Chickpet, Burma Bazaar, FC Road, Bapu Bazaar, Serenity Beach Bazaar, Jew Town and other such bustling marketplaces that are strewn across the vast country that is India.



Read our author Ray Titus’, experience to find the answer to this intriguing question.

At Jama Masjid, as I walk through the narrow lanes, everyone seems to be buying something or the other. Sellers on their part try and ward off any  negotiations by putting up boards that say, ‘Fixed Prices’ but the buyers continue to try and drive prices down. My colleagues, when they spot a  sought-after product, they stop to bargain. Plus they do something that opens up a window for me in my digital quest. They click pictures of the products they have zeroed in on and use WhatsApp to relay it back to their folks in Bengaluru. Soon they are on a video call discussing the merits of the product and the price being charged. They also do a quick check on various e-commerce sites to see if there are similar products available & prices being charged. Armed with such digital information, they restart the bargaining. They even pass their mobile phones on to the scarf seller to show him pictures and prices elsewhere, and online. The bargaining reaches a crescendo; the seller seems to be on the back foot. A deal is reached, and the price agreed on is a tad bit lower than before.


Digital Matters!
Even in such marketplaces. My further observations at Jama Masjid and studies elsewhere reinforce the fact that many more buyers in such marketplaces are using digital information to strike a hard bargain. The majority of people seem to be combining physical with digital in buying journeys.

-A case study from the book: Round the clock by Ray Titus


The Seed Bearers of Change


By Dr. Anjali Hazarika

Is it possible for a bird to fly only on one wing? This may sound like rhetoric. But that’s what we have been doing with regard to women- fifty percent of our human resource for the past seventy years.
Ask them what does it feel like to be stereotyped? Is it possible to move out of the female stereotype & be seen in a new light? What does it take to offer differing views, skills & competence while still holding one’s own? Addressing such questions place new demands on us to examine the content of our beliefs, attitudes & assumptions. For these are the filters that color our understanding. Although seeing is believing, we tend to see what we believe & also see things as who we are & not as they are.

As a result, good intentions do not get translated into good practices due to local cultural norms & societal attitudes. No wonder that Centre for Innovation in Public Systems (CIPS) have encountered & reported enormous inequities on gender issues when implementing the agenda on innovation in areas of education, health, workforce participation & governance. For instance, while offering Life Skills & Career Guidance Programs for high school students in three districts of Andhra Pradesh, girls are influenced not to have career ambitions since they will be forced to marry after completing Class X. Could it be that our biases are so deeply ingrained that our actions are not still caught up with our views on gender equality
In order to advance gender equality in India, we need to focus on one critical dimension -
Men as Agents of Change.

Recognizing that young boys & men are the seed-bearers of change, they have to be engaged early. Education is the vaccine for violence. If the idea of an equal relationship between the boys & girls is discussed at school level then the gender role attitudes become more egalitarian & the notion of masculinity will get more positive.
It is heartening to note that the younger generation of fathers want to be involved in their children’s upbringing & be active parents. In many ways, the role model of a young boy is his father. It will create a lasting impact on a growing child if he sees his father sharing household work. Until men are fully equal inside the home, women can never be equal outside of it.

We also need more role models from among influential men to speak up for women’s rights & dignity. They need to be invited to contribute to development of family-oriented policies – whether reproductive health, family planning or parenting- that are not only good for women but also for the entire family.

Achieving gender equality is a complex multidimensional journey with multiple partners who must work together to create an empowered ecosystem. Governments can act as catalyst & shape policies to create an enabling environment. Business enterprises need to invent & invest in new practices that help working mothers that are not only good for women but also good for business. A major challenge in ensuring equality of treatment for the girl child is getting men to be sensitive to the issue. NGOs need to engage men whether as gender champions to help improve the sex ratio across India or as key players to ensure gender parity. Women need to rethink their roles & careers & put the new attitudes to work. New age parents need to groom their children well. Young boys & girls need to be trained in homemaking just as they need to be trained in career making when the time is right. After all gender inequality in society gets reflected as gender inequality at work. However, equality alone is not the solution unless it is accompanied by a complete overhaul of mentalities of both men & women. It is basically a partnership orientation for including women & not excluding men in creating a more equal world.



Dr Anjali Hazarika’s book Walk the Talk recently won the 2nd prize in the prestigious DMA-NTPC management book awards. A must-read which suggests how together we can ensure equity with effectiveness. It provides ideas and agenda for action to create an ecosystem of empowerment.

Click here to know more about relevant books for professionals

Monday, April 15, 2019

Values-an integral part of company’s DNA

 There is skepticism regarding the role of values in business. Values are at best implemented as checklists and codes of conduct and not as a fundamental way of enhancing stakeholder wellbeing, including employees, customers, vendors, and the larger ecosystem. In the current scenario, organizations take note of values only when instances of ethical malpractices surface – be it financial, gender-based, IP, etc. 

Truly speaking, values bring out the best in individuals, teams and the organization, by establishing a strong foundation for actions and interactions. Right from improving the effectiveness of day-to-day meetings, to creating a culture of creativity and innovation, values form the substratum for every aspect and functioning of the organization.

A recent publication by SAGE Good Values, Great Businessestablishes a strong rationale for instilling values in business organizations, by demonstrating how values are the foundation for excellence, productivity, creativity, quality and for creating a stress-free work environment. By presenting experiences, challenges, inspirations, and conflicts regarding values, this book will help employees at all levels strengthen their conviction regarding values at the workplace.

Addressing managers at all levels, the senior management, and the leadership, the book pragmatically discusses how to build and nurture a values-based culture in the organization.

The authors examine the subject of values from the point of view of each individual’s personal journey and finally delve into the crucial topic of values-based leadership, which is indispensable for a culture of values.  
Want to know more?

Social media and elections—Perfect partners?

India being one of the largest democracies of the world has a very interesting political history. Indian politics had very impressive and colorful personalities. Wooing the voters and convincing them to vote in their favor is not an easy job. There are various factors that decide the results of the elections. The first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, won the elections with his message of development. Nehru sowed the seed of development in the minds of the people. And the rest is history.
The 2014 Lok Sabha elections changed the way India perceived it to be and with 2019 elections around the corner, let us see what`s in store.

Social media elections

Termed as ‘social media elections’, it made the largest democratic election in the world to date and so much of it took place online.
While online election activity saw a dramatic increase from early years, the country saw a number of other important election firsts:
150 million between the ages of 18 and 23 were newly eligible to vote, two out of three people in India were under the age of 35 and there was an unprecedented voter turnout at 66.4 percent. India’s Internet penetration is currently estimated to be at 243 million or roughly 19 percent of India’s population. Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, the two prime ministerial candidates, not only campaigned online but also built themselves a brand online.
Social media also involves educating the voters on the election process, convincing them to participate in voting providing a platform to the stakeholders to share their messages and so on.
“Social media has of late become a major source of news for traditional media players as well as subscribers or users. Citizen Journalism is also widely gaining ground”.
—Taken from the book.
Modern Media, Elections and Democracy analyses the intricate relationships between modern media and society in general and proceeds to focus the discussion on the role and performance of social media in elections.
Know more about how media exerts influence on politics and expands the scope for political pluralism with our book Modern Media, Elections and Democracy.

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Friday, April 12, 2019

How did religion become a political category?

Our identification with a religious community is a sociological process.
When that community begins to organise itself, and makes demands upon the body politic, we see the politicisation of religion. Religious communities are transformed into political actors laying claim to secular power. It was precisely the politicisation of religious identities that was to reach alarming proportions in the pre-Independence period and the process continues till today.
Which religion tells its members to die for it?
It is only ‘religion as politics’ that demands sacrifice of lives.
Today when the status of secularism in the country is in danger of being dislodged from political imaginations and political life, it is time to re-inscribe and revalue the concept. Secularism bridges the empirical proposition that our society is plural and the normative proposition that pluralism is a good.

This is what Rethinking Pluralism, Secularism and Tolerance has tried to do: to bring out the significance of secularism and that of tolerance to our collective life. There is no moment like the present to take up a job that is worth doing.

More than seven decades after Partition, we really have to ask ourselves: Do we really want to live in a bare and stark society marked by informal apartheid? Or do we earnestly desire to inhabit a social order that fosters warm relationships based on civility and mutual respect? The first kind of society will drastically constrain our minds and hearts, our sensibilities and our perspectives. The second sort will enable the unleashing of creative imaginations and allow us to become fuller human beings, at ease with ourselves and with others in a plural society.
To read more, buy your copy here.


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Monday, April 08, 2019

It’s all in the mind—or is it?


Have you ever given a thought about the mental health of your domestic help, a co-worker, sweepers on the road or the beggars?
There is a great chance that most of us turn a blind eye to the psychological distress the underprivileged class undergoes because we assume having a mental issue is a taboo at first and a matter of luxury then.

In the wake of uprising capitalism, it is not completely unbelievable that people who fight each day to make the ends meet suffer critically for stable mental health as well. Now think of the women population of socially and economically backward class keeping in mind that women are twice as frequently ill as men in case of common mental disorders.


“In the twenty-first century where change is occurring at an unprecedented pace, the everyday lives of women are often considered a ‘small detail’ in the larger historical landscape. However, the distress that they face in their everyday lives reveals the link between macro changes and their impact on the day-to-day lives of people”, says Mahima Nayar in Against All Odds

A crucial discussion of various ways of understanding distress itself needs to be opened up. Nayar engages in a study of different kinds of ‘healing’ processes and examines culture, economic conditions and social scenery that impacts the mental health of women.
Click to know more about the title or order your copy.

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Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Do you unfriend or get unfriended? Decode the friend-paradox!


Debashish Sengupta is a dual PhD in management from Central University of Nicaragua (UCN) and Azteca University, Mexico (accredited by ASIC, UK) and holds certificates in ‘Social Psychology’ and ‘Leadership Development’ from Wesleyan University, USA and Japan Management Association, respectively. SAGE is the proud publisher of his book Life of Y and his upcoming book ‘The Life of Z: Understanding Digital Generation Kids and Adolescents?

Life of Y by Dr. Debashish Sengupta is a 1st prize winner of DMA-NTPC book awards 2019. Read more here.

Millennials experience ‘friend-paradox ‘in their lives. You ask any average millennials, how many friends they have and they will all tell in excess of few hundreds. They are all counting their social media friends. However when probed deeper as to how many real friends they have and real means – that those friends will stand by them in all thick and thin; and they will be there with them in all major life events, most of them could not even count on one of their online friends. The fact is that most millennials do not trust their online friends. It is a paradox that one hand, they have so many ‘friends’ but in reality they cannot count on one.

Jimmy Kimmel a famous TV broadcaster in US coined the term Unfriend Day, exasperated by the idea of someone having one thousand friends, urging people to use that particular day (November 17th) to unfriend their offensive, passive or useless online ‘friends’.

Having already found ‘friend-paradox’ among millennials, I decided to use Jimmy Kimmel’s idea of unfriending online friends and explore whether the same behaviour is exhibited by Indian millennials. In a poll, that I ran synchronously on Fb and Twitter for more than a week and then backed-up with more data that I collected, a whopping 93% of the millennials sad that they had unfriended ‘friends’ on social media more than once. That was a staggeringly high percentage. The seventeenth of November every year is now observed as unfriending day.


Impact on Social and Emotional Wellness

This whole gamut of online virtual friends creates a kind of illusion of having many friends amongst millennials. Take Fb for instance – a typical millennial would have hundreds of friends, another few hundred ‘friends requests’ waiting and on top of it Fb also suggest another dozen people who can be their friend. Most such friends either turn out to be trouble for the millennial or are passive and at times very intrusive. Naturally, unfriending became an option.

However unfriending has its own side-effects. It impacts both the social and emotional wellness of millennials. On asking whom they have unfriended on social media, it turns out that many of them have unfriended offline acquaintances and relatives. Some have unfriended complete strangers whose friend request they had accepted because they had some common online friends or impressed by their online profile. Their online behaviour however did not quite live up to that expectation and hence they need to be unfriended. Then there are accounts that keep spamming with unsolicited requests, offensive comments or tagging them into controversial provocative posts, at time even sending obscene materials. These have also been heavily unfriended. And then there have been instances when offline fights or grudges have resulted in unfriending on social media. However this percentage appears to be lesser than the other reasons of unfriending.

Unfriending cannot be seen as a mechanical behaviour or a joyful event in the lives of millennial. They are often hurtful and social and emotionally tormenting. One should not mistake unfriending as an act of vengeance by millennials. Instead it is behaviour that results from emotional exhaustion or social embarrassment and many times than not it is act of self-preservation.

Take, for instance, many millennials have unfriended their close relatives on social media as they turn out to be too intrusive. They use social media platforms to spy on them, stalk them and then create wrong perception about them socially and personally.

There are people who posted comments or put up posts that polarize often about religion or politics who have been unfriended. Or simply some people who keep spamming with useless boring posts or a unending plethora of their selfies have been unfriended as well.

Unfriending on social media is a simple click of a button. However in real life the stakes and consequences are much bigger. Research has shown that people especially women tend to avoid those offline whom they have unfriended online. The cost of unfriending is less online, much more in real life.

There is an emotional impact on those who are unfriended as well. This often boils down to angry offline fights or arguments. People have got angry calls from parents or relatives questioning why they have been unfriended or blocked. Unfriending has affected real life relationships. People who have unfriended and have no means of contacting offline, sometime resort to other social media platforms in an attempt to reconnect, often to be snubbed again. Unfriending in short can trigger a seething anger amongst those unfriended, make things heavily awkward if both know each other offline as well and definitely erode the real life relationships

Necessary Evil

Unfriending is an unfortunate but unavoidable behaviour in the life of Y or a millennial. The social media has been both a blessing and curse for them. The friend’s paradox that they experience is a curse that they have no choice but to embrace. Unfriending is a behaviour that stems out from such realties of their lives and as mentioned earlier is more an act of preserving self and sanity. Although unfriending often brings with it its own share of problems and takes a social and emotional toll on them. This is like a double-edged blade – it cuts them both ways.

Read the SAGE Response book Life of Y by Dr. Debashish Sengupta which dives deep into the life of Generation Y and seeks to create an unbiased understanding about this generation.




Stay tuned for his upcoming book ‘The Life of Z: Understanding Digital Generation Kids and Adolescents?'

If you have any questions for the author, please write to SAGE Publications, India at marketing@sagepub.in.

Click here for the complete list of books which will help you in becoming top-notch professionals.









This article was originally published on University Express, www.universityex.com on February 19, 2019.