Thursday, January 29, 2015

The role of a teacher

What is the role of a teacher? And I do not mean, a teacher who stands and delivers sermons, but more like a guru who teaches a craft, inspires, motivates and takes her students forward.

The role of a teacher is to let the student explore. The easiest thing for a teacher to do is to reject a student. But that is like the greats who rejected Amitabh Bachchans voice. But a real teacher will explore with a student - the path. If the student has discipline and interest, the rest will follow. Notice that I dont mention talent - because talent is but a small part. Without discipline and interest, talent is useless. And I recall this favorite clipping of mine from the Kung-Fu Panda:

The role of a teacher is to not judge, but the student find her own path. And if the teacher cannot help the student, most likely, the problem is of the teacher, not the student!

Evolving thought, as always...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Knowledge, Experience and Creativity

Loved this image which I found on this tweet above by Cliff Pickover.

Creativity is the art of seeing what nobody else can see, given the same information/resources/parameters.

Simply Brilliant.

(Yes, this post is mostly for myself, because any words to describe the above picture is redundant)

Practice, practice, practice

I am a product of the old Indian education system. This system laid a lot of emphasis on practice. Therefore, we have practiced a ton of writing, a ton of maths (including tables) and a ton of writing in regional languages. We have practiced by recitation and by learning.

Therefore, the net result of it is that today if you ask me (or most of who have learnt this way) many of our concepts are clear in our head. Like multiplication for example. And a few other things that are now 'unconscious competence'.

But somewhere along the way, someone came and changed the system to what it is today - which is bit wishy washy in some ways and very good in some other ways.

But interestingly, something called Kumon (the history is worth reading) has come up - which to me, looks like the stuff we did in school - and that is repeating a concept until it is 'unconscious competence'.

So, what the government and academics disposed off thinking is not good for kids has now come back in the form of a foreign methodology (and at a premium price) and it looks like it has many takers - markets rush in where schools fear to tread.

And btw, this is exactly what coaching classes do - practice until you get something down to the level of 'unconscious competence'. And who said that is bad to do. Every athlete, every singer, everybody who is somebody at something has got there with practice.

Talent is overrated, discipline is underrated.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Developing Leaders

Started reading 'Talent Masters' and it started off with an example of GE. That got me curious - not that I did not know about it, but have not read about the Crotonville (Jack Welch) center of late.

I found these two pieces, one from Wharton and one from HBR. Both are good reads, but more than that, the book and the above articles point to the fact which have been my theme in the recent past that 'Driving Change cannot be outsourced'. As a leader, as a manager, you have to get into it, be a part of the change driving process. That means, you need to be seen on the floor, leading, in the class, teaching, or coaching and mentoring. Without that, it will be, whatever proverbial equivalent you can think of.

The good part of it is 'students' seeing their leaders lead from the front, teaching, interacting and so  - which is obvious, but it also helps leaders 'see' the next gen leader and become more aware of their own style and get a peek into what people are saying.

And it allows David and other senior managers to take the time to reflect on their own leadership styles — an opportunity that they rarely get in the regular rhythm of their jobs.

David, like other leaders, uses this as a listening post — a venue to capture what’s happening around the company and the world in an encapsulated way…with Crotonville providing the opportunity to listen, test, validate, and absorb on the one hand, and to share, push, elaborate, and support the students on the other. [HBR]

And that is the part leaders often fail to see - that spending time with the upcoming leaders is immensely rewarding for themselves as well. And it has significant takeaways.