Chance favors the connected mind


In the fast moving digitally connected  and complex world-  our beliefs ,skills,  assumptions , our knowledge is constantly  challenged.  Willing to accept that we need to refresh our knowledge, skills and other matters makes us better positioned to take on any kind of new challenges that come across.

RICHARD GREFÉ  :   “You know, a few years ago, whoever had the knowledge had the power. But today, the power resides in those who have a sense of the way that knowledge flows. And that becomes critical because knowledge is growing at an exponential rate. So what does that mean? That means that for any individual to succeed, has got to go beyond just knowing things. They have to be curious, they have to be thoughtful. And that doesn’t come from social media and that doesn’t come form deep-diving in data. That comes from thoughtful conversations.”

We are in a  era and times that requires us to think differently. 19th and 20th century education has built invisible walls around everything. We are trained to see things, learn , watch and use things individually.  Students are trained to learn subjects individually.    Civil engineers focus more on their subject and less on other engineering branch knowledge and similar is the story with all other branches. Computers science students focus more on software and less on industry’s domain knowledge  which is more vital in today’s market place. There is no one course that combines all these knowledge from different fields and provide us the insights of how interconnected everything is and how to acquire the right knowledge to face today’s smart planet’s requirements to stay successful with the right skills for the rapidly evolving nature of corporate work and society’s cultural shifts.  I always used to stress this point to graduate, post graduate and PhD Students of engineering and MBA to come out of their  specific subject knowledge and look afresh by learning how all the subjects knowledge works together to create solutions and products we use everyday. (Think Apple I Phone’s focus on Design more technology less) . Today Technology has erased the boundaries of  all branches of sciences, agriculture, medical and even changed our daily life habits. Why then are we not understanding that we have to have a open mind and inclination to learn something unrelated to our subject matter?

I get inspired when i look at some smart companies combining cross platform knowledge from different industries and come with a radical design and products. One such company is Dyson. James Dyson is famous for inventing something new that we never think possible.  They don’t hesitate to take inspiration and knowledge from different sources to come up with  new product. Here is a Blades less fan they invented using principles or aerospace fans. Click here to know more http://www.dyson.com/Fans/FansAndHeaters/Fans.aspx

For those who have guts to think differently and achieve something Dyson innovation awards is the platform to take on the challenges. Here is the link

http://www.jamesdysonaward.org/Prize.aspx

Similarly Companies such as Toyota come with some amazing ways of improving quality in their products , minimizing waste in production process and reduce the cost of making high quality products for less.  We already learnt their best practices such as Lean manufacturing, Kan-ban, Kaizan widely implemented in different industries.  They now use a new method called Andon Cord.

” The andon cord is literally a cord that workers can pull – a cord they should pull – any time something in the manufacturing process goes wrong that would compromise the quality of the product or safety of the people. The line stops immediately. Everyone’s attention is turned to the problem. Everyone helps to solve the problem. And the line doesn’t restart until the problem’s been fixed, thus ensuring that zero scrap or defects are allowed to perpetuate.”

http://www.toyotageorgetown.com/qualdex.asp

So innovation don’t need to be complex. we just need to think different.

World’s knowledge levels today (mostly Industry) are so mature that we don’t need PhD’s anymore because industry’s maturity levels are so high that until we think differently and look beyond  PhD’s  knowledge;  sustainable solutions are not possible for the complex problems we face today. Medical field is one such area where sufficient knowledge is not there to solve diseases such as Diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer or parkinson’s etc in spite of having top notch scientists with multiple PhD’s.   The only way to go is look into a different field , combine your subject knowledge with it to create a new idea or a cool product or a new medicine for a deadly disease.

We have different lifestyles than our parents. Youth today are in a constant flux of adopting to new lifestyles with high connectivity to the entire world. Mobile connectivity, social media interactions, crowd sourcing for solving complex problems of the planet,  Internet of things, body connected intelligent sensors, health tracking devices like Nike shoes and many more new technology gadgets allow us to look different , work differently than our predecessors and acquire knowledge differently than what is taught in our colleges today (the good old style).

The reach of internet to every nook and corner of the world allows us to know any kind of information , acquire knowledge and skills needed. Technology as i said above , erased the boundaries of everything and i want you to remove the mental blocks (the artificial silos in your mind)   and train  your mind to look at things differently with a open mind. Today we are connected so closely via social media, tech gadgets that we can collaborate with the world’s  best  on a massive scale that is not possible in a physical form. One of the courses  I’m doing on Coursera ( https://www.coursera.org/course/strategy101)  has 90, 000 students from across the globe. We are learning by doing  , something new but connected to a single platform on coursera No class rooms to go,  only online practicals using technology and internet connection. Cool way of learning something new,  Right?   Colleges and Universities should focus on building Labs to help today’s students to experiment, tinker with tools and gadgets. Otherwise we only produce paper engineers ,  MBA graduates who are just fit to do a service job  , does not provide any competitive advantage to students nor to the country as a whole. Today we should worry that we bring out very insignificant percentage of  cutting edge products to market  in spite of one billion population and large number of PhD’s and Master students.

Do you want to be a listless person or want to impact the world with your knowledge.  Remember the title of this blog  “Chance favors the connected Mind”  That power of Connectivity should become your major weapon to acquire skills needed for 22nd century companies. Many of the problems industry faces will be solved by individuals  from across the planet. This is the future of work. People won’t be working for a single company. There will be problems that need to solved and if you solve it you get paid. That is what will happen in Job markets going forward.

So why waiting. Go get connected with the world’s knowledge. My Previous blogs have several world class resource links to start with . so check them..

As part of this Blog here are some useful links for you to get on the fast track of 22nd century learning… Enjoy and good luck to you..

Learn something new here https://www.coursera.org/  or here https://www.udacity.com/  or here https://www.edx.org/ or from the whole internet which is at your finger tips.

Good luck to you and do not hesitate to reach out to me through your comments in this blog…

Goal in the mind


Every time I come across student community I feel frustrated at the mind set the education system is giving them.  Everything is done mechanically without being questioned whether that act brings value or not for today’s challenges faced by companies and how he/she would be the best fit for the job. I feel upset that the environment around them is blinding them from becoming the best and raring to take any kind of challenge with right set of skills when they become future employees or entrepreneurs.

Lack of clarity on what needed to be learnt for successful career is a major problem every student faces. We look at all the existing evidence of senior students who succeeded or failed at interviews and we try to judge our capabilities by using the information as the evidence in shaping the strategies we wish to adopt for our future.  One thing that we cannot guarantee is, whether can we exactly duplicate somebody’s success by just doing the same things what the seniors did?

Relying too heavily on previous experiences or information on hand might lead to the faulty assumption that yesterday’s solution to a seemingly similar career or job interview today is appropriate.

Let’s look at an example.

Just few years back software industry was booming and jobs are plenty with hefty pay checks and a promise of a wonderful future. Many students other than computer science background have jumped into the bandwagon of becoming a software engineer. Many succeeded in becoming software engineers. So a fresh student who is in his / her first year of engineering is witnessing that everybody is getting into software job easily and he/she carries that impression from that day till he/she is ready for a job interview himself/herself in the final year.

It is human nature to see every challenge we face as something similar to what we’ve encountered before (seniors getting jobs easily). That’s how our brains work and for good reason

Fast forward to previous year, global recession has eliminated so many jobs in one go from banking to software industry. It took away all the charm of a great life if you happen to be in software industry. Many senior employees lost jobs. Many ended up with heavy debt from buying cars or home mortgage situations. 

The situation created uncertainty for next batch of students who are now ready for jobs whether to look towards software industry as a career path for promising future.

Uncertainty becomes increasingly dangerous when we rush to understand it with an over-reliance on what we’ve witnessed before.

What we need to realize is that every situation should be handled based on the present circumstance not from previous experiences of others. Companies adopt changes to their way of doing business or work culture based on present and future competition and employees are trained constantly to adopt to the new cultures by the day.

So as a fresh candidate ready for a job interview or if you are a fresh employee just beginning your new life you need to accept challenges based on the face value of the challenge.

Here are few guidelines.

  1. Get a fresh perspective. Check what kind of skills needed for today’s job market or if you are an employee check if you got the right communication skills and other employable skills needed for a good career growth.  If you need help in judging what skills you need contact me and I will be glad to help you.
  2. Be flexible:  Employers love those who are flexible and adapt to ever changing corporate environment. You should have right mindset to adopt to new challenges and also at solving the old problems with the new perspective.
  3. Glance back, look ahead. It is prudent to assess the outcomes of our job plans and decisions about our skills; it’s how we get better individually and collectively. However, every review must be conducted at the right level of detail and with care. Don’t gamble with your life or career. Try to assess your position with care and then take appropriate steps to learn employable / entrepreneur skills right from the first year of your engineering or degree.  Don’t wait till the problem becomes complex.

Good luck and hope you understand that  you need to begin planning with the end “goal in the mind”