Saturday, August 31, 2019

Career Stories Panel Discussion: Reflection on a few Core Career Principles-2

Sharing more perspectives on the core career principles taking the sequence from my previous blog forward:

3. Embrace Intrapreneurship:
Despite all the attention that entrepreneurs gets, it is arguably not possible for all of us to become one. There could be myriad of reasons for this but many of us consciously find our calling in working for the organizations. If an entrepreneur creates a vision, it's the employees who make it a reality. So this choice is absolutely fine and legitimate.
Being an employee doesn't mean that you cannot exercise the traits that make an entrepreneur. In my career journey, I discovered that one can embrace those traits anytime at work and create a dent in the universe surrounding your organization. Simply put, Intrapreneurship is the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization.

I am reminded for a story that I had narrated in one of my previous blogs:

I was 4-5 months into my first job when i received this email from Country Head (that was broadcasted to all the employees) sharing an opportunity to work on a side-project. The stated project was for Punjab Government tourism sector in which they needed help in building touch screen interface for their upcoming website. The idea behind this project was to provide touch-screen kiosks to the tourists at various prime places. To set the context, i am talking about the time in early 2000s when touch-screens weren't as consumerized as they are now.

I was clueless about the technology expertise needed to build this system so I gave this opportunity a pass and went on with my 'normal' projects. 3-4 months later, I again received an broadcasted email from Country Head, this time announcing the success of the project and thanking the team that was involved in executing the project. I was pleasantly surprised to notice that one of the team members being acknowledged was a peer of mine who had joined almost the same time as I had.

I was surprised because he was also in his first-time job and my assessment suggested that he skill levels were almost similar to mine! Curious to know the details, i approached him and asked him whether he knew about the technologies before signing up for this project. He answered 'No'. I then asked him then how did he sign-up for the project ? He simply said that he was curious to know more about the technology and how such projects are managed and simply offered himself to the project thinking that he will learn the skills along the way.

This was the moment when i felt my brain shift a little for the first time in my professional life. I had simply let go of an opportunity because I thought overly of my weaknesses. My friend had grabbed the opportunity because he chose to think of his strength (curiosity, risk-taking). Something snapped within me with this episode and it made me more open to risk-taking and strengths focused.

This incident, to me, exposed one of the key traits of Intrapreneurship, i.e. to take initiative even when the details are hazy. Don't wait for all the details to accumulate before showing leadership. 

4. Adopt Situational Awareness like MS Dhoni:
MS Dhoni, the former captain of India cricket team and arguably India's most successful captain ever, is known for various commendable virtues. One such virtue that I am a big fan of is his match
MS Dhoni: Legendary awareness levels
awareness. In countless matches, he was simply able to out-think the opposition simply because he was more present in the match. Be it his wicketkeeping or making a move as a captain, he managed to simply stay ahead in the game due to his extraordinary levels of awareness.

Why am I telling a story about MS Dhoni here ? Yes, you guessed it right. Situational awareness is as important in the organization's context as it is in sports.

Gap opportunities often surface unannounced and people are able to take notice of these gaps are the ones who are most aware of context and the situations. Attending exec meetings is one way, other ways to be situationally aware is to dedicate time on your calendar to decipher what is happening in your organization, and in the industry. It helps to be intentional about listening and suspend judgement when hearing the problems. What i have experienced is that having a pen and paper improves listening. The mere act of writing something down tends to open our minds to opportunities that may otherwise seem out of reach.

Stay tuned for more updates on this series in the upcoming blogs.

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