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Leadership Matrices

A corrupted JPEG photograph. Result of a photo...

A corrupted image hides any truth

In today’s competitive business environment people often take the short route to success by sacrificing basic leadership matrices. This may work in the short term but what about the marathon? There, they find themselves marooned, shamed and humiliated in the eyes of the ones they lead and the world at large.

Corruption, nepotism and egoistic policies are the three biggest challenges leaders face. A fall from grace along any of these three is suicidal. The recent spate of scams in the Indian market place depict the rot in standards of leadership being provided to the nation be they in the field of politics, bureaucracy, defence or the corporate culture.

To discuss the first- mother of all leadership ills – Corruption. While adorning the highest possible leadership positions where the temptation is too high – people succumb to this great devil, get caught and undermine the faith of an entire generation in the leadership matrices to be followed. Leave aside the disgrace they bring to themselves, they undermine the organisation they lead and demoralise the very fabric they had vowed to defend and be custodians of. They deserve no mercy.

The next in the cardinal sin is nepotism as a leadership matrix. A large number of so called leaders lead through the power of the pen they yield. Suffice to say that they lead sad enterprises bereft of any team spirit and deliver mediocre results.

The worst sin of the leadership matrix is ego. Leaders operating out of this paradigm of life rather than the true values and systems they are appointed to promote create leaders who are corrupt and breed mediocrity through sycophancy.They may rise in careers for a short time but their fall from grace is the worst. Leaders operating out of  these premises of ego and nepotism finally become corrupt and corrupt the organisations they are supposed to lead. This corruption may not be financial alone but one that corrupts the work environment, breeds sycophancy and marginalises talent in the organisation. The net impact is a corruption of minds and emergence of environment managers who sing the bosses tunes over integrity and loyalty to the organisation.

Good leaders thus must guard against the ills of ego subverting their people and organisation. No amount of repeating the Chetwodian Motto is enough to ensure that you excel as a leader through character borne out of an egoless state in which the credits are of your people and failings are yours.

Only then can you be called true leaders.



And we all make our choices..

Like a blind man feels his way

Eleven Cs of Engagement

Must You Have Conflict at Work?


Well conflict is a tough word..can we say differences?

My linkedin friend Justin Barry asked a pointed question on the discussion board

How do you approach and deal with conflict at work?!

His take is pasted below:

Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.”

Another way of looking at conflict: “A good manager doesn’t try to eliminate conflict; he tries to keep it from wasting the energies of his people. If you’re the boss and your people fight you openly when they think that you are wrong – that’s healthy.”

Why is this happening?

So lets get back to basics.  Conflict occurs because people are not getting what they need or who are seeking their own self-interests.  You may say that conflict is inevitable because we are dealing with people’s jobs, pride, ego etc.

It could be that conflict arises because of :

  • Weak leadership
  • Poor communication
  • Dissatisfaction with management style (e.g lack of openness)

Does this matter, well it SURE does if

  • Affects team/organization performance
  • Affects staff morale
  • Polarizes people
  • Impacts people or team cooperation
  • In extreme cases, eads to irresponsible and harmful behavior, such as fighting, name-calling

BUT remember that conflict can also be positive if

  • Resolves and provides solutions to business problem
  • Provides open communication channels
  • releases positive emotion and deals with staff’s anxiety and stress
  • Helps build trust
  • People improve their understanding and skills of the people and the organization they work for.

The Risk of Conflict can be REDUCED

There is action you can take to reduce these incidents from happening.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Set expectations around goals and staff performances
  • Communicate frequently and honestly
  • Be open about your concerns so everyone knows where you stand.
  • Agree that it is good to disagree so people understand that healthy disagreement would build better decisions
  • Let your teams grow and learn from their mistakes.

    My Take

    Conflict Resolution

    These arguments and suggestions are well taken but these are pragmatic efforts at answering the questions from a managerial rather than leadership perspective. Good leaders take the team on board by clearly articulating the “intent” and explaining the “why” of each activity. Once these are explained and the leader has an open approach towards taking in criticism based on continuous feedbacks..conflicts begin to minimise.

    Each human has a desire to out perform the given standards. A good leader doesn’t pit one member of the team against the other to ensure better performance or does not institute individual rewards for accomplishments. Instead he sets parameters for each member to push the envelop and out perform himself. In such forgiving and enabling environments personal conflicts are minimised to a large extent as team members work to produce collaborative answers. They do not hesitate to take or give advice and suggestions to improve work in their sphere of influence. In such win win environments alone can conflicts be minimised for the larger organisational good.

    Such leadership environment can only be developed by leaders willing to learn, love, share and mentor their team mates. They multiply the power of their team members rather than adding them.

    If conflict still persists, it is time to change the leader.

    I would end it with this quote

    “Put organisation above will largely help you flow like water and brush aside what obstructs your thoughts. If your thoughts are powerful enough they will erode the opposition over time. Else, you like water, again choose the path of least resistance to follow your organisational goals.

    Leaders Listen Passionately


    Active Listening is the Greatest Learning Tool

    Often we hear leaders chatter on endlessly about their “intent”, “visions” and how the teams should flower under their tutelage. They never tire of torturing an audience till the organisation tires out of the “How” that the leader explains with such disdain each time he gets an opportunity. This is accentuated if the employees only get to listen to the leader and are seldom allowed the latitude to articulate their own aspirations and visions about either the task at hand,  the organisation or the team.

    When they listen, they “hear” with a view to out talk the led. Such leaders start the cycle of cynicism in an organisation, especially when the leaders are not able to Walk their Talks. Teams hang on to every word, motion or activity of the leader. While a blabbering leader may forget what he said yesterday – the team remembers – and thus starts the Chinese whisper in an organisation, disempowering the teams across verticals.

    Good leaders listen and listen actively to absorb the aspirations and callings of each member of the team. This helps them find each team member’s true calling. There is nothing more motivating in an environment where a team member feels confident to explain his point of view succinctly and without parental oversights by the leader. This simple habit of the leader energises the team members and motivates them with an optimism that their views would be heard passionately towards the larger good of the organisation. They then push the envelope as active participants in the growth of the organisation.

    It is true that leadership and mentoring are not a one-size-fits-all propositions. “Different strokes for different folks” is more like it. Some people need a lot of direction or hand-holding; others need autonomy and freedom to experiment and grow. Some team members may need different things at different times, depending on challenges that arise, the level of difficulty in job assignments, and the ebb and flow of motivation. Amongst all these variations, leaders can rarely afford to stop listening passionately- it helps keeping their ears to the ground and invert the pyramid in an environment of trust and mutual respect.

    This passion is contagious across all levels of leaders and the led, where leaders automatically produce leaders and not mere followers. This creates an enabling environment where the “why” overrides the “how” and unleashes the true potential of each team member.

    Active listening accentuates an organisation’s trajectory in geometric progression and provides the leader with the most vital component of organisational success – feedback.

    As they say in the military, “passionate leaders lead by actions not words”.

    Transcending Leadership Moulds

    There are enough literature and guides available to explain the theory and practice of leadership. However, the biggest teacher of leadership is the nature itself complete with its universal intelligence.

    In B Schools and HRD classes, people teach classifications of leadership models because they help students lead organized lives and have a clear picture of where things are. Despite the regular and discernible chaos in organizational leadership paradigms, people somehow feel comfortable with yardsticks they can identify with. That which is in their genetic coding. Some theories are based around the concepts of a transactional  or a transformational leader. Often people like to fall into one of the categories based on their code.

    They make cardinal natural blunders here.

    Ever seen a sapling grow into a tree and yield fruits against all the vagaries of nature? The key word that nature bestows upon them,and us, is adaptability. The trees adapt to storms, the animals adapt, the chameleons change colours and every activity guided by universal intelligence adapts disruptively to live in perfect harmony with its surroundings.

    What happens to humans? Why do we have to be tutored in every aspect of a disruptive and adaptive life as against the laws of nature? Why should leaders be only type cast into transactional or transformational?

    One comes across organizations which are sticklers for rules. Do you want to play by the rules in business? Or do you see rules as limitations that are important reference points but can be bent or experimented with for the benefit of your organisation?

    There is a world out there beyond the stereotypes of transactional,situational and transformational leadership. The nature does take root as per set rules. A tree would not grow if it doesn’t get adequate sunshine or water or bend in the wind to the limit of its elasticity. So largely some rules have to be followed to have a semblance of commonality of purpose but there are others which need to be bent to suit the mandates of organizational efficiency.

    This is the theory of evolution.

    No one approach can be defined as the best. Time, situation, organizational needs and other expediencies should make a leader adapt his organization in a

    leadership in circles

    disruptive and distributed model so as to produce the sum of the whole as a multiplication factor of the individual strengths of the teams. The leader has to represent and act as the conductor of an orchestra – give adequate latitude to each musician but notice the failing notes promptly,finally producing synergy in the collective effort towards producing the required musical score.

    There though is a problem here. This disruptive and directive style of functional leadership puts the onus of delivery largely on the led. If these have not been groomed to adapt to change and lead change.  armed with suitable KSAs, the ecosystem gets disturbed and results get marginalized to leadership styles. Organisation suffers.

    While it is important to have some stability and equilibrium in the teams, it is equally important to flatten the hierchies to generate better and interactive output based on principles of empowerment. The more Ristakes (Risk plus Mistakes) you permit within the wider scope of experimentation better will be the evolutionary process of the organization as a whole. Leaders may face some tactical setbacks but strategically it is a win-win situation for the organization.

    Leaders have to perpetuate change and teach teams to fly, as a bird does to the young ones, with attendant short term risks. It is only in such leadership environments that teams learn to soar.

    Leadership training tends to be full of talk about change and moving forward, but in fact it is the simple complexity of disruptive leaders which can bring about a culture of change by leading from the front.

    Change is a daily process, as is leadership, for change. To be in harmony and ahead of change, leaders have to be more disruptive than change itself. This proactivity creates the right growth environment based on trust, irrespective of the style used.

    There are no mantras to be a leader. One can learn all  one wants from the books but in the end you have to be a leader and not become one. It is an inside thing – a call guided by our little voice which the nature has bestowed upon each one. We must use it effectively.

    As they say in the military – leadership is spirituality in motion!

    Myths of Leadership Failure

    Myths of Leadership

    These are the myths of leadership failure. My apologies but then…

    Due respect to the leadership coach but I strongly disagree to these myths which negate optimism and pro activity in leading. If anything these are managerial mental failures which when harnessed under the regime of collaborative leadership can all be easily brushed aside.

    Inability to Organize Detail This is the last of the leadership functions after you have approached your issues with  systems approach. It is a managerial function of visualizing the innards of a problem which your technical  and domain knowledge will give you. Don’t begin with the details as a leader –  that is a low end managerial function. First get the bigger picture straight and spell out your intent unambiguously after due deliberation with your team.

    Unwillingness to Do what you ask of others This is true but not very important in a trusting team which has mutual confidence in each other. Trying to prove you can do it better may result in complacency or antagonism from the team. “You think you can do it better” starts inter personal rivalries. Yes the leader must put his shoulder to the wheel and demonstrate the capability to dirty his hands, when required, but as a routine let your team flower.

    Expectation of Pay Knowing and doing can only be harmonized in a collaborative leadership environment. The word “they” should principally be corrected with “us or we” – then you will automatically rise to your level of competence. It is the leaders role to empower the team to transcend issues such as pay in favor of performance – pay would follow. Sack the leader if he can not measure up.

    Fear of Competition This is the most misunderstood concept in leadership. Your leadership and its dedication is dependent on only one factor and that is your own out put. Leaders who perform unmindful of the competition and develop blue ocean strategies for their teams stand apart and do not have to worry about any competition – even from arch rivals in businesses or life functions.

    The rest are academic issues which can be labelled under poor leadership skills and styles. Selfless leaders rise highest – others also run.

    Choice is yours whether you want to follow point by point manuals or harmonize your larger construct as a leader transcending trivia. The day you develop the third eye to look with in and understand your own power – these one minute myths will not matter any more.

    Being is more important than Becoming

    Contact is the Name of the Game

    Yes you read it right it is contact and not contacts!

    In leadership positions management often demands too much of our time. Managing processes, tools and possibilities is a tedious, thankless and time consuming work if not understood and delegated efficiently. We can manage every thing but people,which we lead and for that we normally run out of time.

    When it comes to people the mantra is leading by example. Unfortunately in  bureaucratic public sector enterprises where jobs are secure and accountability is low the system revolves around managing the environment to survive at the cost of organisational efficiency. The challenge of leadership in such environment is far too intense as compared to businesses with quantifiable bottom lines.

    In both however, the operative word in leadership styles is contact. Remember the “Jadu Ki Japhhi in Munnabhai” – that contact meant a world to the lowly janitor. But the contact we are referring to here is not as much about getting physical as about physically understanding the aspirations, hopes and fears of our team mates by keeping in touch. It breaks barriers if we get to know their names and the names of their children and spouses. If we take an extra step to interact personally, the team members understand us better and are more responsive to the needs of the leadership challenges we face. It is also the best means for getting first hand feedback.

    However there is a catch here. The team is always smarter than the leader in identifying phoneys putting up a facade of contact. So it is best to have genuine contact, if you consider it vital to your leadership function, or let it be.

    There are plenty of smart tools available today to help you manage the team data. One must use them to remember names but keep it simple by genuine concern – as differentiated from courting cheap popularity.

    In the armed forces, this is the only mantra that helps you lead from the front without worrying whether the team is behind you or not. It works everywhere – as Vineet Nayar says, Employees First!

    Pro activity Pays

    Proactive Leadership

    Pro active Leaders are always at the front

    Leadership means exciting, enabling, educating and empowering the team to deliver across the full range of activities in a swarmed manner, happily & willingly.

    The acme of leadership’s deliverance is in producing results by each member of a team in such an egoless manner that every activity generates multiple options for the leadership to exploit to active the organizational goals. Creating this win win situation for the organization, leader and the led remains the basic art of leadership.

    Articulation of Intent

    When each member of the team pushes the envelope to the best of his capabilities, the combined synergy that is produced far outstrips the imagination. A leader has perforce got to be the visionary who articulates his intent unambiguously and leads from the front in each endeavuor of the team. He has to have the third eye to “see” situations and conflicts arising well in advance and take corrective measures in time to propel the team. Proactively pays!

    Calling the Calling

    An essential component of leadership function is to convert each member of the team to be a self

    Calling the Calling in practice!!

    starter. Initiative, innovation and experimentation are the key to exciting and empowering the team. However, the leadership has to be acutely conscious of putting the “right peg in the right hole”. Each person finds his mean in certain specific activities. If positively energized, that becomes the person’s calling. A progressive and enabling leadership works towards discovering this calling in each member of the team and assigning him requisite missions. An empowered team member working in sync with his calling will always produce the best results-no matter what!

    Lateral Thinking

    Lateral thinking is an attribute most often misunderstood with warped thinking. It is not. It is the ability of self energized team members to generate out of the box blue ocean strategies to perform an assigned mission. Debono articulates this well.

    Application of OODA Cycles.

    As the OODA cycle enunciates by its name – the “Os” are times to observe & orient so as to deliberate and debate on all aspects of a problem at hand and generate multiple options. This is the phase that demands utmost sincerity in discussing debating and evolving options. Once the decision is taken, the team needs no more discussion but acts in a synergized manner to generate the desired momentum towards the next OODA cycle. The faster a team completes an OODA cycle, greater are the chances of success.

    When such pro activity permeates the environment you stop managing but leading change.

    Do that and watch miracles happen!

    Swarming – Imperatives For The Business World

    Quo (Status Quo album)

    Breaking the Status Quo with Swarms


    Businesses always invite promoters to achieve an advantage over the opponents by a series of actions aimed at achieving psychological gains by continuously

    updating their strategies to stay ahead of time. This results in better bottom lines in a competitive environment. To achieve this condition, resulting in paralysis of the opponent, some basic parameters need to be fulfilled as a function of product, time, marketing strategies and lightening OODA cycles (Observe–Orient- Decide-Act) to overwhelm competition. The foremost is the “Intent”- A side that has a clear unambiguous intent which can be comprehended by CEOs and sales team alike can achieve desired synergy in achieving it through a multitude of interdependent but independent actions resulting in fulfillment of the targets.

    “Comprehension of Intent” thus is paramount to a large or small organization, separated in geography and time achieving synergy – each understanding the ‘WHY’ of the strategy and taking requisite actions to contribute to developing favorable market conditions. A simple Intent of the company could be “Not to Let the Shareholders Lose” or “employees first”.

    To a discerning business mind, it would be evident that achieving this synergy, amongst a large variety of management, marketing teams, sales force and logistics echelons, is no small feat. It mandates very high levels of skills to operate in a complex environment where “real time situational awareness is essential to comprehend the magnitude of complexities thrown open by market conditions. Operational philosophies and tactical skills, drills and techniques need to be of a very high order to achieve psychological ascendency and physical domination of the market place. The heart of this strategy lies at the energizing the edges of the business organization.


    Locust Swarms

    At the core of such business activity would be the quintessential effort to make business strategies and tactics an “unfair fight” by a series of tactically separated but operationally coordinated actions overwhelming the rivals. This translates to an innate activity called “swarming”, “shoaling” or “schooling” by insects, fishes and birds which as a group achieve their intent by performing different actions contributing to the overall aim. The operative word is “innate”. A sense developed over time till it becomes genetic. Business swarming is a high intensity activity where large number of relatively smaller and insignificant work forces, empowered with high situational awareness strike at market forces at multiple points resulting in making the competition redundant. Blue Ocean Strategies, if implemented imaginatively, achieve this condition. Swarming is a direct fall out of ICT revolution where the lowest echelons of the work force remain umbilically attached to the management through a variety of tools – while retaining adequate independence within their “spheres of influence”.

    Since humans don’t have “innate” capabilities to deliver results, they indulge in devising ways and means of generating value through a variety of theories developed with time, technology, multidimensional capabilities, and human resource engineering encapsulated within an umbrella of better situational awareness. Theoretically, each side attempts to identify surface (strengths) and gaps (weaknesses) of the opposing side and conduct operations to break their cohesion. In this battle of wits, technology plays an important role in developing the “innate” skills in a work force. This empowered workforce can generate multiple options to operate in a seamless business environment with or along the rivals to generate multiple options.

    How does technology enable swarming? It is every business’s dream to “Informationalise” and “Network” using impregnable structures of ICT. While various platforms are available to pull information today, however, as of date, no organization has real-time market management systems that can network, provide situational awareness and analyze data at will using multidimensional capability.  For this, our doctrines and philosophies need to be encapsulated in “time, technology and training” of the present to articulate thought and action. The critical issue here is achieving “innate” behaviors as akin to bees to affect “Swarming” of the market place in the temporal plane. Technology may fail. Thus there is a requirement to “train as we work” repeatedly in the manner expected in business to ensure multispectral delivery by a variety of teams contributing to the larger aim. Thus swarming not only requires intelligent systems but very intelligent people participating in the venture.

    Ability to Handle Chaos

    The next crucial aspect attributed as the single most winning factor is ability to handle “Chaos” and operate in absence of instructions. Handling chaos thus needs to be developed and honed to the level of innate behaviors. This is a tall order and needs to be understood at operational and tactical levels. This would require cultural shifts and combating resistance to change. This concept would thrive on the principle of “Power to the Edges”. Simply put, empowerment, training and trust in subordinate teams has to be of a very high order. It is possible only if the managers generate value at the bottom of the pyramid. Market leaders will have to develop capacities to “organize, disorganize and organize”, keeping ahead of the competition at all times. This requires a framework of always working in ambiguous environments and developing skills to achieve this congruence. Huge investments have to be made both in time and resources to educate, empower, excite and energize the edges to comprehend this crucial ingredient of business under diverse conditions. If organizations invest in their swarming models intelligently they will evolve their own innovative methods to engage the clients.

    CEO’s Role

    The CEO’s or the higher management’s chief role is to articulate comprehensive action plans based on the value systems and intent of the organization. The imagination, perseverance and foresight of this component can bear fruit if it operates with its ears to the ground. The art of developing blue ocean strategies is largely incumbent upon the CEO’s capacity and capability to read the fine print of the market place and plant suitable strategies in motion. Having charted a path along these strategies, the next crucial step is linking his team to his intent, by a process of debates, discussions and deliberations to transfer the ownership of the strategy to the bottom of the pyramid. This is the most crucial activity as it would challenge the status quo and require deft skills of change management. Transcending human barriers through transferring ownership of ideas is the most appealing approach – if it is grounded in reality to generate a win win situation for all stakeholders. The CEO must continuously challenge the status quo by keeping one step ahead of the change management cycle.

    Tactical Level

    At the tactical level, the aim would be to keep the competition fractured, dispersed, confused and detached. Thus the “multidimensional networked” (innate) teams will converge from many points simultaneously attacking the point of resistance carefully. Strictly speaking, they must generate multiple customer oriented strategies before the competition “sets” tactically. Here they should be able to generate value for the customers beyond conventional wisdom through an empowered approach. All along, team leaders will need to develop “situational awareness” patiently and execute every deal effectively. The essence of such multiple strike swarmed tactics would be to develop situations before entering the market, decide where to fight (attack weaknesses), set conditions and maneuver to advantage. This is possible when ICT enabled situational awareness enables, empowers and excites the teams across the complete spectrum of business. All this while the higher management monitors the conditions and situations in a “hands off” approach and moves in for the kill when the opportunity presents itself. To develop such “unfair advantages” development of multidimensional cross functional teams across flattened structures of the organization is crucial. The essence of such a strategy would be to employ these “small and many” tactical cross functional groups instead of “big and few” which generate value at the edges. Depending on the successes achieved, the higher executives must employ all resources at their disposal to move in. Therefore, there will be a mix of swarmed and heavy forces employed in time to achieve the objectives.

    The Way Ahead

    No Sign Posts in the Real World

    Considering the arguments put forth above, businesses must develop strong capabilities in a bottom up approach because swarming is tactical. To begin with, there is a need to equip, organize and train subordinates within the format of agile warriors. This approach also mandates strengthening of the intelligence acquisition capability by investing in suitable technologies to keep the data and voice connectivity of all cross functional teams.  Only such teams will be able to transcend their job description and will be able to operate and deliver results across different spectrums of corporate activity. While the wish list for networking and “looking over the horizon” is large, there is an urgent need to harness and integrate available technology on in service techniques to achieve tactical asymmetry. Innovation would, therefore, be the ‘Mantra’ to upgrade legacy systems.

    As mentioned earlier, “Swarming” by bees is an innate activity. Technology can assist humans in “seeing”, “talking” and “organizing” in a similar manner with in the intent of the CEO. However, given all other parameters, the key to developing “asymmetric  business conditions” is a paramount need to focus on the lowest echelons of the teams. Unless these edges are empowered, trained and trusted – no group can generate multiple options to develop tactical situations contributing to operational aims. The skills, drill and techniques of planning and conduct at the bottom of the pyramid thus need to be honed to perfection to achieve an “innate” look alike work force. Only such forces can deliver within the context of “Swarming” even in absence of instructions.

    Empowerment of the Edges

    Invert the Pyramid to Generate value and develop feel

    In all these activities, the final arbiter will remain the bottom of the pyramid – the only component of the force which will “see” and “deal” with the customer.

    He, therefore, should be groomed, organized, equipped and trained holistically and trusted completely to deliver. Simultaneously, all efforts need to be made to ensure he gets the best situational awareness, guidance and engineering support to negotiate the task ahead of him. This force which has to work effectively despite information gaps would thus have to be masters of swarming and their managers adept at organizing, disorganizing and organizing to see through the  chaos of the market place. Organizational adaptability would be crucial in this environment where risks will have to be taken and mistakes understood in their correct perspective. Rigidity and intolerance to “Ristakes” (Risk + Mistakes) would demolish the model by disempowering the swarm teams.

    Swarming is Not a Panacea

    Then there is the flip side of implementing swarming as a concept. Swarming is primarily tactical, sometimes operational and rarely strategic, and is a complement to other efforts rather than a replacement for them. Swarming is a logical extension of ICT, but the networks needed to make swarming routine are currently not available. At present, the networking for swarming is only available in very limited contexts. Situational awareness standards, obtainable as of now, are also major stumbling blocks in application of swarming at the tactical levels.

    Swarming should be adapted, for appropriate missions, but is not a panacea. The challenge of modern markets is to identify the need and fill it, before the competition. Once identified correctly, the need can be addressed, but they first must be found and held in place. It is also pertinent to argue here that in the sub continental context, seamlessness and interoperability between various components of the organization would be crucial for swarming to succeed.

    One of the prerequisites for swarming is considerable autonomy for the lower echelons. The principle must move in the direction of mission type tactics or directive style of command, as opposed to extremely specific directives giving no discretion to the subordinates. This will multiply the effectiveness of organizations. Sharing information, and pushing it to lower levels, is not a substitute for intelligent decision-making; business organizations are not bees or wasps. Some of the challenges of swarming, indeed, involve the ability of lower echelons to be aware of much more complex situations. Information overload is a real concern. This is especially so in the sub continental context where the introduction and absorption of new technology takes time.

    More swarming will mean shifts in leadership, personnel, and facilities. The leadership must be able to trust a decentralized model, and all levels must have interoperable communications. There may be cases where higher-ranking officers need to lead or provide support to, smaller units than those with which they normally work, because that swarming agent may be the only one in contact with the real situation. This calls for a wider cross functional training regime under better situational awareness paradigms. It also calls for business leaders to be able to read through the chaos of the market place to generate multiple options while obviating losses. This is a complex heady mix.

    Leadership thinking is one personnel issue. Another, especially with autonomous or semiautonomous systems, is having “smarter, more skilled personnel”. Business leaders must constantly ask if the current system is geared to create adequately trained, intelligent technically savvy junior managers, leaders and operators capable of taking decisions in a swarmed environment. Can they “pull” information from the environment without the clutter? This would call for an interdisciplinary, across the curriculum learning. There is a need to adopt doctrinal changes that focus on a systems approach of “training to task, not to time” that educate leaders to optimize the advances in market strategies, seeking to steepen the seasoning curve. This essential element in shift from training to wider learning is essential if swarms have to work effectively.

    Distributed models will also call for both more prepositioned resources (not necessarily personnel) and the ability to reach back to the logistics nodes for support. Just in Time logistics may replace permanent nodes, but those logistics have to be able to reach the users.

    Transformation of businesses should be based on swarming as an approach and not a tenet. It is a useful approach dependent on the mission. It exploits the benefits of ICT and works to maximize the effectiveness of traditional structures but not replacing it. It therefore should work to complement continuous transformation.


    Tomorrow’s market places, with all the technological improvements, will offer opportunities to sense, see and track the opportunities before “setting up” the businesses in conditions unfavorable to the competition. Businesses need to speed up introduction and absorption of these enabling technologies to empower the cross functional teams. The pace of creating OODA cycles will be fast and there will rarely be time to refer the issues up the chain, calling for flattening of structures. This calls for a very high degree of competencies at the junior level to handle information overload or vacuum and act within the intent of the CEOs. Besides professional competence there would be a great requirement of leaders who can handle chaos.

    In sum, employees will have to be given ownership of the ideas and allowed to develop their approaches to swarm the market place based on their motivation and skill levels.

    Take Aways For the Leaders

    Always look for and employ blue ocean strategies. Apply 15 % rule for managing change and involve all stake holders in devising these strategies.

    Evolve and interpret timely market intelligence for swarms to be one step ahead of competition. Enable generation of faster OODA cycles through seeing and sensing the market place.

    Flatten structures to enable swarming.

    Set clear and unambiguous Intent and ensure it is understood clearly.

    Educate, empower, excite and involve the edges in deciding priorities and objectives.

    Permit adequate autonomy to the edges.

    Provide desired technological back up.

    Transfer ownership of ideas to the swarmed edges.

    Pull feedbacks in a flattened hierchy and apply corrections intelligently.

    Continuously interact with the edges and permit Ristakes.

    Retain the ability to handle chaos.

    Manage Information overload of the swarms by effective intervention, when needed.

    Constantly keep the swarms motivated through ups and downs.

    Invest heavily on the employees

    Take Aways For the Teams

    Assume ownership of strategies by active participation.

    Operate uninhibitedly within the intent to evolve new answers and options.

    Initiative and innovation is the key to success.

    Remain in constant touch with the neighboring swarms and learn as you go along.

    Avoid looking over your shoulders. Rarely refer matters up – constantly endeavor to outperform yourself.

    Always generate new options and grass root strategies for implementation by the management.

    Swarms must constantly conduct intra and inter swarm interaction through ICT or in person to remain updated.

    Passion overcomes a lot of difficulties in a swarmed environment.

    Enegise and enthuse customers with your energy.