Deliberate Practice & PDCA

Deliberate practice is spoken about as a way to help build your skills. It is the routine that great sporstmen and musicians go through. It can be used to build any skill across work and personal life. Deliberate practice must be: intentional, aimed at improving performance, designed for your current skill level, combined with immediate feedback and repetitious.

PDCA is a common term in manufacturing industries – Plan, Do , Check, Act. It goes along with the agile methodology (and of course scrum). It is an iterative four-step management method used in business for the control and continuous improvement of processes and products.

I find the similarities uncanny. Both aim for small improvements – but continuous improvements.Both depend heavily on great feedback cycles. There is more… just wrapping my head around it.

Speaking Or Writing?

A powerful speaker knows that speaking is not about the idea, but it is about the emotion. He knows the audience won’t always remember what they heard, but will remember how they felt.

Speaking has its bounds – it is very hard to convey a complex idea with speech. That’s where essays, mails & presentations come to play.

Writing is a great way to express ideas but harder to express emotions. Speaking is vice versa.

In most daily situation, we do a mix of the two.

  • Logic(text/presentation) to arrive at the problem. Emotions to build that problem.
  • Logic to discuss the options to solve the problem. Try to arrive at a solution.
  • Emotions to push that solution to agreement & immediate execution. (Analysis is logical, decisions are emotional)

Point is – Think of what you are trying to do, find the purpose. Then use the right medium for your purpose.

Five rupees is all it takes ? 

A week ago I ate at a place and while settling the bill- they were short of 5 rupees. So they gave me a slip that d give me a 5 rupees discount the next time I eat there.

The second incident is when I ate at another restaurant, again the place had to give me 5 rupees. Instead they gave me 10, and asked me to return 5 the next time I go there.

Now, in the first scenario I get 5 rupees if I return and in the second I pay 5 when I return. I’ve not gone back to the first place for a week, but I want to go to the second very soon.

Wonders of trust maybe?

What’s your job? 

I’ve been interacting with a lot of new joiners and I realize that we do hiring fairly wrong.

The job is sold as the thing to do and the company as the place to be. People show up and find they were sold a heaven that doesn’t exist. The bad thing is this means the new employee hates the company within the first few weeks. I like how zappos pays employees to quit in the first couple of months. That might work.

When there are new joiners, the team doesn’t always have a fixed onboarding plan. The new joiner feels lost for a while and this gives the impression that the team doesn’t care. Should human resources check in with all new joiners after 3 months?

Finally, I think it’s important to not just tell the new joiner what their job is, but also tell them why they were hired. Why did we put in effort and take the risk on you? I think this will give a better foundation to a hopefully – very long relationship.

Disagreement resolution 

I am opinionated, I often run into disagreements. I learnt early that being open to a discussion is important to then resolve the disagreement. 

What I am slowly realizing is the importance of helping the other party remain open. The other person may have a very differnt personality and find it hard to remain open to a discussion. However, I am realizing that I can play a huge role in allowing the other person to remaining open. 

  1. Help save face- disagreeing privately helps a lot in this case. Or finding the resolution scenario that makes the other party look good. 
  2. Don’t reveal your stance – Don’t disagree, just say “I don’t understand, can you help me understand” . Ask questions about the topic. 
  3. Agree temporarily – Say that’s fascinating because I would have done … But actually your solution ensures we gain XYZ and then ask questions that lead to the reason you disagree. 
  4. Diffuse the situation or delay the discussion to a happier time – Disagree, wait for the reaction, say you are tired & need a coffee. Go for a coffee together and ask that we discuss the issue after the coffee. Start the discussion with a joke after coffee-if only it were as easy as coffee or something. 
  5. Admit when you didn’t consider a scenario or are wrong! 

Remaining open is important to resolving a disagreement. Also important is my ability to help the other party remain open. 

Do you have other views? 

Stop Look Smile

When I am in the middle of something and people interrupt me with a question or comment, I usually turn to them with this focussed/stern face. When the situation within my team is already stressful, this reaction doesn’t help. The last few days have been extremely stressful at the team & i have been trying to absorb as much of it as I can. I found a neat trick that seems to work for me.

When people come over or interrupt via other forms of communication – I do 3 things:

1) Stop – often I am trying to do 2 things, that doesn’t help. I need to stop.

2) Look – look at the person and give my full attention

3) Smile – about 3-4 secs of them talking, i smile. This diffuses the situation and the conversation can proceed in a lighter manner.

This seems to work pretty well. Experiment subjects have been few – will get back after testing on wider samples 🙂

The Idiot Compass

“If you meet an idiot, he is the idiot. If you meet an idiot everyday, you are the idiot.”

Usually I’ve found its easy to spot my technical or knowledge short falls. It’s much harder to spot shortfalls with my problem solving approach, intra-personal or interpersonal skills. Perhaps because we don’t approach these as subjects in school. In these scenarios, the “idiot compass” works great.

Experiences that make me believe that the entire world around me is an idiot are clues to find the next topic to learn about.

Frequent Computer Issues

I’ve recently moved offices & the new locations has plenty of computer issues. Get stuck & annoyed so many times – unsaved work is lost. It is meant to be a frustrating experience.

But when these issues recurred today – I just seemed to enjoy them. It took nearly an hour to fix them, but the hour was a great relaxation and thinking time. I am not sure why I behaved that way today – but I know that starting tomorrow any computer issue is god’s email asking me to spend some time thinking!

Autobiography of a Yogi

3 quick notes from my morning read. The book has many hidden gems.

Abu Said on religious life: “To lay aside what you have in your head (selfish desires and ambitions); to freely bestow what you have in your hand; and never to flinch from the blows of adversity!”

India’s unwritten law for truth seekers is patience 


“Mind is the wielder of muscles. The force of a hammer blow depends on the energy applied; the power expressed by a man’s bodily instrument depends on his aggressive will and courage. The body is literally manufactured and sustained by mind. Through pressure of instincts from past lives, strengths or weaknesses percolate gradually into human consciousness. They express as habits, which in turn ossify into a desirable or an undesirable body. Outward frailty has mental origin; in a vicious circle, the habit-bound body thwarts the mind. If the master allows himself to be commanded by a servant, the latter becomes autocratic; the mind is similarly enslaved by submitting to bodily dictation.”

The third particularly hit home as the the talk is about mental strength required when one fights tigers. While the quote has much wider implications – in this context was spoken about to fight challenges (tigers). The challenger needs physical strength but also the mental strength required to treat tigers like cats. This applies to every tiger we face in life – inner and outer.

Problem solving:  Mental strength to fight tigers; There are no problems, merely puzzles; and “Patience” seems to be the mantra!

My super-public- habit tracker –

Mar: Exercise 4   Blogging 3   No snooze 4 

Feb: Exercise 13 Blogging 13 No snooze 28 

Problem vs Puzzles 

A friend was telling me about the problems in her life- parents, family and career.

Could you relate to that statement? Or does it seem a little weird? I hope the latter – because otherwise you just called your parents a problem(though one is often attracted to do so).

Using the word problem has a negative connotation and brings out a frustrated response. When you think of problems also your motivation levels are slightly lower – it is the slow gasp sigh response. Recognising that these are puzzles instead, makes the situation a lot more fun- almost like a game. My career is indeed a puzzle and I can try to solve a bit of it everyday.

If your friend is always late, the problem response perhaps entails the sigh, “i waited for you” frustration and if you contained your anger – perhaps you’ll show it on someone else. Treating him as a puzzle gives a lot more options – you can try to reverse engineer his thinking, you can try to reset his watches, you can try to find the pattern in his “lateness”, you can set goals of things to do in the waiting time, etc.

It was an eye-opening switch. There are no problems- merely puzzles.

My super-public- habit tracker –

Mar: Exercise 3   Blogging 2   No snooze 3

Feb: Exercise 13 Blogging 13 No snooze 28 Fell off the wagon mid way through Feb there…