Archive for November 14, 2012

Perpetual state of flux and social order

 

economic disparity and social disorder

it's the economy, stupid!

Most of the polity is in a state of constant flux in a socially conscious, robust evolving economy. The ensuing chaos may be the key to functional social order.

Even as the unbridled romp of free market philosophies ravage through this vast wasteland, a new breed emerges which brings with it hope, faith, compassion and social consciousness. The select few who chose to abhor consumer instincts in a vibrant economy and want to do right by the less fortunate. Social justice must prevail is their vehement demand and pledge to fight relentlessly towards large moral goals.

Economic liberalization has not broken the spirit of the urban few who truly believe that social parity is of prime importance. Amidst increasing disparity there seems to be a new voice of compassion which attempts to uphold the core values of humanity.

But there is a huge gulf between the presumed utopia and ground realities. The stark contrast could not be more apparent and yet they say we are on a ‘sustainable growth path’ which will bring us prosperity and ‘economic freedom’ to every individual who walks this ‘haloed land’.

If the new conscious is emerging then why are these voices not being heard? Or is there a need to consider a more plausible possibility of those presumed voices being non-existent? Are we delusional and beginning to hear imaginary things?

Do we perceive what they want us to perceive? Are we content in not questioning the system beyond a point, making it uncomfortable for us to face real answers?

The newly disoriented enter this environ with naïve hope. The noises made are right. These may be inclusive of all reasoning that must be considered before making broad assumptions.

With economic opportunities on one hand and the will to contribute to socially relevant issues on the other, the choice is fairly an easier one. The ensuing conflict is difficult to navigate.

It is in this state of constant flux that most exist. The odd humane gesture that one may come across in this largely callous, individualistic society emanates from this Kapraesque complexity.

Those firmed up to either rhetorical consonants of thinking are vying for the triumph of their agenda. The disoriented merely swing from one side to the other, feeding the frenzy that ensues in this perennial battle of ideological supremacy. The accepted norms are interchanged along with the ever changing mind space. Distorted reality becomes the basis for future corrections rendering them unviable, non sustainable.

The crucial role this polity plays in defining the destiny of a society cannot be ignored. At the same time, the human race may benefit at large from this critical mass of populace in constant flux, as this would ensure enough space of constant systemic evolution.

So, those confined in this compounded state of confusion may revel as the newly disoriented will remain so until the paradigm of direction changes. The voices may not be heard but their existence is proven by the dynamic nature of the system.

This may not be Utopian, but it tends to a state of balanced governance and systemic social parity. In chaos, clarity reigns supreme.

 

Tricked Out Tip #2: content writing

stages of writing web social media content

This one includes publishing and pre-writing (conceptualizing) as stages

A lot of people struggle while writing content for business or communication programs. Whether it is drafting a press release, a blog post, a Facebook update or a tweet, the principles of writing remain the same. Most people overlook basic fundamental rules while creating content for news, publishing or social media and wonder what went wrong! In my opinion, the education system in India does not help much either. There are hordes of professionals passing out from top colleges and B-schools with good grades and technical knowledge of their subject, but find it difficult to construct a single coherent sentence for business or communication to get their work done.

This handicap becomes glaring and painfully obvious, if to begin with you work in the communication industry and secondly you are expected to write on behalf of your clients or firm.

Well this is not really a long training manual on ‘how to write good content for web’. You can search for it and there are plenty of useful resources available online. It is essential for social media practitioners and strategists to be well versed with content creation and writing skills, to successfully execute client programs. Let’s face it, web can be an unforgiving medium, especially when a sore typo or a syntax error is staring in your face in the form of a tweet or an update on your brand property!

This is about the basics. The fundamental stages involved while creating content are –

  • Planning
  • Drafting
  • Redrafting or revising
  • Editing

I forget the last one very often, as you may have noticed by now after going through few of my blog posts! It is essential to follow these basic stages to create a good copy. Most people who claim that they don’t review what they write are just fooling themselves! Subconsciously you are reviewing what you write, even if you don’t want to!

Another small tip which works for me, if I am being extra careful about what I am writing is this – I save the draft copy of what I have written and close the document or folder for review later. This way I am able to see the copy with a fresh perspective and a little more objectively the second time around, which helps me identify a few things that could have helped the written content. Another simpler way is to share the draft copy with your friend or colleague for review, an alternate opinion always helps!

Hat tip: This post started as an idea as i see people constantly struggling and complaining about not being able to write effective content. My simple submission is if you try a bit harder and follow the process, you may find it a bit easier.

If you still don’t get it, then well you shouldn’t be in the communication business to begin with!! Well then you should find something else to do! 🙂

I came across a related post on aliventures along with more useful tips and advice. Do check it out.

 

The purpose of fragmented opinion

Voices in MSM (Main Stream Media) seem to rise in unison on issues which may be acceptable to a social dynamic.

Various opinions surfacing on blogs, which may be nebulous in their understanding, but within those limitations dare to transcend beyond convention. A bastion of rebellion, or so it may be perceived, still descends into opinions which may not be purposefully relayed in the mainstream space.

Hunter Thompson famously said, “There is not enough room for dissenting voices…”
May be this medium can offer that elusive outlet for a thought which may change the world.

P.S. Small post, think at will

Tricked Out Tip #1: email wars

email wars tip to get away with it

email bombs don't get you anywhere!

 

How to avoid email wars at work! 

There are days then you find yourself stuck in the middle of a situation where there’s this email staring at you menacingly from the screen. Most of us start furiously typing an apt response trying to get the last word in. Some of us choose to take the high road and leave it be. The wiser leave it for later and meet the person to resolve matters first hand.

But if you are the kind who NEEDS to respond, here’s a smarter way to deal with the issue.

Tricked out tip #1 –
Always make sure your response is half the size of the other person’s email. Remember brevity is the key here and keeping it short and sweet has its advantages!

So for example, if your boss writes this furious mail detailing each and everything that you have missed out on and wants an immediate response, ensure that you respond judiciously sticking to the key points rather than a point wise rebuttal.

Or if your colleague writes along email about how you are not being supportive at work with examples of how you have not done that in the past, you can just simply choose to say, “I will try and be more supportive”

Or if a person responds to your short mail with a shorter one sentence response, try simply saying, “Ok”.

Or an “Ok” with a “K”. (pure evil!)

It does two things. Allows you to gather yourself, collect your thoughts and think of ways to deal with the issue rather than get into a ego battle, which never ends in a good way for anyone.

And it lets you walk away with a bit of dignity rather than being smashed to smithereens.

Caveat: Do not try this with your boss on a critical issue! Or with people who may genuinely have a problem which is left festering and unresolved because of your callous approach. People should be given the due respect and dignity that they deserve. This is more of a way out for rants which can avoid potential flames over email or a full blown war at work! The message is simple, take the high road!

Hat tip: This tip was shared by a much wiser and experienced friend, as sound advice on a frustrating day. Works like a charm. 🙂

 

A manager’s gripe

anger management at work

angry manager's need help!

As they say, gripe always travels upwards.

So here’s an exhaustive list of issues that most managers have with their team, at their workplace.

If you find yourself nodding your head in agreement to most of what is said here, then you know what I am talking about!

Feel free to add more to the list.

Or better yet, suggest a few ideas or tips to lessen the burden of this tribe.

Happy reading. Or it is really: 🙂

  • Your team has serious knowledge and skill gaps overall
  • Once assigned a task, they are not able to take it to completion
  • Negligence on their part leads to the burden and onus of delivery being passed on to you
  • For minor things, you are still expected to provide answers
  • Once given a direction, there is not enough effort or time spent on the task
  • Unless you rework things or sit with them and work “with” them, most of them are not able to get things done
  • You have to personally sit with them and explain every small detail of what is expected and how to do it
  • Even after that, nothing gets done or delivered as explained in painful detail
  • You end up feeling I should have done it on my own, at least it would have been done right and gotten delivered
  • The documents delivered or tasks completed are not up to the standard expected
  • Even after repeated requests, you don’t get the documents/work assigned done on time
  • Beyond what is told, there is no effort to think or go out of the way to do things
  • Even where someone has less work, they do not offer their support to you or to their colleagues
  • A lot of time is spent in coordination and explaining things to clients, which your team should be able to manage
  • Clients are not very knowledgeable and so have to be handheld constantly by you
  • Clients are extremely sharp, you know what they want but your team just doesn’t get it
  • If left to an executive, they are not able to resolve client issues and eventually the call comes to you
  • Issues are not being reported to you at the right time, for you to take corrective action
  • They inform you about leaves or half days at the drop of the hat and expect you to manage work
  • If something critical comes up and they have a planned leave, they want you to deal with it without any support from them
  • The most common excuses for non-delivery – “I tried, but”, “I was busy with something else”, “I don’t understand”, “I was on leave”, “I did not get time”, “I forgot, sorry”
  • And somehow, only you seem to be answerable for everything that goes wrong or if there’s a problem
  • Even people with reasonable experience do not or are not capable of supporting you in your work to get things done
  • “I did not get the right direction” or “I have shared it, it’s stuck at his/her end” or “He/she does not listen or have the time, you please tell him/her to do it” – are most common cribs about you
  • All of the above is leading to lesser time for you to focus on client programs and deliver quality work
  • All of the above leads to increasing frustration, as you are constantly held responsible for your KRA without proper support
  • All of the above is leading to major stress and may be causing problems with your work-life balance
  • All of the above leaves you feeling that there is nothing good that I have delivered/done today
  • All of the above leaves you frustrated when you walk out of the office, because work just piles up on your desk
  • All of the above leaves no or very little time for you to pursue your own interests or enhance your own knowledge/skills
  • All of the above leads to high anxiety when you walk in at work or realize that not much great work has been done
  • All of the above leaves very little time for meeting friends/family or other people because there is always the burden of work hanging over your head
  • All of the above leads you to question what do you do in office from 8 am in the morning to 9 pm in the night
  • And more…

Nodding yet?

 

Zumbo: the super pup!


zumbo the pr pup

do i have super powers?!

 

While working really hard at his firm, Zumbo realizes that suddenly he’s become really good at this work. His colleagues love him, his clients depend on his advice and his boss absolutely adores him. It’s a great time to be Zumbo!

“Hey Zumbo, how do you manage to come up with these brilliant ideas? I just couldn’t seem to think of anything on this issue! You are something Zumbo! ”

Zumbo took immense pride in his work and that finally he’s beginning to love what he does and everybody loves him! He became more confident while advising clients and comfortable while suggesting out-of-the-box ideas which were loved by everyone. The best part, he delivered brilliantly on all that he had thought of and suggested. He made sure that he put in the extra effort and time to make things happen. It was a great time to be Zumbo! The guys wanted to be him and the girls wanted to be with him. But good old Zumbo, continued to keep his cool without a chip on his shoulder and focused on evolving beyond what was told.

After 6 months, Zumbo realized something was amiss.

“How did I get to this place? My work never gets done! It is so tiring. My colleagues dump their job on me saying I am the best person to deal with it. My boss always calls me for everything that she wants to discuss and get done. My clients call me for every little thing that they want or for things that haven’t been done yet by others! And I am expected to get them done! All by myself!”

He started to lose touch with his friends, one could rarely see him smile anymore and he seemed to be so engrossed with work that he didn’t eat for days. He had forgotten the last time that he chased a car, soaked in the afternoon sun or shared a drink from the office water dish with Ally, the cute Alsatian babe.

After a long drinking binge at the nearby watering hole, The Lap Dog, Zumbo decides to fight back! “Enough is enough! I’ll show them for snapping at my tail constantly!”

Zumbo started showing up late at work. For starters he thought that that might tick everybody off. Everyone just thought that he must be tired and so he’s coming late. But at least he’s getting the work done, so let’s leave him be.

It made Zumbo angry. He started to act out at work with angry outbursts at others for no reason. Everyone thought it’s the pressure getting to him and left him alone.

He stopped taking calls and sharing ideas anymore. He stopped doing any work beyond what he was supposed to. Everyone got a bit worried now. They started asking if something was wrong and if he needed some help. Zumbo refused and continued on his path of destruction.

“Help?! I don’t want your help! I want you to do your job!”

A senior executive was visiting the office one day. He walked up to Zumbo hanging around the cafeteria and soaking up the sun with a nice juicy piece of steak.

“Hey who do you think you are?!” the senior screamed at Zumbo. His veins were throbbing, hand pointing in rage and eyes popped out of their sockets.

Zumbo calmly replied, “I am the guy who does his job! You must be the other guy!”

The senior lost his cool and immediately asked Zumbo to report to his office tomorrow along with his boss, Madison. By now, after hearing all that had happened, she was incredibly angry at Zumbo!

“Zumbo, what is wrong with you! What happened? Why are you behaving this way? You are such a smart pup! With so much potential and talent! Why are you throwing it all away?” Madison yelled in frustration. She still had a soft corner for him, but couldn’t ignore all that was happening for the last few months.

This was the last straw for Zumbo! He just couldn’t believe that his own boss did not understand what he was going through. Even if he wasn’t being the best that he could be, he still never completely let go. He was still helping everyone and taking on more work from them and completing it for them. He kept listening to his boss talk about opportunities and how he is a vital part in the chain leading to PR glory. He was doing all that, just without a smile anymore and that irked everyone.

His carefully guarded inner sanctum now seemed violated at this callous attitude towards him. He wanted to let go but he tried to restrain his anger as much as he could. And then it happened…

“You think I am some kind of a super pup! That I can just get things magically done, deal with everyone’s work and bad attitudes, rework on their assignments and still be happy all the time. I am slogging like a dog here Maddy! Give me a break!”

Madison did not know what to say to him. She asked him to leave her alone.

The next day, Zumbo and Madison showed up at the senior executive’s office. She noticed that Zumbo had arrived early and was sitting there by himself. Madison sat in the chair next to him, but at a noticeable distance, as if to let him know that she was disappointed.

The senior entered and exchanged a few pleasantries. He looked at Madison and asked “What’s the problem with this guy? He seems to have stopped caring about anything that happens here. Are you aware of what’s happening around or are you just as clueless”

Madison looked at Zumbo, took a long breathe and replied “Sir, the real problem is that I think we stopped caring for him. We didn’t see the signs or understand him better. You can’t expect a Zumbo to care about everything when the rest just walk all over him. He needs help, my help. I will take care of it.”

With that Madison signaled to Zumbo to get up and walk out with her.
Zumbo was confused, rattled and grateful all at the same time. He didn’t know whether to thank Madison or blame her for everything.

She looked at him and noticed the bewilderment on his face.

“Zumbo, I am angry. But I understand. We’ll sort things out and get you more help at work. Now go home, take a bath, get some sleep and come to work after you are well rested!”

With that, Zumbo walked away with a feeling of warmth, contentment and satisfaction that at least there was someone who cared and understood what he was going through.

Two months later, after Zumbo had resumed with renewed resolve he was a changed pup. Ally saw more of him at the water dish, lapping cold water in glee.

She went closer to him, smiled at him and took a sip of water.

She asked him “Hey you are looking great! What changed?”

Zumbo replied with the wisdom of a transformed pup, “Nothing. I still am caught in a million things, Maddy ensures that I am kept on my paws and the rest … well the less I say the better”

“So what are you so happy about?”

“At least they get me now…” he replied looking listlessly at the sun rays streaming through the window.

His work had improved, everybody loved him again. His clients started recommending his work to others and loved interacting with him. He was now able to find more time for himself and his family. He started thinking of all the things that he had missed out in the last few months and prepared a schedule for him to start pursuing his interests. He found his life balance once again. The rest started stepping up to the plate and taking on more responsibilities, to avoid a Zumbo episode again. Madison would keep a watch on him and started having frequent, albeit informal interactions with him to cheer him up. More than anything else, everyone realized how much they missed had the happy, smiling, brilliant and witty Zumbo.

He started walking slowly to his desk with his back straight, chin up and a smile on his face.

“It’s good to find myself again”