Thursday, August 31, 2017

Mindset and Preparation for 1st year MBAs - Workshop at School of Management Studies, University of Hyderabad

We did the Growth Lab in the University of Hyderabad, School of Management Studies again this year. I was associated with it from 2010 to 2014 . This year again I was fortunate to be invited to do the workshop thanks to Prof Jyothi who firmly believes in this 2 day intervention. I believe it has immense value because it is done before the students form their mindsets, form patterns and gives them enough time to use their two years on the campus well.

The workshop typically comprises of - looking at the student as a product, setting clear goals, knowing the the process of achieving goals, preparation and sustaining the effort.
The class strength was 60.
30 of the 60 - The survivors

Questionnaire - And Results 
A questionnaire was administered on Day 1 and Day 2 seeking a 1-10 rating on clarity on a) career path b) strengths c) goals d) process e) how secure one is as a person and f) how much responsibility will one take to fulfill their expectations from the course. There were 25 completed questionnaires out of the possible 60.

The analysis revealed an improvement of - Career path clarity - 39.69%, Strengths and how to use them - 26.76 %, Goal clarity 35.34%, Process to achieve goals - 38.78%, Security as a person - 39.14% and 10% increase in responsibility to achieve their expectations.

Expectations of students from the 2 year course ranged from -
To gain more knowledge to live the right way, to learn how to manage people and resources, get a government job, learn to be a better person, to learn, gain clarity on career goals, get a good placements,  open up as a person, opportunities, self confidence, mental stability for professional life, help fulfill vision and mission, to help contribute to society, develop skills, knowledge of corporate life, management skills, improve strengths and gain clarity on path ahead, gain different perspectives and friends, explore myself, develop skills, gain clarity on professional life, all fundamental and technical knowledge to excel, how to be professional, exposure to various fields and to improve inter personal skills.  

The Program August 28 - 29, 2017 
Being secure people
We started with relieving the students of the burden of 'knowing' more than they do. We agreed it was ok to not know everything and that it was ok to say 'I don't know' when we don't know. We also agreed that we feel secure when we have nothing to hide - so an attitude of saying 'I know' to what I know and 'I don't know' to what I do not know, helps to be secure as a person. Having identified what one does not know, one can make efforts to learn and fill those gaps.

The Mindset - Fixed and Learning
We discussed the highlights of the book 'The Mindset' by Dr. Carol Dweck and called two groups of three students each to represent the two mindsets - Fixed and Growth. I gave them three scenarios where both mindsets had to face tests with increasing difficulty and how each mindset reacts. With the help of the students we built some important characteristics of both mindsets. We agreed that the learning and growth mindset was a better approach to adopt. It is the one that can make the one who is last in the class beat a topper. (Reading material given)

The Student - The Product
To build a champion product one must know what its strengths are and the value it brings. The students looked at themselves as a product and tried to find answers . It's a tough one. They looked at their strengths and their unevolved strengths or areas of improvement as one aspect (They were made to call 3 people who knew them well to give them a list of 5 strengths including one call to a parent). The formula of working 80% of really strengthening their strengths and 20% on their weak areas was stressed. First get really good at your strengths and then address the other areas. (Typically we approach it the other way)

We saw the powerful TED talk by Simon Sinek 'Start with why' and his golden circle of Why, What and How and why it makes sense to start with the purpose in mind.

The students were asked to build their profile around their 'why' or their cause, purpose, their 'how' (values, beliefs, ethics, ownership) which is ways of adding value to their 'what', and then the 'what' or their features (qualifications, strengths, history, past achievements etc) The idea is that the what pertains to the features, the how is the application of the features and the why is the guiding philosophy that holds it all together and drives it.
My interpretation of the why, how and what as applicable to the student
The students were asked to refine the idea of their product and come with a 30 word statement. Some did.

The Goals - Where the product can go
The students were asked to list 50 things they want in their life - without any limitations. The goals could be short, medium and long term, material, personal, professional, spiritual. Then we applied filters - Belief, Desire, Effort, Responsibility and Time to see which goals stand the test of these filters. Then we arranged the goals into Enabling goals (the one goal that enables the others to come true) and Aligned them so they could focus on that goal and it would lead to the others and not end up in a mess. (If you want to become a millionaire and also own a Lamborghini - it seems to make sense that if you put your effort into becoming a millionaire first, you could own a Lamborghini, whereas if you put your effort into buying a Lamborghini with no money in the pocket, it might stress you out). Then we chose two goals each in short, medium and long term.

We focused on the immediate, short term goals - what to achieve in the two years at college and what kind of a job or career we are considering after that.

We applied SMART goals (reading material given) to that and tried to get as much clarity on where we should put our efforts so our shorter term goals are achieved - in line with our longer term goals. For eg. A student who wishes to do skill training in Shillong could consider joining a company employed in skill training to know the way they go about it, even get a franchise, and then starting off. No point joining a company that deals with retailing or some other unconnected product or service just because it pays more.

A Plan
We discussed the importance of detailed planning as a way to address gaps in information, as good information leads to better decisions. We picked the first goal and wrote six steps to achieve that. For example if a student looked at securing a gold medal and a job in Google by the end of the course - she would have to write down six steps towards achieving that goal. The sub goal desired to be achieved (being best in class in 1st semester to start with), number of hours to work at to be first in class, desired help required in which subjects and milestones achieved every week to see if she is on track. Similarly for the job, to research about how one gets into Google, plan to meet any employee already working in Google, developing those skill sets or attributes required on a milestone basis etc.

End of Day 1 I asked them to work at their self-image with all the information they had with them.

Day 2
The Way to Achieve Goals
Since the way we achieve goals by design is the same process, we shared our success stories. Everyone in class shared three success stories of theirs and it was wonderful to hear of their academic excellence, the way they broke through emotional barriers and achieved excellence, team achievements, prizes and accolades, baking even. Fabulous stories and I think everyone felt nice to share. It also gave the others an opportunity to know their mates. I shared my stories too and then we figured the process on how we did it. We decided the outcome, big or small, had a clear goal, planned to eliminate all all obstacles, acted on it with great care and persistence, handled difficulties even when we felt like giving up and then - we found light. After that, we picked another challenge and went after it.

The Link Between Preparation and Performance
Our performance is equal to the preparation we put in, knowingly or unknowingly. Ideally if we know the process of preparing, we can prepare well and perform well. Preparation is on three fronts - skill (must), physical (must) and mental. The mental component is about 80% of the champion mindset and involves knowing the context, knowing process and understanding beliefs.

We looked at how experts are made and discussed Anders Ericsson's 10000 hour rule and deliberate practice. Since the 10000 hour rule was for world class performers we also looked at the other end, a more viable end, where one can be competent at skills and above average, by being good in 20 hours. We saw a wonderful TED talk by Josh Kaufman on 'How to learn anything in 20 hours'.

Deconstruct the skill (cannot do it by yourself so get a good teacher), learn enough to self correct, remove barriers to practice and practice 20 hours. By putting in 20 hours of practice the students could well be more than competent in 20 skills if they chose to be.

Then we looked at their current level of preparation various skills - knowledge, inter personal, problem solving, self motivation, efficiency, detail orientation, ability to prioritise, leadership, communication, team play,  reliability, public speaking, presentation etc. They rated themselves on a scale of 10, visualised the ideal scenario and wrote down steps to get better at that skill (join class, put more effort etc).

Price, Value and Self-Worth
We looked at another P, Price. What is your price? What is the value you bring? How do you know your value? How much do you think you are worth? These were the questions that were raised. Much of it had to do with our self-esteem, self-worth so it was decided to add more value by adding skill, by bettering performances, by gaining confidence by doing things out of one's comfort zone. By pushing our limits in small ways every day, confidence and self worth increases and that will enhance value. Students were also asked to look at the Product again - their own why, what and how and fine tune aspects that will increase value. A skilled person who can tell the employer that she can bring in x value, can command that price. Also students were asked to look for their ideal placements and not merely wait for the college to place them which could be a limited range. There are bigger and better companies too. And one can choose the company and prepare accordingly since one has time and process.

Inter-personal skills
On the inter-personal skills we decided to work on the AAA model - Appreciation, Asking for help and Acknowledging. By appreciating others and the self for the good we do we shift our focus to the positive, by asking for help we make life easier for us, lower our ego and by acknowledging we see how much good we already have.

We saw the powerful talk on 'The Anatomy of Trust' by Brene Brown.

BRAVING - Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non judgmental and Generosity.

Vision and Mission
The students were asked to write a vision for their life. Out of all the possibilities that are possible for their life, the many paths that are open to them, what would they like to see it become. What would they like to see their world be like and how would they contribute to make the planet better through their work. For some reason we could not get enough vision, somehow got stuck at individual level. A Mission statement was also asked - a five year plan that was somehow in line with the vision. We did get a few pointers - a world full of peace, a world free of child beggars etc. The idea is that if there is an issue bothering us, if we have a vision of a world free of that issue, we would do something towards that whichever work we do.
Hopefully the students will refine their vision and their mission.

Feedback and Good bye
The students wrote their feedback. I asked them to come up and say a few words. Some left the class quietly at the prospect of speaking in front of their colleagues and lost a valuable chance to speak on a friendly stage and find out how to get better at it. The others, about half the class strength, spoke and gave their feedback, some good and some iffy. I collected the questionnaires and since it was raining, the students said, they would not mind watching my TEDx talk on 'Cricket, Creativity and Writing'. the essence of the talk was that 1) to create anything we need to work really hard and cover all possibilities 2) add purpose to hard work so we are working at the best possible result and 3) to learn to work with love which makes things easier. After watching Simon Sinek and Brene Brown and Josh Kaufman mine was pretty lame but for me the content reminded me and put me back on track in certain areas where I was slipping.

We took a group pic and then it was time to go.

It was physically quite taxing. But the prospect of making some impact on 60 potential leaders and managers who could become secure leaders and create a secure world was too much to let go. There was some feedback about being more activity based etc but this is not stuff that I believe can be done through fun activities. I like the hard questions - in class and at work no one is going to make work fun and interactive. That's something you must find out for yourself. But the discomfort - you need to go deeper into it and understand it to banish the discomfort. A few students braved the discomfort and sat through every single session with equal intensity and participation and that gives me a lot of hope.

As always I hope, even if it makes a difference to a few, my effort has been worth it. To some the impact may be now, to some next day, to some next month and to some years down the line. But all those who attended will certainly carry some impact of it. They would not have been there otherwise. Good luck students and thank you Prof. Jyothi for the opportunity once again to interact and share some insights with young minds.


Unknown said...

Thank you sir,for taking the valuable classes.from sreeja

Harimohan said...

Thanks Sreeja. I must mention that you did a good job as the CR. I was impressed. You took responsibility, handled situations well and stuck through the 2 days with a learning mindset. Also you did your job with a smile and a pleasant demeanour. And you also showed enough initiative, grace and maturity to write back to me and thank me which is a wonderful trait. Feel free to reach out if there are any queries and good luck (or rather, good preparation!).