Leading and Learning: How to Feed a Community

When I started this blog in April 2006, little did I understand about how a community works. I would write posts each week only to be read by my immediate colleagues and friends. Till a point when I learned that,

“conversation and sharing is the currency of a social community”

I started following many other blogs, take the conversation forward through comments and share along good stuff. I learned the art of building a community through excellent blogs of Michael Wade, Rajesh Setty and Lisa Haneberg. Their work fueled my own journey of understanding how a social community works.

Getting into Twitter in 2009 opened up new avenues to contribute and accelerate my ability to connect with multiple like minded people through sharing and conversation. Today, I am very happy to have a personal learning network – a group of fellow learners and explorers who share as they learn and work out loud.

Lisa Haneberg, one of my favorite bloggers, wrote about how to feed a community where she said,

if we want to belong to a vibrant community we have to feed it.

And then, we belong to offline communities at work and outside of work. There again, conversation, generous sharing and helping others make meaningful progress is at the heart of building a community. I learned a great deal of this by going through my mentor Rajesh Setty’s program “The Right Hustle” which he defines as:

To hustle right is to choreograph the actions of those that matter to create meaningful accomplishments in an arrangement where everybody involved finds a win.

It became quite clear to me that

learning is a social act and we learn the most when we learn together.

In the communities that we choose to belong to (online and offline), we have to do our part in feeding it. It is only when we are generous about sharing our gifts that we build credibility to receive anything meaningful in return, build influence, thought leadership and learn.

Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowledge Mastery and the mindset of working out loud evangelized by John Stepper are great ways to feed your community and learn.

I wrote a post earlier titled “3 C’s for Leading and Learning on Social Media” which may offer helpful ideas to feed your community. Here is a quick sketchnote of Lisa Haneberg’s ideas on how to feed a community.

Bonus

As an extension to the ideas above, here is a sketch note version of “How to Work Out Loud” which John Stepper included in his recent TEDx Navesink talk.


My Community

People who read this blog, follow me on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere is my community and I am very grateful about it. I am intentional about feeding this community by sharing my lessons, summarizing insights visually, helping others move the needle and share resources that help.

Critical Questions

What about you? What learning communities do you belong to – online and offline? How do you feed your community? Critical questions as we start a new week. Do share your insights in the comments!

Journey That Inspires Others

My journey in life and career is largely inspired by what other generous folks have shared – both online and offline.

A boss who believed in me when I didn’t, a book that altered my perspective for better, a few blogs that clarified my thinking one post at a time, an inspiring video that uplifted me, a podcast that I often revisit, a virtual friend who opens a door of possibilities, a family member who guided my perspective about life and the list goes on. When I think of everything that I have received for free, I am only filled with gratitude.

We are all surrounded by generous folks who freely share their lessons, ideas, resources and insights which inspires our own journey, directly or indirectly. 

The critical question then is: If your own journey is inspired by what others shared so generously, how are you making sure that your journey serves as an inspiration for others?

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In the photo: Train and tracks fading away on a foggy winter morning!

Real Influence is a By-Product

The world today reveres influence and this leads people to chase influence. When influence becomes a goal, you can easily lose focus on what truly builds influence.

Influence – real influence that changes people and their behaviors for better – is a by-product of:

  1. Clarifying your values to yourself and hence to others
  2. Living those values and setting the right example (being authentic and integral)
  3. Making a meaningful contribution to community (yes, business IS a community)
  4. Being super-generous about sharing your work, insights, art and gifts
  5. And being a champion at listening to others (listening is a way to respect others)
  6. Building trust one contribution, one conversation and one result at a time
  7. Truly connecting with others (technology is just a medium)
  8. Believing in your insights and ideas (strength of belief feeds passion)
  9. And still being flexible and open minded about letting the beliefs and learning evolve
  10. Sharing stories that move people to better position (in thinking and in actions)
  11. Providing a lens to people to see things from your unique point of view
  12. Taking the conversations forward by “adding” meaningful perspectives
  13. Being intentional about being generous
  14. Always being constructive in thinking and ways of working
  15. Being consistent in your pursuits

What do you think?

Also Read:

Leadership, Learning and Personal Knowledge Mastery

One of the crucial leadership skills for today and future is ability to learn constantly from various high quality sources, synthesizing information and collaborating with a community to get a better grasp of the constantly changing reality.

Leaders also need this vital knowledge to scan the horizon and trends to make better decisions.

In this context, I read the HBR article titled “The Best Leaders are Constant Learners” by Kenneth Mikkelsen and Harold Jarche. I have been following Harold Jarche’s work through Twitter and his blog and this post provided a very clear view of the Personal Knowledge Mastery model. In the post, they say,

leaders must scan the world for signals of change, and be able to react instantaneously. We live in a world that increasingly requires what psychologist Howard Gardner calls searchlight intelligence. That is, the ability to connect the dots between people and ideas, where others see no possible connection. An informed perspective is more important than ever in order to anticipate what comes next and succeed in emerging futures.

Here is the sketch note I created based on this post.

Bonus: 

SHRM Top 25 Indian HR Influencers on Social Media 2014

Last week, SHRM India published a list of “Top 25 Indian HR Influencers on Social Media” for the year 2014-15.

I am glad to be ranked amongst top 5 influencers for the third consecutive year. Each year, SHRM India raises the bar and changes evaluation method. This year, they considered activity/interactions beyond Twitter to cover Blog, LinkedIn, Klout and Quora.

This recognition underlines my belief in the human aspect of how work gets done. Which also means we need to do better at creating systems where human beings can thrive and make a difference.

And therefore, I am excited!



Also Read: 6 Lessons On Creating a Lasting Influence

Lessons from 9 Years of Blogging

QAspire blog completes 9 years this month and here is how I feel at the moment.

They say and I agree that time flies when you are having fun. 2006 was a year when I had just transitioned into my first leadership role. Every single day and interaction with others was turning out to be a tremendous learning experience. (and it still does!) I felt a strong need to document my lessons somewhere and just about the time I started journaling my learning in a paper diary, I discovered blogs. After initial experimentation, I started writing on this blog in April 2006 – a time when Twitter was a new born and Facebook was a toddler!

In August 2006, my blog (then named “Software Quality and Management Insights”) was first noticed by Michael Wade who added it onto his blog roll. In a comment on this blog, he encouraged me by saying,

“I enjoy reading your blog. Anyone who can write clearly on software issues is, in my mind, the equivalent of a translator of ancient Greek.”

When encouragement started flowing through comments and conversations, my enthusiasm for blogging just went up. I realized soon that generosity is the currency in social world – the more you share, contribute and converse, the more you learn, gain and connect. This is even more crucial in a hyper social world that we live in today.

Starting this blog was a play for me and there were no external goals like getting more traffic or building the subscriber list. The goals were (and and still are) internal – to have fun, to learn, to sharpen the writing and to connect with others meaningfully. I learned that the only way to really learn more about things is to do them in spirit of curiosity, play and joy. Have you ever noticed that a kid learns the most between first three years of their lives and then, when they are subjected to scores and grades in the school, their joy is robbed? All rewards, recognitions and external validations are merely by-products of pursuing the inner joy of doing things.

Blogging strengthened my faith in humanity. Kindness and generosity has enriched the web and made it into what it is today. I learned that people are amazing. When you work hard to blog, every single comment, mention, view, re tweet and ‘like’ feels nothing less than a gift. The generosity and kindness of people in blogosphere (and in social media) has never failed to amaze me.

As the community around this blog grew, I was drawn to pick up the phone and talk to some people across the globe whose work I admired. These calls not only strengthened the relationship but took it to a different level. Conversations are a currency of social media and so, I learned that in social media, being social is far more important than the media.

What started as a medium to document lessons soon became a platform to express my thoughts. Any act of self-expression requires a great deal of emotional labor and is fraught with risk of failing. I learned that if we have ideas or strong beliefs on something we care about, it is our obligation to express. Our fear is mostly imaginary.

In 2010, I experimented with writing three posts each week. Recently, I experimented with daily blogging. My big learning from these experiences is – inspiration never comes before discipline – and if it comes, it does not stay. Inspiration first looks at your preparation and discipline before showering the grace. As they say,

“Discipline and perseverance beats talent.. every single time.”

Writing for a long time gives you a good view into your own mind and how thoughts have evolved. Contexts changed, thinking evolved and learning grew. This observation of the self tells me that learning is not an destination but a journey – a journey where perspectives grow, focus widens and old beliefs may give a way to newer ones. Writing a blog is perhaps the best way to stay in touch with your own thoughts.

I continue to enjoy this fascinating journey and looking forward to conversations, learning and connections it brings along.


A Note of Gratitude:

I know I can’t thank everyone who has encouraged me by visiting this blog, commenting on it or amplifying it elsewhere, but here is a list of people I am totally grateful to have connected with amongst many others:

Rajesh Setty, Michael Wade, Kurt Harden, Wally Bock, Nicholas Bate, Utpal Vaishnav, Mitchell Levy, Becky Robinson, Mary Jo Asmus, Phil Gerbyshak, Lisa Haneberg, Tanvi Gautam, Ashok Vaishnav, Folks at Pearson TalentLens, John Hunter, Dan McCarthy, Paul Schwend, Gautam Ghosh, Yashwant Mahadik, Nisha Raghavan, Mike Wong, Folks at WittyParrot, Gurprriet Singh, Folks at SHRMIndia, Folks at Hirers, Jurgen Appelo, Folks at ActiveGarage, PeopleMatters Team, Folks at Impackt Publishing, Karen Martin, Jesse Lyn Stoner

Podcast: Leveraging Social Media for Learning and Leading

I am thankful to Mike Wong of Business Insights Podcast for interviewing me on the topic “Leveraging Social Media for Learning”.

Talk about ‘social media’ and people quickly talk about tools like Twitter and Facebook. But like all other ‘tools’, social media tools don’t help much unless they are used for a purpose. In this podcast, I discuss the usage of social media for the purpose of learning and building thought leadership.

In this short podcast (18 minutes) interview, I share my ideas on the following three questions:

  • What are the fundamentals for thriving in a social world of work?
  • What techniques do you use for learning through social media?
  • Can social media help in generating thought leadership and influence?

Here are a few snippets from the podcast:

“Success in social media happens when you focus on ‘social’ aspect more than ‘media’ aspect (tools).”

“Being social means you listen first and care about what others have to say.”

“Generosity is the currency on social media.”

“It is vital to filter information that best suits your context. The best way to deal with information overload is to filter relentlessly.”

Please listen to the podcast here OR using the audio control below.


powered by podcast garden


Related Posts at QAspire:

3 C’s for Learning and Leading on Social Media

With advent of social media tools, our ways of learning, sharing and leading have undergone a sea change. Blogs, Twitter, Massively Open Online Courses (MooC’s) and a variety of other tools are nicely complementing books and classroom based learning.

Social Media is a great platform to learn, share, be a part of learning communities and build your thought leadership. Here are three C’s that can help you do just that.

  • Create meaningful stuff and add your unique voice to it. Share what you learn. Write regularly – it not only improves your writing but also helps in clarifying the thought process. Select your tools carefully. I use Twitter to share short bursts of insights and lessons which then expand in form of blog posts.
  • Curate ideas around what you care for. There is so much information out there and effective curation helps people find the most useful stuff. Curation assimilates and filters great ideas from others, gives them a new life and amplifies the reach. I use Twitter to curate useful ideas and insights that I come across.
  • Contribute to ideas of others. Take those ideas forward by adding your own unique and meaningful perspectives to them. Comment on the blogs of others. Participate in Tweetchats, online events, forums and share your ideas. Generous contribution is the currency of social media.

When you do this consistently over a period of time and keep doing it better, you get three more C’s.

  • Community of influential and generous folks that you can rely on for learning.
  • Credibility that you build around your work.
  • Confidence you gain through validation of your ideas.

So, the next time you use social media with an intent to learn, think about how you can put these three C’s to work!


In the pic: The Rock Garden of Chandigarh

Learning in a Connected Age: Leveraging Social Media

Learning in a Connected Age

Before language evolved, we used symbols and expressions. They evolved to form words and hence sentences. Language allowed us to create stories and human beings learned through stories shared in a social context. Learning was social in nature.

Then, literature evolved and allowed many people to learn from the same sources. In this world, the more knowledge you possessed, the more powerful you were. Learning was imparted by one to many and progression of our knowledge was linear – one level after the other.

Then a revolution happened and all literature went online – Wikipedia democratized information and knowledge is now available in form of eBooks, Blogs, Online Communities, Social Media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, Online Video resources and now MOOCS (Massively Open Online Courses).

We moved from industrial age to knowledge economy and now into a creative one. In this economy, just having (and hoarding) knowledge is not powerful, what you do with that knowledge is!

Internet is a great equalizer – we all have access to a network that is open and connected. Open means we have access to all fundamental knowledge, resources, technology, online courses etc. Connected means we are able to form groups and communities, exchange knowledge, compile and synthesize ideas, source solutions of our problems through a community, provide solutions to a community, take the ideas forward and collaborate with global community.

In an open and connected world, learning is imparted by many to many. Progression of knowledge is non-linear, rapid and broad.

Social and informal learning can (and should) complement the classroom learning. That is because a classroom imparts knowledge that is explicit. Social and informal learning impacts knowledge that is implicit/tacit – something that no syllabus can cover or teach.

“When data is ubiquitously accessible, facts are increasingly less important than the ability to place these facts in a context and deliver them with an emotional impact” – Dan Pink, The Whole New Mind

Why do we take all the pain to learn on our own when we are paying so much to the university?

Because we live in a fast paced world which is constantly changing. Because we compete globally. Because learning is never static. Because in this world, continuous and self-directed learning is the only sustainable competitive advantage we all have.

You have an opportunity to accelerate your learning process, take more chances, connect meaningfully, take your career to the next level and make a greater difference. Learning starts with an intention and the focus is on YOU.

We have come a full cycle and learning is social again.

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Over to you! How has social media platforms contributed to your learning? What techniques or tools do you employ to leverage social media as a learning platform – for yourself or for your organization?

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Note: This post is based on a talk I recently delivered at Nirma University, Institute of Law on their annual event “Confluence 2013”. My talk was well received and students asked a lot of questions during the panel discussion on how they can leverage social media for learning.

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6 Lessons On Creating a Lasting Influence

Influence

Mahatma Gandhi, as we know, was a simple man who had no position, no wealth, no power and no authority. Yet, he altered the course of history by leading India to Independence through power of people. How could a man with no formal authority take on an empire and influence the hearts and minds of so many people across the country?

Gandhi’s impact is a testimony to the fact that you don’t need positional power to influence others. No matter who you are or where you are in the order, you can make a difference.

Every time I think of influence, I think of Gandhi. He worked with others and through others to achieve his objectives. In the process, he never compromised on his own principles.

In an organizational context, ability to influence is at the heart of a leader’s success in driving changes, building great teams, delivering results and implementing the strategic vision. At an individual level, your ability to influence others is at the core of building relationships, creating a network and achieving your goals.

How does one generate influence? What are the building blocks to be considered? Here is what I have learned about generating influence:

  1. Having substance is a pre-requisite for generating influence. An empty vessel only makes more noise. Having real accomplishments, experience, subject matter expertise, passion for the subject and credibility are the foundations on which influence can happen.
  2. Trust, as in leadership, is the currency of influence. People get influenced and change only when they trust you. People trust you when you deliver what you promise, speak from your heart and be integral and ethical.
  3. Thought leadership accelerates trust and hence influence. When you challenge conventional beliefs, advance the ideas and provide new points of view, people get engaged and start trusting. Gandhi’s idea of non-violence serves as a great example of thought leadership.
  4. Influence spreads on pollens of generous actions. The process of influencing others start with a genuine intention to share and contribute first. It is not about what you want to say, but what helps others.
  5. Only intention is not enough, commitment is the key. Influence is rarely generated overnight. It requires commitment, patience and being persistent over a long time.
  6. Real influence provokes change. Influence is only valuable when it provokes change in how people operate and think; when it inspires them to take required action. It is a myth that just having an audience and followers means influence.

Join in the conversation: Who are you influenced by? What are specific qualities that you are influenced by? Share your lessons!

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Stay Tuned! Subscribe via RSS, Connect via Facebook or Follow us on Twitter. You can also subscribe to updates via email using the section at the bottom of the page.

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In case you have missed:

SHRM Top 20 Indian HR Influencers Active on Social Media 2013

Social media has become mainstream and an integral part of business strategy. Social media is at the center of how people connect, consume information, drive conversations, initiate movements and promote brands. At a time when everyone seems to be on social media, the challenge for those who wish to make a difference is to generate influence.

Last year, SHRM India published a first-ever list of Top 20 Indian HR Influencers on Social Media – people with distinct voice that reflects engaging ideas and insights. I was featured at #4.

This year again, SHRM India published a list of Top 20 Indian HR Influencers Active on Social Media 2013” and I was so happy to featured at #3 along with prominent HR thought-leaders and practitioners like Gautam Ghosh (Philips India), Vineet Nayar (Joint Managing Director, HCL Tech), Abhijit Bhaduri (Chief Learning Officer, Wipro), Aadil Bandukwala (Recruitment Product Consultant, LinkedIn), and Anand Pillai (Chief Learning Officer, Reliance), amongst others. This year, influence was evaluated with a focus on quality of conversations apart from Twitter statistics. As per SHRM,

The new report, in addition to gauging the influence of dominant HR voices on Twitter, goes a step further by zeroing in on the content of the Twittersations. ‘The methodology followed this year is similar to the last year with one core addition. In 2012, we identified specific HR keywords and monitored them on Twitter but this year we looked at the influencers from Learning and Development, Social Media, Talent Management and Leadership domains and captured their influence on Twitter,’ the report says.

From an HR perspective, it is important that talent managers leverage the power of social media to recruit, collaborate and engage with current and future talent pool.

This recognition for second consecutive year underlines my belief: Excellence is a product of leading people well and every manager, in that sense, is an HR Manager. Building a culture of excellence is not just a departmental job of HR, it is everybody’s job.

I am excited about this recognition because it underlines the importance of human factor in quality.

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Download the 2013 Report Here.

Download the 2012 Report Here.

Visit the related post on SHRMIndia’s website.

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BLOGTASTIC by Rajesh Setty: A Blogging Guide

Why do I blog? Why do people blog?

I blog because it helps me see my thoughts. Get clarity. Make a small difference to my community. Build meaningful connections. Establish credibility.

One such connection I made during my blogging journey was with my friend and mentor, Rajesh Setty. He is one of those who has, through his writing, taught me some very important lessons in my blogging journey since 2006.

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Coming back to blogging, most people think that having a blog is ‘such a cool thing’. They are allured to start their own blogs. They focus on a great design, using the right service, an appealing logo and so on. But then, they get stuck on content. Either they don’t have anything unique to say or they don’t know how to say it. Their blogs die a slow death.

Blogging is a great tool to build a personal brand, develop your unique voice and generate influence. But how do we approach it?

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Rajesh Setty recently released a very informative and interesting eBook titled “BLOGTASTIC: growing and making difference through blogging”. It is a comprehensive guide for bloggers (and the aspiring ones). What I liked the most about this eBook is that it just doesn’t talk about blogging tactics. It addresses the mindset required for effective blogging. Apart from some very valuable insights by the author, this eBook also offers experiences of 33 other successful bloggers across the globe.

Tips and blogging insights in the book makes it very interactive and interesting. Here are a few tips/insights from the book:

“Take yourself to the next level before you can take your blog to the next level!”

You can rarely become memorable by being a chronic critic.”

Your blog readers are your customers who pay via their time and mindshare”

Your accomplishments outside the blog will directly influence the reach of your blog”

This is a book that gets to the heart of what blogging really is. If you are a blogger already, the book will provide you with ideas to take your blog to the next level. If you are someone who is thinking of starting a blog ‘some day’, this book will give you the much needed instigation to start sooner. In any case, you will definitely learn.

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The good news is: This book is offered free by MobStac, so download, read and share it with anyone you think will benefit from it. You can also download this book from Slimbooks (paid).

Social Media and Leadership Success: A Few Parallels

When I first learned playing Guitar, I focused too much on notes, specifics and techniques. The more I practiced, the more I realized that notes, specifics and techniques are important for producing good music, but not sufficient.

So what was missing? The starting point of becoming a good artist is to have an emotion, an intent. Once you can touch the emotion and are intentional about it, tools and techniques are generally not difficult to master. Music played with technique may entertain us at the best but music played with emotion can move us.

In casual conversations, a lot of friends express a desire to start a blog. This desire is mostly fueled by success of others. They seek help in starting a blog, in creating a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account. Here’s what I tell them:

The intent of connecting with others meaningfully is at the heart of social media (and leadership) success. With intent comes emotion which leads to difference. It is about liking people, interacting with them, learning from them and contributing back.

It is not about being like someone else, not about ability to use tools but about being your authentic and credible self. Once you are intentional and have right emotion to feel the content (be it music, writing, social media, programming, whatever), tools and techniques are easy to learn.

Unfortunately, most people do the inverse. They first focus on tricks and techniques and then search for emotional connect. Even before they start doing something, they want to measure their success. They end up spreading themselves thin on various social channels and often create noise.

Finally, like any other successful journeys, social media is a process and not a destination. Here again, intent and emotion fuels us through the road. I have seen companies hiring a social media marketing lead and expecting immediate business leads. It seldom happens.

Once you understand the four aspects below, you will do better, not only in social media but in other areas of life as well:

  • Be intentional. Develop an internal need to do something before attempting it.
  • Fuel it with emotion. Understand the impact of what you say and do. Be passionate.
  • In the beginning, don’t measure. Focus on contribution, not on results. Later, measure right things.
  • Enjoy the journey. Seek out new avenues. Connect meaningfully with others. Make a difference.

Join in the conversation: How do you use social media? What parallels can you draw that can help us in other areas of life and work?

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Note: This ideas in this post emerged while talking to Becky Robinson at Weaving Influence – as the name of her blog suggests, she uses social media to connect authors with online audiences, weave an influence and make a difference. Thanks Becky!

SHRM India Top-20 Indian HR Influencers on Social Media

This week, SHRM India released a list of “Top 20 Indian HR Influencers on Social Media” where I am featured at #4. It came to me as an unexpected yet a very pleasant surprise. Readers of this blog know that I focus on the people, leadership and culture aspects of quality. I write on topics at the intersection of Leadership, People and Quality.

The list has some very prominent leaders including Kavi, Corporate Learning and Development Professional, Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies, Gautam Ghosh, a veteran HR enthusiast and blogger, Abhijit Bhaduri, Chief Learning Officer at Wipro and so on. This recognition emphasizes one very important fact – that in a knowledge and services oriented world, people management and leadership moves beyond the confines of traditional HR Department. Every business leader, middle manager and aspiring leader has to play the role of an HR Manager – to inspire people, tap on their strengths and motivate them to deliver their best work. They have to to understand the nuances of dealing with people if they want to build a culture of excellence. This list is a step forward, because it starts an important debate on social media influence and its role in advancing conversations related to specific topics.

Here is the methodology SHRM followed:

Coming up with a list of Top 20 is a path-defining innovation as it entails sorting through the HR noise to find voices that reflect engaging ideas and insights. For this study, SHRM India compiled a list of 50 Twitter influencers and then shortlisted 20 individuals on various parameters including the follower count, HR related tweets, retweets, and impressions. Data for this report was collected over a period of four months, starting in November 2011 through until the end of February 2012. In a unique spin to gauge the influence of HR conversationalists on immediate audience, the SHRM India Influencer Score was also used for the first time. It factored in the relative standing of an influencer on the basis of followers and impressions, which were established as two key percentile ranks.

I am excited about this recognition because it recognizes the importance of “human factor” in quality. That people are at the core of excellence and all processes, metrics, tools and technologies are enablers of quality. People make it happen.

Additional Info:

– You can also download this report from SHRM India’s homepage.
– Here is the coverage of SHRM’s Top 20 list on Business Standard where I get a mention.

Gratitude 2011

Gratefulness fills me whenever a year ends. Each year brings along new hopes, some challenges, many opportunities. When the year ends, we look back and ruminate on how we did to seize those opportunities, to face those challenges and what we learned out of it all.

One of the things I am so grateful about is this blog, and everything it brings along – clarity in thinking, expansion of my world view, some fantastic (and often life changing) lessons and many encouraging friends. I meet these friends through the words they write – through their passion for sharing ideas and make a difference. Here is a partial list of such friends and mentors on blogosphere that I am so thankful for.

  1. Wally Bock and Michael Wade are two individuals that I respect a lot. They run very high quality blogs that are updated almost everyday. I feel honored whenever they feature my posts on their blogs. I am grateful for knowing such wonderful people.
  2. Kurt Harden runs Cultural Offering Blog and is a source of some great lessons on life and leadership. He appreciates my work as much as I appreciate his. I cannot thank him enough for his support and encouragement.
  3. Nicholas Bate is a genius. He is one of my virtual mentors who is also super-creative. He doodles, compiles lists and writes great books. His generosity in sharing his best work with me never fails to amaze me. I am so glad I know him. (Read his latest series: Strategies for Success)
  4. Utpal Vaishnav is a blogger and a cool friend. He reviews my work, validates my thoughts and adds value through his own experience. His blog is a treasure trove of useful insights on project management and self help. His punch line? “No Actions. No Results. Everything else is a commentary.
  5. Rajesh Setty is my guide, mentor and a friend who leads by example. He just does not show the way, but walks the way. He helped me write my first book and encouraged me through a number of conversations thereafter. He is super-generous, thoughtful and inspiring. I am grateful for our connection.
  6. I am thankful to Lisa Haneberg, Becky Robinson and Mary Jo Asmus for their support and encouragement to my work. At various points in 2011, they connected via Twitter, emails and blog to extend help, inspiration and opportunities.
  7. John Hunter is a passionate improvement expert who shares profound insight and research on his blog “Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog”. He also features great thinkers on quality, leadership and lean related topics via his Management Improvement Carnivals.
  8. I am grateful to have known Dan McCarthy and learned a great deal about leadership and people management via his blog “Great Leadership”. Dan is also known as a host of Carnival of Leadership Development.
  9. Seth Godin is my hero. He wrote a profound book “Linchpin” (reviewed here). This year, he wrote “Poke the Box” and released several other master pieces at The Domino Project. I reviewed Poke the Box this year (with a one question interview with Seth Godin). I am cannot end my “thank you” list without a mention of this generous human being who is on a mission to instigate people to do great work and make a difference.

A blog exists because people read it. I wrote last year, “This blog is a skeleton, a tool. Whatever I write here is flesh and blood. But readers, i.e. YOU are the soul.“ So, thank you for reading and supporting QAspire Blog. I have enjoyed all the interactions with you via my posts, comments and interactions through Twitter and QAspire Facebook page.

Merry Christmas!

Gratitude – 2010

I am filled with gratefulness as I think about 2010 coming to an end. The reason I love blogging is that while I express myself, I meet some very interesting people – meet them through the words we write and through our passion of sharing ideas to make a small difference in the world we all live in.

I am thankful to my friends Rajesh Setty (for being my guide and mentor), to Lisa Haneberg, Phil Gerbyshak and Utpal Vaishnav (for being such cool friends), ActiveGarage team (for hosting series of my posts on Quality), Nicholas Bate (for his profound insights), Kurt Harden (for his generous mentions) and Michael Wade (Nicholas, Michael and Kurt are awesome threesome).

I am very proud to be a part of a wonderful community of leadership bloggers and am grateful to Dan McCarthy (for his insights and for hosting Leadership Development Carnival), to Mary Jo Asmus, Becky Robinson (be sure to check out her new blog) and Wally Bock.

John Hunter is a passionate improvement expert who shares some profound lessons on management, leadership, lean and Deming. Ivana Sendecka is a remarkable individual who is working really hard shipping inspiration and making a difference. Her blog is an interesting collection of thoughtful questions, experiences and stories that inspire. Thanks to both of them for enlightening and inspiring.

I know that the list is incomplete. It will run into pages if I list everyone who interact/make a difference via their  tweets, blog posts and videos (Just a stat: I have more than 220 amazing blogs in my feed reader)

This blog is a skeleton, a tool. Whatever I write here is flesh and blood. But readers, i.e. you are the soul. So, a BIG THANKS TO YOU for being an ardent reader/supporter of QAspire Blog. I have enjoyed all the interactions with you via my posts, comments and interactions through QAspire Facebook page. You validate me, correct me, inspire me and above all, allow me to be myself.

I wish you all a REMARKABLE 2011!

Focus on Relationships and Tale of Two Leaders

Consider the following tale of two sales leaders who wanted to be successful:

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In his quest to achieve his sales targets, Peter was overly focused on "closing the sale". When in front of a customer, he often focused on what the "next steps" would be. He sold from the mindset of "What all can be sold to this customer out of all my services?" and tried to maximize his sales. He would constantly try to fit his services and convince customer that they really needed it. He believed that sales was all about selling ice cubes in Antarctica! He danced in joy when he closed a sale – and would then focus his energies completely on next sales closure. Peter was successful on a short-term, but his success was often short-lived. He wondered ‘Why?’

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Jack, on the other hand, believed in "building a relationship". When a sale was closed, he considered it as a beginning of a relationship. When in front of a customer, he mostly focused on "understanding/listening" what customer had to say. He sold from the mindset of "What are your problems and how can my services solve them?" and tried to map services with real problems. He believed that sales was all about building relationship through delivery of "value". Without getting overwhelmed (or overjoyed) about the sales closure, he focused his energy to communicate and align people for success. Jack was considered ‘slow’ initially, but he knew he had built a foundation of great relationships for a long term.

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The difference between Peter and Jack was that of the mindset – of purpose and of clarity. Jack knew that business happens and reputation is built only when you solve "real" problems of your customer. For that, first step is to understand and carefully listen. That is the starting point of all relationships. The difference between their mindsets is same as the difference between "hearing" and "listening", between "watching" and "seeing".

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Note: This post is a continuation of my first post “Focus on Effectiveness and Tale of Two Managers” – written on same lines, but with a different message. Check it out if you haven’t read it yet!

99Tribes by ActiveGarage – Building Valuable Relationships

Today, I would like to congratulate my friends at ActiveGarage for launching their flagship project  – 99Tribes which is a people discovery engine for Twitter.(See the announcement)

In real life, we quickly build connection with people who share common interests. 99Tribes allows you to discover people on Twitter who share your interests.

Consider the following:

Based on the patented Rawsugar technology, you can start discovering people by typing what you are interested in (popular examples being: marketing, sales, blogging etc.)

Like any directory, 99Tribes will show the search results. What happens next shows the power of discovery.

On the left column, you will notice a set of tags. These tags show the “other” interests of people displayed in the search results.

For example, marketing may be your interest and you search on Marketing. Looking at the tags on the left you may notice that a set of people interested in marketing are interested in music too. You click on music and now the search results are updated to reflect people who are interested in Marketing and Music. It does not stop there. The tags get updated and you may notice that there are number of people who are interested in Music and Marketing are also interested in Fashion and Art. Or Camping or Hiking.

This is a brilliant concept because it allows you to connect to like minded people.

The world of Twitter is magical world because it empowers you to build meaningful connections by having authentic conversations. It is no more about just building ‘connections’ but about building ‘valuable relationships’ – 99Tribes is a brilliant concept and also an opportunity to find more like minded people whom you can connect with to build meaningful relationships.

Check it out at 99Tribes.com

Bonus: Also check out why my friend Becky Robinson (at Mountain State University’s School of Leadership Development) loves social media – and what it means for leaders.

You might also like revisiting a series of 14 Quality and Improvement articles I wrote at ActiveGarage as a part of #QUALITYtweet series.

QAspire Blog Makes it to Top150 Management/Leadership Blogs

Top150 … and I am very proud and happy about it. Jurgen Appelo (over at NOOP.NL), whom I have been reading since last couple of years, has compiled a list of Top 150 Management and Leadership Blogs. QAspire Blog ranks 89 amongst these, when mere inclusion in the list is an honor in itself.

There are several tipping points in a blog’s career, those moments that clearly take it into the next league. This is an important milestone and an indication of growing popularity of this blog. This makes all the effort so far – totally worth it.

Thank you Jurgen – for taking an initiative to compile this list based on Google, Twitter Grader, Alexa and Technorati ratings.

Bonus Reading:

Have a GREAT day ahead!

P.S: Thanks to my friends Nicholas Bate and Kurt Harden for congratulating me via their blog posts – this only raises expectations and pushes me to do it better! BIG THANKS!