In a fast-changing digital and connected world, wisdom does not have to come in large voluminous conceptual articulations but rather in small byte-sized nuggets. Combine this with concepts that are time and place agnostic, and then it resonates perfectly with what Rajiv Noronha has tried to distill out in his book.
Using quotes that are rhyming, creative, and catchy, the author tries to illustrate the important day to day challenges and experiences on work and personal effectiveness. The book has a unique format and structure. A quote, along with insight and graphical representation, triggers relevant imagery and delves into various personal situations and experiences that almost everyone experiences.
For me, reading the book was like revisiting numerous conversations with colleagues and mentees/coaches on the issues that troubled them and what they may have taken back as insights their younger self would have benefitted from. The pages are packed with practical and insightful wisdom that takes the form of story, poetry, or metaphor to nudge, surprise, or provoke the reader with interesting insights. For easy reference and usage, the learning nuggets are categorized into various themes such as Career Management, Diversity, Leadership, Performance Management, Strategic Management, Talent Acquisition, Talent Development, Values & Ethics, Work Effectiveness, Developing Self, Managing Relationships, and Personal Effectiveness.
Rajiv’s book took me on a self-reflective journey of my past experiences. There were moments when I encountered an all-encompassing image and distilling experience that touched a raw nerve of doubts, idiosyncrasies, or consequences faced. The nuggets refreshed memories of forgotten practices that worked, the unpalatable and unacknowledged underbelly, and the aha moments of discovery of wisdom.
Listed below are a few perspectives that emerged as I read specific learning nuggets and the quote(s) that address the same.
Preparing oneself with essential Knowledge, Facts, and Awareness:
Quote #112 Gather data after analyzing the need, The supply gaps you will have to feed. Clear strategic priorities will sow the seed, And take you far in the journey, indeed.
Concerns that are usually kept locked away, such as failures and mistakes:
Quote #190 Banishing failure to the gallows, will ensure that reluctance will follow.
Quote, #206 The one who realizes and sets right the mistakes Will be the most likely one to win at the stakes.
Problem Elimination versus Problem-solving:
Quote #116 Ignore the root cause of the situation; shallow will be the resolution.
We all know that the best solution is one where the root cause is identified irrespective of the fact that this applies to single or generic manifestations of the problem. Only then true problem elimination is possible.
Prescriptions to the manager on managing oneself:
Quote #180 Overcome the temptation to postpone; Successes will appear, cast in stone.
Quote #150 What gets focus gets attention; What gets attention gets done.
Performance orientation at work and our personal lives:
Quotes #190 and #206 highlight the underbelly of performance orientation. Managers tend to avoid engaging with failures and mistakes. The way failures are managed has established relationships with creativity, risk-taking, and effectiveness.
Mantra for any change program:
Quote #16 Unity of Purpose, Diversity of Participation, and Commitment to Action are the Holy Trinity and Success Mantra for any change program.
This above quote captures the wisdom of change in three variables. This is not anecdotal; these three variables are empirically proven in change management and creativity research. Many organizational failures can be traced back to the lack of these variables. This nugget provides the depth and breadth of Rajiv’s experience and his integration of academic rigour with managerial practice.
Evoking powerful imagery in the minds of the readers:
Quote #175 Employees are not racehorses who will gallop when the reins are pulled.
This nugget evokes an image of a horse struggling and yet galloping at top speed, while the rider is pulling the reins communicating STOP to the horse yet expecting it to gallop. This image highlights the struggle most leaders face in providing clear goals and necessary resources & support, and NOT hindering the output unknowingly. Easier said than done! The image of this horse will remain with me for a long time. Kudos to Rajiv for providing such powerful images for reflection throughout the book.
The most valuable aspect of this book is the integration of validated, accepted knowledge across fields, best practices from the professional manager’s world, and wisdom distilled from experience. It is likely to appeal to audiences with diverse learning preferences – those fond of stories, those who prefer theory & concepts, those who look for simple rules to follow, and to those who want distilled wisdom. Apart from being a personal companion, this book will be a great gift to your friend, colleague, mentee/coachee, or boss – a coffee table book that will remain relevant for many many years. The references are a must-read for leaders.