Here is my first blog post on the theme “Life reimagined”. I am inclined to be futuristic on this post and going forward offers a right blend of the near-medium-long term trends in the future posts.
Work-life integration over work-life balance is a nice practice to nurture. But it is a mindset shift and demands the right human balance in the seamless transition back and forth between work and life. I am re-imagining the life with an innovative third space to maximize human outcomes creating more time with work-life integration. Talking about converting commute to constructive work time creating a third space while traveling in an autonomous vehicle (AV) to office from home. Isn’t it interesting?
Traditionally third places include cafes, parks, clubs, or even barber shops. But the growing popularity of ride-sharing and the advent of driverless technology bringing third space to the car. As the driver attention shifts from driving to being driven, we tend to use our time to work, play, consume content, and interact with one another.
This reminds me 2017 when Fiat Chrysler unveiled its Portal concept minivan, which the company billed as a “third space” designed to bridge work and home. The car supposedly will be loaded with a multitude of screens and creature comforts like selfie cameras and docking stations. Chrysler sees the Portal as “an open and serene atmosphere that provides an alternative environment between work and home.” But democratizing such ideas becomes tricky.
Imagine a workday of employees starting at 8 am as they enter the cabin of their AVs, they answer emails and work right through their commute until their AVs drops them off at the office; then after leaving at 4 pm, their AVs pick them up, and they continue working their last ‘office hour’ of the day during their commute home. HR managers can think creatively to collaborate in designing third spaces for their employees in AVs. Also, these types of future workplace reconfigurations will need to be studied carefully and administered fairly by every organization’s CHRO, with clear guidelines established around the expected productivity and use of such ‘commute work’ privilege. This could be a small initiative to start with, but a potential employee friendly move.
Can companies invest in enabling third space in autonomous cars with the right ROI on employee productivity? While we all talk about technology advancement and potential futurism, rightly blending with human connect is going to be the key for mainstream adaption!
Congratulating my daughter Phanisree and the entire team which made it to the Harvard 2018-19 Youth Advisory Board. The YAB represents a diverse group of young people who will work with Making Caring Common this academic year to make schools and communities more just, caring, and respectful places.
Recently I had a trip to India what I refer to as “Spiritual Tour”. Followed by that, while I have been contemplating on the title of the post to summarize some of my experiences from the tour, one title came up for consideration “Being a mindful leader in digital age”. I broke that into 3 words, Mindfulness – Leadership – Digital. Calling it “Spiritual Tour” primarily for a reason that it happened at a time when I was trying to reboot myself in many dimensions and trip covered inspiring places ( to name three Pushpagiri https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pushpagiri_Temple_Complex, Ahobilam http://www.ahobilamutt.org/us/information/visitingahobilam.asp , Chilukur http://www.chilkurbalaji.com/about.html), gave a chance to meet with intellectual gurus, and got an opportunity to try encountering authentic self for a clarity of mind and true purpose. Spiritual tour constituted 10 days of my 3 week India trip. To be candid, this 10 day tour is not a tourist camp or a guided tour but rather a self-directed tour with an intellectual curiosity and little guidance.
Day one started with an attempt to be truly myself. Disconnected from routine, no cell phone, no laptop and walking from one place to the other which included not very crowded old temples. As I got into a discipline to be myself, various thoughts started triggering in mind. Once I am on the go being myself, as a next step started realizing importance of bringing myself to the that day, to that minute and to that vey second or minutest part of possible time is important, though found it more challenging. That was kind of a psychological process of bringing my attention to experiences occurring in the present movement. It was a starting point to be Mindful. I started practicing three things with some external guidance.
Accepting my thoughts, anxiety and feelings in an attempt to calming down
Self-inquiry mountain meditation to better deal with thoughts and feelings of “me”
Practicing “self-advocacy” promoting self-esteem inhibiting my true wills for compassion and lovingkindness
The people I encountered here and there were far off from gig economy mindset, but rather people of various walks of life and I have to self-reincarnate to have a true and engaging dialogue with them. And the days pass by and in tandem I started contemplating on “Leadership”. I will be adding more on “Mindfulness” in follow up posts.
The depth and breadth of subject on leadership is vast. My specific self-questioning focused on – what are the most important traits of new-age leadership? Realized that I got into a tricky topic and started navigating beyond leadership styles, decisiveness, awareness, focus, accountability, empathy, confidence, optimism, honesty, and inspiration. Boiled down to two, i) problem solving and ii) communication. In a one-on-one dialogue, a priest asked me two questions,
What is a better way to lead life?
How to communicate effectively?
After few hours I walked away with my interpretation of responses as follows. As an individual, as a student and particularly as a professional, I have been facing the world with one thing in constant. Progressing in life leading “everything that I come across movement by movement”. Which I call “problem solving”. As a child I developed solving known/unknown problems with decently known or a guided criteria. In an attempt to sustain as a leader in the world, I progressed building an ability solving unknown problems with unknown criteria. Another way to interpret contemporary problem solving is “being a driver in driverless car – – sit tight and avoid the mis-happenings ensuring the success of untested or progressively tested situations”. That struck me as an important trait to be a “leader of lifetime”. What does it mean? That is finding one’s path of solving problems to continue with fulfillment of progress.
Dialogue on communication was very intriguing. I am parking in-person communication to a later discussion, and focus now on remote communication, i.e. communication between two persons not co-located. In late 80’s when I started in college, mode of communication with someone beyond college town was via a letter (a post card or an inland letter) or book a “trunk call” to speak to a person. Telegram was used for an emergency. That mode typically had one to two weeks of lead time to complete one cycle of communication. Later STD/ISD came to availability. Followed by mobile phones – first voice and then voice and data (profoundly email) leading to present era of social media and hyper connected world. Two things changed with this progression. Availability and responsiveness to communicate. Availability has become “round-the-clock” and responsiveness reached to “a near real time” phenomenon. Hence to be a better communicator, one has to figure out,
How to be introspective and mindful being highly available (two weeks communication cycle in 80’s shrunk to real time today)?
How to be efficient and effective in spontaneous responsiveness?
With respect to availability, I felt to define hours of “productive availability” and figure out a subtle way of deferring on unproductive availability. On responsiveness, I have to be incrementally efficient and effective. As communication becoming constant and spontaneous, I should have an ability to carry a big/holistic picture constantly connecting dots on “strings of communication”. That lead to an important question on, how many strings of communication in parallel and/or in tandem I could handle being productive and effective. Watch out on this! I will add more anecdotes as this dialogue on communication progresses to forthcoming blog posts. Next topic is how Mindfulness and Leadership ties to new digital age?
Towards the last few days of the tour, got into contemporary discussions on life in digital era. We started with a discussion on Indian metropolitan commute. In most of the metros, if one has OLA or UBER app, taxi/cab fare nearly matches to auto fare. So as technology penetrates further increasing adoption levels, people get a better and safer rides realizing a superior value of money. On the other hand, what will happen to Auto drivers? May be with time autos get replaced with cars. Further to this, what if driverless cars becomes reality? Drivers either find alternative ways or get reskilled to endure. In view of leading life in digital age, we touched on the following three topics
Survival of the fittest – man (human) vs machine
How far we can raise the bar on being insightful from data and information?
What is the ultimate goal of digital world?
I need a separate post to touch enough on these topics and hold my thoughts to share in next post.
In a nutshell, my “spiritual tour” is very refreshing and I am planning to budget time and resources to repeat such tours periodically to “self-reboot” finding my path of solving problems attaining fulfilment of progress continuum.
Congratulations to my kid Phanisree Akshinthala and Team, 8th Graders at Community Middle School, Plainsboro, NJ. CMS Nuyu (http://nuyuchallenge.weebly.com/nuyu-team.html) team won first place in Future Problem Solving Program International (FPSPI – http://www.fpspi.org/icdetails.html) competition held at Wisconsin University during 7-11 June’2017. Great job All!
Nüyü is a close-knit community of 8th grade researchers who study the well being of adolescents. Nüyü is inspired by Community Problem Solving, an organization from FPSPI (Future Problem Solving Program International). Improving the world through research and study to find out why middle school students suffer socially, emotionally, and academically in their everyday lives. The team bring you many strategies to help find your inner self and manage stress through mindfulness. Nüyü has evolved research this year to focus on mindfulness strategies to improve mental health.
Follow them on – Twitter @nuyu_team; YouTube Team NuYu