Interview: Dr Jaideep Devare, MD, MIBL on the People CMM®

Jaideep Devare Photo

Dr Jaideep Devare  is the Managing Director of Mahindra Insurance Brokers Ltd (MIBL).

In this interview, Dr Devare shares MIBL’s experiences, pains, and benefits gained in the transformation carried out at MIBL (website: here), through the People CMM® initiative. MIBL was appraised and rated at maturity level 3 through a SCAMPISM Class A appraisal in Dec 2015 (see details at the CMMI® Institute site, here).

AlignMentor: Congratulations on being the first insurance organization in the world to have been rated at maturity level 3 of the People CMM®. And thank you for agreeing to share your experiences.

Q: Please tell us about your organization – MIBL.

JD: Mahindra Insurance Brokers Limited (MIBL) is a subsidiary of Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Limited (MMFSL). We have a Composite Broking License, which enables us to operate as a Direct as well as a Reinsurance broker in India. We are one of the few insurance broking companies in India to have been awarded the ISO 9001:2008 certification. Now, we are the world’s first organization in the insurance sector to achieve People CMM® maturity level 3, reflecting our quest for excellence.

MIBL is committed to providing value to its customers by understanding their insurance needs and risk profile, and providing innovative, cost-effective, customized solutions to ensure total customer satisfaction. MIBL represents the interests of the customer, and acts as an intermediary between the customer and the insurance company. MIBL’s role encompasses various activities right from risk profiling to claims administration for customers. MIBL coordinates with the insurers and re-insurers to get the best deal and the most ideal risk protection cover for our customers.
As on today, our insurance solutions have reached out to over 150,000 villages across India, and have serviced over 6 million cases in the rural and semi-urban markets. Our presence in many locations across various states in India gives us extra mileage to serve our customers in markets that are under-penetrated and under-served.
Our company’s long-term vision is: “To be the first Indian company amongst the Global Top 100 Insurance Brokers in revenue by 2020”.

Q: Please tell us why and how and why you decided to adopt the People CMM® model. And please share some experiences of your People CMM® journey.

JD: In the last eleven years, MIBL in India has organically grown from 50 to 750 employees. As the organization grows, maintaining employee experiences, building and sustaining employee engagement requires focused efforts and disciplined practices that are consistently and fairly executed across the organization to continuously engage and inspire people. We believe that happy and engaged employees provide the best of services to our customers.

We take pride in the strong culture we have developed since day 1; this culture being one of our strengths. Our core values and the Mahindra ‘Rise’ pillars inspire us to focus on customer delight, quality service, challenging conventional thinking, accepting no limits, and driving positive change. However, over time, we came to realize that we needed something more if we were to gain an edge in the over-competitive market. In terms of human capital, this meant an increase in our employee engagement, control over attrition, and higher momentum on customer-centricity.

We asked ourselves 3 key questions, for which we had to find relevant answers:

  1. How successful is our business today?
  2. How can our human capital develop personally as well as contribute to the growth of our organization?
  3. How ready are we for the future?

As we are into a people-centric and knowledge-intensive business, the role of human resources is crucial to the success of our company.

To keep up with the wave of digitization and globalization, we felt, we would need to focus on cultural transformation, building organization capabilities for future business growth, creating robust HR process delivery models, and driving HR process excellence. These thoughts provided an impetus to synergize people, process, technology and culture, and that’s how we thought of embarking on the PCMM® journey.

Q: There is a feeling that the People CMM® is applicable only for IT companies. Yours is an insurance organization – what is your impression now that you have implemented a part of the People CMM®?

JD: We understand that IT companies were the early adopters of People CMM®. The robust people practices enabled them to attract, engage, and retain employees, especially Generation Y, the Millennials.

In my opinion, PCMM® can be beneficial to any organization which is people, quality and customer-focused. Any organization serious about business performance, people development, and organization strategy and goal alignment, should adopt this model. I believe that organizations have limited growth not so much because of ineffectual business strategy, but more because of a cultural impediment due to which employees get negatively impacted, and are unable to give of their best. If this hypothesis is true, then people play an important role and act as catalysts for growth. Any business strategy may not work if the people and culture do not support progress.

So, people-focus can serve as a competitive advantage for any organization. The PCMM® model is helping us in such a cultural transformation, and can help any organization, irrespective of the industry segment.

Q: What were the key benefits that you expected and realized in implementing the People CMM®?

JD: Some of the challenges in the financial/ insurance sector are high employee attrition and low employee engagement levels. We expected to improve our employee engagement and to reduce attrition levels. Our larger objective was to align HR with business strategies and drive excellence in HR processes to achieve our Vision. We have started realizing great benefits in our journey over the last 15 months.

A few of these are: a) Improved employee engagement scores b) Reduced Attrition levels c) Significant improvement in transparency and effectiveness of our internal communication channels, which have further enhanced our trust Index levels d) A robust competency framework aligned to our various people practices e) Better execution of strategic business projects at a faster pace now.
Holistically, we have improved in our agility, responsiveness and customer-focus across the organization.

Q: Please share some of the challenges that you faced in the implementation of the model @ MIBL.

JD: Ensuring inclusivity was a challenge as our employees are spread across India in over lots of locations, servicing customers in the rural and semi-urban markets. It becomes difficult for the HR team and people managers to be in regular, direct touch with them. We utilized the power of technology as an effective mode of communication in order to reach our employees across the country.

Also, as this is a cultural transformation process, initially we experienced a little resistance from some, but we were able to overcome this, as our employees were already aligned with our aspirational Vision 2020, “To be the first Indian company amongst the Global Top 100 Insurance Brokers in revenue by 2020”.

Leadership involvement and “walk the talk” played an important role in overcoming such resistance. Various sensitization programs, reinforcement of company’s Vision, enhanced communication channels worked well to overcome such challenges.

Q: What are the other models/ frameworks that your organization has adopted? 

JD: Internally, we have our Group’s unique ‘The Mahindra Way’ (TMW) model in place, which is based on TQM. I would say the PCMM® model complemented the TMW model, and we hope to move to the next level in our TMW assessment later this year.

As mentioned earlier, we are also aligned to ISO 9001:2008.

Q: Now that you are maturity Level 3, will you be pursuing higher maturity levels of the People CMM®?

JD: Yes, we have already embarked on our PCMM® maturity level 4/5 journey, and our team is energized to implement various processes such as knowledge management, mentoring, empowerment, data analytics based business decision-making, and continuous innovation.

Institutionalization of various processes and initiatives are very important to reap business benefits in the long run, and therefore we have planned the implementation phase over a 2-3 year horizon.
Jaideep Devare with teamThank you Dr Devare, for your time and sharing your thoughts. And wish you and MIBL all the best!

Dr Jaideep Devare  is the Managing Director of Mahindra Insurance Brokers Ltd (MIBL).

Other related posts uploaded on the same blog:

Please feel feel to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.
Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the interviewer or the interviewee :-).

SM-SCAMPI is a service mark of Carnegie Mellon University.


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Book Review – “The Shift” by Lynda Gratton

 The Shift - Cover Title The Shift:
The Future of Work is Already Here
Author(s) Lynda Gratton
Initially Published In 2011
Publisher Harper Collins
Formats Available Paperback, and Kindle
Available At Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

The Shift by Lynda Gratton looks at the forces that will change the way we work in the next fifteen years, and the key ‘shifts’ that individuals need to make to survive and thrive.

“A compendium of modern management and social science theories … the novelty of Gratton’s book is her synthesis of so many contemporary ideas about the changes to our working lives ”

— FINANCIAL TIMES (book of the year) 

Summary

The Shift takes a long and hard look at the trends that will affect work in future. The author conveys this through short ‘stories’ of individuals in the future – these scenarios include the negative as well as positive.

The Shift starts by identifying five emerging forces and the way they will impact the future of work. The five important forces identified by the author are (1) Technology (esp. the Cloud), (2) Globalization, (3) Demography & longevity, (4) Society, and (5) Energy resources. The book goes on to describe the history, trends and how these will affect our lives in the decades to come.

Part 2 of the book paints a dark picture where these five trends create fragmentation, isolation, and for some, exclusion from work altogether as they are left behind. This is projected as the ‘default future’ where the five forces shaping the future take charge of people’s descent into hell if they are not proactively crafting their future.

The next part of the book focuses on the kind of work that people who actively craft their life can possibly have. These include increase in co-creation/ collaboration, greater social engagement, and creative micro-entrepreneurship.

So what does one have to do to proactively craft one’s future of work? The Shift identifies three main themes that one needs to work on: (1) moving from being the shallow generalist to the serial master, (2) moving from being the isolated competitor to an innovative connector, and (3) moving from being a voracious consumer to an impassioned producer.

At the end there are insightful notes for children, CEOs, and governments on what they can do to move towards a better future.

Well-written and Thought Provoking

I found The Shift entertaining and thought-provoking. It is a current masterpiece on the subject of ‘the future of work’.

The pace (across the 350 odd pages) is breathless, directed and self-assured. While reading the book, the analysis appears sound.

This book helped me think about the future. Though the future may not fully match Gratton’s prediction, it sure is going to be different and some of the things that book predicts will become true.

I think the book should be read by youngsters, parents, leaders (corporate & political), and HR folks.

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“Uses historical context brilliantly to put the megatrends … into perspective … simply brilliant. Inspirational and provocative”

—  HR MAGAZINE

The Shift  by Lynda Gratton is available at: Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

Check out sample pages of the book by using the “Look Inside” feature in Amazon, here. You will get a feel of the book, and you can decide whether it suits you.

About the author

Lynda Gratton, an organizational theorist, consultant, and Professor of Management Practice at London Business School, is known for her work on organisational behavior.

Gratton has worked with many of the world’s biggest companies, including Vodafone, Shell and Unilever.

In 2008 The Financial Times selected her as the business thinker most likely to make a real difference over the next decade. In 2011 she was ranked by The Times as one of the top 15 Business Thinkers in the world today. In 2011, she was also ranked number one in Human Resources Magazine’s “Top 25 HR Most Influential UK Thinkers 2011” poll.

Gratton is the founder of the Hot Spots Movement, a specialist research and consulting team that works to identify where companies can future-proof their working practice, in order to foster innovation and enhance performance.

Here is a TEDx video featuring Lynda Gratton talking about the concepts in the book.

If the video does not open, use the link https://youtu.be/VbZ3eKbFi3g

The book is available at: Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

Please use the comment feature below to send in your responses.

Other Book Reviews

Other book reviews uploaded on the same blog:

Please feel free to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Mahindra Finance (MMFSL) – Case Study of their People CMM® Journey

MahMMFSL Logoindra & Mahindra Financial Services Ltd (MMFSL), India was appraised and rated at maturity level 3 of the People CMM® as a result of an appraisal conducted using SCAMPISM-A (click here to view the appraisal result on the CMMI Institute site).

MMFSL has compiled a summary of their People CMM® journey, the challenges faced and the benefits gained in a short document available here.

Mahindra Finance (MMFSL) Case Study of the People CMM® Journey

I thank MMFSL and QAI for making this material available.

Please feel free to share your views, experiences, and queries, using the “comments” feature available. You may also forward the link to this post to your friends, colleagues, and anyone else who may be interested.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author :-).

SM-SCAMPI is a service mark of Carnegie Mellon University.


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

People CMM® Appraisals – 2015 Update

It is time once again to summarize data related to Class-A appraisals for the People CMM®.

Here is the updated data with the People CMM® SCAMPISM-A published results of 2015 added:

No. of People CMM® Appraisals Upto 2015

Data for 2010 to 2015 has been picked up from the Published Appraisal Results Site maintained by the CMMI Institute. Earlier data has been picked up from multiple sources as given in the table. Some appraisals may be missing from the data, if the appraised entity did not wish to publish the results (for whatever reasons).

Further analysis of the past 28 appraisals (of the last 3 years) listed in the Published Appraisal Results Site (with Filter People CMM® v2.0)  shows the following:

  • 22 of the 28 appraisals in the period 2012-2014 were led by three LAs-Lead Appraisers (Rajesh Naik, K Kothandaraman and D Sankararaman).
  • Seven different LAs did the 28 People CMM® appraisals (of the last 3 years).
  • There are 9 authorized LAs for the model on 27-Jan-2016 (the number of LAs was 11 in Jan 2015). For a list of People CMM® LAs go to the Partner Directory; select “CMMI Institute Authorized SCAMPI with People CMM Lead Appraiser” option –> you will get the list of LAs for People CMM®.
  • People CMM® organizations of the last 3 years belong to the IT/ ITes, finance, engineering, telecom, manufacturing domains.
  • Accenture – Tech units across the globe has the highest number of entries in the list of the last 3 years.

The reasons for the low number of appraisals for People CMM® have been discussed in the post Adoption of People CMM® -03: Why is it Low?  – I believe the same reasons continue to apply even today.

Hope we have a greater adoption of the model and more number of reported appraisals in 2016 and beyond.

Other related posts uploaded on the same blog:

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author :-).

SM-SCAMPI is a service mark of Carnegie Mellon University.
The People CMM® (by Bill Curtis, Bill Hefley, and Sally Miller) has been available for more than 15 years. Version 1.0 of the model was released in 1995 and version 2.0 was released in 2001.


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Mahindra Insurance Brokers Ltd (MIBL) Appraised & Rated at Maturity Level 3 of the People CMM®

On 11th Dec 2015,  Mahindra Insurance Brokers  Ltd (MIBL), India was appraised and rated at maturity level 3 of the People CMM® as a MIBL Logoresult of an appraisal conducted using SCAMPISM-A. MIBL (started in 2004)  is empanelled with various public and private insurance companies to offer best insurance solutions to customers covering Life and Non-Life areas. In addition to direct broking, MIBL also provides reinsurance broking.

The result of this SCAMPISM-A is available at the CMMI Institute site containing Published Appraisal Results (PARS).

This result has also been extensively reported in the media; two such media articles are linked here and here.

This appraisal and rating was a milestone in an ongoing journey at Mahindra Finance group of companies that was initiated around two years ago by Mr. Vinay Deshpande, their CPO (Chief People Officer).

The keys objectives of adopting the People CMM®  were to:

  • Build an Engaging, Collaborative & High-Trust Culture
  • Build a Future-Ready Organization
  • Ensure Excellence in HR Processes
  • Align HR Strategy with Business Goals

Here are a few highlights of MIBL, their people related processes, changes implemented during the People CMM® journey, benefits accrued, and future plans.

  1. MIBL is the first insurance broking organization in the world to have successfully implemented processes aligned to People CMM® maturity level 3.
  2. MIBL has, in the last two years been able to hire over 70% through employee referral, saving considerable hiring costs. This also reconfirms that employees are acting as ‘promoters’ of the organization in the job market.
  3. MIBL has significantly improved the transparency and effectiveness of its internal communication channels.
  4. During the People CMM® journey, MIBL has implemented a robust competency framework that is used for hiring, individual development, internal job postings, training, career development, and succession planning.
  5. MIBL is able to execute special business projects faster, and in a more controlled manner.
  6. MIBL is planning to implement higher maturity practices of the People CMM® in future.

Other companies of the Mahindra Group in the Finance Sector have also embraced the People CMM® framework.

We hope to share more experiences from MIBL soon on this website.

The appraisal team was led by Rajesh Naik (CMMI Institute Partner: QAI India).

Please feel free to share your views, experiences, and queries, using the “comments” feature available. You may also forward the link to this post to your friends, colleagues, and anyone else who may be interested.

Other related posts uploaded on the same blog:

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author :-).

SM-SCAMPI is a service mark of Carnegie Mellon University.


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Book Review – “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky

Making Ideas Happen - CoverGenerating new ideas is easy, it’s executing that is hard. Whether you are an individual or an organization, perseverance and perspiration are a must to transform vision into reality.

In Making Ideas Happen, the author, Scott Belsky uses his observations and insights behind successful teams at Disney, IDEO, and Google — as well as highly productive and respected individuals like John Maeda, Seth Godin, and Chris Anderson — to present essential principles and a structured set of methods for converting any idea into reality.

Title Making Ideas Happen – Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality
Author(s) Scott Belsky
Initially Published In 2010
Publisher Penguin
Formats Available Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Available At Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

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“A Swiss army knife for Ideas”

Ji Lee, Director at Google Creative Lab 

Summary

Ideas for new businesses, improving productivity or capabilities and solutions to the world’s problems  are common. So are ideas for artistic breakthroughs. However, great execution is rare. Ideas don’t happen by accident or because they are unique or great. Ideas are taken to fruition with passion, focus, and hard work.

According to Making Ideas Happen, the three essential elements behind successful implementation of ideas are:

  1. Organization and Execution
  2. Leveraging the Forces of Community
  3. Leadership

‘Organization and Execution’ includes details of the ‘Action Method’, which covers management of lists (e.g., action steps, back-burner items, and references), prioritization, managing constraints, tolerance for change, with a focus on ‘always moving forward.’

Harnessing the forces of the community through sharing of ideas, processing feedback, transparency, commitment to others, and using the power of the network is the second essential element of success. The book also covers the benefit of physical shared space and self-marketing.

The third essential element is leadership that one needs to drive a team. Motivation, rewards, weeding out of ideas, engagement, decision making (e.g., ‘don’t be burdened by consensus’, ‘leaders talk last’) are some of the aspects covered. Self-leadership is also covered in detail – this includes aspects of handling ambiguity, failures, and conflicts and also being a deviant.

The essence of the book is depicted in this diagram reproduced from the book:

Making Ideas Happen - Equation

Worth Reading (More than Once)

The book is extremely well-written and easy to read and fast to absorb. It is around 240 pages, including the Appendices. The structuring of the book is also done very well, with three major sections and chapters within them. Once you have read the book, it is easy to refresh the concepts by just going through the table of contents.

There are diagrams and tables used to explain or reinforce concepts, wherever needed.

The book was on the bestseller lists for a long time. I recommend this book for entrepreneurs, managers, and anyone unable to start on his/ her pet ideas.

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“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard. This book helps you with the hard part.”

— Guy Kawasaki, former Apple guru and author of
The Art of the Start

Making Ideas Happen  by Scott Belsky is available at: Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

Check out sample pages of the book by using the “Look Inside” feature in Amazon, here. You will get a feel of the book, and you can decide whether it suits you.

About the author

Scott Belsky is a speaker, writer, and entrepreneur with a focus on the creative industries. As the founder and CEO of Behance (https://www.behance.net/), he oversees the Behance Network, the world’s leading platform for creative professionals with millions of visitors every month. He also looks after ‘The 99%’ (http://99u.com/), a think tank and annual conference devoted to execution in creative teams and Action Method, a popular online/mobile productivity application and line of organizational paper products.

Here is a TEDx video featuring Scott Belsky talking about the concepts in the book.

If the video does not open, use the link https://youtu.be/lsQtptwMCFI

The book is available at: Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

Please use the comment feature below to send in your responses.

Other Book Reviews

Other book reviews uploaded on the same blog:

Please feel free to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).

 


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

More on Multitasking

This is a continuation from the previous post titled: Is Multitasking Still a Skill to Boast About? Click here if you have not yet read it.

Books on Multitasking

Here are some good, easy-to-read books that explain more of the concepts and can also help you manage the situation better:

 The One Thing Book Cover The One Thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results by Gary Keller Amazon.com,
Amazon.in,
Flipkart
The Myth of Multi-Tasking Book Cover The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done by Dave Crenshaw Amazon.com,
Amazon.in,
Flipkart

Other Articles on the Internet

Read more about the uselessness of multitasking in the articles listed below (links provided):

Videos on Multitasking

Here is a video that talks about why we can’t multitask efficiently.

If the video does not load use this link: https://youtu.be/BpD3PxrgICU

Here is another short video:


If the video does not load use this link: https://youtu.be/MJuXV6AD93s

Please feel free to share your views, experiences, and queries, using the “comments” feature available. You may also forward the link to this post to your friends, colleagues, and anyone else who may be interested.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Is Multitasking Still a Skill to Boast About?

Multi Tasking Cartoon

Over the last 4-5 years I have read many articles (popular as well as academic) that have consistently tried to educate people that multitasking is inefficient, error-prone and negatively impacts the mental health of the so-called multitasker.

However, I still receive job applications with resumes that highlight the multitasking skill of the applicant. So, I chased this a bit, and discovered that even consultants helping people apply for jobs advice them to highlight their multitasking skills (or is it a single skill?). I have also found ‘multi-tasking skill’ as a checklist item in the interview evaluation forms of a few organizations.

Evolution of the Multitasking concept

The word ‘multitasking’ first appeared in the description of the capabilities of an IBM computer (System/ 360) in 1965. People started using the word for human beings in the 1980s as a desirable skill and something that enhances productivity.

So, what is multitasking in human beings?

Human multitasking is the apparent performance by an individual of handling more than one task, or activity, at the same time. The term is derived from computer multitasking.

Wikipedia

In the last ten years, multiple controlled experiments and studies have been conducted to understand the concept of multitasking in humans. The research consistently shows that humans cannot pay attention to multiple things at the same time. So they are essentially doing rapid context switching. This increases the total time taken and also increases the errors. People who typically multitask, perform poorly (compared to people who do not typically multitask) even when they are asked to do tasks sequentially.

Multitasking is Not Recommended

So, unless it is absolutely necessary, do not multitask (I am using the word multitasking as is commonly used – actually it is some kind of rapid context switching). And do not take pride in your multitasking. Here are a bunch of reasons:

  1. It could be dangerous – like talking on the phone while driving, or texting while walking on a busy road. In some professions, trying to simultaneously do more things than what is absolutely required may be fatal to others (surgeons, air traffic controllers, pilots, etc.).
  2. It is slower and less efficient. According to some studies productivity can reduce by around 40% when you multitask.
  3. It is error-prone. Research consistently shows that people make more errors while multitasking. So, the tasks that you get “First Time Right” reduce significantly.
  4. There is no sense of satisfaction of completion, because there are multiple tasks in progress, and the sense completion of one task  is overshadowed by the rest of the ‘work-in-progress’.
  5. Communication becomes unclear and unsatisfactory – in professional and personal life. Because you cannot pay continuous attention to what others are saying. Nor can you convey a complete concept that requires long communication. This could impact relationships too.
    For example, because you were on the phone while typing an email, you may mark the email to the wrong persons, or send the email with partial / wrong information – thereby creating confusion that needs further communication and sorting out.
  6. Multitasking increases stress. When we start to drop balls,and make mistakes our feeling of overwhelm increases, and the stress keeps building.
  7. Multitasking reduces the IQ (temporarily) by around 10 points – roughly equivalent of missing one night’s sleep – for people who are already sleep deprived or already have a low IQ, it may be a disaster :-).
  8. Multitasking becomes more difficult with age. As all of us are ageing at the same rate (1 day per day, 1 year per year), we will be able to do less and less of ‘multitasking’ as time flies.
  9. Multitasking while eating can make you overeat – so it is not aligned with healthy eating.
  10. Need to multitask may be addictive – you may be soon be unable to focus on a single task for a long duration, even if that is essential (like answering a 2 hour examination without your cellphone or tablet or laptop or TV or favorite book).

Unknowns

Here are some aspects of multitasking for which I could not get very definite answers.

  • Does gender play a role in the ability to multitask?
  • Are some individuals significantly better than others at multitasking?
  • Does multitasking reduce attention span? Or do individuals who lack attention span typically tend to multitask?
  • Can we train people to be good at multitasking?
  • Are there some combination of tasks that are conducive to multitasking? What are their characteristics? (For example – it is perfectly natural to speak to someone seated in a car while you are driving, but not to speak on the cellphone;  one can listen to music and answer emails, but one cannot cook while answering emails).

Read more about multitasking and how to better handle the situation in the article: More on MultitaskingClick here if you have not yet read it.

Please feel free to share your views, experiences, and queries, using the “comments” feature available. You may also forward the link to this post to your friends, colleagues, and anyone else who may be interested.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Cartoons on CMMI®, Novels with CMMI® as a Background?

When a concept is popular and touches many people, it also gets on the radar of popular cartoonists and is used by novelists as a background for their popular novels (e.g., the lead character being a CMMI® consultant/ appraiser – just like protagonists are sometimes salespersons or programmers or lawyers or stockbrokers or even accountants).

Alas, I have come across just one Dilbert cartoon (with CMMI® as the focus) by Scott Adams, dated 13th March 2013.

Here is the link to the Dilbert CMMI® cartoon (though it is a decent cartoon, it is not one of the best from the Dilbert stables – did CMMI® dampen Scott Adams’ humor quotient?).

Humor should be a prerequisite to life’s lessons. It helps keep us sane; keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. It calms our apprehensions and puts life’s imperfections into perspective. Humor is the diversion we need to get us through the trials and tribulations of our lives.

The Importance of Humor, 123HelpMe.com. 24 Dec-15

There are some more CMMI® cartoons available, but they are created by  CMMI® consultants / appraisers to explain concepts of the CMMI® – and not really funny. I have not found any more in the ‘popular’ cartoon category meant for non-specialists.

I also have not found any bestseller fiction where any of the main characters is a CMMI® consultant / appraiser.

What does this mean? Is the field arcane? Is the CMMI® profession more boring than even accounting? Is there nothing funny in/ around CMMI® that common people will understand?

 

Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.

–Francis Bacon

 

Please feel free to to share your views, experiences, and queries, using the “comments” feature available.

You may also forward the link to this post to your friends, colleagues, and anyone else who may be interested.

Notes:
Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, country, government, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

CIA-OSS Manual for Workplace Sabotage

Recently, the CIA declassified a document titled ‘Simple Sabotage Field Manual’. This manual was created by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the World War II–era precursor to the CIA. It is dated 1944, for use by CIA operatives in Europe who were trying to recruit civilians living in countries occupied by the Axis Alliance (Germany, Italy and Japan).

A scanned version of the document is available in the pdf form at the CIA’s website, here.

OSS-CIA Manual Cover

The documents has around 32 pages. The most interesting parts for me were in the last few pages in a section titled ‘General Interference with Organizations and Production.’

One sub-section of this part is reproduced here:

(a) Organizations and Conferences

(1) Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to, expedite decisions.
(2) Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” comments.
(3) When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible – never less than five.
(4) Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
(5) Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
(6) Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to reopen the question of the advisability of that decision.
(7) Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reasonable” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
(8) Be worried about the propriety of any decision -raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

The manual continues to other such sub-sections titled (b) Managers and Supervisors, (c) Office Workers, and (d) Employees. You can read all the sections in pages 28-32 of the manual available here.

What is amazing is that I see this behavior in most organizations, displayed by most people, though they may not have been recruited by the CIA (at least, I think CIA has better sense than to spend money when there is no need).

And that is why you have management gurus and management consultancy firms, much in demand, trying to reverse the situation, with maybe negligible effect. We have experts in OD, employee motivation, leadership development. operational efficiency, process management, organizational alignment, Balanced Scorecard, Six-Sigma, Lean, Agile, ISO, CMMI®, People CMM®, and so on…, but nothing seems to change.

The  beauty of the principles in the document are so inherently ‘aligned’ to human nature, that these principles have insidiously and organically crept into all aspects of all organizations, maybe even in the CIA.

I leave you to draw your own conclusions. Read pages 28-32 of the manual available here.

Please feel free to share your views, experiences, and queries, using the “comments” feature available. You may also forward the link to this post to your friends, colleagues, and anyone else who may be interested.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Operational Excellence. Unplugged.