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Meta leadership

Leadership The word leadership has a rather large spread and reach. It can mean a diverse set of behaviors. It can explain a wide variety of positive outcomes. It can effect a wide scope of results - from moving individuals within one's sphere of direct interaction, to moving an entire world far beyond one's direct influence. 
At its core, leadership is an attitude for influencing and executing transformation. It is a skill that results in exponential outcomes with a linear quantum of resource: Oneself. In this process, you leverage many sources both within, and outside, clear lines of control - resources, people,  organizations, domains of expanding knowledge, mental models, systems for doing things.

In today's world, leadership is probably the most important skill at every level of activity one wants to be successful at. This is simply because we are now connected to potentially billions of people within the palm of our hands, or within the reach of a keyboard.

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Architecture, Engineering, Operations - iteration 1

The world has infinitely more stuff to be "done" nowadays. At least in the sense of building/running an institution that uses technology, there are many roles that are involved in making things work. The world of IT and technology in general makes the speed and variety possible. We now have a platform of IT that is globally scale-able if we can put some new thinking to the old problems of "getting things done".

There are great organizations that do this well, and they use "modern" IT principles to achieve this.

Fundamental to engineering a modern IT (or infrastructure organization) are the three roles of Architecture, Engineering and Operations. Some would say Architecture is encoded Engineering-history, but for now, we will keep them separate.

The popular definitions for these roles are about "output" delivered or the "domain" of discourse. The personality drives that determine the actual performance are not discussed, as far as I ca…

Every day is an interview day

Over time, most organizations descend to the mean. What happens in such cases is slow and simple: people start taking things as if they are entitled - to the culture, to their right to define culture, and to their special right to understand how the company works.

This is not a designed event.

It happens gradually as people become comfortable with their success.

It is also a result of the very factors that made the place extraordinary in the first place.

Extraordinary results come from founders and their mindset that is coded into behaviors that reinforce each other: scale that comes from a shared understanding; the understanding that forms a culture; culture that drives the quality of interactions;  quality of interactions that result in people being friends with co-workers (and vice-versa); the natural give-and-take of social norms that becomes the unwritten cookbook.

Without care, these very same factors become a potential place of stasis.

What happens cannot be noticed easily.


How transformation/change could be hard - an analogy from Life

The illusion of steady change
Most changes are gradual. Or it appears to be, as you read stories and narratives about successful people. Be it successful CEOs, scientists, artists, startup founders, you name it -- almost every one who has reached a state of success, it seems, has had a steady run of successes.

We want to believe that these fine folks transformed their lives because they worked hard,  had talent, or had help, or many other things -- and it was simply effort and reward.

But we all know this is not true. Otherwise, we'd be doing more of what we do best, every day.

What is it that can explain great changes? It is a transformation. Yes, it has gradual bits and habits thrown in. But in the end, they were ready to transform themselves. They were ready to re-work their brains, bodies and life into a new combination.

Example from the chemistry of Life
There is an example in Life that may shed some light. Treat this as an analogy, but it has some lessons.

To illustrate, …

Timeless management

Managing your time is incredibly hard in today's world. Email, social networks, news, apps, places, things, books, relationships and one-on-one interactions - there are many that require our attention.

With such diverse sources, things don't happen in time, they simply surface like infinite waves in an ever present ocean.

This is the side of a communications utopia that we wanted but not quite anticipated.

You dip your sense into this ocean and scoop up a sea of things to do, and ideas to think about.

Your mental near field is an idea forest.

Its far-field is receding farther as you move faster towards it.

Abundant, yet mercurial, filling, but unfinished, pointed, yet leading to aimless frittering of your time. It seems that those magical pyramidal neurons have caught their idea virus and are unable to rest. Time passes, yet there is no end in sight.

How do you create your purpose? How do you manage the flow of time?

In the journey from ignorance to information, we are slowly…

Intangibly nice people

Being nice is so obviously a good thing.

The fact is that you'd be hard pressed to get a single, succint definition of "nice". Courteous? Yes. Reciprocal? Yes. Well mannered? Yes. Not rude? Yes. Win-Win? Yes. Giving? Yes. Etc. Etc.
In public interactions, nice is synonymous with keeping peace, moving in unison, making things easier for everyone. This is absolutely the right way to conduct oneself in the world, if we want to move the world. It is the habit that many of us mold our childhood innocence into, to make the world a better place every time we practice it.
But the nice that I want to frame today is different. It isn't a quality, but more than that. Without offending all of us, it is safe to say that only a few people are this nice. Of course, some of these nice embodiments are given to you - parents, siblings and early childhood friends. Their niceness lasts a lifetime if you are gifted enough to tend them against the escape velocity that space and time sepa…

The Zen of Trust

Zen master Himadri was reputed to be a great leader who built stunningly successful institutions multiple times in his life. One of his disciples, Supyo, wanted to know the secret to his success, so he could build an organization himself.

Himadri said, "leadership".

Supyo was a little irritated with this answer. He had read everything about leadership. Countless tomes, written by countless leaders. Every one explained how they (or someone else) succeeded in building something that lasted for a long time. But none of it explained how someone can succeed so well so many times. Supyo wanted to not just create something once, but may times, much like Himadri. And he knew he had other precedents (none of whom had written about their success, strangely.)

Supyo had heard of Master Jobs and Stargazer Musk. He considered these two giants to be the only exceptions to the rule - that it is rare to even get one attempt at creating something stunning and extraordinarily valuable.

Then t…