Monday, February 18, 2019

Time Tested Itinerary for a Europe Trip - Itiinerary - I


We (me and my better half) have been avid travellers and would remain so for years to come. This uniqueness of ours also has made us mindful of the fact that planning a trip within India and abroad is a time-consuming task. This task also involves painstaking research across the spectrum. It is particularly true if one is planning and executing a tour by him/herself and doing everything on his / her own.

Well, if one takes the 10 nights 11 city type of tours through a travel company (I have nothing against such tours but they don't meet my idea of travel), he/she does not need this or subsequent blog posts of mine about the itinerary. For others, getting a tested and travelled itinerary is a boon and it reduces the research time considerably.

This blog post aims to serve that objective. The first itinerary that I am placing below is tested by us in the month of April 18. It works well and it's not rushed itinerary. One can easily do this programme even with children who can walk. Our everyday walk on this trip was 8 km and highest walk in a single day was 13 km but none at a stretch, it was walking, see a place, walk again type of trip. By the way, when one visits Europe, even when the trip is with a travel company, walking does not reduce much.

I have colour coded the itinerary given below. The first and second segment is of 8 days each and the third one is for Seven days. You can choose any segment if your schedule permits only 7 or 8 days trip. If  your schedule permits about 16 days, you can club any two segments but clubbing either segments 1 & 2 or segments 2 and 3 would be better for travel across the cities.

I am sure, some of you would be able to use this itinerary in some form for planning your travel.

Tested and Travelled Itinerary in Europe

Day
From
To
Recommended Mode
Activity
Country
0
Mumbai
Paris
 Air
France
1
Paris

2
Paris

3
Paris
Ghent
Bus
Belgium
4
Ghent

5
Ghent
Amsterdam
Bus
Holland
6
Amsterdam
Tulips (only in April and May) & Windmills

7
Amsterdam

8
Amsterdam
Cologne
DB Train


Read about the above places at this link - https://harshad-datar.blogspot.com/2018/05/trip-to-europe-summary-of-trip-part-i.html




9
Cologne
Germany
10
Cologne
Koblenz
Car
Rhine Valley Trip

11
drive
Frankfurt
Rhine Valley Trip

12
Frankfurt
Berlin
Locomore Train

13
Berlin

14
Berlin

15
Berlin
Dresden
Car / Bus

16
Dresden


Read about the above places at this link - https://harshad-datar.blogspot.com/2018/06/trip-to-europe-summary-of-trip-part-ii.html




17
Dresden
Prague
DB Train
Czech Rep
18
Prague

19
Prague

20
 Prague
Budapest
Bus
Hungary
21
Budapest

22
Budapest

23
Budapest
Mumbai
Air


Read about the above places at this link - https://harshad-datar.blogspot.com/2018/07/trip-to-europe-summary-of-trip-part-iii.html






Sunday, January 20, 2019

Uri, The Movie

Uri Surgical Strike was unique for few reasons, they are-

 - It was first deep inside action across LOC. I am sure, regular behind enemy line actions must be happening regularly but deep inside action on a guarded border during peacetime must be the first one.

- While similar action was carried out in North East deep inside Burmese Territory, that strike was (probably) with consent from the Burmese government.

A senior defence correspondent and Analysist, Nitin Gokhale has covered this and other security-related events of last 5 years of  Modi government in his book titled, "Securing India The Modi Way: Pathankot, Surgical Strikes and More" where curious people can find additional details.

Coming back to the movie, the first thing that comes to the mind is, it is a gripping movie. There are no dull moments. Secondly, while the director has taken many artistic liberties, this move is very realistic in its plot eg the rank badges of Army people (actors) and the medals and ribbons are close to reality, the terminology used in talking is a copy of "Fauji" terminology.

The narration is also of a different style with each event being narrated is called a chapter. The movie opens with the attack that happened on an Army convoy in the northeast and the retaliatory commando strike carried out inside Myanmar (with tacit understanding with Myanmar government). 

The narration further builds up slowly to the attack by terrorists on pathankot IAF Base and then on to the surgical strikes carried out by Special Forces deep inside POK.

The actors have been chosen carefully to fit into the role of commando officers and men. Both the actresses have a very small role but their roles seem to contribute to the theme of the movie.

Does that mean everything has been depicted correctly? No, because its a movie meant to entertain the people. But the movie is as close as it could get to reality. This movie has not made a joke out of the Army people, their rank badges, mannerism, etc

My recommendation is, go out to a theatre and watch this movie. You will enjoy it.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Management Thoughts Series - The Art and The Science of Delegation – Part II

The Art and The Science of Delegation – Part II

When you delegate tasks, you create Followers. When you delegate authority, you create Leaders.
                         – Craig Groeschel, Founder of Life Church

Link to the first part of the article - https://harshad-datar.blogspot.com/2018/12/management-thoughts-series-art-and.html

The first part of the article looked at a few things which very much covered the whole concept and its advantages and disadvantages (if the delegation is not done).

In reality, it is seen that a large number of leaders shy away from the delegation. It may be nice to talk of delegation and why should it be done, particularly during seminars and discussions. In such an environment, in an AC hall and in the company of bigwigs, pontification on Delegation makes right sense. One can also claim “Delegation is my core principle”.

The situation may be different when it comes to its application. The people who spoke so eloquently about delegation and proclaimed that delegation is their “Mool Mantra” (cardinal principle), could well be biggest “Centralists” who consider themselves to be the centre of the organisation and presume that the world has to and is revolving around them.

In simple words, almost everyone vouches for delegation in theory but in reality, most keep all the Authority with themselves and only handover (not delegate because delegate means giving Authority first and then Responsibility of the task) responsibility to the subordinates. Some go one step further. They handover only responsibility to the subordinates and demand accountability from them without assigning authority to them.

It is important to note that organizations are like human beings, they are organic. All kind of organisations succeed and all kind of organizations fail. Organisational success depends on a huge number of tangible and intangible factors and no single factor results in success or failure of an organization.

If it is presumed that an organisation with the climate of delegation and the one which followed delegation very systematically will succeed, it would be an inaccurate presumption. The point is, the delegation should be looked at as an Effectiveness Enhancement Tool and not a pill for success.

This article will examine various factors that influence the decision to Delegate tasks or otherwise. These factors would be examined from the point of view of the Organisation, the Delegator (or Non-Delegator) and The Delegated.

Organisational Factors (of Delegation or otherwise).

-        The work culture of the organization. Most people love to go with the flow. If they realise that their organization values delegation and accepts the attended risk, they will either delegate or at least put up a pretence of delegation.

-        Belief System of the organization.  If the organization has an inherent faith in its people and has the development of their HR as one of the core objectives, the delegation would be encouraged.

-        Tolerance to Ambiguity. When delegation is done, there is uncertainty about the outcome till a feedback is received. If an organization is such that everyone wants live feedback, delegation is not suitable for such organisation.

Factors Affecting the Delegator.

-        Organisational Culture. This point has been discussed above.

-        Delegator’s Depth of Knowledge. Only those superiors who understand what exactly needs to be done in a delegated task can delegate. If they themselves lack knowledge, delegation is unlikely to happen.

-        Delegator's Confidence. Even when delegator has all the knowledge, delegation may not happen if delegator is underconfident about correcting the situation if the subordinate does not perform the delegated task in an expected manner or is unsuccessful.

-        Importance of the Task. As explained in the previous part, only some of the “essential” tasks and most of the “desirable” tasks can be delegated, If the tasks are “vital”, it may be worthwhile to keep them with the superior.

-        Quality and Capability of the Delegated. As much the Delegator would like to delegate if the subordinate is incapable of handling responsibility even after giving authority, Delegation is unlikely.

-        Availability of Resources. Sometimes the resources available for a task are so limited that they just cannot be distributed. In such case, it may not be possible for Delegator to delegate (It is only armed forces which believe that given all the time and resource even a donkey can produce results, an officer must be able to produce a result without both time and resources. Does a donkey actually produce any result other than carrying load is a moot question?).

-        Risk Taking Ability of Delegator. With all the factors are in favour of a delegation to happen, a chicken-hearted (Sorry chickens, I don’t really know if you are chicken-hearted but we humans deem so) delegator (also known as “Zero Error” Syndrome, forgetting that there is nothing called “Zero Error” as errors have their unique way of injecting themselves into foolproof arrangements too) would never delegate. Such Delegators do not operate from the “Hope of Success”. They operate from the “Fear of Failure’.

Factors Affecting Delegated.

-        The desire to Shoulder Responsibility. Some subordinates may be so ambitionless that they are happy doing the bare minimum and have no desire to do anything beyond the routine. If they are delegated a task, it would be a disaster.

-        Knowledge and Initiative of a Delegated. Even when a simple task is delegated, it may need knowledge, initiative and application by an individual. If anyone of the quality is lacking, that quality needs to be developed first before the Delegated (Subordinate)  is capable of taking on the task.

-        The faith of the Delegator. If a subordinate is not been able to garner faith of a superior, as much better he performs in the delegated task, the subordinate is only going get the criticism of this work. But the best part is, if the boss does not have faith in a subordinate (for whatever reason), no delegation is likely to happen.

My Experience.

In my extended carrier, I have come to the conclusion that only these three things affect delegation:-
-        The confidence of the Delegator (in himself). This is explained above. All underconfident Delegators have “Zero Error Syndrome” and would never delegate.

-        Risk Taking ability of the Delegator. When a task is delegated, the accountability remains with the delegator. There is a degree of risk involved in the delegation, even when the task is given to the best of the subordinate. If the senior is “risk averse”, no delegation is possible.

-        The capability of a Subordinate. It is important to delegate tasks to suitable subordinate based or their abilities. The right man should be assigned the right job.

-        Ability to put Faith in the Subordinate. When the adequate authority is provided to a subordinate, responsibility and expected outcome are explained in an unambiguous manner and absolute faith has been posed in him/her, all delegated tasks have been completed in given time and resources and with the required outcome. No subordinate has ever failed me in 34 years in carrying delegated tasks.


Image result for cartoon on delegation


Image courtesy - Internet,. Copy Right - Unknown
-         

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Management Thoughts Series - The Art and The Science of Delegation – Part I



“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.”
– John C. Maxwell, American author

Why did I Write this Article?

In my extended career in the Indian Navy, I was lucky to understand the science and art of delegation very early. I soon acquired some mastery in this art and enjoyed the fruits of delegating the tasks downstream. I am therefore a die-hard propagator of delegation and (hopefully) my colleagues in the Whites who have been with me in the Naval Domain would vouch for this fact. I am now putting my thoughts together with a hope that they would benefit someone someday. No credits are due in this paper as no other work, except the quotation above which has been duly credited to the originator, has been cited.

What is Delegation?

Delegation is all about assigning part of a Senior’s work to an appropriate subordinate. It is an established principle that the responsibility of a specific task and necessary authority to perform the task can be handed over or “Delegated” to another person. However, the accountability for the delegated task continues to remain with the Delegator, who delegated the task. The RAA (The Responsibility, authority and Accountability) matrix of Delegation thus looks as follows:-

Facet of Task
Original Charge
Delegated Charge
Responsibility
Superior
Subordinate
Authority
Superior
Subordinate
Accountability
Superior
Can not be Delegated


Why Delegate?

The overall charge of a senior is a bundle of a variety of tasks. They could be classified into three types by their relevance as Critical, Important and Routine. Another way they can be classified is by  VED fundamentals namely Vital, Essential and Desirable tasks.

The senior managers need to execute, in the shortest possible time, the tasks considered vital, to add value to organizational goals. It, therefore, follows that to perform the Vital tasks, the senior persons should have uncluttered time and energy. The only way that could be achieved is, the senior people in the Management learn the art and science of delegating some of the “essential” tasks and most of the “desirable” tasks to their subordinates.

This and this alone gives the freedom of thoughts and time to Senior Functionaries. The senior executives can devote these resources to what is vital for the organization. With delegation, the Seniors work, fully focused, on a relatively small number of Vital Tasks, safe in the thought that the other tasks are delegated at an appropriate level below them and they are being taken care of.

Why is Delegation Not Done despite Known Advantages?

There are some leaders in various walks of life, few of them successful, who do not delegate at all. It does sound funny but it is true. Such leaders think that they are capable of doing everything themselves, why delegate. There is this other variety of seniors, who think if the tasks are delegated, how will the credit of the tasks accrue to them. What if the task is delegated and while the superior is trying to take all the credit, the subordinate opens his mouth to say he was the one who did the Job?

In short, either the control freaks do not delegate or those who seek to project their image of being hardworking, etc. do not delegate. There is a third variety, who are suffering from zero error syndrome, who obviously lack faith in the subordinates due to their mental make up. In the present management terminology, the abovementioned situations are called ‘Fear of Losing Control’ and ‘Fear of dropping the Ball’.

In the field of management, there is no “straight jacket” that applies to all situations. In certain cases, the enormity of the task may dictate that the task may be performed by the senior most in the hierarchy but such situations are few and far between.

All evolved superiors, seniors and leaders having EQ (Emotional Quotient) delegate to the levels below because the delegation of the tasks which do not merit consumption of time and energy of a superior, to downstream is an “Effectiveness Enhancing Tool”.

What if Delegation is Not Done?

Delegation is an Effectiveness Enhancement tool and that includes enhanced Effectiveness of all the resources including time and energy. If a superior does not delegate and does everything himself (and keep all the resources and power with himself), following clear effects on the Superior and/or organization are predictable:-

(a)                 The first effect is rapid burn out of the superior is likely to suffer as also the organization will tend to lose due to this burnout.

(b)                 The second effect is suboptimum utilisation of resources leading to some resources getting over-utilized while others may be underutilized. Resources are limited and are to be used carefully. It is important to be mindful of the fact that all tasks do not have the same priority. However, if delegation is not done, most tasks will be allocated the same amount of resources (time, manpower, finance, etc.) rather than relative allotment based on priority.

(c)                  The third effect will be an inefficient use of subordinates who will have just the routine work to do which does not add up to their growth and development.

(d)                 Fourthly, if delegation is not done, the subordinate does not get to shoulder higher responsibility. That badly affects “succession grooming” and development of subordinates, a sacred duty of all seniors.

Conclusion.

The delegation of some low priority essential and all desirable tasks (for a senior’s point of view) by a senior to his subordinates has distinct advantages and it is something that all seniors should do. In most cases, a leader who is confident about himself is likely to delegate the tasks downstream. Sometimes, the delegated tasks may not be performed in the desired manner but such tasks are from the essential and desirable category, the impact of it remains relatively insignificant to the organization.  

There are attended risks of varying degrees in Delegation of tasks but persons at senior positions in any organisation have reached that far because they have been taking risks in their career.  It's time that all leaders at various levels take to Delegation which is an “Effectiveness Enhancement Tool” and should delegate wholeheartedly. Let us all understand the science of delegation and practice the art of delegation.

Part II is coming soon