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15 April 2015

The structured mind...

I am a firm believer in the idea that you can learn something from every interaction that you have with anyone. People have a way of surprising you with facets of their personality that you never thought existed.
Take for instance my recent interaction with Mr.PP and Mr.RA. Mr.PP is the HR Director in the company that I was working till March 31 of 2015. After I put in my papers, Mr.PP called me for a meeting to discuss the transition of tasks from me to my replacement.
During the meeting I observed Mr.PP taking notes in a dairy which was of the size of a notebook. The dairy was crammed with words line after line. No space was excessive in that book.
I was curious.
‘What is that book?’ I asked
‘It is my ‘To Do’ list’, he relied
It is filled with sentences’, I observed casually
'I have been maintaining this from 2012’, Mr.PP replied, ‘each line is a task that I have to do along with the expected date of completion. I use blue ink pen to note down t he tasks. As soon as I complete a task, I put a tick mark against that tasks with purple ink’, Mr.PP explained.
He showed me the dairy. Pages and pages of lines written in the same blue ink and tick marked with the same purple ink.
It does require a highly structured approach to maintain this habit, doesn’t it? Using the same dairy, same colour inks, same process….
Very disciplined.
I tried to think how I was creating my ‘To Do’ list. Ruefully I realized that my 'To Dos' are spread all over. Some tasks are in my PC in my ‘To Do’ Desktop software. Some are in dairies and notebooks, many of them, each task written in different levels of detail that suited my mood at the time of entry. Some tasks are in my mobile phone, some are in Google Tasks and some are in my Google Desktop.
With this approach to ‘To Do’ list, there is no way I can be predictable. I am not structured, my mind is all aclutter and I flit from one urgent task to another…
So my new resolution? Become structured like Mr.PP
Now we come to Mr.RA
He is the Managing Director of our company. I went to meet him just before I was moving back to Bangalore. After thanking him for his support and guidance, I asked him for his business card.
He gave me the same.
I asked him if the mobile phone number on the card was the number provided by the company. The idea was to take his personal number
You never know in which company your contact will be working tomorrow. If the number was provided by the company, they (your contacts) many not have the same number if you switch companies. It makes to take the personal phone number of your contacts.
‘This is my personal number’, Mr.RA told me, ‘I have been having this same number since 1995’.
That was amazing. The mobile telephony in India started around that time. People were getting used to the new technology, new service providers and plethora of tariff plans. The charges were very expensive. Incoming local calls were 10 rupees per minutes (Now it is free) and outgoing calls local calls were 16 Rupees per minutes ( now it is between 0.3 and 0.40 rupees per minute). If you made an inter-state call (known as STD Calls in India) or an International Call (ISD Call), you can bet your one month of pay check on that. Customers were always on the lookout for better plans and service providers were poaching customers from their rivals with the objective of improving their holy grail, ARPU (Average Revenue Per User). Every time you changed a vendor or a plan, your mobile number changed. In those days it was rare to find a person who had the same mobile number for more than 4-5 months.
It is in this context that the fact of Mr.RA maintaining the same mobile number over all these 20 years looks amazing. Mr.RA would be one of the few people in India who could boast of that feat.
Just try and imagine the benefits of an unchanged mobile number. You are structured and dependable. People know where they can reach you at any time of the day and even after years. They do not have to worry about your number changing thus forcing them to update their contact list.
You do not lose your effectiveness just because you changed your mobile service provider.
Having the same mobile number, like your personal email id, is a way of tethering you to your identity and like the ‘To Do’ book of Mr.PP, helps one structure their life and work.
Both of the above can be managed only by a structured mind. Not everyone can carry it off.
Hats off to you Mr.RA and Mr.PP.
I have learned something new from you. For that I thank you.

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