Adding ‘Human Elements’ to HR processes

Today I visited a hospital with my son for checking on a small inflammation he developed in his hand. It was nothing to worry about but my son would have been under some pain during the procedure. The doctor was open about the whole procedure with my son and after finishing up, gave a sticker to him for being brave. A Doctor could have just focused on the inflammation but rather choose to focus on the person.

As HR professionals, we often are focused on the issues that employees bring rather than the employee.

How do we bring Empathy into our profession?

Have you come across a situation where HR has provided you an experience that you liked?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Kaala chakra

So it was time for Rama to go back to baikuntham after ruling Ayodhya for many hundreds of years. Ayodhya was a rich and powerful kingdom with its citizens experiencing happy life. In short – everything was perfect. Ram’s purpose of coming to earth was met but Rama simply forgot about his original Vishnu form and was performing his duties, as a king.

For kaala to move on and enable Rama to realise his true self and go back to baikuntham, a sage plans a trick and Lakshman falls for it and commits suicide. Listening to the news, Rama decides to go into surayu river and drown, brining an end to his avatar.

But Hanuman realises this and tries stopping ram. To teach Hanuman that this is just a kaala chakra, and everyone needs to do their bit, Rama slowly drops his wedding ring through a hole under the thrown and orders Hanuman to instantly become small in size and bring back the ring.

Hanuman follows the command and reduces his size and goes through the hole only to realise there are countless such rings and countless Hanuman trying to figure out which ring is the ring

Hanuman realises that it’s not and end. Ram will be back and next cycle, he will meet another rama and come down again. But to comply with the command, Hanuman nevertheless continues to search for the ring dropped by Rama in this kaala chakra.

One could criticize this story is not possible – logically if kaala is chakra then also it should have started at a point and if it started, then it has to end. If it never started, then only it will perhaps never end, which means it goes on infinitely! And how do one make sense of infinity? In this case there should be infinite rings and infinite Hanuman and since we don’t know what infinity means we cannot make sense of the statement at all and so the story looks quite bogus but I would urge you to rather take this story at face value and try to look at the deeper meaning in the story rather than looking at it mathematically.

Indirect CO2 emissions

Recently I read in newspapers that 2000 french students from ivy league colleges have decided not to work for polluting companies. Belief is that top polluting companies will get their acts together seeing this talent threat. But as with most green initiatives, this is short sighted and bound to fail.

Airplane companies produce so much of CO2 emissions… Are they polluters? Or are the ones who buy their tickets actual polluters? Was the contract killer the main accused or the person who contracted?

How much green house gas was produced in making your organic perfume? I am sure not much – directly – but indirectly, the executives would have made several air trips and produced a lot of CO2 in the process. If we add those CO2 by number of perfume bottles produced, I am sure many may refrain buying the bottle in the first place.

How can we improve situation from home it is today? Perhaps we can force companies to report their green house gas emissions in their annual report. Perhaps a sustainability report with structured input headers. That can help students identify those companies that care about nature from the one that don’t.

So imagine your stocks reporting their sustainability report along with financial reports.

Imagine you going to shop to buy a TV and the TV company showing their sustainability index on their product so that you could choose to buy TV that you are comfortable with also taking into consideration the sustainability model.

While this is very complex, and will lead o a whole lot of tech investment, I highly recommend this approach since our planet is worth it.


The curious case of Minimum Viable Product

I recently got into an IT project with a dream to digitise the process and use the efficiency to drive down cost, improve experience and reduce marketplace inefficiency (matching demand with supply) – sounds all familiar?

As in any IT project, we envisioned an end product that would meet all our requirements but then decided to prioritise a few features given the realities such as budgets and timelines – Thus came the MVP, Minimum Viable Product.

As the name suggests, it is minimum! Something like start small and make it big. But if we make something very frugal, can it live upto the expectations of the future? Perhaps not! So comes the second name, viable. Anything that is viable, gives more economic returns than what is invested in. So theoretically, we could make something very small as to not give any ecconomic output and thus any small cost would mean the product is not viable. Mathematically, 0/(however small number/cost) still results in 0.

So ‘the small’ that we start with should deliver sufficient economic value inorder to justify the denominator – that is the cost.

Also who determines the minimum? The person who is closest to being able to calculate the economic output should. Because calculating the denominator, cost, in most cases is rather simple. So it’s essentially business that should tell IT team if the economic output for certain costs is high enough.

But will the minimum viable product actually give raise to the theoretical economic output that is estimated? That is a business risk. And things can go different from plan and therefore a minimum viable solution should have a 6 months vision of product road map so that the project can be added with more bells and whistles to deliver better economic value.

So next time you think k of creating an IT product, think of a Minimum Viable Product where you so big enough to deliver economic value to justify costs and plan for roadmap atleast for 6 months.

Is Automation: RPA, AI going to end jobs and necessitate Universal Basic Income?

Elon Musk recently came out strongly for the Universal Basic Income because he believes that over time, computers will take over most jobs and people will loose jobs and to sustain this living, people will need to be given a Universal Basic Income.

Watch the video: Elon Musk on Universal Basic Income

But how true and workable is this idea?

While I am not personally against such an idea, I think there is a need for searching better alternatives. Jumping to a simplistic solution like Universal Basic Income inhibits creativity. Here are some reasons why Switzerland, a very rich country that can afford such a decision, actually decided against it (News Link for details).

  1. Disconnecting the link between work done and money earned would have been bad for society; clearly communist/socialism attempted and failed.
  2. The idea Elon moots is that with automation, efficiency will improve and everything will become cheap and a low Basic income would suffice to sustain. However there are challenges to this statement
    1. Efficiency will reduce cost of goods and services but everything will be expensive for an unemployed
    2. Universal basic income may only provide enough to survive, not enough to meet aspirations of the generations
  3. Who would pay for Universal Basic Income? If companies are taxed, then improving efficiency will not result in lesser cost

While those problem exist, I think India has figured out what people will do if they don’t have to earn for their living.  India once was a very rich country and marginal utility curve meant that doing anything more to earn more didn’t yield more happiness. Here are things we could do

  1. Spirituality
  2. Pursuit of Knowledge
  3. Family focussed
  4. Minimalist living as a way of life

But I think the world won’t get there very quickly! There is a lot of work that isnt happening today that needs to be done!

  1. Are all diseases cured?
  2. How many houses are designed by  expert architects?
  3. More sustainable living innovation
  4. zillions of more problems are yet to be solved and Human kind also enjoys luxury of war to go back to ground zero … regressive growth.

What do you think?