Agility vs Accuracy

Is leadership about making the right decisions or making fast decisions? The easy answer is that it is a blend of both. But it is really difficult to find leaders who portray both these abilities. I have contemplated over this for a little while now and although I appreciate quick decision making, my experience leads me to believe that quick decisions are often made on limited and convenient data sets. Hence I question the credibility of the decisions that come out of such a process.

The right decision making on the other hands can be frustrating for the folks who are waiting for the decision to be made. And some times while you are waiting to collect the complete data set to make the decision, the context changes or the problem that needed that decision modifies itself and hence your data set does not remain relevant any more. But in the long run, a well contemplated decision has less chances of firing back.

The fast decision makers are often gregarious, aggressive and bold. I like to call them empire builders. They believe in act and conquer and move on. The right decision makers on the other hand are patient and more poised. They are bold yet at the same time more humane.  Personally, my radar is very sensitive to this differentiation. I instantly develop a preference towards the right decision makers and bring up a wall of caution against the quick decision makers. I take this distinction quite seriously and have observed my undying loyalty towards the right guy instead of the fast guy. In fact if I did not find enough right guys in the ecosystem I have chosen to quit the system and start afresh. I am at a point in my career where I need to pick my style and run with it. If only it was easy to choose.

On a more balanced note, I feel each situation calls for a different skill. Some decisions are best taken fast, at an impulse. And some demand analysis and contemplation.
I am decently skilled at taking fast action when needed and move things forward. I favor momentum over contemplation when it comes to trying out options to get things done. But what I need some help with is to fine tune the machinery of my decision making process as I pick my actions.

I try to chase any given problem from different ends and triangulate on it for some time before I call it done. The triangulation approach is my method of waiting it out. But when I have dependencies on others, that are not being met in due time, I get restless and chose to simply act since I don’t have the tools or data points needed to triangulate from their perspective. This results in the war between agility and accuracy. And it is this war that results in a certain restlessness (read impatience) that needs to be addressed.

As we move on with life, we will need to make decisions in tandem with others, and hence this impatience is a growing concern for me.

As I wind down in preparation for a new phase in life, and reflect on the recent innings of my career I will continue to record my observations on such topics. Life has given me a few moments to pause, and before I take the next exit back on to the freeway, I want to grow myself and prepare for the second innings.

Bear with me..

an interpretation of love..

When Papa died, everyone tried to show me the good in it. It is a common tactic to sympathize with the bereaved. They said he died a good death. There was no pain and no suffering. But you know how untrue all of that is. What’s good about dying? You can argue, what is the alternative? But that’s besides the point.

After losing my father I was hell bent on really finding something good in it. And the reason was him. He always found the good in every bad. And I wanted to challenge his philosophy. In a way I was asking him: “now you tell me what’s good about you not being here with us today?” And once again, he was proved right. It took me a little while, but I did find something good in his death. It was the new bonding that I discovered with my Mom.

Suddenly, she became the centre of my universe. I shamefully admit that she was not that until he died. I really worshipped my Dad as my hero. Every child does. My mom was always there for us. But she was never my go-to person. Of course I regret that now. But if an analogy helps, while my Dad was my Batman, my Mom was his Lucius Fox.

After his death I started connecting more with her. Perhaps I was selfish and I needed a parent I could share my insecurities with and she was all I had. I started speaking to her almost every day. We chat about what’s on top of our minds. Be it about Lychees that are  Rs.100 a kg or about corruption in India or the new MCD siren-blaring truck that causes more noise crap than the crap it picks up on its way. She tells me the latest news in India as she understands it. Her’s is the more gossipy version. I have a point of comparison because my FIL also loves to share the news with us and his is the more factual and sarcastic version. I love how I can sit here in the US and get a kaleidoscopic view of news stories developing in India.

So.. when the news of Rajesh Khanna’s death reached my ears, I could not help but think about how they are all going together. I don’t know why our mind thinks like that, but it just does. My dad, Dev Anand, Dara Singh, Gandhi Uncle, Jagjit Singh, Anand Uncle, Pataudi and now Rajesh Khanna. And then slowly I started thinking about what an impact this is going to have on my Mom. These people were her contemporaries. Such a thought could have never even occurred to me, if Papa was still with us. She is a die-hard Rajesh Khanna fan. I wondered if she was feeling nostalgic about all her memories of watching RK movies with my father. They used to watch three movies a week, all in theaters. And in the era that she got married, Rajesh Khanna was at his peak.

When I called Mom that morning she sounded her cheerful self. She asked me how my day went and how Agam was doing. And then I brought out the elephant in the room. I asked her about RK’s death and if she had been following the news. She said yes, it was all over the news channels. She talked about all the lovely songs from his movies. And then she talked about his stardom and how crazy people were about him back then. I was still waiting. And I felt like she knew what I was waiting for, and then she said “Your father was also a very charismatic man.” I knew what she meant. He really was a very charismatic individual.

She then tried to change the topic and started reading the news headlines to me as they flashed on the TV channels. She gave me a detailed commentary of the proceedings at the funeral ceremony in Mumbai that was being aired live. Every word that she said was full of reflection. I wondered if in her mind she was reliving the proceedings from my father’s funeral ceremony. She tried to induce some humor amidst all of this, but it was all a cover. The topic went back to my Dad. and she mentioned how much my Dad enjoyed movies of RK, especially Anand, Aradhana and above all Amar Prem. I agreed.

After a long pause, and with a heavy voice, she shared with me how my father would repeat the lines of Amar Prem to her sometimes: “Pushpa, mujhse ye aansu nahi dekhe jaate, I hate tears .” And with that, we both wiped our tears that had been rolling all this while, we sighed at our fate, and then started talking about all the other things under the sky, like the neighbour’s son who is visiting Delhi these days and works for Cisco.

After that phone call, a thought struck me. Bear with me, as I am still resolving it in my mind. But here is my first take at putting it down on paper. Each of us is married to someone who is our interpretation of Rajesh Khanna. RK defined romance and expression of love like no one else had ever done in Indian Cinema. Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand were close contenders, but their movies mostly represented the pain and suffering that came with love. Rajesh Khanna’s movies represented the celebration and excitement and most importantly, the melody associated with being in love. He defined romance in Indian cinema, at least for me and perhaps more so for my Mom.

My mom remembered her RK as she grieved the loss of a superstar we all loved. And I understood my mother’s love a little bit better.