Education for Enablement

How do you create an education system that does not just give people theory/ technical know-how but develops them into potential contributors for society?

How do you create an education system that does not just give people theory/ technical know-how, but develops them into potential contributors for society?

 

(Addressing school principals at the National Seminar on Education organized by Ramakrishna Mission, New Delhi, February 2011)

Beyond academic excellence to human excellence

How do you help widen the notion of education from merely academic excellence to include the entirety of the human being?

How do you help widen the notion of education from merely academic excellence to include the entirety of the human being?

In this talk Srinivas shares Swami Vivekananda’s radical new vision for education with school teachers and principals –

(Keynote address at the Seminar on Education titled ‘Beyond Academic Excellence to Human Excellence’, organized by Ramakrishna Mission Mumbai, September 2011)

From teaching to enabling assimilation

What should be our techniques of education so that we don’t just transfer knowledge but help people transform?

I

The ideal of education that dominates schooling is “transmission of knowledge” from teacher to student.

A teacher who lives by this ideal will measure his or her own success through parameters such as

  1. acquisition of relevant information by student
  2. comprehension of concepts and ideas
  3. application of concepts to various real-life situations

In contrast, a teacher who seeks to live by the human development ideal would use a completely different set of parameters. These parameters would include

  1. development of self esteem in the student
  2. creation of character, intellectual and physical capacities in the student
  3. awakening of the infinite potential inherent in the student.

II

In this context, let us now examine the challenge we seek to address:

How to achieve the goals of the human development ideal within the context of an existing schooling system that is clearly built on the “transmission of knowledge” ideal?

How to, in effect, accomplish the dual goal of developing dynamic human capacities needed for developing human personality while mastering the “knowledge-domain capacities” required by the educational and commercial systems? 

III

 This paper proposes that teachers who seek to integrate the human development ideal into the contemporary educational system could potentially accomplish their objectives if students were able to assimilate knowledge.

Assimilation of knowledge means not just comprehension of ideas but the translation of ideas into a transformed human being. Put differently, “assimilation of knowledge results in developing the student’s capacity to transform – himself, the situation in which he finds himself, and the possibilities open to him – by effectively leveraging the ideas and knowledge available to him.

However, a school or educational institution that seeks to promote such an assimilation of ideas by its students will need to bring about basic shifts in thinking at all levels of educational design.

These shifts are explored below


Shift 1: Role of the teacher

From “teacher as provider” to “teacher as enabler”

Assimilation means that the responsibility for self-transformation is awakened in the student. This responsibility is invoked when the teacher subtly modifies his/ her role in the classroom from “provider of knowledge” to “enabler of learning”.

Shift 2: Classroom Context

From “providing information” to “supporting growth”

What is communicated by the teacher in class? In the current educational model, teachers elaborate upon what is already available in the text books or provide alternate sources of information that may be more relevant/ comprehensible. In the assimilation model, the teacher provides “triggers for learning” such that the students’ capacity to engage with the subject matter is improved. Such an approach amplifies the teacher’s contribution to the educational process and the students love for, and involvement with, knowledge and self-development.

Shift 3: Instructional Approach

From “mechanistic input” approach to “conditions for growth” approach

In the mechanistic input model, information is an asset that is “poured into” the students mind, much as fuel is filled in a motor vehicle.

In the conditions for growth model, knowledge is viewed as a nutrient or catalyst that can invoke, speed up, and ease the students’ struggles with knowledge and capacity development.

Shift 4: Educational Experience

From “see, hear, and react to stimuli” to “engage with challenges”

Knowledge is born in a space beyond the senses. It is born within the human being, deeper, beyond the senses.

The trans-sensory nature of knowledge means that we go beyond the current obsessions with multi-media and multi-sensory education experiences to creating challenges that invoke inner excitement that comes from meeting challenges head-on.

The outcome, as in the case of the other shifts, is deeper ownership of knowledge, greater assimilation of ideas, and awakening of the evolutionary potential in the heart of every student.

  IV

We now translate these principle-level shifts into a practical model for classroom education. At the heart of this new model for classroom education is the recognition that the relationship between teacher and student is not a “push” relationship (teacher giving knowledge to the student), nor a “pull” relationship (student’s self effort and practice being the main cause of growth), but a “sense-respond” relationship (teacher enabling assimilation by the student)

In the assimilation model, both teacher and student are seen as “co-creators” of the learning experience.

“Co-creating” involves a journey of the teacher and student coming together; who, at the beginning of the process, are ‘far-off’ from each other – not in physical or emotional terms, but in terms of knowledge. Through this process, they come together; until finally, the teacher and student become ‘one’.

In this endstate, there is a ‘conscious’ practice that the student does, which the teacher continuously enables; until they become one single entity learning together.

This is a vision of education that reflects an ancient Indian tradition – the idea of ‘teacher-student’ as one single whole; with the teacher enabling the student’s growth, and the student growing in the environment provided by the teacher.

 V

Here is a model which translates this vision of assimilation into a simple 4-step architected journey which the teacher/ educational leader can use to achieve predictable and replicable assimilation outcomes.

This model, easily adoptable by any school or educational institution that seeks improved quality of education, is described below

The Illumine Assimilation Model says that the teacher in any classroom needs to address four key dimensions of the assimilation challenge.

The dimensions are:

  1. Provide mental access to the subject matter (knowledge transmission goal)
  2. Invoke aspiration in the student (human capacity goal)
  3. Create insight into the subject (knowledge transmission goal)
  4. Support response-capability in the student (human capacity goal)

Each of these dimensions is explained in the subsequent sections.

VI

Assimilation Dimension 1: Mental Access to the subject

Firstly, it is important to recognize that ‘mental access’ is different from ‘physical access’. A glaring example of having only physical access to knowledge, is when a student repeats something verbatim from memory but is unable to explain that subject in his/her own words.

Mental Access means providing a means for the student to “make sense” of the subject matter – in the context of his/ her own knowledge and experience.

One method of creating mental access is by providing a newcomer with a map. A well known example is the map of the London Underground railway. Visitors to London make sense of London by using this map, instead of using a geographical map.

Here are some examples of how a teacher can create mental access to a subject

VII

Assimilation Dimension 2: Invoking Aspirations

Mental access is not enough, because the student has to aspire to learn. If a student doesn’t seek to learn, there is nothing a teacher can do. So, the next step of the journey is that the student’s aspiration must get awakened.

This requires a shift from ‘ambition’ to ‘aspiration’. The surest signal of ambition is the urge to acquire things. If a student wants to merely acquire knowledge then he/she will never feel like learning, and will instead find faster, shorter ways of getting quick results.

How is aspiration invoked? A student, in order to aspire for more understanding, more capacity, more assimilation of knowledge, must see the value and purpose of knowledge in the context of his/ her deeper identities.

Students have different identities with respect to knowledge.

  • A student with a functional identity says “I am performing the role of a student. My function is to pass an exam, so let me learn what is relevant for the exam.”
  • A student with an experiential identity says “I am a traveler. I want to experience knowledge. Therefore I shall read widely and learn from a wide range of sources and subjects.”
  • A student with a solutional identity says “I have this problem, how do I solve it? Let me search and learn whatever is necessary to be able to design a solution.”
  • A student with a seeker identity says “I seek because I find that knowledge is inherently or intrinsically beautiful. I feel transformed by it.”
  • If the student somehow acquires a “victim identity”, he says “I am a victim to the system, a victim of my teachers, and my parents’ requirements.” For such a student, engaging creatively and freely with knowledge becomes very difficult.

In the light of the above, an effective teacher enables students to identify and adopt appropriate identities that encourage assimilation of knowledge.

VIII

Assimilation Dimension 3: Enabling Insight

The third step in the Assimilation Model is enabling insight.

Insight takes place when the student develops an “inner recognition” of the ideas being presented by the teacher.

This “inner recognition” is an act of discovery by the student.

The role of the teacher at this stage (after providing mental access, and invoking the aspiration of the student) is to provide triggers for this act of discovery.

Students achieve this inner recognition through a variety of mental capacities.

They include reasoning (the use of data), perception (the use of “frames of references”), narratives (the use of stories), and principles (the use of scenarios).

The teacher encourages the development and utilization of these mental capacities in the student, thereby enabling discovery and recognition of inner knowledge / insight in a more predictable and systematic manner.

IX

Assimilation Dimension 4: Creating response capability

The fourth step in the Assimilation Model “creating response capability”.

Once “inner knowing” is created within the student, the teacher now awakens this knowledge so that it manifests as dynamic human capacity.

This manifestation of dynamic human capacity takes place when the student faces appropriate (not too hard, not too trivial) challenges – both within the knowledge domain and the real-world domain.

How is a challenge different from problems set in every examination? The difference lies in the outcomes we seek.

A teacher who sets “problems” wants “answers” or “set solutions” to the problem.

A teacher who provides “challenges” seeks that the student “responds creatively” – without the necessity of being right or wrong.

This creative response comes only when the student goes beyond the boundaries of memory (reaction) and enters the realm of possibilities and potentialities.

At this stage, the “knowledge” is being assimilated into transformed human potential.

X

The final stage: Conscious Practice

By this stage, the teacher has steadily enabled the student in the journey of assimilation.

  • First, the student gained mental access and thereby made the subject “mentally proximate”.
  • Second, the student’s aspiration was invoked as a consequence of alignment between the subject-matter and his/ her own self-esteem.
  • Third, the student was enabled to discover insights and thereby develop “inner knowing”.
  • Fourth, the student was encouraged to leap beyond memory and previous knowledge and enter the space of “evolution in and through knowledge”.

Now, the teacher and the student are together, in cognitive terms.

The goal of both the teacher and the student is now to continue to grow and evolve in all aspects of knowledge related to the subject at hand.

This continued assimilation and consequent evolution will take place when both teacher and student undertake “conscious practice” of the subject – practice which is combined with awareness of potential improvement and growth.

This last stage is usually the realm of truly committed teachers and truly committed students.

For the rest, even one or more of the steps in the assimilation journey means a great advancement over the current reality, which we seek to progress beyond.

 

(Paper originally published in the September 2010 issue of Prabuddha Bharata (or Awakened India), the official journal of the Ramakrishna Order)

The challenge of citizenship training

As a teacher, how do you train students to become enlightened citizens of our country?

I: The change we seek

What is citizen training?

Training our ‘citizens’ means enabling our fellow countrymen to transcend their narrow personal identities and work within the framework of their shared identity as Indians.

Working within a ‘shared identity’ as Indians also means that each of us takes responsibility not first for ourselves but for the collective.

This is easier said than done – because this means a second shift from ‘membership’ to ‘ownership’ – ‘I am a member of this community’ to ‘I am co-owner of this community’ – leading to a recognition that “If I do not take up the challenge, then who will?”

These dimensions of the citizen identity – shared identity (beyond one’s narrow/functional identities) and ownership (of the whole, rather than the part) together represent the building blocks of citizen training.

Engaging with Human Transformation

How is this shift in identity & ownership to be brought about?

  1. How to make one-billion Indians conscious of their shared Indianness, and furthermore, invoke within them, a sense of responsibility for the nation’s welfare – in abstract – and the welfare of their fellowmen – in concrete?
  2. This is a human transformation challenge – in contrast to being a capacity development or a “comprehension of concepts” challenge.

We seek not that people add new skills and capabilities; we do not seek that people “understand the magnitude of the challenge in front of us”.

We seek instead that people awaken to the challenges – that they recognize that these challenges need to be dealt with by each one of us – and that they choose to act such that they are able to contribute effectively to the challenges facing us.

In short, we seek human transformation i.e. (i) awakening (ii) recognizing (iii) choosing, and (iv) contributing to the challenges.

II: A New Model for Citizen Training

The Current Educational Model

Let us appreciate the scope and limitations of the current educational model – so that we find out why such a human transformative education has not been successful thus far.

The first and most crucial aspect of the current educational model is its emphasis on “knowing”.

Knowing is an intellectual activity. “He is a dull child”; “he is a bright child” – all these terms are related to knowing.

School is therefore seen as a framework to enable individuals to acquire, comprehend, and apply, if possible a vast body of knowledge.

While it is true that schools speak of all-round development – the thrust of our current educational model remains “knowing”.

The second aspect of the current educational model is its inordinate emphasis on “measuring” – based on the premise that life is a race and the fastest, swiftest, ablest shall win.

The third aspect of the current model is its complete disregard for the practice of conscious self-reflection – the capacity to investigate oneself and thereby make a change in the inner individual.

The fourth aspect of the current model is its deep disdain for the qualitative aspects of human capacity – such as our capacities for love, beauty, harmony etc.

And the fifth, perhaps the most important aspect of the current educational model is its inability to deal with man’s capacity to transcend his own narrow – almost material boundaries and soar to a larger vision of himself as collective.

A new model based on Citizenship

This review provides us with a comparative context in which we seek to present a new model for education for human transformation.

Firstly, we would need to shift the emphasis of the schooling system from ‘knowing’ to ‘becoming’.

Becoming is an ideal, where individuals embark upon and proceed on a journey of personal transformation – not as a by-product of circumstances, but as a conscious journey of human expansion.

Secondly, we would need to shift the emphasis from ‘measuring one human being against others, on one or more dimensions’ to ‘enabling each human being to benchmark himself or herself as an incentive to progress steadily in the pathway of becoming’.

Thirdly, we would need to bring to practice, the methods of conscious self-reflection.

This implies that we would need to enable individuals to build a new ‘model of reality’ that is not outside man alone, but a new model of reality that includes man outside and man inside. Such a model would enable individuals to move self-reflection from a non-specific, qualitative expression of feelings and ideas into a specific methodology for identification and directed action.

Fourthly, a human transformative model would enable individuals to affirm their own “inner vision of reality” – which includes their own conceptions of beauty, love, knowledge, reality etc.

All too often, these profound aspects of human life are reduced to specific physical expressions such as attraction for physical beauty, a set of specific culturally valid expressions of love, a reduction of knowledge itself into a body of information to be acquired etc.

This reaffirmation of man’s inner conception of reality validates and brings to the fore the deeper trans-functional aspects of human existence.

This in turn enables individuals to become free of outside evaluation and outside opinions – and create their own meaning in life.

Finally, a human transformation education, must necessarily undertake the agenda of expanding each individuals conception of himself or herself – such an act leading to a breakdown of ever-growing divisions between man and man, and an increase in inter-human love and sympathy.

III: Implications

Roadmap for Change

The discussion thus far has highlighted why the much needed transformation of our society is not taking place.

The truth: our current educational model is simply not equipped to deal with this kind of change.

What can an individual teacher or educationist do, so that such a human transformation is brought into the scope of an educational system that is deeply tied up in an existing institutional structure on one side and an existing structure of societal expectations on the other?

The question is to be answered by proposing a roadmap for change.

Step 1: Let us all inquire into the educational system – not by analyzing its ills – but by identifying specific gaps and then bringing about positive change in these gaps.

Step 2: Let us address for ourselves – whether we ourselves are perpetuators and perpetrators of the very system we condemn. In short, are the doctors themselves patients first? If yes, what can I, as an individual do about it?

Step 3: Let us propose a new model of education that doesn’t tear down, but instead builds on the present model.

Step 4: Finally, change, especially in the most stable of human institutions – the educational system – must take place because society itself must recognize the need for transcending the current system – and seek, therefore, our adjustment to the changing society outside.

In other words, we do not propose an alternative – we propose instead an evolution – which will be tuned not to man as a static economic being alone (bread-winning), coping with the world around him, but to an evolved concept of man as a dynamic, member of the human collective, who seeks and finds fulfilment, both outside and within, through life itself.

The implications for society

What is our prototype for developing men? This prototype cannot be restricted to the meditative Indian rishis, nor to the Greek prototype of physical perfection, nor to the Roman prototype of organization and expansion, but must include all.

A new prototype deeply aligned to the national ideal of renunciation and service was proposed by Swami Vivekananda. He himself was a living embodiment of this prototype. In his own words:

 “You must try to combine in your life immense idealism with immense practicality. You must be prepared to go into deep meditation now, and the next moment you must be ready to go and cultivate these fields. You must be prepared to explain the difficult intricacies of the Shâstras  now, and the next moment to go and sell the produce of the fields in the market.”

The quotation above demonstrates clearly that the ideal proposed by Swami Vivekananda necessarily involved a deep flexibility of role and contribution, keeping in mind the higher purpose towards which we work.

This role flexibility is in direct contrast to the fixed constellation of roles that characterize not just Indian society through centuries but also most hierarchical institutions as well.

 

(Originally written in May 2009)

Maps of becoming – think tools for the evolutionary adventurer

What kind of people will society need in the coming future? And therefore, what kind of capacity-building should our education system focus on?

What kind of people will society need in the coming future? And therefore, what kind of capacity-building should our education system focus on?

 

(Addressing participants of the Positive Economy Forum at San Patrignano, Italy, April 2015) 

Value of a contributor mindset in society

The challenge in preparing our students for the world of work today is not so much building capabilities, but building a contributive orientation to work and society. This is our role as educators.

The challenge in preparing our students for the world of work today is not so much building capabilities, but building a contributive orientation to work and society. This is our role as educators.

 

(Addressing principals and faculty of 500 affiliated colleges of the Gujarat Technological University, Ahmedabad in November 2011)

Human fulfillment – critical constructs

Can ‘fulfillment’ be converted from a fuzzy & vague idea into a set of precise constructs & tools, using which people can make specific & measurable changes in themselves?

I

Human Fulfilment is a complex subject when seen from a point of view of a world teeming with aspirations, desires, conflicts, and challenges of living.

II

However, when seen from the point of view of an individual’s own interior, then fulfilment suddenly becomes a more comprehensible subject.

III

Let us begin by defining the word fulfilment. Fulfilment means realization or actualization of one’s goal or purpose.

To be fulfilled means that all of ones’ goals or purposes – diverse as they may be – are realized wholly – and one is in a position to enjoy wholly the fruits of this multifaceted realization of one’s purposes.

IV

This raises the next question: what constitutes goals or purposes worth realizing. In other words, if one’s purpose involved harming others and if such a purpose was realized, would one be fulfilled?

The answer to this question is – yes, one would feel partly fulfilled but there would be many other goals and purposes that would remain unfulfilled leading to a state of partial fulfillment – one that almost all human beings experience.

V

Would it not be true that this would be the fate of all human beings?

Every one of us has numerous goals – personal, interpersonal, social – on numerous dimensions of life – material, physical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual. All human beings are trying to meet or realize many of these goals simultaneously or at least concurrently in different aspects of our life. Hence, every one of us would face a situation where one or a few of our goals are realized while other goals remain unrealized – leading to partial fulfillment.

VI

This raises a further set of questions

  1. Is there a way to organize or classify goals in some hierarchy such that realizing a few master goals would automatically lead to realizing subsidiary goals?
  2. Is there a strategy to efficiently and effectively realize these goals so that we can be more fulfilled in our lives?
  3. Is there a way to obtain fulfilment by not following the strategy of realizing goals? i.e., can human beings be seen as something different from goal-realizing entities and is this a wise-strategy?

VII

In short, the challenge of fulfillment in one’s life is a challenge that can be organized into four problems

  1. The problem of identity – who are we? Are we goal-realizing entities or something else?
  2. The problem of engagement – how do we optimally live our lives so that we are fulfilled?
  3. The problem of purpose – is there a way to hierarchize and organize our goals so that we can focus on a few essentials in our quest for fulfilment?
  4. The problem of meaning – How do we measure our progress towards fulfilment so that our day to day actions may be judged to be meaningful or otherwise in the context of a total fulfilment?

VIII

Fulfillment can then be seen in terms of a language comprising a set of four critical constructs:

  1. Meaning
  2. Purpose
  3. Identity
  4. Engagement

This is the first step toward exploring the interior landscape of humans.

 

(Originally written in 2014)

Personality as Strength

How can we take a vague notion like strength and specify it into concrete definable things to help people develop themselves in a concrete way (e.g. as able to do’s)?

Tree of life

1.0A human being’s ‘life journey’ is a ‘living tree’. This ‘living tree’ has deep roots within oneself: as strong the roots, so strong the tree. Such a living vibrant tree produces fruits in abundance. This ideal of life as having deep roots within oneself and bearing abundant fruits for self and others outside, is reflected in the metaphor “Tree of Life”.

2.0A strong and vibrant tree is one which has deep roots. The depth and range of its roots gives it the capacity to withstand physical shocks (wind / storm), ups and downs (periods of drought where water availability goes down), and even the load it can bear.

Similarly, a human life which is similarly rooted in “strength”. The deeper one’s own strength (inner strength, mental strength, and even physical strength) the greater is one’s capacity to bear shock and greater one’s capacity to draw strength and nourishment from within, in good times and bad.

3.0 The fruits of the tree are based on how well nourished is the tree and how stable it is. The more well nourished the tree, the more are its fruits.

Similarly, when a human being finds all nourishment from his her intrinsic “strengths” or “capacities”, then such a human being is able to lead a life that bears great fruits for self, family, and society.

Success: The Fruits of Life

1.0 What is a successful life?

A successful life may be defined as a “fruitful” life. When one’s efforts, struggles, and experiences lead to an abundance of fruits – for self, for family, and for society – then such a life journey may be termed as fruitful or successful.

2.0 What do these fruits constitute?

Fruits when examined deeper are of three kinds:

  1. At the outermost level, in terms of economic prosperity, material goods, access to facilities like education, etc.
  2. At the second level, in term of happiness and trust in inter-human relationships with ‘social’ and ‘personal’ values like friendship, loyalty, trust, mutual respect, etc. being manifested.
  3. At the third level in terms on one’s own sense of fulfillment, learning, sense of growth, challenge, etc.

3.0 Put another way,

a) Fruits are not only financial or material in nature. A fruitful life may be said to be one that yields happiness and fulfillment not only for oneself, but also in the context of the inter-human relationships in which we are engaged (both at home and at work), as also in the context of the larger society we live in.

b) When we work hard, contribute in economic production and wealth – then the wealth so created for self and society may be termed as fruits.

c) When we are creative, develop new solutions, create or invent new things which lead to the welfare of people around us – may be by saving their time, improving their efficiencies, enhancing their leisure, – then that too may be termed as fruits of our work.

d) When we serve people in distress, perhaps be of physical help during a crisis for the community (like floods or riots) or during a crisis for an individual (maybe a medical one) then too our life maybe said to be producing fruits.

e) When we study, develop new knowledge, add to the sum of learning in society, then that too may be termed as fruits.

4.0 Fruits then in this personal sense, mean all the signals of a productive and happy person, team, family, or community manifest.

Personality as Strength

1.0 “Personality as Strength” is the basis or foundation from which all fruits are derived.

2.0 This view of “personality as strength” is based on the capacity-potential of a human being.

3.0  “Capacity-potential” means a possibility in the human being that has begun to manifest or can be seen to be readily manifest with a little effort and direction in the right quarters.

4.0 Capacity-potential is defined as 

5.0 Personality is defined as the sum-total of “capacities-potential” seen in the individual.

6.0 How is “capacity-potential” different from “capabilities”?

  • Capabilities imply known strengths, weaknesses, qualities and talents in the individuals. Capacity-potential implies “possibilities” or “potential to manifest” in an individual.
  • The former takes a static view of the individual, assuming the individual to have been born with a set of qualities and “capacities”.
  • The latter takes a dynamic view of the individual, assuming the individual to be constantly becoming/growing.
  • Capabilities are measured in terms of comparative assessments (e.g. can sing well… implying, in relation to, others who cannot sing as well).
    Capacity-potential is measured in terms of possible end states (e.g: is capable of being a radio-singer… implying his or her capability to meet a set of relatively absolute standards).

7.0 This “capacity-potential” we call “possibilities” inherent in the individual.

The Three circles of strength

1.0 Strength is the capacity to manifest the possibilities inherent in oneself. More strength means more manifestation of possibilities. Less strength means less manifestation.

2.0 Physical possibilities imply what a person can do or achieve or realize on a “physical plane”. Climbing mountains, working long hours, resisting disease effectively, all come under this category.

3.0 Intellectual possibilities imply what a person can realize on the “plane of thought or ideas”.

Inventing new things, discriminating between alternates, composing music, writing poems, developing new business ideas, singing classical music, all come under intellectual possibilities.

4.0 Character possibilities imply what a person can realize on the “plane of human character/ man’s truth-seeking urge”.

Speaking the truth, being loyal, acting with integrity, resisting temptation, displaying diligence and discipline, regulating ones daily life, all these come under character possibilities.

5.0 The three circles of strength or the 3-Balam Model, represents a positive attempt to help a person explore these planes of possibilities and recognize for himself or herself – potential strengths and areas of improvement.

6.0 Why is this model so important? Because it offers us two important ways forward: One, it allows us to isolate and highlight one’s own strengths and focus on them clearly; and two, it helps us recognize what “combination” of possibilities are necessary in a person to accomplish a specific life goal.  It allows us to ‘recognize’ and ‘leverage’ individuals’ uniqueness better.

The conscious development of personality

1.0 Personality when seen as talent or looks or specific competencies, is extremely limiting to the individual. It makes us feel that much of what we are and do, is “god given”, and that we have little or no freedom to become newer and more effective human beings. This view results in “personality development programs” focusing on what appears to be the only degrees of freedom open to an individual – which are speaking better, dressing better, and behaving in a more ‘polished’ way.

2.0 In reality, such measures, while useful if the person is already endowed with much of all that is needed in a situation, end up way-laying us in our journey of growth and evolution.

3.0 An alternative view is to see personality as the “possibilities inherent in the individual”.

4.0 Such a view makes the individual wider, more flexible, and far more capable of change and growth. Furthermore, it prevents us from ‘slotting’ individuals into narrow characteristics and ensures that we take a positive, “expansion” view of the human being.

5.0 This view opens us to the notion of “conscious development of personality” – which means: “Can each individual become aware of his or her possibilities and consciously grow and manifest some of the possibilities inherent in himself or herself”.

Aspiring to an Ideal

1.0 Man has infinite possibilities. When he chooses to harness these infinite possibilities to realize a life of deep fulfillment, then he comes to recognize three fundamental truths:

One, that possibilities are infinite but the time and space needed to manifest the possibilities in a single life are limited.

Two, that these possibilities, when seen as sub-serving or enhancing the person’s own desire for fulfillment, become positive, specific and directed.

Three, the person’s own desire for fulfillment is best realized when the individual shapes his or her life consciously around a noble or high ideal. Without an ideal, all development is haphazard and not self-reinforcing.

2.0 For example, the cluster of possibilities inherent in the making of a great scientist are different from the cluster of possibilities inherent in the creation of a large business, or even the creation of a great book may be very different.

3.0 While all three may have common points, a person who “flits” from one set of possibilities to another, may develop a number of them, but may, in the final analysis, be lacking in human fulfillment.

4.0 In this context, it is essential that every individual freely chooses and learns to dedicate his/her life toward a comprehensive and integrated ideal that harmonizes all these types of possibilities leading to deep fulfillment for self and those we live and work with.

 

(Originally written in 2006)

Exploring cognitive empowerment

Cognition gives us the ability to make choices, decisions, to recognize, to build new axioms and conclusions about ourselves, about the way the world works. Cognition is therefore a powerful tool for our evolution. What then are the possibilities that empowerment at a ‘cognitive level’ offers us?

Cognition gives us the ability to make choices, decisions, to recognize, to build new axioms and conclusions about ourselves, about the way the world works. Cognition is therefore a powerful tool for our evolution.

In this talk, Srinivas explores how ‘cognition’ enables or disables us; and what does it mean to be empowered or disempowered at a cognitive level.

 

(An exploratory discussion with the team at Illumine, Mumbai, February 2015)

From why to why-not – building a new future by changing our stance

What stops us from accepting change and new ways of doing and thinking? What creates so much resistance to anything new? One simple answer to this question may lie in our stance of life. This Little Book proposes a shift from ‘Why’ to ‘Why Not’ in our stance to life.

Collective Aspiration

What is collective aspiration and why is it such a fundamental driver in change?

1.0One of the most talked about and least understood dimensions of business and institutional thinking is the dimension of “collective aspiration”.

2.0The current language of business for example, is limited to terms such as strategy, mission, vision, values, etc. While these terms are valuable, at their core lies a widespread recognition that words and reality mean two totally different things in the corporate world.

3.0This ‘gap’ between words and action is attributed to the impracticality of these ideas (or concepts) or is attributed to the lack of sincerity on the part of those implementing these ideas in following through.

4.0Is it not possible that this gap between words and action is born not due to poor quality of thought nor is it born due to lack of sincerity, but is born of a misreading of a critical driver of human action – which is aspiration?

5.0Aspiration represents the joy-seeking, affirming, dimensions of an individual. It demonstrates human hope, man’s desire for growth and change, and man’s engine for self transformation.

6.0Aspiration is therefore an individual’s best friend – providing him/ her with a tomorrow, generating possibilities, defining new energy-sources for himself/ herself, and creating the ineffable “positive buzz” that is infectious and inclusive.

7.0Collective aspiration is the collective manifestation of individual aspirations. It is very difficult to say whether individuals together created the aspiration or whether the aspiration self-selected the individuals who are working together.

8.0Whatever or wherever be the origin, collective aspiration is a real entity – it determines the capacity to bridge the gap between ideas and action – not just in terms of distance between the two – but, more important, the choices of ideas and actions that will be bridged.

9.0In other words, collective aspiration represents the “reality” of fulfillment for a collective. There is ‘real pain’ only if aspirations – and ideas embodying those aspirations are not met in terms of action and results. The rest is simply irrelevant at a fundamental level.

 

(Originally written in March 2005)

The collective act of individualized seeing

How do you scale vision in an organizational collective? For example, how do you keep the torch of customer-service burning bright in every employee’s mind?

This very short essay of  7 insights was born of a struggle with the question of “vision enablement”– i.e. how to keep the vision of customer satisfaction burning bright in every employees mind.  This “essay” defines “vision sharing” as the “collective act of individualized seeing” which implies that vision cannot be “given” it must be “owned”.

I

Why should everyone perceive value creation? 

So that each one feels valuable.

But in order that each feels valuable, one must not only define global “value” but also local/ located creation of value.  i.e. each one must feel, we have created great value and I have contributed genuinely to this act of creation.

This is human fulfillment at work.

II

So how to define global value creation?

We have tried out two distinct approaches:

One, we asked whether value resides in what the customer ‘received’ i.e. I am as valuable as what my customer perceived. This is limited as an approach.

Two, we also asked whether value resides in the ‘act of creation’ – the how? Primarily because human fulfillment is itself a two part journey, one creating value as a group (what the customer received) two, contributing as an individual (act of creation).

III

So the question becomes:

How to combine ‘customer value’ creation with ‘individual contribution to value’ into a integrated definition of value. i.e. value is neither ‘outside’ in the customer’s world, nor ‘inside’ in my mind, it is in the integrated ‘whole’ that transcends both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’.

This integrated ‘whole perception of value’, we call enablement – both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ and more…

IV

How to ‘uncover’ or ‘unearth’ this value?

If it is located in the totality of ‘engagement’ (both act of creation and customer value delivered) then it cannot be mechanistically or logically isolated.  It is not a product of reasoning.  It is a ‘collective act of individualized seeing’.

V

This is what leaders do

They enable “collective yet individualized seeing of an emerging whole”.

VI

This is what every person  must do in the world to unfold.  Each one a leader. Each one a follower.

VII

It is this ‘collective act of individualized seeing’ that results in

  1. purposive behavior in system,
  2. the ‘owning-up’ of responsibility by each individual to a common purpose, and
  3. the ‘agreement’ – tacit – among all that each will do what it takes to make it happen.

 

(Originally written in October 2004)

Precision Knowledge Interventions

How can large-scale shifts in thinking be architected? One of the ways is by specifying the shift in the “knowledge-state” of the collective.

The purpose of Precision Knowledge Interventions

1.0 Precision Knowledge Interventions represent a model for engaging with change in a rigorous, scalable, and measurable manner.

2.0 The basic premise of the Precision Knowledge Intervention approach is that change must be clearly specified if we expect to succeed.

3.0 The word ‘specified’ is distinct and different from the word ‘envisioned’.

4.0 It is now well known that change must be envisioned with, and through, the collective undergoing change. It is also known that when individuals participate in and co-create the vision to be realized, then they are more likely to broadly support the initiative.

5.0 It is also well known that envisioning change and securing broad based buy-in into that change does not guarantee that the change will be sustained, and that people will indeed walk their talk.

6.0 This is where the word specification comes in. It is our experience, that there is an important stage in the change journey which is often ignored by practitioners. This is the stage when a “collective vision” is transmuted into “individualized seeing, within the context of the collective vision.”

This specification now becomes the basis of all enabling actions by the change leadership.

7.0 Put differently, it is assumed that people know how to translate vision into action. Nothing can be further from the truth. Most people are able to comprehend vision, but very few people are able to assimilate vision into their own lives.

8.0 To elaborate, every senior manager in a change-workshop may not only agree with, but also emotionally articulate the value and benefits of a proposed initiative. Yet, the Monday thereafter, when all the facilitators have gone back to their respective workplaces, the same senior manager faces the daunting task of changing the way he or she lives so that the new world is realized.

From Envisioning to realization

9.0 So what does the journey from an envisioned future to a realized future entail?

(i) The journey, first and foremost, involves a state change:

 

(ii) This state change requires a quantum leap in the collective. This quantum leap cannot be limited to the individual and extends to the collective which seeks to create a shared future.

(iii) Further, the quantum leap in the collective requires that a set of diverse Knowledge Enablers need to be put into place simultaneously for change to be realized.

These two aspects of the change journey are explored in subsequent sections.

Mapping the quantum leap – Identifying key milestones on the journey

10.0 What is the nature of this journey from envisioned state to a realized state? The first insight is that there is not one but multiple change journeys taking place concurrently.

These change journeys take place at multiple levels:

(i) the journey of changing identity of key stakeholders as they encounter new roles, new purpose, new capacities and new contribution spaces.

(ii) the journey of external accomplishments as key design, operating, and business milestones are met.

(iii) the journey of transforming relationships, as key hierarchical, cultural, value, and power relationships are irrevocably reordered due to change.

(iv) the journey of increasing meaning and purpose, as the envisioned reality becomes progressively “real” or actualized in people’s lives.

11.0 It is hard to map these journeys and even harder to locate individuals at any one point in time on these journeys.

12.0 It is therefore a futile exercise to control or monitor this change journey effectively – except to celebrate some key milestones and to take action when some things “appear” to be badly going wrong.

13.0 How then to bring rigor to the mapping and modeling of this journey?

14.0 It is here that we introduce the notion of a “knowledge failure”.

We take the view that change is owned by the person making the journey, and the role of the change-leader is to provide critical enablements as the journey progresses.

A “knowledge failure” represents the absence of a critical enablement at the right time, to the right person, and in the right manner, in terms of re-specification.

15.0 This enables us to define the tasks of a Precision Knowledge InterventionTM. It has two functions; it

(i) scans for and diagnoses precisely ‘knowledge failures’ as these occur during the change journey, particularly at the level of the collective.

(ii) offers precision solutions that deal with these knowledge failures, on a sense-respond basis.

Defining the four knowledge enablers

16.0 The four key knowledge enablers used in the Precision Knowledge InterventionTM approach are explored below:

17.0 If individuals in the system

– are not able to create their own individual visions,

– do not have the wherewithal to work upon the relevant enabling competencies,

– remain unsure of what contributions they are going to/ are expected to make,

– and don’t have institutional mechanisms to support their own integrity to vision,

then they are more likely than not, to fail in the change journey.

18.0 Individualized Seeing

Individualized Seeing implies that the envisioned reality must be seen not just in collective terms, but also in terms of each individual stakeholder in the system.

This translation from collective vision to individualized seeing is not a mere translation of the vision in terms of scale, but a wholesale re-specification of the vision from the language of institutional purpose to the language of personal meaning.

The power of individualized “seeing” is explicitated in the following diagram:

The Big Foot: Many individualized “seeings” in the context of one collective vision.

19.0 Enabling Capabilities

Almost always, change means a shift in relevant capacities – and reinterpretation (and re-specification) of what competence and professional practice means.

The important insight is that, in addition to new capacities being added, realizing change also means deep reinterpretation and reorientation of the core practices of the business itself.

In other words, deep, sustainable, change requires wholesale redesign of the very notion of expertise or competence within the business and reorienting individuals accordingly.

20.0 Personal Visibility

It stands to reason that any change in the business vision and concomitant change in one’s personal vision in the future, would threaten our carefully laid out plans for negotiating current organizational maps and relationship structures.

This aspect being closest to each individual in terms of what will happen tomorrow, it is obviously the most stressful and disabling dimension of change.

But for real change to succeed and sustain, every individual in the organization needs to find new spaces of contribution, value creation, and role-signaling in the envisioned future. This involves a fundamental re-specification of personal roles and visibility in the system.

21.0 Engagement Protocols

Engagement Protocols refer to the way people will work with each other in the future to be realized.

These protocols represent shifts in the organization’s operating culture – where do decisions get taken? how are the distances between functional silos to be negotiated? how do key people, product, developmental, and business lifecycles stay protected in a new environment?

It is easy to ask an organization to shift to teaming, responsiveness, collaboration, and empathy, or behave in this manner during the course of a change project. It is an altogether different thing to ensure that people walk this talk on a sustainable basis.

Engagement Protocols imply that a set of ideas such as teaming, responsiveness, collaboration, and trust need to be translated into “mechanisms” which will allow such behavior to flourish and be rewarded in course of time.

These mechanisms protect and enhance the quality of “group outputs” such as business decisions inter-functional relationships, protecting product and business life-cycles etc.

22.0 We have found that the absence of even one of these four Knowledge Enablers could result in an inability within the collective to complete the realization journey from envisioning to realization.

Designing successful Precision Knowledge Interventions

23.0 Designing successful Precision Knowledge Interventions implies

(i) being able to map out where critical enablement may be needed so that potential knowledge failures are anticipated to the extent feasible.

(ii) having an array of precision-transformation interventions and tools that are already tested, and proved, which can be deployed rapidly, and the real-time design capacity to develop new tools for new classes of knowledge failures

(iii) having a sense-respond engagement with the collective, so that potential knowledge failures are identified early, and potential solutions rolled out.

(iv) most important, rescripting change journeys as narratives of adventure and heroism, with the critical enablements being crucial “tools” and “weapons” in the journey to realization.

Diffusing Precision  Knowledge Interventions: Some Criteria

24.0 Clearly the design of Precision Knowledge Interventions is complex:

(i) every one of these knowledge enablers must be “owned” by every individual in terms of day to day realities of the change journey. This means that traditional communication models that may actually hamper change, will have to be replaced by new models involving co-creation and co-emergence of knowledge in communities.

(ii) the Precision Knowledge Intervention encountered by one member of the collective, may be very different from another member of the collective. This implies that Precision Knowledge Interventions represent an array of change enablers that are delivered on a mass customization basis through a large scale business system.

(iii) a Precision Knowledge Intervention must be capable of being deeply contexted into the business, social, and technical practices of the change collective. This requires institutional arrangements to be created within the organization that will allow such deeply contexted Precision Knowledge Interventions to be developed and diffused.

The Value of Precision Knowledge Interventions

25.0 Precision Knowledge Interventions is a new social technology that enables businesses to significantly enhance the possibility of success in a change journey. They are effective because

(i) they enable individuals to dive deeper beyond vision, into the actual specifics of change,

(ii) they support individuals by “being available” rather than “driving change”,

(iii) they ensure that energy is released by a deep reframing of the socio-technical consciousness of individuals in workplaces.

Applying Precision Knowledge Interventions to solve integration challenges

26.0 Can Precision Knowledge Interventions be used to resolve significant integration challenges in large business and social systems?

27.0 The answer is affirmative, when the four key classes of knowledge failures are mapped and the need for the four knowledge enablers established.

(i) Individualized Seeing: The shared vision of a collective need not acknowledge individual aspirations of specific groups. This leads to a “hidden drag” on change as specific groups do not put their full weight behind a change journey.

The act of specifying individualized seeing in the context of collective change forces these differences into the open.

(ii) Enabling Capabilities: When diverse groups integrate (for example from different divisions, different countries, or different educational backgrounds), the critical concern is ensuring that diverse groups benchmark against consistent expectations of quality, execution, behavior, and operational tactics.

This class of knowledge failures needs intervening enablers in terms of appropriate capacities – not to achieve consistency of competence, but to ensure consistency of outcomes across groups.

(iii) Engagement Protocols: The value of engagement protocols in integration is self evident. Indeed, modes of interaction, unless formally mapped and reviewed, can make the daily task of working together stressful and disabling during the integration process.

(iv) Personal Visibility: Finding new contribution and role signaling spaces is one of the most difficult aspects of integration, especially in business settings where work practices often evolve in unique historical patterns.

Thus all four types of knowledge failures reveal themselves in the integration process.

28.0 Precision Knowledge Interventions has been fundamentally designed for enabling individuals in large collectives to realize the journey from vision to realization. However, the same approach could also be used to resolve related change challenges such as integration of diverse groups within a large collective.

 

(Paper originally presented at the Third SOL Global Forum on ‘Bridging the Gulf: Learning across Organizations, Sectors, and Cultures’ organized by the Society of Organizational Learning at Muscat, Oman in April 2008)

Invoking and Sustaining Excellence

How do you invoke excellence in people? One of the ways is through role modeling excellence.

I

In almost every community we have worked with or visited, there has been one common problem, one theme, that has run through all developmental efforts.  The problem of excellence.  A company seeks to introduce Quality Programs, people ask why.  A leader wants her team to learn more and adapt to new technologies, people silently resist it.  A government seeks to lay out an exciting vision of global leadership, people (in their minds!) wonder if it is possible.

II

In other words, people are finding it difficult to relate abstract ‘good ideas’ like excellence, quality, faith, growth, achievement with the day-to-day personal and professional concerns that constitute their lives.

III

On deeper thought, it can be seen that the same issues underlie the problems faced by three distinct groups of people (i) those who are seeking to build superior institutions, (ii) those who are seeking to compete better, or (iii) those who are simply trying to question and challenge the status quo in their individual areas of endeavour.

IV

What is the bridge between excellence and one’s own life? It appears that the bridge cannot be “external motivation” but is “internal motivation”.

V

Put another way, one becomes excellent because one chooses to be excellent. When one chooses to be excellent, the result is an interest in all things associated with excellence.

VI

When do individuals choose excellence in their lives? When they see the relationship between quality of output and significance of life, when they recognize the meaning of performance, and when they come to recognize that learning and growing is an end in itself.

VII

What then is the “trigger” that enables individuals to embark as this cycle of growth and excellence?

VIII

The trigger appears to be an encounter with quality: when individuals come face to face with people or situations or events where the value of great performance, of raw professional competence, of true meaningful effort, becomes obvious to them.  This encounter could be with role models or aspirational figures, with people who are known to have excelled, or even with powerful books or films.  The important thing is the encounter.

But the encounter is not enough.

IX

What is also needed is reflection, (the availability of conceptual models and frameworks of learning that allow these encounters to be truly assimilated)

X

Equally important is the necessity of practice. The opportunity to test and refine ones own understanding withinn the warp and weft of real world action. Put another way, there must be at least one or more “zone of excellence” in one’s life where one is willing to make the choices and sacrifices needed to encounter and realize excellence.

XI

Finally, what is also needed is a group of people who are willing to provide the moorings for the emotional and self-esteem related changes that such a journey involves – the enabling environment.

XII

Putting these four elements together – the encounters, the tools and models for reflection, the opportunities for translating these ideas into action, and the enabling environment of role-models – constitutes the ingredients of excellence in human systems.

XIII

Most important, these four elements – the presence of encounters, the opportunities and models for reflection, the availability of “zone of excellence” and the presence of an enabling psycho-social environment – are seen to be mutually reinforcing if we seek sustainable interest in human excellence from ourselves and our people.

Career Counseling to Career Design

How can we go beyond giving-in to circumstances and following others blindly? How can we find freedom to choose what we want to become?

Career Counseling: What it really implies

Career counseling is often seen to be about helping students join the right universities, selecting the right careers, or undergoing some aptitude/ personality tests.

In reality, career counseling is about freedom. Freedom to choose the right pathway for growth. Freedom to fulfill one’s dreams.  Freedom to be oneself.

This freedom is not easily obtained. To attain this freedom a student has to go far beyond aptitude tests and lists of colleges and universities.

To attain this freedom, a jobseeker has to learn to think for himself or herself. The jobseeker must develop approaches to ‘scan’ the environment, translate day to day ‘events’ and ‘news’ into ‘career trends’ and, perhaps, most important of all, learn to understand the real relationship between oneself and society, which is that of contribution and its resultant self-esteem.

These are very complex, even profound, ideas and comprise a new set of capabilities we call career management capabilities.

The temptation is to pooh-pooh them and say that these ideas are good in theory but not particularly useful in practice. We may be missing something very big here.

What happens if a jobseeker does not attain the cluster of ‘career management capabilities’ described above?

Nothing! Nothing happens to the jobseekers career graph. He or she flounders in one of the ‘conventional’ careers – today, conventional means software & call-centers, yesterday conventional meant sales, accounts, and administration. Within this narrow, almost self defeating world, the jobseeker tries to imitate his or her friends, taking refuge in the crowd.

It is in this context, that every jobseeker must consider the idea of ‘Career Design’.

 

Career Design: Some basics

Career Design attempts to answer the question: How to develop one’s life in such a way that one is fully satisfied with one’s life?

“Career Design” is therefore, a set of systematic methods for developing one’s life choices and paths in such a way as to be fully satisfied and fulfilled at every stage of one’s life.

Is Career Design the same as obtaining a high paying job?  Yes, if the high paying job is important to you because of ‘what you can do’ and not simply ‘what you get’.

Is Career Design the same as ‘networking’, ‘building the right contacts’, ‘making the right moves’? No, because these are useful as ‘toppings’, but the main course is still about what you can do for the world!

Is Career Design the same as ferreting out the ‘right’ jobs, sending out smart resumes, and throwing attitude at hapless interviewers. Yes, if these are seen as steps to accomplishing your objective of a fulfilling career. No, if these are seen as the way out of one’s own mental confusions.

Now that we have a sense of what Career Design is not, let is try to answer the question, ‘What is Career Design and what can it do for my life?’

Career Design is about two fundamental axes of our career: our Aspirations and our Capabilities.

A career focused on Aspirations alone – what I will get, where I will reach, etc. – is an empty career. It is such a career that must depend upon networking, ‘contacts’, presentation skills only, etc. It leads to a certain uni-dimensional evaluation of the world in terms of external measures such as money, status, position, etc.

A career focused on Capabilities alone – what I can do, what talents I have, what ‘I’ am interested in, etc. – is also an empty career. In such a career, there is often an inordinate and self righteous importance given to our own, sometimes very passing, likes and dislikes in terms of what we do. It also leads to a basic impracticality in action because it is so ‘I’ centered.

A truly rewarding career is one in which the apparent dichotomy between Aspirations and Capabilities are resolved into a new framework. Where we are constantly mapping the two in the context of every opportunity.

Sometimes our aspirations will be more than our ‘total capability set’ – thereby forcing us to develop ourselves and our talent.  Sometimes our capabilities will be more than our aspirations – leading us to add more depth into our treatment of the task in front of us and further, demonstrating to our peers and colleagues that we are capable of taking on far more responsibility.

This dynamic between aspirations and capabilities is the essence of ‘Career Design’ and is the basic underpinning for building a career that is fulfilling in ‘external’ terms of money, power, status, etc. and in ‘internal’ terms of exploiting one’s own capabilities, enabling one’s talents to flower, and pursuing a passion meaningfully.

Career Design then involves the dynamic interplay between our own aspirations and capabilities, wherein we are neither slave to our own whims and delusions of extraordinary talents nor are we slave to the world and its simplistic, and often de-humanizing, metrics of success.

Career Design is about being free. Being free to choose one’s pathways and being free to develop at one’s own pace in life.

The Technology of Career Design

Career Design is very obviously more than mere information collection and/ or taking up the first opportunity that looks good to us.  It is also obviously more than waiting endlessly for people to discover the ‘real me’ so that my talent is recognized and rewarded in the world.

Career Design is about the careful interplay of aspirations and capabilities achieved by a set of thinking tools/ tools for self-analysis, introspection, and opportunity selection.

To elaborate: How are one’s own capabilities and aspirations to be unearthed?

This is often easier said than done.  By the time a person has reached the workplace environment, he or she has already undergone numerous life experiences, hundreds of hours of ‘education and training’, and scores of situations wherein he or she has been called upon to make choices and stretch his/ her own capabilities.

To reduce all this vast experience and human learning into a simplistic degree or qualification is a travesty of the human being who has undergone the life this far. (And, to be sure, the more sensitive employers too are very uncomfortable about judging people and their potential for success by their qualifications and degrees alone). Therefore, some means are to be found which will help us map out our own capabilities meaningfully and comprehensively.

At the same time, our own aspirations are themselves complex and difficult to clarify. Sometimes we like a profession (a good example is advertising) more for the external glamour than for our real ability to contribute in that field of work. Sometime we choose the profession, (again, let’s continue with the advertising example) because we are creative, like to be off the beaten track, but do not know how to translate our creativity and passion into a career path that is also rewarding – thereby ending up choosing the obvious examples rather than exploring deeper for true areas of contribution and impact.

Here again, there is a need for a new set of approaches that will unearth and articulate our passions in terms of the world.

This complex interplay of aspirations, and capabilities must further be viewed in the context of what jobs are actually available on the ground.

To most people, the biggest challenge is simply finding an employer willing to pay one money for one’s services. This challenge becomes all the more frightening when one classifies oneself not as unique human being with one’s own dreams and talents, but as a four letter or five letter degree like B.Com. and B.Tech. Because, then, in one stroke one has reduced oneself from a striving human being, to a numb statistic in the employer’s world. This implies that we must find new ways of defining oneself in terms of the world and its use-space for us.

To sum up, Career Design is all about designing a smart solution to your life situation. Not running away from this situation. Not merely struggling and fighting given circumstances with all of one’s might. But intelligently and sensitively weaving one’s way out of this tangle into a new highway of hope.