I often wonder why I changed Jobs !

I often wonder why I changed jobs. As I get updates on LinkedIn, I wonder why this is such a churning job market at a global level. and this seems to be at all levels right upto the CEO. Most of the companies seem to pay well and provide good working environments(some don’t make the list, that’s for a later post). Something didn’t fit well into the logic of taking care of employees thereby reducing churn.

My own experience of changing jobs reveals that there’s no pattern I could have followed with data I had years back. There have been quite different conditions with each move. As a Gen-Xer, I resolutely tried to stick on based on loyalty factors and my B-school learnings. It seemed that I had outgrown the system and needed to move on.

I must confess it just dawned on me with no prior warning that Culture fit was the key reason. I just didn’t fit with “them” and “they” didn’t synch with me. While all other business aspects remained the same, it just didn’t feel like “it”. To be frank, I get disappointed with all management and HR articles which blame the employee for not upgrading or having an attitude etc while not delving deeper into the Culture issue, resulting in finger pointing in all directions.

Culture as I see it is more of how best the fit is between two pieces of a puzzle so they can fit tight to provide a bigger picture. It need not be symbolic of similar aspirations e.g. A Sales person may still not fit into a Sales only culture. There are many aspects to this, not the least of which is the life stage of an employee or size of an organization. e.g. If you have no kids, you tend to get irritated when colleagues arrive late for meetings. When you do have kids, its too late to feel sorry to have been irritated years back. There are of course a Zillion factors and its wise to know your priority vs the company’s. e.g. if you can’t travel but you are in a Consulting position, its just too obvious whose priority will win in the end.

So feel free to assess the Culture of a company before accepting an offer. Ask them liberal questions, open ended to get a feel. Ask your friends and family if you would fit in that company. Explore multiple ways to get around the Culture question. If your Exec Recruiter is in a hurry (which seems more fast food nowadays), gently nudge them to get you a Culture input. After all its your career. You are here to help your Career , not any one else’s.

Finally if you still get into a company and find you don’t fit into the Culture, figure out a way to Transition soon. You will save a lot of Headache for everyone by being decisive. Believe me you will find an organization where you will flourish. and Maybe you will feel like the title of this post.

Hot Air !

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She reduced altitude and spotted a man below.

She descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago but I don’t know where I am.”

The man below replied “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.”

“You must be an engineer,” said the balloonist. “I am”, replied the man.

“How did you know?”

“Well, answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip even more.”

The man below responded, “You must be in management.”

“I am,” replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”

“Well,” said the man, “You don’t know where you are or where you’re going.You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems?!!”

Panic in Indian Stock Markets!



Turning 50(or 60,70) Means Keeping Up, Not Resting

If you wonder on a daily basis , as I do, as whats really happening at the workfront, it will give you some comfort reading this WSJ article on a middle manager in his 50s. as I have always argued in my blog, a new breed of management model is urgently required. Models which will go beyond Flat worlds, which will potentially shed light on decades of upcoming struggles. Models which Governments worldwide will use to create new programs to help their own citizens. Else we are doomed with rusted thinking which is prolonging agony across decades. Read on…

“I know I’ve peaked in my career,” Mr. Toal said at the time. “I am never going to be a vice president. But I’m running as fast as I can, and I don’t know why.”

OB-YK824_0805MM_D_20130805115902To other middle managers, I’d say: Be flexible and open to taking on new challenges because it makes you quick on your feet, gives you more understanding of how a company works.

One of the things I did learn is that it’s really hard to choose your own path. Things happen, and you go with it.”


New Skills, Old Tasks

To stay afloat, he has reinvented himself again and again. Once specializing in managing production, he learned marketing, then purchasing, then finance. He gets up at 5 every morning and doesn’t get home until 8 p.m. Yet he still does essentially the same job he did 10 years ago: overseeing a small staff, making revenue projections and supervising expenses in the sales division and resolving disputes over salary compensation.

Only this year did he get back to earning the salary he made in 1989.

When Mr. Toal’s father, a union machinist, was 54, he had already begun planning for retirement, was respected by his union and company management, and had become active in the local United Way. Mr. Toal recently stopped coaching his 16-year-old daughter’s soccer team because he has no time. He can’t imagine retiring because he has no pension—just money in a 401K plan and a series of worthless stock options. He pays $27,000 a year to send one daughter to Simmons College in Boston. His other daughter heads off to college in two years. His wife works part time as a teacher’s aide.

Eyes turn to Mr. Toal. “No clue,” he says. “I feel like I’ve peaked in my career, but I don’t think I’ve peaked as a human being.” He loosens his tie. “Things are not what any of us anticipated–that with natural talent, hard work and good moral values, there would come some sense of stability. There is no security and no stability.”


Tom Preston-Werner’s GitHub Is an Exceptionally Free Place for Open-Source Software | MIT Technology Review

San Francisco startup GitHub has all the hallmarks of the next big social network. The company’s base of 3.6 million users is growing fast, and after raising $100 million last year, GitHub was worth $750 million, at least on paper.

Yet GitHub is not a place for socializing and sharing photos. It’s a site where software developers store, share, and update their personal coding projects, in computer languages like Java and Python.

“It’s a social network, but it’s different from the others because it’s built around creating valuable things,” says GitHub CEO Tom Preston-Werner, whose company has been called “Facebook for geeks.”

GitHub’s mix of practicality and sociability have made it into a hub for software innovation. People log on from around the globe (78 percent of its users from outside the U.S.) to test and tinker with new ideas for mobile apps or Web server software. For Ethan Mollick, an assistant professor at the Wharton School, GitHub is one of a new class of technology platforms, including the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, that allow innovation without the traditional constraints of geography or of established hierarchies. “Virtual communities have more influence on reality now,” he says.

What all this could mean for software hubs like Washington, D.C., and Silicon Valley isn’t yet clear. Certainly, in the post-GitHub world you no longer have to frequent the right coffee shops and parties in the Bay Area to make a name as a talented coder. Companies get founded on the site, and it’s a favorite hunting ground for recruiters as well.

The features of GitHub’s service and community that have driven its popularity could appear opaque to non-coders. The guiding principle is that any and all possible barriers to one person contributing to someone else’s project must be stripped away. That means avoiding e-mail and conventional management. “That idea of not having to ask permission to be involved in something is really big,” says Preston-Werner.

Preston-Werner says GitHub, launched in 2008, has been profitable, and signs up around 10,000 new users every day. The newest feature of its business model is to rent out a version to companies they can use internally. In Marissa Mayer’s first company-wide memo after becoming CEO of Yahoo last year, she listed GitHub as one of the ways she intended to fix her company’s stifling bureaucracy.

GitHub’s most important feature is the pull request. It allows a person to suggest a modification to the code of someone else’s project, and shows that suggestion to the project’s owner in a way that makes it easy for them to review the changes. A single mouse click can merge them into the project or start a discussion about the changes. If a person’s pull request doesn’t stick, they can “fork” the project to create a parallel version on GitHub with their idea included.

GitHub’s only physical location is an office in San Francisco where about one-third of its 176 employees work (the rest work from their homes, coffee shops, or rented desks in the U.S. or overseas). No one at the company has set working hours. Some show up at noon and work into the night, others arrive close to dawn and disappear by midafternoon. Only Preston-Werner, as CEO, has a formal job title. Everyone else uses generic or frequently changing descriptors such as “Bad Guy Catcher” or “Señor Open Sorcerer.”

GitHub now plays a major supporting role in the creation of widely used open-source software, and the company uses it to maintain and expand its own service as well. Although Preston-Werner may set the overall goal of such projects, details of how it will be achieved are left to his workforce. Teams of GitHub workers form on an ad-hoc basis, growing, shrinking, and melting away as the company’s needs change and people find new things to work on.

Meetings are seen as a tragic waste of time, and thanks to the pull request, fewer are needed. “I don’t think we’ll ever have to hire managers,” says Preston-Werner.

Preston-Werner hopes his philosophy will spread and that more kinds of work will happen on GitHub. The platform already has features targeted at designers working on images. Some journalistsacademics, and even the White House are also experimenting with GitHub to collaborate on articles and write research and policy documents. “Software is where we’re starting, but the vision can encompass a much broader scope than that,” says Preston-Werner.

Tom Preston-Werner’s GitHub Is an Exceptionally Free Place for Open-Source Software | MIT Technology Review.

Surprises Are the New Normal; Resilience Is the New Skill

Some management thinkers are at the cutting edge of management thought and rightly lead the world with their thinking. Rosabeth Moss Kanter is one such thinker who never fails to amaze. Below is an excerpt from her recent article which is a good guide for all of us in the business world.

The difference 20130718_2between winners and losers is how they handle losing.

That’s a key finding from my ongoing research on great companies and effective leaders: no one can completely avoid troubles and potential pitfalls are everywhere, so the real skill is the resilience to climb out of the hole and bounce back.

Volatile times bring disruptions, interruptions, and setbacks, even for the most successful among us. Companies at the top of the heap still have times when they are blindsided by a competing product and must play catch-up. Sports teams that win regularly are often behind during the game. Writers can face dozens of rejections before finding a publisher that puts them on the map. Some successful politicians get caught with their pants down (so to speak) and still go on to lead, although such self-inflicted wounds are harder to heal.

Resilience is the ability to recover from fumbles or outright mistakes and bounce back. But flexibility alone is not enough. You have to learn from your errors. Those with resilience build on the cornerstones of confidence — accountability (taking responsibility and showing remorse), collaboration (supporting others in reaching a common goal), and initiative (focusing on positive steps and improvements). As outlined in my book Confidence, these factors underpin the resilience of people, teams, and organizations that can stumble but resume winning.


How To Succeed In The Health-Care Vertical

Screenshot_071513_052253_PMComport Consulting had built a successful business around converged infrastructure as a major enterprise HP (NYSE:HPQ)partner, but seven years ago the solution provider decided to specialize in a vertical industry. Jack Margossian, president of Comport Consulting, talks with CRN TV about how he built a strong practice in the health-care industry and explains why it has been so lucrative for his business. In part one of this series, Margossian explains how Comport Consulting sells not only to hospital CIOs, but also to line-of-business and details the challenges around bringing hospital IT infrastructure into the 21st century.

Check out the video @



What am I Doing?

Quite frequently, Executives at large organizations ask themselves the same question:

Knack What am I doing?    I have met many senior folks who want to focus on their work, not on themselves and not on the logistics of how they do it. Many take this as a necessary evil, some dread it. Maybe there’s an answer to this. Its how Sony entrusted its key product to an outside consultant.

In his words:

“As a consultant, I did not manage employees,” he said. “I was not responsible for budgets. I didn’t give presentations to other Sony groups. I didn’t track progress on milestones. I didn’t negotiate contracts.”
In other words, he could focus on doing the work, communicating with groups inside and outside of Sony. It was like being the director on a game rather than a manager (responsible for employees) or a producer (in charge of the budget).

“The director’s role is to shape the shared vision and communicate it,” he said. “I’m free to think about where we need to be in five years.”

If the PS4 is a success, Cerny will get the credit. If it isn’t, well, he’s just a consultant.

Read more at http://venturebeat.com/2013/06/29/how-sony-entrusted-the-design-of-the-playstation-4-to-a-consultant/#f9VdSftmkpyal74F.99

Why Culture is a good indicator of Layoffs

Often times Layoffs are announced after the fact. The organization has not met its earnings forecast, no turnaround is seen in growth, revenue is likely to be flat or negative and a whole host of factors. Any well seasoned executive will tell you that none of this happens overnight. There is always a trend line, symptoms which are tell-tale signs, rumblings in the workforce, macroeconomic winds bypassing the company. There are other industry specific cycles as well. Again, none of which falls under the Unknown category. Then, why are there no actions taken? Do Execs become so busy that its often impossible to act? While there are a whole host of answers, all of them are after the fact.

I tend to believe that the most important indicator, in fact a lead indicator by all means tends to be an organizations’ culture and its variables. A Culture provides the norms and settings within which employees work no matter the level or geography. Its the Dark Matter of a Company encoded in its DNA moving beyond written down processes. Culture is the environment which forces an employee to act in ways , which may loosely classified as behavior. For example, it tends to swing the needle between closing a deal and customer satisfaction. One way or the other. Meaning the choice is heavily influenced by the Culture. If the employee tends to decide by himself, results usually affect only the employee. Fear factor sets in over a period of time. Someone who tends to resist leaves the organization or is forced to leave. But when such a culture deliberately stands up against Collective Good(which is usually long term), the march is inevitably towards massive layoffs. Often short-term or even medium-term gains tend to create blindspots. These promote a false sense of being resilient and in turn seem to provide a luxury of ignoring huge macro trends whether in technology or in the economy. When the Long term turns short term and the company starts missing earnings consistently, the blood letting is invariably the form of huge layoffs.

I argue for a greater emphasis to be laid on Culture by the Board and the CEO. Start creating management models which will adopt Culture as a important facet.

Management Thinkers should move beyond current thinking and current management tools which are woefully inadequate to address the Culture component. There’s a great gap of understanding which has developed over the past two decades. Thinkers who cross this gap will move to the future.

All Comments are welcome! of course you can email me : nckumar@gmail.com

What Every Company(and Bosses) Should Understand


well said. :)