Life has changed a lot in the last six weeks since I moved into a new role at work. To be precise, life at work has changed, but work dominates most of life these days, leaving room for little else. Given this, perhaps it isn’t inappropriate to make an exception and write about work.

Organizations are fascinating entities. Most of the time we are too busy, consumed by daily activities, to sit back and think about patterns at work, but if we do so we would find much to think about and wonder at. This change in role has placed me in a context very different from the one I’ve worked in since I started work around seven years ago. In my short stint so far in this new context, some patterns that highlight the contrast between my old and new worlds have emerged.

1) The importance and respect you receive has a lot to do with the perceived value/importance of the group you work in. (If you think it has solely to do with how good you are, think again).

2) Fierce cats at one level, are humble mice at another.

3) The less you know, the more you talk. The more you talk, the more you revolve in the realm of generalities. Apart from being counter-productive, speaking in generalities is plain boring to those listening.

4) The higher you are in the corporate ladder, the more meetings you have. The more meetings you have, the less productive you are (If you think otherwise, you are blessed with colleagues who talk to the point and keep meetings short. Most of us aren’t so lucky). So the ones at the bottom do most of the real work, and get paid the least.

5) Groups within organizations behave a lot like independent entities, trying to further their own interests and to keep themselves strategically positioned. The challenge is to make groups think more often about the organization as a whole than about themselves. (This may seem obvious, but is forgotten – intentionally or otherwise – most of the time).

6) The perceived value of a product among non-users is more important than its actual value seen by the users. The actual value may improve over time (over multiple releases of the product) and be recognized by the users, but the perceived value does not change (for the non-users) unless there is a conscious effort made to change it. And since most decision makers are non-users, this effort is well worth taking.

7) Microsoft PowerPoint is a powerful tool.

8) The ability to articulate your thoughts and convince people is probably the most important skill one needs in an organization that relies on collaborative efforts. My university never taught me this.

9) Work-Life balance is a myth.

As I read through these points again, it appears that they are a reflection of my present state of mind than anything else. And like a reflection you see in water, they are neither right nor wrong – they just are.

6 thoughts on “Life@Work

  1. Nice to have you back.

    Dynamics at work are fascinating, I agree. But it takes a lot to stand outside of it and see the way things work. Most times, without realising you get sucked into the power games and petty struggles. Right now, I enjoy work because I haven’t gotten into the game, not yet at least.

  2. Yes, “standing outside of it” takes effort. And here writing can help, by making you think and by bringing in distance. Another good reason to keep a blog 🙂

  3. hey parmanu, this post is so completely unlike your usual ones that it has prompted my first reply to a blog of urs. fyi, i am reading ur blog for the last 2 years.

  4. vazzup: Yes, and I’m sure the post will be an exception, not the beginning of a trend. So do keep visiting.

  5. As usual i’ll pick a point that u may least expect to be commented by… Do u know this guy called Edward Tuft and his so called book against powerpoint ? check this link
    I havent read the book, but when i compare how i can hold people better when i hand present something than when i powerpoint something i feel the same too. but then PP is a good way to document something for posterity sakes ! hmmmm…

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