Photograph of Bhlachandra Shrikhande

A Letter About Work Place, Working and Life

Author - Bhalchandra Shrikhande

Dear Friends,

Absence diminishes little passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans a fire.

Now that I have decided to leave ACC, I am overcome by a strong urge to share with all of you, the learning I have picked up during my 30 year journey. This is an essence of all the experiences, though interpreted from my own point of view. They may seem disjointed, but they are like a drape with different motifs woven into it.

Smell of the workplace

What do you mean by the smell of the workplace?

Can the positive smell of the workplace make ordinary people produce extraordinary results?

It is nothing but the unspoken, unarticulated, and unstated "Disablers" vs. "Enablers" encountered at workplace.

It is the smell of childlike curiosity towards learning new things.

It is the smell of excitement and adventure of youth in taking on new initiatives.

It is the smell of the positive attitude and determined actions of the team members to achieve results.

Can we create such a wonderful smell at our workplace, and revitalize people?

Think it's your own business

When we buy assets for our plant, do we go this extent to ensure that we are getting the best deal? When we finalize the schemes and evaluate the technical proposals, do we exercise that extreme caution to make sure that the investment being made by our company will pay back? When we prioritize the personal and professional tasks to fit into the time available on our hands, do we ensure that we give the same level of priority in allocating the time if it was my own business?

The only way to get fantastic business results is to get involved in the business, as if it's your own.

Strive for perfection and excellence

Achieving excellence in anything we do is extremely tough. But it's extremely gratifying as well. At the end of the day, there is no better satisfaction than the proud feeling that we have done our job really well. There is no bar to this in whatever we do. Even a street sweeper can clean the street in such a manner that will put Michaelangelo to shame!

Small is beautiful

Never overlook the importance of ensuring perfection in doing small things, if you want to achieve big things in life.

Never underestimate the small details, and feel that they can always be delegated down.

Power of anticipation

Your success depends on taking proactive steps and turning the sequence of events to achieve a positive outcome. If we react all the time when something happens, there will be loss, as time (and tide) waits for nobody. In many situations, taking action in advance by taking calculated risks, in spite of lack of complete information and running a chance of going wrong sometimes, is far better than not doing anything, and react when damage is already done.

A problem anticipated, no longer remains a problem!

Managing Conflicts

Conflict is not avoidable or bad each time. Conflict shows existence of different viewpoints, which is a healthy sign. Conflict shows that people are able to express differing opinion fearlessly.

Other thing we have to keep in mind is that no one inherently likes conflict. Everyone likes to be at peace. Then why do we see so many conflicting situations around us?

The reasons are many. Personalities of people and the goals they pursue differ. Sometimes there is ambiguity about the jurisdiction and overlaps in the same. Conflicts are bound to arise when scarce resources are to be shared by many. Then how do we manage it? We have to learn to listen to others. We have to be open to accept different viewpoints. We have to be patient to ensure that even if things we want are not happening at desired speed, we don't blow up the top every time. We need to learn the art of accommodation.

Soft is Hard

There are as many views and opinions as there are people. However, we try to imagine that the other person will also think and behave in the same manner as I do. Or we talk to a handful people, conveniently described as a sample survey, and conclude our line of thinking based on the survey feedback.

Dealing with "SOFT" issues is "HARD".

Let us accept that people are affected most due to changes. And it is appropriate to accept our incomplete understanding when dealing with people issues. It is necessary to show patience and tolerance while implementing changes. And it is also OK to backtrack at times to accommodate the views of people connected with the change initiatives. Backtracking is not necessarily a sign of weakness. It is prudence which comes with maturity.

Make some difference in someone's life

What do we take out from the workplace and what do we leave behind? We leave behind a happy person, who benefited because of your timely advice. We leave behind a colleague, who could complete his job in time, because you shared with him your resources despite difficulty faced by you. You leave behind a successful subordinate, who could develop and fine-tune his skills because of your mentorship. You leave behind a relieved engineer because you could resolve his dilemma by getting involved in the matter despite your own time pressures.

You leave behind someone, who will remember you throughout his life.

To be or not to be, that's the question

In our own personal and professional lives, there are many situations where we are faced with a dilemma. We are required to behave or accept things which we don't agree with. The dilemma we face is, should I stick to my convictions and face all the problems arising out of resisting the conflicting situation, or bend my beliefs, at least temporarily, and go with the flow? In second option I run a danger of being overtaken by guilt and remorse for going against my convictions.

I feel that there is only one way to deal with this dilemma. We have to look at the possible outcomes of the different scenarios, and think of the consequences. The situation in which the outcome does not conflict with your core values, that choice will give you a long lasting satisfaction, even if you suffer in short run.

I strongly believe that one has to wear an armor of "faith and hope" to deflect the negative thoughts from one's mind. So, where from do I get this hope and in which area do I re-pose my faith?

The simple mantra which I have practiced in my life is to adhere to your core values and beliefs, and never compromise on them.

  1. Set significant and self imposed performance bench mark for your own self. It improves your self esteem. A person having strong self esteem is the person who can think positive.

  2. Try to put in your best efforts to achieve your internal bench marks. When one is confident that the priority and focus is given to achieve superior performance, there is no need left to seek feedback from any one else.

  3. Be true to your conscience. A person who follows his own conscience is always a positive person even in negative surrounding.

  4. Try to manage your "EGO". The ego of a person can play havoc in situations where adverse events challenge the personal ego. Please appreciate that your ego is your enemy. Let go of all your ego in a manner a ripe fruit naturally detaches itself from the tree. You will then realize that the adversity no longer hurts you and you remain positive.

When you have such a positive frame of mind, you start looking at the bright side of life. You start discovering the new opportunities. You start realizing that there is a lot to look forward to in your life. In that state of mind you start feeling confident that no problem is unsolvable , no constraint is insurmountable and no challenge is unconquerable.

Enjoy by letting go

The verse in Sanskrit sums this up very well. TENA TYAKTENA BHUNJEETHA or he enjoyed by giving up.

What can we give up? We can give up and delegate the power we have to our colleagues for their development. We can distribute the knowledge we possess to anyone who could benefit from it. We can give our money to deprived people around us. We can own up the risk of failures, while letting our team members take the credit of successful achievements.

There is no nobler act than happily giving up.

I hope you will reflect and ponder over this piece, and evolve your own philosophy of life. When we create this "Personal Vision", then we seem to understand the purpose of our life. I wish you a great future and hope we remain connected.

Best wishes,

B.K. Shrikhande
December 2010

Please write to me your comments about the above letter.

Bhalchandra Shrikhande is B.Tech. (Chemical Engg.) from IIT, Bombay. After graduating in 1980, he joined ACC Ltd. He served ACC for 30 years. The businesses in which he worked are Cement and Ready Mixed Concrete. The functional areas in which he worked included Research and Development, Process engineering and Development, Production, Strategy/Business Planning, Project Execution and Management, Project Engineering and Design, Management Audits, Consultancy assignments, Organizational development and Training. The above letter was written when he quit ACC and was in the process of joining Indiabulls Group.

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