3 Steps towards Building an Amoeba Organization*

Is your organization structured like an Amoeba?

Successful businesses can continually alter its organizational structure to meet the changing demands of the environment in which they are operating. Each of that change helps them propel forward to achieving the goals the organization has set for itself. And finally, it is not bound the rigid boundaries that are prevalent in the industry or in other industries. Let us take each of these with an example

Business is no Biology, Why then are we talking of Amoeba, here?

An amoeba (/əˈmiːbə/) is a type of organism which

  • can alter its shape, primarily by extending and retracting pseudopods.
  • propels forward (and feeds) by using and extending a pseudopod and let’s go its rear portion
  • do not form a single taxonomic group and are found among the protozoa, fungi, algae, and animals.

A successful business means these 3 things

1. Altering the structure:

Altering the structure of an organization is usually a daunting task. It requires a leader to think out of the box and often begets undesirable resistance from HR and other units that look for status quo for ease of administration. Even in the many cases where an organization undergoes reengineering and restructuring, it often is a laborious exercise and involves months of planning and years of execution. It is anything but simple. But then creative leaders know can get this done.

In one exceptionally large organization that I was working, it was boom time and the business team was quite successful in meeting and exceeding targets. We had an extremely capable sales team and marketing team. The technical team was terrific. The Unit was on a super-fast growth. Yet, burnouts and the low compensation started to take its toll. The Business Unit leader was fully aware of the consequence and had many meetings with HR in vain. So, in this case, he hired a ‘marketing manager’ and the job role was clearly defined as an ‘excitement specialist.’ The measurement was about creating excitement in the team and help the unit be a fun place. The new-hire, an ex-advertising professional from a reputed Advertising Agency exactly knew what to do to build that excitement in the team. She was successful and the need for that position had been done away within 12-18 months when intended results of retentions and motivation were achieved.

There were other times, what was needed was ‘just a process to be set in place,’ or entire unit was to be focussed on ‘competitive win back.’ The organization structure changed countless times, where the required people were brought in or moved out and/or roles changed dynamically. Such changes could not have been reflected under the rigid structure, but with a creative leader, we were able to achieve none the less. The organization not only survived one of the worst dot com busts but propelled forward to be a leader in the industry as competition floundered. And that brings us to the second point.

2. Propel Forward:

To propel forward is a simple term but then defining the forward is the key. The forward could mean winning competition even at a short-term loss or it might earn profit maximization. It might mean the need for PR or need for better sales closers. There can be a couple of areas where one needs to move forward, and it only means adequate resources are deployed in those areas for that duration to make them successful. Any less, the effort would go waste. Any more, we might not be doing it efficiently. Propel forward for an organisation unit may be different from the standard industry practices.

The key to propelling forward is to let go of the past that is holding us back. We could have had an organization that was great and successful in the past but continuing the same activity and being tied to the past will slow the unit down. The key to propelling forward is to let go of the tenets that gave success in the past and unbound and unleash itself.

3. Unbound and hence Unleashed:

The core tenet is being unbound and unchained by the dogmas that exist in the organization and unit. Any change like this is seen as maverick and would lead to eyebrows being raised and questions being asked. The only way to address such criticism is to continue to deliver on outcomes. The team would need to be fully aware that they are being taken into full confidence and it needs to work on ‘a mission mode.’ Goals are pursued as a mission, and the team sees itself as a task force and a crack team. Call it permanent beta, disruptive innovators – any name that you wish. The idea is to take the team along and make sure they are unbound and unleashed all the time to deliver their best.

Go ahead try it! Build your own Amoeba Organization*.

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 This above article first appeared in the Times of India on April 03, 2019

Rajesh Soundararajan is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Futureshift Consulting, a boutique consulting outfit that helps organizations chart their business, marketing and technology strategies that generate demand, drive predictable revenue and achieve impactful outcomes.

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*I am not talking here about Amoeba Management, which is a system designed by Kazuo Inamori, the creator and current honorary chairman of Kyocera. Amoeba Management is different from building an Amoeba Organization that I am talking of and is primarily composed of personnel in a company, with a clearly defined purpose of making a profit for itself.

6 things that I learnt from a devastating accident

I share here about my experiences from a devastating accident in which I almost lost three fingers, and what I have learned from this miracle ordeal.

Three years ago, it was late Sunday evening of January, when I met with a freak yet devastating accident. As I was working on a 12,000 RPM rotary metal cutting tool, a momentary lapse of attention and I severed my three fingers on the right hand.

This jolted my family and threw life out of gear. With three small beautiful children and a family that is dependent, an entrepreneurial journey and a whole life ahead, a useless right hand, was the last thing one would want on.

By the time I was wheeled into A&E, the situation was grave, and more than one hospital in the area refused admission as they did not have the doctor on call over that weekend. It was a weekend night and Bangalore roads were choked with heavy traffic.

The Two-Wheeler Ride To Eternity:

And clutching the tree dismembered fingers of my right hand tightly with the left. here I was with riding pillion on a two-wheeler, and my wife the ‘ambulance’ driver. The blood loss was significant as the body gushed out blood to the fingers. Here sitting in the pillion, the one thing on my mind was to keep myself awake, come what may and not become unconscious and fall off. I hugged my feet to the sides of the scooter, much like how you would on a horse and kept talking to my wife, lest i fall asleep. The
notorious city’s traffic was not helping and a good 30-40 minutes later, and what seemed like an eternity, we reach a hospital that would admit us.

What happened during that ride was nothing short of awakening and rebirth.

What happened during that ride was nothing short of awakening and rebirth. My mind was filled with both doubt and acceptance, on what-if, and how I will live with just a thumb and little finer for the rest of my life. A billion thoughts crisscrossed my mind. Would this be the end of me? Will I be accepted in this world? How will I have an opportunity to pursue my hobbies and passions for which I came back to India? How will I do as an entrepreneur? Would this end of my professional life forever?

The Surgery And The Recovery

It was an intense 4-5-hour surgery under general anaesthesia, and I remained drugged, for hours after that. I still remember the light banter in the Operation Theatre with the surgeon. He informed that he would need me to sign the consent form, as he said, “….we can save one finger, be ready to lose two of them, but definitely we will try to save the second one”. This was before the General Anaesthesia and I replied, “Doc, without those three fingers I cannot sign. How about you are fixing them and then I can have the form signed in no-time.” After a good guffaw, they got the consent form signed by my wife, who was there through out the phase not sleeping a wink.  

Cut forward to 6 weeks later – As we went for the removal of cast and stitches, my doctor was awed and euphoric – for, this recovery was beyond all his expectation. He mentioned I was ‘one big lucky man‘; While I was relieved, I knew deep within, that the hundreds of prayers and positive energy from many well-wishers and the doctor’s dedication would not go waste.

And all that was backed by rock-solid backbone by wife and children, strong support of family, prayers, blessings and encouragement of many many friends. Over the next few months – life had ‘raced back’ to normalcy – in 6-8 weeks, much earlier than the then expected 6-12 months.

I was welcomed from the hospital with a cake, and the little ones were more excited to see me, than to have a piece of that cake.

I was welcomed from the hospital with a cake, and the little ones were more excited to see me, than to have a piece of that cake.
I was welcomed from the hospital with a cake, and the little ones were more excited to see me, than to have a piece of that cake.

I have learned a lot in those few months and unlearned many more. It indeed was a rebirth. With many cobwebs in the mind removed, and the mind knows what is important in life. In retrospect, this was the best exerience in my life, yet. Couldn’t have been luckier to have this experience.

Here’s a summary of the five most important things that I’ve learned:

1.  Love And Respect:

Throughout the adventurous journey, the one thing I realised was the importance of having the love and respect of family, whom you could always depend on. My parents-in-law were all the time and my parents flew in from Dubai almost immediately on hearing this. With that confidence of the support of my family and friends, I would sail through this life. I was also fortunate to have support in form of many hundreds of telephone calls, WhatsApp enquiries from all corners of the world. Many of them dropped by for a visit. Words of encouragement, flower bouquets courier packages with holy water, ashes and prasadams (similar to holy water, in form of solid or liquid) from holy places were pouring in.

2.  Acceptance:

Within minutes of the accident, and immediately after the shock, I had mentally prepared to accept whatever cards, life throws at me. If it means, living with just thumb and the little finger, I was ready for a life the way it is dished out to me.

3.  Gratitude:

Gratitude was the most important of all the learnings. Through the process of long recuperation, I was filled with immense gratitude for all the amazing things that life had to offer. I was grateful for all that so many people have done for me. Through the countless solitary moments, I thanked thousands of people, yes thousands of people. I could vividly remember the faces of the many persons that I had encountered in life since childhood. And, I would believe that act alone was the single biggest contributor to my miracle recovery, a record of sorts.

Let alone not losing any of the fingers as the doctor had said, the recovery was much lesser than six-twelve months, I was ready and kicking and six weeks. In fact, just a day after the bandages removed and even without physiotherapy I went ahead and did what I love to do – an 800 km Road trip, more than half-which I was at the wheel.

I could vividly remember the faces of the many persons that I had encountered in life since childhood.

4.  Law Of Attraction:

If there is one important thing other than gratitude, mentioned earlier it is the law of attraction. Much I was accepting each day for what it was, I was not willing to let go of the optimist in me and the fighter in me. Each day, I would visualise miraculous healing and see the senior surgeon tell us that he was amazed at the speed of recovery.

5.  Amazing Adaptability Of Human Body:

Through my journey, I was able to be aware and observe amazing aspects of the internal workings of the human body. The experience of ‘electric shocks’ from nerve endings as they try to heal, regrow and reconnect to the nervous system, the incredible way in which my left hand took over seamlessly much like a doubles partner; to compensate for my every weakness. The reflexes had dramatically improved, to say the least. Never in my entire life, I would have experienced such a level of alertness and strong reflexes .

6.  Mindfulness, Dramatic Increase In IQ Tests

Here, I’m going to speak about something incredible that happened and is beyond imagination. This was more of an unintended consequence, serendipity if you may, for what you are about to hear is not something even I foresaw in my wildest dreams.

I am a regular player of online brain games like Lumosity. After that break of about 6 to 8 weeks, scores consistently surged way higher than any of previous high scores. Not believing this magical twist, I went and took 20 -30 different brain tests. The scores were consistently 30-70% higher than my earlier high scores. On further research, I learnt that sudden use of left-hand for the considerable amount of time helped activate the other half of the brain.

Today, I am so grateful to people around me, my life, and the universe. When I play badminton, play with children, pick up those weights in the gym, or do that 10,000 km road trip – and all of them are still a bit of effort, none-the-less – not a day passes without feeling how lucky life has been.

Aspire to be a CEO: Learn the Four Rules of Time

Four Rules of Time
There are four rules of time.
1.     The first is that time is perishable.
This means that it cannot be saved. In fact, time can only be spent. Because time is perishable, the only thing you can do with it is to spend it differently, to reallocate your time away from activities of low value and toward activities of higher value. But once it is gone, it is gone forever.
2.     Time Is Indispensable
The second rule of time is that time is indispensable. All work requires time. No matter what it is you want to do in life, even looking out a window or sleeping in for a few extra minutes, it requires a certain amount of time. And according to the 10/90 Rule, the 10% of time that you take to plan your activities carefully in advance will save you 90% of the effort involved in achieving your goals later. The very act of thinking through and planning your work in advance will dramatically reduce the amount of time that it takes you to do the actual job.
3.     The Currency of the Future
The third rule of time is that time is irreplaceable. Nothing else will do, especially in relationships. Time is the only currency that means anything in your relationships with the members of your family, your friends, colleagues, customers and co-workers. Truly effective people give a lot of thought to creating blocks of time that they can then spend, without interruption, with the important people in their lives.
4.     The Key to Goal-Achievement
The fourth rule is that time is essential for accomplishment.
Every goal you want to achieve, everything you want to accomplish, requires time. In fact, one of the smartest things you ever do, when you set a goal, is to sit down and allocate the exact amount of time that you are going to have to invest to achieve that goal. The failure to do this almost always leaves the goal unaccomplished.

Action Exercises
Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action:
First, decide today to redirect and reallocate your time away from low-value tasks and toward high-value activities.
Second, make a plan to spend more time face-to-face with the most important people in your life. The more you think about the use of your time, the better you will become.
By: Brian Tracy