7 Perils of the “Survival of the Fittest” Theory…

2015/07/02

Ever since Herbert Spencer coined this term based on Darwin’s theories, it has probably been the most used excuse for anything that we would not do in a more cooperative world. Though we don’t live in what can be defined as a cooperative world, the irony is, we also want to get away from what is called the “Rat Race”. Pretty nice contradictions to live with right?

So, have you noticed people who live by the survival of the fittest theory? Irrespective of the demographics or socioeconomic background they come from, there are some commons traits and behaviors they seem to display which is not only remarkably consistent, but also clearly distinguishable. These are some I have noticed.

They cant make meaningful friendships: Forget friendships, many cant even make meaningful relationships with siblings. Since people who live by this theory always have to be better than the crowd, anyone part of it is a competition. And because of this, no one can be a true a friend. Most people they know are only accomplices that can come in handy for the pursuit of goals.

They are mostly comfortable, but highly stressed too: Again, this is a result of meaningless comparisons and pointless pursuits. Since the world can only take a “few” survivors, wanting to survive is a need that results in (mostly) pointless analysis.

They don’t trust easily: Actually, this could have been the first point. In fact, it is this trait that results in point 1.

They play their cards close to their chest: Since they hardly trust anyone, they have no choice but to play their cards close to their chest. Sometimes, it can be so apparent that even an innocuous, question like “when do you generally leave from work?” would be replied with a suspicious “why do you ask this?” question. But, at the far end, they would not mind taking favors from the same people though.

They have an apparent scarcity mindset: Try asking them to part with something they own, and you will know this. Even if they know its hardly useful, they just can’t part with what is theirs.

They just don’t mind passing the buck: Forget “not minding” passing the buck, some would have even mastered this art. In many cases, they might even take credit for what they don’t deserve, but not take responsibility for anything close to failure.

What they live by is a substitute of what they live for: Everyone has ambitions which results from life goals and we make some compromises to achieve them, but people who have the survivor mindset actually don’t seem to have any true “no-no’s” for themselves. The only no-no would probably be not compromising on their goals.

Whatever said and done, survival of the fittest mindset people also have their own moments and pursuits of happiness. But mostly, their happiness would be a derivative of what comforts they can possibly possess.

What do you think? Am I missing anything here? Or is “survival of the fittest” a natural process that we have to “adapt” to?


When Am I a Successful Manager?

2011/03/28

Being a manager means so many things to so many people. And unfortunately, success for a manager is also defined in so many different ways that it’s a rare chance two people will always give the same answer if ever asked. These are something’s I see as success indicators for a manager, but then, these are my opinions and experiences, and could be right, wrong or even left. Looking forward for thoughts, comments and of course, criticism too.

Success for a manager can probably be seen in two ways, success in terms of business results and success in terms of team’s performance. When it comes to team’s performance:

  • Success is not about low turn around rates always. More than low turn around rates, success for a manager is also about where and how people from the team are placed once they move out. A team member sticking to a particular team or manager may not only be a result of his/her preference, but also the fact that the manager has not enabled the people he/she is responsible for enough to actually be successful beyond the particular job function. This is dicey for both the team and the manager. It could well be because the manager actually does not think beyond the current role for both the team and himself/herself.
  • Being popular need not mean being successful. This is probably the most clichéd quote, so I’m probably not going to explain this further. That being said, being unpopular with the team and popular with executives is not a sign of success either. A truly successful manager is popular with both the team and the management – and not for antics, but for results.
  • Another key success trait for a manager is when each and every reportee of him/her knows exactly what is expected of them. This could again sound clichéd, but more than knowing what is expected, I also feel it is important for a manager to share exactly what each of the performance standards mean and how a person will be rated during the dreaded performance cycles. I feel every reportee should know what each performance parameter means to the manager, what is the scale of rating, and what each point in the scale means.
  • Also important is the knowledge of what it takes to move to the next level. This sets a level playing field, and also shows that the manager is truly interested in the success of his/her people not just in the current job roles, but also larger ones.

Success from business results stand point of view is actually pretty simple. Whatever you do, please meet customer expectations!!! Sounds simple right? But this is probably the toughest thing for any manager to do. There is so much talk about “customer delight” in the Indian IT industry in particular, but honestly, customers would be more than happy if we just meet their expectations I guess. This was the success mantra of Flipkart.com, and boy have they grown!!! Reflecting on the instances when we were customers, I’m sure we will agree that we will be more than happy if Chinese food smelt and tasted like Chinese food, and being exquisite etc will only be over and above satisfying that primary need.

What do you think? These are just a set of thoughts I could think of, and would definitely add more when I think of them.


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