Flying and the “Queue phenomenon”

How queueing at the airport can be explained with human behaviour and what are the lessons to be learnt

How many of you have noticed, that people just love queuing up at the gate while an aircraft is boarding? In fact, I have noticed that even before the gate has opened some people love queuing up. Zone wise boarding? No no! People still want to queue up. Upon landing the plane doors aren’t even open yet and there are many who will happily queue up in the aisle.

While utterly illogical for the most part i think this behaviour can be explained by basic human nature to be a bit insecure. We see a queue growing in size, and we feel compelled to join the front of the queue. We don’t want to cede our territory and be at the back of it. Perhaps we are anxious that we may not get space in the overhead storage compartment or we are petrified that we may miss out on boarding in a sane way. Perhaps we are anxious that we may be inconvenienced by many aisle obstacles. Whatever is the reason, yesterday something really funny happened. While traveling to Chennai one such queue was standing for almost an hour and when the gate finally opened and boarding started we were hoarded into a bus ūüėÜ I thought for a minute that there would be anarchy but perhaps people were already satisfied by standing in the queue for absolutely no reason.

I have given up on queuing – I’d rather sit quietly and read a book or observe other people while wondering why do people queue up. I go towards the end of the queue when most people board feeling peaceful and accomplished that I’m still going to get my reserved seat and it doesn’t matter if there is no overhead storage left for my handbag.

Our brains are wired to be competitive it feels irrational to not queue up it also feels like if you queue up you will get into the plane faster but the plane ain’t leaving until boarding is complete! Hey but who am I to tell hundreds of limbic systems bored at the prospect of flying in a pressurised tube at 30000 feet and trying to get some excitement by queuing up ūüôā?

Some lessons in real life I can relate with. What do you think?

  • Don’t engage in meaningless competition
  • Sometimes just because all others are doing it, you don’t have to do it
  • While fear of missing out FOMO can be real the effects often can be unfounded
  • just because you are busy doesn’t mean you are productive

Until next time, ciao!!

Curious case of chasing the sunshine, yet missing the rainbow…

Its been¬†a good summer, wouldn’t you agree? Its funny how I have become obsessed about weather since I moved to London. I have¬†always been amused by the amount of attention weather gets in casual conversations here, but I get it now. In fact, I enjoy moaning about grey days (a LOT) and raving about sunshine (about twice a year :)). Given enough time,¬†I may even flock to the parks all packed with a picnic lunch, and braving¬†the underground with my sunglasses on.

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A Summer Day in London Parks

 

There are scientifically proven links between mood and weather. According to a study, about 27% of people hate summer!? It causes them irritability and general unhappiness. Wait, what? apparently they truly exist. BBC too, recently reported a project trying to measure link between pain and weather. In a nutshell, it is more than conceivable that weather does affect our thoughts. In fact, in some crazy unsubstantiated theories it is even believed that thoughts affect weather. I want to draw your attention to a certain dichotomy of human desires that is represented perfectly in how we perceive weather. On a cold, wet and grey afternoon, we long to see some sunshine whereas on a hot dry and bright summer day, we secretly desire a cold breeze of fresh air. To some extent, it is human nature Рwe cannot help it!

Undoubtedly, there is a weather system at our¬†workplaces too – right?¬†While leaders do not have the ability to control the weather system outside in the park, they can definitely influence the one¬†at work. A team or an organisation goes through a rough patch every now and then. This winter (sometimes long) can be taxing for your teams. As a leader, you need to provide your team with the warmth of¬†positive affirmation of their accomplishments¬†and you need to provide them with the shelter and safety of your trust. If a leader is trusted, people are rarely insecure with the rough weather.¬†There are times when¬†a team or an organisation is going through a¬†growth spurt, or a “spring”. You must invest more in¬†the team during this period – not only hiring but developing people, skills and their careers. If your best talent feels appreciated, you can be assured of good returns during the “fall”. When success comes, it may feel like “summer” and its time for leaders to reflect on what worked best, and what did not. Leaders should think about how to incorporate this into their plans for next set of seasons. In summary, a great leader can actually be a weather master, allowing positive impact of all situations. John Ruskin puts it beautifully –

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.

John Ruskin

In my experience, we chase sunshine all our lives but we often forget how beautiful a rainbow is. With the right attitude, we can create the perfect golden sunshine on one side and refreshing rain playing like a joyful child on the other, perhaps that is where amazing colours of life come from?

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Let me know what you think in the comments section.

3 Reasons leaders should re-assess diversity within their teams

Have you ever heard of mildly¬†racist mondays? Please do not be concerned ūüôā seriously!¬†a¬†hilarious colleague of mine invented this ‘comic theme’¬†a few months ago. ¬†You basically gather people of at least 3¬†different nationalities, pick a¬†topic and start debating. Add¬†a dash of millennials to the group and¬†you have a recipe for¬†some genuine fun!¬†The topics often range from the famous Indian head-shakes, to the queue conundrum with the British.¬†The banter¬†is almost¬†therapeutic and very good for team-bonding. In a way, we celebrate and appreciate diversity . As a result, we work better together, trust each other more and are more tolerant towards each others way of thinking. Hey and Mondays do not need a reason to be jazzed-up, right?

Anyway, speaking of diversity, 3 key themes stand out –

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1. Diversity is a multi-dimensional concept

Diversity is not only about nationalities, races, genders and sexual orientations. Diversity can be much more than that. A millennial that does not believe in hierarchy is diversity. An individual that requires as a minimum a strong sense of purpose, is part of diversity too. Moreover in product teams, you may have a designer, an engineer and a marketing person that think very differently. This diversity of thoughts, beliefs, and opinions whilst not legally protected, needs some serious consideration.

2. Culture trumps process – every time!

I believe culture and diversity are joined at the hip. In order to create or maintain great culture, you need to re-assess the importance you give to diversity. Brian Chesky (CEO, AirBnB) puts in aptly in his article – “The culture is what creates the foundation for all future innovation. If you break the culture, you break the machine that creates your products“. The article also implies that strong culture removes¬†the need for arduous processes. It is like doing mental math vs. doing calculations on paper. Mental math is great culture whereas calculations on paper are like processeses – they may achieve the same goal but processes are much slower (in most cases). Great culture means that you can trust people to make the right decisions!

3. Diversity helps avoid cognitive biases thereby improving decision-making

Recently Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his interview to Sam Altman of Y-Combinator talked about how Facebook places its bets on the future. He highlighted the strong role culture plays in that decision-making, whether it be testing a new ad-format or choosing¬†the next big thing or people to invest-in. Mark’s¬†commitment to diversity is visible from the quote¬†below (17:00 in the clip)

“We invest in people who we think are really talented, even if they haven’t done that thing before – like the CFO who hasn’t taken a company public before – we simply are committed to invest in talented people”

Having the diversity on the team also massively helps in putting checks and balances on the decision-making. This Deloitte University Press article¬†sums it up nicely. It says, diversity of thought leads to the following –

  • Avoiding group-think or expert opinion errors – as you benefit from having all the diverse perspectives on the same problem or solutions
  • Increasing scale of insight – this is something that I have personally experienced in my career .. quality and scale of ideas or ingenious solutions is infinitely better in a diverse team
  • Helps organisations identify the right talent to solve their most pressing issues – imagine having an option to use a broad spectrum anti-biotic as opposed to a single specialised anti-biotic that may or may not work in a bacterial infection (Sorry – for that example ;))

All these can be achieved through Рhiring, managing and promoting differently. Please read the dupress article above for more insight.

Okay! now that I¬†have given you 3 reasons to re-assess your understanding¬†of diversity – if you want to learn more about the famous Indian head-shake, please DO NOT ask me. I really don’t know ūüôā