Breaking the Comfort Zone Barrier

Recently I had gone to buy some groceries. As I came back and was loading the purchases into my car, a young girl approached me. She wanted to talk to me. She said that she is not selling anything and just wanted to speak to me. She wanted to know if I am from Bangalore, so that she could build better rapport with me talking in Kannada. I said any language is OK for me.

She then started telling me that she is from UNICEF and explained a rare congenital medical complication. I listened to her attentively as she showed me some pictures and transitioned to asking for my contribution to the cause.

Then I asked her casually, what her education was? She had done MCA. Surprised, I asked, if you have done MCA, then why are you doing this activity, can’t you be doing something which involves computer programming and technology, which has a phenomenal opportunity and potential.

She was quick in replying that a tech job was not easy for her because of a lot of pressure to deliver, and that this job she is doing now is easy and cool. She can work whenever she can, and they are not so strict about the working duration.

On the way back, I thought of my experience from Curitiba, when I worked for BOSCH there from 1991 to 1995. One of the roles I did was to implement SPC (Statistical Process Control), the 3rd time, in Curitiba. Being the 3rd time, I went through and looked around to understand the challenge. The challenge had more to do with mindset and culture and less with calculations and statistics. We were so much used to just go with the flow and were less proactive, especially for acting, most of the times against the flow, for hints from the SPC charts based on samples.

After researching what could be done, I came up with the watermelon concept for experiencing sampling and selected a video with a story to work on the mindset and culture. I told this story, as an icebreaker for our mindset and culture challenge, to everyone in our plant, about 3,500 of them, in small batches. I also used the same story with about 50 of our domestic vendors.

The outcome was magical, with us getting many recognitions, like the corporate departments in Germany speaking about us having one of the best SPC culture in the entire Bosch world, or our customer, Cummins, telling us that we were one of those rare vendors who had understood SPC. Apart from these accolades, our throughput had increased and quality improved.

A long, long, long, long time ago, there was a tribe which lived deep inside a cave in total darkness. They were contended and happy, even though the life expectancy was just around 25 to 30 years. One day three of them, who were inquisitive, just set out walking in the cave, marching ahead despite a lot of challenges – thorns, insects, animals, heat, cold, etc. Overcoming all these difficulties, after a few days, they reached the end of the cave to experience light for the first time in their lives.
The butterflies, birds, trees, rivers, mountains, clouds, etc., as we know today, was so amazing that could not even be imagined, let alone experienced. This excited them to rush back and tell the others of the wonder they had discovered. Though way back was as difficult as the way forward, they did not perceive any difficulty, due to their excitement and motivation to share their experience with the others.
On returning to the tribe, they hardly could find words to explain the wonderful experience they had. Others listened with curiosity, which unfortunately was short lived. The elders in that tribe had concluded that these three possibly were bitten by a poisonous insect which had made them mad. In that tribe anyone declared mad had to face death. So, the three were hung to death.

I would show the video with this story, tell my opinion – considering the life expectancy of 25 to 30 years those days, getting hanged after experiencing such a wonderful miracle was not tragic, and initiate a debate on the pros and cons of the three having taken the initiative and being proactive to pursue walking despite the huge difficulties they had to encounter.

Within no time everyone could relate to them normally going with the flow. They identified what could be done to start becoming proactive and pursuing the chosen path despite hurdles. This was the start to us using SPC effectively by proactively working on the hints visible in a SPC chart.

I am not sure, if our lives have become so easy, that becoming proactive to address and pursue for overcoming a challenge by doing the basics consistently and meticulously has become extremely difficult.

What do you think? How proactive are you?

Happy reading!

9 thoughts on “Breaking the Comfort Zone Barrier”

  1. Hi Dinakar. Here is my quick feedback on the nice post. “Be the change you want to see in the world” is famous saying. Yes, being proactive and leading by example helps to motivate colleagues around. At the same time , getting 360 degree would help to get any improvement scope.

  2. L Muralidhar Sastry

    It’s just beautifully narrated. Creating awareness about changing the mindset then the regular process followed.
    I am also working on similar grounds to create the awareness like said prepare the mindset and start thinking out of regular process

  3. Hope our schooling taught us to develop these vital traits of a positive mindset and a world-class work culture!

  4. I really liked the way you explained the approach for proactiveness .
    We should listen properly, absorb and then act.

  5. What a narrative! Nobody else impacts me on proactiveness as much as this narrative does!

    With standard procedures documented, many have just got used to following it than looking beyond! It’s like those people used to being cave and doing mundane tasks.

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