Digital Dexterity Ash Naik Edcast Dubai


Digital Dexterity is the capability in an organization with the ability to deliver transformational business impact. As organizations invest trillions of dollars into digital transformation initiatives, it is quite normal to not realize the desired impact in over 70% of the projects. A problem that is regularly attributed to the lack of skills. Irrespective of the sources, challenges, or limitations of transformative efforts; research from Gartner suggests Digital Dexterity as one of the ways to realize results faster.

Digital Dexterity comes from Skills available in the organization or built as a part of the transformation initiatives. Over the past few weeks, we were looking for a framework to simplify skill-building by leveraging technology to help. This was not an easy endeavor with several variations, deviations and opinions making actionability a challenge.

Skill is the knowledge to perform action/s with determined results.

Acquiring skills  is just a matter of focus on three elements Knowledge, Action performance and deterministic Results. When we say technology to build skill, we therefore can focus on just these three functions or levers.



In the digital workplace and modern workplace, knowledge is distributed. Civilization today consists of inherent knowledge with relevance built into the design of all aspects of our work and life. As Don Norman writes in The Design of Everyday Things, “..knowledge exists in the users head (familiar) and in the users world (deducible) ..” From understanding the implications of a button to the intuitive application of effort, our world includes knowledge in the most usable form.

In this context, one way to improve the skill is to increase the knowledge in the user’s head or in the world. Knowledge in the head is subject to decay following the forgetting curves- unless imbibed in rituals or behaviors. The Digital Universe provides a fertile ground to enhance the knowledge in the world-where the user can easily deduce the actions to be performed- given the results are obvious. Improving the overall knowledge of users automatically improves the skills – a role that technology can easily play today.


Digital technology has simplified actions to the most elementary essences. Touch, press, drag, let-go along a dynamically changing two-dimensional canvas that provides audio-visual or tactile feedback. Skill therefore relies on mappings designed to reduce cognitive load and reduce errors in the interest of simplifying the path to the result.

Although the steps needed to accomplish the results may be larger, modern UX design relies on simple actions to attain obvious results in a repeatable form. The skills problem therefore, turns into mastering the sequence of actions problem. In addition to the next step decision, automation plays a role in building skills in the digital workplace. All UX designers have to focus on is provide cues and nudges towards desired results. The skills problem for action therefore reduces to identifying the cues and making decisions faster or recovering from errors quickly.


“Assume all errors that can be made, will be made” cautions Don Norman while providing the seven principles of a good UX. Although, this seems like a manageable problem, in the universe where simple actions, are arranged in innumerable ways to accomplish results; over time- complexity introduces new errors leaving users struggling to reach expected results. The paths of recovery therefore multiply significantly over time.

While technologies can help automatically enhance the skills of the digital population, over time, it becomes the hurdle getting in the way of competence. Most of the hurdles are removed over time through standardization and training but the costs to users and buyers is quite large when new services are introduced rapidly-with an intent to enhance productivity, improve outcomes and simplify execution.

Challenges to Skill-building

Simple focus on these three elements does not guarantee successful productivity enhancements for the digital workforce.  Constant innovation, improvements and changes leaves the room for development, distribution and embedding of the three levers inside all digital experiences. Let us look at the most common challenges users face in operating skills in the digital world.

Knowledge: Supplementing the knowledge of using software with features available in modern work-benches is not a straight-forward process. Feature names, operations, placements, designs and customizations by organizations raise the four following challenges.

  • What: What does this feature do?
  • Where: Where does a user find the starting point for a required result?
  • Why: Why does a process place requirements and constraints that hinder progress?
  • How: How does the present set of tasks lead to the desired outcome.

Overcoming these challenges in the past was a matter of training, similar processes and narrow specializations. With the widening range of activities, these challenges lead to higher support costs, lengthy trainings and long search overhead.

Actions: Given that actions have been reduced to the most elemental form, dynamic visual cues are the foundational elements of all activities. While several innovations stay the same, new innovations constantly surface the four challenges in actions powering skillful execution.

  • Start: Locate the start of an action that is new, improved or infrequently used.
  • Next: Given a location in the workflow, how does a decision translate to choose between the next immediate actions?
  • Recovery: In a multi-step dynamically evolving workflow, how do you rollback to the right point to correct the outcome?
  • New: Given the rapid pace of innovation, how does the new flow follow or differ from the older method?

Results: Even with the best UX, training and intelligence inherent in the current digital workforce, constantly evolving requirements obfuscate the desired results regularly. This raises the challenges along the three dimensions

  • Maps: Certainty of the desired result given the imperfect data in the real world.
  • Constraints: Confidence in the successful completion of the workflow given the limitations and constraints placed in real-time.
  • Decisions: Difficulty of making decisions with nuances that are not obvious or contain considerable overlap.

Digital Dexterity therefore requires solving for all the three types of challenges at the time of transformation and over the lifecycle of operations. The weight of each of these pillars evolves as time passes, experience is gained, markets evolve, innovation diffuses and demands on individuals change. Enabling technologies no longer mean providing the tools to get the job done; but require training, guidance, support and constant evaluation over the lifecycle of the digital workbench.

The potential returns of incorporating digital dexterity are clear across 100s of customers  leveraging MyGuide as a digital adoption platform that has been quantified time and again over the past year. In addition to speeding up the time to impact, organizations see training times drop, training effectiveness improve, user productivity improve and support costs go down.



Feeling Into Tomorrow’s Reality Susan Furness Senior Associate, Edgewalkers International


If there is one thing I have long-since known, it is that you cannot know the future. So, when Dr. Judi Neal named “Sensing the Future” as one of the five Edgewalker Skills I was immediately drawn to the conversation.

The notion of Sensing the Future speaks to me in a number of ways.

  • Sensing the Future speaks to both the creative and logical me, reminding me you don’t know what you don’t know and you definitely don’t know the Future until it is has moved through being Present, to become the Past.
  • Sensing the Future stirs my sixth sense of Intuition into play to power-up other ‘sense intelligences’ (hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, tasting. When I combo the embodied knowing of intuition with what I (perceive) I know, I notice how graceful ‘movement’ becomes.
  • Sensing the Future offers me comfort as I give myself permission to stay present, to vision what could be next, but not labor on, or yearn for, what is next now.

I am nudged to consider the difference and/or relationship between Knowing and Sensing. The author Mark Nepo suggests its common to confuse plans with planning, dreams with dreaming and love with loving. Mark also shares that every book he has written has been discovered on the way to unplanned destinations.

This sparks a smile, as my legacy career has me ‘labelled’ Marketing Strategist. Indeed, my 30-year old company, Strategic Solutions bears the responsibility of its name in a (business) world I now know to be more fun, much more real and much less worrying in un-strategic surrender, especially as we navigate to AC (after corona).

I am not mooting the absence of the age-old stalwarts of the Strategic Plan – Mission, Vision, Objectives. Rather, I am appreciating the exchange of vocabulary to ignite a ‘different’ felt shift, or movement, in myself, the team, the client, the customer, the marketplace, the reader, the community …..and some.

Try these vocabulary exchanges on for size and shift :

  • Mission becomes Purpose which becomes Reason which becomes…
  • Vision becomes Reality which becomes New Reality…
  • Objective becomes Intention which becomes Sense…

The best part is you get to choose the Vocabulary Energetic that works for you and for your Sense of the Future, or perhaps your Sense of a New Reality.

Here’s some to practice as we make ‘quantum leaps’, noticeable or not :

  • Timeline becomes Pulse which becomes Rhythm
  • Strategy becomes Method which becomes Recipe
  • Tactics become Tasks which become Rituals

According to Dr Neal, the Edgewalker definition of Sensing the Future is ‘the ability to understand and embrace the future’.

Let’s take the last bit first.

Embracing the future is an ability we all have, as each breath we take carries us forward. However, it may not be an ability we recognize or enjoy.

I wonder, is this because the future is always just ahead of the point of arrival?

As I ponder, I am aware that understanding the future, especially one we don’t know, is where turmoil can kick right in. Enter the Edgewalker archetypes of change – Hearthtender and Guardian.

The Hearthtender – or Heart-Tender – looks kindly at me and says, para-phrased from Anthony De Mello : ‘Find truth in observation, not opinion….’ I take this as embodied observation by listening to the intuitive heart first, before asking my head.

The Guardian or Doomsayer steps forth looks me squarely in my knowing eyes and states : ’It will be alright in the end, and if it is not alright, it’s not the end….’.

I chuckle. That appeals to my sense of play, as well as my feel for the future, as tomorrow shows up, right here and now. Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


July Spotlight: Sohail Michael Pedari – Pedari Coaching FZE Dubai


  • Tell us about you, your experience and time in the Middle East.
    • I refer to myself as an international gypsy! I opened my eyes in 1971 in the old Dubai; 2 months before the full union took place with the last emirate joining in; as my parents had migrated from Iran in late 60’s and made UAE their home. Right after high school it was time to head out to Stockholm, Sweden where I continued my university studies in Hospitality Management. Stockholm was home to few of my close relatives and being ranked one of the safest countries in the world it was the obvious choice besides Dubai. The time in Sweden (15 years) opened my mind to many things and one of the most important of all was “absolute tolerance”. Those years shaped me into who I am today. I made my way to Italy as a professional in 2005 and continued to work in the luxury space within the hospitality industry; besides enjoying myself with the lifestyle and quality of life; and resided in Rome for 4 years. Again, a great city with immense learnings that broadened my view on many aspects in life. One of the most important learnings was to enjoy life and I mean every single day! Besides that’s where I met my partner in crime and wife Rita (whom I have been married to happily for the past 12 years). In 2009 I was offered an opportunity to relocate to UAE as a regional sales manager for the luxury chain I was working for in Rome (The Rocco Forte Hotels), which I accepted without a second thought, and with my wife’s support. I moved “back” to UAE on 31st of January 2009 and it has been an amazing ride since! I have had the privilege of working with amazing people within the hospitality and went off after leaving The Rocco Forte Hotels in 2012 to lead the global sales organization in Hilton Worldwide (Saudi Arabia & Bahrain offices) which in 2014 was followed by joining the Marriott International global sales organization and leading The Ritz-Carlton global sales in Middle East & India. My interest for training and learning start seriously to surface in 2015 when I was one of the sales training facilitators within Marriott International in MEA. Between 2015 and 2020 I certified over 500 associates in sales, revenue, negotiation, executive presentation and high performance trainings across Middle East & Africa, besides leading a multimillion sales department that won The President’s Circle in 2018 (top 5% of sales achievers in Marriott Int’l globally). Besides this I was a freelance co-active coach and worked as an internal coach in Marriott Int’l with the HR department to deliver group coaching and workshops. My burning passion for learning helped me when in August 2020 I waved goodbye to Marriott International and dedicated my full time to Pedari Coaching FZE and today I offer leadership coaching and learning solutions to organizations and professionals equally.


  • How would you describe the culture of your business?
    • At Pedari Coaching FZE the core values are the A to Z, and will not be discounted for anyone or any piece of business! I would sum it above in the following words: Daring, Innovative, Curious and Un-traditional.


  • How easy is it for you to get direct access to the decision makers in your company?
    • Middle East is not an easy place when it comes to decisions let alone decision makers! The best solution and time/money invested is in networks and through referrals. I sincerely do not spend a single $ on advertisements (traditional or digital) and instead put all my efforts into finding and connecting with healthy and productive networks that comprise of entrepreneurs and professionals that can help each other “grow” by “giving”.


  • What are your biggest challenges in the next 5 years?
    • The coaching industry is a relatively young one in the region; even with a high number of certified coaches; and has huge potential! In order to grow Pedari Coaching FZE into a 7 digit profitable business the urgency to get the right investors is key for a long term success plan, and in return to take coaching to a digital platform and provide organizations a “democratic” solution to the traditional and expensive coaching that was available to few high income executives.


  • What are the skills and competencies that you would need to train in order to meet the regions talent requirements.
    • My experience has proven to me that time spent on learning about cultural differences is a time wisely spent! With cultural differences I mean breaking it down to micro-culture and not only referring to the nation a person comes from. The Global DISC is an area that I started exploring in mid 2020 and keep on digging deeper to eventually get my certification in 2021. When we can; easier said than done; identify the profile of the person who stands/sits in front of us only then can we understand “why we are not able to connect easily” or on the contrary “why we get along with a hassle.” I find the science of knowing people in a short period of time is indeed the most valuable and important one for me and my business!

Sohail Michael Pedari

Founder / Leadership coach / Learning specialist   Pedari Coaching FZE

Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone | +971 54 4469970 |

DIGITAL NOISE Uzair Hassan 3h Solutions Dubai


Not communicating is now no more a choice. No excuses. One cannot not communicate. If you don’t respond to emails or calls or messages, you’re actually communicating, clearly, your intent.

Channels of communication have multiplied exponentially over the last decade or so and are becoming harder to manage. E.g. the post I saw yesterday regarding a friends engagement, was it on Facebook? Instagram? Email? Whatsapp? SMS? Skype chat? Zoom chat? Linkedin? Messenger? Snapchat? or other myriad apps available to connect.

An average person tends to use 20-25 apps every month. This broad selection provides a boon as well as a bane. Focus is lost, confusion is rampant, invasive spyware is commonplace, privacy elements are lost along the way and we are enslaved by the constant reminder to check up on these apps, the messages they may have received and the posts that have been put up on them.

The lines have also been blurred in the categories that we use to try to manage our networks.   I receive Facebook friend requests from people I work with as clients, as vendors, as formal / official channel partners. If you wanted to connect, please use Linkedin as that is the professional mode. Blurred lines also mean managing these multiple & diverse channels without disturbing sensitive relationships. Its become even harder.

As if these were not serious issues, we add onto the above challenges, by not being able to focus as the Ding sounds go off every minute of everyday. Could be a Facebook post, a Linkedin post, an SMS, a Whatsapp message, an email received, an Insta post and so on. And seeing it becomes a matter of priority, just in case we miss something. It is not bordering on addiction anymore, it is absolute submission.

Human interactions have taken a turn for the worse, given all this digital noise. Our heads are bowed, not in shame, but in absolute capitulation to this phenomenon. One sees people at dinner tables, restaurants, walking the dog, whatever they may be doing, but, they are buried deep in thought and focus, with their devices. One even sees them smile or wince in anger, or viciously stab at their keyboards trying to get their side of the story across. Our lives are more intertwined with the devices we carry on a day-to-day basis than ever before. And it’s a slippery slope. More interesting models are coming out that can do much more, a multitude of new apps that promise to change everything, more access to “Friends” that are collected constantly. I know people with over 3,000 friends on Facebook, over 10,000 contacts on Linkedin and so on. Unrealistic, and, raising expectations that cannot be met.

Our appetites are insatiable. We are voracious readers and devour whatever information is sent our way. We are unable to shy away from a post / a message / a link etc. We hear that sound and our focus on anything we are doing, is broken. We must see what has arrived in our inbox.

If we do not manage / control this, discipline ourselves and focus, we would be left in the digital dust of our future past.

I think the time is ripe to introduce a service similar to Google, to collate and structure all the communication apps, to manage them better. Before things get out of hand. Or is it already too late?


Uzair Hassan

CEO, 3H Solutions Group

Dubai, UAE.

( / 00971506228126 – call or whatsapp /


An ex-banker and a serial entrepreneur. Trained / consulted in over 15 countries. Fellow of the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM-UK) as well as a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI-UK). Adjunct professor at a university teaching the executive MBA. Featured in over 20 different publications. Adviser to the American Leadership Board (ALB), Advisor to European Bank for Reconstruction & Development ASB team, A Board member at an OD/HR company and a member of Mensa.

When You Ignore Culture…. there is a social side. Ron Thomas Strategy Focus Group


“I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.”

I came across this article the other day and it resonated with me. A gentleman by the name of Greg Smith resigned from his role at Goldman Sachs not only with resignation but with an op-ed.

That was the defining statement from Greg Smith, the now-famous departing employee who resigned from Goldman Sachs last week via an article on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times.

What would your “movie reviews” look like

As I read the various commentaries about Smith’s article, it seemed like reading the movie reviews before you see the movie. That is, the movie being the actual resignation letter.

I would never get into the cause of this breakup because I have always said, in any situation, there are three sides: My side, your side, and the truth. What intrigued me after I read the resignation was his statement about corporate culture.

I visited a former co-worker a year ago who used to work with me on building an onboarding program. Her statement on my last visit was the same: I can’t stand it here and tell you that this is a great place to work because it is horrible.

Likewise, this past week, I had tea with another senior executive that I used to work with in the past. We reminisced about what started as the greatest place on earth to work but later turned into the place from beyond. And the amazing part of our conversation was that we both could pinpoint the approximate thing that began to send it downhill: a change in senior leadership.

As the Godfather would say, “how did things ever get so far apart?”

The Bait and Switch

What happens when the culture that you bought into changes? Consumer laws protect all of us from bait and switch, but when bait and switch as a concept infects your organization, you are on your own. When we start that new job, you signed on because you have bought into what sounds (and seems) like it is the place for you.

As you begin the journey, we all hope that this remains the case. But what happens if you start to notice that the culture is shifting or is on a slippery slope heading south? Whether we admit it or not, we have all been there — or if you have not gotten there yet, “just keep on living,” as my father would always say.

What usually happens is when we finally come around to admitting it, we realize that the thrill was long gone but, we were in some way hoping for a redux to what we signed on for.

Culture is in the driver’s seat

Culture, in so many companies, has shifted during these COVID times. The stress for survival has caused fault lines to appear in the cultural framework. These fault lines, if not properly examined and repaired, will eventually produce a level of discontent with the talent pool that is a breeding ground for this type of behavior.

One of the most important facts about culture is that organizational value systems impact the way change happens. Some key questions include:

  • What is important to us as an organization?
  • What are our values?
  • What behaviors are rewarded and recognized?
  • How is bad behavior dealt with?
  • Do the values and vision align with our daily decision-making process?
  • Who is really in charge?

These types of questions are extremely critical for leadership to understand because this is what directly influences the way change is accepted or not. Values are the guiding principles that should direct decision-making and the performance of work. This is not only what employees, but customers, expect from the organization.

Culture on display

The cultivation of culture is the same as the principle of cultivation in gardening: weeding, fertilizing, watering, and lots of attention. When you see a culturally driven company, you will see a company that, from the senior executives down to the mailroom, having a thorough understanding of what the company is all about.

I stopped in the new Apple store in Grand Central Station last week and discussed the new iPad with a store associate. The organized chaos from the sales floor showed that it was apparent that each one of these associates knew what their mission was about. The culture of Apple with their associates is a sight to behold.

With the advent of social media, this gentleman Greg Smith chose old media to display his feelings. This is not the last time that this type of display will come forward, but I do feel we should all take a look at the Greg Smiths of our organization, and regardless of your feeling towards how this was handled, recognize that this is your new employee.

When you ignore your culture, this is the by-product — whether it is The New York Times, Twitter, Facebook, or Glassdoor.

Twitter: @ronald_thomas

June Spotlight: Ramakrishna Movva PhD Chrysalis Consulting Solutions

Tell us about you, your experience, and your time in the ME

I was, and continue to be intrigued and curious about how the world would be if every organization acts as a fertile ground for nurturing and growing human potential and spirit. This possibility sparked a passion in me that kept me energized over the past four decades of work in human and organizational development areas, both as a consultant and a practitioner. I had an enriching and enjoyable tenure with Emirates NBD, spanning over 25 years. I had the opportunity to be part of the growth, transformation, and M & A initiatives of the Group. The highlight of this stint was when INSEAD Business School published two business cases on the decade-long HR transformation that I facilitated in the bank.

I set up my consulting firm on 1st March 2020 as a transformation enabling service provider to deal with the challenges of disruption. Like everyone, I had no idea at the time that the whole world would be pushed into disruption in the way we live, work, and learn in a couple of weeks. The last one-year, in that sense, has been creatively challenging not only how my firm can support clients but also how the firm itself needed to transform to be relevant and value-adding.

 What is your company’s core purpose?

We are a transformation-enabling firm, passionate about helping organizations and leaders transform to their best possible state.  Inspired by the magic of a caterpillar’s transformation into a butterfly, we endeavor to create that magic for our clients through our consulting, coaching and learning services.

 What do you feel your company can offer  in these challenging times?

Our organizational transformation services include facilitating culture change, performance enablement, and high-performance teams. The leadership transformation services cover personalized and contextualized leader development, high potential future leaders development, and leadership learning programs.

What do you see as the most prominent HR challenges in the current times?

There hasn’t been a time in the history of modern organizations when the importance of people in organizations across the world has been felt more than now. HR leaders have an excellent opportunity to make an indelible mark on their organizations, people, and the community. I believe three factors are vital for HR making this impact.

Vision – We are indeed in a new normal that calls for a new vision. HR must shape their vision that straddles work and life, performance and wellbeing, and organization and community.

Culture – The hierarchical and control-oriented culture that organizations are used to for a long time must give way to an empowered and accountable culture where people take ownership for their actions and performance. The culture change involves a massive shift, and HR must lead the way with support from organizational leaders.

Infrastructure –  The bureaucratic processes and outdated technology must be replaced with employee-centric practices and new-age technology to ensure straight-through operations, employee experience, and real-time people analytics. HR must make a case for resources and swiftly execute the required infrastructure transformation.     

How do you see the future unfolding for organizations?

We are indeed in the midst of VUCA times when forecasting the future becomes tough. But one thing is certainly clear: organizations and people have to learn to navigate disruptions and bounce back far stronger, wiser, and nimbler. It means organizations and people becoming agile and resilient to take on the challenges of the new age of disruptions.

Ramakrishna Movva PhD

Founder & CEO
Chrysalis Consulting Solutions
PO Box: 900228, Dubai – UAE

How to Recognize Incapable Leaders Hiding in Plain Sight: Murad Mirza Global Thought Leader

How to Recognize Incapable Leaders Hiding in Plain Sight
(A Pragmatic Approach for Identifying Leadership Incompetence in the Digital Age)

Management literature is generally dedicated to defining/describing/devising/deliberating leadership in terms of the ‘desirable’ traits that are necessary for incumbents and future aspirants to successfully steer their organizations through the challenging dynamics of an evolving market, especially, in the Digital Age.  However, such a ‘positively-skewed’ approach often fails to adequately capture the various warning signs that are flashed by the corporate leaders to indicate their lack of ability to hold the top position within the organizational hierarchy.  Consequently, the focus of the ‘corporate stewards’, e.g., Board of Directors/Trustees, HR/Talent Management Heads, Regulatory/Monitoring Bodies, etc., remains ‘tilted’ towards the propounding/preaching of the ingraining/inculcation of the ‘desired’ traits within the current and future corporate leadership, rather than, assuring and ensuring a balanced approach that also advocates the elimination of the ‘undesirable traits’ in a systematic and concurrent fashion.

This often results in the presence of a ‘deeply flawed’ leadership that tends to retain its ‘regressive’ traits while piling upon ‘progressive’ attributes to satisfy the ‘expectations’ for attaining/sustaining the top office within the organization.  Examples in the respective context include; a resolute focus on achieving shareholder profitability at the expense of perpetuating a toxic/cannibalistic work environment that disregards health and wellbeing of the workforce, incentivizing the achievement of desired goals by institutionalizing the principle of ‘bending the rules without breaking them’ among ambitious team members as a form of innovation, utilizing ‘golden handcuffs’ to restrain capable talent from seeking promising opportunities elsewhere in a timely manner, encouraging the ‘cult’ of leadership that projects a regimented form of ‘organizational bonding’ as a key ‘career progression’ trait for opportunistic professionals, becoming an evangelist for progressive corporate values without adhering to them personally, etc.

The following collection of various aspects of personality disposition address the aforementioned incongruity by providing astute insights into realizing and ascertaining the gravity of the inherent shortcomings to facilitate a more equitable formulation of professional attributes within the corporate leadership:

  1. Refusing to listen to mumblings/rumblings within the organization and concentrating exclusively on the outside business environment
  2. Lethargy/Complacency/Hesitancy in taking progressive decisions
  3. Inability to evolve from an “I know best” attitude
  4. Living in a ‘bubble’ where everything is tuned/projected to be fine by ingratiating sycophants
  5. Inability to identify the ‘true’ stakeholders and failing to timely and effectively cater to their needs & expectations
  6. Protecting the ‘underperforming sycophants’ and disciplining the ‘productive rebels’ in the workforce
  7. Leading with unbridled powers and minimal accountabilies
  8. Institionalizing divisive measures (e.g., facilitating/fomenting the grapevine/rumor mill, fostering/permeating the ‘Divide & Rule’ policy, favoring nepotism over competence, etc.) to govern a fragmented workforce
  9. Dismissing/Ignoring the profound strengths of the astute competitors due to the current dominant market position of his/her own organization and/or devising ineffective/rudimentary strategies to meet their rising challenges
  10. Living in the Past or being content with the Present without planning for the Future
  11. Excessive focus on personal career growth/preservation, rather than, striving for an enduring positive legacy
  12. Ignoring the ‘Human Factor’ and putting ‘all the eggs’ in the ‘Technology’ basket
  13. Prone to fad-surfing, rather than, inculcating effective strategies that ‘actually matter’ in the context of the effective functioning of the organization
  14. Being an active contributor to the corporate grapevine
  15. Being unreliable in ‘action’ and reliable in ‘inaction’
  16. Inability to develop capable future leaders for the organization
  17. Tendency to rely on ‘one side of the picture’ for comprehending the issue(s) at hand
  18. Inability to admit mistakes and/or take responsibility for the wrong decisions
  19. Prioritizing ‘pet projects’ at the expense of compromising strategic imperatives for the organization
  20. Failing to appreciate and timely pivot with respect to the changing ecosystem of the organization’s industry
  21. Starting multiple ‘change’ initiatives without developing a clear picture of a ‘successful’ outcome
  22. Taking business risks without a robust risk management plan
  23. Basking in self-adulation while ignoring the valuable contributions of team members
  24. Failing to mobilize and optimize the available resources in a timely, efficient and effective manner
  25. Seeking alliances with wily competitors on areas where his/her own organization has strengths, rather than, concentrating on and overcoming the inherent weak areas
  26. Failing to capitalize on promising business opportunities primarily due to a conservative/risk-averse disposition
  27. Penchant for seeking/soliciting short-term wins, rather than, maneuvering/strategizing for long-term gains
  28. Failing to curb/address metastasized discontent within the organization
  29. Deploying machiavellian tactics to neutralize/suppress the rightful demands of the unions
  30. Being indifferent to the huge gap between the compensation packages of the top/senior management and the ones provided to the workforce at other levels of the organizational hierarchy
  31. Utilizing Diversity and Inclusion initiatives as a ‘marketing’ exercise, rather than, as a catalyst for driving innovation and for assuring organizational effectiveness
  32. Preferring the voice of the ‘conformists’ over the ‘rebels’ in terms of listening to the opinions/perspectives/insights pertaining to institutionalizing/ingraining/implementing transformative measures
  33. Utlizing technology as a ‘communication buffer’ to avoid answering/addressing difficult/uncomfortable questions from the workforce in face-to-face settings
  34. Treating ‘wasteful’ activities as a necessary ‘cost’ of doing business, rather than, investing in more ‘value-added’ measures in accordance with ‘lean’ principles
  35. Maintaining an adversarial relationship with the regulators
  36. Usurping credit for the achievements of his/her team members and projecting the image of a ‘solo’ player driving a flock of submissive sheep who are not capable of being ‘trusted’ with empowerment
  37. Adorning a frown/stern expression or wearing a mischievous smirk instead of a genuine simle on his/her face as a mark of superior standing and privilege
  38. Preferring to keep a distance from employees during corporate social engagements
  39. Treating Reward and Recognition of team members as cumbersome ‘burdens’ of his/her job
  40. Considering mentoring a waste of time and effort in grooming upcoming talent within the organization
  41. Proclivity for surrounding himself/herself with ingratiating sycophants, rather than, capable team members who are empowered to express their views independently without fear of reprisals
  42. Preferring to talk more, especially, on subjects that are not his/her expertise
  43. Preferring to listen less to expert advice that is driven by factual information and relying on more of the ‘gut feeling’ that is driven by personal instinct
  44. Preferring to seek ‘confirmation bias’ in terms of hearing/seeing more of what appreals to him/her to take important decisions
  45. Ruling by a ‘raging’ ego that clouds sound judgement in formulating optimal solutions to prevailing corporate challenges
  46. Demanding ‘personal loyalty’ over ‘corporate citizenship’ from hapless/subservient team members
  47. Penchant for bowing to the ‘demands’ of the activist shareholders in executive decision-making, rather than, astutely engaging all the key stakeholders in the best interest of the organization
  48. Inability to extricate himself/herself from micro-management, especially, due to distrust of the other levels of management in terms of the ability to do their jobs
  49. Spending the majority of time ‘outside’ the organization, rather than, ‘inside’ the organization
  50. Failing to timely and effectively address/allay a sense of forebording sweeping throughout the organization during precarious economic times

The severity of the incompetence rises in proportion to the number of aspects that match the leader being assessed on the aforementioned parameters.  This can be visualized by utilizing the following criteria and projecting it onto the subsequent chart:

Stage Interpretation:

Stage 5 (Clear and Present Danger to Corporate Survival/Needs Immediate Replacement)

Stage 4 (Habitual and Unconscionable Offender/Requires Timely and Effective Intervention)

Stage 3 (Actively Favoring the Machiavellian Approach/Courting the ‘Dark’ Side)

Stage 2 (Frequently Crossing the Line/Propensity for Transgressions)

Stage 1 (Prone to Occasional Misstep/Humanly Imperfect)


The aforementioned approach assures and ensures a timely heads-up in terms of adjusting the course of an organization’s jeopardized future by taking effective measures for improving the quality of leadership in a balanced manner.  It also serves as a vivid reminder for prudently navigating the path for developing future leaders to avoid falling into the trap of a skewed emphasis on only the ‘goodness’ of leadership for cultivating ‘angelic’ leaders.  No human is infallible and capable leaders are not an exception in the respective context.  They just have a finer control of their devilish proclivities.  Are you one of them?

Murad Salman Mirza
Global Thought Leader

Learning as a Superpower for a Future-Proof Workforce Kate Barker


The alarm was sounded in January 2000 by the World Economic Forum, announcing: “The world is facing a reskilling emergency. We need to reskill more than 1 billion people by 2030.” The message was clear, organisations, governments and society need to work together to ensure people around the world are skilled for a workforce of the future.

This emergency did not come as a surprise. Technology innovation, a growing demand for new competencies, changing employee expectations, shifting labour demographics and inclusion/diversity strategies, new workforce models, has been changing the business environment over the past 10 years. More recently the COVID-19 pandemic, has forced a rethink on the role of Learning and Development (L&D) in organisations and how learning can be delivered in the more immediate term. Many CLOs (Chief Learning Officers) and L&D teams have already realised that reskilling, upskilling present the answer to these problems, but that learning as we know it will not suffice. A learning transformation is needed – one that focuses on the connection between continuous reskilling & upskilling while embedding new ways of working at the very same time.

The challenge for L&D teams is to prepare for a new learning future, centred on skills and capabilities at the individual, team and organisation levels; powered by data; and integrating ‘learning while we work’. Successfully making the shift to ‘learning as superpower’ requires organisations to anticipate the eternal market needs, the changing business requirements and design & implement data-driven L&D informed by real-world cases based on contextual relevance with artificial intelligence algorithms in the context of a new technology landscape. So ‘learning as a superpower’, becomes the competitive advantage.

Two important topics often overlooked in ‘learning as a superpower’, is transforming the culture.

Psychological safety:

The concept is the basis of trust in the workplace; it drives an organisation’s ability to create belonging and inspires employees to perform at their best. Employees who can be open and honest about their learning needs are more likely to display growth-mindset behaviours, such as taking advantage of provided learning opportunities. Psychological safety is considered a catalyst for learning and growth with benefits include greater loyalty to the organisation, more healthy interpersonal relationships at work, more active collaboration in teams, and higher levels of work engagement driving individual, team and organisational performance. An important enabler of psychological safety is perceived leader vulnerability, which sparks similar behaviour in others. Leaders who authentically demonstrate a need for help or support are fostering a sense of role-model vulnerability, which supports growth-mindset behaviour and a learning culture in their teams. At Xero, an Australian software company at positioned psychological safety at the core of their culture, creating an empathetic and inclusive workplace. Fostering open conversations on topics that matter to employees is not only part of the company’s “human” philosophy, but keeps leadership close to how workplace culture is really playing out, says Nicole Reid, Chief People Officer.

Fostering unlearning, learning, relearning

Ideally, an employer will provide staff with the ability to continuously unlearn, learn and relearn. Power skills, defined by MIT professor Anant Agarwal as “hard-won and rigorously maintained abilities, such as critical thinking, persuasive writing, communications and teamwork”, help achieve this, supporting personal development and career growth. Unlearning the old to learn the new, at or beyond the speed of change, requires that individuals are given time and opportunities to adapt. It’s not just about acquiring knowledge for knowledge’s sake; fundamentally, it’s about changing habits as an essential aspect of a growth mindset. Some major organizations are already out front on this issue. Amazon recently pledged $700m to retrain 100,000 employees for higher-skilled jobs in technology. JPMorgan Chase made a five-year $350m commitment to develop technical skills in high demand—in part targeting its own workers. Walmart has already invested more than $2 billion in wages and training programs, including helping workers develop valuable soft skills.

The COVID-19 pandemic puts organisations in uncharted waters, yet L&D teams can take decisive action to help ensure their staff, teams and organisations are resilient. In the context of the urgent global call for reskilling and upskilling, L&D has the attention of the C-suite, and demands new ways to meet the challenge. Learning as an organisation’s superpower should be paramount, to drive productivity and performance improvements across the organisation.

About the Author

Kate Barker is a highly-regarded Futurist with a passion for advancing the Future of Work. She is currently serving to advance Fortune 500 companies around the world giving clients confidence in their future on how to stay competitive & minimise risk through leading-edge Future of Work Strategies, Leadership for the 21st Century, human-centric Organizational Cultures and innovative Digital Workforce Transformations. Kate Barker will be joining the expert speaker line up at ATD 2021 Middle East taking place online (29-30 June). Download the brochure for the full agenda, speaker line-up and details of ATD Certificate Programs on offer

Gauging the Location, Height & Strength of the ‘Glass Ceiling’ in Your Organization Murad Mirza Global Thought Leader


(Striving for an Equitable Approach to Talent Management)

Qualified/capable females and minorities frequently suffer the adverse aspects of an invisible ‘glass ceiling’ across the world in a wide range of organizations within multiple industries.  There are several factors that contribute to such a phenomenon, e.g., outdated talent management policies/practices/procedures, inherent corporate bias, ‘the boys’ club’ syndrome, misogynistic attitude, xenophobic inclinations, personal insecurities, technological alternatives, labor oversupply, lack of proper safety/security/infrastructure in remote locations, lack of sufficient learning/development/growth opportunities, shortage of budding female/minority talent in a certain profession, poor regulatory oversight, etc.

Savvy organizations are increasingly gravitating towards institutionalizing judicious approaches that can reflect a more diversified and inclusive workforce to stay relevant and competitive in the Digital Age.  However, it remains a significant challenge, especially, due to active/passive resistance by influential quarters who feel threatened by the prospect of their ‘entitlement’ being reduced by ‘equitable’ talent management practices.

Unfortunately, progressive legislation and strict regulation often seem to have an opposite effect since that is generally construed as an infringement on the prerogative of the corporate sector to govern itself in the most ‘customized’ manner.  Consequently, it is not surprising to see an army of lawyers that are employed by ‘harried’ organizations to exploit legal loopholes that can provide legal justification for the continuance of the ‘status quo’ in terms of ‘desired’ talent management practices.

Interestingly, the real driver of change in mindsets and subsequent practices often happens from the sobering realization during tough economic times due to the adverse impacts of an unseen significant market risk, e.g., the COVID-19 pandemic, that requires the modification of the old adage of ‘all hands on deck’ to ‘all the qualified and capable hands on deck’ to assure and ensure survivability/sustainability during precarious times.  This necessitates the need for higher level of urgency and imperativeness to break the ‘glass ceilings’ at all levels of the organizational hierarchy.  The following tool, in the form of a questionnaire, has been developed to provide an honest internal reflection and a ‘wakeup call’ for the leadership of an organization that is willing to accommodate uncomfortable truths about the prevalent talent management practices in order to ingrain effective remedies that can help them to become an espoused ‘Employer Brand’ among the rich talent that abounds within the female and minority segments of society:

Internship & Placement Stage

  • Do you prefer to hire interns who are not females and/or from the minority segments of society?
  • Are there policies/practices/procedures in your organization that discourage females and/or minorities from applying for internships in your organization?
  • Do you prefer to hire interns on discretionary basis, e.g., kinship, rather than, on the merits of their qualifications?
  • Do you systematically exclude capable females and/or minority interns from being considered for hiring as employees?
  • Do your interns mostly come from academic institutions that have a significantly low proportion of females and/or minorities?

Note: The number of ‘Yes’ responses show the location, height and strength of the ‘glass ceiling’ in your organizational hierarchy.  Don’t proceed further with correcting the next higher level of your organization before achieving ‘No’ in all the aforementioned questions.

Recruitment & Selection Stage

  • Are there policies/practices/procedures in your organization that constrain the hiring of female and/or minority talent for most positions in your organization?
  • Do your recruitment campaigns primarily focus on gaining talent from academic institutions that do not have a significant number of female and/or minority students?
  • Do you have a very small number of female and/or minority employees on your recruitment teams?
  • Are job specifications for most positions in your organization designed to hire less females and/or minority talent
  • Do you use any analytical approaches and/or advance technologies, e.g., AI-enabled, which have an inherent bias against the hiring of females and/or minority talent?

Note: The number of ‘Yes’ responses show the location, height and strength of the ‘glass ceiling’ in your organizational hierarchy.  Don’t proceed further with correcting the next higher level of your organization before achieving ‘No’ in all the aforementioned questions.

Induction & Early Years Stage

  • Are your orientations designed to convey a sense of entitlement for the privileged demographic as compared to female and/or minority talent?
  • Do you place special emphasis on providing more visibility to the privileged demographic as compared to females and/or minority talent?
  • Are the career paths for females and/or minority talent intentionally curtailed as compared to the privileged demographic?
  • Does the senior management in your organization show a preference for mentoring the privileged demographic as compared to females and/or minority talent?
  • Do your hiring and orientation initiatives reflect the ‘need’ for inducting female and/or minority talent, rather than, the ‘want’ for such employees due to ‘pressures’ from key stakeholders to reflect a more diversified and inclusive workforce?

Note: The number of ‘Yes’ responses show the location, height and strength of the ‘glass ceiling’ in your organizational hierarchy.  Don’t proceed further with correcting the next higher level of your organization before achieving ‘No’ in all the aforementioned questions.

Supervisory & Middle Management Stage

  • Do you provide more options for learning, development and growth of the privileged demographic in your organization as compared to females and/or minorities?
  • Is an overwhelming part of your supervisory and/or middle management cadre composed of the privileged demographic as compared to female and/or minorities?
  • Do the nominations and/or confirmations for promotions of talent to higher positions reflect a strong inclination for the privileged demographic as compared to females and/or minorities?
  • Is there an irrefutable record of showing more tolerance/leniency in the handling of disciplinary issues pertaining to the privileged demographic as compared to females and/or minorities?
  • Are more females and/or minorities placed in positions that have a greater chance of redundancy/obsolescence as compared to the privileged demographic due to the induction of advanced technologies, e.g., AI-enabled?

Note: The number of ‘Yes’ responses show the location, height and strength of the ‘glass ceiling’ in your organizational hierarchy.  Don’t proceed further with correcting the next higher level of your organization before achieving ‘No’ in all the aforementioned questions.

Senior Management & Top Leadership Stage

  • Are there an overwhelming number of senior managers and the top leaders in your organization who are from a privileged demographic?
  • Are succession plans designed in your organization for assuring and ensuring the ascent of the privileged demographic to senior management and top leadership positions?
  • Do you have a history of resisting regulations and/or bending the rules without breaking them in terms of having quotas for qualified females and/or minorities in senior management and top leadership positions?
  • Do you lack equity as a core component of the corporate culture in your organization?
  • Is there a high attrition rate among females and/or minorities in your organization due to the lack of promising opportunities to rise at the highest levels of the corporate hierarchy?

Note: The number of ‘Yes’ responses to the above questions show the location, height and strength of the ‘glass ceiling’ in your organizational hierarchy.  You are in dire need of profoundly transformative measures that are primarily focused on re-engineering talent management practices on a strategic level in case of conspicuously lagging at this stage.


An astute talent management leader can effectively customize the most appropriate approach for optimizing the benefits accrued from the available human capital by adhering to the following principle in congruence with the unique dynamics of an organization.

Organizations that have the humility and astuteness to learn well from their missteps are the ones with the foresight for maximizing the probability of success in their progressive talent management initiatives.  This is clearly manifested by those having the strongest ‘jovial anchors’ for their workforce through enriched employee experiences in terms of being at the forefront of benefiting from a healthy pool of bustling talent for securing their competitive resilience in overcoming foreseen/unforeseen challenges of the Digital Age.  How well are you placed in the respective context?

Murad Salman Mirza
Global Thought Leader


April Spotlight: Arjun Aiyar – StepUp Solutions Dubai

  1. Tell us about you, your experience and time in the Middle East.

I’m a Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Corporate Trainer, and I’ve been in the UAE since 2007. I am an ex- corporate banker, with an MBA from Australia. I’m passionate about Human Psychology, Quantum Physics, Tao Philosophy, the Law of Attraction, and Esoteric Symbolism

2. How would you describe the culture of your business

I’d use three words: Abundance, Synergy & Flow.

I do what I love, and I love what I do.., and I do it with people whom I love. Every proposal, every project, is based on a sense of Purpose – Fullness.

Every Training, Speaking or Coaching – is an expressing of my Being.

All the people I work with, mirror these tenets.

3. How easy is it for you to get direct access to the decision makers in your company.

Being the owner of my business, and the only one in my business it allows me to partner with Like – Hearted people – for various projects.

4. What are your biggest challenges in the next 5 years?

I believe they will be:

  1. Equipping Leaders with ‘Mindsets’ and ‘Heart-sets’. .
  2. Teaching Change Resilience.
  3. Exploring Innovative Channels to reach those who seek the information (and inspiration) that I share.
  4. Continuing my personal momentum of Self Growth.
  5. Staying True to my Values.

5.What are the skills and competencies that you would need to train in order to meet the regions talent requirements?

a. Emotional Intelligence – aka Self Leadership.

b. Purpose Based Living.

c. Compassionate Capitalism.

Arjun Aiyar

Director – StepUP Management Solutions FZ-LLC

RAK, United Arab Emirates

Tel: +971 50 282 4857

Why is Conversation So Easy? David Gurteen – Gurteen Knowledge

Many people find it difficult to give a speech, and it is not always easy to listen to one, but we are all pretty good at holding a conversation. Why is this? Surely, delivering a monologue or listening to one should be more natural than dialogue?

Think about it for a moment. We face all sorts of difficulties when we have a conversation. Here are just a few:

  • We tend to talk in short, obscure, fragmentary utterances, so listeners need to fill in the missing information and interpret what we say. This means a listener must often wait for something to become clear or interrupt to clarify a point.
  • We cannot plan a conversation ahead of time as we never know what our conversational partners may say or ask. A conversation has a habit of going where it wants to go and not where any of the participants wish to take it.
  • When speaking, we need to consider our listeners and modify our use of language on the fly, so it is appropriate to the context, our listener’s level of understanding, or in a way that does not offend them.
  • We need to decide when it is socially acceptable to interrupt the person speaking – to come in at just the right moment.
  • We need to plan how we will respond, if at all, while simultaneously listening and, in a multi-party conversation, deciding who to address.

It shouldn’t be easy, should it? But like me, until recently, I suspect you have never given it a second thought.

If you are interested in a scientific answer, then take a look at the paper. Why is conversation so easy? by Simon Garrod and Martin Pickering. They say it’s because the interactive nature of dialogue supports the interactive alignment of linguistic representations. I will leave you to make sense of that.

But the simple answer is that evolution has “wired” our brains for dialogue rather than monologue.

If we are designed to talk with each other rather than at each other, why do we insist on inflicting monologic lectures on each other?

Your Hope is a Waste of Time – Rohit Bassi ROI Talks

Ever since a child most of us have been taught to have hope. Hope for a better day. Hope for a better life. Hope to have a loving spouse and kids. Hope to be wealthy. Hope to have great health. There are so many other hopes you can think of.

Well, hope is great to have but there is one major flaw with this. Without us knowing we start getting attached to these hopes thus sabotaging our own development. You know that your attachments become your greatest fear.

The person who brought this to my realisation was Dr.Susan Jeffers. When I read this for the first time I was in disbelief. My reaction was simply that what was being said was absolutely absurd. That was in 2012 and since then I have abandoned “hope”. When delivering a number of my talks or my workshops I bring this up. To begin with most people resist this notion.

As I go through an exercise designed by Dr.Susan Jeffers called “From Hope to Wonder” a shift starts to happen with most of the people undergoing this simple yet effective exercise. In fact another way to look at this is to go “From Hope to Trust”. A few actually resist it more as they are strongly stuck in the belief of hope. I simply let them be as that is their perception. 

Now, here is an easy way to look at “From Hope to Wonder” and “From Hope to Trust” 

  • Hope is equivalent of wishing, wanting, desiring or expectation
  • This thinking in terms of hope could easily lead to a state of unhappiness
  • Furthermore, hope has the ability to create a fear of uncertainty
  • Hope certainly is far better than pessimism
  • Magic of wonder takes the fear of uncertainty to be replaced by curiosity
  • Magic of trust gives you the inner confidence and knowing all is well, you can handle it
  • When thinking in terms of wonder and trust it removes the sentiment of wishing, wanting, desiring and expectation
  • Trust and wonder neutralises both hoping and pessimism

All I can ask you is do your best at changing your state from hope to wonder, from hope to trust. In fact, you would start attaining the state of inner peace once you start this simple powerful journey.

Trust you will have a great journey with wonder, have a leap of faith.


Experience of 25+ Years | Delivery in 21+ Countries | Best-Selling Author®
Developing Leadership Communication Keynote Speaker | Trainer | Executive Coach
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