Amity Institute Of Training & Development

Building the New World of Work

About: Mr. Richard Lobo joined Infosys in 2000 and has led several people management functions during his time in the Company. In his current role he focuses on making Infosys an exceptional place to work, bringing a strong alignment of the people function with the business strategy. As a member of the Company's leadership team he is responsible for several key business initiatives in the Company. He also serves as a board member of Infosys Consulting AG. He is a frequent speaker so some of us may have seen him in global industry forums, as well as Advisors Academia and Industry Bodies on global HR trends. Prior to joining Infosys, he was with Godrej in multiple roles, including sales and marketing, Richard holds a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Management.

Click below to watch the recorded conversation.

 AITD: How we work, and the type of work we do is rapidly changing, companies are undertaking business transformations that are changing their products, services, operations, internal capabilities and this massive change is escalating the importance of HRs role within Organisations.

Has the moment arrived for HR to lead Organisations in navigating the future? What opportunities exist to build the future of work? What forces do you see as important in shaping the Organisations of the future? How might they impact the World of tomorrow? And are you already starting to see some of that impact?

Mr. Richard Lobo: We are at the cusp of a change and there are clear forces which all of us can see; not necessarily all of us are articulated the way I am going to but if you go back to what you are thinking about and put on your own thinking caps you will find that largely what is shaping Organisations, going forward will fall in the areas of number one rapid changes in Technology and Business and that is leading to a whole series of innovations by Companies big and small which is having an impact all around us in the digital world; the involvement of Artificial Intelligence, the vast number of impact which individual customers have, so, this is the first one which the impact will change technology and business models having a shape.

The second one is, that there is a growing realization that the impact we have on the World around us is very important. The impact businesses have on Climate, the impact businesses have on people around us, the impact businesses have on the larger Eco-system is becoming increasingly important and both Companies as well as people are realizing that their larger impact of business is important and they need to focus on that.

The third one is, as the Globe changes rapidly and I think the Pandemic has forced us in even more rapid change what we are seeing is that there is increasing role for Governments and in terms of how the labour markets move, how people can cross borders or even things like, how the potential vaccine will get distributed. How countries react to health crisis? So, lot of activity in terms of regulations in terms of Government, in terms of Countries making decisions.

This is the 3rd big force and finally, each one of us who work in Organisations or going to work in Organisations. One, to work in places which are more human where there is great attachment, where there is a room for imagination and creativity, where you are treated more as a human than as a machine and your importance is valued. So, the focus on the humans at work, so, largely these four forces of course there could be more because it is very difficult to foresee the future but largely rapid changes in Technology and Business models, the focus on responsibility and doing business responsibly the larger role of Governments and regulatory agencies, and finally the demand from humans to be more ‘humane’ at work will largely shape how the future goes over the next few years and how we respond to that will make a big difference.

AITD: You highlighted those four changes that are almost like, I imagine, businesses acting as ships in an ocean and these tidal waves are rocking them back and forth.

I wonder if there is an anchor for businesses, I wonder what your view is on purpose as well as values and just wanted to explore whether clearly defined purpose can act as an anchor for a business for driving their own future forward? What is your perspective on purpose? Is it a wishy-washy word, or is it critical?

Mr. Richard Lobo: It is treated both by some Organisations as a wishy-washy word but by others very meaningfully. I think how Companies use that word and more importantly communicate it to everybody involved, their customers, their employees their larger stakeholders, is very important. Because often like we use many management words sometimes it is just used for the sake of having it. But few Organisations have gone beyond and been able to explain it better.

Now, if you go back in time probably in 50s and early 60s, if you ask anybody in NASA what their purpose was they would very clearly say it is to put a man on the moon and when you have a purpose which is that clearly defined, it becomes that much more easy to get the Organisation aligned or for example today some of the Pharma Companies have clearly put forward that their purpose is to get a vaccine out in the next few months.

It is kind of easier for people to understand such clear purpose. If your purpose is little vague saying make life better for the larger humanity, it’s a nice purpose, I am not disputing the impact of that purpose, but how you communicate and how you stay true to that, is much more difficult. So I think purpose is extremely important and more interestingly tied to purposes is doing business ethically and doing business correctly that you do the right things for your customers, you do your right things for your employees can also be a purpose in the larger work that you are doing.

The challenge to all of us as leaders as part of Organisation is to ask for a clear purpose. And if you go little beyond that example it also goes to what is the purpose I have as a human being and what is the purpose I have as an individual that makes me work in this Organisation is just because I collect my salary or am I contributing to a larger goal so I think we can look at this purpose in a very simple way but in a very meaningful way instead of the way it is often used. And, I think that explains and gives us, like you rightly put it as an anchor or as a guide to the turbulence that we are all encountering, and we will continue to encounter over the next few years.

AITD: I am with you, and that's just encouraged me to ask that question, Richard; how would Richard find his purpose?

Mr. Richard Lobo: That's a difficult one. I don’t perfectly do that but I think my purpose today is to communicate and give an example to the larger audience, both within our Company and outside as to how individuals can be changed. And, that's what I've been trying to do because you have the advantage of being in a point where you can probably see a little further, not very far ahead; but if you can communicate and you can get others to join and because by learning from each other can we really discover the way forward. That's what I've been trying to do over the last six months or so when we have all been forced out of our regular schedules.

And, that's one of the reasons I very happily agreed to this conversation because if we can have a communication to the larger group which makes more sense. Then you have that many more people thinking on similar lines and then we will collectively add to the knowledge and the growth which we all look forward to.

AITD: That's a very impactful purpose as far as I am concerned, where you are enabling individuals to adapt, and to change. And I just wanted to build on that thought. So, from an Organisation perspective, you mentioned purpose, as long as it's clearly defined as long as it's meaningful, it can drive, and act as that anchor. I wanted to see if there were other elements that in this ocean of change, Organisations need to get right. Just wanted your perspective on values, I see values as behaviours that people exhibit.

Do values play a role and should Organisations focus on people behaviour, what is your perspective?

Mr. Richard Lobo: I owe a lot of learning on this particular topic to the Founders of the Organisation I am currently associated with, especially Mr. Murthy. And I think the values he articulated at the early days of Infosys; I am not really here to advertise Infosys vs. Others but I think that the learning has been very strong, and some of them are.

AITD: I would say Infosys advertises itself. It's a very powerful brand and we are all very proud of a Company like Infosys coming out of our Country.

Mr. Richard Lobo: But, I go back to some of the things which he did and which are stayed on with us over the years saying that we will do business ethically and the respect is more important. We will always work as delighting Customers so the huge amount on Customer focuses. The Leaders will not take away or do things which are different from a normal employee. Leadership by example was very important.

The focus on Excellence and that we will deliver the best will push ordinary people to do extraordinary things. And, that no one is exempt if you do any behaviour which is not in terms of what the Company's ethics and value statements; say, then you will not be associated with the Organisation that goes for employees for vendors for third parties, so on and so forth. And, by staying true to these few simple values I think it has lasted us over the years, through good times as well as bad times. A clear articulation of values, and more importantly like anybody can articulate values is probably very easy to download things from the Internet and create your own value set but it is what you believe in, what is it tied with your value system that is so important and I go back I mean probably to use the word wrongly but in India we frequently refer to something which is known as middle class values.

And, that works for almost everybody around because all of us probably have gone through the same way where our parents and our elders brought us up by focusing on a few things because we didn't grow up in an Economy which was doing great and each of us has seen the struggles our elders went through their life and they stuck to a few simple things and I think that is what is holding many Indian Companies together as they grow and become Global Companies.

The simple idea is what we experienced. And, the real challenge for all of us is to as the Country grows and expands and becomes so much wealthier than it was. Can we hold on to these and can we perpetuate these values? So, that is really something I think we should all think about. It's a challenge worth thinking because if you don't do that, then we'll probably be very different and it doesn't mean we won't be successful we probably will be but we won't be remembered or acknowledged as much as we would like to be.

AITD: That's an interesting and a very unique perspective that you have thrown out. I just wanted to probably check that in a little bit more this idea that there is a huge Delta, in terms of socio-economic status for most of us, you know when we go from University to entering into the workplace. It's a big change, probably, far bigger than the Western World affords individuals, and there is that sense of coming out from a challenging situation to a better place. Talk about that a bit more.

Does that DNA within our employee base, does that already encourage Indian companies, some strength in Indian companies that they can leverage, for example change?

Mr. Richard Lobo: Yes, absolutely! Change and I would even put it as resilience. Let me give you an example. We take around 20,000 plus entry level Engineers every year, give or take a few and we analyse the data and almost more than half of these Engineers, come from rural India, and their parents are not necessarily Graduates, so it is the first Graduate of the family, making a migration from urban India to rural India. This story is played out in many other Companies, so it’s not unique to Infosys. This is the generation, which will not give up on hard work because hard work is what has got them there.

And, of course, they have inherent intelligence, they have inherent skills and the ability to learn, but their belief in themselves that through hard work, they can succeed, is what propels them in the workforce. So when you interact with this same Engineer, say 5 or 10 years later in a different Country, because most of them would go and would work in another Country you would have seen that the same belief and the ability to do things has got them there. They may not necessarily be the most polished or totally accomplish because it does take a bit of urban schooling and experience to get there, but in terms of their work ethic and in terms of what they drive value.

You can see that, and that is what contributed a great deal to India's success, especially in the services Economy is the sheer contribution from each of these individuals now if you note that we have not really made a huge dramatic difference in terms of products or other manufacturing which is probably that's a problem we need to think about but if you really look at the success story of the services industry. It is the contribution from each of these individuals which has been the success and the clients respect what they bring to the table they respect their work, and they give more business to companies and to them. And it's not discounting because others wouldn't be where we are in this. So, now we can translate the same learning to other industries like Manufacturing or Healthcare or others. I think this is where the real challenge and the chance of success lie.

AITD: I am with you. There are inherent values that our workforce is already bringing in, and it's up to Companies, if they don't have shaped-up values; that they that they identify those values for themselves and leverage the unique DNA that the Indian workforce has. We have talked about winds of change we have talked about purpose acting as an anchor in the future and values driving the sail direction, in which direction the Company wants to go I just wanted to step back a little bit and see the destination from your view when we arrived there.

What shifts are happening in the way people work and connect in your experience, both within the Organisation as well as probably a broader society questions and please feel free to go Global in this and not just stay with India?

Mr. Richard Lobo: We need to move from India to the larger one. I will definitely look at the larger piece. Now let’s look at three dimensions which are important. When we talk about the future of work, the first of course is work itself, and I think over the last 10 years, the sheer advancements in technology, the impact of inventions, the impact of Artificial Intelligence, the impact of ingenuity which people have done in terms of building things on various platforms and the apps. The collaboration which individuals are having with each other or with machines. We are seeing that for a long time the work was more like very routine and it became a part of something which called as a factory, and now you migrated to becoming very important as individual in fact to becoming a craftsman so I think the first the entire dimension of work across the world has changed. And, it doesn't mean that the old kind of work has gone away, that is very much there. But there is lot of focus and a lot of value being given to the new kind of work.

The second one, and I think, this is equally important is the workforce is changing so you have the entire Demographic shift of who is occupying the workforce, so there is new talent coming in and in most Countries, you have people who have just finished education being a very large part of the workforce. There is openness to taking work which is not full time so the entire gig Economy or the entire part time Economy is just blooming across the world which opens avenues to a lot of people to do other things. The ability to learn like for example, I am sitting in a very remote place in India could have access to the best Universities in the world in terms of learning because Technology has made that possible. Individuals are getting better and then there is a multi-generational workforce and so at some point in time in some Companies, you have parents and children working in the same workplace or you could even have a grandparent and grandchild working in the same place and we have had that experience.

And, the third part is, the workplaces, in sense and so what we define as a workplace and I think we could already see signs of change, but I think the whole Pandemic accelerated that we suddenly realized that workplace, doesn't mean a place you go to. It is more important the work you do so the entire definition of a workplace changed, I think the entire Global workforce adapted very quickly to the shift which was forced not planned at all, but it was pushed and I think we gained around 10 to 15 years’ time in acceleration of what we define as a workplace. So, what that has done, it has if you put all these three trends together if you put what is happening in terms of work, in terms of the workforce and the workplace.

You will find that we have been forced to an accelerated evolution process in sense it has made us better. And that benefit will hold the global workforce for at least 10 – 15 years from now, in the sense it will free us to innovate more, it will free us to network and interact better. And, it will free us from some of the constraints which previous view of work imposed on us in the sense that we have to go to a particular place spend long hours on the road, commute, travel across long distances, etc. But, this, we are not realizing that it has freed us it has given us more time and if you add the developments which are happening for example this seminar which you're now seeing on video will definitely get better one year down the line with the new Technology being available.

And, we will have much better quality and there is Innovation happening and that there are so many new ideas which are coming on in terms of virtual reality, in terms of how we interact with teams, so on and so forth. While we will all regret, or we will want to go back to the world it was six months back. But, what we will inhabit is a better world. It's a world which will make humans better; it will augment our capabilities and it will help us do more, while giving us more time to ourselves so a long answer but, this was an interesting question.

AITD: I think it’s a rich answer because it allows for a number of areas of exploration. Let me start with the basic one where if I am a promoter or a founder of a Company my interest and feel free to disagree with all the assumptions I'm about to make is Customer first, Product next, and as I scale up what Processes help me scale that business up and then start to grow perhaps in multiple product lines or multiple geographies. The individual trends and the individual focus that you're talking about perhaps in the mindset of post industrialised world still is a new concept and we haven't really embraced.

My question, first off, is if I look at Companies of today; what structures may we need to destroy and what structures may we need to create and by structures?

Mr. Richard Lobo: If you look at very fundamentally there are three areas which any owner or a person who runs a Company should focus on. First, of course, is Customer because without that nothing else is required so if you don't take care of that World, then the other world won’t exist.

The second is, of course, the World of the Employees; they are your biggest contributors to create value for the first said i.e. your Customers.

The third one is, of course, which people forget is that we all operate in a larger Eco-system in the sense that we inhabit a world we deliver an impact and that is the third one so if you balance these three is what we have to do and it's not a trade-off you cannot lose focus on any of these three because all are equally important like if you do not have products which Customers want or they do not service on you which they have or you don't give them a great experience then they will go elsewhere or you will get replaced by some other product. Same with employees. If you cannot take care of your Employees and attract the best for your purpose then they will go elsewhere again and that will again lose your ability to compete and most importantly and I don't think Companies spend enough time on this when we do the 1st two and when we take care of customers and we take care of Employees, we often forget that the impact we have on the larger social system around us so are we creating an equitable society, are we giving back enough because we are drawing resources from the larger pool around us.

To give you an example, like, most Companies would hire fresh Graduates who have been through School and the College system but are Companies doing enough to build that system for the future, are they investing enough in this kind of things or in Company which is having a certain impact on the Environment, are they working on renewables, are they putting back things into the groundwater these kind of things and we have to be called to account for all three parameters on what are they doing for our customers, are we doing it while taking care of Employees and at the same time what are the impact we are having on the larger Society around us and holding this three things together is the culture of the Company and that is the most important thing because if you have the right culture you will focus on all these three areas and not lose your way. If you do not build the right culture then you can easily lose use your way by focusing on anyone of these or maybe half and not fully well and then you will be called to account at some point in time and then some other Company will replace you in the future. I'm not saying that that is bad itself I think that is just like you have a forest you have new growth replacing trees which are old that’s normal course of things but you don't want to have it happen earlier than nature has made that as per it’s schedule.

AITD: Culture is the lot of clients that we work with. Culture is one of the things that they find toughest to establish.

What is perhaps not really an overall map of how to establish culture or what do you think are imperatives when an Organisation, Company, a start-up perhaps is thinking about culture? What should they definitely think about either in terms of outcomes or in terms of imperatives that they should put in place? What is your perspective of that?

Mr. Richard Lobo: Just keep the trend of thought and the chain of thought, so, it again starts with having a clear purpose; once you have a clear purpose, you also have your values and your goals which drives you towards that purpose and more importantly, it is more like a gardener who goes around weeding the garden all the time and then you take out the weeds and you allow the plants to flourish, you allow the nutrients to go under the soil. Bad example, but it’s something like that you keep doing to ensure that you don't get lost and lastly I think it helps to have an outsider perspective all of us who works in an Organisation should need to listen to the outside view we don’t necessary have to agree with the outside view but I think listening is a very important part because somewhere your shareholders or your well-wishers or I would even say ill-wisher will point out certain things which you need to correct and it takes a lot of courage to listen to the outside world and learn from that and by doing that you sustain your culture, because culture is not static, it is something which you need to build to something you need to evolve as you go along and things change and you have to always question am I in the right direction and makes changes as you need as you go along.

This is how you build, it’s not a very complex thing but you need to have your heart in the right place to do it and many Companies get it right; it's not that examples are few, there are enough examples where Companies have got it right but sometimes lose their way too, but it’s okay, it’s a question of post correction as just like you lose your way and you come back, it’s fine, this is how you build Culture for the long term. There could be alternate ways. But this is what I could think of.

AITD: I personally love the tree example, I've been sticking with the ship example for some reason but yes your heading towards a boat that is your purpose, engine is your culture and values and the wind direction is all the trends that are shaping us.

Mr. Richard Lobo: No, there are more examples too. Like, for example, if you read through the history of the Discovery of India, the sea route etc. You can see several examples of what you spoke about in the Voyages of the people who tried and the people who did not succeed, as well as the people who succeeded; the purpose was clear there are different ways and different routes but they have to do all these things correctly to finally find what they were looking for.

AITD: That's an interesting point, as I wanted to build on that. Now, to continue that this idea that you've got the purpose right, you’ve got the engine right or to use your analogy; if you prepare the soil right with Culture and Values, things can still go wrong, and, I just wanted to shift us towards thinking about the idea of reducing risk in the business.

What is your advice on reducing risk? How have you seen risk being reduced and yet growth happening?

Mr. Richard Lobo: I am not an expert on risk but I will try and give you an answer based on our experience that Infosys follows. Now, there are two kinds of risk to be; the one is the risk which you cannot foresee which are large Global things which happen which you just cannot see; it is like for example, nobody one day before could foresee what is going to happen on September 11.

8 - 9 months none of us could foresee that 2020 would be a very different year from 2019 and many of us were busy with making plans. So, these are risks which you cannot foresee and you have to take them as they come in the sense that you need to have a few things going, you need to have the right Organisations, you need to have resilience, you need to have enough Knowledge and Learning and the ability to take quick decisions, so, basically an agile Organisation which reacts very quickly to the forces of change which it makes. So this is a total unknown.

The second is, of course, the risk which you can avoid and control, the known risk, your financials, your investment decisions, and there it is easier to control because it is more a question of allowing data to speak for itself rather than people making impulsive decisions being ready to decline an opportunity because you foresee, your data shows that is not the right one to go and also taking some very prudent measures like, for example, maintaining a healthy cash balance, keeping your debt equity ratio at a reasonable level and so on and so forth and so this is the controllable risk so if you do well on the controllable risk you can always meet the ones which you do not foresee by just having better Organisation Culture in terms of how resilient you are and how you will you beat it.

Now this doesn't mean that it works every time. There will be shocks which are simply too large and which might need to take provisions but some of the things which have happened in this current situation you have seen Governments come in and help out Companies in the short term so some of these things larger things will happen because if there are larger interests of the Global growth model, Governments are also prepared to intervene so if you can handle the risk, you can control, you can handle the events which you cannot foresee and then probably come back stronger.

It also helps if you have a diversified business model that you're not dependent on only one particular generation of revenue but then if you are an Airline what will you really do so you will some of these challenges so these are all types of risk but just like in any other situation I think doing well on ones you control, helps you to prepare to the ones you cannot.

AITD: You talked about big size external risks that cause huge cost on Companies and I wanted to take the discussion to perhaps how Companies can better build into their DNA on how to meet these risks and the way I wanted to approach that is if you allow me think about this from a cost perspective; so, there is the external cost of big changes 9/11 a tragic event, the Pandemic which we are all still going through there's a cost on business unforeseen costs. There is also just going back to that sense of how a Company approaches it’s own business model there's a self-imposed costs that a Company has whether it be old business models or bureaucracy or ways of doing things.

If I were to ask you to weigh these two costs, external risk cost as well as the internal cost which one do you think is more important and much more urgent to deal with?

Mr. Richard Lobo: I would again put it as the internal one is more important to deal with because that's something which can control. The external one is not something which is within your purview. Like for example, you would notice that when times are good most Companies add up things to the Organisation which we often preferred to as the Organisation cholesterol which inhibits progress and you have lot of people with fancy designations and whose chief output is PowerPoint slides but you can in a difficult situation you find that you can live without many of these things.

If you have added too much of this, it makes you very difficult to turn around when times get difficult but whereas if you always kept a focus lean Organisation you can do it easier. For example, one of the things which we do in Infosys and which works well for us is that when we take any decision to spend money, we see how much money would this cost us over five years. For example, even if you're going to spend a certain amount of money on say particular cost when your Organisation goes and you add 100,000 employees; the cost structure becomes totally different so very careful usage of data and commitment when you can easily afford it, we can afford to invest so many things but you do not lose the seriousness of the database decision-making, it is what helps you when you're faced to the situation outside.

For example, if you have the cash balance and you have the ability to deal with it you can weather a storm for a much longer time it's same thing as a household like you are faced to the hurricane and you are stocks vs. somebody else who hasn't bothered to keep it.

Sometimes, these lessons are very minor and I think all of us remember the ‘Story of the Ant and the Grasshopper’. It’s not different from that. Ant spent all the summer working very hard and the Grasshopper was idle and when the winter came you know which one survived. So I think it's not different some of these stories have larger meanings than we think they are.

AITD: That's very well put so in times of peace prepare yourself for something bad that might happen.

If you think of Organisations how can they prepare for those tough times you gave one example of thinking about a long term perspective for any Project are there any other things that they should keep in mind?

Mr. Richard Lobo: Absolutely! You have to invest in two key parts of the Organisation; one on the Customer side and on the Employee side. Let's talk for the Employee side for a change and this is something which we do not realise that we need to invest on. How much Learning do we put value in, are we creating a Company of life-long Learning , are we training people for things which might be needed in future rather than what they are doing now. Are we investing in an individual so that they have a longer career span with the Organisation than just a few years, are we investing in the kind of office space or the kind of technical equipment which we give them. This investment in the Employee is the first part.

The second part is of course on the Customer side. Are we forcing Innovation? Are we very comfortable that the product we have, or the service will last forever and will continue to buy the same thing and pay the same amount of money how much are we putting into innovation or are we this calling R&D just to have a nice Department where very little money goes into? Are we prepared to disrupt our business model to see what something else could happen, are we experimented with the start-up world to see what else the new trends which would totally make us irrelevant today?

So, these two things are I think the responsibility of Leaders to force investment in both these areas. Because if you don't, there is somebody else out there in the world who is doing it and they might succeed; they may not succeed but you're not, you're no longer having control over it you have just ceded the control to somebody else and then that's not a good place to be in because then you become a follower and followers don't necessarily do well in today's situation where is the time span is much more constrained than it was. This is what will help us deal with these situations which continue to focus on the Employee and the Customer and invest when you can, versus waiting to do it when you're forced to do it.

AITD: I'm with you and just to check in with you on building that as well as adding a few thoughts that have purposely put in some binary stimulus either or so feel free to reject my binary stimulus and go beyond. I'm talking about changes that may happen or your preference actually as the Head of HR of one the largest Organisations here in India.

Should we be enabling performance or managing performance, what’s your quick perspective?

Mr. Richard Lobo: Enabling performance absolutely! Because I think what we have learned and what we do is a stupid idea of doing things that you allow a person to work for a year and then go and tell them how they've done. It's pointless that you should look at what he's going to do in the next one year or what he or she is going to do and enable them to do that rather than come back a year later or say you did very well or did not do well so I think entire one has to shifts so enabling no doubt.

AITD: Does that mean this idea of job description has reached it’s time and we should move on to something else which is more flexible and on a larger contract?

Mr. Richard Lobo: Many things which we do have reached the end of their time. Just like the office spaces and cubicles have reached the end of their time. We now have to look at things, what will hold for the future, so, your job is what your Customer wants you to do in the future rather than what you hold because what you hold is a very internal one, which probably sounds nice and looks good but that's not really what will get you to tomorrow and tomorrow your job description should be to do what the Customer wants to do and we could keep it very dynamic, that it would change I'm not saying we don't need job description but I think we should keep them much more dynamic and much more specs into it.

AITD: Stretching that little bit more from an Employee perspective, job successor, job building capability of Employees or well-being focused.

Which one would you prefer?

Mr. Richard Lobo: I would put well-being as a larger context. Well-being is both you as physically and well-being as you as your ability to contribute your ability to do well, your ability to learn. Valuing is a larger holistic one to meet which encompasses your skills, your Health as well as your Learning and I think that keeps you going for a much longer division so I've seen people who spent many years in the Corporate World still going very fine and fit even after they moved out of the Corporate World whereas many others are very tired at an early age and I think there is difference there and I think you have to keep yourself alive both mentally as well as physically.

AITD: If you were to imagine the new person joining your Organisation fresh out of University, what do you wish they had thought about introspected or built as capability right from pre-school, school level or University level that would enable them to be less tired when they are 40?

Mr. Richard Lobo: The one single ability which they had done through school and college is I think using their time better. It’s a very odd thing to say but I do see people who can finish a task within a certain time frame and some others will take longer is because they handle the way they approach work differently they handle the way they solve problems differently, so they end up being very busy and they confuse busyness with accomplishments. If they learnt in college, that they could finish a Project or they could finish their studies and then also have something else to do, I am not saying necessarily it’s a Project; it could be anything that would carry the same forward to the work World.

You ideally have 8 or 9 hours which you need to spend at work. The rest is yours. But most people can't do that and you end up spending 12 to 14 hours and say that the companies are overworking me. But it is not the Company who is overworking; it is you yourself who is overworking yourself, because you're not handling your task better. There is one thing which perhaps all of us could learn and that is how to handle our time more efficiently, be more stingy with the time, so that we have more time to ourselves and accomplish that much more in our life and sorry to sound little philosophical on this but I think if I had one thing they would do differently, it would be this.

AITD: That’s a meaningful thing to say and you know sort of a snowball from that is, once you are good at managing time, it also forces you to figure out what you want to manage that time for, and then you roll over to you know why do you want to spend time on a particular Project versus another Project that is more meaningful. The philosophical point is a strong foundational one.

Mr. Richard Lobo: I don’t take away the thing is that; I think all of us will also go through a change because we are working differently from what we were in the past. We will not have anybody monitoring us in what we do in the sense; we will also bring in a lot of self-regulation and lot of our own accountability. That is a new change in addition to what I already spoke about. This is something we need to learn to handle because there is no boss likely to be looking over your shoulder for a while even if they come back, they will come back very differently and Technology will, of course, make many of the tasks which we do lead-less. We differently have this challenge going forward.

AITD: Bureaucracy or sense of control or Self-managed Teams that the teams go ahead and manage themselves?

Mr. Richard Lobo: Self-Managed teams. Provided they are given direction to where they need to go and what they want to achieve because if you just have self-direction teams, you could be lucky and end up getting a very good team, also you could get a team which goes nowhere. So, self-directed teams with adequate direction, is where they need to go or what they want to achieve is probably be right. Definitely not Bureaucracy; that’s out. But, yes, self-managed teams with directions.

AITD: And here, just want to explore a little bit more about how do you encourage innovation in the Organisations that you supported or you may have observed?

Dr. Richard Lobo: The way I handled my team, allow them to fail so I say you go and try it out and if you fail, I will back you. If you succeed, the success is all yours. There is no other way to drive Innovation. Give people the power to fail not because they did not work hard. If you allow lazy people to fail, then you are not going anywhere. So that’s not the point. The point is to allow the people who are genuine, the people who want to try, allow them the permissions to fail and then they always delight you with what they accomplish.

AITD: Diversity or similar companies or similar teams?

Mr. Richard Lobo: Diversity. But not for the sake of diversity. Diversity with purpose because they make teams better. If you just force Diversity on a team, it does not achieve something. So you should have a larger process to create Diversity because it’s important and not for sitting on teams. It’s a little vague answer but I think Diversity is a little larger one you should have people around you which are diverse and from where teams form and then the team will automatically be diverse.

AITD: What’s your sense of discussion on Diversity within Indian companies?

The West is burning up with that discussion right now and we have seen that in news everyday there is lot of focus on not just Diversity but making sure people of different faiths, walks of life, sexual inclinations etc. are finding a place in the Organisation as equal members.

Where is India in that discussion and are we behind? Is there a need to start that discussion? What do you think?

Mr. Richard Lobo: Different Companies in India are at different stages of this journey. Some are at fairly advanced stages and some have not realised the importance of it. We, also in India, have realised the different nuances of Diversity or what it means for this Country particularly. We have largely left it to the legacy of the reservation system and what happens in the Public Sector and not paid enough serious attention to what we can do to make a difference. I am very happy that the discussion has started but I think the spectrum is very broad and we should not just blindly follow what is happening in other Countries and just follow the same path it has very different meaning and I think we should develop a view for ourselves in India.

The most important point is that many companies do not know the data. They do not really know the Diversity, I really do not mean in terms of how many men and how many women you have? What are the different distributions in terms of Demography, where do people come from, do they belong to a particular classification. We need to get that data. We need to set clear goals as to what we want to do. If we are going to hire so many people from certain backgrounds, then you need to have clear goals to make that happen.

And, then, most importantly I think we have to lead by example. There is no point in saying Diversity and keeping it to the lowest part of the Organisation. We need to spread it out across the Organisation to show by example it is possible. And the interesting part, and I don’t think we observe it enough, I know people have tried collecting data, if you find that you will have Diversity example spread across the Company, just that we do not know enough about it to make a case out of it, and realise it’s importance. That is where we are. But, it’s a great point to start the discussion and I think it’s important that we take it forward.

AITD: You talked about your ‘plant and forest analogy’.

How to create that forest through a purpose; have a view before you even begin the roots through the culture and values? And how do you grow through the capabilities that you build within the Organisation as well as your perspective on risk, internal and external?

What are the three things if you were to talk about three and I am not going to limit you to two to three that have led to your success as a leader? And these could be beliefs, or these could be values you hold?

Mr. Richard Lobo: I have been very lucky and I would put it more to luck than anything else that I happened to work in two great Companies in India and learnt a lot from the chances and opportunities which they provided to me. I was lucky. To start with, but, of course, I did the following that is that I put in the work to learn, to understand what is going on and more importantly, use the opportunities which were provided.

The other aspect is of course, I have benefitted a lot from interacting with a huge amount of people with whom I have worked. I have learnt a lot from each one of these interactions, especially, from my earlier role in the sales field as well as the current role; we do get a chance to learn from many others. And, I think that has benefitted. If you really ask me, it’s a result of the collaborations over the years which has made this possible. Not to take away the fact that I have also benefitted like many others just by working in India which is changing and working in the World which is also changing. We have got much more opportunities to imbibe and to learn. That has been the story but not very interesting. The other questions might be more interesting to the audience.

AITD: The thread of Learning and Development throughout life that you reflected actually what a great foundation that you laid even for Organisations at the beginning and I wanted to go back to that. If we are seeing people right along with the Customer or even more than customer for many Organisations, resurging in importance, thinking about people, thinking about the employee experience.

I just wanted to check that with you, if you had a blank sheet of paper and you were to redesign C-suite priorities versus the way it's been done today, how you would redesign the C-suite? It could be the structure of C-suite, it could also be the kind of discussions that the C-suite has?

Mr. Richard Lobo: I don’t want to be presumptive and redesign C-suite, but, I will look at some areas which could improve the C-suite more than redesign. One is, I listen to the lower levels of the Organisation more. So you need to provide a channel for getting ideas and thinking below to bubble up and most often than not, C-suites do tend to get cut away for various reasons. Sometimes, because of design and sometimes because of just there is too much to do. They miss the thoughts and I put this very simply, you need to be at zero distance to your Customers and to your Employees. You need to understand what is happening there because if you do not understand what is happening there, you cannot get the best ideas, you are cut away from that. So, that’s the first one,

The second one is, definitely on the earlier question, definitely more Diversity in the C-suite but people who are capable, people who have gone up through their own hard work, add a lot of value. So, that is the second point both in terms of various areas of Diversity that we spoke about.

The third one and, this is the most important is to have people around you who can tell you when you are going wrong without fear. So, allowing the dissent, and if you find either in terms of Countries or Companies which go wrong, you don’t have enough people telling the Emperor that they are not wearing clothes and that is the third one.

These are few of the changes, if you do; I think we are in a good place. And of course, the importance of the C-suite probably will decline. You have Companies who do not distinguish between C-suite and the others. That is another interesting change in ARC design which is going to come, is that you will have more and more Companies who treat every idea as important, every person as important and this board room way of working will slowly change as newer ideas and newer Companies evolve

AITD: I think you have painted; I see it shifting from abstract art to much clearer landscape or what the future could involve. You highlight the colours that will be used to paint some of that future.

In the last 60 seconds that we have Richard, are there thoughts or ideas in your mind that we have not perhaps covered that you would like to share?

Mr. Richard Lobo: We have covered a wide group of ideas and I am grateful to you for bringing out such an interesting conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed myself but I would like to close with a few thoughts to the audience and I think we can see this current situation both as a very interesting challenge or as one with a great amount of difficulty. It is how we view the World. How we view the World, is going to make a difference to each one of us no matter who is watching this. And, it’s time for all of us to reinvent and re-question many of our assumptions because many of our assumptions do not hold the way they did short while back.

If you look at this as a great opportunity, if we build on the learning which is available and if we share and exchange ideas with each other, because none of us have solutions to all that we are seeing, I think we will all contribute to make the World a much better place, more humorous place and like I put it up to my team very often, we will focus on the humour at work and making work more humour and that’s really what we should try and do.

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Moderated by Dr. Nitin Batra

 

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