Manual HR to Digital HR: What Would Drive The Change?


I think we now need to understand what trends would drive change. If the world is changing, if the world within companies is changing, if the world with our own lives is changing, what actually is happening? One is the world is getting mobile. Everything is going to be the part of your smartphone, and I think this is a big change. I hardly use the laptop anymore maybe I don’t even use my i-pad as frequently, but I do use my i-phone for almost everything that I need to do.

The second big change which is happening is the cloud. We don’t need to invest huge amounts of money for an on-site establishment of our own complex set of servers and databases. At a fraction of a cost, we have everything available on the cloud.

The third big thing that is driving change is analytics. It is the power to analyse and analyse quickly, work through tons of data to get the key insights, to see the key trends, positive or otherwise. And I think this is going to be a huge shift that is going to drive a lot of change in management thinking and therefore response time.

Fourth is about automation. A lot in the world of our employees is going to get automated. Jobs are going to get automated, jobs, therefore, might be getting redundant. It is also possible that a lot of transactions today which are done in many other ways would not need to exist because many things will actually get automated. I think this is a trend whose time has come.

And finally, whether it is AI induced, but this entire concept of internet of things, different things talking to each other, I think this is really the web that we are going to be living in. If you look at this reality the experience of an employee, the work of an employee, the job description of an employee, the expectation of an employee, the expectation of a manager everything is going to change. It is not about whether this will happen, it is about how fast it will consume all of us. I think this is a very important dimension that we must be very cognizant of.

As I tweeted sometime back, ‘AI is set to disrupt companies, its people and its culture. Will we be losers or winner through this shift?’ To me, the answer is very it depends on how we want to play this game. And I think the winners are the ones who will adapt and change a lot of their environment to make sure that they don’t resist a reality whose time has come. The losers are those who are going to be challenging and trying to prevent the tsunami which is all set to hit us.


And therefore if all of this is happening what would change? Decision making will change, the speed of decision making will change, and people who can make decisions will change. I think this is a huge move towards democratising organisations. It’s a huge move towards building greater accountability and transparency in systems.

The other thing is everything is going to get more social, more networked, more matrixed, more people communicating with each other, more people eliciting information from each other and inviting ideas. I think this is a big change where we will go beyond individual personalities. So the old landlordism mentality is going to change to a world which will be networked.

Which also, therefore, means that the world will have to depend more on collaboration. Because there will different expert groups which will come together, but not everyone is going to be an expert at everything, and you will need to leverage the power of the other. And I think this entire phenomenon is going to be a big cultural transition for organisations, for leaders and for hr functions to handhold.

And finally the employee experience will change. Because the nature of your employees will change, the demographics of your employees will change and therefore the way people will expect the organisation and the experiences at work will be very close now to the experience they already have in their own social and digital reality. I don’t think this divide between the private and workspace will sustain itself. And therefore to what extent would organisations, their systems process and culture need to change? But I think these are big dimensions of what would need to change.

And therefore if you were to look at an HR lifecycle everything from recruitment, the way we recruit the catchments we look at, the way we induct talent into organisations that are going to change.

The role of the entire employer branding, the role of individual branding, personal brands will become very very important. Because at the end of the day recruiters are going to be looking for people with strong personal brands.

And how many of us actually are aware of our personal brands, do we have one? How do we create our brand pull, both organisations and individuals? How do invest in it? That becomes very important.

Talent is going to be more expressive, they are going to be writing their comments on social media. There are going to be many more glass door clones that will happen, and how do you, therefore, look at managing the appointments and disappointments of vocal talent?

Therefore the role of leadership is going to change. There will be a disruption. Leadership for 30 years is no longer going to be the reality, it will be leadership of the moment and by the moment. Decision making by leaders or by people at large will get to be more data aided. It will be more transparent.

It will be very important to start looking at dashboards, real-time. I think a lot of results are going to be cut real time, quarterly results itself might be dated. You will measure things by day, by the hour, by the minute.

Leadership definitely will get lot more doors of objective inputs. It will never be completely objective because at the end of the day there will be calls to be made. But there will be a lot more of objectives measures.

And of course at the end of the day deployment of capital including human capital will become very central and therefore deployment of skills will be calls that will be made very carefully and closely.

And therefore the entire concept of talent management will be change, hiring right, placing right, valuing right, a combination of whether you need full-time employees regular employees vis-a-vis moving to a more team-based project-based set of external experts getting together. All of this will become a part of talent management.

So I think talent management will no longer be an internal exercise it will be interwoven with talent acquisition or talent supply. And talent supply may not be an employee acquisition or an employee supply.  Issues around work content will become very important. People are going to be looking at the content of their jobs, not necessary at the title of their jobs.

In a world of individual of free agents and high expertise, employee mobility will become very high and therefore lifelong employment as a talent philosophy might be in question. And thus how do you deliver long-term results working with individual free agents is going to be a reality of talent management. And all of this will need a huge amount of data to make sure we make decisions which are sharp precise and effective.

And finally, the entire concept of business partnering is going to change. For HR it is no longer going to be about doing transactions or making query resolutions, it is going to be about helping solve real business problems.

So what is the problem? I think HR is going to ask that question. What is the business problem? And therefore take the larger HR route, organisation design route, talent route, culture route, engagement route. Whatever route you take, it will be about solving the business problem. It will also be about enterprise risk mitigation, so I think HR will get to be central to being the business.

And all of this in the context of living tech-savvy and socially aware employees who will expect nothing less and whose demands will continue to be high. And in an era where there will be what I call information democracy this entire nuance of business partnering becomes very different than what we have classically seen for many many years.

For more such blogs follow us on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn.

A Disease Called Myth

Real life is the fertile hub of startling insights. Picture this scenario straight from life.

A 6-year-old Indian boy in an urban metropolis was diagnosed with mild persistent asthma and had been started on daily inhaled corticosteroid. At a follow-up visit in 2 months, his symptoms had worsened and the dose of the corticosteroid was increased.

During a home visit required by the research protocol, the research team noted that there were a significant number of incense candles and sticks burning in the living room, a place where the child spent most of his time. At a subsequent clinic visit, it was suggested to the mother that the incense burning may be the primary cause for the poor control of asthma. The mother responded in agreement that she was aware that this could be the problem. However, since it was her mother-in-law’s practice and something she could not oppose due to her cultural upbringing, she was expected to comply.

Cut to another story where an Indian mother expressed outright denial when given a diagnosis of asthma in their child. The acceptance of the diagnosis of asthma results in the acknowledgement by the parent that their child carries a chronic illness resulting in an “imperfect “child. Certain other beliefs attribute the cause of asthma to ‘lack of love’ from a mother!

Watch how belief further mutates into bizarre myths. Asthma is usually seen as a serious disease, which leads to death, a belief propagated by the Bollywood cultural movies and stories in which the Asian Indians are used to seeing the major actors clutching their chests while looking for their asthma inhalers and succumbing to their illness. Since the respiratory symptoms of asthma have usually been portrayed as life-threatening which often take the life of the person with the disease, a barrier in the acceptance of the diagnosis and the treatment of this disease is inherently prevalent.

More stories populate the diverse panorama of India’s socio-religious ethos. Spiritual healers are often used to do special prayers and create special magical concoctions, which are given to the child for their well-being and treatment of the chronic illness. Belief in horoscopes and their effects are well-accepted factors that can influence the child’s health. Horoscopes are evaluated by specialists to determine the chronicity of the illness and for prediction of improvements in those conditions. Special articles of religious significance are given to the child to wear. Removal of these articles even if required by medical professionals is considered inauspicious to the point where it may aggravate the symptoms of the disease and distance the provider from the family of the illness.

Home remedies, such as tea, hot water, walking, ginger and turmeric, are perceived to provide relief in asthma.

Clearly, there is a cultural/folk cognition of asthma -the disease that permeates all areas of life manifesting in cultural barriers and also affecting other aspects of the social fabric like matrimonial alliance!

The increasing diversity of the nation brings opportunities and challenges for healthcare providers, healthcare systems, and policymakers to create and deliver culturally competent services. Cultural competence is defined as the ability of providers and organizations to effectively deliver health care services that meet the social, cultural, and linguistic needs of patients. A culturally competent healthcare system can help improve health outcomes and quality of care and can contribute to the elimination of racial and ethnic health disparities. Today strategies skewered to move the health care system towards these goals include providing relevant training on cultural competence and cross-cultural issues to health professionals and creating policies that reduce diagnostic and cultural barriers to patient care.

At Cipla, we rose to the challenge by plunging into a ‘barrier-breaking campaign that attacks the root of the disease- ignorance that is currently rampant in fatal quantities. Berok Zindagi is a multi-channel communication arsenal that is aimed at eliminating the myths and reinstating the fact that asthma need not come in your way.

Because after all, cultural competence and therapeutic competence really go hand in hand.

Hopefully one day, blessed amulets and fish stuffed down the throat will give way to inhalation as an integral part of an asthmatic’s life.

For more such blogs follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.


Campus To Corporate

This is the time of the year when graduates from technical and business schools join organizations across India. Often referred to as Graduate Engineering Trainees, Management Trainees, Post Graduate Trainees etc., this is a key transition that these youngsters are going through in their lives.

While they are taking a plunge into the world of work from the world of academia, learning is hardly over. While learning will be a life-long process, considering the nature of the transition, their learning over the initial few months at work will be both intense and immense. They need to learn about the organization, its culture and practices, the industry and the sector, the domain and skills associated with it, tools and processes that are followed as well as skills associated with work and personal effectiveness.

Here are some pointers on how they can learn the maximum and handle this transition effectively. Let me start with certain mindsets that they need to bring in.

I am a part of the whole – unlike student days wherein what one does impacts just their performance (my poor scores may not impact anyone else), in an organization, one is always a part of the larger ecosystem, a team. If I don’t do my bit, it is going to impact others’ performance as well. That is a big responsibility that one needs to be aware of always.

I am observed and assessed all the time – there are no periodical or term-end assessments to determine one’s knowledge and skill. Rather, one is observed on a continuous basis and impressions are formed. And all this will feed into evaluation. And it’s not just knowledge and skill, but more importantly behaviour – whether you are on time for meetings, how and what you speak etc that gets observed. In a way, every day is an assessment day

I am an equal employee – there is no teacher and student; the trainee is as much responsible as a very seasoned employee and needs to take the effort and initiative. One cannot wait for instructions and directions always

These mindsets can set the right context after which they can do the following to actively learn.

Pull learning – Unlike in college, learning will not be pushed always through a standard curriculum, sessions etc. One needs to set his / her own agenda – a personal learning plan – and leverage resources. For eg. one may want to start by learning about the industry and check for all possible online and offline resources that can help with that. Like everyone else they need to own their learning and get into a self-learning mode

Learn on-the-job – this is the most potent source of learning. As per the well-known 70:20:10 model, 70% learning happens on the job. However, this does not happen automatically just because one is at the job. One should plan it, seek it and consolidate it. At the start of the day, the youngster (and everyone else as well) should plan not just the activities but the learning aligned to it. And then seek that actively, through experience and more importantly through interactions. For eg. assuming the trainee is present along with the manager in a negotiation with a vendor, a 5 – 10 minutes discussion post that with the manager saying why did you do this, what model were you following, share a little more etc would help.

Reflection and consolidation at the end of the day would be very important to crystallize and sustain the learning. To quote John Dewey,

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” 

An online journal can be a good aid to jot down one’s reflections.

Seek a mentor – Mentor at this stage can be a huge developmental support. Mentor can be from within the organization or outside – a professor from one’s college, a senior from the institute etc. The mentor will not just act as a sounding board but can share perspectives and guide the trainee. I recollect my initial days as a school counsellor post college, when I used to travel from one end of the city to the other to interact with my mentor, who was couple of years my senior. Her guidance helped me in a big way to succeed in my initial years.

Form a PLN – PLN or a Personal Learning Network is another powerful source of learning. This enables Social Learning through sharing and collaboration amongst peers. Any online social collaboration platform can be the medium for this. While digital interactions are very much a part of our lives, the core purpose of a PLN would be sharing around learning. PLNs can be formed within the organization, say all trainees from a batch as well as outside, PLN of one’s batchmates across different organizations. Through external PLNs, I have often found that trainees are a very good source of information about external practices.

Gain the maximum out of formal training – One cannot ignore formal training. Starting with the induction / on-boarding programme that they would be a part of, trainees should take maximum advantage of all formal learning opportunities that the organization provides. This would include leveraging online learning platforms that many organizations provide.

Do not be limited by micro learning – Micro learning is the in thing. Byte-sized, short modules is what everyone, not just youngsters, favour. While micro learning has its value, I am of the strong view that it cannot replace mega learning. While micro learning can drive breadth, it is mega learning that will drive depth. One needs to understand and appreciate the value of mega learning and leverage it accordingly.

While the trainees need to own this, one cannot undermine the role of line managers and HR. They need to act as enablers and facilitators and sensitize and support trainees in the learning journey.

Let me end this with a quote by Henry Ford –

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young”

Let us keep learning and stay young forever!!

For more such blogs follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.

How Cipla’s Self-Learning And Continuous Learning Approach Is A Game-Changer

Learnability is the biggest skill one can possess in the hyper-dynamic times that we exist in. There is a need for people to quickly learn and unlearn, and re-invent themselves if they seek to survive in the professional arena. At the same time, owing to how automation and technology are changing the nature of jobs, even organisations need to focus on continuously adding to the knowledge and skills of their people to stop them from becoming redundant. Gone are the days when learning and development were seen as a cost burden. It has now become essential for businesses that seek to sustain and grow in the existing volatile business scenario.

Cipla has been transforming its approach towards learning through focused efforts by its learning and development arm, Cipla University. In line with its philosophy of continuous learning, Cipla University believes in offering best-in-class training while promoting continuous learning that would enable all its associates as well as the organization on the whole Learn-Excel-Grow in a regular manner. This would not just lead to performance excellence in the present, but more importantly make individuals and the organization, future ready as well.

Hemalakshmi Raju, head- learning and development, Cipla says, “It’s not knowledge but a continuous learning approach that provides a competitive advantage.”

Raju shares that the organisation observed that there was a hunger for learning, and people needed guidance to be more efficient at what they do. More so, as the sales representatives in the pharmaceutical industry are mostly on the field and spend a significant amount of time, on-the-go. In addition, they have to deal with people who are way more qualified than them — the doctors. Even more challenging is the fact that their interaction window is limited to a few minutes versus the wait time that may be an hour or more.

It’s not knowledge but a continuous learning approach that provides a competitive advantage.

“Keeping all these challenges in mind, we realised that the field force required learning on the go such that they have anytime, anywhere access to relevant content. We launched mobile learning for the field force, a year ago. It allows them to utilise their wait time for learning, along with constant self-assessment on the same,” Raju explains.

The Company follows the 70:20:10 principle for its learning initiatives, and focuses majorly on continuous learning and self-learning. It has a unique programme called ‘Keep educating yourself’, under which it has provided its people access to a set of curated MOOCs. ‘My learning challenge’ is another unique initiative, that was organized sometime back, wherein employees could enroll themselves, pick a topic of their choice and spend at least half an hour every day, for ten days, learning the same.

Raju shares that over 250 people had enrolled for this programme across the globe, of which the best 10 were selected as learning champions. “The idea behind all these initiatives has been to inculcate in our people a habit of learning on their own,” Raju opines.

Cipla recently organised a learning expo at its office in Mumbai, with an aim to encourage self-learning and learning on the go. The event attempted to sensitise people and orient them to utilise various tools for self-learning through gamification.

Raju shares that the buy-in from the top management towards these digital learning efforts is extremely high and Cipla’s CEO, Umang Vohra and group chief people officer, Prabir Jha are strong proponents and ambassadors of the same

Looking ahead, Cipla is planning to organise social-learning drives, through digital platforms. It will include strong peer-to-peer learning through ‘tag and learn’ initiatives.

“Learning is not just about individual capability building but organisational capacity building” is a strong perspective held by Jha and Raju feels that Learning On the Go will be a key lever in bringing this alive.

This article originally appeared in HR Katha.

For more such blogs follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.


Innoventia – Search For Disruptive Innovation in Healthcare

Keeping up with Cipla’s innovation-driven credo, happy to share one of our big initiatives towards the same. Check out Innoventia.Cipla.Com to participate & reinvent the way we deliver healthcare.

I take this opportunity to also write my thoughts on why an initiative like Innoventia is much needed in our times.

They say when data is tortured enough, it will confess to anything! This couldn’t ring truer than now- when ‘sharing’ has become a way of life, thanks to the digital takeover of our lives. Everything is under the impact of the fastest moving phenomenon in recent times: CHANGE. In fact, change is the new technology, permeating everything, especially healthcare.

We are already witnessing applications for blockchain and more uses for AI, especially in diagnosis. Analytics has become the new buzzword. In the broad sweep of AI’s current worldly ambitions, machine learning healthcare applications seem to top the list for funding. Clearly, healthcare is no longer about the passive delivery of diagnostics, drugs and infrastructure. Guess why?

Along with the diseases, patients are changing too – across the spectrum of understanding, knowledge, and management of diseases given the emerging technology canvas.

So what’s next? Innovation is the only answer – to tide this wave of life-altering times to transform the delivery of care.

Therefore, is it healthcare or tech care? A question that will perhaps be answered through the lens of innovation.

For more such blogs follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.