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How Shivakumar uses T20 cricket, aircraft and shopping mall models to offer career advice to professionals

Having a sense of your destination, of what you could likely become, is important, as well as having a sense of what drives you and your passion, Shiv writes in his new book The Art of Management

May 13, 2022 / 02:42 PM IST

Lives and careers have changed significantly and will change even more this decade. And it would be beneficial to have a clear sense of the destination and hone skills to be multifaceted, advises Shiv Shivakumar, group executive president, corporate strategy, at Aditya Birla Group, in his new book on career and management.

“One can use three analogies to think of life and careers in this decade. The first is what I label the aircraft flight model; the second is the T20 cricket model; and the third is the shopping mall model,” Shiv, as he is popularly called, writes in his new book The Art of Management.

Aircraft flight model

Aircraft fly at different altitudes and have a clear, specific destination. Having a sense of your destination, of what you could likely become, is important, as well as having a sense of what drives you and your passion, Shiv writes.

“A pilot navigating an aircraft has a lot of instruments on his dashboard to tell him what’s happening and what he should watch out for. Life and careers, too, have similar dashboards, if we care to look for them. There are some important aspects—that direction is more important than the distance covered. Many people want to move up fast, but flying at the right speed at the right time is important.

“Aircraft use and manage jet streams to avoid turbulence and ensure a smooth flight. Life and careers are also like that. You need to use the jet stream in a role to get yourself mileage and then move to the next stream that accelerates your progress,” he writes.

He says when one faces dark clouds, one needs to pause and rethink what’s happening to you. For this to happen, you need a few emotional anchors, people you can share your situation with, people who will tell you the raw truth while being empathetic.


T20 cricket model

T20 is a brutal game. Yesterday’s captain is tomorrow’s twelfth man. This simple lesson in multiple capabilities is something we can apply in life and the corporate world, his writes in the book.

“A single-skill cricketer does not have a role in the IPL (Indian Premier League) team, however good he is at the international level. The best Test batsmen who cannot adapt to T20 don’t get picked, but the best bowler still has a chance. Teams tend to pick players with multiple skills—batting, bowling, fielding, wicket-keeping, captaincy.

“So these days, we need to have more capabilities in life and at the workplace as compared to the past. Equally, one needs to adapt to a new world. One cannot play Test cricket and expect to succeed in a fast-changing world. This is a challenge for many managers past their prime. They are all digital immigrants and just don’t have a sense of how to work in a digital world… One has to constantly re-evaluate the capability set and be future-ready in life,” Shiv writes.

Shopping mall model

The third approach I want people to think about in managing their life and career is what I call the shopping mall model. This applies to managers in startup companies, Shiv says.

To be fair, this model has been used before in advertising, market research, journalism and consumer electronics, where people tend to move from one door to the next, as in a shopping mall. Professionals tend to shop around for jobs as one shops around in a shopping mall, says the book.

“This approach is relevant as long as you have relevant experience and have produced worthwhile results. But the shopping mall approach to a career doesn’t work beyond the middle-management stage,” Shiv says.

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Prashant K Nanda is an Associate Editor at Moneycontrol .
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