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5 lessons for IT pros from Team India
November 29, 2005
A 6-1 series win over the feisty Sri Lankans; squaring the one-day series 2-2 against the South Africans -- Indian cricket has brought a lot of cheer to the enthusiasts of the sport.
It seems almost incredible that just a month ago there was debate among various camps of cricket pundits about the future of Indian cricket team's coach Greg Chappell (a fallout of the Ganguly-Chappell spat in Zimbabwe), the future of Sachin Tendulkar, and the probable outcome of a fractured team challenging the Sri Lankans' might.
But today the script reads different. And as an IT professional, one who is also an ardent follower of cricket, I realised that our community of young IT engineers could learn a few lessons from the new Team India.
Following are the five lessons that young IT engineers can learn from Team India.
Lesson #1: Discover yourself when on the 'bench'
For six months Tendulkar was forced to sit out of international cricket, nursing his injured elbow. Finally when he returned, he scored a measly few runs. The naysayers wrote him off completely -- his career was over, they agreed in unision. Then the maestro with a couple of feisty innings proved them wrong.
I believe Sachin used this time (the 6 months that he was away from cricket) to reflect on his past, identify his weak spots and prepare himself for the new innings.
Now compare Sachin's absence with someone from the IT industry. If an IT engineer was not being productive or billable for a project, he would be labeled as someone on the 'bench.'
Bench time, in the IT industry, is generally associated with lack of productivity. Is there a lesson for us from Sachin? Of course, yes. When you are on the 'bench,' utilise the time to reflect on your past and identify your weaknesses.
Attend that soft skill training that you have always wanted to. Take up that IT certification that you feel will boost your career. Sharpen your tech skills.
Bench time can thus be utilised effectively to improve the competence of an employee.
Lesson #2: Be flexible
During the India-Sri Lanka one-day international matches, Indian wicketkeeper-batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni, on certain days, was asked to accelerate the scoring rate in the early stages of the game. On other days, he came lower down the batting order to provide stability. Irfan Pathan is a bowler who can bat. Gautam Gambhir scored a century and was yet made to sit out of one of the matches.
While it may have left a few cricket pundits totally dismayed and out of their depths, the fact remains that flexibility played a key role behind the success of Team India.
The cricketers were brought out of their comfort zone and were asked to be flexible in their mindset. The instructions were given at a short notice and one was expected to complete the task.
The result: The team was winning and the young players looked more confident and assured of their place in the squad.
Shouldn't this too be the case with the young IT engineers? Your first project could involve the challenges of a development project. Next you maybe asked to work on a maintenance project.
If the work involves doing quality reviews, there is many a reluctant person. Here is where we need to learn from Team India. We must understand that being flexible and working in different projects will provide us exposure to the software development life cycle, or SDLC.
This does not only look good on our resumes, it also plays an important part in furthering our careers. You must remember that early days are for you to learn, explore and innovate.
Lesson #3: Work on the weakness or be replaced
Few would doubt that Sourav Ganguly was an outstanding leader -- probably one of the most successful cricket captains that the Indian continent has produced. But as his batting got from bad to worse, questions were raised about his place in the team.
The result: A man, who a lot of us thought was irreplaceable, was dumped from the one-day side, stripped of captaincy and India under a new captain did exactly what was expected of it: win matches.
IT engineers might have strong technical skills. You might be an asset to the team but if there are specific areas that you need to work on, do address them.
The technology in the IT industry is always changing. One should always be open to learning new technology and be ready working on one's weakness. Else, you'll be left out.
Lessons for IT professional: It is great to have some skills that are your strengths, but don't assume that you could just survive through them.
Lesson #4: Believe in the leader who has a vision
Was Greg Chappell experimenting? Perhaps he had a strategy for Team India. Did he know what he was doing? Perhaps, he had a vision in his mind. He had the required credentials. He knew the rules, he knew the game.
The Indians were asked to have faith in the new coach. And he is delivering as expected.
Consider the IT industry. Often the projects in the Indian IT industry have time and budget constraints. The command is given to the project manager and the project leader. A new team is set up and the leader makes a few quick decisions, which we might not understand or like.
But we should realise that here is one man who has a plan in mind and will chalk the path for us to execute.
Lessons for IT professional: A leader is chosen by the management based on his experiences, abilities and potential. Have faith in him.
Lesson #5: It's all about teamwork
When a television channel sought Greg Chappell's views on the key factor behind India's success, he said, "everybody shared the work load." A good team is worth more than the sum of the individuals. We had the same bunch of players, but there was a BIG difference in the results this time.
The concept of teamwork has been constantly repeated to us. The IT industry comprises of ordinary people delivering world-class software. Teamwork holds the key to success.
The biggest lesson that the new team Indian has taught: There is no 'I' in teamwork and together everyone achieves more.
The author is a Programmer Analyst working with a top IT company in India.
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