Most people are not prepared for India.
No amount of reading, interviewing, or cultural training can really get you ready for working and living in India.
If you choose to dive in deeply, you will see the world from a brand new perspective. You will gain knowledge and experiences you could never get from any other place.
But you are also subject to feeling like you are just running from one “emergency” to another, constantly putting out fires. You may start to become entangled in the daily power struggles at work, or amongst your househelp. You may feel like most of your job has become apologizing for offending someone and can’t figure out why everyone seems so sensitive.
You could use some help. Not a solution for every problem, but a way to make sense of it all. An introduction to the new rules of this foreign land.
Enter How to Avoid Dying in India.
All the articles on LearningIndia.in (whether on Parent Leadership, Indias By…, or Cultural Adaptation) are based around eight cultural themes (or ‘Causes of Death’) that outsiders face when interacting with India. The hashtags you see in the articles represent times when one of these themes surfaces.
How to Avoid Dying in India is a compilation of the eight foundational articles that create this framework for understanding India. It is a quick read (32 pages), full of examples and stories.
Please don’t see this book as critiquing or complaining about India. On the contrary, it takes the common value clashes outsiders face in India, and reinterprets them to give you a successful foundation for working and living in India.
Subscribers should have received a free copy in their inbox earlier today. If you haven’t subscribed yet, follow the instructions below and you will get a free copy along with all the new articles.
Note: For those who have been following for a while, there are a few updates from the previously released version. Most notably, a new ChaosBeatsLogic story, which I’ve posted below:
Preview: Chaos Beats Logic
Logic is the leader of a software development team in India. He is sitting in a planning meeting for a new project. The specifications are beyond what Logic’s team has done before, so he asks for an extra two weeks to complete the project. Management says this is not any different from what is usually done and should take the same amount of time. Besides, it is good business and The Client will definitely provide more work later on.
The entire project is given four months to complete. Logic is strong-armed into agreeing to three months to finish the development work. 1 week is left for testing, 2 weeks for debugging, and one week for finalization.
Logic walks out of the room thinking, “These people are crazy, and the project is doomed. There is no way we’ll be able to finish on time.”
3 months to target: Logic’s team is working consistently on the project and meeting milestones. He pushes the team a little harder than normal in order to keep up the pace.
2 months to target: Management comes to Logic and tells him that a few core members of his team are needed for five days to help finish up some urgent work on another project. Logic says there is no way he can let his team go and still be able to stay on track. Management insists it will be ok and he will be given adequate time.
1 month to target: Logic is a full week late on the development side. Management asks him why he was not able to manage his team better. Logic shakes his head in disbelief, and tells Management that they need to inform The Client as soon as possible that the project will be delayed. Management says that everything will be fine.
2 weeks to target: Chaos walks casually into the office. Logic gives him a snarling look as if to say, “Where have you been?” Chaos takes the project to testing, has his team run continuous night shifts, and completes it in 3 days, leaving behind a long list of bugs to be fixed by Logic’s team.
1 week to target: A major bug is discovered. Logic tries to remind everyone that his team has not done this kind of work before and that is exactly why he asked for more time. Chaos pulls people in from across different teams and leads another string of all-nighters. Chaos orders dinner for everyone, and Logic begrudgingly stays late.
1 day to target: The project is still a few days away from completion. Chaos grabs a new team and creates a demo version for The Client. He calls The Client and tells her that everything will be fine and all is on schedule.
Delivery date: Both Chaos and Management have an emergency family function to attend, so they send Logic to show the demo to The Client. The Client is very happy with the demo version, but upset that the final date has not been met. She asks Logic to explain. Logic sheepishly answers that there were some unexpected delays. The Client says, “Well you should have informed us earlier.” Logic tells her the project will be ready in two days.
2 Days Post Delivery Date: There is still some work to be finished up, so Chaos tells Logic “Since you already know The Client well, tell her it will be delivered tomorrow morning.” After all, what is the difference between ‘end of day Wednesday’ and ‘start of day Thursday’?
Start of Day Thursday: The final project is delivered to The Client, who is satisfied.
Debrief Meeting on Friday: Management congratulates the team on a very successful project and gives Chaos and Logic a lot of praise, although he slips in a quick jab at how Logic is still learning how to be a good manager. At Logic’s turn to speak he says, “I am proud of the team’s commitment, but we must be more diligent in not diverting the development team’s priorities.” Chaos and Management both say, “Absolutely. Let’s make it an SOP going forward that no one should disturb the development team when they are working on an important project.”
In India, Chaos always beats Logic. Always.
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