STIMS Strategy for life long learning for intrepreneurship

Professionals in every field must constantly equip themselves with the latest skills to achieve new solutions for process problems.

Being adept at ‘Transformational skills’ and ‘system thinking’ constitutes a lifelong learning strategy required to develop a stream of New Solutions, a must to survive and succeed in the 21st century economy

MMI Cover story image

Who exactly are ‘intrepreneurs’?
We hear a constant drum beat for professionals to be entrepreneurial, capable of handling a variety of jobs and problems. This is in total contrast to the standardized
and de-skilled task-oriented replication activities. There are many opportunities to integrate knowledge from various sources – from other workers, knowledge available across departments, with the suppliers as well as with the customers or end-users. The advent of smart phones, Facebook, Google and other search engines also augment this ability to aggregate information from across the globe and convert them into new knowledge. The result is a “new solution” of high added value. They are heralded as “entrepreneurial”. The new term used for such entrepreneur working inside a company – as opposed to a startup operation – is “Intrepreneur”.

Life Long Learning Strategy:

Modern Manufacturing India, a Publication of the Indian Machine Tool Manufactusers  Association (IMTMA) carries the cover page article authored by STIMS Institute. This article provides a strategy for life long learning for entrepreneurs and intrepreneurs.

STIMS Cover story MMI Jan. 2018 issue


The MMI magazine January issue can be accessed at:

Three levels of System Thinking

In a recent blog post:  three kinds of “thinking” are described – Analytical, Lateral and Critical thinking. Following is our take on this subject:

In our view, every activity and/or solution is an INPUT/TRANSFORMATION/OUTPUT system.

TRANSFORMATION represents the Phenomena pertinent to the activity. Understanding the Transformation implicitly, explicitly or through inference/intuition is the “SCIENCE”. Application of the Transformation to obtain the desired change of the inputs to outputs is the “ENGINEERING” behind the activity or solution. Discerning the Output between the “What?” and “Why?” is the strategic thinking. Ensuring that the desired outputs are achieved by orderly integration – with respect to time, cost, resources and their efficient deployment – of the inputs to effect the transformation is the “Operational” aspect of the activity. Strategy and Operations are the two sides of anything we call as “MANAGEMENT”.

In this Systems thinking there are three levels, which relate to the three aspects described in in the blog post mentioned above

AWARENESS: analytical thinking mainly aims to review the data/information we are presented with (for relevance, patterns, trends etc.) — the ability to clarify the information on-hand and their assignment into the various aspects of the “System” as defined above. It also helps to identify the missing data or gaps and the questions to ask and in what order?

ANALYSIS: Lateral thinking aims to put data/information into a new or different context (in order to generate alternative answers or solutions) — answer the questions raised using the tools of Science, Engineering and Management in an interdisciplinary manner. Today such lateral thinking is part of higher education, but limited to the three disciplines, but mostly as impermeable silos!

SYNTHESIS: Critical thinking aims to make an overall or holistic judgment about the data/information which is as free from false premises or bias as much as possible — ability to answer the question ” 2 + 2 = ?” with an answer, “Why is this question raised in the first place” ? Then find answers which might lead to “2+2 = 3, 4, 5 or Fruit Salad”. In the last case it will be the sum of two fruits (Apple and Orange) with two other fruits (Peach and Banana) together with some ice cream on the side making the whole the Fruit Salad! Hence CRITICAL THINKING can be thought of as third level of SYSTEM THINKING, where the whole is seen as larger (or smaller, if that is the output of the “System”) than the mere sum of the parts. It is an ability to see the picture or pattern, rather than the mere emphasis on the pixels! For more details on System Thinking and the three levels:

Transformational Skills and their application as Leadership Imperatives


Recently replying to a Linkedin discussion group under the heading: What are your four timeless key leadership imperatives? , we posted the following as the timeless leadership imperatives:

— Help others so that they can help themselves.

— Always keep an eye on the “stake holders” and their needs.

— Use what you have learned and learn what you need to know.

— Everyone is a leader; your role is transient until someone else takes that role!

Here we discuss how these leadership imperatives are linked to the Transformational Skills:

  1. Help others so that they can help themselves

Words do have meaning. But, if the same word has different meanings between the leader and the team, then there is no common language. Words which are frequently used such as Product, Process, Application, Manufacturing, Science, System, Output, etc. need to have the same meaning between the leader and the team. Ensuring the Common Language is an important Transformational Skill.

While every leader has the instinct to help, it is not often possible (a) due to a lack of role clarity (b) Expectations are mismatched and /or (c) delegation is absent. But, frequently all of these are evidences of a more fundamental problem (i.e.) Absence of a common language!

2. Always keep an eye on the “stake holders” and their needs.

Stake holders are not synonymous with Shareholders. This is the frequent folly of many leaders. To recognize the Stake Holders, the leader will need system thinking, the perspective of a larger picture. Stake Holders are all those who contribute their inputs to the leader’s role viewed as an Input/Transformation/Output system. Every input is a cog in the wheel! Any cog that is ignored and hence becomes weak will in due course render the wheel dis-functional!

3. Use what you have learned and learn what you need to know:

Individual core capabilities are: Knowledge, Experience and People Skills. Core capabilities of any team are: Science, Engineering and Management (Strategy and operations). Core Capabilities of any enterprise are: Finance, Technology (not limited to Digital Technology) and Market drivers. Any leadership effort involves manipulating the Core Capabilities at three levels: Individuals, Team and the Enterprise.

Ultimately the role of the leader is one of a watchman who is fully aware of these core capabilities at each level and deploys them to the fullest extent. It is equally the role of the leader to look for and learn about the holes in the core capabilities and fill them systematically

4. Everyone is a leader; your role is transient until someone else takes that role!

We call this emotional intelligence for leadership. Leader is always one who helps others who in turn can help themselves. This self-help will be fully evident, when the leader’s role is no longer required. That does not imply that the leader himself is not required or useful any longer. Through his/her knowledge of the three dimensions of core capabilities, the leader would have already transitioned to new efforts and initiatives. This of course will also depend on the culture cultivated in the team!

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Interview of Dr. Subramanian published in the Efficient Manufacturing Magazine

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A system approach to manufacturing

You will find here excerpts from an interview with
Dr. K. (Subbu) Subramanian, President, STIMS Institute Inc.

• What should be the ideal strategies to survive, succeed and achieve competitive excellence in today’s volatile global economy?

• What is the “Systems Thinking of the Manufacturing Processes”?

• Tell us more about your program with IMTMA to train manufacturing professionals at all levels?

• Can you brief us on your proposed manufacturing eco-system – an approach that can create synergy from all sectors, much needed for a sustainable growth in the manufacturing industry?

• How to set up a suitable supply chain eco-system and acquire capabilities for machine tool components so as to make the overall production more dynamic and growth oriented?

• What should be the role of a CEO in strategy and planning towards operational excellence?

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