Unlearning's of 2020 - From the desk of our CEO, Sohini De

6 Jan, 2021
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Every year, for my own development, I have made it a habit to take stock at the end of the year and reflect on my personal and professional growth, or the lack thereof. This year, for obvious reasons, it was more like a series of epiphanies and unlearning of what we were so used to until now.

2020 started off with hope and anticipation of big things happening. Come March, with project delays and uncertainty, I won’t lie – anxiety and despair ensued. But by April, the entrepreneur in me gave a good kick up my backside and survival mode was switched on. All we wanted this year, was to survive. If we live today, we will thrive tomorrow. After all, ‘tomorrow is another day’!

But to survive, we had to listen. Endless calls with clients, leads, mentors, and shareholders helped us understand what the actual problems people facing are. We did not have answers to all the problems, but at least we were not in the dark and tried adjusting our offerings which could help alleviate some of the bottlenecks.

This exercise not only helped us to be more in tune with the issues on the ground, but also showed the human side of it. Despite their own hardships, people were happy to share knowledge, solutions and everyone’s resilience was infectious. This rubbed off on us too and helped in our journey through 2020.

Adjusting to the new world no doubt had its benefits, but it came with its own challenges as well. Remote working gave us flexibility of looking after our family during these difficult times, while continuing to work. However, the fun of jumping on to the ‘office’ chair from bed wore off soon enough. With the first lockdown, I personally felt I was more productive, but down the line, my productivity faltered as work life balance was out of kilter and I realised I was working till 10pm and still worrying that I hadn't finished my work for the day.

Going back to work for a little while was a welcome break and saw productivity increase. I guess it was the tale of having too many good things. As Tagore said, "In God’s world good things are rare otherwise they would have become mediocre in their own crow" (a very inept translation of his fascinating quote from ‘The Last Poem’).

However, on a serious note, onboarding new team members and integrating the organisation philosophy, maintaining the team spirit and most of all continuing to innovate, were serious challenges during this time. We are still struggling with it and we are only a small team, who even before COVID were used to working with a globally distributed team. I can only imagine what other organisations are facing with larger teams new to remote working.

This year, I was at a policy meeting and one individual rightly asked – will this ‘new normal’ hamper innovation? I am seriously worried as now we no longer have that office culture and banter, where the minds work and play together to create innovative solutions to today’s problems. We are still looking for that perfect answer while trying to figure out which software tool works best, but call me old fashioned in this regard; I still miss in-person brainstorming sessions!

But it was not all dark and gloomy in 2020. It was a year which prompted a conversation about the things we were telling the world for a few years now. Digital transformation of health and prevention of chronic disease should take centre stage, and it did!

On a personal front, not only myself but as a family, I think the biggest learning was how little we need to not only survive but to lead a comfortable life. The bare necessities are not the things you can count on your fingers or you can buy with money, but it is counting your blessings and acknowledging with gratitude what we have. Here’s to a bright 2021, Happy New Year to all of you.

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