From practice to theory
BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - November 14, 2020 - 12:00am

A consultant who is an efficiency expert concluded his lecture with a note of caution. “Don’t try these techniques at home.”

“Why not?” asked somebody from the audience.

“I watched my wife’s routine at breakfast for years,” the consultant explained.

“She made lots of trips between the fridge, stove, table, and cabinets, often carrying a single item at a time.”

One day I told her, “You’re wasting too much time. Why don’t you try carrying several things at once?”

“Did it save time?” the guy in the audience asked.

“Actually, yes,” replied the expert.

“It used to take her 20 minutes to make breakfast. Now I do it at ten.”

There are the theorists, and then there are the practitioners. The conventional thinking is that theory precedes practice, but the reverse is true. Theory follows practice. Practice comes first, and then the theory is generated to provide that practice with a concept that is embellished and enriched with wisdom and experience.

I learn the most from practitioners in the industry. Their priceless and precious insights are rich because they have been there in the thick of things. While one may be impressed with the antics, humor, tricks, and delivery of the trainer or the speakers-theorists, the proof of the pudding comes during the question and answer portion, and you can see how theorists struggle to give meaningful answers but could not, because they never had the practice for it.

Let me bring you to the workplace. Theorists are people who have hung around the corporate scene for years, and they have learned a lot. Many of them can articulate facts, and some may even be able to give impassioned speeches, but this does not mean that they can make crucial decisions that lead to success. They do not have the leadership skills. On the other hand, I have met practitioners who are the real drivers of the organization. They get things done; they take action, and though they may not impress you with their ability to deliver a speech (unless you prompt them to do so), you would be amazed at the wisdom, knowledge, and experience they have, and you learn much from them.

I would not invest my hard-earned money on books, programs, or webinars unless I know that the person writing it or giving it is a practitioner. This is why to my delightful surprise, a practitioner I have admired and looked up to has finally decided to write a book. Maulik Parekh has authored a book entitled: “Future-Proofing Your Career and Company.” (It’s about time!) Maulik was my client as he held the top position of SPI Global and was running the show of more than 20,000 people working globally. And now he is residing in Singapore as an entrepreneur and an angel investor focusing on startups in AI, iOT, renewable energy, and healthcare.

In his book, he asks provocative questions:

When you wake up in the morning and unlock your smartphone using Face ID, or at the end of your day, when you are watching one of the “recommended for you” movies on Netflix, are you aware that AI is the one doing its magic behind the scene?

Who is curating my social media timelines and notifications?

Who is predictively giving me options as I type my Google search?

Who is categorizing my Gmail box and providing me with smart and contextual replies?

Who is choreographing my commute to work with the recommended route and travel time?

Who is blocking my credit card or alerting me by a text message to prevent fraud?

Who is concocting a personalized playlist for me on Spotify?

Who is creating a beautiful bokeh effect when I take a portrait photo on my smartphone?

And in the near future, when you will receive an item from Amazon even before you buy it, who will be reading your mind?

The real question, of course, is not “Who?” but “What?”

And here is one of the most provocative questions Maulik asks: “Would AI take your job?” I have gone through his book. Not only is it realistic (as a true practitioner would make it), but it is likewise entertaining and informative.

Get the book once it is available. Get some knowledge on how the present and future looks like and let it be a good source of how we can strategize our work and business and future-proof it. They say that knowledge is powerful – well, let us qualify it, knowledge from practitioners is.

(You are invited to attend his online book launching on Nov. 14, 2020 10:30 a.m. SGT. For more information and registration, go to www.maulikparekh.com)

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