How to Transform with Purpose
Ryan Mascarenhas, a former Executive Director of Business Planning at Tenneco, shares his insights on purpose, motivation, and transformation.
He talks about the importance of understanding context and culture, and how it has shaped his personal framework for intentional living. Ryan also discusses digital transformation, disruptions, and the exciting innovations emerging in AI and quantum computing. He concludes by sharing his personal strategy for goal-setting, emphasizing the importance of purpose, motivation, mastery, and joy.
Defining Your Purpose
According to Mascarenhas, one of the most important things a leader can do is to step back and ask themselves if their purpose is still relevant in uncertain times. The purpose should not only be clear, but it should also aim to benefit the customer. Clarifying the purpose helps leaders to be intentional about the outcome.
"Step back, confirm that your purpose makes sense, and you can still be intentional about it even in uncertain times."
Ryan Mascarenhas -
Former Executive Director of Business Planning at Tenneco
Mascarenhas believes that it is crucial to define your purpose as a means to transform yourself, not just as a way to invest and install tools. He suggests four things organizations should focus on when embarking on digital transformation.
1. Define Your Purpose
Identify your purpose and be intentional about it. A simple way to start is to ask what your purpose is for the transformation, and more importantly, how it will benefit the customer. When you can connect the dots directly from what you want to achieve, how you want to transform, and how it's going to help your customer, your purpose gets defined, and you can be intentional about the outcome.
2. Find What Matters
Identify the few things that will create a big change for your organization and focus on them. There are several tools that can be used to achieve this. Essentially, what you're trying to do is identify the few things that can effectively test your value logic first, get a quick return on your investment or learn fast, and then go build that out and scale it to the larger mass.
"Think about the few things that are going to create a big change for yourself, and more importantly, learn fast. That learning fast piece is really, really important."
3. Build Capabilities
Don't use digital only as a means to invest and install tools. Think about how you're going to build capabilities. The question to ask here is, what behaviors will need to change on the way to achieving your purpose? This is where you observe your teams and see how they work. Ask yourself what behaviors you'll have to change to achieve your purpose. That allows you to think about the underlying capabilities you need to build, and the tools will only help you make them more effective.
"Think about building capabilities, don't use digital only as a means to invest and install tools."
4. Test, Learn, and Do
Test your hypothesis, learn from it, and adapt the plan. The plan is the starting point. There's a fallacy that once you write a plan, it has to be successful. Actually, a plan is important, but what is even more important is to be able to test that your hypothesis makes sense, do that quickly, learn from it, and adapt the plan. Don't hesitate to have the perfect plan. Instead, look at it as an approach to test, learn, and do.
"The plan is important, but what is even more important is to be able to test that your hypothesis makes sense, do that quickly, learn from it, and adapt the plan."
Finding Purpose in Personal and Professional Lives
Mascarenhas believes that purpose should drive personal and professional lives. He suggests that individuals should break their goals down into smaller pieces and celebrate small wins. Celebrating small wins creates more instances of joy that fuel your purpose. He compares achieving goals to playing Mario, where the purpose is to save the princess. Breaking goals down into smaller parts allows individuals to get more chances to celebrate.
"When you celebrate small wins, you actually create more instances of joy that fuel your purpose."
Mascarenhas believes that video games are a great example of the purpose, motivation, mastery, and joy framework. When playing games, one has the power to own their purpose. The purpose does not need to be grand, but it needs to be visible. At the same time, it does not have to be easy. Motivation comes when there's a little bit of uncertainty. Mascarenhas believes that it is also okay to fail. What is not okay is not getting a lesson from that failure. Individuals should use failure as a mechanism to learn.
"The purpose does not need to be grand, but it needs to be visible. At the same time, it does not have to be easy. Motivation comes when there's a little bit of uncertainty."
Innovation and Transformation
Mascarenhas believes that digital transformation is a means of transformation, not the purpose of transformation. Digital transformation is a way to transform oneself. It is important to understand that digital is not the purpose of transformation. According to Mascarenhas, companies should focus on defining their purpose and building capabilities when embarking on digital transformation. Companies should also find what matters most to achieve their purpose and have an open-mindedness to test, learn, and do.
"Think about the few things that are going to create a big change for yourself, and more importantly, learn fast. That learning fast piece is really, really important."
Mascarenhas concluded the interview by sharing his excitement about the confluence of AI and quantum computing. He believes that it will take all the horsepower we can get to complement our creativity and solve some of the big problems. However, companies need to invest in educating the talent pool so that they have the knowledge to quickly adopt and implement these tools when they become available.
"We're going to need all the horsepower we can get to complement our creativity and solve some of the big problems."
1.Leaders should step back and ask themselves if their purpose is still relevant in uncertain times.
2.Organizations embarking on digital transformation should focus on defining their purpose, identifying what matters most, building capabilities, and testing, learning, and doing.
3.Purpose should drive personal and professional lives, and individuals should break their goals down into smaller pieces and celebrate small wins.
4.Digital transformation is a means of transformation, not the purpose of transformation.
5.Companies need to invest in educating the talent pool to quickly adopt and implement new tools.
6.The confluence of AI and quantum computing will complement creativity and help solve big problems.
Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to be part of our Knowledge interviews. How are you today? I'm doing great, thanks. Thanks so much.
Thanks for having me. Awesome. Great to hear. So just for our community, we know you very well here at aim10x, but can you please introduce yourself and what you do?
Yeah, sure. All right. So hello and happy holidays to to all the folks listening in.
My name is Ryan Mascarenhas, and I'm based here in Belgium.
I have, you know, after having lived in the U.S. and Asia, Europe. So now where I live with my partner, Jennifer, and our son, Christopher. I'm originally from Bombay. I own where my sister and I grew up, and we're actually a first generation for our family to get an undergraduate and graduate degrees.
So, you know, I want to give a big shout out to all the parents and kids who are working on their dreams, stay in school and thank your parents and guidance for it. Now, even though I've been working for about two decades now, I would still call myself a student of innovation, change and transformation. Right. And one of the ways I get to practice that is as Executive Director at Tenneco, where I work with our business lines line teams, to go after our winning strategies.
And we do that with a management framework that we call Value Stream Simplification. So in a nutshell, that is basically a way in which we focus on our priority markets and bring superior products and services using agile front line teams and high velocity supply chains. That's our basic framework and value stream simplification is built around it. On the side, since I like I said, I'm a student.
I also maintain a blog called intentional-leader.com , where I write about, you know, finding purpose and motivation in our personal and professional lives. And as you said, you have worked in several countries, several industries, several companies. Can you tell me how this wealth of information, cultural and career has kind of shaped your outlook and your career and personal path? So, you know, first
of all, right, none of this would have been possible without support of managers.
So again, it was their faith in me that gave me the opportunity to do it. And I feel like I still have so much to learn even yet. Right. So I haven't yet accomplished everything.
But you know, the experience so far has given me a real appreciation for two things. One thing is that context matters. So being in all of these various settings, right, it's important to step back and first learn about why you are there and what the purpose is. So that could be from a business perspective and more importantly, understanding it from the people perspective; the teams, the customers and the suppliers you actually have to interact with.
The other thing is that, you know, culture matters a lot as well. And why I say that is because understanding the purpose and being intentional about it is really important when you want to drive any sort of change. And you do that so that you can be enduring. So understanding the culture helps you build something that's enduring and not just a tool that you go install somewhere.
Overall that sort of thinking has really shaped what I call my personal framework.
And that wasn't framework is: be intentional about your purpose. That converts your purpose into motivation. Motivation inspires mastery and mastery brings joy and that feeds your purpose again. So I call it PMMJ, right?
It's a nice, virtuous cycle that keeps on giving back to us. Then you mentioned your blog, The Intentional Leader. I'm an avid reader. I've enjoyed reading it.
It's very valuable for me as well since I started a few weeks ago. But in your blog, you relate a lot of personal stories and situations into career lessons. And you know, it's a great way that you've adopted to have people be more resilient, make better functioning teams. How did you come up with this idea and how has this blog maybe helped you as well in your career journey as a leader?
First of all, thanks for
reading my blog. I really appreciate it. But credit for that actually should go to my sister. I dabbled in blogging almost a decade ago, so now you know how ancient I really am.
But I used to do a bit of writing. I wrote poetry. I wrote music as an amateur musician. But the real thinking behind writing something as an intentional-leader.com
came from her,
A little bit of background: I do a bit of running and running or any sport for that matter. It's terrific to build personal motivation and build resilience. It's a very simple idea that you get from running is that you're not done when you stop running, you're done when you don't come back to the starting line, Right? And that is a very powerful motivator to keep coming back.
And as I practice running, you know, I found myself saying, "Hey, I've got to be able to share this and how do I share it?" And sisters, as you know, are really, really good at sensing these things. So, you know, Rochelle, my sister, said, "Hey, why don't you start writing?" And that got the blog started.
And in many ways, it's helped me because what writing does as a a mechanism is it helps you really distill your idea straight down on a piece of paper, and it helps you actually test your own value logic. So when I write things down now, I'm actually looking at the proverbial proverbial other side of the coin. Making sure my logic makes sense. Because ultimately what I write, that is what someone is going to read and try to apply to what they're doing.
And then for myself as well, these are ideas I take back to the teams I work with. So that writing that blog has actually helped me confirm that the value logic makes sense. And then when I bring it to other teams, I have simplified it down in a way that they can understand it and they can apply it, like I said, to their context in their culture. And that helps make those teams resilient, particularly in tough times.
And Ryan, maybe talking about, you know, better functioning teams, we've seen digital transformation and digital activation, especially since after COVID. It's been a very hot topic for several companies. This goes into next generation work becoming more efficient as companies, as people. Maybe if you can detail a bit more on what digital transformation is to you.
But also as a company that is delving into more transformative practices. What is your advice for individuals or companies that are looking into transforming their companies to the next level in their transformation journey? Yeah,
so this is a really good question and relevant as well, right? But first, you know, I see digital as a means of transformation.
So I think it's important to clarify that it's not the purpose of a transformation. Too often it's misunderstood that digital is the purpose of transformation. I think it's just a means to transform yourself, right? So what that does is once you align internally that that's what it is for you.
There's really four things I'd recommend you start to look at. The first one always starts with purpose, right? Define your purpose so you can be intentional with it. And it's a very simple thing that you can start to ask is what is our purpose from this transformation?
And more importantly, how is the customer going to benefit from it? When you can connect the dots directly from how you want to transform to what? How it's going to help your customer, your purpose gets defined and you can be intentional about the outcome you see, right? The second thing is then you should find what matters most to achieve that purpose.
And there are several tools that we teach a framework called 80/20 rule Essentially, what you're trying to do is you say, what are the few things that I can do to effectively test my value logic first? Get a quick return on my investment or learn fast. Right? And then go build that out and scale that out to the larger mass.
What that allows you to do is then be they focused on the few things that are going to create a big change for yourself and more importantly, learn fast rate that learning fast is really, really important. So that's two. The third one is think about building capabilities, right? Don't use digital only as a means to invest and install tools.
Think about how you're going to build capabilities and the question to ask there. Now it goes back to context is what behaviors will need to change on the way to achieving our purpose. So this is where we observe our teams, right? See how they work.
And we need to ask ourselves what behaviors will have to change to achieve that goal. So that allows you not to think about the underlying capabilities you need to build that the tools will only help you make them more effective. And and then the last one, right, is to have an open mindedness to test, learn and do. There's a fallacy that we think that we have to be successful, right?
A plan. We once we write a plan, the plan has to be successful. Actually, a plan is important. But what is even more important is to be able to test that your hypotheses makes sense, do that quickly, learn from it, then adopt the plan.
The plan is the starting point. Don't hesitate to have the perfect plan, right? Instead, look at it as an approach to test, learn and do right. And maybe two other things just close the loop on that.
There are some books that are actually not about digital that I would recommend reading. One of them is The Goal by Doctor Goldratt It has nothing to do with digital, but he talks so eloquently and in the book describes how you actually go to the mechanism of finding your goal and finding the things that matter. So I would really recommend that for anyone that wants to get into digital transformation, start the journey, or maybe even if they're in it. The second thing I'd say is don't look for a perfect solution.
We're really lucky today, right? A decade ago, we would need some really, really big software to come in and do a lot of this job for us. Today, we're lucky we have o9. We have so many other providers that are willing to work on a proof of concept with you and you can really test what works, what doesn't, and build a bespoke solution for yourself.
So don't be afraid to like test things because now you can do that more effectively than you could a long time ago. In one of your blog posts, you said, you know, respond and innovate faster and driven by purpose around the few things that matter within your solutions. And I think in a time when, as you know, a lot of things are up in the air politically, economically, and I would say business wise as well. How do you recommend that we keep purpose in mind or even as a governing factor, even with all of these several, I would say turbulences all around us?
That's you know, that's a really, really tough one. And why I see that is because during uncertain times, Our loss aversion kicks in and is even stronger. And essentially what that manifests itself in is that our desire to keep all options open in an uncertain environment actually ends up creating more complexity. And it creates this cycle of just running after keeping every door open and not being able to accomplish anything.
The uncertainty only makes it more complex. I think the point that I was making in that. In that post is you have the power to own your purpose, right? And so the first thing you can do for yourself is step back and say, "Hey, is my focus still relevant in this uncertain time?"
Does my value logic actually hold? And what changes do I have to make in this time of uncertainty? The thing that I think I missed there and I should highlight here is again, whether it's personal or in your profession or your business project you're working on, don't hesitate to ask for help. Uncertainty is not necessarily something that requires you to solve everything on your own.
Step back, look at your purpose and say, "Do I need help?" Will I be able to achieve my purpose by getting help? So in a nutshell. step back.
Confirm that all of this makes sense, right? You can still be intentional about it. You can still control it, even in uncertain times. Second, clarify that your value logic makes sense, right?
And then third, think about what you're spending your time on and what will happen as a result of that is you will find the many distractions that don't serve your purpose. And when you stop doing these no brainer activities, right, your team and yourself will get the time to actually go make the big, important decisions. You free up your time and your mental capacity to go make the big, important decisions that matter and that will help you keep moving forward towards the purpose that makes sense for the time that you're in. But I think talking about disturbances, I think now we see digital disturbances or digital disruptions, be very common.
Maybe positive and negative. but what's a digital transformation or disruption that you're maybe most excited about that you see or you have seen? And can you maybe provide a bit more detail on that? So
a couple of things that have been top of mind, right?
One is that we've as humankind have embarked on a big, almost planet shifting energy transition where we want to get ourselves away from carbon. So I'm very excited about the things that are happening. You just saw Lawrence Livermore talk about nuclear fusion. Keeping my fingers crossed that we can scale that up within my lifetime, I get to see a fusion.
But you know, our kids, our grandkids, they deserve a cleaner planet. So I'm very excited about the innovations that will come from that space, and I follow those closely. The other one that I'm excited about is the confluence of A.I. and quantum computing. And that's because we're going to need all the horsepower we can get to complement our creativity to solve some of the big problems.
And some of these are also going to be big supply chain problems and being able to find quick, effective solutions for them. There's not going to be necessarily always a perfect solution, but we can, with the right horsepower, will find quick, effective solutions. One thing, though, that we need to do is understand that it takes knowledge to accept and adopt a technology that we're not used to. And so I hope that the companies will continue to invest in educating the talent pool so that they have the knowledge that when these tools become available, they're able to quickly adopt and implement.
Ultimately, it's going to take us to go implement those decisions that they're ready to implement those decisions. And the friction that exists from not understanding what a technology is doing goes away and we can quickly adopt changes in our supply chain decisions. Just, I think, going back to your blog. One of the points you've mentioned, especially on having goals in mind, is you compared like in accomplishing your goals to playing Mario.
And I really like that analogy because you said, you know, you start on your goal and then you break it into smaller pieces. Be present, be aware of your surroundings and try to adjust as life comes to you. How maybe has the strategy helped you align your goals? Because seeing as though you've worked in several countries and industries, how has this maybe accompanied you in your lifetime?
good question. So maybe we'll give the listener a bit of context, right, as we as we talk about it. But first of all, I think we can all agree video games are a great anecdote for the purpose, motivation, mastery, joy framework (PMMJ) Why? Let me take Mario as an example.
So we build some context here. When you play the game, even before you've kind of started the game, Mario's purpose is to protect or save the the princess becomes your purpose. So you've already locked into the purpose. And then as you start the game, you realize that you cannot make progress until you move forward.
So you've got to start. That motivation now has come in to say, I need to make a move here. And that motivation keeps thriving as you practice the game, you get hit by something, time runs out. You learn from it and now you can step back and see how quickly did it take you to get back to the point you were.
And that's where you're building mastery in playing the game, right? And then ultimately you go beat Kong, you get to that. You saved the princess and you're so happy. And what happens?
You're ready for level two. Right? Now it has motivated you to say, "Hey, I can do more, let's go do more" And your your goaland your pupose becomes how do I set the highest goal in Donkey Kong on this console that I have or this you know this group of friends that I play this game with. So that's the that's the context of the game.
Now, as I think about how I've sort of applied it. The one thing video games have taught me that is especially when you work on the team. It's important to show them what the vision looks like, So if you notice on the game, you can see the whole level and you know what you're trying to accomplish. Or if you bring a multilevel game, you kind of know what you're trying to accomplish So the vision is clear about what the end state is.
You should be able to explain that to them so they can see the purpose. And the next thing is that the purpose does not need to be grand, right? The purpose needs to be visible. At the same time, it doesn't have to be easy.
Motivation comes when there's a little bit of uncertainty. Think about the game. If you've never played before it, there's a bit of uncertainty. You know, you have to go up certain levels, but you don't really know how you're going to get there.
You just know you want to get there, So that motivation is a combination of knowing what you want to accomplish. So you think that's a worthy goal, right? I need to go after it. And at the same time, there's a little bit of uncertainty.
So it's also daunting. And that's what creates the motivation. So that's always leading to motivation for me. And then the next thing is that you realize from games as well, and this is for me as well as that it's okay to fail, Right?
And what is not okay is not getting a lesson from that. So you have to use failure as a mechanism to learn. And then the last part is that you should be celebrating small wins. And this comes back to the breaking of goals in the small part is that when you celebrate small wins, you actually create more instances of joy that fueled your purpose.
Right. So whatever those wins are; learning is a win. Try to find those small wins that will keep you motivated to keep following your purpose. And that's how you break those goals down into smaller things where you can get more chances to celebrate.
And then for the for the sake of And then for the for the sake of the listeners, you know, we can do a simple exercise. Everyone can do this at home. Is just maybe 5 to 10 minutes. Take an activity.
Maybe it's running. Maybe it's music, if you like to play music; or it's meditation. So what do you need? Let's take running.
What you need is a watch and just some time. Take out some time from your day, 5 to 10 minutes to do it. And essentially what you're going to do is you're going to run for one minute, And then you're going to look at your watch. And I'll tell you how fast you ran and how far you ran, for example.
Keep a stopwatch. Have a way of doing that. And then set a goal for yourself that at the end of the fifth attempt. I will run, let's say, 10% further or 10% faster than I have run now.
And that's it. Just take a minute to do that. Run. Just look at your watch.
Adjust to the next one. Do the next one. and next one. And at the end of it, don't necessarily do a deep dive.
Just go out and celebrate that you did five or attempts of this run. And while you're celebrating, do a recap off your run. And the questions you should ask yourself are, not whether you achieved your goal, but actually you should ask yourself, how did you feel as you were doing that? What was your focus like as you approached the end of the fifth attempt?
And the last part is, would you like to try again? And try that as a practice and then come back and let me know how you feel. And and maybe you can do something after that. That's actually the best way someone has explained motivation.
So I'm really, really happy that you you actually gave this exercise. And I think it's very important for us to actually be forgiving to ourselves as well. And just having those small wins. And maybe this is not just relevant for us as individuals, but also just having global teams because as we go into a virtual environment, having easy wins that we can attribute to our team so that they also feel that they're contributing and they're having those small wins to celebrate.
Awesome. That's all the questions I have from my side. Ryan, thank you so much for taking time out of your day, your week. I hope that you had fun with this interview as much as I had fun listening to your advice and happy holidays and hopefully we continue to do some of these sessions again.
Yes, absolutely. Happy holidays. Thanks. Good. Thank you so much, Ryan.
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