Friday, April 29, 2005

Do you believe in Destiny?

Earlier on, I'd blogged about having the uncanny knack for spotting vehicles that don't belong here (Karnataka). Every time I lay my eyes on a vehicle registration plate, the probablity of it being a non-karnataka vehicle is perhaps 0.8 on 1. But here's something else that has been happening for about 2-3 months now. I don't seriously know what to make of it. Sometimes, I feel it is an omen - that the world is telling me where I'd be many years down the line and sometimes I feel it is a naughty game that nature is playing with me and some other times, I feel it is just my intuitive filter that's at work. HEY, WHAT IS IT THAT I AM RAMBLING ABOUT?

Here it is - I've spotted around 15+ vehicles that have "CKO" in their registration plates. Additonally, I've also spotted 5+ vehicles that have "CKM" in their registration plates. Now, that is something to think about as a huge chunk of the Karnataka vehicles' registration plates start off with KA - for KArnataka. I don't know if what I am doing is right, but I am trying hard not to give this thing too much of importance. Anyways, what is to happen will happen! :)

Note: For those of you who are clueless about what I am saying - CKO can be expanded as Chief Knowledge Officer. CKM can be expanded as Chief Knowledge Manager. :-). Now, you know what I am talking about...don't you?

Latest update (8th Sept, 05): The count's as follows: CKO = 27+ and CKM = 17+

Opportunity Amidst Difficulty

The traffic in Bangalore leaves a lot to be said. It can be killing. It can make you want to run away from Bangalore even if you've been a Bangalorean all your life. 'To be Bangalored' ought not to be a phrase restricted to only the reference to jobs being outsourced but also to denote that one is caught in traffic.

Okay. But here's the silver lining that I saw in the cloud . In the evenings, people in my office van (including me) who'd earlier restricted themselves to thinking about work and home or gazing outside have started chatting up. Because there's nothing else to do. There isn't enough daylight to read; and there's nothing much to watch outside except cars and buses. So, new friends have been made and new insights gained through discussions about simple matters like Bangalore's hotels and complex matters like solutions to the infrastructure problems that the city faces. We've even come up with some amazing and seemingly ridiculous business propositions to combat the problems that people face on the roads.

And here's a bonus that I got - A couple of weeks ago, there was an occasion when I was desperate to spend time on something that would help me take my mind away from the frustrating 20-minute long wait in the traffic. I decided to fiddle with my Mobile and got into the Messages feature. In the past I've not had the necessity to send SMS' to people, but, of late, there is a friend and colleague of mine with whom I've been exchanging messages about work, people etc. All the while, I've been using the keys multiple times (for example, pressing the "ABC" key thrice to get to 'C' ) to type in the messages and haven't used the built-in SMS dictionary. When I first tried it some years ago, I was confused about how it worked and had given up after a few trials. I'd not asked anyone either, about how it worked, because I was anyway not using the SMS feature so much.

Coming back to the present, I started fiddling with the messages feature and switched on the dictionary thinking that was one thing I had not cracked and it was a good time for me to learn to use it instead of getting frustrated with the traffic. So, I started typing in words - I tried typing in 'good' and once again felt it was easier to switch off the dictionary and select the alphabets rather than use the dictionary and then use the star button to choose the alphabet I wanted. For example, when I chose the 'GHI' button with the dictionary on, the alphabet that came on the screen was 'I' and not 'G'. Given the situation I was in, I decided to do something - I decided to take the risk and plunge in and go ahead and let the dictionary take over. I settled for the alphabet 'I', then pressed the "MNO" button to see the screen show 'In' , went on to press "MNO" again and saw the word change to 'Inn'. I persevered and finally pressed the "DEF" button and Voila! the word had changed to "Good" from "Inn"! Would you believe it? Of course, if you are an SMS freak, you must be thinking I am one big dumbo. But for me, it was a significant learning and it happened because of two reasons - one, I had the need to learn to send SMSs more efficiently and two, the traffic problem gave me no other option but to use it as an opportunity to learn/do something constructive. Now, I can send SMSs more efficiently and quickly and I am beginning to enjoy the magic of seeing the word change in the last second....or the last alphabet. :)

Mother and Son

Yesterday evening, as our office van cruised through a colony in Koramangala (Bangalore), I watched the people in the colony go about their evening routine. Some people were walking, some chatting, some taking their dogs out for a walk, some sitting alone in deep thought, some simply enjoying the environment and some playing. It was a typical "an evening in a colony" scene. I liked what I saw. Esp. because the colony has its share of greenery! But there was one particular part of the scene that I was enamored by. That of a mother and a son pair sitting on a bench. (Hold on....that is not what I was enamored by per se! :-) ). The way the son was sitting was something that touched me. He was sitting like a king - he was to his mother's left, his arms outstretched and on the bench; the right arm around his mother; and the left leg placed across the right in a horizontal position. His posture somehow caught my attention and left an impression! The scene, to my mind, depicted a son's love for his mother and his protective nature towards her. I smiled to myself and felt happy for the mother and turned to look at the other things that the environment had to offer when my friend in the van turned to me and said "Did you see that?" and I was like zapped. I knew she was talking about the mother and son pair. I asked her if that was what she was talking about and she nodded and smiled at me. Wow! Isn't that sort of a nice thing? I was a little surprised that both of us had been observing and admiring the same thing when there were perhaps 20-30 other people around! I guess we all identify with love and affection...! :-)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Interpreting the World...

It amuses me to think of how completely naïve I was once upon a time. (Some people would say I should be talking in the present tense) But I know things have changed with me now. There was a time when I rarely questioned information that came to me. Especially that which I read in the papers. I lived in a false but ideal world. I thought no one would say things that weren’t true! (If you’re not rolling on the floor laughing, you were or maybe still are like I was in school).

The truth is that nobody is true all the time. Especially when it comes to saving one’s skin. Information is tweaked, camouflaged, altered and at times transformed completely. It is looked at from different angles thus leading to different versions of the same information. Sometimes, the tweaking of information doesn't happen on purpose but because of the perception filter that comes from the background and experiences of the person passing on the information. It is the clichéd story of a half-empty/half-full glass. In the final analysis, information is almost always modified to suit one’s purpose and information gaps most often filled. To suit one’s own interests. You do it. I do it. We all do it. The degree to which we do it varies; depending on our values – truth, honesty – or even our inability to lie, lack of street-smartness, inability to differentiate between the good and bad consequences of doing something of this sort and adopting a ‘blanket value’ across all situations are some of the reasons why the situation is so. On top of this, interpretations and perceptions of the truth differ from person to person!

Given this, what are we all harping about in this big 'bad' world? We are acting on false information. We are acting on biased views. We are not acting on the truth. Is there such a thing as truth and if so is that visible to all of us? Newspapers don’t deliver facts. People don’t deliver facts. There is a complete dearth of genuine people and even the few genuine people that we see are perceived to be either stupid or inexperienced or cunning! (That is another topic of discussion). We are living in a make-believe world. No wonder Shakespeare said “the world is a stage and we are all actors”.

Note: History has been reported wrongly many a time. Geography can be a matter of perception and location of the self. The truth in science may still lie un-discovered. Language can be used completely to one’s advantage. Maths is perhaps the only subject that is ‘true’. Actually, come to think of it, even numbers can be misrepresented. :(

:( 8 Well, I was not really planning to paint such a bleak picture of the world! But it is important that we take cognizance of the fact that we all see the world through our own coloured window and others’ coloured windows but the world may, in reality, be pure white or pitch black. Discarding these windows is essential for us to tackle the world in a fair manner. But discarding it may also leave us without, what we call, ‘My perspective’, which is what can be disturbing. For, ‘My perspective’ is the ego’s vent; something that the ego cannot do without. So, can there be an egoless state that still allows you to have your own perspective – a perspective that treats the world well?

Don’t ask me what I mean by this post…..please! I simply typed as I thought…

Humility Vs Arrogance

Have you thought about this?

A leader who exudes humility (as compared to a 'leader' that exudes arrogance) is bound to cause a person prone to feelings of insecurity, feel more insecure!

In fact, arrogance can itself, sometimes, be a mask used to hide feelings of insecurity.

Why Innovation?

It is almost like I am compensating for not having had the time to Blog for a couple of weeks.

Q:Why is there so much talk about innovation from one part of the world?

Methinks: If the world were divided into 2 parts - one that has the desire to change and in fact, the desire to bring about change and another that hates to change. The people in these 2 'parts' are like politicians and the 'parts' are like political parties. People can change parties anytime depending on whether the change brings them what they perceive to be joy/sorrow.

There is talk about innovation from some one or the other as there is this inherent need to change; The need to be different; The need to do much better; The need to improve;

Because humankind is always in a state of restlessness.

KM Thoughts

Methinks - Knowledge Management can be a complete success only when each and every employee puts the organization before himself or herself. Come to think of it, KM isn’t really an effort to overcome dependency on human beings. (That can never ever happen.) But it is to mitigate the risks of depending totally on the people. KM is, in fact, about realizing that each person has unique knowledge that needs to be leveraged upon. Some part of the explicit knowledge can be documented and converted into a procedure or a process, but that's about it. Who will improve it? Who will help the system evolve and adapt to change?It has to be understood.

KM folks are in an unenviable spot. For... for KM to be a hit, the basics (Employee satisfaction has to be on a high) have to be in place. And the basics cannot be controlled completely by the KM folks. The basics are established by the founders, managers and leaders in the organization. If an employee has to put the organization before himself or herself, not only does he/she have to be highly kicked about the organization's goals but also he/she should not be taken undue advantage of by people around him/her. There has to be a feeling of oneness with the entire orgainzation and its people. This is probably asking for the sun. Looks like I am getting to be a little pragmatic and not dream of an ideal 'only-in-the-dreams' world. But what this boils down to, perhaps, is that the CEO should own KM.

Conference 'Confusion'

I’ve indicated this before - I was a part of an organization-wide conference that happened recently. Some observations I have in the context:

Conferences can create a stimulating environment for the intellectually-inclined. For a few minutes during one of the panel discussions, I donned the role of an indifferent by-stander. It was amusing to watch the proceedings as an onlooker. Two parties opposite each other. One - ambitious and striving to make a paradise out of the business world; requires support from a whole lot of people to implement and bring good ideas to life. Another - with its own problems, goals and ambitions; on its own track. But some of the forces (ideas) bringing together a certain number of people to form small clusters of people. Imagine a scene with many such small clusters of people and sometimes, a cluster with just one lone person. Will all of these clusters and communities ever get together? At the best, highly unlikely. Actually, in the first place, should all of them get together? I guess not. Then, what are we striving at? Why do we want everyone on our side? (Having said that, I guess there are pragmatic people who aren’t trying to get everyone on their side.) When does an idea get into the mass-appeal stage? What are the factors that help an idea leap-frog into that stage? What is the role of leaders in this context? I think I ought to read The Tipping Point. It’s been lying around in my book shelf for some time now.

The Nonsense of Blogging

A colleague sent me this article! Though I am a complete blog enthusiast, some of the arguments in the article caught my attention. What do you think? Will Blogs and Business go together?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Just what I need for lunch today

A Thought for the Day From Sri Eknath Easwaran
The disunited mind is far from wise; how can it meditate?
How be at peace? When you know no peace, how can you know joy?
-- Bhagavad Gita

Today's mania for speed strikes right at the root of our capacity for an even mind. How often we find ourselves locked into behavior and situations that force us to hurry, hurry, hurry! By now, most of us are aware that compulsive speed -- "hurry sickness" -- can be a direct threat to our physical health. But hurry has another alarming repercussion: it cripples patience. When we lack patience, even a few moments' delay, a trivial disappointment, an unexpected obstacle, makes us explode in anger. We are not hostile people; we are just in such a hurry that keeping
the mind calm is impossible. Without peace of mind, how can we enjoy anything, from a movie to good health? When we go slower, we are more patient, and when we are more patient, we are capable of enjoying life more. All these benefits can come from just learning to slow down.
>From Eknath Easwaran, "Words to Live By" (Nilgiri Press, 1997)


My friend sent me this quote. She couldn't have sent it at a better time than this -

The truth of the matter is that there's nothing you can't accomplish if:
(a) You clearly decide what it is that you're absolutely committed to achieving,
(b) You're willing to take massive action,
(c) You notice what's working or not and
(d) You continue to change your approach until you achieve what you want, using whatever life gives you along the way

Blah - Somebody Stop The World!

I need some help. Tips. Ideas. Suggestions. I am flooded with things to do. I have always been an extremely organized person. For the simple reason that I can't really work without organizing myself and planning things out in detail. (So, that's not the problem....or that doesn't at least seem, to me, to be the problem). Of late, I seem to have too many things to do and don't seem to know what to concentrate on. I always seem to be suddenly find new requests pouring in making me visit my priorities list one too many times. I don't have a team with me to whom I can delegate. The situation is like this:

- I have close to 200 mails to be processed (I've mostly had 50 at a given time till about 6-7 months ago)
- I am working on 7 different (coordinated) tasks and need to complete all of them in the next 2 weeks. Coordination means there are other parties involved and I am dependant on them for certain things.
- I have 100s of documents that I want to very badly read
- My bloglines notifier shows a ridiculously large number and I don't want to let it go northwards any longer
- I have 4 posts waiting to be completed and put up on this blog
- I am in the middle of transitioning out of my role and have too many options to think of
- I have the responsibility of discussing my transition with many people due to the role that I play currently and that means ideas will come from too many sources for comfort
- Lastly, I have some hundred odd books beckoning me - all of which I want to read ASAP (2 library books to be returned, 2 half-finished books breathing fire)

Okay. I'll stop here. If I go on, I'll only be reminding myself of the soup that I am in. I feel like throwing everything aside and concentrating on just one thing. For GOD's sake, work pressure is absolutely okay as long as it is to do with one primary goal. What if you have 25 different things to do and all of them are important and urgent? I know I'll be done with all the stuff in 2 weeks, but I can't help thinking about the pile in front of me right now. I wish I had a team with me! I wish I had a faster laptop. But I know I would feel much better and in control if I were to not consider everything as important. I need to be able to postpone some tasks and make them wait. I can't do everything at the same time after all! Okay! I rambled because I knew this by itself would make me feel better! Sorry about making you read this dumb post. But if you've got ideas, do tell me.....

Monday, April 18, 2005


Gurteen's Knowledge Letter (April 4th Issue) speaks about a Temperament Sorter.

Of course, I couldn't have resisted the test. So, I tried it out and found that I am categorized as an Idealist by the test. Idealists are:

...passionately concerned with personal growth and development. Idealists strive to discover who they are and how they can become their best possible self -- always this quest for self-knowledge and self-improvement drives their imagination. And they want to help others make the journey. Idealists are naturally drawn to working with people, and whether in education or counseling, in social services or personnel work, in journalism or the ministry, they are gifted at helping others find their way in life, often inspiring them to grow as individuals and to fulfill their potentials.

Idealists are sure that friendly cooperation is the best way for people to achieve their goals. Conflict and confrontation upset them because they seem to put up angry barriers between people. Idealists dream of creating harmonious, even caring personal relations, and they have a unique talent for helping people get along with each other and work together for the good of all. Such interpersonal harmony might be a romantic ideal, but then Idealists are incurable romantics who prefer to focus on what might be, rather than what is. The real, practical world is only a starting place for Idealists; they believe that life is filled with possibilities waiting to be realized, rich with meanings calling out to be understood. This idea of a mystical or spiritual dimension to life, the "not visible" or the "not yet" that can only be known through intuition or by a leap of faith, is far more important to Idealists than the world of material things.

Highly ethical in their actions, Idealists hold themselves to a strict standard of personal integrity. They must be true to themselves and to others, and they can be quite hard on themselves when they are dishonest, or when they are false or insincere. More often, however, Idealists are the very soul of kindness. Particularly in their personal relationships, Idealists are without question filled with love and good will. They believe in giving of themselves to help others; they cherish a few warm, sensitive friendships; they strive for a special rapport with their children; and in marriage they wish to find a "soulmate," someone with whom they can bond emotionally and spiritually, sharing their deepest feelings and their complex inner worlds.

Idealists are rare, making up between 20 and 25 percent of the population. But their ability to inspire people with their enthusiasm and their idealism has given them influence far beyond their numbers.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Business Blogs

It's that time of the year when people at my organization get to showcase their intellectual abilities. We are having an internal conference wherein employees can write white papers on any topic as long as it is related to the organization. I've grabbed the opportunity to suggest a re-orientation of the organization's KM system. The solution involves making use of Blogs to house the organizational knowledge. It involves making use of Blogs as the gateway to knowledge that already exists/does not exist in the current KM system. I'd get to know if the evaluation committee thinks my idea is worth anything by the end of next week. If it is accepted and the organization takes it up for implementation, it would be cool.
In the process of writing the paper, I was looking at the organization's that are already into blogging - big time.
Got any more organizations to add to this list?

- Microsoft
- Google
- Boeing
- GM
- Macromedia
- HP
- Intel
- Sun Microsystems

How to write your blog...

Viewpoint of an Entrepreneur: A Business Intelligence Software Blog

Good one by Nari.

I had two more points to add to his post:

- Developing one's own unique style of writing (the blog's brand?!)
- Blogging on experiences, opinions, analysis, information, emotions, creative thoughts et al (A blog with only experiences might not reach out all the time; A blog with only links to articles on the net is no better than a news website etc)

Monday, April 04, 2005

Microsoft to Buy Groove Networks

Microsoft to Buy Groove Networks

Another indication that Microsoft is not simply talking about idea sharing and collaboration but is pretty serious about it. I'd love to see Groove being tightly integrated with MS office/Windows. It would change the way we work - basically build easy-to-use collaborative tools into every-day work...

Idea Thieves

Recently, I was lamenting about idea thieves in the context of knowledge sharing in the act-KM forum. Lots of people including Dave Snowden came back with some inspiring responses. David Gurteen has come back to me telling me that this was an issue that used to bother him until he came across Tom Peters' post on politics. Whew! I think these responses from people like Dave, Patrick and Gurteen and many others has given me one thing to digest. I ought to either digest it or vomit it out. If I vomit it out, I have no one to blame for I not being 'strong' enough! I can't recount the entire discussion out here, because Gurteen himself has weaved an article out of this and will be publishing it in GKR. (Incidentally, I've written one article for GKR and will be writing another soon)

But here's how I started off on the act-KM forum -

"I've been thinking about something - a scenario - that perhaps shows KM in 'bad' light. Let's take knowledge sharing. What if, you come across a person who has been innovative, has worked hard and created his/her own things and then has shared his/her knowledge with others in the same domain. He/she has then been taken for a ride by one of those who has benefited. The person that benefited has tweaked some of the concepts, admittedly added, perhaps, some sort of value to them and then projected himself/herself as having been innovative. This idea-stealer, unfortunately, has the people-skills to project himself/herself as having done a great job and doesn't give credit to our dear old knowledge-sharer. The knowledge-sharer has basically got a raw deal and is left high and dry wringing his/her hands. To add insult to the injury, the idea-stealer has been sweet-talking our knowledge-sharer into sharing information on a one-to-one basis and not many people know about the 'mentoring'...

Maybe this situation helps the organization as a whole, but there is one person who has got an unfair deal and there is another who is walking away with some one else's work without so much as a struggle and what's more, is taking the credit for it too.

What would you do in such a situation? What would your advice to others in such a situation be? "

And here's how it has all ended - the bottom-line (as if you didn't know it)

"Life is political – there is no getting away from it!"

Well, at least, this is what it all boils down to, for me. This is what I need to remember. The lesson, if you like.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Nice articles - goals, learning, and creativity.

Here is a collection of articles I found to be very impressive. They are about goals, learning, and creativity.

(This is an article on using metaphors to set goals, see the future, think afresh, think different)

all about some interesting phobias - future, info-mania, perspective, reverse (leader)

about genuine ignorance

(What are SMART goals?)

(Top 10 ideas to set goals)

how breakthroughs happen - combination of ideas...