Tuesday, June 30, 2009
1. Be curious, play, suspend judgment, ask a lot of questions
2. Make connections, learn new things, look at it from another angle
3. Challenge yourself, take risks, accept failures, question assumptions
4. Cultivate your ideas, day dream, give ideas time to grow, consider all possibilities
Thursday, June 25, 2009
I watched an interesting program on the Retail industry – specifically on innovations in Supermarkets – on the History Channel last week and found it to be fascinating. I think I missed the first part of the program and only managed to see the last 15-20 minutes of it but even that was so very exciting to watch.
There was talk about how supermarket owners once noticed customers struggling with their baskets when picking up items from the shelves after which someone invented the supermarket trolleys (the inspiration was a folding chair whose seat was replaced with a steel carrier). What surprised me was that it apparently took no less than 10 years for the trolley to then evolve into some of the versions we see today! Latter versions of the trolley had flexible backs in order to allow for another trolley to be rolled into it when being piled up. Then, they thought of double carriers, child carriers, trolley locks etc. With recent technological developments, some supermarkets are experimenting with electronic devices that fit into the trolleys and help customers a) locate the shelves that the products they want to buy are on b) scan their products on the fly and calculate their total purchase as they pick up their items thus saving a lot of time at the cash counter c) scan and even compare the stuff that they pick up with standard products etc
It is predicted that with the advancement of RFID technology, all the customer will have to do is walk out of the shop through a panel that automatically scans all the products in the bag and the customer’s credit card and deducts the amount owed by her! Wow! Imagine that!
One more aspect of supermarkets that the program covered was the design of the layout and the placement of products based on buyer psychology. (I’d earlier read about this in my marketing books.) Extremely intriguing stuff! Fresh fruits are placed right in front so they add to the colour of the place, the perishables that people are bound to purchase often are right at the back of the shop as that means people will have to walk through the aisles and may end up buying more than what they planned for (I don’t like such manipulation though), in-supermarket bakeries are encouraged as they lend aroma to the place and make people linger on while munching cakes and cookies etc.
Methinks every damn (routine) thing on earth can be made more exciting than it seems to be at first, provided we believe in and genuinely focus on improving the customer-experience and get the creative juices flowing! :-) Inspires me to ponder over improving some of the routine stuff I am involved in….
Note: Just realized that I'd made a whole bunch of mistakes in this post. Why was I in such a hurry to post it? Anyway, I've corrected all of them now. (Detects instead of deducts, later instead of latter....pshaw!)
A dog teaches us a lot of things, but we never seem to take notice. These are some of the lessons you might learn… (My favorites in blue) (Courtesy: http://www.pravstalk.com/)
· When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
· Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
· Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
· When it’s in your best interest, practice obedience.
· Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.
· Take naps and stretch before rising.
· Run romp and play daily.
· Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
· Avoid biting, when a simple growl will do.
· On warm days stop to lie on your back on the grass. On hot days drink lots of water and lay under a shady tree.
· When you’re happy dance around and wag your entire body.
· No matter how often you’re scolded don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout. Run right back and make friends.
· Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
· Eat with gusto and enthusiasm, stop when you have had enough.
· Be loyal.
· Never pretend to be something you’re not.
· If what you want lies buried dig until you find it.
· When someone is having a bad day be silent, sit close by… and nuzzle them gently.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Pic Credit: Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Friday, June 19, 2009
Social Media and Networking was originally meant to deliver us from ignorance. We were and are being advised to stay in touch, keep running, reading, and having conversations so we will be able to make sense of this complex world. And many of us oblige obediently. Because we want to be in the know. We want to run along with the world and not be left behind. We email, we blog, we tweet, we facebook, we digg and we what not. Some of us have the stamina and bandwidth to manage more than some others....but, eventually, we are all exhausted by the constant bombardment. It becomes so tiring that we don't see/process something that's happening right under our noses. After all, how on earth can we practically keep up with billions of people and events that happen every time we blink? I've, more than once, pondered over the dilemma of having to catch up with too many things and the inability to focus on and get deeper into one of the many things that come to us from the ever-growing virtual world. It is, all in all, a chaotic and fragile web of distractions that we are stuck to or rather dangle from.
So, when @VMaryAbraham tweeted a link to this article, I was amused. [I saw the article only because I happened to be catching up with tweets. Heh.]
Here comes more of the irony I referred to at the start of this post. I saw the tweet, read the article (for once I did not skim through but actually read the whole thing steadily), re-tweeted it to my circle on Twitter, bookmarked it on Delicious, posted it to my colleagues on our own internal equivalent of Twitter, posted it on the Indian KM Community website for feedback from other KMers and then headed over here to talk about it! Mother of all ironies, don't you think? [Could even be a mild form of schizophrenia ;-)]. And before I forget to mention, this was not a continuous process. I obviously got distracted by a dozen mails and plenty of tweets. [Mirthless laugh!]
Getting back to the article, the author starts off with the question, "What are the consequences of exposure to a constant, high-volume stream of media and information?" and goes on to answer it herself. She says - and I agree because it's quite logical - it reduces your attention span, makes you stupid, lazy, turn into a jerk, an annoying companion and gullible. She fortunately finishes the post with some suggestions on how to avoid the impact that addiction to SM tools could potentially have on us.
In the article Nicholas Carr is quoted as saying "Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski." I couldn't have put it better.
And I must now make the deadliest of confessions. I actually liked the pictures in the article and was chuckling at them (the kitten, the shiny things etc). They served their purpose and distracted me enough to be able to get back to reading the article as soon as I'd seen them. Speaking of which, it's high time I get your attention back on this post. Take a look at this pic and take a deep breath. Nice pic, right?
But I seriously think that it is only the IT world that is so distracted and interrupted by social media tools. People in most other professions (especially the ones that don't involve staring at computer monitors and require the mobile phones to be switched off) are away from this chaotic web when they're at work. Makes me want to go away from IT and get into painting or something.
Which reminds me. Before I read the article under question, I actually ended up deleting a lot of pending RSS feeds that I was unable to catch up with for the past one month or so. I should, I suspect, feel relieved about having done that.
If you remember, I said I'd posted this article on the Indian KM community website. Just reaped the benefits of doing that. Even as I was busy writing this piece, I got to read another very useful article that @dineshtantri shared on the thread. This post's author puts it well too - "The speed with which information hurtles towards us is unavoidable (and it's getting worse). But trying to catch it all is counterproductive. The faster the waves come, the more deliberately we need to navigate. Otherwise we'll get tossed around like so many particles of sand, scattered to oblivion. Never before has it been so important to be grounded and intentional and to know what's important." Of course, there are times when we don't know whether something is important or not until we follow it through and, more confusingly, somethings turn out to be important only when we follow it through! It's a complicated world.
PS: I just traced this post (that is, MY POST) back to its beginning and re-read it and have this strange feeling that it is not a continuous post but a loose collection of thoughts from different parts of the brain. Does that reflect something? Eeeks. Scary. Focus. Meditate.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
I gathered some of my thoughts on the topic and responded as follows:
I've previously pondered over how we could possibly work with HR to ensure success for KM and can perhaps summarize some of the key points as follows: (I am assuming that the points below represent key components in HR strategies)
1. Hiring - Hire people with at least an average KM quotient (attributes revolving around sharing, collective thinking, networking, coordination, collaboration, reuse, long-term thinking and big-picture perspective) Very much on the lines of what you spoke about during the K-Community meeting
2. Training - Encourage informal learning mechanisms (from peers, seniors, other divisions) and learning through communities and virtual teams. Include these in the HR dossier/induction programs.
3. Competency Development - Chip in with KM mechanisms for competency development...basically an extension of the previous point on Training along with aspects like mentoring, shadowing and coaching.
4. Appraisals - The well-known and often applied idea of including the employee's KM quotient as one of the objectives/competencies in the appraisal process and allowing that to make a difference in the overall rating (giving it a significant weightage)
5. Incentives - Including KM elements in the incentive schemes that HR will invariably have conceived for the organization and if possible including an exclusive category for KM - visibility/recognition/appreciation being more important than monetary gestures
6. Succession Planning - Identify the natural leaders who, according to me, would definitely be the ones who empower their teams through sharing, mentoring and practices involving collective thinking.
I'd forgotten to include some points which I recalled after Dinesh had some specific queries in the areas I'd left out...
How do we factor in things like employee commitment, motivation and satisfaction? The sense of belonging to a company?? In most cases, people work for a team or a leader in the team and in many cases leave the company because of problems at the team level. The Nick Bontis model relates employee commitment, motivation and satisfaction to knowledge generation and knowledge sharing. Employee satisfaction surveys [ asking the right questions ] seems important. The informal learning piece is interesting as well - the challenge is to make it a part of the culture..and I remember reading somewhere that 80% of learning happens in informal settings. Retention of key people, rotation of key people across projects also seem important. Peer- reviews and 360 degree appraisals may also be important in fostering trust, improving transparency etc.. This is complex but I believe all of these impact knowledge sharing....
And I, then, said:
- Employee Motivation/Satisfaction: I firmly believe that one of the critical aspects that contribute to employee satisfaction, delight and engagement is an environment that enables and celebrates knowledge sharing and collaboration. If employee satisfaction surveys can be designed in such a way that the link between such an environment and the sense of belonging that an employee has can be brought to light, half the job might be done. So, KMers do have a role to play in contributing to the design of employee satisfaction surveys. [I'd proposed this on one of my consultancy assignments (in an organization that was just kick-starting its KM initiative) at two levels - pre and post KM initiative.]
- I, personally, do not believe that an employee can have a true sense of belonging if she only knows, interacts and enjoys a good relationship with her immediate team-members. The camaraderie has to scale up to the Business Unit level and then the Organizational level through cross-team initiatives, Organizational Vision/Mission etc If this were to be so, people may very well explore other opportunities within the organization rather than leave it for the sake of something "smaller".
- How could I forget Job Rotation?! Such an important point...KM has a huge role to play in designing the Job Rotation policies and processes alongside the HR. We need to understand the links between various roles and how rotation of employees (knowledge) would help the organization get more efficient/innovative.
- Attrition/Retention - I suspect that Exit Interviews definitely need to be handled a lot better than they are at present (in most organizations). KM's involvement ought to add value - could revolve around knowledge retention, participation in communities as an ex-employee, part-time project-based consultation in the case of critical employees etc
Ooh. Such a lot that KM and HR needs to accomplish together, eh? Easy, provided leaders of both these functions put employee satisfaction above everything else. Please visit the community page to see the complete thread and read comments from other KMers.
Friday, June 12, 2009
I was having a conversation with a colleague who suddenly declared that HR is a "low-level job". I was so shocked that I found it hard to hide my scowl. I am pained that people still think this way; in fact such thinking is what is "low". And this is not about HR but for that matter any job on earth (and other planets if you happen to be an alien)...!
There is no such thing as a "low-level job". It is the person who does the job that determines the way the job is seen. The passion, creativity and sincerity one brings to it can make any job a phenomenal one and something above comparison....
PS: Nonetheless, if you are a HR person, I guess this may make you ponder over the image that HR apparently has amongst the techies.
As they say, in my mind's eye is - The side profile of a small hill atop which are 3 huge rock-pieces (which seem - deceptively - about to fall off) and a small and pretty temple tower ahead of them, a little away from the foot of the hill. The sky above is painted in random streaks of orange, red, blue and gray.....
PS: Need to buy one of those smaller - compact - cameras that I will not hesitate to carry with me everywhere I go. (I now have a huge optical zoom camera that weighs quite a bit.)
Thursday, June 11, 2009
My favorites are #1, #2 and #6. The rest, to my mind, are ideas we've heard millions of times.
Make meaning, make a mantra, polarize people....!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Me: What do you think about Life?
J (Doggy): Supplies me with a silent and empty stare.
Me: What do you think about Spirituality?
J: Retains the silent and empty stare and cocks his head to one side.
Me: What do you think about Knowledge Management?
J: Shakes his stare off and turns his head away from me.
Me: What do you think about Nonsense?
J: Supplies me with a distinct "Bow wow"!
So, that was that. Interesting and intriguing interview, what? Every dog has its day. Going by this interview, it seems like every blog, too, has its day!
PS: Hey, most of the stuff above is made up except perhaps the bit about being supplied with a silent and empty stare. But I am sure this is exactly what would happen if I were to attempt to conduct this interview when J is in a more receptive mood.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Three things that are capturing people’s (and my) attention of late!
H’mm. The world needs its Zoozooz, Wavez and Bingz! :-) Have you been following any of these or, even better, predicting how the world is going to change after being subjected to one or more of these? Ah..well, Zoozoo may not necessarily change the world but it could definitely change the face of advertising!
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Some of you blog-friends may be aware that I adore cartoons. Most of my close friends - the ones that I work(ed) with - are also aware of my fascination for cartoons. So, a thoughtful friend working with another organization wrote to me and asked me to answer a set of questions (related to preferences in music, movies, friends, profession, colour, extra-curricular activities, places etc) after which she said she would tell me what cartoon character I happen to 'resemble'. Now, I've seen quite a few such surveys before - not related to cartoon characters but other types of characterizations. I knew nothing about the way the survey worked and had no clue what cartoon characters we were being compared with. Nor did my friend, as it was on online thingy that her organization had put up in their own employee-fun portal. Nevertheless, she went the extra mile to feed in my response to the survey and got back to me with the results. She said she was not at all surprised about what cartoon character I had turned out to 'be' and said she might have as well guessed the results.
But I was too stunned to even react. I even suspected that she was just trying to make me feel happy by telling me that I resembled the cartoon character I am, arguably, most devoted to or more importantly, the cartoon character I am most able to relate to. But on interrogating her further it was pretty obvious to me that she had done nothing to manipulate the results in my favour. Any guesses? Take a quick look at this entire page and you should be able to say it in a second or two. Actually, how stupid of me...you have to be afflicted with some kind of strange blindness to skip the image immediately below this write up to take a look at the rest of the page. In fact you'd have obviously spotted this image long before you even started reading the post. So much for all the silly suspense I was trying to build!
So...what shall I say? My friend made my day by telling me about this astonishingly intriguing survey and its results for me. This little fella Calvin is undoubtedly the most lovable little - cartoon - child I know of, however notorious. Er...please....it doesn't mean to say I think I am the most lovable little child...not at all....far from it. Just that it feels unbelievably good to know that you have shades of someone/something you admire and love. Maybe that's the very reason why we are able to relate to that someone/something so much!
PS: I am not so sure I like the expression on Calvin's face in the pic above though! ;-) And, well, extending my thoughts a bit further, if there is any other cartoon I reckon I may have been equally pleased to be thought of as resembling, it would undoubtedly be the one and only Bugs Bunny! :-)) Wassup doc? ;-) But to be honest, I think Bugs Bunny is many shades too cool, calm, composed and witty for me. That's wishful thinking on my part.
A question for you to end the post: Who would you rather be? Think about it.... (Power puff girls? Dexter? He Man? Phantom? Mickey Mouse? Donald Duck? Superman? Asterix? Obelix? Tintin? Tom? Jerry? Popeye? etc)