Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Glorious Insults Galore

Check this out! Even if you are a person who is shy of conflicts and cannot even dream of insulting others, with a little bit of 'help' from Plum, you might turn into someone who desperately wants to insult everyone around! ;-)

Steve Jobs's Presentation Secrets

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What it Takes


To know that life is amazing
...even amidst a depressing phase
To know that life is good
...even during an emotional low
To know that life is fair
...even when things don't go your way
To know that life is exciting
...even when you feel empty inside
To know that life gives you opportunities
...even when you lose
To know that life is fun
...even when you don't get what you want
To know that life is full of wisdom
...even when you make ignorant mistakes

To know that life is unpredictable
...even when you plan every move

To know that life is unique
...even when you don't understand it
To know that life has its wonderful moments
...even when you spot the Damocles sword
To know that life has enormous potential
...even when you have spent most of it
Makes you a fine human worth this life...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Two Thousand Ten Things

Pic sourced from here

Happy Holidays, Folks! Merry X'mas and Happy New Year in advance! :-)

PS: I spotted this charming cartoon today, for the first time ever I think, while searching for a good C&H Yahoo Group to join. It's quite surprising that I don't recall seeing it before. Obviously, Watterson himself drew this. Two things that intrigue me about the pic - One, I'd have thought Hobbes would appear to be as alive - be a real Tiger - to Watterson as he is to Calvin. Two, Watterson's ability to see Calvin as something that transcends his (Watterson's) identity as a cartoonist and not as a 'proud' creation but as an idea that jumps at him from 'outside' is admirable.

BTW, here's some unsolicited, borrowed (some...not all...ok?), random, unorganized, impulsive, holiday-mood-inspired advice....the more of these ideas you pursue, the better.

Enjoy your work, enjoy your life, be good, dance and laugh like a kid, sing as long as it is not cacophonous or..wait.... just go ahead and take the risk, laze around if you have to, be genuine, be straight forward and honest, write some profoundly silly poems, play with colours, run with the dog, tweet and chirp with the birds, scream out loud for no reason, make faces at yourself in the mirror, pretend to be the world's CEO, talk utter nonsense, find something great to do, ignore or learn to handle the trouble-makers, forgive more easily, see things from another person's perspective, smile a lot, pay attention to your physical health, mind and soul, read something hilarious, help someone on an impulse, learn something new, inspire yourself, inspire a sad soul (obviously a captive audience), listen to the hitherto inconspicuous rhythm in your favourite song, travel somewhere new even if it's just a few blocks away from your house, pray for someone who needs divine intervention, listen to your conscience, stop asking "what's in it for me" when you help others, stop calculating the cost (financial) of everything you do, cook a new dish and brush off a speck of dust from your apron when people say it looks life-threatening, break a bad habit, forget your worries, believe that you deserve some cool miracles in 2010, rescue someone from yourself (very very important), watch a squirrel eat, take deep and long breaths, trust yourself, do something different, be original, do something courageous, focus on something with intensity and concentration, look for the funny side of everything, stay optimistic, take your own decisions, claim your freedom, stand up for your values, respect everyone, appreciate existence, watch a tree breathe and exist, be still and travel within...... (Does this add up to two thousand ten things? I am too lazy to count but something tells me it does! He he)

Guidelines: Report progress to me in a month's time. Reports should be in Times New Roman, Font Size.12, With Subject Line as "Two Thousand Ten Things to Do in Two Thousand Ten". Attach a photograph or two for evidence but make sure it doesn't scare me out of my wits while at the same time noting that I am a person whom it is easy to scare out of her wits. Testimonials from people around you will fetch an extra mark or two. However, if the testimonials sound too good to be true, a lot of marks will be ruthlessly deducted. Total marks obtained cannot exceed two thousand eleven. (One extra mark for attempting to contest in this bizarre, er, contest). The winning entry will be added to this blog under the "Inspiration! Influence!" section and will find a place alongside other ordinary people like Gandhi, Shakespeare, Einstein et al. Run now! Or should I say 'slow down!'?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Reality of Management

First: Employees will not and cannot stay buried in work every minute of their day (at least not every day of the year). They will take breaks and the type of break depends on individual preferences. Just because a person chats with someone for 10 minutes or one hour, one cannot conclude that he is not a good worker. The chat may, in fact, be relevant to official activities. Worst case, the chat may give the employee a break from routine and that may re-energize the person. There are paranoid workaholics but not all employees belong to this category. Trying to make a person who is moderately interested in work a complete workaholic through force or fear will not work and could, more importantly, be disastrous. The quality of work is best only when a person is inherently passionate and sincere about it. The speed of work is great only when passion and sincerity is combined with personal and technical skills and support from the rest of the organization. Employees without work ethics and a conscience are hard to change but changing them over a long period of time is possible only with patience and perseverance

Second: We live in a world where we cannot anyway control each and every activity of an employee and even attempting to do so will only backfire. If the concerned employee is consistently involved in an inappropriate activity that has a negative impact on his work or is unethical and does not heed to warnings, it may only then be natural to ask him to leave

Third: The best way to get work done is to come up with exciting and useful ideas, provide the implementer with the appropriate environment, tools & training, inspire him and trust him. Fixing reasonable schedules is another dimension. Additionally, if one wants to slide toward a more “controlled” approach, one can obviously follow up and monitor the daily or weekly progress (or at some other appropriate intervals) depending on the situation and type of work. If this process throws up any loop-holes or other suspicions, appropriate action has to be taken to bring the person/project on track. The action could be related to the idea, environment, tool, training, inspiration or even just trust

Fourth: There are times when the team may be admittedly slow and not run like Ostriches or be ready to squeeze out every drop of its blood, but we must accept it to be a reflection of reality (especially in the case of teams as opposed to individual star performers) and be happy (at least till the time you find a way to inspire the team to run faster) if the team is found to be traveling at a reasonably good pace

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Force of Freedom

Image Source: Google Images:

Freedom is the ink in the mighty pen,
With which we write the story of our lives.
The quality and flow of the ink is often,
Compromised for something unequal, however nice.
Some of us sacrifice it at the altar of holy trust,
At our own paranoid mind's behest,
And then are shocked by self-inflicted ruin,
And wonder endlessly as to why we did not, in life, win!

Were we to think about what we gained, in retrospect,
The trust we apparently gained minus the freedom we lost,
Is an equation that is unquestionably equal to naught.
We'd also ponder over whether trust can ever be bought,
And if better than freedom can anything ever be sought!
For freedom is, arguably, the primary source of thought.

Freedom is the Father of happiness, scarce.
Freedom is the Mentor of responsibility, for the one who dares.
Freedom is the Sponsor of the one who learns,
Freedom is the Foundation of life for the one who yearns.
Freedom is the Mother of the muse,
Freedom is a paradox that prevents its own misuse.
Trust is obliged to be nothing more than a strong thread,
That follows freedom and, in a subtle way, allows to be led.

Freedom, when we are born, is up for grabs and totally free,
Till we stupidly make it as expensive as it can ever be.
Parents charge their children an obligatory fee,
Organizations wear it beneath the mask of hierarchy,
Families trade it for their camaraderie.
So, this is a wake-up call to let freedom just be!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

CEOs - Business - Motivation - Wodehouse - Bhagavad Gita

Lovely article.

* Resist the urge to label occurrences as bad (or good). Adopt a neutral view
* One needs to ferociously prevent one's thoughts from straying — stay in the "now"
* ....evaluate the mental models used by Psmith (one of PGW's ever-cheerful characters) and his cheery insouciance when faced with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
*....if you are looking for fulfillment, you won't find it in the job. It comes from inside you
* I encourage executives to invest completely in the process and not the goal. If they invest every fiber of their being into the process they are likely to enjoy the outcome. It is a paradox. When you become detached from the outcome, the probability of achieving the goal rises dramatically

Dream a Dream


I have a long way to go. I have a lot to do. I have a lot to learn. Thoughts are simply not enough. Action is the only thing that does justice to thoughts. Thoughts are tantamount to getting the fuel. But you need to put the key in the ignition and switch to the first gear....and release the clutch! The speed will come but gradually and naturally.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Destiny Despite the Devils

Picture Courtesy - Google Images -

Injustice is an evil thing
And suspicion is a cruel sibling
These hath my blood boiling
For both have a similar blow
Pushing my tolerance level to a new low

Can a river's flow be questioned?
Can a mountain's growth be arrested?
Can a rainbow's colours be washed?
Can a bird's flight be suspended?
Can the Sun's brightness be blocked?
Can a tree's shade be invaded?
Can a flower's fragrance be filtered?

A life that you can't call your own
A life that is judged by the unknown
A life subjected to a ridiculous verdict
Destiny being destroyed or created albeit?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

KM Competencies

I am on a posting spree today! Someone asked me to share my thoughts on the typical competencies of a KM professional and I thought it would be good to put them up here as well. In the past, I've had opportunities to prepare job descriptions and roles & responsibilities documents for KM roles. This one is not going to be as exhaustive. Anyway, those documents were very organization-specific and delved into nitty gritties that are not essential for this post.

Here are my preliminary thoughts on the characteristics or qualities preferred in a KMer.

I think the fundamental dependency of such a definition is on the KM vision and objectives of the organization. For example, an organization that is targeting innovation through KM needs people who are slightly different from an organization that aims to achieve learning/productivity improvements through KM. Having said that, KM, however, needs people with a versatile or eclectic background and profile/competency.

1. People skills: Networking and Organizational behaviour skills to start with. Also important would be insights into how people learn, collaborate and share/reuse/apply knowledge
2. Technology skills: Requirements gathering, products evaluation, design and testing (More skills required in the case of a KM developer)
3. Process skills: I think this is important but neglected. Understanding of business and project management processes in order to lead to improvements from the perspective of knowledge capture, sharing and utilization

I think understanding the big picture with re. to a business scenario (structure, relationships, objectives, challenges and future developments) is very critical as well.

What do you think?

The Life of an Idea!

Source of picture:

What an accurate description of an idea's life! How the heart bleeds at the thought of what most conventional organizations do to great ideas! Add the complexities of requirements gathering and the apple sauce probably becomes too sour to taste!

Innovator's Profile

Loved this article on the ideal composition of Innovation teams.


Innovation teams should be made up of VOLUNTEERS who are completely committed to the concept.

I don't care as much about experience as I do PASSION, since when all else fails it will be the desire and passion that pushes through the barriers.

I am interested in RULE BREAKERS.

I want people on the team who are willing to go the extra mile.

I want people who are comfortable with ambiguity, since innovation often works outside the lines of black and white, in the gray areas where there are no templates.

I want people who understand that innovation is as much about learning as it is about creating, so they understand that the ideas will occasionally fail.

I need people on the innovation team to be willing to discover what's great about an idea rather than what's wrong with it. I need the first words out of their mouths to be "What if" rather than "But". I want people who don't care how we did it before, or whether the idea has been considered before. I want people who look for opportunities for success rather than reasons not to try.

Monday, December 07, 2009

2.5.1 = 10 on 10

I think this is really clever and extremely effective. Ingenious and intuitive are other words that come to my mind. The 2-5-1 method of storytelling. An idea from the Singapore Armed Forces' Learning and Development team. I give it a 10 on 10 = 2*5*1 :-)


  • 2
    • Who you are
    • Summary of your experience
  • 5 fingers
    • Little finger – what parts of the effort did not get enough attention
    • Ring finger – What relationships were formed, what you learned about relationship building
    • Middle finger – what you disliked, what/who made you frustrated
    • Pointer finger – what you would do better next time around, what you want to tell those who were “in charge” about what they could do better
    • Thumb (up) – what went well. What was good.
  • 1 – the most important takeaway from the effort


20 reasons why, ahem, knowledge managers deserve to be respected (for the challenge(s) they've taken up)? :-P

Friday, December 04, 2009

Change - Culture - Psychology

This is undoubtedly one of the best presentations that I've seen in a while. Reliable research, lots of knowledge up for grabs and, finally, very nice and effective presentation! (Thanks to @johnt for the link).

I will revisit this presentation many more times and let more of these thoughts sink in gradually. Will perhaps add some notes to this post when I revisit it. For now, slide 17 makes it obvious that what most of us (not just in KM, actually, but in all such change initiatives) need to focus on or rather START WITH the user adoption elements in order to realize value (as opposed to software features or other indirect factors).

PS: Whenever I come across such well-made and well-expressed presentations, it makes me recall how two people might have the very same ideas but the way each one puts it forth can make all the difference.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Now, this is really interesting.

Article 1: The innovator's DNA


"Imagine that you have an identical twin, endowed with the same brains and natural talents that you have. You’re both given one week to come up with a creative new business-venture idea. During that week, you come up with ideas alone in your room. In contrast, your twin (1) talks with 10 people—including an engineer, a musician, a stay-at-home dad, and a designer—about the venture, (2) visits three innovative start-ups to observe what they do, (3) samples five “new to the market” products, (4) shows a prototype he’s built to five people, and (5) asks the questions “What if I tried this?” and “Why do you do that?” at least 10 times each day during these networking, observing, and experimenting activities. Who do you bet will come up with the more innovative (and doable) idea?"

Article 2: Learn the 5 secrets of innovation - Associating, questioning, observing, experimenting and discovering.

Extract: (This is why organizations must not demur when employees want to attend conferences. I've been repeatedly saying this to some of the people who demurred but then I was not able to quote CNN in the past)

"They are able to put together something they hear from a conference they were at last week with a briefing they're at tomorrow and come up with a new idea"

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Leadership Paradox

To be a better leader, give up authority.

From HBR. Of course!


....We call such practices “mutualism.” It involves measuring workers not against revenue or other numerical goals, which we have observed to be ineffective as motivational tools, but against qualitative values such as trust, responsibility, and innovation. And it implies that leaders don’t dictate vision or strategy; instead, they enable employees to create a common vision through, for example, off-sites for discussion of strategic issues and regular feedback and education. Hitting numerical goals has been the natural outcome.

KM at NASA. The Science and Signs of Learning.

Here is the gist of Ed Rogers’s (CKO of NASA) talk at the IISc campus on Nov 30th, 09. Some of these tidbits are not “as is” statements but my interpretations.

Going by Ed’s presentation, it is evident that, for NASA, KM is primarily associated with the vision of creating a learning organization

Ed’s personal achievements and experiences are inspiring. He and his wife put in five years of social service at Lebanon many years back! I think a cornucopia of varied experiences not particularly related to one’s role – especially when it comes to something as universal and open (to interpretation) as knowledge management – is something that I believe would work in one’s favour.

Ed started off with something highly familiar to KMers. He spoke about the challenges he had as a new entrant into NASA and highlighted the fact that he knew he would be looked at askance as an MBA trying to fix problems related to “knowledge” in a domain in which he could not claim to be an expert and that too for a group of elite Space scientists. That, to turn a popular phrase around, would be akin to the pigeon among the cats!

Ed had a lovely presentation with a couple of videos and many visual representations of his approach to knowledge management. He started off with some wise perspectives on KM, which are, perhaps, theoretically obvious but difficult in practice because people (read KMers) may not spend the energy or have the talent to understand and fit themselves into the organizational atmosphere and business surroundings.
  • Understand your organization and fit KM to its unique character
  • Knowledge circulation is more important than knowledge capture
  • The three Cs of KM are consistency, creativity and compliance
  • Identify structural limitations (and work around them)
Ed had some lovely examples of how he convinced people to be a part of NASA’s Pause and Learn sessions wherein he brought up the story of the Blind Men and the Elephant. He spoke about how each person goes on to the next task with only his ‘piece’ (one portion of the elephant that may be mistaken to be a tree trunk, rope, snake etc) of the past projects (the whole elephant) and imagined that that piece was the whole story. It would be important to listen to what the others’ ‘pieces’ felt like to arrive at the reality – the whole picture – and make use of that in future projects.

Given that NASA’s focus is on creating a learning organization via KM, it was easy to relate to Ed’s approach – Find out how people learn and facilitate that! Ed stated that we learn through Experience (personal reflection, job rotations) and from others (by reading about what they know in the form of case studies/lessons learned and through interaction in the form of workshops and case-based training). He did talk about creating an overall environment that facilitates conversations and training activities that were more interactive but had no specific slides on how to facilitate general conversations (Think of the Web 2.0 world).

He mentioned how the dictionary has a lot of (interesting) information but we don’t “read” it like a book. We only pick it up when we need to look up a particular word. That, to my mind, is a nice example of the importance of contextual learning. He had some slides on the importance of language, communication and the overall context/environment. There was a small video that went like this.

Setting: German novice managing a naval help-desk. A call comes in and somebody frantically screams “We’re sinking! We’re sinking!!…..” and our poor friend responds “Yes….but what are you zinking about?” Laugh out loud funny when seen from one angle, what?

Another picture that Ed mentioned to be his favourite showed a Conductor with all the notes on his music stand and a nicely arranged stage with all the musical instruments and sound systems but no musicians. Message: The Conductor has all the notes, the platform and the instruments/technology but there can be no music unless the people with the various pieces join hands and perform!

Finally, Ed summarized by reiterating that he (KM at NASA) focused on lessons learned, pause and learn, project management training, case studies (packaging knowledge), knowledge sharing workshops and training and development based on conversations and interaction. He also said he wanted the key takeaways for the audience to be the 1) Need for organizational depth perception 2) Open communication and 3) Rewards/Punishment based on behavior

Note: Found this useful collection of resources from Ed on the NASA website. I ran through this one and liked it a lot - Top 10 KM myths

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

dear Mr.wAtTeRsOn

Teaser from DMW on Vimeo.

Wish I had the style and the substance to add to this video. But, no. It would be like an ant rattling off a poem in praise of the Sky. I'd rather just watch and admire it every now and then and go back to whatever it is that I might have been doing before watching the video. Thank you, Mr. Watterson!