Thursday, July 29, 2004

Cost cutting and innovation?

Do cost cutting and innovation go together? I always believed that cost cutting meant a negative impact on innovation. Somebody recently gave me another perspective - costs cut are ploughed back into innovation in the next cycle...! What? 

Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Sydney Experience - Part II

For those of you who still aren't bored with all this talk, let me continue from where I left earlier....

Read Part I


So, hmmm, yes, I learned about the differences between Indian cities and Sydney. The next day was a day that left me gasping for breath and pining for rest. The legs felt like they were being pulled by iron ropes.The day started pretty early and the folks at my friend's home were fortunately relaxed and not hurrying away to office because it was a Sunday. My friend - Blessy - became my guide and made me first take a walk in her neighbourhood. It was amazing. I put my camera to work right away. Click. Click. The roads, a few lovely houses including my friend's, the lake, and traces of a new bridge over the lake...

Off we went to the railway station from there. The automatic ticketing system was an interesting thing to study. Blessy did something special in the railway station. She decided to show me 2 trains, one an old one and another the most modern. The old one was called Tingara...or was it Tongara? it T----ara. Something unexpected happened. While she was showing me an old train that was parked, the train's driver saw us snooping around and came up to us and invited us into the engine-room! We clicked a few snaps and saw the train move and got off at the next station. We then went straight to the you know where place in Sydney - the Harbour Bridge & the Opera House junction - The Circular Quay! It was awesome. I loved the bridge more than the opera house, to be frank. The water was lovely. Then we went off to the botanical garden, spent a few hurried minutes and left for the next spot. The next spot was the underwater world. That was a cool experience. Then it was the skytrain ride and something to eat. We went and got some vegetarian burgers at Hungry Jacks. BTW, I survived the trip because of the Indian food that I got at Blessy's place! Not because I would never try Australian food, but because I was a vegetarian and there was nothing other than fruits and veg. burgers to satisfy my hunger out there! Okay, so....we then went to a shopping complex - Woolworths - and I was amused to see the variety of fruits and vegetables lined up! It was then a walk around the city (some of the roads - Pitts Street, Brad Street, et al). It was evening and I was for one dead tired. We decided to call it a day after a ferry ride to the beach on the other side of Circular Quay. It was getting dark and the last ferry back was at 7.30 PM. When we landed on the other side it was almost 7 PM. And well, the ferry ride was simply great. I loved the view both the bridge and the opera house from the other side! :) But when we landed I was too tired to be ready to walk down to the beach and be back in 30 minutes to catch the last ferry back to town. :( So we settled for a coffee at one of those famous coffee shops there (i forget the name). and went back on the next ferry. From there it was back home by train. That was the gist of my first day at Sydney! :)

The second day was hectic and not really worth a story. My whole body was aching and I needed to rest badly. So, I was off to the hotel. My friend dropped me at the hotel and was off to her office. I had to anyways prepare for the presentation on Tuesday. I managed to walk up to Circular Quay once again from the hotel and spent a few minutes admiring the bridge and the opera house...and the still water between the two marvels.

The next two days were all about the conference. And well, I did have a diffculty in understanding the accent. So, maybe I did not pick up as much 'knowledge' as I could have...

The conference was frankly not as exciting as the city (maybe because I was tired, new to the culture, new to the city, and new to the accent) but I got the feeling that I was at last seeing the world and getting exposed to different cultures. Some of the folks at the conference were extremely friendly... :) .... I made my share of friends from other parts of Australia, Singapore, HK, and Britian. The dinner at the end of day one of the conference was cool...having been a part of the discussion board on KM in Asia earlier in the day, it was easy for me to build a rapport with some of the others in the audience. BTW, for those of you who know Sydney, the venue of the conference was the Taronga Zoo. So, I got to see a few Kangaroos, an Emu, and a few Kaolas during the lunch break! :) Coming back to the dinner experience, I got to sit next to none else but one of the founding fathers of KM - Karl Erik Sveiby - and he had a word of advice for me. "You ought to know politics to promote KM!" was what it was. On the other side was a KM expert from UK - Neil - and he too had a few tips for me!

The view from the dinner balcony was breath-taking! The bridge and the opera house shone in the darkness and the water was glistening. The distance from the other shore was just right for some one to be overawed by the view. It was getting beyond 8.30 PM and I was trying to figure out how I would get to the hotel, when destiny introduced me to a lady in the conference that was from the same hotel! She was more than willing to accompany me on my way fact, she was the one who escorted me (no, I wasn't drunk... :)) because I knew the place as much as I did the moon. ;)

My presentation was comin' up the next day and I had to prepare for it at least a little before hitting the bed. I did prepare but not to my complete satisfaction. The next day, the presentation was happening in 2 rooms simultaneously and I had to decide which one I would be attending at the beginning of each slot. So, I went up and down between the 2 venues till it was my chance to talk. The presentation went off pretty well and I managed to throw in a bit of humour here and there. There were 3 Ks associated with my presentation and I decided to ask the audience to guess what they were and one man got it right - Bingo - Knowledge (as in KM), Kangaroos and Kaolas! ;)

After the presentation, it was a little disappointing to leave the place because I had had a good time talking to such friendly people from across the world. There was this particular friend, Kersti, who made me feel at home by talking to me and making me laugh with her sense of humour. There was this other polite lady from HK, Patrick from Singapore, Stuart from Sydney, and many more other folks that I enjoyed talking to...

It was still bright when we all left the conference venue and took a ferry back to Circular Quay. I drank the view in and never blinked my eyes knowing that I might never get to see the place again in my life. Kersti was with me on the ferry and continued to make me laugh while chattering away. We got off, bid goodbye to each other and I also shook hands with some of the other friends who had come along on the ferry. I stood a while near the opera house, called Blessy from there and told her that I would await her in the hotel. I walked up to the hotel and brought a few gifts for my friend and a few others on the way. Blessy arrived at the hotel around 7 PM, helped me pack and both of us left for her place by taxi. I then had a sumptuous dinner at Blessy's place and chatted with her a while and went off to sleep knowing that the next day would see me step out of Sydney. The next day was another routine day for Blessy and her family. Blessy accompanied me on my train ride to the Airport and bid goodbye from inside the train (she continued to travel to her office). I pushed the trolley of luggage into the airport and went up and got my tickets and looked around the airport to spend the rest of time I had till the flight. And then, I was off to Singapore...And well, the Singapore Story deserves another Blog..not this one! :D

Knowledge Manager

Knowledge Manager

Can I call this a definition of KM? I don't frankly know...but it is a general outpour of my thoughts on 'What is KM?'. It has been derived from my previous post on Defining KM...


KM is an organizational and social concept that is manifested in a combination of policies, processes and tools that help employees of an organization learn collectively and think together towards applying their thus formed collective knowledge to achieve the organization's short-term and long-term business objectives. Short-term objectives are achieved through efficient reuse, capture, classification, storage, retreival, dissemination and application of knowledge, primarily for problem-solving purposes. Long-term business objectives are achieved by adding value to the already existing collective knowledge, by following & improving the short-term processes consistently and by ensuring seamless transfer of knowledge through HR processes and utilization of collaborative tools and workspaces for INNOVATION.

Throughout this process KM is to keep an eye fixed on creating a culture in which collaboration, collective thinking, problem-solving, and innovation are embedded. It is to hire or/and create workers who believe in being smart and leveraging upon existing assets to the maximum extent possible.

KM is a concept that helps organizations satisfy the employee as much as its customer. KM is a paradox that facilitates Reuse on the one hand and Innovation on the other. KM is a paradox that can help an employee learn on the one hand and teach another on the other.


That's enough....! Comments?

KM - A Crisp Definition

KM is about conceptualizing and establishing policies, procedures, mechanisms and most importantly - an appropriate culture to help leverage upon the intellectual capabilities of the organization as a whole so as to achieve its current and future business goals.


Tuesday, July 06, 2004

The Sydney Experience - Part I

It's been 3 months since I traveled to Sydney and nowhere have I captured my thoughts and feelings about the trip! Better late than never! It was a once-in-a-life-time experience. And I am glad I learned a few things too. But, boy, was it tiring! Just 4 days including the journey. The story of how I got to go there is worth it too!

It was another day at work, or so I thought. Among the many mails that had found their way to my inbox, was one from my boss. It was about a conference called KM Challenge 2004 at Sydney, Australia. My boss wanted to know if any one could meet the challenge of writing a paper on KM and make it there. He added that he saw it as a good opportunity to build the company's brand and esp. its KM programme. I read it and thought to myself that it would be lovely if I could make it. Anyways, writing was my passion, I'd already written and presented a paper before and it wouldn't be difficult to write another given that KM is another passion of mine. But there was a catch - there were just 15 more days to go for the deadline. Never mind, I told myself, there was nothing to lose. I could try my best and the rest would be left to Good old God. :) I decided that I would rack my brains and do my best and would neither be disappointed if it were to not be selected for presntation, nor be thrilled if it were to be. That was the attitude I went with. After all, writing and KM were my passions and I would enjoy the experience of writing on KM irrespective of the results...

The mail had come to me in the middle of the week and I used the remaining few days of the week to simply think of what I would write on. I'd decided the topic by Friday. It would be Collaboration and the creation and exchange of knowledge as associated with it. Come Saturday, I would start writing the paper at home. Saturday indeed came after Friday (very funny!) and I found myself very excited and ready for the task. Sunday evening found me ready with the draft, many headings yet to be filled in, many points and ideas yet to be elaborated. But I had a plan now. The next week was filled with discoveries of what I knew and what I did not know I knew and what I did not realise I did not know....whew! There were a few AHA moments too. Those were amazing! I loved those moments when I thought I had something! Those ideas became my pets and would surely be highlighted and spoken about at length in my paper. But here comes the best! My best AHA moment came when I hit upon the core of my paper - the central theme and what I thought was my best discovery/idea for the paper. The credit for this idea goes entirely to a book that I had read earlier - that was what had clearly inspired me and helped me discover the idea. It was a book called The Paradox Process written by Derm Barrett. Boy, do I thank my stars for leading me to that book! The book will always occupy a special place in my heart. The book was all about paradoxes and it got me interested no end. Reading the book not only left me with an enchanting experience but also got me looking for paradoxes in everything that I saw. So, that was how I came to discover a paradox associated with Collaboration. This was to be the theme of the Collaboration Model that I'd proposed in my paper. Now, I know you'll kill me or curiosity will kill you if I don't mention the paradox that I discovered about collaboration. It was the fact that Collaboration can lead to two 'opposing' things - Innovation and Reuse. (Innovation is looking at things from a completely fresh perspective while Reuse is about using something that has already been used and proven to save time, money, effort etc). So, I finished my paper a little at a time in the next 10 days and sent it across to the conference coordinators. I then let the whole thing rest including my expectations. Honestly, I couldn't even be sure that I would get to go to the conference if my paper were selected. Because my company would have to be ready to sponsor the trip and stay, which I wasn't sure of. Days passed by and I almost forgot the fact that I'd submitted a paper. I then heard from the conference coordinators who wanted me to add some case studies to the paper while being non-commital about whether it was selected or not. I added the case studies, revised the whole paper and sent it again. After another week or so, it came. The paper had been selected but I wasn't very sure if it could be presented to the audience or just published in the proceedings. I did not give up my attitude. I would let God decide whether it should happen or not. Maybe I should add the bit about the fact that it was my dream to write and present least one paper on KM in an international conference. Anyways...

I waited again and well, God had decided! I was asked to pack my bags. Next, it was time for me to wait for the company to decide whether they were in a position to sponsor my trip and stay while the conference coordinators were sponsoring the registration fees. The wait was worth the time in gold. It was approved and I got down to booking the tickets and getting ready for the trip! That's in fact another story altogether. It was a tough test - a test of my patience and resilience. This was the time when my company had initiated a conference of its own. The task was a mammoth one given the size of the company and the expected participation. And guess who was leading the task force? Yours Truly. It was a test that would put a good juggler to shame! Mails were pouring in, the various competitive events that we had launched were 'coming (getting) back' to (at) me. I was left with no time to take a leisurely sip of water. I found that I had no time to prepare for my conference - the KM Challenge conference - I had enough to do handling the company conference activities. I had to yet prepare the presentation (PPT version of my paper), I hadn't rehearsed, I hadn't thought about other things like my luggage, things to buy and what not. And well, let me throw in the fact that this would be my very first international journey! Boy, there were quite a few things I did not know...! (Blllththt)

Even while I struggled with the situation, time passed and I managed to prepare for my trip while juggling the company conference activities amidst a few tight situations, and arguments from people who did not seem to understand.

Let me now come to my actual trip - is it only now that I am getting to talk about the actual trip? oops...this blog is getting to be a really long one :(. The trip was cool. The journey from Bangalore to Singapore was a short one with a good dinner. The view was amazing. When I landed in Singapore, it was 4 AM. I just couldn't help calling my cousin in Singapore once I landed there. It made me feel much better after having set foot on foreign soil (carpet actually :)). The Changi airport, needless to say, was awesome. I was tired and sleepy, but I managed to see a bit of the airport, have coffee and check my mails. It was time for the Australian leg of the journey and I reached the gates where I would have to take my flight to Sydney....(Ummm....oops...I need to rewind a bit here... ;-).... When I knew for sure that I would be going to Sydney, I wasn't unduly worried about going to a foreign country for the first time and that was only because I had a friend there! Look how God takes care of us! This friend of mine was with me in my previous organization and is known to be a very friendly and helpful person. So, I'd called her, sent her mails and told her that she was in for a shock and that I would be nagging her for a few days. She had graciously accepted to put up with me for the inital 2 days of my stay at Sydney...and how she would repent that :) ). Well, okay...I was here ready to take my next flight to Sydney. It was a breeze and the 7.5 hour journey from Singapore went off without any major incidents as such. It was a little disapponting that I did not get a Window seat and couldn't enjoy the view thru' the journey. But I had to anyways prepare for my presentation and I did that. And...Ahemm...I managed to watch 'The School of Rock' on the way - 1.5 hrs gone there.

When I reached Sydney, my friend was dutifully there to greet me and take me to her home. On the way , she and her brother took me to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House spot and what I saw was breath-taking. It was a dream come true. It was nearly 10 PM, there were very few people, the water was sparkling under the lights, the bridge was smiling down at me, the opera house was sitting there watching people and showing off....wowee. Cool! I had had a taste of the best of Sydney within an hour after setting foot on the Sydney Soil. Jet Lag? What's that? But well, I did not have the question for long. Things changed the minute I left the spot and moved toward home. :) I reached home, had a light dinner and then slept like (a log) I hadn't for 10 days. Now, I knew what Jet Lag was...

The next day was an eye-opener of sorts. I got to know the way Sydney lived, worked and enjoyed life. I got to know the difference between Indian cities and Australian cities. Thanks to my friend....

Hey, I am back to this draft after a gap of 10 days...If you still want to read the rest of it, I'll have to come back for the second part. Let me at least publish this one for now! :)