Wednesday, August 25, 2004


I love the world of advertising and branding. The latest advertisement from Horlicks (cold milk shakes) makes me wonder... The message is that we are all split personalities. There's a different face we have once we step outside the home. Well, the advt. shows only school kids and teenagers. So, I don't know if they consciously wanted to indicate that the split personalities are only amongst the younger generation. Girls and boys change their names, their attire, their style when they step out... And then the ad. goes on to induce everyone to 'go outside' and be an 'outside' person! What a metamorphasis of sorts for the brand itslef! From being a strength and stamina drink in its basic and original avatar of Horlicks Milk Powder to a 'new generation split personality outgoing' cool drink! CHANGE makes one do it all!

Students Blog

There's so much happening in the IT world. Computers, Internet, Computer Applications and Systems are changing the way the world lives and works. It would be extremely critical for the new generation to catch up with the latest. Well, I beg your pardon - they should ideally be racing against time and inventing newer things and designing the applications of the future. But how many schools are on to it? I read about a school called Pathways where each student has to mandatorily have a laptop. The school itself is Wi-Fi enabled and teachers can log into each of the students' laptops and 'watch' what they are doing! Now, that's wonderful! Ain't it? If all schools were to have such facilities, one doesn't have to worry about the future! But is there a time lag between what happens in the world of work and world of studies? Ideally, that ought not to be the case. Even if there are schools like Pathways, what about all the other schools? What percentage of the student population gets to go to such schools? What is needed here? Mediators who bridge the gap between the 2 worlds? Our nation has to look into it. The education ministry needs to apply thought! I'll have to google this and find out if anything's already happening! ...hmmm...

BTW, I started off by thinking what would happen if every student in school were to blog her/his thoughts everyday. Wouldn't that create a revolution in education? Food for thought! Schools need to experiment and innovate. They are responsible for so much - they are responsible for the nation's future!

Monday, August 23, 2004

Zig's Steps to Success/Achievement

1. Identify the goal.

2. List the benefits

3. Identify the mountains needed to climb and obstacles to overcome.

4. List any skills/knowledge you need to complete the goal.

5. List people and organizations and resources that will contribute to your attaining this goal.

6. Draw up an Action Plan.

7. Set a deadline to reach the goal.

These are the 7 steps that Zig says one has to take to achieve something. get to a goal. good!


Some paradoxes that come to my mind...

- You have the potential to become a better person when you go through bad/hard times
- You chase money and it might not come. You chase something else like passion and excellence and money comes
- You sometimes love people who hate you and hate people who love you (This is a paradox that one should escape at all costs)
- You get only when you give
- You respect others and don't consider others to be below you and you are considered to be above others


I pinged my mind on leadership and got a few responses which I thought I should blog.

- A leader should know the art of being a good follower as well. (Isn't this again a paradox!!)
- In fact, what would probably be the most difficult for a leader to do would be to know when to follow and do so.
- Following doesn't mean giving up or giving in but leading from behind.
- Leaders should be ready to give others a chance to lead. (I read a story about geese and how they take turns leading a group)
- Socitey demands that Leaders be super-natural beings, ones that are beyond the natural negative emotions like jealousy, selfishness, anger, revenge, hatred, et al. But they still need to be kind, understanding, forgiving, jovial et al.
- Leaders cannot lead but by leading by example ('Best' example that comes to my mind - Mahatma Gandhi)

- I read something about creativity and a reference to Mahatma Gandhi being a creative leader. That was a revelation in terms of the newness of the perspective (to me)! I never thought of Gandhi as a creative man! I thought only of altruism, leadership, bravery, determination, perseverance, simplicity and truth when I thought of Gandhi! The author of the article says he was creative because of the fact that he approached problems from a completely unconventional angle. He thought of non-violence when every soul could only react violently. My addition to that - He responded while others reacted. :-) Please note - Zig Ziglair. :-) (Zig Ziglair was the one who introduced me to the concept - "Don't react. Respond" )

- The world has very few leaders...How can one expect to work under the best of leaders right in the beginning of one's career. You need to be lucky to get into a leader's fold! :(

Friday, August 20, 2004

Explicit and Tacit Knowledge

Someone asked me: Can u give examples of tacit and explicit knowledge capture in real life situations...

And I responded...
Tacit knowledge - Something that takes a long time to learn and excel at. Something that does not comprise 'objective' knowledge that everyone is good at. Something that has a lot of intricate details that cannot possibly be explained overnight. Something that cannot be seen easily but something that can only be felt. Intuition-based knowledge. Eg: Cooking, Surgery, Interpretation of a person's behaviour, Team/Project Management etc. It cannot be captured on paper. It can probably be captured in Video/Audio but you still can't 'SEE' the knowledge being transferred/shared...

Explicit knowledge - Something that can be expressed easily or with some amount of effort. Something that can be documented and communicated without any major difficulty. Eg: Directions to a particular place, Sequence of things to be done as in a physical process that refers to tangible and visible objects. All said and done, there are very few knowledge objects that are completely explicit in nature! It can be captured in the form of procedures, processes, forms, checklists, templates, papers, articles etc


I caught myself thinking hard about 'learning' today.

It is unfortunate that very few of us want to learn! We don't see the need to learn either because we are happy just making money for a living - by hook or crook or because we think we have nothing more to learn or because we just don't want to look like we are 'still learning' (a mega myth), or because we just don't have that urge to learn!

Those who want to learn are ridiculed and branded as 'not knowledgeable'... Given this attitude to learning, is there a question of people going back to the basics and fundamental stuff just to re-think and re-orient themselves? What do we stand to lose if this is the rule rather than the exception? Will the mind's wheel move at all or will it rust right there...where it stands.

And what are the methods by which one can learn?

- Reading books
- Interacting with people
- Practical experimentation and action itself
- Introspection and questioning
- Observation and curiosity
- Formal training programmes and seminars
- Mentoring and submission to gurus
- Listening skills
- Knowledge sharing per se

Learning is probably one of the major differentiating factors between people. Organizations that pick up the cream of the lot that is willing to learn continuously has invested in a gold-mine. From here is where innovation starts!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Paradox of Processes

Viewpoint of an Entrepreneur - A Business Intelligence Software Blog - IT War Stories - Process Kills. Without Process You are Dead.

This is a very interesting Blog (By Nari Kannan - IT Toolbox) indeed. I simply had to Blog this Blog. ;)
Having been into Paradoxes for some time now and also given the fact that I have a soft corner for processes, this one was irressitable. How true it is that startups cannot afford to spend too much time on establishing processes because they are in a market that is moving at break-neck speed and they have something to prove as in in competition with the stalwarts. Too much of a focus on processes would de-motivate people who want to be fast and and want to have the freedom to set things right right away and want to change things on the fly! On the other hand, allowing them to have their own way and not emphasizing on any process will take its toll in the long-term. It becomes that much more difficult to learn things from the past and to go up the value chain and maturity levels. Not to speak of the fact that they are competing in a market that demands for process compliance and certifications.
The old-timers have already set their processes in stone and are looking at improving them incrementally if not radically. But herein the employees are getting frustrated about the rigidity and inflexibility that comes with we--established and mature processes. And then, there might too much of an emphasis on processes which might in turn kill innovation and speed at times.
But what I want to look at is actually the people/culture and softer aspects out here. Of course, the primary question is whether we know when to draw the line and decide to ignore processes (read the traditional way of doing things) and go the ad-hoc way. But the secondary question and probably the more important of the two is to do with the egos of the stakeholders. Will the quality manager give in and ask the project manager to go his own way and not stick to processes when he sees that the occasion calls for the same? Will the project manager give in and agree to follow the process to the T when he knows that the situation calls for the same? Will both of them compromise in situations that call for a balanced approach? Will the management understand and encourage the 2 stakeholders when they complement each other or will it be perceived as a battle of egos?

Interesting paradox indeed! Everything is a paradox....!
Jumping from just processes to something bigger....Ultimately, life seems to be nothing but the management of paradoxes! If one can't live with paradoxes, then life is no rose-bed...!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Blogging from the Inbox!

Blogging from the Inbox!

If this works, it’s going to be cool and easy to blog indeed!

Tons of KM Quotes

§All men by nature desire to know – Aristotle

§If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas - G.B.Shaw

§Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning today is young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young - Henry Ford

§Charles V. said that a man who knew four languages was worth four men; and Alexander the Great so valued learning, that he used to say he was more indebted to Aristotle for giving him knowledge that, than his father Philip for giving him life - Lord MaCaulay

§If nobody said anything unless he knew what he was talking about, a ghastly hush would descend upon the earth - Sir Alan Herbert

§If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it - Margaret Fuller

§It is written that he, who governs well, leads the blind; But that he, who teaches, gives them eyes - David O.McKay

§The value of any network increases in proportion to the square of the number of people using it, so a network with five hundred people attached to it is a hundred times as useful as one with only fifty people attached - Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3com

§Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success
- Henry Ford

§Knowledge is not simply another commodity. On the contrary, knowledge is never used up. It increases by diffusion and grows by dispersion - Daniel Joseph Boorstin

§The restriction of knowledge to an elite group destroys the spirit of the society and leads to its intellectual impoverishment - Albert Einstein

§By sharing knowledge you empower [others] to act on their own. Shared knowledge enables people to take a risk to expand an idea and to venture to a new horizon - Sheila M. Bethel

§By learning you will teach, by teaching you will learn - Latin Proverb

§To teach is to understand. To learn is wisdom. To learn together is understanding wisdom
- Sid Mendenhall

§The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand - Frank Herbert

§The best-educated people are those who are always learning, always absorbing knowledge from every possible source and at every opportunity

§Have you ever been so busy driving, that you had no time to take gas - Stephen Covey

§Knowledge is not a passion from without the mind, but an active exertion of the inward strength, vigor and power of the mind, displaying itself from within - Ralph J. Cudworth

§If you want to be remembered for ever, share your knowledge – Chinese Proverb

§A nation is advanced in proportion to the education and intelligence spread among the masses
– Swami Vivekananda

§An investment in knowledge pays the best interest -Benjamin Franklin

§Knowledge is Action -The Bhagavad Gita

§We know accurately only when we know little. With knowledge, doubt increases
- Goethe

§To be conscious that you are ignorant is a great step towards knowledge – Benjamin Disraeli

§If little knowledge is dangerous, where is a man who has so much as to be out of danger?
-Thomas Henry Huxley

§The great end of knowledge is not knowledge, but action. - Thomas Henry Huxley

§Knowledge is of two kinds; we know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find information upon it - Samuel Johnson

§Knowledge is like money: To be of value it must circulate, and in circulating it can increase in quantity and, hopefully, in value - Louis L’Amour

§Knowledge will forever govern ignorance – James Madison

§I collaborate. Therefore I know – KM Magazine

§Sharing knowledge is not about giving people something, or getting something from them. That is only valid for information sharing. Sharing knowledge occurs when people are genuinely interested in helping one another develop new capacities for action; it is about creating learning processes – Peter Senge

§Knowledge is commonly socially constructed, through collaborative efforts towards shared objectives or by dialogues and challenges brought about by different persons' perspectives
- G. Salomon

§Shall I tell you what knowledge is? It is to know what one knows and what one does not know
- Confucius

The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving
- Albert Einstein

The age-old levers of competition - labour, capital and land - are being supplemented by knowledge, and the most successful companies in the future will be those that learn how to exploit knowledge (about customer behaviour, markets, economics and technology) to...renew the way they define themselves, think and operate. - Former IBM chairman Lou Gerstner

Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of GE stated, "You need to gather the knowledge of individuals, share those ideas and celebrate the sharing. That, in the end, is how a company becomes great."

“Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the co-operation of many minds"- Alexander Graham Bell

IDEO - Innovation is only through teams...

APJ Abdul Kalam - The ability to create and maintain the knowledge infrastructure, develop knowledge workers and enhance their productivity through creation, and nurturing and exploitation of new knowledge will be the key factors in a nation becoming a knowledge superpower. - Igniting India's Mind - Vision 2020 - The Week (December 2003)

The age-old levers of competition - labour, capital and land - are being supplemented by knowledge, and the most successful companies in the future will be those that learn how to exploit knowledge (about customer behaviour, markets, economics and technology) to...renew the way they define themselves, think and operate. - Former IBM chairman, Lou Gerstner

If you are still hungry for thought-provoking 'food', I'll be back with more as and when I get them!!! :)

Some questions on KM...

Here are some questions that a KM student asked me. And here's also what I had to say in response...

2. Please describe what KM is, and any benefits that can result from it.

Knowledge Management in my view is a combination of policies, processes and practices that help the organization learn together, work together and innovate. The primary benefits are efficiency, and innovation. It helps in the sharing of best practices, locating experts, learning from past mistakes, reuse of software tools and components, and collaborative tasks. It helps avoid reinvent the wheel thus saving effort, money and time. It helps in the process of learning together and sharing thus leading to innovation.

3. What is your perspective on issues relating to the management of tacit knowledge?

Tacit knowledge cannot be managed in its truest sense. Tacit knowledge can be transferred though. Soft processes (one that are dependant primarily on people participation and have a cultural impact) can be established to transfer tacit knowledge. But having said this, it is true that most of the knowledge that needs to be transferred is tacit in nature rather than the explicit. What this means is that there needs to be more emphasis on cultural change and soft practices rather than repositories and hi-fi collaborative tools that may collect 'dust'.

4. How are the most successful KM systems managing tacit knowledge?

As pointed out in response to the question above, it needs to be 'managed' by addressing the cultural aspects and by establishing soft practices like knowledge sharing sessions, mentoring etc.

5. What do you think some of the critical success factors of KM are?

1. The team in charge of KM
2. The culture of the organization
3. The top management drive and support for the KM initiative
4. The quality and all-encompassing nature of the enabler-tools

6. What are the main challenges of KM ?

1. Organizational culture
2. Lack of management support in a profit-centered organization

7. Do you feel that any part (or all) of Knowledge Management is a fad?


8. In your opinion, will Knowledge Management use computers more or less in the future?

Not likely. Knowledge will continue to be captured in the digital format.

9. In how many years will we be able to successfully manage tacit knowledge only through the use of technology?

I do not believe that it is possible to successfully capture tacit knowledge through technology.

What it takes to be a KM!

My thoughts on what it takes to be a KM!

In my humble opinion, for KM, one needs to be a people's person. An introspective, psychology respecting, people-understanding, convincing, influencing, persuasive, inspiring person would be a cool fit. One should have panache for data, information and knowledge and be attracted to the ways in which it is generated, categorized, disseminated and captured. Exposure to information systems would be good. Also, ability to analyze processes and break them up/put them together will be very useful. Finally, at least an overall understanding of modern technology for knowledge capture, storage, dissemination, creativity, and collaboration will be perfect.
An MBA background might be excellent as it will help one understand the business perspectives and drive the KM initiative from there. A clear understanding of project management will turn out to be a clear advantage.

Talent Management

Talent acquisition, transformation and retention: Some thoughts I have as in the task force that I participated in some time ago...

Acquisition: the selection processes - we need to conduct a 'hand in glove' test - it should involve a rigorous technical and behavioral skills test - it should test programming, aptitude, attitude, including willingness to learn, and the person's cultural fit. when it comes to laterals, the technical test might not be essential, but the behavioral and cultural fit test is essential. in the absence of some of these requirements, the candidate should at least have willingness to learn!

Transformation: mentoring - this would make a world of difference. a set of mentors pool should be identified and available in the organization @ any given point in time. every person who enters the organization should be associated with a mentor who is not the person's immediate supervisor. the criteria could be the connectivity b/w the mentor and the candidate, the similarity in environment and work. mentors who do an excellent job should be recognized, and rewarded. mentoring performance should also be tracked in appraisals and contribute to pay hike/band movement/promotion and the like. aspiring mentors should clear a test that assesses their people skills and knowledge of the organization. they should also be trained by super-mentors.

Retention: career growth planning should be paid utmost attention and mapped to the individual's needs & organizational needs; regular anonymous surveys should be conducted and exhaustively analyzed to find out traces of the emerging problems; these should be addressed immediately. exit interview analysis should also be used to address existing/potential problems; the 'wiproite saver' - this could be a communication line that promises secrecy, confidentiality and anonymity (where applicable) - it could be used by people who are contemplating quitting the organization but are willing to give it a second thought if provided with support and solutions. this could comprise senior officials who'd be able to solve the problem of the wiproite and prevent him/her from quitting.

'What' am I?

How does this sound like? :)
Music is the oxygen that I breathe, KM is my heart-beat and the blood that flows through my body is all the people that I care about...