Monday, February 28, 2005 Macintosh Stories Macintosh Stories

Some one (I mean Shawn) on Act KM shared this Blog-like page with interesting stories of the Apple Mac! I read a few (nice stories)....will have to go back for the rest some time.

Comedy Network?

There are TV channels that focus on movies, music, news, business, glamor, cartoons/children, soaps, et al. So, why isn't there a single channel that is devoted only to comedy? Why don't we have a comedy network/comedy TV? That's just what many of us would need too...

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Bloglines Plumber!

Bloglines Plumber! :)

Isn't this one very sweet? (Bloglines was down for some time this morning (Indian Time) and they 'put up' their plumber to do the explaining.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Commentary: Three Simple Rules Carly Ignored

Commentary: Three Simple Rules Carly Ignored

Very interesting analysis! I shall come back to comment on this!

Thursday, 9.23 AM: Okay, I am back and will now comment on the article! :)
NOTE: This post is not in anyway directed at Carly. It is only a generic analysis of the situation and an attempt to learn from it. The article and its contents are assumed to be reflecting facts.

Three Simple Rules Carly Ignored
Why things went wrong at HP -- and went right at P&G , UTC, and IBM

Carleton S. Fiorina faced a daunting task when she took over as CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPG ) in 1999. She was an outsider brought in to revive a troubled tech giant. Iconic though HP was, its deeply rooted engineering culture was badly in need of an overhaul. Her failure to achieve her goals was a fiasco that reflected the quirks of both Fiorina as an executive and HP's corporate milieu. So are there any lessons here about how to handle the job of shaking up a company or its business model? Certainly, it is difficult to generalize -- every CEO has his or her own style, every company has its own culture. But Fiorina broke three key rules that most CEOs would do well to heed.

Nimmy: Does this in anyway indicate something about how good a CEO an outsider can be? Would he be able to understand the culture of the company? Would he be able to put the company before himself given that he's not grown with it and cannot identify with it - at least as much as an insider? Would he able to understand and empathize with the people that have stayed almost their entire lives in the company that he is managing?
Please note that this doesn't mean that I support insiders handling everything. Outsiders have their own advantages like better logic and less of the sentiments, new ideas, faster decisions etc. It's just a thought that sometimes, outsiders might not make good CEOs because of the reasons stated above!

MAKE IT ABOUT THE COMPANY, NOT YOU. By the time CEOs rise to their post, most have a healthy ego, and Fiorina was no exception. She was also a sales whiz known for high-profile marketing events and a fondness for global gatherings packed with A-list politicians, celebs and CEOs. Problem is, many who spent time around her came away with the impression that she was as interested in burnishing her own image as she was in turning the company around. As Jim Collins noted in his 2001 book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't, the defining hallmark of market-beating long-term leadership is the exact opposite -- CEOs who place their companies' well-being above all else, including themselves.Nowhere has that difference been starker than at Procter & Gamble Co. (PG ), which has seen both kinds of leaders over the last decade. Durk I. Jager sought to shake up P&G's insular culture and jump-start innovation when he took over the helm in 1999, but his abrasive nature and insistence on rapid change alienated the troops. Under Alan G. "A.G." Lafley, who also has a broad agenda but a less contentious and more patient style, P&G has made a comeback. Lafley also has no qualms about letting others take credit for success -- a critical trait for enlisting subordinates to your cause.

Nimmy: I love the last line!

KNOW YOUR COMPANY INSIDE AND OUT. As skilled an executive as she was, Fiorina focused on marketing and didn't fully comprehend the impact on operations of her vision to transform HP's structure and strategy. She also resisted board efforts to name a strong chief operations officer to compensate for that weakness. As difficult as it is, successful CEOs must immerse themselves in the details of their empires -- or have a sidekick who does.United Technologies Corp.'s (UTX ) George David is no back-slapper and lacks Fiorina's marketing flair. But he is obsessed with the minutiae of production techniques that can make or break his company -- and has quietly amassed an extraordinary record: 10 straight years of higher profits.General Electric Co. (GE ) under Jack Welch was likewise a study in total management immersion. Talent, in particular, was a Welch obsession. He participated in hundreds of executive evaluations each year. If one slipped, he was among the first to know it, not the last.

Nimmy: I once attended a training programme wherein the trainer asked us to think about who normally is at the helm of affairs in organizations. - Marketing/HR/Finance/Others. And I said that it was the marketing guys who normally take over the role of the CEO once it's time for the incumbent to step down and hang up his/her boots. The trainer nodded and said it was seldom that a HR person took over. The training programme was about Communication Skills and Inter-personal Relationships. :-).

The trainer went on to say that the trend was so because the marketing guys are the ones with a flair for communicating and building relationships! Now, isn't that ironical? Marketing guys do seem to be doing this, but only with outside entities. Once they become CEOs, isn't it essential for them to look inward - within the organization!? They need to be building all those relationships with their employees and leave it to their marketing guys to take more care of the external relationships! I am not suggesting that CEOs ought to forget the external world! After all, the CEO is the most influential and recognized face of the company! But that's so with the employees as well! So, looking inward would be extremely important! This ought to be a lesson to those who think they can get away without understanding how things work within the company...

HOLD PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE -- INCLUDING YOURSELF. Fiorina's decision to fire three top executives after the company missed third-quarter earnings targets last year went down poorly. Many inside the company thought it looked more like scapegoating and a way to assuage Wall Street than good management.Contrast that with the dismissals Louis V. Gerstner Jr. made after coming to IBM (IBM ) in 1993. The first item on his agenda was to learn everything he could about the troubled tech giant's business, staff, and customers. So when it came time to hand out pink slips, workers had confidence that the cuts were necessary and that the right people were being fired for the right reasons.Much of this sounds obvious, the sort of thing any executive should know by the time he or she reaches the corner office. What's surprising is how many of them don't.

Nimmy: I will never ever agree with anyone who believes that someone should be fired for the *only reason* that some (stupid) number was not met! Period! The more I get to see and hear of numbers the more I feel myself recalling Dave Snowden's view that setting numerical targets can only spur people on to misusing things to achieve the numbers rather than getting them to think about the objective at hand.

How much of Software Product Development is on Time?

Viewpoint of an Entrepreneur: A Business Intelligence Software Blog: How much of Software Product Development is on Time?

The gist of the post - It's about Nari's views on why Software Product Development never seems to be on time, on budget and achieving what it is supposed to achieve. He talks about the book, "The Business of Software: What Every Manager, Programmer, and Entrepreneur Must Know to Thrive and Survive in Good Times and Bad" by Michael Cusumano. Nari goes on to say that "However, the main ingredients that make the difference seem to be the softer skills that only a fifth of the companies doing software development seem to be getting right." The bottomline is this:

It seems to come down to two things - process and people. You need to get both right. If you do not, it does not work!

Oh! This post resonates so! And how ironical! Everyone *seems* to know this but no one seems to either be able to do anything about it or know how to go about addressing this. Reasons?
- All of us think short-term and tangible.
- Long-term and intangible thinking is harder than the hardest of things to do.

Life wouldn't be beautiful but for death

Came across this today in my mailbox; couldn't put it better than this:

Psychologist Abraham Maslow realized that his remaining days on earth were short after his first heart attack. He wrote about it to a friend: "My river never seemed so beautiful (Maslow lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the Charles River). The confrontation with death -- and reprieve from it -- makes everything look so precious, so sacred, so beautiful and I feel more strongly than ever the impulse to love it, to embrace it, and to let myself be overwhelmed by it...." Can you imagine feeling that way about death? He ends with this remarkable statement: "Death, and its ever present possibility makes love, passionate love, more possible. I wonder if we could love passionately, if ecstasy would be possible at all, if we knew we'd never die."

But we DO know we'll die! And, strange as it may seem, knowing life is short can help us to live ... beautifully, meaningfully, passionately.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Thinking about leadership and what it takes yet again:

I think a leader who knows the subject that her team works with, inside out is walking an easy path. Because she knows what her team is going through, what their problems are, what their weaknesses are, when they are cheating, when they are working really hard, when they are going the extra mile, et al. It makes it easy for the team as well to explain things to the leader, know that she will know what they are into, respect her as she knows what they know or maybe more than that. But it is not always that a technically sound person also makes a great leader. It is a rare and deadly combination. So, a technically sound/knowledgeable person might still mess up the relationship with her team due to lack of people-skills.

On the other hand, a leader with good people-skills and just superficial technical knowledge needs to know exactly where to draw the line. It will be a tight-rope walk. She needs to know how to motivate and inspire and trust her team to make it happen. She needs to be humble enough to admit that her team knows better than her when it comes to some things. She needs to trust them enough to not ask them to do the impossible; enough to give them credit for the difficult; enough to not praise them for the easy. She needs to still get the respect that is due by letting her team understand in what way she adds value to the team's output. (Transparency does help). She needs to give her team the bigger picture and where she comes in. She needs to give them credit and take less of it herself. Like Zig Ziglair puts it "To be a leader, you need to learn to obey".

I am looking to meet some leaders who are good at balancing both leadership and technical matters. I am also looking to meet leaders who are good at just one of these but still make things happen!


One of my friends and I'd been to the Bangalore Planetarium last week! It was an interesting experience though it could be made even more exciting if more information were to be passed on. (I've been there once before but it was too long back for me to remember anything) There was a short documentary on Kalpana Chawla and some of her exploits and views which made inspiring viewing. (She, btw, says in the documentary that it was always very easy for her to be inspired and motivated by others doing what they set out for) The rest of it was about the planets, stars, scientists, astronomers and the like. One fact caught my mind. (The first thing I told myself was that it ought to be blogged).

The astronomers utilize one particular occasion to study the 'rim' of the sun. And that's the solar eclipse. It makes it very easy for the astronomers to study the sun at this time basically because the moon blocks most part of the sun and there's just the outer circle of the sun showing during the solar eclipse! So, here's my (paradox) punch line - It takes darkness to study light!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

KM Strategy - 5-step approach

K-Guides Overview (K-Shop at David Skyrme Associates):

How one ought to go about handling a KM consultancy assignment.... (This post is more for my own reference down the line)

"information gathering, analysis and diagnosis, planning the approach, documenting the detail, communicating and gaining acceptance."


You are the problem and you are the solution.
Straighten your mind and you'll find the solution.
- Zenyasi

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

NPKM to Aa-ha!

I decided to change the name of my Blog to Aa-ha! [Thinking Inside The Blog!] instead of NPKM [Thinking Inside The Blog!]. (The URL remains the same).

Why? - NPKM conveys nothing in particular as it is just a combination of my initials and KM. Realized down the line that though I am a KMer and passionate about KM, there are a lot of other things that interest me in life as well (Life, Spirituality, Creativity, Innovation, Leadership, Branding & Advertising, Books, People, Learning, Music, Poetry, Animals, Birds, Philosophy, Mysticism, Paradoxes, Comics, Change Management, Culture, Travel, and Cartoons) and it is not really reflective of the Blog to call it just NPKM.

Aa-ha! is about discovering new things irrespective of the arena. And ever since I started Blogging, I do seem to be discovering new things - new concepts, new attitudes, new people et al. So, there! Here's hoping that there will be millions of Aa-ha! moments that I will come across and share with you as well!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Tom the wise cat

I was watchin' Tom & Jerry this Sunday and enjoyed myself immensely - so, what's new? :)

One of the stories that I watched was about a million dollars that Tom is to get on the condition that he doesn't harm anyone (including a mouse). And of course, the only mouse that Tom knows is Jerry. And this means that Tom cannot dare to even intimidate Jerry if he wants the money. This is the situation/context. As usual, our good old Jerry can't help but tease Tom. So, the saga continues. Every time Tom loses his cool and gets near Jerry to strangle him or give him a whacking, Jerry pulls out a paper (from nowhere) with the condition and highlights the "should not harm even a mouse" part of it :). Finally, Jerry gets on Tom's nerves so much that the latter tears up the sheet that states the condition, holds Jerry's tail with a single strong finger (which prevents Jerry from running away) and looks at me (the audience) with a forlorn face and says - (these are golden words!)

"Gee! I am throwing away a million dollars!" and then the expression changes from false disappointment to ecstasy and he goes on to say "But, I am HAPPY!"

:-) Think about it!

PS: Errr.....I guess I have to provide an explanation here (see Veera's comments). :) I did not mean that it is a great thing for Tom to 'harm' Jerry rather than clean up a million dollars! :) I love the little mouse. And for that matter I love the cat too! I can't imagine life without Tom 'n' Jerry! The message here is actually just the last quote (by Tom) and not really so much associated with the context as in the intention to harm someone! :) Hey, come to think of it, Tom and Jerry are actually great pals! They just play around and can fortunately do just about anything (put the other on the oven, run down the other with a truck, push the other down a 100-storey building... :)) to each other without getting involved in a murder or hospitalization. Hee Hee :) The message is simply that money is not everything; Being happy is what makes all the difference. You can shoot down an offer for a million dollars to safe-guard the friendly fights with your best friend, man!

Hobbes the great teacher, who are we cheating after all?
Ourselves, most of the time....!

Revenge of the Right Brain

Wired 13.02: Revenge of the Right Brain

Article that came to me through Gurteen's Knowledge Letter. Goes a long way to reiterate the fact that the world is thinking more about spirituality and emotions (positive and controlled - empathy). If you're not exercising your right brain enough, you'll have to start now! :). Methinks there has to be a good balance between left and right brain usage. It can't be just one of them. Use the right brain first - for the why and what and maybe the who - and then use the left brain for the how, when, where and the who again. Nevertheless, figuring out the how of things does have the scope for right brain usage at times.

A Cricket Question

I have a question for the cricket experts and afficianados.
I am curious to know who make better captains, as per history. Is it the All Rounders or great batsmen/bowlers?
Who is a better captain? - The one in whose reign there was visible team satisfaction, understanding, bonding, performance, a high number of world records and wins...
Is there any research that proves that all rounders make better captains? Is there a correlation at all between a captain's professional skills and the team's performance? Which means, does it depend only on the captain's people-skills and not related to whether the captain is an all-rounder/batsman/bowler? Looking forward to some enlightening responses...

Monday, February 14, 2005

From LifeSupport

I love this list!

Update - 7th March 07 - I originally picked up this list from Steve Goodier's LifeSupport newsletter as the tag indicates and was not aware of who the actual author is, but a couple of days ago, I received a mail from Saskia Davis who is the original author of this list and 'am therefore updating this post so it gets attributed to her! Let me use this opportunity to thank Saskia for this wonderful list! :-)


How would you rate your level of "Inner Peace"? Enough to stay calm in a den of lions? Enough to get through a good day? Enough for the next five minutes, so long as everybody leaves you alone?

You may need a good case of inner peace, a disease that could leave you stress-free and contented for years to come. A chiropractor named Jeff Rockwell composed a list he calls "Symptoms of Inner Peace." You may have already caught this disease! See how many of these symptoms you exhibit:

1. A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from
fears based on past experiences.

2. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.

3. A loss of interest in judging self.

4. A loss of interest in judging others.

5. A loss of interest in conflict.

6. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.

7. A loss of ability to worry (this is a serious symptom).

8. Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.

9. Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.

10. Frequent attacks of smiling through the eyes of the heart. (I'd add laughing to this point)

11. Increasing susceptibility to love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.

12. An increasing tendency to let things happen.

Inner peace is a communicable disease that could possibly infect your home or workplace. You may already be showing signs of it and quite possibly be passing it along to others! Rockwell warns:
"If you have all or even most of the above symptoms, please be advised that your condition of PEACE may be so far advanced as to not be treatable." Have you caught it?

The trip to my Village!

The trip that changed a few things for me: (philosophy)

I was off to my home town for a function last week. I wasn't exactly looking forward to it before I left, for I wanted to finish off a few things in office; did not want to break my routine and lastly, I did not really think I would have an exciting time in my village. But things turned out to be so different. Life does treat us to pleasant surprises. The pleasant surprises that I encountered were to do with nostalgia and learning.

I reached my village (Ponnamaravathy) at around 7 AM in the morning and was chased by a dog on my way home to start with. (What is it about me? Is it my face? :)) I wonder what he was doing running around at 7 AM instead of claiming his 40 winks. Went home to some of my near and dear relatives. Met two amazing people. One - my mom's cousin that I know very well and the second - a person I met for the first time – a construction worker who was helping us with the household chores during the function. They taught me a lot. Not in the lecturing sense but with their deeds and character. ‘Hear’ this out. You’ll be amazed.

The first person – my mom’s cousin - VM – is probably in her late 30s or maybe early 40s. VM is perhaps one of the most beautiful ladies in my extended family. She was married to her cousin (dad’s sister’s son) at a young age even though she would have had a very promising career had she studied further and gone on to work. He was a handsome doctor. They made such a pretty pair and were the talk of the town. Life does come up with the most unexpected of things; doesn’t it? True to its reputation, the googly that life threw into this particular situation was like this - It was only after the marriage that the bride and bride’s family realized that the doctor was a drug-addict. To say that he made life extremely difficult for VM would be an understatement. Anyways, he would disappear for years together and then make a sudden reappearance to her utter bewilderment and confusion. To add to the intensity of the situation, VM is the only child to her parents and was born after a lot of prayers and a number of years. She doesn’t have any children as well. So, she’s a loner with her old parents. VM’s parents did a lot to get their daughter’s hubby out of his habits and the word goes that they’d succeeded as well. But the current situation is that he’s been missing for 6 years now. We don’t even know if he is ……. But VM continues to live with the belief that he is alive and might chose to return someday. But I am giving you this story only because it will help you understand what I am coming to. The heartiest of laughs in the whole crowd of people that was there in the function was VM’s. :-) Not only the heartiest, but also the most frequent. One of my aunts has a brilliant sense of humor and VM and I were laughing our intestines out on every joke that she cracked. But I couldn’t beat VM’s laugh! The rest of the folks who probably crib their heads off even if they don’t get to see their daily TV serial could only muster a smile at times. Oh, the irony! Does this tell you what joy is? It told me. To my mind, the happiest person is one who can laugh her heart out. - Definitely not the one with all the so-called pleasures and luxuries of life but the inability to laugh/smile and admire nature. And guess what? VM goes to meditation classes. But her laugh has been there ever since I remember, as a school going kid, long before she went to meditation classes. Suffering does make a person better. Better in terms of character and better in terms of helping her/him understand the value of life and enjoy it.

Talking about meditation, there was this man sitting behind me in the bus I took from my village to Trichy on my way back. And what he was telling his friend was interesting. Shows you what’s happening to people in the villages as well. He was telling his friend that he was an extremely shy character and ever since he started attending meditation classes, he has become a frank person with very little inhibitions! He has started speaking his mind. That was interesting. I have reasons to believe that he is probably a teacher at the village school.

Before I go back to talk about this second amazing person that I met, let me recount two other things that captured my heart. The bus I took went through many tiny villages on its way to Trichy. On two occasions during the trip, my eyes encountered amazing visual treats. One was that of a lush green field above which there was a flock of pure white birds (geese?) flying home in a beautiful formation. This was when the day was bright. Another was when it got darker post 6 PM. A flock of dark coloured birds flying across a dark field and tall coconut trees against an orange and grey sky! How I wish I had captured these on camera!!

The second person that I want to talk about is unbelievable. She is a construction worker and goes by the name Nagu. Probably in her early 30s. Single. No known relatives. I have no idea about her childhood days. I have no idea if she lived with her parents or was all alone. Within a few minutes after I reached my home town, I noticed my mom and my aunt speak to her in a very kind and loving manner. It was clear to me that there was something about her that my folks liked. I did not have to wait for long. I heard her story from both my mom as well as my aunt before the end of the day. Nagu is an extremely quiet person. She is slightly hard of hearing. She rarely talks unless she wants more clarifications on the task that she has been assigned. She does anything that is asked of her any number of times without even reacting to it with the slightest of irritation which is most of us are wont to do. She works tirelessly. She would even wake up at 2 AM if she were asked to help out without so much as a murmur. She eats very little and just twice a day and doesn’t ask for anything in particular. She desires almost nothing including money. She works but doesn’t ask for the money. If she is given money, she takes it. Else, she just continues to work as if she was born to do nothing but work. She would very quietly go and sit near my aunt’s feet when she did not have anything to do. There’s a lot more to this lady but I just could not find that out since my trip was a short one. I know only what I observed and what was told by my folks. What an amazing lady! What a peaceful life! I hope to meet her again. Hey, and read this stuff that I got in my Thought for the Day mail a couple of days ago – how very closely related to this lady’s character this bit of philosophy is!

A Thought for the Day From Sri Eknath Easwaran
February 11

To be a Sufi is to cease from taking trouble; and there is no greater trouble for thee than thine own self, for when thou art occupied with thyself, thou remainest away from God. - Abu Sa'id

Do you want to be free? Most of us are held hostage in life by our likes and dislikes. We are bound hand and foot by countless little preferences in food, clothing, decor, entertainment -- the list goes on and on.

For example, the person with rigid tastes in food is likely to have rigid tastes elsewhere as well. He will probably enjoy only one kind of music, she will appreciate only one style of art, and when it comes to people, he has very definite allergies. In any case, he is conditioned to be happy only so long as he gets everything the way he likes it. Otherwise -- which may be ninety-nine percent of the time -- he is unhappy over something.

The way we respond to small matters reflects the way we will respond to the larger matters of life. So, if we can begin to release ourselves from our little likes and dislikes, we will find that we are gaining the capacity to weather emotional storms. Then we can try to face whatever comes calmly


OK, a little more about my beautiful village before I wind up. I went down memory lane and it all felt so very nostalgic. I visited the good old house where my grandparents lived (they don’t make them like that anymore. Yes, I clicked a few snaps of the house), went to some of the temples that we (grandparents, aunts, cousins) used to frequent when I was a kid – what a feeling that was! As kids, my cousins and I used to wait for the yummy prasadam (Food made in the temple and served to God before being distributed to the local devotees) to arrive home from the main village temple – Puliyodharai (Tamarind Rice) and Sakkara Saadham (Jaggery Rice). I saw those two lotus-filled ponds in the centre of the village. The one with a temple in the backdrop is a marvel. Also visited the small Ganesha temple right in front of the pond. The old tamarind tree next to the temple. The small and quiet Murugan temple with a flock of screeching parrots on its trees very near my house. The village bus stand had undergone a complete transformation since I last saw it 6 years ago. The Big Ben like clock though is still there. There are more shops, more vehicles, more houses, and more pukka roads…

One another thing that caught my eye was a mobile operator’s transmission/reception tower right next to my grandparents’ good old house. As I stood poised to click a snap of the narrow pathway to my grandparents’ house from the road, a thin dog came and stood in front of me and let his tongue out as if to tell me that he couldn’t understand what in the world I was doing standing there on that hot day and anyways, whatever it was, I could think about it only after giving him some water. Life is beautiful. My village lures me. It teases me into abandoning the city. It is interesting how one begins to relish and value things more when they can’t be taken for granted.
When did you last go to your village?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Passing Thoughts

Competition is for those who aren't intrinsically motivated. Competition kills. Competition destroys. Competition doesn't spur quality. Competition may impose creativity, but the joy that the competitors get is to do with winning and not creating per se. Competition has brought about improvement. It would be foolish to deny that. But competition has also killed and destroyed. Collaboration and passion is the way out. The best way out. But then, the world is not full of people who want to only create. The world is full of people who want to win! So, competition will continue to exist. It will continue to create as well as kill.

Dream Big

Wonderful piece of inspiration from LifeSupport:


Are you setting your sights too low?

I heard of a woman who fished all morning and never caught anything. But a man in the next boat was reeling in a fish every time she glanced over. Then, to make matters worse, he kept the small ones and threw the large ones back into the water!

She couldn't stand it any longer. She called over to him, "How come you're throwing the big ones back?"

He answered by holding up a little frying pan.

We may think that is silly but, in our minds, don't we all hold up frying pans? Every time we throw away a big idea, a magnificent dream or an exciting possibility, are we measuring it against a small frying pan?

We talk about making more money or be­coming more successful, but I believe that this con­cept works in other, and sometimes more important areas, as well. We can love more than we ever dreamed possible! We can be happier and live more fully than we ever thought we could! What we can do or become is limited more by the size of the frying pan in our minds than by actual circum­stances.

Author Brian Tracy reminds us that "you are not what you think you are, but what you think, you are." Think big. Dream big. Pray big...and look for big results. It all begins with changing the size of your thinking.

What would happen if you threw away the frying pan you have been using to measure the size of your dreams, and replaced it with a larger one? What would happen if you decided that it may really be possible to have a better relationship with the one you love, or that you actually can be hap­pier and more fulfilled than you are now? What would hap­pen if you decided never to settle for anything less than what you
truly want? What if, from now on, you threw the little fish back and kept the big ones?

And what if you decided to begin today?

- Steve Goodier

Monday, February 07, 2005

India as an Innovator

The Q from Bala Pillai:

Why has India *not* produced a single quantum invention in the last 1000 years when before that, it together with China was responsible for nearly *every* quantum invention?

He goes on to add that though it might seem like we haven't created products, there is probably more scope for innovation in services...

This is an extremely lengthy thread. Not reproducing the whole thread for your own good ;).

My rather elaborate thoughts on the topic:

Extremely interesting conversation and thoughts here! I shall bounce the ball into both sides of the ground. I agree with you when you say that innovation need not necessarily be only in the product industry but can also be in the services industry. For that matter, innovation can be purely managerial and/or strategically oriented. I guess it is very easy for the world to see product innovations while the rest are invisible to the non-discerning eye. Also, innovation in the services industry does not necessarily mean that we have to invest money, while product innovation calls for a huge investment. In the same breath, it certainly is because of strategical innovation that India is at the hub of the outsourcing industry and earning all the dollars that it does today.

Just the other day, I was having a related conversation with a colleague of mine. He came across an article by a top manager in Wipro about India’s knowledge creating abilities. In the author’s words "While feeling good about our abilities, potential and dreams is fine, we must have our feet on the ground by knowing the reality. Despite our current position in IT, the reality is that we merely work on platforms, operating systems and languages developed outside India. Compared to our potential and huge population, we have hardly created innovations and intellectual properties. The issue is that for more than a century we have lived with a mindset of being “receivers of knowledge” and not “creators of knowledge”.

On reading which, I certainly felt that were we knowledge creators, we’d simply be creating more products! I think we have to face the fact that we are not the complete knowledge creators. Perhaps because of the fact that we don’t have a) Risk-taking attitude b) Tons of disposable financial resources. We are undoubtedly cost-focused. We want to earn money in the short-term rather than invest it in a long-term assignment. Even the stock-market pundits take calculated risks but with a short-term focus.

Yes, after the VC boom, there have been so many companies (that is definitely knowledge creation), but then, there again, we don’t want to go overboard and develop products. Services are of course knowledge based, but then abstract and more or less transaction/project based. Maybe there’s a third category called knowledge modifiers? India, today, may belong to this category. Between knowledge creation or innovation and plain low-end services.

Food for thought: The IT services in India today, per se, is a result of innovation in services. Isn’t that considered a quantum leap?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Innovation Weblog - Collaboration and innovation

Innovation Weblog - Collaboration and innovation

Interesting! Three questions to collective innovation:
- Reflection
- Inquiry and
- Advocacy

The attitude of being open and being ready to listen to what others have to say is undoubtedly the key!

The Inner-net - Climbing Or Flowing?

First it was my post - Three Ideal Ways of Living
Then it was the LifeSupport Message - What a Surprise!
And now...I don't believe it.... - THIS


PapaUncle -- Nipun's Dad -- used an analogy couple of weeks ago that seems appropriate for the trip. During one of our meditation circles, he shared that life can either be like a mountain where your goal is to get to the top, or like a river that flows effortlessly into the direction that is most natural and eventually merges into the large ocean.

When you're climbing uphill, going to the mountaintop, there's a constant struggle but in the end you reach the top no matter which side you start from and see the entirety of the universe.


I am = River
I will be = Mountain

Am I getting somewhere? Like Paulo Coelho says in his book, 'The Alchemist' - 'the whole world conspires to give you what you want'. :0

KM & Culture

This is a good one. Has the gist of what transpired in one of the KM gatherings in New Zealand. Revolves around KM & Culture and has the excerpts of what 3 KMers who matter, said. Spurs me to sort of summarize this in my own way: (The case study in this link is excellent and that is what gives me pointers for the write up below)

KM & Culture: What are the things that need to be taken care of if KM has to be ingrained and embedded in the culture of an organization? What are the specific characteristics that need to be displayed? When can you say that the org. has what it takes for a KM culture? Let's look at it from three perspectives: People practices, hard-core processes, technology. From another angle - Share/Use is what is mentioned in the case study.

1. Knowledge Sharing: People will have to come forward to share what they know and not hoard it. This can be extrapolated into Mentoring and Coaching.

2. Listening Skills: People will have to believe that they can learn from others and therefore be ready to listen well.

3. External outlook: People will have to believe that they can approach people from unrelated areas because they will not be biased and will think outside the box and might have a completely fresh perspective to the whole thing. Analogies have taught us a lot. Unrelated areas will force us to 'analogize'. This will lead to innovation.

4.Networking: People will have to believe that networking and getting in touch with people who matter will help improve their awareness and knowledge.

5. Team-Work and Collaboration and Brainstorming: People will have to believe that everyone is valuable and everyone can bring their bit to the table. They will have to realize that each person has her core competencies and that when it is all put together, the concept of synergy kicks in and this will make a difference to the team. They will have to realize that this will result in an exponential growth of knowledge and in innovation.

6. Documentation and Writing: People will have to believe that documentation and writing will help them. They have to realize that it brings out all their thoughts, helps them consolidate them, sort them and learn more in the process. The power of the written word cannot be underestimated.

7. Continuous Learning: A thirst for learning in individuals is a very important component for any 'KM' culture. This will have to be prevalent across the organization irrespective of seniority, age, experience, clout etc.

8. Learning from the past: Employees will have to be ready to learn from the past mistakes as well as successes. The NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome would have to be chucked out of the window!

9. Learning from customers/suppliers/partners: It ought to be believed and very firmly at that, that knowledge is not generated just from within the organization but from outside as well. Maybe more from the outside. Most importantly, teams should be ready to learn from the customers and partners.

10. Meetings/Discussions: The organizational culture should be one with regular and effective meetings/discussions/brainstorming sessions etc. The meetings, of course, have to be taken seriously, and should be looked at as occasions to generate ideas and exchange views and thoughts. Action items should be spelt clearly and championed till closure.

11. Introspection/Reflection: For a perfect KM culture, the org. should be one where introspection and reflection is encouraged and celebrated. It should be an org. where thinking is considered to be very important for doing! Action-oriented as well as 'thinking' employees should co-exist harmoniously.

The No-Nos: What are the no-nos that would 'damage' the 'KM' culture (even if all the above were to be present)

1. Money: If people in an organization are always running after the greenbacks, it is obviously a culture where higher purposes aren't valued. New ideas don't matter. Improvement is not as important as pushing people to deliver a product and get the revenue into the org. kitty. Knowledge sharing is nothing that helps get money - esp. in the short term as it is an abstract concept that is not understood by many.

2. Respect: This might sound ridiculous, but can be true. If employees in an organization don't respect (other) people, believe that they are the best and rarely respect others for the value they bring to the table and generally go around finding fault in people rather than appreciate their good qualities, something like KM would never take off. Or for that matter, if managers view employees as nothing but means to achieve the end as in the point above, and there is no fundamental respect for people and their needs, knowledge sharing and collaboration will seem like a lofty and unreachable goal.

3. Unreflecting: This point again ties with point #1. KM is a no-go if the entire organization is always chasing the money and wants to get as many projects as possible. It is a no-go if it is always thnking about delivering to the customer and doesn't care to stop in its tracks to take time off to think, ponder and reflect about its vision, way of working, problems, its employees' needs et al.

4. Sharing and Caring: If there is no belief in fundamental human values like caring and sharing in the organization, the only aspect the employees would be looking at is the WIFM - What's in it for me? - factor.

5. NIH syndrome: The Not Invented Here syndrome is also another major road-block that prevents people from reusing knowledge that comes from outside. As an organization, there needs to be an attitude of acceptance of knowledge from external sources.

6. Knowledge is power: When the employees in the organization believe that their knowledge is their power, and what earns them their bread and butter, we have a challenge that is very difficult for KM to surmount. The organization needs to 'protect' such people, tell them that their job is to mentor others and help them do so. At the same time, the org. ought to help them upgrade their knowledge through training etc. Such people of course need to be recognized more for their mentoring rather than their knowledge per se! This is what would encourage people to share their knowledge knowing that they are recognized not for their knowledge per se but for their organizational orientation and mentoring - their leadership!

7. Internal competition: In many an org. the top management abides by the philosophy of competition and encourages and establishes an environment of competition rather than collaboration. This can only foil the purpose of initiatives like KM. Competitive environments will not make collaboration possible as everyone would want to beat the others. Sharing will be a no-no and cross-leveraging will rarely happen unless the need is critical. The big picture will be lost altogether. I don't really suggest that there be absolutely no competition, but there needs to be a fine balance. Easier said than done. A challenge for the HR and the management at all levels.

Thanks to for some tips that I added to my original article.

Need Vs Desire

Came across this today -

How in our ignorance, we go on asking God for so many things,
when God in His own ways is trying to tell you, 'If you're not
married, you don't need to be", "If you don't have a child, you
don't need one", instead we pester Him so much with offerings,
flowers, tiyas, puja etc., that He lets us have what we want and
then we end up struggling with unhappy marriages, ungrateful
children, etc. How simple and peaceful if we can just leave to
God's Will and let our prayers be one of self-surrender only,
'O Lord, grace me with whatever You think is best for me".

I think it is a great idea to follow this if one wants to stay happy. Not blindly, but when the things one wants are actually outside one's control!

Friday, February 04, 2005

Is a Generalist better than a Specialist?

Viewpoint of an Entrepreneur: A Business Intelligence Software Blog: Is a Generalist better than a Specialist?

Read what Nari Kannan has to say about this topic. He has his fair share of arguments. But here's my take...

A coincidence - The other day, one of my friends and I were discussing if being a generalist is better than being a specialist but we reached no conclusion as such. I love being a generalist, I love knowing everything there is to know, I love understanding all perspectives. That is not only very enjoyable but also professionally satisfying to me as an individual.

But here's the catch. You can’t build great houses in the morning and write software in the evening with equal panache. Or for that matter, debatably, you can’t be a great HR manager one day and a fantastic Business Manager on another. At least, most of us can’t and maybe shouldn’t. You can't be a master of all trades. You can only superfluously know what there is to know. All said and done, you have to specialize in something or the other. You need a professional identity. Don't you? You need a core competency. You need to be excellent in something. Yes, in the process, you might make yourself indispensable to the organization, but then, is there a way out for the organization?

Here is where I come to job rotation. I think job rotation is a double-edged sword. You need to move into different roles so you take your ideas with you and add to the creativity in your new environment. But the fact that you take your ideas with you when you leave, means there is a void in the place you've just left. And I see this very callous attitude in people because they know they can leave in a few years and move to another role! They are not serious about their jobs because they know they have an escape route. They leave things unfinished, don't do a proper knowledge transfer and couldn't care less about their old role/department. At the end of it, the organization bears the brunt. It has people moving all over the place who after having just introduced an idea or two think they are done and are free to scoot. They stay in a role for about 2 years, out of which 6 months is anyways spent on two things - settling down and moving out. People who enter a new role end up reinventing the wheel more often than not. And what's more, they even undo what their predecessors did (the politicians!)! That's a major drawback for the organization! I wonder if the top management knows this and accepts it as a necessary evil. Methinks, if innovation is the only reason why people are asked to move around, we should get that done through enthusiastic and no nonsense cross-functional groups!
I do agree that a person cannot be allowed to stagnate and rot forever in the same role/department as that is not good for the individual too. But the fact that there is a core competency/passion/spark associated with each employee needs to be considered and addressed. It needs to be dealt with on a case by case basis - based on the individual's character, aspirations, competencies etc. The HR needs to champion this cause. Is there something to do with this in PCMM? I do know that there is a KPA on Competency Management. I do believe that this KPA is about specialization rather than generalization! What?

So, what do I want anyways? - I love to see the big picture, I love to know everything there is to know about an organization, but I do want to continue to stay in KM and be a KM ‘master’, because KM is my passion! Though, I have learned something from Nari's post. It wouldn't harm me to take up something closely linked to KM (HR?, Training ?, Process Improvements,?) for a while. That will be an enriching experience, teach me more, help me contribute my bit as an ‘outsider’ with unbiased views, and improve my confidence. And honestly, I've been thinking about this for a while - it might also help me let go of my passion for a while – help me prevent converting my passion into an obsession ;)

PS: Lot of 'I's in this post. Eh? These thoughts just flowed; I might have wanted to make it more generic and not talk just about my own career, but it's okay. I am not going to review this for now. :) Let it be as raw as it is for now. If you can relate to it, you can map it to your own career and situation.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


This was the headline that I was looking at:


By the time my eyes had 'traveled' to the word 'convergence' and begun with the last word, I had concluded that it was BULL. :-)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Pasword to the Internet

I don't know about you, but the rate at which new applications and tools are cropping up on the Internet, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay away from them. And when you find yourself downloading and installing them, you can't just do that without creating an account. An account means an username and password. That sure taxes my memory. Usernames already consumed by the web-surfers mean umpteen number of them. Phew! It's time for us to change to fingerprints/retina-recognizers or whatever! I can't tax my poor brain with anymore usernames and passwords!

Organizations and their stingy behaviours!

I can't get over this. I can't seem to understand it too! We (Organizations) earn so much money in all our commercial ventures! We make millions and millions. Why can't we then make use of a fraction of this money to fulfill our own needs? Needs that ultimately - will anyways - for God's sake - result in better performance! We need products as much as our customers do. We need good internal services as much as our customers do. We are helping our customers use better products and enjoy better services. While we ourselves are deprived of it! What an irony! The service that we have within the company and the products that we use within our company will not only help us serve our customers better but also keep our employees happy. Investing in services and products for internal needs only shows the importance that an organization has for its own employees! Take some of the products that organizations use. IS, KM, HR, Process Automation, Logistics etc - If they are developed in-house, of course, they are developed because buying a product would be so costly! (Ah!) We employ people who are not 'equipped' to be a part of the customer-delivery teams! (I hate this!). Even if there are some smart guys in service functions, they are considered to belong to the lower strata of the society by most of the other so-called 'bright' guys! They simply don't seem to accept that there can be smart people anywhere! And what next? So, these products are developed in-house to save as much as money as we can. If there are products that we can't possibly develop in-house (say ERP), then we have to buy it! (sorry Mr.CEO). And then what, we realize down the line that most of the products that we develop in-house are no good (because we did not spend enough money, because the team was anyway not 'expected' to do well because they are 'dumb'). So, what do we do? Move over to a product? Get some special people in to improve the product? What happens if we buy products and we buy different products for different purposes, one for IS, another for HR, a third for KM? Who the hell will integrate all of them? It might be too late to integrate them! Employees bear the brunt. So do the people who are supposed to manage these products! Is there a solution to this dilemma? Is there one product that fits all - No! Does a rare but brilliant product give space for other products to fit in as well? - Maybe! Going back to my original bone of contention, is it like this? We humans spend a lot of money on a lot of unwanted things except our own health. Do organizations follow the same trend? Don't they want to spend money on their own internal 'state of health'? Okay, I've rambled enough for today!

PS: - I am sure you must have concluded by now that I wrote this in a huff! You are right!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Gurteen KM

Hey, I am writing for Gurteen’s GKR (Global Knowledge Review)!  My first article is on learning- learning to learn!

Context: Gurteen's website was one of the first ever websites that I visited when exploring KM, at the start of my career! I've been hooked ever since! His home online has got plenty of material that can inspire and lead! Don't miss it if you are into KM, Learning, Innovation or Spirituality. And subscribe to his monthly newsletter as well! It's just the digest you might need if you are into KM!

Personal KM, Personalized KM

Caught up with some more papers on Blogging and KM. In the list was this paper on Distributed KM by Martin Roll. Very simple and easy to read paper, this.

He says “….Besides reaffirming the importance of communication this indicates that there is another component to the issue of which tool knowledge workers chose to support their work: They prefer to user personal tools, that is: Tools that they can control and customize to their own needs.”

How true! I can relate to that so much! It’s made me decide on a few things! Personal KM, Blogging and personalization of KM portals would be very effective! That’s what I am going to propose and gun for this year. I’ve already started the Blogging initiative. The PKM was communicated through a couple of stories. Now, the plan’s to develop a training material on PKM! Wish me luck! 

Knowledge Sharing - Checklist - Carla O'Dell

Just been reading the book – “The executive’s role in Knowledge Management” by Carla O’ Dell. Found this useful checklist therein on how to assess if one’s organization is open to sharing and KM:

• Are employees receptive to learning opportunities
• Does the organization make it a point to hire intellectually curious employees
• Do employees feel their job is no less secure by sharing information and revelaing mistakes made?
• Do employees identify more with the company than with their individual professions?
• Is the opportunity to explore new and innovative ideas a part of each employee’s workday?
• Are employees given enough time to teach each other? Is teaching and mentoring a factor in promotions?
• Are settings to identify mistakes and lessons learned separate from individual evaluations?
• Do the major work flows through the organization enable employees to frequently interact?
• Are problems and opportunities addressed in a collaborative manner?
• Do managers encourage and respect different opinions and suggestions for improvements?
• Do employees feel that they can approach any level of manager in the organization?
• Do business units recognize that relevant information may come from other units and external sources?
• Do managers encourage their employees to help employees in other units?
• Does senior management understand the reason for differences in values among units and subgroups?
• Do employees understand the long-term benefits of sharing what they know?
• Are employees who innovate and/or collaborate recognized and rewarded?
• Are team-based performance and accomplishments recognized before individual accomplishments?

What a surprise!

What a surprise! I was talking about 3 ideal ways of living a few days ago on my Blog and look what I read in today's LifeSupport message! There are quite a few similar thoughts too!!


Many people feel as if they have lost the key to getting what they
want in life -- meaning, happiness, success, peace, security. They
have been trudging and toiling at length but feel as if they are locked out of that place they really want to be. They think, "If only I had the key to a whole and happy life!"

That wise and amazing woman Eleanor Roosevelt gave three keys to meaning, happiness, success and peace. "One is that you do whatever comes your way as well as you can," she said. She knew that the key to satisfaction in life is to take pride in whatever you're given to do, regardless how grand or humble the undertaking.

"Another is that you think as little as possible about yourself and as much as possible about other people and about things that are
" she continued. Eleanor Roosevelt knew that those who take a genuine interest in the concerns of others and in great ideas lose their desire to worry needlessly about themselves.

"The third is that you receive more joy out of giving joy to others
and [that you] should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give
," she concluded. She was aware that the key to finding happiness is in giving happiness -- wherever and whenever possible.

These are three keys that should neither be lost nor locked away in a safe place. Learn to use them -- every day -- and you'll open doors to those important and wonderful things that will make your life worth living!
This reading is found in Steve Goodier's popular book