Friday, January 29, 2010

Social Awakening....Jaago Re Campaign

A representative of the Tata Tea Jaago Re initiative left a comment on one of my blog posts about the movement. Thought I'd share it with you. Meanwhile, I visited the jaagore website and thought it was well-designed, bright and inspiring. Actually the website's colours are so bright that it can wake you up! :-) A perfect platform for India's youth to get together and change the country for the better.

If you're an Indian, I guess you would have surely spotted the cool Tata Tea commercials on Voting and Corruption. Here is a chance to take another step forward, register on the website, share and discuss thoughts on various topics like Voting, Education, Corruption, Children's Rights, Women's Rights, Global Warming and Health. Go ahead, wake up, grab a cuppa, join the community, see what beckons you and explore how you could potentially help India become a happier country! Three cheers to Tata Tea for stepping beyond their commercial objectives and contributing to social change in such an innovative and meaningful manner! Kudos to their CSR team and whoever else is behind this movement.


The Jaago Re campaign was initiated in the year 2007 and the objective of this campaign was to initiate social awakening amongst Indians. The Jaago Re campaign made a great impact with the ‘One Billion Votes’ campaign and are currently targeting corruption with the ‘Khilana Band, Pilana Shuru’ drive.

Recently, Tata Tea has re-launched its flagship website The portal which was, for the last one year, an online hot spot for aspiring voters to register and obtain all information related to Voter Registration, will now stand for social awakening in a broader sense. Jaago Re as a campaign has targeted the youth of the nation, urging them to take a stand on various issues such as voting and corruption and do their bit – thereby encouraging them to 'be the change they want to see’.

What makes unique is that it facilitates the flow of information and resources between individuals / groups / organizations – by bringing together, onto a common platform, those who possess information and resources and those who need them. NGOs can list themselves on the site, thereby making their presence felt with individuals who would like to work with them. On the other hand, individuals who wish to do their bit for society can volunteer their services with an organization of their choice.

It would be great if you can help us support us by spreading the word on Jaago Re's initiative through your blog. Hopefully readers of your blog, both NGOs and individuals alike, would be inspired enough to join the initiative.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A *Formula* for Intellectual Infrastructure

It is amazing how you see links to what you truly believe in and are passionate about in just about everything - which at first seems unrelated - you come across. I took a break from work last week during which I caught up with a book called "Small is Beautiful" by EF Schumacher. I was thrilled to find some material for this blog therein and more importantly food for thought.

Schumacher's book was written in the early 1970s and focuses on the importance of preserving the environment through appropriate economic policies and actions. He questions the then economic policies and wonders if our obsession with economic growth at the cost of the environment and people's real needs (employment, manageable growth rate, development of rural areas) will leave us in dire straits. How true. Today, more than 3 decades later, one of the most critical issues for all governments and human beings on earth is the depletion of natural resources, global warming and unabated industrial growth that comes at severe intangible costs.

In one of the chapters, Schumacher talks about the need for an "intellectual infrastructure" strategy in order to help developing countries. And it has an uncanny resemblance to a typical knowledge management strategy, in my opinion. 

Schumacher's intellectual infrastructure plan reads as follows: (Rephrased Extracts)

1. Communication - To enable workers to know what other workers are doing and to facilitate direct exchange of information

2. Information Brokerage - To assemble and distribute relevant information. The essence being not to hold all the information in one centre but to hold information on information or know-how on know-how

3. Feed-back - Transmission of problems from the field to the groups where the solutions exist

4. Sub-structures - Creation and co-ordination of action groups and teams for assistance (champions) within the field - that is, within the target audience themselves

It takes me back to my reflection that KM strategies need the three Tipping Point Cs - Communication, Champions and Context.

What do you think? Does your KM strategy follow these principles and ideas?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Back in Circulation

Usually, when I am back after a break/vacation, I tend to be slightly jittery for the first few days just thinking about the tons of emails and work that I need to catch up with. Life is brutal to people who go on vacations. Isn't it? Makes me wonder if it is ever possible to 'invent' a vacation on returning from which one has nothing to catch up with. Or perhaps a vacation that one doesn't have to return from....err, I mean to the business of catching up and the like. I am not sure I've made myself crystal clear. So here we go again. What I actually mean is why not have a vacation that's sort of permanent and so enlightening that one either manages to drift along without any catching up to do later on or whatever? If you go on a vacation to recharge your batteries and come back only to let them be drained in no time just seeing the pending pile of emails and other such things, what's the big deal? I'm just making up for not being able to ramble last week. Ignore me.

While on the topic of vacations and catching up, have you noticed? When you come back to see what has changed with the world, you are, more often than not, likely to be staring at a situation wherein every single thing (that you are not so interested in but will however have to catch up with) except what you really, desperately, wanted to see some progress in, has progressed at a phenomenal rate. Sigh. I told you. Life is brutal to people who go on vacations. 

But when one gets to read a hilarious and yet thoughtful cartoon strip by one's favourite cartoonist amidst the tons of other - mostly boring - emails waiting to be read, the act of think-laughing or laugh-thinking (Yikes, the term doesn't sound so creative. Reminds me of something to do with fixing erroneous machines) releases all or most of the tension and puts the ugly smile back in its place. Eh? So, here we are. Ugly. Smiling. And All.

Pic: Gocomics: Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Will Knowledge Managers Survive?

I couldn't possibly let this post go unnoticed and uncommented. :-)

My thoughts are mostly in-line with Mary's comments. The KM role the author of the post refers to is not something that is common to all organizations. If all that the KMer does is regulate, validate and oversee the flow of content, he will add no value with the advent of self-regulated Enterprise 2.0 Tools. But, then, I see the role of a KMer to be much more critical and important.  
  • She must be responsible for, first of all, strategical decisions reg. the cultural elements, knowledge-intensive processes and the platform/technology. What a KMer did a decade ago (set up an Intranet) no longer sounds complete in today's world. KMers had to understand cultural, technical and operational changes and keep pace with them and accordingly transform their organizational KM system from that of an Intranet to something more "social" after 5-6 years. I am not equipped to comment on what things will be like in another 5 years but I can guarantee you that it will be different from what it is like, it is up to the KMer to keep pace and change her strategy along with the organization and other external factors.  
  • Mary's point about KMers being process experts resonates with me but I've, admittedly, had a tough time explaining this to organizations. KMers can have their hands full if they spend time understanding and tweaking processes in order to enable knowledge creation, usage and sharing.  
  • Even when it comes to technology, KMers must identify, purchase, customize, adapt and evangelize or identify, design, build, implement and evangelize. Even before they know it, once they are through with one phase, they will most likely be forced to embark on another phase of technological changes.  
  • Cultural acceptance is something that is not a one-time effort. KMers have to continue talking to people, making them aware, inspiring them, facilitating and supporting them when it comes to certain portions of the overall KM system. Take a look at the number of articles, guidelines, and tips on Twitter and you'll know what I am talking about. A simple tool in many ways but the ideas that come out of it are many! Thanks to the post, made me think/express somethings that I've always wanted to. ;-)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Human Evolution

Another mesmerizing article shared by @Kirti.
I'm taking a print out and putting it along with my most treasured books in my book-shelf!

Not providing you with extracts as yet. Plan to re-read it a few times.
You must read the entire article to experience the knowledge.

Goes a long way to prove the impact of parenting and environment on children and human development as a whole!

Science. Knowledge. Ignorance. Failure. Conversations.

One of the best articles I've read in recent times. Fascinating.  Hat tip to @Kirti



(Twentieth-century science philosopher Thomas Kuhn, for instance, defined normal science as the kind of research in which “everything but the most esoteric detail of the result is known in advance.”)

The lesson is that not all data is created equal in our mind’s eye: When it comes to interpreting our experiments, we see what we want to see and disregard the rest.

Too often, we assume that a failed experiment is a wasted effort. But not all anomalies are useless. Here’s how to make the most of them. —J.L.

1. Check Your Assumptions: Ask yourself why this result feels like a failure. What theory does it contradict? Maybe the hypothesis failed, not the experiment.
2. Seek Out the Ignorant: Talk to people who are unfamiliar with your experiment. Explaining your work in simple terms may help you see it in a new light.
3. Encourage Diversity: If everyone working on a problem speaks the same language, then everyone has the same set of assumptions.
4. Beware of Failure-Blindness: It’s normal to filter out information that contradicts our preconceptions. The only way to avoid that bias is to be aware of it.

Modern science is populated by expert insiders, schooled in narrow disciplines. Researchers have all studied the same thick textbooks, which make the world of fact seem settled. This led Kuhn, the philosopher of science, to argue that the only scientists capable of acknowledging the anomalies — and thus shifting paradigms and starting revolutions — are “either very young or very new to the field.” In other words, they are classic outsiders, naive and untenured. They aren’t inhibited from noticing the failures that point toward new possibilities.

While the scientific process is typically seen as a lonely pursuit — researchers solve problems by themselves — Dunbar found that most new scientific ideas emerged from lab meetings, those weekly sessions in which people publicly present their data. Interestingly, the most important element of the lab meeting wasn’t the presentation — it was the debate that followed. Dunbar observed that the skeptical (and sometimes heated) questions asked during a group session frequently triggered breakthroughs, as the scientists were forced to reconsider data they’d previously ignored. The new theory was a product of spontaneous conversation, not solitude; a single bracing query was enough to turn scientists into temporary outsiders, able to look anew at their own work

But not every lab meeting was equally effective. Dunbar tells the story of two labs that both ran into the same experimental problem: The proteins they were trying to measure were sticking to a filter, making it impossible to analyze the data. “One of the labs was full of people from different backgrounds,” Dunbar says. “They had biochemists and molecular biologists and geneticists and students in medical school.” The other lab, in contrast, was made up of E. coli experts. “They knew more about E. coli than anyone else, but that was what they knew,” he says. Dunbar watched how each of these labs dealt with their protein problem. The E. coli group took a brute-force approach, spending several weeks methodically testing various fixes. “It was extremely inefficient,” Dunbar says. “They eventually solved it, but they wasted a lot of valuable time.”

The diverse lab, in contrast, mulled the problem at a group meeting. None of the scientists were protein experts, so they began a wide-ranging discussion of possible solutions. At first, the conversation seemed rather useless. But then, as the chemists traded ideas with the biologists and the biologists bounced ideas off the med students, potential answers began to emerge. “After another 10 minutes of talking, the protein problem was solved,” Dunbar says. “They made it look easy.”

When Dunbar reviewed the transcripts of the meeting, he found that the intellectual mix generated a distinct type of interaction in which the scientists were forced to rely on metaphors and analogies to express themselves. (That’s because, unlike the E. coli group, the second lab lacked a specialized language that everyone could understand.) These abstractions proved essential for problem-solving, as they encouraged the scientists to reconsider their assumptions. Having to explain the problem to someone else forced them to think, if only for a moment, like an intellectual on the margins, filled with self-skepticism.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Vibrations - Energy - Life

I find this fascinating. One of those mystical and universal things about life. Vibrations. Sound. Music. This is where the concept of Energy begins. Positive energy. People we get along with. Good things. Success. Happiness. Almost everything.


Good Vibrations
Sound Healing

Everything in the universe is in a constant state of vibration, including our bodies. Sound is vibration that can be translated by the delicate structures of our inner ear, but it moves more than just those tiny receptors. It is part of the spectrum of energy vibrations that affect us on the mental, physical, and spiritual levels. Long ago shamans recognized the power of sound when they first used chants and drumming to heal people. In ancient Egypt, Greece, and India, the use of sound and music for healing was a highly developed sacred science. Sonic vibration has been one way of experiencing the energy of the universe for much of humanity’s history.

When the vibrations of our physical and spiritual bodies are out of harmony it can cause disease. Sound healing gently massages the molecules back into the right places, clearing blockages and restoring harmony. Ancient healing systems such as Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurveda associate specific musical notes with subtle-energy systems of the body, such as in yoga where particular notes of music correspond to each of the seven chakras. In Tibet, priests have long used bells and bowls over and around the body to tune and clear the energy centers. Chimes and tuning forks are other tools that have been used to heal not only the body but the energy in a room as well.

Knowing that sound has the power to heal, we should also try to remember that sounds from modern life can have a negative affect. Choosing silence over discord may help us maintain a state of equilibrium. As we seek soothing and harmonizing sounds to surround us, we may be doing more than creating a balm for the noise of the world. We may actually be performing an act of self-healing that connects us with one of the most basic vibrations of the universe.

Monday, January 04, 2010

No Problem!

I'd like to give myself (and, potentially, some of the readers as well) a bubbly and positive start to 2010 by spending some time on the "what" and "how" of problem-solving. Just a few simple thoughts on the process and philosophy of problem-solving. I know. It's been done before by many a brilliant mind but, well, what's the harm in doing a bit of free-style thinking (not consciously influenced by anything else) on my own?

This isn't an attempt to teach readers how to solve problems...I don't plan to write a self-help book. :-) It is purely an introspective post, written more for my own benefit. I'd like to come back to this post when I find myself losing my way when amidst a dense problem or when I feel like scooting off into the sky when faced with a particularly blistering problem. I am just thinking aloud like I do when I write most of the posts on this blog.

It is intriguing - Though it is true that we are likely to learn a lot from personal experience, we are more capable of objectively analyzing situations when someone else - at an observable distance - is going through a challenge. This way, more often than not, we are not biased and are capable of detaching ourselves from the problem and its consequences.

So, what do we do when we come face to face with a dense or blistering problem that stares at us in a wicked way?

Pic: Google Images

1. Stare back at it. Face the problem. Accept that it is there and acknowledge its existence 

2. Resolve to find your way through it successfully. Tell yourself you were born to conquer that problem. Come what may. Never give up. Stay positive. Pull yourself up every time you slip

3. Stay calm and composed. It is easy when you trust yourself or believe there is an opportunity in every difficulty. You could even try assuming the role of a cartoonist and spot some hidden 'humor' in the situation to retain your sanity

4. Get creative. Try unconventional ways to get your head around the problem. Pat yourself when you think of something fresh and new, even if it doesn't work

5. Defocus. Take time off. If you feel tired, step off the track and rest a while

6. Consulting others vs independence. This is a tricky one for me. Introspection is a must. Self-help is a must. But getting others' opinions can surely help. What is dicey is how do you decide who are the 'right' people to consult. You must connect with positive, creative, helpful, and mature people for support. You have to be careful not to be misled or - at the other extreme - get over dependent on the adviser

7. Stick to your values when thinking of solutions. Stay honest, shun violence, consider the potential impact of your actions on others around you etc Don't cheat yourself by adopting methods that you don't agree with

8. Work on your negotiation skills, consider compromising on certain things and settling for a less than perfect solution....

9. Know all your facts. Look at and understand the situation from multiple angles. Do your homework

10. Take your own - final - decision and the responsibility for the consequences. If you think you've made a mistake, go to the heart of this process at #5, defocus, cut your losses and be prepared to start over again with renewed energy and determination

Om. Tada!

Not My Job! :-)

A friend just forwarded this photo with the caption "Not My Job". Hilarious, eh?
  1. People who draw the line straight despite the branch being there would be those who do it despite all the odds but are not so ‘smart’.
  2. People who push the branch aside and then draw it would be those who go the extra mile or are sincere to their job
  3. People who call the forest department to take the branch off would be those who obey the rules
  4. People who leave that part of the line blank would be those who couldn’t care less about what isn't "their" problem
  5. People who draw nothing and come back and complain about the branch are those whom the world simply doesn't need! ;-)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Infinity & Simplicity

"Because God is infinitely simple, God can only appear to the finite mind as infinitely complex"- Thomas Aquinas

What say? Just a play of words or something with infinite depth? :-)