Friday, December 31, 2010

Two O Eleven

Dear Friendly Fiends, Flimsy Friends and other Fundu Folks, (You are allowed to mix and match if you no like. Heh Heh. :-)) 

Wish you a meaningfully hyperactive, happy, healthy and peaceful new year 2011!  

Google Images

Here's perhaps my best ever (borrowed & shared) gift to all of you - A rare, profound and yet entertaining article.  (I'd earlier written a post on this article but I want to make sure that those who did not read the previous post discover the article at least now!)

PS: Read One. Read All. Read or Perish. If there's one thing you must read immediately after you are born, then it is this article. Read it to your children, dog, cat and neighborhood crow etc. Read it again and again. R.E.A.D it.

PPS: Sing with me. 

Two Thousand Eleven is Heaven. 
Tra la la. La la la. Boom Boom. (Chorus)
Let's learn to wake up before Seven. 
Tra la la. La la la. Boom Boom. (Chorus)
Let's be labeled odd rather than want to get even. 
Tra la la. La la la. Boom Boom. (Chorus)

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Dear Aa..ha! Friends, 

A thousand apologies. I just discovered that all comments left on this blog for the past few weeks (or perhaps even 1-2 months) had been pushed into the SPAM folder by default! I had complained to Blogspot (many weeks ago) that I was getting too many SPAM comments and it looks like they used the spam-stick a little too liberally and whacked away even the valid comments into the Trash folder. 

I am extremely happy that I have - at least now - been able to discover and recover most of your comments (I might have, however, possibly missed a few as there were 100s of other SPAM comments that I had to bulk-delete). 

Sorry. Sorry. S.o.r.r.y. :-S

I can only hope that this (the fact that your comments were not published) did not prevent you from leaving further comments. Next time you leave a comment, please leave another comment to let me know you left a valid comment prior to that. Err. Sorry, just a silly joke. 8-) But please do warn me (via email) that your comments are not getting published in case such an incident is repeated. Would appreciate that. What?


Things to Remember

Rules for Humans -

One of the Best

Awesome strip this. The concept, the pictures, the expressions and all that sort of thing. What would we do without C&H to cheer us up when everything else in life seems a bit - temporarily, given that we are all optimists in the long run - dismal? Uh?


The Art of Living

"The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he's doing both." - James A. Michener

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gary Hamel: Who are the Most Innovative Companies?

  • Notes:

    • Fourth are the cyborgs, companies like Google, Amazon and Apple that have been purpose-built to achieve super-human feats of innovation.  You won’t find much industrial age DNA in these organizations. These companies have been built around principles like freedom, meritocracy, transparency and experimentation. They are so endlessly inventive and strategically flexible they seem to have come from another solar system—one where accountants are treated as servants rather than gods.
    • If you work in a company that’s merely human—one that’s riddled with stale, conformance-inducing management practices—another chirpy anecdote about Google or Apple may make you puke.
    • Most of our management rituals were designed (a very long time ago) to promote discipline, control, alignment and predictability—all laudable goals. But to outrun change or head off a newcomer at the pass, these processes have to be re-engineered so they facilitate rather than frustrate bold thinking and radical doing.

Friday, December 17, 2010

How to Focus on Something...

Arrange your desktop as follows. 

Note: Today is Friday. Long time no jolly silly posts. Fridays demand a minimum of one. Eh?

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Why you should not assume someone is lucky or declare to someone he is lucky!

1) Luck is, most of the time, a consequence of hard work and effort or a good/thoughtful decision and the person hearing it is not going to like it if the situation he is in is attributed to just coincidence (which is what luck mostly means)

2) Calling someone lucky typically, err, hints at jealousy (even if just a little) whether we like it or not. Or like one of my friends said, it means you probably don't deserve what you got!

3) You may be commenting on one particular aspect of his life but there may be a lot of other problems in his life that may not even be compensated for by this apparent "stroke of luck"

4) There are so many better ways of responding when someone is going through a nice phase or a good thing has happened to them - You can say "That is great!", "This is cool!", "Happy for you!" or even "You are blessed" etc but of course you must mean it. ;-)

Monday, December 13, 2010

KM India Summit 2010-Observations

Last time around (during KM India Summit 2009) I ended up writing one of my longest ever posts and attempted to cover too many things in it. Some people did come back and appreciate it but I suspect, for many, it must have been daunting to read such a lot. This time, I plan to share my key observations and interpretations rather than cover the whole event as if I were a journalist.

KM India Summit 2010 lasted 2 days and there were three master classes (covered in one day) before the conference. I was fortunate enough to attend all of it as I got a free invite in return for speaking at the event (My topic was KM and Social Networking).

@MadanRao has done a great job of live-tweeting in case you're interested. He also has a blog post here. Atul Rai (Wipro Infotech) covered a lot of stuff through his FB updates. I think there were a few random tweets from many other participants as well. Search for #KMIndia (on Twitter) to check them out.

Meanwhile, for me personally, here are key thoughts and discoveries from the Master Classes:

  • Mindtree undoubtedly has a super-exhaustive KM initiative to boast of and they've attempted to give equal attention to all forms of KM (culture, process, tech, ideas management, knowledge creation, collective intelligence mechanisms and tools, KM embedded in projects etc)
  • The Millers' work on innovation and the role of spiritualistic thinking/human values is extraordinary. I was completely tuned into their session and it felt wonderful to listen to them though I think the time period we are looking at for the whole world to move to thoughts that combine spiritualism with business is, well, very huge
  • The Millers conducted a very sincere workshop with a lot of exercises to help participants understand their level and styles of thinking. They had a wonderful exercise that brought out some interesting facts for me personally. It helped me understand I am an "intention" person more than a "connection" or "action" person. (Intention people look for a meaningful contribution and tend to look for a purpose before getting down to actually doing things. Connection people are those that value relationships above everything else and Action people don't like to waste time thinking any more than they can help it :-)). The exercises also helped participants analyze whether they are short-term or long-term oriented
  • Verna Allee's workshop was very interesting and brought to light the advantages of Value Network maps as opposed to social network maps or process flow charts. Her website will give you most of the details that she covered during the workshop. I believe this is a concept that is worth the time and energy and you never know what it may lead to. I hope to be able to apply this somewhere

****************  The conference talks  **********************

  • One aspect that disappointed folks who have been in touch with KM in the Indian IT industry was the presentation of familiar - same old - case studies (without any significant changes from the previous versions) 
  • Infy's Suresh delivered a sophisticated presentation that urged us to bring together multiple disciplines, related to KM, for better results
  • Ron Young explained the four dimensions of KM (Creativity, Collaboration, Innovation and Knowledge) and reiterated that we need to bring eastern and western thinking together to be able to make the best of knowledge
  • William Miller (in his talk) brought out the relationships between and importance of combining spiritualistic thinking, innovation and KM - the first time I have ever heard such a talk at a KM conference. It goes some way to prove that KM could perhaps be the pathway to such a business (r)evolution!
  • In general, presenters from non-KM fields made a greater impact on the audience because of the freshness in their perspectives. Vinita Bali from Britannia spoke about knowledge of the customers' needs as one of the superior dimensions of KM. She had some intriguing examples from the domain of medicine. She spoke about holistic thinking and treatment of symptoms in the context of knowledge and the importance of cross-learning between sub-fields. She had a simple definition of innovation that everyone appreciated after it followed a knowledge cafe that resulted in sophisticated perspectives ;-). Innovation, she said, in simple terms is "something that creates new value"
  • Anil Menon, Pradeep Kar and Sadagopan spent some humorous, inspiring and thought-provoking minutes on innovation in the context of countries and dwelt upon the culture in India vs that in China. One of the interesting things that stuck on to my mind was Anil's emphasis that knowledge of theory was essential for business leaders :-)
  • Dr.Sandhya from IIT Madras Research shared the results of an interesting study she had conducted that revealed that organizational learning support systems can turn around the innovation ecosystem. Her study revealed that innovation increases from 13 percent (with just availability of knowledge) to 66 percent if the organization has a good org. learning support system. She also mentioned that co-location of the concerned entities was found to be very important for innovation
  • Mr. Trivedi representing the Govt. of India shared an impressive performance management model that has been implemented for assessing the performance of Indian ministries! 
  • There was a debate on whether KM has fulfilled its potential or not and arguments were justified on both sides. It seems like the lack of concrete measurement techniques for KM will remain a pet peeve amongst those who like to say KM has not reached its potential. It would be interesting indeed to see if KM crosses this limitation in a convincing manner. Also, it later occurred to me that we are perhaps talking about the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly but things don't end there....the butterfly then needs to fly, collect food, "get" its colours and what not
  • The knowledge cafe on KM and innovation brought out familiar thoughts on the two subjects as well as proved that people are still confused and unsure when it comes to categorically defining intangible concepts
  1. We need to have more specific and detailed case studies on KM process improvements and cultural endeavors which probably means more workshops that are targeted at a specific audience, surveys before the conference is planned, and finally, more non-IT companies in the fray
  2. We need to spend more time on creating and using frameworks rather than simply rattling off a laundry list of things that companies do. We need more sessions that help people understand principles so they can then act on their own
  3. Also, another idea that I recently mentioned in a previous post is to include a session that presents ideas that are completely against the topic and the flow of the conference. That would be funny, provoke creative thinking and result in some unusual combinations of concepts etc

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Knowledge and Human Stupidity

I came across this article - The basic laws of human stupidity - many weeks ago via Twitter (apologies, but I forgot who had tweeted about it. I think it might have been @beastoftraal). It took me a while to find some time to read the entire article as it is a pretty longish one. But believe me, once I started reading it, I just couldn't stop till I was done. It engaged me as much as a ball of thread might engage a curious cat - the whole experience was playful, interesting and thought-provoking. It delighted me, excited me, made me think, reintroduced me to the element of fun in Economics, and had me grinning ear to ear for quite a while. The article has flavours of social economics, psychology, human behaviour and humor. Obviously, I also attempted to relate these laws to the field of knowledge management. More on that later ;-) 

I immediately wanted to share it on this blog but then I kept procrastinating on the pretext of writing something around it rather than just sharing the raw link (for which we anyway have Twitter and FB). But I think I overestimated my creative potential. The more I think of it, the more I am convinced that nothing I can ever say will add value to the brilliance, constructive sarcasm and the subtle joy that the article exudes. It is a perfect essay that leaves no point unexplored and, what's more, every bit of the exploration that the author -  Carlo M. Cipolla - engages in is a total delight to read and contemplate. Trying to interpret or comment on it would be like commenting on, say, the Himalayas. Not easy at all, uh? 

I've become as big a fan of Cipolla as of Wodehouse! :-) It's a pity Cipolla doesn't seem to have capitalized on his sense of humor and awesome thinking to write as many books or 'stories' as Plum did.

From the article link....


I cannot, of course, avoid saying how I relate this to KM. No, you can't kill me! Shut your eyes if you don't want to read anything on KM. Here's the thing - I think knowledge management's objectives are (or should be) to get people to see the merit of remaining in or moving into the "intelligent" quadrant (you must read the article to understand what I mean) and looking for mutual benefits as both a taker and giver of knowledge.  I think it is a good example of the intention to exhibit human intelligence, as referred to in the article, because it is about yielding a gain to yourself while causing a gain to others as well and, as we know, KM revolves around the combination of sharing, learning and collaborating (working together to achieve something). 

At the risk of sounding somewhat obsessed, pursuing Knowledge Management in its truest sense, I believe, will put us all - in due course of time - in the I (Intelligent) block and help the organization and society as a whole (even though sometimes it may seem like we are in the Helpless block whenever we come across Bandits who only want to use our material but not share anything that they may have created or discovered). :-)

Corruption as Usual

What's new? - India is at it, as usual. Sigh.

When I come across people who continuously complain, criticize, comment, and consider things like corruption (especially in politics), I feel a tinge of guilt because I myself rarely focus on such aspects of life. But, to my credit, I have at least wondered if my, well, indifference is a good thing.  I shouldn't perhaps call it complete indifference because it does make me feel sad, angry and annoyed when it stares me in the face. But I never find myself craving to study or aggressively studying the situation, reading press articles, watching interviews, reports etc to understand the intricacies of the scam or the complaint as the case may be. (Maybe I'm too result-oriented and perhaps averse to being affected by negative news in the case of areas outside my control)

I think there are many ways in which one can react or respond to problems in the world of politics (which is, according to many, one of the most abused occupations/services ever). 

1. Ignore most of it and go about our regular work in a sincere manner, knowing (or assuming) that we cannot change things (or even get to the full truth!) but can, instead, make a difference to what is under our own control - our own life. (Note: I think all this talk about voting for the right person or party is a farce because you will find only one honest and sincere politician amongst many thousands and that person is either crushed into inaction by the system or widely recognized for being different and therefore known to even those who do not 'follow' politics)

2. Complain about it or criticize everyone involved till the next scam surfaces or something else distracts them and, well, waste a lot of energy accomplishing, arguably, nothing much except creating temporary unrest and angst amongst the members of the circles we move in

3. Comment on it in an informed and intelligent manner (based on extensive and reliable research) and influence people (preferably those who can pull some strings and change things or those who might have an indirect impact on the situation if not a direct one) to think about potential solutions 

4. Comment on it armed with half-baked ideas, incomplete information and declare things based on a highly biased and subjective analysis and pretty much add to the confusion and chaos around us 

5. Comment on it in a humorous (and hopefully sensitive) manner and get a few people to see the funny side of the whole thing and laugh even as they suffer the implications (it's only those who understand the situation who will also be able to fully relate to the humor and therefore enjoy it) 

6. Consider it seriously from various angles (a bit of type 3.) and actually act on it with the intention of changing things for the better - either by joining politics and bravely taking corruption head-on or, for that matter, creating an informal community that passionately finds solutions and implements them

It's anybody's guess under which category most of the population falls. Having said that, I am not proposing that everyone must fall into a particular category. After all, it is society's mixed reaction and response that will hopefully add up to prevent corrupt elements from surviving and succeeding. I rest my case.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Conference Paradox

I've had a somewhat philosophical and broody - and inexplicably so - start to the day and it's not even the beginning of the work-week or something! :-) Half the week is yet to be covered. Not to forget, a weekend that one is typically forced to use in a constructive manner (which however rarely happens) is also waiting around the corner. Putting all these so-called 'troubles' aside, I'd like to rely on some craziness and humor to end the current state of affairs. ;-)

I had a sudden crazy thought yesterday as I pondered over a couple of recent conferences I participated in. I think one way to make conferences exciting and unusual (apart from having a smart plan/format, witty speakers, intriguing topics etc)  is to do something paradoxical. I haven't heard of this happening anywhere, so I am guessing it is a fresh idea (though it has been employed in a different form in other situations). Why not invite a good and unconventional speaker to present something totally against the topic - wait till I finish - something ridiculously and absurdly against the topic! 

I have a feeling this will not just be major fun but also provoke participants to actually think of some radical ideas as counter arguments. So, in the case of KM, for example, the presenter could say something like "KM makes absolutely no sense because in the long run we are all dead and the future generation will anyway find no use for the pathetic stuff we have learned!". 

Think about it.... ;-)

Tranquility Doesn't Exist

Have you ever felt that the need for tranquility - in today's world - is actually more than the need for happiness? Happiness is indeed within and can be tapped into by doing and thinking the "right" things. Isn't tranquility, on the other hand, based on what's happening "outside" even as you happen to be looking inward?

A pond that's left to its natural state deals with its moss, sharks, weeds, reflections, and what not. It can remain happy AND tranquil despite the weeds, the mud underneath and its other natural challenges. But what happens when there are external disturbances like someone throwing a stone and causing unnecessary interruptions (the ripples and the noise)? It can still choose to be happy and find happiness within but there is no denying the fact that - in reality - there is no tranquility. Happiness is possible but Tranquility seems like an unachievable goal.....even worse, happiness that is achieved without tranquility in the outside world almost seems artificial. Frightening. 

Source: Google Images

Monday, December 06, 2010