Archive for the ‘Humor’ category

My Experiences -Last time (MELT) – 0614

October 4, 2014

What is Design thinking?

In my last blog I talked about Design thinking and I promised more on this subject. When I was growing, my parents wanted me to develop the habit of saving by asking me to put coins or notes in a small earthen pot with a hole. Whenever we get money by way of pocket money or gifts from relatives and friends, we were encouraged to put money into the earthen pot (which is called Piggy bank in the Western world – it has nothing to do with the animal Pig although it is shaped like pig as etymologically it also means earthenware). The Piggy bank was a great tool to save as people used it in different way viz put money daily or put in leftover change after shopping, etc. However, when the technology advanced to plastic money the concept of Piggy bank slowly started disappearing. The question is how do we bring the Piggy bank concept to the modern world. How do we create the technology to support an observed behaviour or habit? One of the Banks extended this concept in their debit card account. The customers who use their debit cards to make purchases can choose to have the total rounded up to the nearest dollar and the difference deposited in their savings account. This was the birth of electronic piggy bank. Few others leveraged this idea to promote donation by asking to round off the dollar to a charitable fund or trust. The key to the concept is that innovation or creativity is powered by a good understanding of what people want through direct observation. Now having grounded you with the concept, here is a test for my readers. Go through my experiences and suggest a good design to improve services in restaurants.

Show me the way!

Scene 1: On 18th September, 2014, I missed my early morning flight from Toronto to Newark and had to spend more time in the Airport until my next flight could depart. I walked past the waiting area and was heading towards a small coffee shop and observed tables with Ipads. I assumed that these were kept for people to browse internet and check their e-mails. My immediate thought was centered on the technology progress we had made moving away from desktop browsing to Ipad browsing in public place. I needed a shot of caffeine to boost my thought process and so I approached the coffee shop and asked for a cappuccino. Lo and behold, what the person on the counter mentioned was a pleasant surprise. He pointed to the seating area and said you can place the order through Ipads, which were placed in each of the tables. Next to the Ipads were credit card swiping machine (which I failed to notice earlier) to facilitate payments. I quickly ordered a Cappuccino and used my credit card to pay for the transaction and within three minutes one of the staff served me what I ordered.

Scene 2: On 27th September, 2008, during my visit to Jakarta, my close friend Shahul Hameed invited me to have dinner with his family at Saravana Bhavan (not sure if this is owned by the Chennai chain). What impressed me in the restaurant was that the waiters had a PDA in their hands and were taking order and relaying the information to the kitchen. Once we finished dinner, the payment was also done through the PDA.

Scene 3: It was 4th September, 2010, and I was treating my wife to an anniversary dinner at a Bangalore restaurant which is reputed for its good food. We were seated in a comfortable table but it took a while for someone to show up and take our order. Any wait is frustrating these days and I was telling my wife about an idea which occurred at that moment. Instead of sending someone to take an order, I quipped that a device in the table should take the order and convey to the kitchen. This was really not a novel idea as it was a modified version of what I saw in 2008 in Jakarta. I did not think this would be a reality until I experienced it in Toronto airport.

Scene 4:On 2nd September, 2014, I went to Mas Malo at LA for lunch with my wife and a beautiful lady walked towards our table and gave us a Menu card and was guiding us in navigating through the dishes in a pleasant manner. It took me a while for me to believe that she was a waitress employed by the restaurant. I whispered to my wife “why is she here? She should be a model or actress”. Of course, my wife had a typical reaction like any wife would do which is to focus my attention on food and not on the bearer of the food. However, my earlier thought of having a device in each table disappeared quickly and immediately concluded that it was a stupid idea. Really!!!

If you have to design a service model for restaurants, what would be your design? My answer will be posted in my next blog with more emphasis on further design thinking. Please do respond with your answers.

Dessert

Minds are like parachutes; they only function when open. With those thoughts I sign off with my usual signature “Life is Beautiful”

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My Experiences -Last time (MELT) – 0514

September 21, 2014

Everything has changed, is changing, and will continue to change ?

Lot of people would have seen the change “Uber” has brought to ground transportation. The idea was conceived by Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick in 2009 and implemented in Los Angles around 2010. In four years the company has operations in 45 countries and is valued at $15 billion. Travis wanted to ride in style which resulted in the realization of this concept. I can very well relate to this as recently, I was waiting with my wife outside one of the fancy restaurants in LA and a stylish black car pulled to the kerb side to pick us up. Not sure how many people, witnessing this were aware that it was a car I booked through Uber.

The concept is very simple. One pre requisite is that both driver and customer need to download “Uber” app which is an enabling technology. If you have a decent car, you can register yourself as a service provider with Uber. Uber will send you a message as and when the demand arises in your vicinity and you can accept that offer. As a customer or user you need to register yourself by securing your credit card information. If your car is travelling beyond 18 per hour then you are charged on distance but when the speed drops below that you are charged on time meter. It is very convenient and cheaper. I have become a fan of Uber and have started using this for my office airport pick up and drop in NJ. The cost of travel to Newark airport works out to $35 whereas with toll and tip, a normal cab used to cost me ( my firm) something like $55-60. You need not tip the driver and they encourage cash less transaction. However, once the trip is completed you have the opportunity to rate the driver. The driver’s continuance with Uber is dependent on their rating.

When I use Uber, I often engage in conversation with the driver as they appear professional and knowledgeable ( maybe I am profiling here). One of the drivers gave me useful information that even the customers are rated by the drivers. On probing further, he said the drivers usually rate the customers based on their conduct and their friendliness. Another fact I was made aware was that if a customer keeps ordering and cancelling, their rating goes down. I asked him what the relevance of customer rating is. He replied that if a customer had low rating, then not many drivers would come forward to pick them. This was useful information. My behaviour with Uber changed significantly thereafter. Once I order Uber, I will call them greet them and give them the exact location so that they don’t have to search. Why do I do this? To get a good rating and be eligible for further usage and saving cost for myself and the firm. A great example of how behaviour changes once you know that you are being measured.

 Food for thought: How about asking all your direct reportees to rate you as a boss and see the true meaning of “Servant Leadership”
The reason I am so fascinated by this concept is because it generates employment, brings structural changes to ground transportation and is a great example of how ‘crowd sourcing’ can be executed. Imagine we had similar apps for many of our needs such as cooking. You want to throw a barbecue party, search which chef is available, see his/her rating, costs and request their services at short notice. This concept is a great boon for all free lancers in whichever areas of expertise they practice.
I certainly see a big transformation ahead of us based on this concept. Do you see as well?

Design is closed, Long live the Design !

I am currently in a project where the Project leadership declared that the ‘Design is Closed’ which kept me wondering is Design, as a term not future continuous? How can you ever close a design? You can stage or pause it for its realization but Design can never be closed. I am great believer in continuous “Design Thinking”. One of the definition that caught my attention which I quote “Design thinking is the search for a magical balance between business and art; structure and chaos; intuition and logic; concept and execution; playfulness and formality; and control and empowerment.”
It is not an experiment; it encourages us to experiment. An organization that promotes ‘Design thinking” will always be ahead of the competition and one that maintains status quo will perish soon.
I used to be proud of my typing skills using a qwerty key board either in desktop or laptop with advent of tablets and Phablets, I have to unlearn and relearn my typing skills. What was the core strength yesterday could be your weakness today and therefore, every organization and individual need to reinvent themselves constantly. This is where the tool of design thinking comes handy. Expect more on the topic of ‘Design thinking’ in my future blogs.

Dessert

When you buy a product what do you look at? I am sure you look at the functionality and configuration of the product but more importantly you buy because of the manufacturer and associated quality that comes with the brand. People decide to buy Nikon or Cannon camera because they have confidence in the brand creators. But we don’t use the same yard stick when we evaluate our potential. God or the creator has created man who in turn created or innovated beautiful things in this world. So how can we not trust the creator of creators of these products. So have trust in the creator. God has not created you to do ordinary things in life. If Pawn in chess can invoke a powerful queen, I am sure you can unleash your potential. With those thoughts I sign off with my usual signature “Life is Beautiful”
PS: I forgot to tell you that whatever savings I achieved by using Uber was treated as allocable surplus by my wife towards shopping. Can I ever complain?

My Experiences -Last time (MELT) – 0414

May 25, 2014

Is India Inc finally getting out of family (sic) politics ?
My last blog was one of my rare political blog and was thrilled with some of my desires coming true. So I thought of venturing into writing my second political blog and wanted to see the outcome. When this blog hits the web, India would be ready to embrace a new PM and refreshingly the country has a given their mandate to one single party. This has not happened in the past two decades as the outcome in previous elections was either fractured majority or coalition comprised with vested interest of regional parties.
Another outcome of the election is that political parties ruled by the family has been heavily punished. Nationwide congress party controlled by Gandhi family (mother and son) had to bite the dust. In other states viz Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Tamil Nadu, three different political parties controlled by father and son combination have been decimated. This is no coincidence and do not treat this as noise but certainly a signal. Unfortunately, the parties have not learnt from it as no heads have rolled nor the families have taken responsibility for their defeats. Does this surprise anyone?
My unsolicited advice to Congress party and other parties controlled by family: Wake up! The writing is on the wall. I suggest that the family members resign from their party posts and let the party be taken over by efficient talent. This election has clearly taught the political parties one lesson which is ‘reward for performance’. Mr Modi, who led the campaign of BJP was rewarded for good governance in Gujarat.
Some initial indication leads me to believe that Modi is going to perform. He clearly sent a message in his acceptance speech by asking his party men to focus on serving the nation rather than positions. His emotional speech was pointer that he will empathize with poor people and take appropriate actions to lift their lives. He did surprise many people by inviting heads of state of all neighbouring countries including Pakistan. He did not worry about opposition from his own alliance partner for inviting Srilankan Prime Minister. In fact his invitation to Sri Lanka’s PM resulted in counter good gesture from Sri Lanka of freeing of few hundreds of Tamil fisherman. Like a typical corporate CEO, he has asked all the cabinet secretaries to give a presentation about their vision for the next five years. If this trend continues, he will surely create a reputation of zero tolerance for nonsense and reward for performance.
Mr Modi if would benefit from roping in Dr Manmohan Singh as one of economic advisor as I feel that this man has lot to offer and Congress Party made him ineffective. I still can’t forget how he turned around the financials of the country between 1991 and 1995. He deserves some respect and dignity.

Lastly, one advise on the newly formed AAP (common man party), who failed miserably in the election, please use this as a learning lessons and build the trust of people. Please do not indulge in dramatics and antics as these neither help you to build trust or win elections. Take the first opportunity to guide your leader to refrain from such antics. Yes I am referring to his recent act of not providing bail on defamation case (bail amount $150) and volunteering to go to jail. Indians will appreciate you going to jail for a good cause such as fighting against corruption but not when you call someone a thief and fail to provide adequate proof.
Enough of politics and let me switch to other things as I promise not to write on politics for an undefined period of time.
How silly is your idea?
Benjamin Franklin said ‘I have not failed; I’ve had 10,000 ideas that did not work.’ Thomas Edison said ‘Of the 200 bulbs that did not work, every failure told me something that I was able to incorporate into the next attempt.’ Be bold in your ideas and remove your mental blocks. Here is the test for you all. Come up with a name for a new wine that will be launched in the market next week. Stop here and take a moment to come up with the name you believe will be a top seller.
Start being wrong and then you will realize that anything is possible. The common mistake people is that they want their idea to be accepted at the first go. There is often a fear of failure while articulating an idea but the success of idea getting realized is in the belief that you are not trying to be perfect or infallible.
By the way “Fat bastard” Chardonnay is the name of the wine which became famous in just six years. Did you measure up with this silly name? I rest my case here.
Dessert
If you are fired from your job, do not worry as these are seen as sign of initiative these days. Getting fired often means that you at odds (due to your action) with your company. I know a person who got fired three times and every time there was a progress in his career. So give yourself a spin and re-launch your career. With those fearless thoughts, I bid you good bye saying “life is beautiful”.

My Experiences -Last time (MELT) – 0214- “In God we trust. All others must bring data”

March 17, 2014

If you are reading my blog for the first time, please read my previous ( MELT 0114) blog to get the context and continuity. Let me start my blog with a famous quote “In God we trust. All others must bring data”
Elementary Mr Suresh your topic for next blog is “Big Data” This was the answer I was expecting. Unfortunately no one really predicted this although some were close but not on target (sic).

We did not target your daughter but future moms
Last week I wrote about how a father got upset on Target for sending e-mail promotion for baby cloths to his 16-year-old daughter. “The father visited the store again within a week and met the manager. Here is what transpired
“I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of.” He took a deep breath. “She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”
In some 600 hospitals across the United States, new mothers get gifts from the various companies. Those companies have started a separate division to focus on parents of infants. Procter & Gamble sends gifts to new moms at the hospitals where they deliver the child.
Target thought it was too late to approach in the maternity ward and wanted to predict future moms through their buying patterns. They asked Andrew Pole, a data expert to develop pregnancy prediction algorithms based on certain trends such as buying lotions, unscented soaps, vitamins etc.
Here is the sample of what those analytics did based on buying patterns
Jenny Ward, a twenty-three-year-old bought cocoa butter lotion, a purse large enough to double as a diaper bag, zinc, magnesium, and a bright blue rug? The tool predicted that there is 87 percent chance that she’s pregnant and that her delivery date is sometime in late August. Liz Alter, a thirty-five-year-old who purchased five packs of wash cloths, a bottle of “sensitive skin” laundry detergent, baggy jeans, vitamins containing DHA, and a slew of moisturizers? She’s got a 96 percent chance of pregnancy, and she’ll probably give birth in early May. Caitlin Pike, a thirty-nine-year-old in San Francisco who purchased a $ 250 stroller, but nothing else? She’s probably buying for a friend’s baby shower. Besides, her demographic data shows she got divorced two years ago. Amazing isn’t it?
Who is the big brother of the modern world?
We are undergoing a revolution in the way that information about our purchases, our conversations, our social networks, our movements, and even our physical identities are collected, stored, analyzed and used. The immense volume, diversity, velocity, and potential value of data will have profound implications on privacy, the economy, public policy and corporate strategies.
Government collects data for various reasons and so do corporates for improving their market share and profits. Social network collect data to attract advertisements. Imagine the implication where are all data are combined to start predicting and tracking your behavior. This is the big brother of modern world- BIG DATA.

Big Data- What is it
We have been using Data for analytics since ages immemorial so my readers must be wondering what the hype all about is. In the last five decades data have been used for decision making in various terms such as decision support, executive support, online analytical processing, business intelligence and analytics. Typical characteristics of data analytics in the past have been based on sampling, trends and/ or structured data (most often static). Inability to process data faster and judicious allocation of budgets for analytics were limiting factor in leaping to “Big Data” world. . We often heard “Data Costs Money”.
Netflix, Amazon, Google and others have proved through robust analytics that Data costs money but also could make tons of money. Target retail chain in this blog is a classic example of using data to enhance sales and market share. Amazon tries to predict your next purchase based on your shopping history, and gives their recommendation. They are using data although voluminous but mostly generated internally. This is where the shift is happening.
Big Data is much more than this. Typical characteristics of big data are as follows:
1. Large volumes, unstructured, continuous and in multiple formats (texts, pictures, voice)
2. Move away from sample and use whole (all) Data
3. Accept messiness for the reasons mentioned in one and two above
4. More importantly to accept correlation
5. Multiple location of data
Big data comprise of 100 terabytes to petabytes as compared to few terabytes or less in traditional analytics. To give you a feel, if we have to store 100 terabytes in any digital format, it will occupy every inch of the tallest building in the world (somebody prove me wrong here).

What will you do with the big data ? Torture the data until they confess
Ronald Coase said” If you torture the data long enough, it will confess”
An abortion lead to drop in crime rate was the conclusion drawn by the authors of Freakonomics but by a sheer coincidence and not by structured correlation. Now through Big Data we have a tool and methodology to look for other correlation for example drop in prices of condoms or arrival of new birth control pills.
We are living in age of data abundance and business leaders are ready to exploit this abundance and bring transformational change in the way we do business.
Some provocative thought on how data could transform some business
1. Auditing: No more statistical sampling. Audit the whole data as it only takes a fraction of time to process data and throw the deviations. Will auditors be responsible to report on frauds?
2. Human: Resourcing: Use intranet social network (surf through chatting trends) to formulate teams and determine effectiveness of collaboration
3. IT: Instead of reacting to hacking or security breaches how about predicting and preventing it.

What is your new career?
Leaders who took decision on hunch (due to lack of robust analytics) can now dump those hunches and rely on Big Data. What skills they need to develop? Correlate unrelated events as in the future as there are no casual occurrences. As I write this blog, MH 370 disappearance has shaken the world and this can’t be treated as casual or one off occurrence. Big Data is certainly going to take over aviation and military space (countries will now be more willing to share data in this regard to prevent such happening).
If you are young and want to build career, think about learning machine language ( Coursera offers some good on line course for free). As someone said ‘Data Scientist” will be the sexiest job of the future.

Dessert
One blog is not sufficient to write on Big Data and I will be writing more on this and hence watch out in this space. I bid you good bye saying “Data is always predictive” and of course “life is beautiful”.

My Experiences -Last time (MELT) – 0114

March 4, 2014

Here is the challenge for my readers. Kindly connect the dots between various unrelated events listed below and predict the subject of my next blog. Wear your Sherlock Holmes hat and tell me Elementary  Mr Suresh your topic for next blog is ……..

Whatever your answer might be one thing is certain that my topic of the next blog has transformational impact. Is it a clue? You may think so.

Why are you targeting my daughter?

It was business as usual in a large retail store in Minnesota and suddenly an angry man stormed into the store and wanted to see the manager. Seeing the mood of the visitor, the staff hurried him to fulfill his desire to meet the manager. As he entered the manager’s office the visitor raised his voice and thundered “My daughter got this in the e-mail. She is still in high school and you are sending coupons for baby clothes and cribs. Are you encouraging her to get pregnant?

The manager looked at the e-mail and was perplexed and was wondering how this could have happened and made a mental note to discuss with the IT folks. He then turned towards the angry father and apologized profusely and promised that these type of mistakes will never happen again.

The father still in his angry tone quipped “you may be big target store but don’t target my daughter” ( wow what a pun) and walked away.

The father visited the store again within a week and met the manager. Guess the conversation that transpired after a week.

1948 returns but is not 1984 but 2014

It was cool morning in October 1984; I was reading George Orwell novel 1984 and suddenly my father walked into my reading room and seeing 1984 book in my hand made a sarcastic observation” I never knew that 1984 was part of your syllabus for Auditing exams” and walked away. Yes I had my Chartered Accountancy final exams scheduled the next day.

I sheepishly kept the book aside and switched to Spicer and Pegler’s Practical auditing. But my thoughts were around big brother a symbolic character in the book. Is my father a big brother? Is he monitoring all my actions?

For the benefit of people who have not heard about 1984, here is the gist about the book:

The book was written in 1948 , the year that gives the book its title was still almost 40 years in the future. Some of the things Orwell imagined that would come to pass were the telescreen, a TV that observes those who are watching it, and a world consisting of three megastates rather than hundreds of countries. In the novel, the country of Eastasia apparently consists of China and its satellite nations; Eurasia is the Soviet Union; and Oceania comprises the United States, the United Kingdom, and their allies.

Winston Smith , character in the novel wrestles with oppression in Oceania, a place where the Party scrutinizes human actions with ever-watchful Big Brother. Defying a ban on individuality, Winston dares to express his thoughts in a diary and pursues a relationship with Julia. These criminal deeds bring Winston into the eye of the opposition, who then must reform the nonconformist. George Orwell’s 1984 introduced the watchwords for life without freedom: BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.”

Who is the big brother of the modern world? Keep thinking!

The tip: Abortions leads to drop in crime rate so does  broken window.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book “The Tipping point”   discusses the incredible transformation of New York in the late ’80s and early ’90s from a crime and drug ridden city to a modern, relatively safe metropolis. While crime rates went down nationwide, New York saw a massive reduction in crime. He eventually proposes that the cause was a new policy that was adapted by the administration called “The Broken Windows Theory“. It goes something along these lines: A single broken windows can have a far greater influence than one may realise. It can spread a certain attitude and create assumptions that it’s acceptable to behave in a certain way or, in other words, “ maintaining and monitoring urban environments in a well-ordered condition may stop further vandalism and escalation into more serious crime. By the way the Broken Window theory was initially formulated in 1982 by James Q Wilson and George L Kelling.

No one predicted it. Everyone thought that high crime rates were a permanent feature of urban life. And the standard arguments to explain why crime falls don’t seem to work in this case. Levitt and Dubner ( author of Freakonomics) went through all the usual explanations for crime decreases—a booming economy, decline in the crack trade, innovative policing strategies, tougher gun laws, aging of the population—and find only two that they think really matter. Putting more police on the street  and number of young men put away in prison in that same period. But neither of those two factors were sufficient to explain the full magnitude of the crime drop. There has to be something else—and their candidate for the missing explanation is the legalization of abortion.

People undergo abortions, in other words, for a reason: because they are poor, or don’t want a child, or live in an environment where it is hard to raise children. An unwanted child has a higher chance, when he or she grows up, of becoming a criminal. By removing a large number of unwanted children, legalized abortion ended up lowering the crime rate

So be the jury and decide whether it was Broken Window theory or Abortion the reason for decline in crime rate in New York back in 1990.

 

 

 

Performance Report or Minority Report ( this event has not happened but may happen)

John walks to Jim’s work place and stood behind as he continue to work without acknowledging any human presence. John taps Jim’s shoulder which evokes a freezing reaction as he did not expect John to show up at his work place. John says “congratulations Jim you are rated 5 for the performance year 2016”

Jim mumbled to John “ Sir we are still 2014 and how can you give performance rating for 2016? “John replies that “we went through your past performance and have come to this conclusion based on your potential”. John prophesized “you will execute transformation program in Japan successfully in 2016”.  In his bubbling voice said “Good stuff son” and he moved on. Jim was still in shock and was wondering could this be real. This is something similar to “Minority Report” where some is arrested before a crime is committed.

Now readers connect or correlate these events and predict my next topic of my Blog. If you have time try reading the book “Black Swan”

Dessert

Success is how high you bounce when you hit the bottom- General George S Patton. With those inspiring thoughts I bid you good bye. As always “life is beautiful”.

My Experiences -Last time (MELT) – 1213

February 16, 2014

Why I write?

I wrote this blog some few weeks back and was about to publish it during 1st week of January this year   but never got to compete it. So I read my blog again before posting it and asked myself few questions. Who are the readers of my blog? What do they want? Why am I writing this blog? Am I selling or sharing? I did not get answers to all my questions and hence continuing to search for answers. Should step back and stop until I find answers? I was not sure of that approach and hence, I decided to continue writing my blogs and make course correction as I discover answers to those questions. Ok let me start on a lighter note

Starter- De Blasio’s Way of Eating Pizza

The pizza arrived, steaming and delectable, a smoked-mozzarella-and-sausage pie presented to Mayor Bill de Blasio ( Mayor of New York). The mayor, on a pilgrimage on Friday to Goodfellas, a venerable Staten Island pizzeria, smiled, nodded at his slice and then proceeded to do the unthinkable: eat it with a knife and fork.

“Disaster,” declared a writer at New York magazine, citing the longstanding city protocol of devouring pizza, no matter how greasy, with the hands, and the hands only. The fourth pillar of democracy pronounced it as “first mistake of the Mayor”. I was amused by the news coverage and was wondering how many times Indians and Asians are ridiculed for eating with their hands.

Why Pizza should be eaten by hand and not sandwich or burger? Why most Indians eat with their hands and not with the fork or a spoon?

Vedic reasons for eating with the hands:

Eating food with the hands in today’s Western society can sometimes be perceived as being unhygienic until and unless you are eating Pizza( sic). Nobody questions where the hand was before eating Pizza but if you are in India or China these questions are raised. It can border to bad mannered and primitive if you are eating with your hands. Indians these days are more aligned with western culture and started using cutlery without understanding the reason behind eating with their hands.

According to Indian Vedic literatures eating food with your hands feeds not only the body but also the mind and the spirit”. The practice of eating with the hands originated within Ayurvedic teachings. The ancient native tradition of eating food with the hands is derived from the mudra practice, which is prevalent in many aspects within Hinduism. Mudras are used during mediation and are very prominent within the many classical forms of dance, such as Bharatnatyam.

The hands are considered the most precious organ of action. Our hands and feet are said to be the conduits of the five elements. The Ayurvedic texts teach that each finger is an extension of one of the five elements. Through the thumb comes space; through the forefinger, air; through the mid-finger, fire; through the ring finger, water and through the little finger it is earth.

Each finger aids in the transformation of food, before it passes on to internal digestion. Gathering the fingertips as they touch the food stimulates the five elements and invites Agni to bring forth the digestive juices. As well as improving digestion the person becomes more conscious of the tastes, textures and smells of the foods they are eating, which all adds to the pleasure of eating. Hope De Blasio is reading this.

Lies, Damn lies & Statistics – I don’t care

“The success rate of people climbing Mt Everest is 56%”

“30 years of mergers and acquisition success rate is 56%”

“Almost 50% of ERP implementation had cost over runs /project over runs or un realized benefits”

“Out of 3500 athletes in 2015 Winter Olympic only 1300 is likely to win medals which makes the success rate at 35%”

Why am I rattling these statistics? One of my colleague asked why CEO/CFO”s embark on mergers or acquisition even though there is considerable risk in it. He went on to add his bit of cynicism by saying by getting in to mergers and acquisition they keep themselves busy and securing their job for 5-6 years.

I tend to put a positive spin into this. Leaders who embark on a risky projects are the one with the courage (one of the requisite attributed of great leadership) and think big. They are not only aware of the risks but conscious about game changing outcomes if they are able to execute this well.

Just imagine the feeling of an athlete winning a medal after four years of hard work. Visualize the euphoria of an individual conquering Mt Everest after years of patience, hard work and penance.  These are special and unique moment in one’s life.  A good leader also strives for those unique moments. Not sure I convinced my friend but I was convinced. “Many eyes go through the meadow but only few see the flowers in it”.

Project manager way

One of my acquaintances narrated this to me while playing golf during my December vacation. I dedicate this to my PM colleagues.

A clergyman, a doctor and a project manager were playing golf together one day and were waiting for a particularly slow group ahead. The project manager exclaimed, “What’s with these people? We’ve been waiting over half an hour! It’s a complete waste of time.” The doctor agreed, “They’re hopeless, I’ve never seen such a slow pace in golf course.”

The clergyman spotted the approaching green keeper and asked him why the group ahead was playing so slow.  The green keeper replied, “Oh, yes, that’s a group of blind fire-fighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime.”

The three golfers fell silent for a moment. The clergyman said, “Oh dear, that’s so sad. I shall say some special prayers for them tonight.” The doctor added, rather meekly, “That’s a good thought. I’ll get in touch with an ophthalmic surgeon friend of mine to see if there’s anything that can be done for them.”

After pondering the situation for a few seconds, the project manager turned to the green keeper and asked, “Why can’t they play at night?”

Dessert

““ Learning is not compulsory… neither
survival is
” With those inspiring words of W Edward Deming, I bid good bye
with my usual signature Life is Beautiful

My Experiences -Last time (MELT) – 1113

December 29, 2013

As promised in my last blog, I am dedicating this blog to one of the greatest man ever lived on this planet.

Nelson Mandela- Greatest transformation Phenomenon of our life time

Prisoner number 466 of 64, Nelson Mandela released were the headlines on February 11, 1990. The 46664 Mandela number also became the symbol for the AIDS campaign. 46664 was the Nelson Mandela number that is known all over the world, both for the suffering he went through and as the AIDS campaign that he supports and that runs his birthday celebrations. The Nelson Mandela number and the Nelson Mandela date will live on. 27 years of suffering and never once faltering from the cause he eventually won are just part of what make up the nature of this man. Nelson Mandela in jail, Nelson Mandela as President, Nelson Mandela the man was and is an inspiration to us all.

Almost after 4 years from date of release of Nelson Mandela, Mr John Kotter wrote an article for Harvard Business Review entitled “ Leading Change: Why transformation efforts fail?” This paved way for development of Eight-stage process of creating major change. As I was writing this blog an interesting thought surfaced on how Mandela’s change and transformation would fit the Kotter’s model. So I have attempted below to plug in some quotes, speeches and thoughts of Mandela to the eight stage process of creating major change.

How do I describe Mandela?

The best way to describe Mandela was to reproduce the poem by William Ernest Henley. This  pretty much personifies Nelson Mandela.

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

He drew his inspiration from this poem. While he was in prison, Mandela would read William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus” to fellow prisoners. The poem, about never giving up, resonated with Mandela for its lines “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” He truly was captain of his soul which transformed the world’s thinking. Now I attempt to fit Mandela’s thought and action into Kotter’s Model.

Mandel’s Leading Change- Action fitted into Kotter’s Model

  1. 1.      Developing a vision and strategy

“Vision without action is just a dream, action without vision just passes the time, vision with action can change the world.”

“I dream of the realization of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses.”

  1. 2.     Communicating the change vision

Nelson Mandela clearly held a positive vision of a racially harmonious South Africa during his 28 years in jail and helped bring it into reality peacefully– to the amazement of the world. His medium of communication was not words but demonstrate through his actions.

  1. 3.     Establishing a sense of urgency

This is what Buthelezi has got to say about Mandela “ From the beginning, I perceived in Mr. Mandela a sense of urgency in almost everything he did, as though there was just not enough time to accomplish all he had in mind, or as though there was no time to waste in achieving it. There was always a dignified air about him, but always that underlying sense of urgency.”

  1. 4.     Creating the guiding coalition

“As a leader, I have always endeavoured to listen to what each and every person in a discussion had to say before venturing my own opinion. Oftentimes, my own opinion will simply represent a consensus of what I heard in the discussion. I always remember the axiom: a leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”

  1. 5.     Empowering employees (people)  for broad-based action

But Mandela used his training as a lawyer to hamper many of the attempts by warders to harass prisoners, and insisted on their right to study for university degrees. He also made a point of trying to talk to prison guards, most of them Afrikaans-speaking whites.

Besides his iron will and principled stance, Mandela’s easy charm and generosity helped to chip away at the prison’s strict rules and disciplinarian barriers. “The inmates seemed to be running the prison, not the authorities,” Mandela said. Educating the prisoners and giving confidence to them was one of the key success factors in his fight against apartheid.

  1. 6.     Generating short term wins

Remember to Celebrate Milestones As You Prepare for the Road Ahead

Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison in his struggle for justice, said, “I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

An entrepreneur’s work is never done. We can always do better.. Sometimes it feels like we haven’t accomplished anything at all. It’s important to stop and celebrate those small successes and milestones and take in the “glorious vista” along the uphill climb. Remind yourself how far you have come as you look at the road ahead.

  1. 7.     Consolidating gains and producing more change

“The power of imagination created the illusion that my vision went much farther than the naked eye could actually see”

Nelson Mandela consolidated the democracy by setting important precedents in acknowledging the constitutional limitations on his executive power. His good-tempered acceptance of Constitutional Court judgments that ruled against the government was particularly important in this respect. His famous gestures of reconciliation and empathy with white South Africans fostered among white South Africans broad acceptance of the new government’s moral authority. His role in shifting ANC policy perspectives in the direction of a pro-market policy undoubtedly helped to reassure white South Africans and foreign business. In choosing to serve only one term and presiding over an orderly succession procedure within the ANC he certainly strengthened ANC commitment to constitutional procedures

  1. 8.     Anchoring new approach in the culture

I recall how he stoically announced the passing of his eldest son, Makgatho Mandela, in January 2005. In an environment still reticent toward disclosure, he boldly stated that his son had succumbed to HIV/AIDS, urging us to break the silence around this disease.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Dessert

Mandela had a great sense of humor and audacity. Mandela even amused the British royal family with his casual, overfamiliarity with the Queen, whom he called “Elizabeth” and not “Your Majesty.”  “Well, she calls me Nelson,” was his repost, when one of his grandchildren asked if it was not perhaps in bad form to call the Queen by her first name.

There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

With those inspiring thoughts, I bid good bye with my usual signature Life is Beautiful


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