December 19, 2009

So Where Are You From? !!

The other day I was at the eye clinic , waiting for my turn to see the doctor. There was this old lady sitting beside me and we striked converstaion. She asked where am I from? Ummmm , lets see.

I was born in Gaya , brought up in Motihari (Both in Bihar). Then in Narsinghragh , a remote village in south Jharkhand. Then next 8 years I was in Jamshedpur , where currently my parents are settled. Then I moved out to Warangal, in Andhra Pradesh , for my graduation. After which I have been working in Hyderabad close to 8 years now.

So where do I belong to? Bihar . where I was born. Or Jharakhand , where I was brought up. Or Andhra Pradesh , where I studied and then currently working?

Am I a Jamshedpurian , where my parents are settled now and where I frequently visit. Or am I a Hyderabadi , where I stay to earn my living?

Or am I an Indian?

November 23, 2009

Anything That Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong !!

Who is the Murphy anyway?

Who ever he is, he makes his presence felt when you are least likely expecting him. Sometime he acts as spanner in the wheel and other just a deflated tyre. But for sure you , me and others are affected by him day-in , day-out. Him affecting us can be minimized but the thought of altogether removing his presence would be a foolhardy one.

However we can be better prepared to tackle anything and everything which may, potentially, go wrong.

By paying attention to detail. Even before you start executing, a well thought out plan should be in place. This is the "well thought out" part of the planning I am stressing at. Proper care should be taken in initial planning so as to capture all necessary activities needed to complete the task. While listing down activities you would know what could possibly go wrong while executing the task. And that's where you need to have your contingency management in place. Which can be arrived at by "what if" analysis. What if one of your key people falls sick !! What if your development system crashes!! This analysis will help you identify possible areas where things related to your project can go wrong. You can anticipate them and can avoid them by taking proper care during execution or you can be well prepared in case the event occurs.

Even after paying proper attention to detail at various stages in the project things can go wrong. Now use those learning as your experience but make sure that next project onwards these learnings are put in to practice. Or still better learn from others mistake.Please remember that everybody needs help sometime. It is good to learn from one's mistake but it is still wiser to learn from others mistake. Perhaps at organization/team level a document capturing what went wrong in a particular project and what was the learning, can be maintained and shared. Just to ensure that same mistake is not repeated / similar situation dont repeat.

Sooner or later, something fundamental in your business world/ the factors contributing the the success of the project will change. As Andy Grove said "Only the Paranoid Survive". Being paranoid helps you to analyse ,to be better prepared. Be paranoid , but be sure that you act as well. Otherwise being paranoid is sure sign of failure. Dont overdo.

But one thing is for sure that in spite of one's best effort shit happens and then you dont have any other option than to accept it. Dont fret , take lesson and move on. You'd be better prepared for future.

November 14, 2009

I want my money back!!

When was the last time you saw a movie almost entirely shoot on sets? And foreign locations for songs? That is very 80s man. Add to that childish situational comedy and sub standard acting by the male protagonist. You have Gazab Kahani of Ajab Prem. How many Indian Christian you know who speaks Hindi with forced English accent, the female protagonist and her family does so in the movie.And oh, add to that Atif Asalam’s voice for Ranbir Kapoor.A full two and half hours of atyachar.

Not even a month back RK gave appreciable performance in Wake Up Sid and in APGK he was almost pathetic. A director’s actor?

November 8, 2009

So you can’t speak Bihari!!

No, I can’t. And wait a minute there is no language as Bihari. It is the way we speak Hindi out there sounds like altogether different language, aka Bihari or perhaps a new dialect. Well it is not a dialect either. It is Hindi with regional flavor and some accent to it.

You find many dialects of Hindi being spoken in Bihar, one such dialect Magahi (Magahi paan, beetle, is famous all over India) is what my folks speak. And I don’t know Magahi as well. In fact hardly many in my generation speak Magahi. That is sad. Essentially languages are very integral part of any culture and with most of us confining ourselves to English lately its matter of merely a decade when not many languages would be around. In face I read somewhere that every year 400 languages are getting extinct every year (?). Can something be done about it?

Technology, Entertainment, Design!!

So TED was here, here in India for three days. TED talks going for three whole days in Mysore. But I could not attend those sessions. Reason: money honey!! It was too costly for me to attend. Well never mind, there is always next time. But there is addition to the To Do list and someday I don’t only want to be in the audience at one of those TED sessions but I want to speak at one. Hopefully on the topic related to technology and design.

October 31, 2009

I can motivate people !!

Not really -- they have to motivate themselves. You can't motivate people anymore than you can empower them. Employees have to motivate and empower themselves.I can motivate only myself. If I have to motivate my people to deliver result then perhaps they are in wrong job.

Having said that, an environment, however, can be set up where they best motivate and empower themselves. The key is knowing how to set up the environment for your people. Essentially you can be enablers for others to be motivated[self].

I am exploring the ways to do so for my team. Obviously organizational level parameters like money, career growth and skill development , recognition etc are already in place. What I am looking for is team level local enablers.

October 27, 2009

The Strange Relation !!

We had recently joined the college and were under the process of “getting introduced to seniors”. For R Basu, my classmate who was from West Bengal, the usual question asked was if he and Jyoti Basu, the then chief minister of West Bengal, were related in some way? Obviously that was not the case. And that’s what R Basu used to tell. But you know seniors; they were never giving up on the question. Fed up one day R Basu said yes there was a very strange relationship between him and Jyoti Basu. Strange relationship? As in? He replied “ We are strangers!!”

October 25, 2009

Eats, Shoots and Leaves !!

That's about the red Panda you find in the Himalayan mountains. And sure enough they don't go around shooting as the title suggests. Its about red Panda's food habit and I intend to say that they eats shoots (mostly bamboo) and tree leaves. An unintended comma distorts whole intended meaning of the sentence. Which could have been avoided had attention to detail been paid.

Paying attention to detail does help. Be it professional front or personal life. You put clothes in the washing machine , put required detergent , let in the water and switch on the machine. But did you put the water outlet at proper place? Missing to pay attention to detail on the process of getting your cloths clean using washing machine can flood your entire house. I did that twice :-O.

Shipping application/delivering product/concluding project on the deadline promised looks to be a wishful thinking. But I know this is very much possible had attention to detail is paid at various stages of development cycle. To begin with, estimation goes wrong and this has cascading effect on the project time line. Lets take example of software development. One thing is for sure that developers are a helluva optimistic lot of people. The time estimation is usually based on gut feeling and experience. And that is certainly not a scientific way of estimation. Experience could be one parameter but coming out with the estimation solely based on it will not give you justifiable estimation.

Striving to do the task right first time should be the approach taken. Once a task is assigned it is very important to understand ,before you begin with implementation , what needs to be done. Then comes how it would be done. Essentially what all activities or sub tasks would lead you to completion of the task. So understand and analyse the task and break it down to several sub tasks. Once this is done , write down all the sub tasks. Review the list for some missing steps/detail. Refine the list based on self review.

Now get the list of sub tasks peer reviewed. Iterate through above two if needed. Then consolidate the list of sub tasks. Essentially now you know all the steps leading towards completion of task. This list help you in having control of what needs to be done and will help you arrive fairly accurate estimation of time. At any point of time during the development you can correctly measure the progress and rightly adjust the time line, if needed.

I categorise the whole process : paying attention to detail. Though this is against the normal instinct , inertia acts against this once included as part of regular process will significantly help one to be in total control of development process.

January 3, 2009

I Am Too Busy !! attend this meeting!!

Well one of the most common trait of being Indian in India is not being punctual (Incidentally same Indian when in other countries on business becomes very punctual, huh!!). We, at office, have this daily status update meeting. And sure enough apart from usual issues like not sticking to the agenda of the meeting, late start and hence later finish of the meeting was norm . We tried many things (like some games, yes games!! and monetary fines etc.) but in vain.

Then some time back we hit upon this idea of a ball with " I am too busy too attend this meeting" written on it. And anybody coming late will be made to hold this ball for entire duration of the meeting. And guess what? It worked. Now within the grace period of two minutes everybody is in :).

Not a nice way to make respect time but effective nevertheless!!