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A dreamer to the core. A thinker. A writer. A marketer. A poet. A management guru in the making! A keen observer of business, organizations, leaders, society, economic environment, consumers, and innovation. A confirmed maverick who loves to turn conventional wisdom upside down!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Change of guard in Bihar

Nothing is constant except change. Perhaps Laloo Yadav forgot this. He had the temerity to think that he can stall the process of change. This was one of the biggest blunders he committed in his 15 years of misrule (by self or by proxy!). Had he understood the universal law of change, he would have done much better for himself, his dynasty as well as for Bihar. Unfortunately, the arrogance sitting inside him got the better of logic. The result is for everyone to see.

Had he been an astute leader, he would have tried to manage change rather than try to stall it head on. Change has to happen either for good or bad. But change cannot be made immobile. Laloo would have happily ruled Bihar for 20 years, as he claimed many years back, had he thought of bringing a change for the better in the state of affairs of Bihar. But he, instead of changing the lives of people of Bihar, thought it better to change the life and life style of his entire dynasty. It did change but people of Bihar also changed the government. And it is hardly difficult to guess the fate of Laloo and his dynasty under the new rule of the land.

In the end, Laloo's biggest nemesis turned out to be his obsession with MY (Muslim - Yadav) formula. Instead of focusing on development, he kept balancing his MY formula thinking that it will shield him from any thing that might threaten his seat of power. How wrong he was! Caste equation is something that can rapidly change in a society which is in transition and it is development alone that can keep the people glued to the rulers.

But the saddest part of this entire saga is the complete wastage of 15 years and a state of affairs that is in complete mess. In these days, when political stability is a luxury, Laloo got 15 years of uninterrupted support from people. Any person of sound credentials would have transformed Bihar into a model state in this time period.

It is difficult to predict right now what is in store for Bihar after Laloo. It's hard to predict behaviour of politicians. They change colours like chameleon. But still, life is made of hope. Perhaps, the new rulers will learn their lesson from history and will not repeat the follies of Laloo. Hopefully, Bihar will see the dawn heralding a new beginning after 15 years. Hopefully, Bihar will regain its lost glory. Hopefully...

Let's see how the change of guard shapes Bihar's future.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Tyranny@Email

Man creates technology to simplify life and then uses the same technology to complicate life. What an irony! Take email for example. The promise was to write obituary of snail mail. The promise was to simplify the communication process and make it more efficient. With these simple promises the email revolution begun. A few years into this revolution, I wonder whether it has met its objective. Being a victim of this innocuous revolution I can emphatically say 'no'. On any given day I receive 50 to 100 official mails and send an equal number. And I’ve no doubt that email has complicated my life in corporate ecosystem. No, it's not technology but the way we handle technology that has created havoc.

In my short corporate career I have seen both use and abuse of email. In fact, more abuse than use. Every individual in the corporate ecosystem has his own manual on the use of email. Damn the official email policy of the organization. Here are some typical cases:

Spammers
These are very crazy guys who have their default set at “REPLY ALL”. One hit of the button and the reply goes to everyone from CEO to Junior Executive. Here is a sample. A guy sends a policy note to all the concerned people across entire India (around 60 people). His boss hits the “REPLY ALL” trigger and then writes “Please meet me. Have to discuss some issues regarding this”.

CC – Man
He is a close cousin of ‘Spammer”. This guy gets great pleasure in putting names of everyone he knows in the ‘cc’ field. Only God knows why? So I keep wondering why I have received a particular mail when I have nothing to do with it. May be the CC – Man species wants to let everybody in the organization know that he is working actually and not sleeping on his job.

TO – Man
This is the most confusing sort of guy. He specializes in putting as many names in “TO” field as he can. So if he is sending mail to five Branch Managers seeking some data from them and wants to keep informed some 10 people on this issue, he writes 15 names in “TO” field and none in “CC”. This breed of people confuses me a lot as I never understand whether I am supposed to do the job or the other people adorning the “TO” field.

Hardcopy please
This creature is quite unique. He wants to read his emails on the crisp A4 size paper rather than on the LCD display of his laptop. Well I know of a Vice – President level guy who gets hardcopy of all his emails and even dictates all emails to be sent from his side. And his poor laptop keeps sitting idle whole day on his table. So much for the use of technology to increase efficiency and effectiveness!

Once in a month
This creature is great. He doesn’t bother much about emails. He typically checks his mails once every month. So don’t be surprised to see his replies and forwards like “Hope this has been done”, “Please resolve the issue”, “Please ensure immediately” etc. after a month of actual resolution of the issue. Here is a sample of my plight. Sometime back I received a mail from a colleague with a request to resolve some problems in an auto-generated report. He had marked a CC to our ‘once in a month’ guy also. I got the issue resolved the same day. 25 days later I received the same mail forwarded by our ‘once in a month guy’ with the text “Please resolve it and confirm”. I thought that the problem has once again erupted and I harshly asked the person responsible for generating that report as to why this problem keeps erupting again and again. He had no clue of my wrath. It was only on careful reading of the mail that I realized that this is regarding the bug reported 25 days back. Whew! From that day onwards the first thing that I do on receiving emails from these ‘once in a month’ type of guys is to read all the dates mentioned in the entire string. The email user manual of ‘once in a month’ types state that “EMAILS ARE ONLY FOR SENDING AND RECEIVING POLICY NOTES. OTHER THINGS MAY BE TAKEN CARE OF ON A MONTHLY BASIS”.

No reply
These are self – exalted creatures. They read mails but don’t feel that it is important to reply. You keep sending mails and they will keep ignoring you as if they are demigods and you are a lowly mortal. They will come into action only when you pick up the phone and give them a verbal therapy.

Forward this to 10 people within 5 minutes or……
No, I am not talking about the mails you get in your yahoo and hotmail accounts. I am talking about the corporate emails that you get in your lotus notes and outlook express. This breed has hardly any work except forwarding these junk mails to and fro. Don’t be surprised to see the same mail promising luck, money, grant of wish, etc. 10 times in you mail box. The modus operandi is simple. The first person has already put 15 names (or whatever is the minimum requirement) in the TO and CC field. So you just have to REPLY ALL to get your instant money and luck. Just imagine the scenario if everyone who receives these mails hits REPLY ALL.

Should I call these “tyranny of email” or “tyranny of man”?

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Into the mind of Albert Einstein

Here is a peek inside the mind of Albert Einstein:

Albert Einstein Quotes

My favourite ones:
  • When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.
  • A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem.
  • Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
  • Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.
  • Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.
  • He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.
  • I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
  • I never think of the future - it comes soon enough.
  • I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right.
  • If A equals success, then the formula is: A = X + Y + Z, X is work. Y is play. Z is keep your mouth shut.
  • If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.
  • Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them.
  • Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.
  • No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.
  • One should guard against preaching to young people success in the customary form as the main aim in life. The most important motive for work in school and in life is pleasure in work, pleasure in its result, and the knowledge of the value of the result to the community.
  • Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
  • Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
  • The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.
  • The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.
  • The mere formulation of a problem is far more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skills. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science.
  • The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.
  • The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.
  • Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Similarity between drinks and festivals

What is the similarity between drinks and festivals? Both give you hangover. And the similarity doesn’t end here. I feel that both drinks and festivals follow a common trajectory from pre-launch to launch to post-launch.

Pre-launch
Pre-launch is always so cheerful with lots of anticipation. Just imagine a moment when a friend called you to join him and other brats for a few drinks. From that moment to the moment you say cheers, your mind is thinking of drinks and the associated ‘oye bubbly’ feeling. Similar is a festival’s story. Just go into flashback and visualize the mood a day before Diwali. In almost every office, employees wore traditional ethinic dresses (Aha what a gorgeous sight it was to see those ubiquitous jeans clad ladies in Benarsi saree and gold jewelry). They exchanged good wishes. Got sweets boxes from otherwise not so benevolent employers. Even the office was decorated and customary rangoli designed at the entrance. And there were special dishes in cafeteria. No body cared when ¾ th of the office became empty at 4:30 PM when the usual office timing was 9:30 to 5:30. And the most evident example of this euphoric pre-launch feeling was the fact that my usually bland vice–president wore an extremely casual maroon coloured shirt with cream coloured trousers and topped it up with a Amitabh Bachchan patented French cut beard. Isn’t it the ‘oye bubbly’ feeling of the pre-launch in anticipation of the launch?

Launch
Then comes the D-day or D-hour or D-minute. This is the moment, in drinks parlance, when you clink glasses and say cheers. The momentum sets in. It starts slowly then takes a constant acceleration mode. Slowly, slowly you merge with the surrounding. You eat, drink, and talk completely oblivious to what other are doing or talking. You are one with oneself. A sense of ecstasy prevails all around. Similar is the path followed by festivals. Take the case of Diwali. It began leisurely with an extra hour of sleep in morning. Day passed on leisurely in preparation of the festival (buying crackers, sweets boxes, chocolates, flowers etc.). As the darkness descended, one started getting in the mood. As the buildings started to lighten up, it started gaining momentum. First few sounds of crackers were like the first few sips of a chilled whiskey. Within an hour or so the bursting crackers decorating the skies and the elaborate lightening of apartments gave the first high. And the next thing was merging into the madness and letting go of oneself. After that came guiltless binging on delicacies of the day. Once binging was over crackers again took over. The tryst with crackers, sweets, and bonhomie seemed like the familiar association of Whiskey, Kebab, and laughter. That’s called a perfect launch.

Post-launch
Newton’s modified third law states “Every high has an equal and opposite low”. Same is exactly true for drinks and festivals. If the night was high, the morning must be low. The morning after a night of festivities or drinks is usually characterized by a dull mind, aching body, sometimes headache, and a feeling of tiredness. And to add to the misery there is no extra hour of sleep because you have to start your daily drudgery. There is a feeling of sadness as if the dream just got over. Realization downs that life will be monotonous till the next festival or the next drinking session comes.

And these are not the only similarities between drinks and festivals. The biggest similarity between drinks and festivals is the fact that both are the easiest escape route from the monotony of daily drudgery. This is not only the biggest similarity but also the one from which all other similarities arise. Time just before a drink or a festival signifies the anticipation of freedom and the joy associated with it. Actual drinking session or the festivities signifies freedom and the flow of joy. Time after a drink or a festival signifies the loss of freedom and the resulting pain.

Nonetheless, I love my drinks and I love my festivals. Cheers to both of them!!

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Recipe for lasting love

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