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25 May 2007

How do you define a pampered child?

Asked my 8 year old son, 'How do you define a pampered child?'
'If the child listens to the parents, he is a normal child, but if parents listen to him he is a pampered child'
'Are you a pampered child?'
'Yes I am'
'Why?'
'Because whenever I want something, and you don't give me, I cry. And then you give me that.'
In terms of management jargon, the kid just divulged his competive advantage.
Little does he know!!!!

22 May 2007

One about 100% Quality in your work

I was attending a class where a faculty was talking to us about quality of the code that we write.
He put a question to the class for vote "Is 100% quality possible in your work?"
The class was unanimous in saying no. 95% Possible, yes, probabably we can stretch it to 97%, but 100% quality always, impossible.
Average is 80% to 85%, it argued. There is something known as human error, it pointed out.
The class argued its point with strong conviction.
After all the discussion was over, the faculty got up.
"You know, yesterday I went to the hospital for check up for my father's heart condition. The surgeon suggested Operation. Being a quality consultant that I am, I wanted to know what is the percentage quality of his work. He told me that it is around 90%. Human error made up the remaining 10%. His assurance is better than this class's who is promising 85% quality.
I think I should go to this doctor. What is your opinion?"
We were all silent.
"Why is it that when we go to a doctor, we expect 100% quality every time, whereas in your deliverables you feel that it is a stretch to promise 90% quality. If you can expect 100% quality every time from a doctor, who has come up from the same environment as you are, why can't your customer expect 100% from you?
We couldn't say anything

17 May 2007

Lesson from my son.

We have recently shifted to a new house. My son, who is reserved by nature, finds it difficult to mingle with the children in the new block.
He says that he don't know any of the games that they play. He do not play cricket, badminton, football or any such games.
I decide to give him some advice.
"When you want to get into a group" I tell him, "you have to develop new skills that will ensure your smooth entry into that group. If they are playing cricket, learn cricket. If they play football, learn that. You have to start learning those skills that can get you into that group."
It suddenly strikes that the above advice is applicable to me as well.
It is like this. You see, I am an ERP consultant. In my organization, I am considered to be an expert in ERP. I am very clear on the finance domain and has the requisite skills that ensure a successful ERP implementation.
Recently I have been wanting to move out of ERP and move into general management cadre. I am looking for roles like delivery manager / practice manager etc. However, more often than not I was not able to communicate clearly what I wanted or why I wanted.
Suddenly I realize that what I am looking for is to enter into the group of senior managers, but I have not built up the necessary skills in terms of analytical capability, team development, ability to put systems and processes in place or the ability to see the big picture as well as the micro picture.
I am yet to develop the skills that will get me acceptance in the group of senior management.
I need to learn new skill sets.

Lesson on man management

Let me tell you the story of Prakash.
Prakash was reporting to me in my previous company. I had just taken over as a project manager and he had recently joined my team.
He came with good credentials. He had experience in marketing and had moved to my team because he wanted exposure to ERP which our team was handling.
ERP calls for thorough knowledge of finance and accounting. And Prakash had neglected them in his management school. He found it very difficult to learn.
Other than the above, he was good. He was a good communicator, a good person, and used to take initiative in almost all our team activities.
But he was not good in finance and hence not good in ERP.
He was a trier. He used to buy the latest accounting books and tried to cram finance. But it was not that easy and he was not particularly successful in ERP.
During the appraisal, I appraised him. I told him of his week points bluntly. I also told him of his good points. Being realist, he accepted it.
I gave him the impression that his appraisal was not very exceptional. I told him that he can expect a maximum of 3 rating. Though he was unhappy, he was realistic enough to accept this.
In the actual ratings I rated him 4. I did mostly because, I felt that he was a trier and he was good at a lot of other things than ERP.
After the ratings came out there was a perceptible change in Prakash. I suddenly found that he was able to pick financial concepts far more easily than earlier. A new self confidence came over him. His progress was an eye opener. It was almost as if someone, through faith in his abilities, have opened the hidden talents.
It was worth watching his progress.
Now he has moved on, and is now in a prestegious company in a good role. He is now considered very highly in his current organization.
We still keep in touch. In fact, we are now professional colleagues. You see, through his help, I got a very senior role in his organization.
Moral: Never underestimate the potential of an individual. In case of doubt, help him. You will develop and benefit out of your actions.

08 May 2007

Babbar Shers

Shayaris are mainly 4 line poems with surprising endings. They have much in common with limericks. These are very popular in North India.
'Babbar Sher' is a program that comes in the 'Radio City' FM Channel in Bangalore at 9.00 AM. Some of the shayaris presented in this program are exceptional.

Here I am penning down a few of them and obviously they will get continuously updated.

1. Na mang nimbu, (do not demand lemons)
tu tan tan ke lambu (you tall gaint)
Zara jhuke dekh (bend down and look)
Woh Santre hai (And you will see oranges)

2. Ek pyaja jam (a cup of wine)
Ek Bargat ke pedh (a huge banyan tree)
Ek suka hua angur (a piece of raisin)
Aur Andre Agassi (and Andre Agassi)
Is me koi mil nahin (There are no similarities between them)

3. Parbat ke us par (On the yonder side of mountains)
Mahanadi ke is par (On the banks of the gaint river)
Ek char lane ki highway ban rahi hai (They are constructing a 4 lane highway)

4. Laila ne Majnu se poochi (Juliet asked Romeo)
Laila ne Majnu se poochi (Juliet asked Romeo)
Kaun sa pehle ayaa, anda ya murgi? (Which came first, the chicken or egg?)
(Repeat the above for impact)
Majnu ne bola (replied Romeo)
Majnu ne bola (replied Romeo)
Jo pehle order diya hoga, woh aaya hoga (Whichever ordered first would have come first)

5. Maine poocha chand se (I enquired to the moon)
Ki dekha hai kahin (Have you seen anywhere)
Mere yaar sa hasin (one as beautiful as my dear)
Chand ne ka (and the moon replied)
Umm......nahin (Umm.... well... no)

"Appreciate", what?

"Why are you reading the dictionary?" I asked Rajeev.
For, Rajeev was doing just that. Lying flat on his bed, listening to some soft music on his music player, this guy was going through Oxford English Dictionary like it was some thriller.
Rajeev is a friend and colleague of mine. He is highly educated in Finance but like his kin from Bihar, is slightly weak in english.
It was to this Rajeev that I addressed that question on that sunday afternoon.
He looked up at me. He had that 'whadayacallit' look on his face. The same look that you will have if you slap a guy at a party thinking that it is your friend and the guy turns out to be your CEO. Or the same look that a sheep has....
Sheepish, I think they call it.
"Ask me the meaning of any word. I will tell you. Throw away that book since you have the walking dictionary standing in front of you." proclaimed I.
He looked at me thoughtfully. He had a different look this time. The guy was wrestling with a dilemma, I could tell. On the one hand he had come across something which warranted that sheepish look and he was in need of some clarifications. On the other hand as it were, whether he should confide in me, the world's most renowned news caster, from whom no secret is safe, about whom it is said 'What R knows today, Durgapur knows tomorrow'....
Finally he resigned to fate. "What is the meaning of 'appreciate'? " asked he (to me, of course. No one else was there)
I felt disappointed. Such simple word. He could have very well used the dictionary instead of wasting my talent on such trivialities.
But one has to oblige. "Praise, encourage..." I informed.
Again that thoughtful look. A look of a person with an unfulfilled clarification.
"Why what happened?" I asked casually. My curiosity was suddenly aroused. There is much deeper waters here I felt. One has to unearth and broadcast. One has a duty to the world.
" Sometime last week, the manager of BTS booked an appointment with me for yesterday" began Rajeev, "I waited for him the whole day, but he did not turn up. Today morning I met him. After the preliminaries he told me "Mr.Singh, I was supposed to meet you yesterday. I could not do so since I had to go to hospital to get an injection taken. I hope you will appreciate my problem". " Said Rajeev.
" I told him "That is a very good problem" ". continued Rajeev, "He gave me a vague look like I said something silly"
"I know I made a mistake somewhere, but I don't know where" he commented plaintively.
He again looked at the dictionary. "Ah, here it is. 'Appreciate' means "to look at a problem with sympathy". So that is what he meant"
"I don't know how I will face him tomorrow" said he as he covered his face with the book.

07 May 2007

Hu is the new leader of china?

This was sent to me by my cousin. It is hilarious to say the least. This is a drama written by an American Humorist after Hu Jintao became the leader of Chinese Communist Party.
"Hu is the leader of China?" Read on.....
How do they come out with these ideas?

06 May 2007

Books on Investing

Saw a very good article in Moneycontrol on the books that are must reads for any investor

05 May 2007

A curry tasters report

Thought Indian Curry Was Spicy? Read this Curry Tasters Report and find out...

Why 'Man'goes?

Asked my son, why mangoes are called 'man'goes and not 'woman'goes? (Yes I do ask him such questions...)
His reply, because mango is the 'King' of fruits and not the 'Queen' of fruits.

Vowel Drop

Gdnsk, Sjlbvdnzv, Grzny ....
These are the names of some of the cities in eastern europe. Unpronounceable, because they do not have any vowels in their name. The names of the people in these countries are equally unpronounceable.
US as the leader of the world has taken the initiative in integrating these countries into the global system. According to Robert Demurr, the US under secretary to Eastern Europe, "US has the responsibility to ensure that these countries integrate smoothly into the global system (read "become large importers of US products"). We realize that the first step in this endeavour is to make the names more 'user friendly' with the use of the much needed vowels".
As a part of the support package US has decided to airlift the first tranche of 75000 vowels to war torn eastern Europe. Read on....

04 May 2007

What is in a name?

On hindsight I can say that the metamorphosis of my name started from my school days.
Till then I was roming around the country side with a moniker of V K Ramaswamy. V stood for my village Vaidyanathapuram, K stood for Krishnamurti and Ramaswamy was my name.
Mind you, my name was Ramaswamy. Kindly note the 'was' part.
Ramaswamy was a difficult name and it didn't take much longer for my name to be shortened to 'Ram'. This was a minor offense and I didn't mind.
In the SSLC certificate (Secondary School Leaving Certificate) the head master of my school wrote my name as Ramaswamy VK and as if to leave no traces of doubt anywhere, wrote a comment 'Initials after the name'
Thus happened the first change to my name. Subtly and suddenly it changed to Ramaswamy VK from VK Ramaswamy with expansion of initials remaining the same.
Honestly I was happy with this change. My original name was the same as that of a comic actor in Tamil movies. My name brought out a silly smile on people's faces as they were reminded of this actor. Now at least I won't have to put up with their snicker.
Whoa! my name is Ramaswamy VK (initials after the name).
Then I joined Durgapur steel plant in West Bengal.
The Bengali's talk with 'Rasa Golla' in their mouth. For them clear diction is impossible. They round up any word they say. It was not long before my name became 'Romashomy'. Later this got truncated to 'Rom'. This was bad, but on the plus side, they did not know the tamilian comic actor.
In Durgapur my name became a quiz question. "What is the opposite of Ramashomy?" answer "Rama didn't see me".
Other than my name sounding like something coming out of a chimney, I did not have any care in the world in Durgapur because I was working in a god forsaken place without any chances of going abroad. Hence I did not have to apply for my Passport.
Then I changed my job and applied for my passport as it were!
The process of applying for passport brings you to the unfamiliar world of 'surnames' and 'family names' and 'given names' and 'first names'. I was at a loss because I did not know where each of these fitted in my name. So I read the instructions to filling the passport application form.
Instructions to filling the passport application form mentioned that "Father's name can be used as surname as in vogue in some parts of the country'. I wrote my first Name as 'Ramaswamy' and the surname as 'Vaidyanathapuram Krishnamurti'.
It was so easy to fill a PAF....
As you can see, it is a longish name. You have to enter the name in the boxes provided in the form, one box per alphabet. My name filled almost all the boxes available out there. I felt very happy. Having paid 20 of the precious doubloons for the passport application form, I felt that I have received full value for money. I felt vindicated.
When you see these boxes what do you think? That the passport department has gone hitech? That they will be using optical scanners to copy the data into the passport directly? That they are planning to do something with the boxes?...
They don't do nothing. For all you know, they may be using these boxes to play ludo.
With my name thus entered, my passport application went to the passport officer. This gentlemen has a team with bad handwriting who are employed to verify the data in the application form and manually transfer (write) it into the passport. Their salary and incentives are based on the number of errors they generate during this data transfer and the number of days they leave their common sense at home.
My passport was assigned to one of the brightest member of the above team. This guy not only had a obnoxious calligraphy but also was the highest paid employee in the team (lot of incentives you see). The saying 'Common sense is uncommon' was coined with him in mind I think. He sliced and diced my name to his heart content.
When transferring my name to my passport, he started with my family name. After writing Vaidyanathapuram Krishna, he found that there was no more space in the first line. Being a persevering guy, he continued merrily into the next line (like some dot matrix printer or something) showing 'given names' and entered 'Murti Ramaswamy' in that row.
I am sure that after completing the above entries, he would have expressed a smile of satisfaction for a job well done!
Now, according to my passport, my surname reads 'Vaidyanathapuram Krishna' and given name reads 'Murti Ramaswamy' (As it should be because that is how he entered it)
This was not an issue when I applied for Chinese or Bangladeshi visa. However, now I am applying my UK Visa and entering all my details in the Visa application form online.
The application printout says:
Applicant's name: Murti Ramaswamy Vaidyanathapuram Krishna.
Who is this guy? I don't know him.
Recently I am getting mails addressed to Mr.Vaidyanathapuram Krishna. Earlier I used to rave and rant. Now I have stopped. (raving and ranting)
From being called 'Ram', these days I am kind of getting used to being addressed as 'Krishna'.
I stand as a testimony to the hindu religious belief that Ram and Krishna are one and the same.

03 May 2007

Ad War in the air

The competition brings out amazing creativity in Ad men. Remember the 'Sprite' v/s pepsi ads? Just when you thought that ad men have left their creativity in their closet (I am being charitable esp. after watching the 'Jockey', 'Times Jobs' and other ads. Horrible ads!) the air line war has brought a new lease of life for the industry. Check this out!!!

Any other pathetic ads you can think of?

02 May 2007

Bull shit generator

We all know that consultants thrive on BS. They have their pet jargons which common people like us won't understand. Where do they manage these jargons? I seems they have a software called 'Bullshit Generator'. It can generate both accounting and consulting bullshits.

I tried this out. Some of the accounting bullshit it generated included, 'Combine Reviewable LLP', ' Amortize Unsupported Owners Equity' etc.

Amazing. If you like BS, you will like this software. Check this out.

Cons of Technology....

How many of you use a mobile phone regularly? A credit card? A Smart Card? Send E Mail? Done a google Search? Other gizmos and gadgets? All of you will agree that technology has made the life very easy for all of us. However the same technology allows every one of our movements to be traced..... la matrix. Read this article in Washington post to know about a day in the life of Ms.Bernard, a law abiding US Citizen.

I am ambivalent after reading this. Like Ms.Bernard, I would continue to use the gizmos. And be law-abiding...... I won't give up technology, of course.