Friday, July 30, 2010

Thought for the Day

I think It is crystal clear to me that one of the kindest (and easiest) things we can do to the world (and thereby make it a better place to live in) is to only - and consciously - take up a job that we really love and believe in. This will undoubtedly make the world a much better place to be in because if we are engaged in work that we really love and believe in, the world will have less politics, stress, negativism and unhappiness to deal with. Think about it and please do something about it if you can! 

Retail Price Index Vs Inflation

For some unknown but strong reason, I am in one of those phases wherein all I want to do is put up a lot of cute pictures on this hapless blog. Don't you think this one here looks utterly peaceful and serene? Had me wishing I was there too, leaning on the tree, right next to Hobbes. 

Calvin & Hobbes - Bill Watterson
PS: If you're wondering what the title of the post has to do with the contents, stop wondering. Friday madness in progress.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bugs Bunny's Birthday

What's up, Doc? The most charming hare I happen to know was apparently born on this very day in the year 1940. Check this page for tons and tons of information about the Bugs Bunny series and BB's adventures - typically a part of the Looney Tunes show.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Social Intranet

There was a strong sense of deja vu as I read this blog post by @oscarberg , a KM/E2.0 expert from Sweden.  

In his post, Oscar effectively outlines what he thinks ought to be the ideal principles of the modern-day Intranet – The Social Intranet. It's an extremely well-written post and is a must-read for everyone wanting to make the transformation from traditional KM to E2.0 enabled KM.

The sense of deja vu, by the way, is because I had the wonderful opportunity to conceptualize, design and roll out such a social Intranet in my own organization just a few months ago! Quite glad to note that the principles of the app we rolled out are in alignment with some of Oscar's thoughts. PS: I've written a full paper on the work that I was involved in and am actually hoping to present it at an appropriate conference. 

Key views (from Oscar's post) that coincide with the approach I adopted for our E2.0 app: (Highlights mine)

To help people find and discover information that is relevant to their tasks when they need it, we also need to create powerful pull mechanisms which allow relevant information to automatically surface and be placed at the fingertips of knowledge workers just when they need it. It is also critical that they have access to ALL information that is available, including collaborative content produced by teams, content produced by external resources, tacit knowledge captured in conversations, and so forth.

It equips everyone with the tools that allows them to participate, contribute, attract, discover, find and connect with each other to exchange information and knowledge and/or collaborate.

Although too many options can decrease your performance and create stress, information abundance does not equal an abundance of choice; the social intranet is a pull platform with mechanisms for automatically attracting relevant information and people to you. What’s important is that the options you are presented with are relevant and usable.

Deliberately hindering information to reach people is not the way to avoid the sensation commonly called information overload, because as Clay Shirky argues the problem is not the amount of information but rather that the filters we have fail to sort it properly for us. We need to get the filters in place instead of blaming and emonizing ("Tsunami of data", "firehose of information" etc) information supply and arguing that the only way to solve this "problem" is to limit supply.

The social intranet also has an important part to play when it comes to supporting serendipity; enabling people to find both information and people they didn’t know they were looking for.

Spending time and effort searching for relevant information and people where there is information abundance just won’t pay off. We must have ways that “automagically” attract useful information and connections to us.

Working in Heaven

I'm saying it. Working with a bunch of genuine, intelligent, humble, energetic, positive-attitude people means you are blessed.

In other words, what might it be like to work in Heaven? 

If you're a "realist", I know you might want to wake me up now. Please don't. I am already awake. This is was just a dream. 

Conscience - Switch it ON Please

Some people happily disown their conscience and push it into the poorest of orphanages, eh? What is it that is so difficult about admitting mistakes, taking charge of your responsibilities, and being true to yourself? What makes a human conscience disappear in the first place? Is it parenting, schooling (or lack of it), how we respond to the world we see when we 'arrive' and establish a shaky foot-hold, or just the lack of a good soul for reasons beyond our understanding?

Google Images

Monday, July 26, 2010

M-onkey or D-onkey

Sometimes, you'll realize you've been submitting a smart donkey in a competition meant for smart monkeys. ZOOm out & think harder. Pun intended.

Google Images

Google Images

Friday, July 23, 2010

Four and a Half Kinds of People

Alert! Nonsense Ahead.

Courtesy: Google Images

I have a theory. There are four and a half kinds of people in this world. (I couldn't help it. Will try harder not to put people into buckets henceforth. There are two kinds of people - those who categorize people and those who try not to categorize people. Let me see if I can make the switch. But, when you look at it from another angle, there are two kinds of people - those who bucket people into various kinds and those who kick the bucket. In this case, I might want to not make the switch too soon)

If you still remember where this started, there are four and a half kinds of people.

Those who believe there must be a logical and perfectly rational explanation behind every single thing and are mostly engaged in discovering these explanations. Either considering it - dramatically - as their life's purpose or - casually - taking it up amongst their day-to-day/routine activities. They are perhaps the atheists or the agnostics, the ones who believe that the universe is governed by irrefutable laws rather than a universal spirit (even if they are subject to universal changes at appropriate intervals). They are the researchers and the  investigators of the world. The purely mind people. It's another thing that in the course of such a pursuit, they might convert into the heart or soul people. 

Those who are perfectly comfortable with the weirdness, mysteries and paradoxes of life and are ready to accept that some of these bewildering and fascinating episodes of life cannot and need not be explained. They might even be slightly delusional and might believe in or want to believe in miracles. They are the creators who couldn't care less about the principles or rationale behind creativity and would rather enjoy and cherish life as it is (and for what it appears to be) without bothering to look beneath the surface. The heart or/and soul people. The soul people are different from the heart people in that they however look for the 'hidden meaning' or spiritual purpose behind everything. They could, in some cases, be a cross between the mind and the heart people. 

Those who couldn't care less about life or its sources and mysteries and don't even perhaps notice life's quirks, exceptions, wonders and what not. They are mostly concerned with their mundane lives and are happy with their daily meals, sleep and fun. The 'duh uh eh' people.

Finally, those who are not dominated by any one of the thinking styles mentioned above but tend to swing between different attitudes and approaches and enjoy multiple experiences. The 'everything' people. Imagine the intersection area of a Venn diagram.

I know. Utter nonsense. But won't you let me have some fun once in a while? I am, after all, not damaging your blog's reputation or something. This is my blog and all and today is, please note, Friday. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Strategy for Life

Check out this profound article by Clayton Christensen (Author of The Innovator's Dilemma) on How to Measure your Life. Worth reading again and again.

Please Procrastinate

Read this totally riotous article. Paul reminds me of Bill Bryson. :-) 

Now, consider this -  “The most distinguishing feature of winners is their intensity of purpose.”-Alymer Letterman

Honestly, I think this article explains why some of us don't do what we don't do. Who said we procrastinate? Utter gibberish. We simply are so obsessed with some of our ideas that we ignore everything else in the world. No. Seriously. If we want to be winners at something in life, then we may definitely have to learn to ignore a lot of other things. Think about it but don't sue me for this impulsive post :-)

Bull's Eye!

Dilbert by Scott Adams

A priceless cartoon to demonstrate the story of literally "price-less" projects. ;-) 

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Nothing Poem

Here's the terrible 'NOTHING' poem ready to unfold its intriguing story,
Giving you every bit of the details, both the noble and the gory!

Does Indifference really turn the corner when it meets Patience?
Or are we but simply staring at a huge bundle of inexplicable Nonsense?

Do we keep (expending energy) crossing many fearful oceans with all our might?
Or should we actually stop and wonder if anything at all is bright or right?

Picture Courtesy: Google Images

Are systems far too complex to understand and control?
Or should the people be blamed for allowing the system to take over and charge an unfair toll?

Is it worthwhile to create an imaginary world and wallow in its non-existent ideals?
Or is it better to put on a mask and fight the real one tooth and claw, however hideous?

Questions, questions and more questions, floating around in my adamant mind
Answers to which I realize, time and again, are extremely hard to find.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Passion Phoenix

Another of those Twitter moments.

The only disadvantage of being passionate & sincere is perhaps that you're taken for granted & are thought to have no need for anything else. But, well, passion never ever dies. It may dip a bit but it will rise again for it's in passion's DNA to get up every time it falls.

Also, there are 2 ways to react to injustice. Give up or focus harder on being the person you are. Let's always choose the latter. Happy Weekend!

Thoughts to Remember

Steve's lovely post on 'The Child Within Us'

Extracts: (Thoughts to Remember)

Children are enthusiastic. They’ve not forgotten how to have fun. And they still feel awe and wonder and excitement.

“It’s a terrible thing when you lose that,” he said. I don’t think he meant that we are to be childish and immature - just childlike. There is a difference. 

To be childlike is to be fun-loving and ready to get lost in the present. To be childlike is to be more innocent and trusting. Quicker to embrace life and love. To be childlike is to not yet be jaded by the world or too cynical about people. Those who are childlike laugh easily and often. They know there is plenty about this universe they may not understand, and that is okay. In fact, mystery is good. It fills them with awe.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Miserableity Index

Calvin - By Bill Watterson 

In a Miserable Mood today but like every such situation in life, it's only a matter of time before we recover. What?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Twitter Moment

The mother of all advice is, paradoxically, that all advice is generic and needs to be customized by the subject under question. Woof. Woof.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Copy Not Right

This brilliant person here wants intends to be a better human being just like yours truly but he apparently thinks copying someone else's blog title and description word to word will help him be a better person! :-) Sigh. If only Originality is not something I value, I'd have found it easier to forgive him. I am almost convinced that even his blog posts are not his own. Someone must tell him that this (people not trusting any of his work) is the consequence of copying....even if it's just one thing that he decides to copy. Grow up, my friend. You might sound a lot more impressive than I (or others) do if you look into your own head instead of others' blogs.

Friday, July 09, 2010


Thanks to a very kind reader of this blog and the comment he left on one of my posts. Made me realize this:

It seems to me like putting hope/humor/positivity/enthusiasm/love into someone's heart is as exciting (or  satisfying) as striving to fulfill one's potential....and probably tougher!

What do you think? Got something relevant/inspiring to share?

*H.E.L.P - Hope/Humor. Enthusiasm. Love. Positivity. 

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson - One More Wonderful Talk

Sir Ken Robinson in his inimitable style and on his pet topic - The need for reforming education. Points to ponder: A three-year-old is not half a six-year-old. Life is organic, not linear. Education needs to adopt the principles of agriculture and not that of industrial production. Education is not fast food...

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

KMers' Survival Guide

It's been quite a while since I read such a well-analyzed post. Steve has totally rocked in this post. A must-read for every passionate KMer who dreams about making a difference to her organization. As I responded on Steve's blog,  
Totally rocking post. It leaves me, like many of the folks above mentioned, speechless. Your analysis is spot on, to my mind. I am particularly impressed with the end notes on what KM programs will have to be wary about. The only thing I perhaps do not agree with is your perception that HBR encourages traditional management techniques even today. To my mind, most of the current HBR articles and blog posts are brilliant and step out of the conventional management boundaries. In fact, I've personally read many HBR articles that emphasize on KM as a management tool.
Meanwhile, here are some extracts from the post that struck me as awesome. 
....So even when an oasis of excellence and innovation is established within an organization being run on traditional management lines, the experience doesn’t take root and replicate throughout the organization because the setting isn’t congenial. The fundamental assumptions, attitudes and values are at odds with those of traditional management.
.....The third assumption of traditional management is that the marketplace can be predicted and controlled and manipulated.  
....The fourth plank of traditional management is to view employees as “human resources” i.e. things that can be controlled and manipulated and exploited. So long as the firm was merely providing goods and services to the marketplace, it could give commands to employees as to what to do and control them to make sure that they did what they were told. Once the challenge became one of having interactions with customers and creating a steady flow of innovations and new value to customers so that they would be delighted, the firm depended on its employees to generate those innovations and interactions. Smart firms discovered that the energy and enthusiasm and insights of its employees—now often highly educated—couldn’t be bought or directed or commanded and controlled. Instead, employees had to be inspired to contribute—a radically different and more difficult challenge. Again it was a shift from a simple linear manipulation to a complex interaction. 
...The sixth plank is economies of scale. Becoming bigger enables the firm to achieve economies of scale. But in the process, traditional management encounters the experience curve and the phenomenon of declining returns. The more experience the firm has, the longer it takes for the next performance increment of improvement. This is discouraging and tends to result in managerial “flailing”, as managers desperately try to make further gains in a setting that doesn’t permit it.
What makes it difficult to change traditional management is the interlocking and self-reinforcing nature of these assumptions, attitudes and values. Once the goal of the firm is established as producing goods and services or making money for the shareholders in a predictable economic environment, scalable bureaucracy and the efficient management of existing knowledge stocks are seen as appropriate responses. The firm develops proprietary knowledge. It aggressively protects that knowledge to make sure no one else gets access to it, and it extracts the value from that knowledge as efficiently as possible and for as long as it can. The rationale of the firm is to minimize transaction costs in deploying these stocks of knowledge efficiently. That way of thinking and acting created huge and seemingly successful companies in the 20th Century. 
The first step is to make sure that your ship is seaworthy. Check to make sure that your KM program is well managed, with clear goals, vibrant communities of practice, effective use of IT and social media (though without excessive reliance on IT), and valid metrics of the KM program’s contributions. Without those elements in place, your KM program will be a sitting target for a cost-cutting traditional manager.
The second step is to make sure that your KM program is focused on supporting innovation and learning, and drawing on flows of new knowledge, including knowledge from outside the firm, not merely re-circulating the internal dogmas of yesterday.  In this way, your KM program can be a genuine contributor to the firm’s real future.
The third step is to check: what are the overall goals of your organization? If your firm is already committed to radical management, you are in good shape. But if the firm is built around traditional management--producing goods and services, and making money for the shareholders, through “scalable efficiency”, then your KM program is at risk, no matter how well run it may be, and how matter how much you can demonstrate what it is contributing to the firm today. With the attitudes and practices of traditional management in place, it is only a matter of time before your KM program will become another victim.

Monday, July 05, 2010


I did not really have any plans to write my autobiography despite realizing how much of a best-seller it is likely to be, the only simple condition being that the book be made available for free no cost whatsoever. But you know how unpredictable life is. Even a small event can thoroughly shake us up and force us to reconsider the most critical of our decisions. I've just been through something on those lines and now want to desperately start writing my autobiography and change the world for the better. There still is hope. 

I was attending a session on Innovation wherein the speaker put up a slide that spoke to me in a loud, clear and excited voice. It almost felt like I was seeing my life take on the form of a PPT slide and stare me in my face and give me the biggest of jitters. At that profound moment, I made up my mind to write my autobiography irrespective of whether I find any intelligent publisher who'd be ready to flood the book shops with it or not. The reason was very simple. Ask any author who has been through a major struggle trying to find an appropriate cover design for her book. I was, however, lucky. Even before I'd decided on writing my autobiography, I had found the perfect cover design for it! Hallelujah! They say a picture speaks a thousand words. A cartoon is perhaps a step ahead as it not only has a picture but also some extra words. Here it is. 

How does that look? Profound is a mild word to describe it. I'll have to of course buy the thing from Randy and pay a royalty every time my book is 'sold' but that can be arranged for if I decide to sell all the books I've purchased over the last 10 years or so. No, wait. A brainwave. A blinding flash of the obvious. I'd be lying if I say this cartoon is a personification of only my life. It is definitely a perfect representation of every Knowledge Manager's life. So, maybe I should make this a generic book on Knowledge Managers (and the profession of KM) and arrange for some income from various Knowledge Management communities across the globe for the wonderful publicity and subtle wake-up call to Organizations that take such an approach to KM initiatives. Yeah? If you happen to be a KM professional and would like me to insert a special chapter on your life and experiences in the book, get in touch. Conditions apply.

PS: Potential Titles: 
- The Life of a Knowledge Manager
- Free Knowledge Organizations
- I Love Knowledge, But I Can't Pay For It
- Hire a Knowledge Manager & Get Knowledge for Free
- The Sixth Discipline
- The Knowledge Illusion
- Zero Budget Knowledge
- Shoe String Knowledge Management

Friday, July 02, 2010

The Dance of Work - Part 2

I first bored you to death with my Life and Dance analogy. Now, I march on regardless of how many bodies I've walked over and promise to bore you to further death with my Work and Dance analogy. If you're the kind of ubiquitous person who likes to be bored to death, get up and - I hope you like the pun - dance. Dance till you drop dead and save me from more blood on my hands. Wait a minute. Any idea what on earth I'm talking? I wonder if I happened to bang a delicate part of my head against something hard, without my own knowledge. Or maybe it was something I ate recently. Here's what I shall do - I'm going to look away and rotate my head vigorously, shut my eyes tight for a few minutes and take a few deep breaths. Once done, I'll come back and explain my profound discovery, "The Dance of Work". Get ready to think like never before.


Taking off from where I left in the previous post, if the Dance Floor is Life, and we choose to focus on just Work (which comprises a significant part of life for many of us) for a moment, there are three kinds of people we'd find (in the way they approach work). 

1. People who like to switch on music of their choice and dance in solitude. In any case, they are oblivious to others who may be dancing with them and an audience who may be watching them dance. Their major intent may be to differentiate themselves, enjoy their work immensely and feel honestly satisfied with their performance and accomplishments.

2. People who insist on company while dancing (music may or may not be chosen by them). They may dance with a crowd or perhaps choose a single partner...but they essentially need more pairs of feet to accompany them. They rarely hear their own tunes and generally stick to a collaborative choice of music. Their major intent is to chug along the river of life and do reasonably well at work while managing their lives outside of work as well.     

3. People who like to dance for an audience and use their feedback to energize themselves further. They might either want to dance alone (more often than not) or dance with a team. They might also choose a tune that the audience prefers rather than choose something that they alone like. Their major intent is to be recognized, rewarded and appreciated for what they do.

Let's leave out the people who are not a wee-bit interested in 'work' and are intent-less wanderers. 

Okay. So what? In the recent corporate annual celebration that I was a part of, I watched a lot of people being awarded/rewarded for their loyalty, performance on the job, values, problem-solving skills, innovation etc. While watching the proceedings inspired me to stretch myself (especially the innovation and values awards) I couldn't help but think about those that belong to the same category/categories but missed out on the awards by a hair's breath for various reasons. Some reasons are pretty obvious and may be wrapped and bundled under a blanket labelled 'Unlucky'. A manager who does not make a special effort to put her worthy team-member in the limelight. The employee's role being a back-stage (non-customer facing or non-sales) one that hardly gets the attention it deserves. Dirty Department, Management or HR politics. And so on. 

But what I have been thinking about are the subtler aspects of such a situation. Many a time, I've observed that the people who belong to the first category deserve to be recognized for their good work but tend to be ignored simply because they are in an isolated spot and are performing in solitude or doing a so-called 'thankless' job (especially when it is not a customer-facing role which, by the way, may by default put the person in the limelight). Also, in a more dangerous scenario, organizations assume that such people will always be happy because they are intrinsically motivated. There will, however, come a time when such a person takes a break and looks around and realizes he has been dedicated and successful but has received no reciprocation whatsoever and begin to feel horribly cheated. The second category will also look for appreciation and recognition but they may be equally happy just getting along with the stream of people, receiving regular pay-hikes and incentives. The third category of people may, arguably, be able to take care of themselves as their focus is anyway on the audience and on gaining appreciation. 

Two twitter moments in this regard for me were:

"The corporate world reserves most of its respect, recognition & rewards for the people who make the money or fight a fire."

"The people who persevere are sometimes forced to do nothing but persevere. But it ought to be better to die persevering rather than give up and live a dead life?" 

Wow. Just realized that this post has actually turned out to be somewhat gloomy! I do feel strongly about such things - Justice, Fair play, Politics, Perfection and what not. Sigh. 

Entrepreneurship is perhaps the closest answer to many of these questions. Be the change you want to see!~

The Dance of Life - Part 1

Subjecting oneself to a different experience is almost always eye-opening if not enlightening. Actually, I am so glad I did something different yesterday. More often than not, I hate parties, crowds and noisy places. I find most of them to be a meaningless affair, not that I look for meaning in everything around me. ;-) But there are some occasions when I manage to stay sane in such an environment and engage myself in a few constructive or hilarious conversations. (My life, I suspect, swings largely between two key, yet paradoxical, dimensions of life - philosophy and humor). There are also a few rare occasions when I discover that I am in a mood to actually tune into the heart-beat of the crowd and feel its however meaningless or mindless excitement. 

I'd however be lying if I say the same thing about organizational events. To be passionate about one's work, it is not enough if one just loves the domain or function one is in but should also be able to identify with the organization's objectives and feel its pulse. A meet to celebrate annual achievement in business brings together various divisions of the organization, its leaders and its complete - live - story. These are the times when one gets to see the whole picture, the near future, connect the dots, be inspired by those in the limelight and so on. While I enjoy the overall experience of understanding the organization better and stepping deeper into its alleys and junctions, I generally prefer to scoot when the party reaches its end and people shift to the 'pure entertainment' mode. Going back to where I started, which I fortunately had the sense to put down in writing so I don't forget, yesterday was an exception. (Poor imitation of Woody Allen, I know)

I was lazily digging a fork and spoon into some regular rice grains and veggies when I noticed that people were warming up to the loud dance music that was being played in the conference room. There was a small wooden dance floor waiting for people to tap their feet on it (or perhaps stomp their feet on it). As usual, one person took the initiative and started responding to the music and gradually a huge crowd joined him and was soon swinging away in various directions in utter disharmony. I decided to join the small group of people who were watching the scene with rapt attention and amusement and soon enough some ideas popped into my suddenly awakened analytical mind. I thought the dance floor, interestingly enough, reflected our lives in so many ways. At least for me, it had a lot to teach.

You're not the one playing the music, but you still decide to respond to it through your dance. Incidentally, what is it about free-style spontaneous dancing that demonstrates that no one could possibly enjoy life the way you do? :-) What next? The music keeps changing constantly and does so unannounced. You have plenty of options. You're either immersed and happy enough to adapt to the change, followed by a change of dance-style to suit the new music & rhythm while still enjoying yourself, Or you could complain or scream at no one in particular (or everyone around) about the change of music and make a fuss and generally be annoyed, Or you could let it stun you enough to sadly freeze you to the spot. Think about it. And then, you could choose not to enter the dance floor at all and simply watch things from outside and still be happy. It's simply a choice we make. 

Getting back to the dance floor, if you're watching from outside, you'll find it to be an absolutely diverse and versatile environment. Dancing dinos. Dancing mice. Dancing peacocks. Dancing clowns. Dancing tortoises. Dancing ostriches. But they are all participating in the Dance of Life in the first place....doing it in their own unique way and, what's more, genuinely enjoying themselves. Some of them on the dance floor inspire 'outsiders' to join them through their sheer energy and enthusiasm while there are others who make an explicit effort to drag and cajole others to join the fun. Once on the dance floor, you may have other insensitive participants stepping on your toes or even nudging you out but those are to be tackled accordingly. You either move to a different and more comfortable place, or just ignore the interruptions as long as you can or perhaps nudge your way back in or maybe send out a friendly or hostile warning to the intruder. ;-) If you're tired or need to focus elsewhere, it's always OK to take a break and get off the dance floor and return when you feel up to it. The really dominant and ambitious ones wave to the person playing the music and ask for a specific tune. If you're one of the participants and don't like the new tune, the game gets more complicated. You can either deal with it on the same dance floor or maybe even create another whole new floor for yourself! Whew. I think this brings my analogy to a safe and logical end. 

The Dance of Work - Part 2. Coming next.