An Indian IT industry without CMM? Bondage or Blessing !

How would the Indian IT industry would have performed, if there was no CMM?. India has the maximum number of CMM adopted companies, and most of these companies are operating at the highest maturity level, the level 5. Sometimes I use to wonder how the Indian companies would have performed without such frameworks. Once I  heard the CEO of Infosys, talking about how CMM helped his company scale up fast. That is perfect for a large company like his, which employs very large number of programmers and most of the work done is in projects and not for product development. Is CMM the reason for Indian companies not producing many world class products. Is it bondage than blessing?. I get very disturbed these days when very successful young and small companies feel inferior to say that they do not have any process overload. Again, is it a bondage or a blessing.  To be continued….

Agile toolkit – taken from scrumdevelopment yahoo group

On 8/9/06, Bob Payne <bob@electroglide. biz > wrote:
 I got 27 recordings from the Agile 2007 conference. I have 14 of
 them posted so far on the Agile Toolkit Podcast. Most of them are
 interviews but you will find several keynotes, tutorials and panel
 discussion. You can find the podcasts at:
> http://agiletoolkit
> I hope you enjoy them.
> Drop me a line if you have any comments.
> -bob payne

Congratulations Vinay!


I wish to share with you that Today I successfully completed my PMP certification. Thanks to Aby and Prabha for the guidance.

The site pmpdistilled was very helpfull in taking up the long 4 hr exam and practising all the knowledge area tests. I took umpteen no of times and It was a great experience when i completed the real exam. 

Once again I thank you for all the co-operation.

Thanks and Regards,
Vinay S Shenoi

Tel No-(080) 2841 3000/ Extn-2856
Fax- (080) 2841 2857
email: \
visit us at \nhttp:\\\\
\n“,1] ); D([“mb”,”
Abrachan Pudussery
Mobile Phone : +91 98 451 788 51 \n\n
“,0] ); //–>
Fax- (080) 2841 2857
visit us at http:\\

A kick off / scope definition meeting !

After one year into corporate trainings, away from hard core project related work, and with tons of new thought patterns from SCRUM and the fifth dicipline, today I had an opportunity to participate in a project kick off / scoping meeting and it was quite interesting. The entire meeting was focused on;

  • Identifying the users of the system
  • What is the value/feature they are expecting from the system ?
  • When will we say that the project is completed successfully?

Everything else was shot down.


  • Overall scope of the project is defined
  • Detailed scope of one of the modules (top priority) is identified in detail, which is good enough for the team to plan the sprint
  • All accomplished in 45 minutes flat

Another option we had was to spend atleast 2 weeks in defining the complete requirements very clearly and then another two weeks in designing and reviews.

No rest – till the best and you may not rest forever…

Last week I went to Bangalore airport to take the evening deccan airways flight to Cochin. Th entire deccan airways crew were in yello ‘T’ shirts with the slogan ‘No rest till the best’. If you really go by systems thinking, if a company has to launch a strong campaign in an area of operation, that is a sure indication of trouble in that area. From my previous journey with air deccan, I was quite impressed with their service and their article in their in-flight magazine on how they are able to reduce the cost of their operations. So this time I was very curious to observe how they are operating.

This time, the poor quality of service was evident from the check in counter onwards. You throw pea-nuts, you get monkeys. The guys at the check in counters were hopeless in their behavior. They were very adamant. The flight took off on time. Flew for 20 munutes without any trouble, before one of the engines failed. Luckily the pilot could land it safely at Bangalore airport. Till I saw the police force and the fire engines qued up around the aircraft, I could not judge the seriousness of the situation. Then one of the yello clad guys led us to the check in area and we were abandanoned there for some time, till I used Malayalam in a slightly arrogant fashion. I was lucky enough to get a ticket in the next day’s flight. Only seven were lucky to get it. The rest were stranded.

I think Deccan is trying to cut costs too much, which has started reflecting on their service. This day, I had to shell out 500 Rs extra on taxi + another 2000 on room rent. I could have easily flown on kingfisher airlines with peace.

My recommendation to deccan airways;

  • Teach your guys to be polite
  • Have some one senior enough at airports to manage crisis situations
  • Have air conditioned buses at the airports
  • Ensure that aircrafts are serviced properly to eliminate breakdowns

There are pockets of excellence. Some flights are really great experience and at the same time some other flight experience is horrible. A business traveller like me is more interested in consistency, becuase it will reflect on my consistency of good service to my customers. Can Capt. Gopinath, give his ears to this……….

We like your initiative and efforts. We want you to win….

Congratulations Shabbir

DATE: Thu, 21 Sep 2006 08:32:42 -0000

hey Aby, Yesterday cleared the PMP with 70%…not quite
excellent…however atleast cleared !!…I must appreciate
and thank you contribution in getting me achieve this mile
stone…Many thanks. Do kindly let me know If I can be in
any ways helpful to you. Would be my pleasure.

Regards, Shabbir Nalwala

Video on SCRUM by Jeff Sutherland

I thought you’d like to know that there’s a new video on the web,
documenting Jeff Sutherland’s talk on the history of Scrum at JAOO last

http://www.infoq. com/presentation s/The-Roots- of-Scrum
In his JAOO 2005 presentation, Jeff Sutherland covers the history of
Scrum from its inception thru his participation in rolling out Scrum to
industry, to its impact at Easel, Fuji-Xerox, Honda, WildCard, Lexus,
Google. He looks at Scrum types A, B and “all at once” type C, and
confirms the humorous rumour that Kent Beck “stole” Scrum practices when
creating XP.

Power of Vision and Might

Purba Kalita Jodhpur

Varun Arya, director of the Aravali Institute of Management (AIM) in Jodhpur, wanted a new, spacious campus for his institute. All he had were 100 barren acres without a blade of grass 46 km away. The land was a vast stretch of salt and granite with a hillock. No chance of any trees growing there, for sure. As for water, the area was steeped in salt.

“In my 20 years of service I had not come across such saline land,” says Pradeep Chaudhry, conservator of forests of the Arid Forest Research Institute (AFRI), Jodhpur, “The tanks had been dug up. I saw yellowish water at the bottom. It was an unpleasant sight. I put a drop of that on my tongue and it tasted like concentrated hydrochloric acid.”

Today, the same land has six lakes gurgling with water. Three thousand trees are planned. Species that can survive harsh conditions have been short-listed. AIM’s new campus will be constructed with old, forgotten techniques that used lime, sand and coal tar to withstand salt ingression.

Arya spent his childhood working in small shops and pulling a cart. But he did well in school and that trajectory took him to IIT, Delhi and then to IIM, Ahmedabad, where he paid his way through with a loan from the State Bank of India. In 1999, he chucked his Rs 2 lakh per month job at DuPont to set up AIM.

“When I was in the corporate world, I wanted to recruit people from Rajasthan but compared to other students, they fell behind. To bring them to the level of competence, I decided to start AIM,” says Arya who also helped begin the Amity Business School in Noida, considered one of the better private B-Schools in India.

At the new site Arya plans to establish, besides the management school, an engineering and science college, a commerce and arts college, a 10-plus-two school, a prayer and meditation centre as well as residential complexes. “One year from now my students will be learning at this site,” declares Arya. The entire project will be completed in 10 years, he says.

The salinity of the land will be turned into its strength. “We will set up a salt factory. Management students will work there in shifts and get hands-on experience about the industry,” says the indomitable Arya.

And how did 100 acres of hopeless land change overnight?

Arya called in India’s waterman Rajender Singh, to spin some magic. Singh, leader of the Tarun Bharat Sangh, is famous for transforming parched lands into wet zones through rainwater harvesting. “When I visited the site, I realised how anyone could be intimidated seeing white layers of salt on the surface,” says Singh.

But he surveyed the land and pronounced there was hope. Salinity was maximum on the surface, he explained. “I tasted the water on rocks below the surface and found that at some places it did not taste so salty. Therefore I decided to dig deep (12-15 ft).”

This monsoon the lakes are overflowing with rainwater, enough to last till the next year’s monsoon. “It took less than an hour for the lakes to get filled,” recalls Arya. “It’s such a different feeling now. When we came to the site last year, we felt like running away unable to bear the terrible heat,” recalls site architect, Rajesh Sharma. “Now it’s become a picnic spot,” adds a delighted Arya.

The excitement is infectious and you quickly taste the water. And bingo! There is no trace of salinity.

Pessimists say after four to nine months the water will turn saline. But Singh dismisses such ideas. “Paani khaara bilkul nahin hoga” (the water will not turn saline). A composed Arya says, “Let’s wait and watch. With problems come solutions.”

Arya has spent close to Rs 20 lakh on the lakes but Singh says for neighbouring villages to replicate such structures the cost will be lower. “The design will be different. The ones for the institute have been planned keeping aesthetics in mind.”

A green blueprint has been drawn up. “I would have advised against any plantation on the land had it not been for an educational institute,” says Dr Ranjana Arya, senior scientist and head, non-wood forest product at AFRI. She explains that the soil depth is only between 25 cm and 40 cm. For forestry a soil depth of 60 cm is required.

But scientists are tiding over such snags. Both AFRI and the Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Jodhpur have selected salt tolerant species. These include the indigenous Salvador persica (Khara jaal), Cassia siamea, Pongamia (Karanj), Tamarix (Pharash), Bougainvillea, the exotic Australian Acacia ampliceps, Acacia nilotica, Termenallia catappa, Parkinsonia and Neem.

Pits measuring one cubic metre have been dug and filled with soil of good quality. Vermi-compost, farm manure and gypsum, say scientists, could help balance the saline soil. Saplings have been planted at a one metre distance from each other. The peepal saplings failed. Others are braving it out. Dr Arya says it is difficult to predict which trees will survive. “Which plants should be grown more will depend on success rates,” she says.

Arya and Sharma have been undertaking a lot of exploration. “We went to Sambhar Lake and Phagi in Jaipur to study the kind of structures that could withstand salt ingression. We saw a building fall apart in Phagi because of salt,” recalls Arya.

Villagers, Arya says, advocate the use of mudia, a mixture of lime and sand. It was used to build the 500-year-old Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur. So Arya and Sharma got lime from Nagore, 150 km from Jodhpur. Since this ancient form of construction is almost non-existent because of its high cost and the presence of newer and quicker technologies, the machine to process mudia has to be made to order. Earlier, camels ran such machines. Arya uses a tractor. The foundation will be built with mudia up to plinth level.

For the building, an ‘arch foundation’ is being considered to minimise areas of contact. A visit to Swami Maheshwarananda’ s Ashram at Jadan in Pali district provided great insight. “There we saw how liquid coal tar formed a barrier wherever construction came in contact with the ground,” explains Sharma. In addition, measures like DPC or damp proof course, they say, will also be carried out extensively.

Source: http://www.civilsoc ietyonline. com/news_ details.asp? news_id=160

A very memorable experience from a training program

Yesterday we completed a PMP training program at Dubai and this one was very memorable – or rather beginning of a trend. Three of my old college mates from the engineering college attended the program and while in college, I was very close to them and all of a sudden they were sitting infront of me, attending my project management training program. It was real fun, and at times challenging to me to position myself as a trainer rather than a very close friend. During the  breaks we dived into the past memories and at times resulted in big laughter, totally forgetting the surroundings. The other participants were gracious enough to participate in our joy. Our discussions included  some of  our class mates who are no more with us, some doing exceedingly well in their lives (If what I heard is right, Alex owns six helicopters !). This is a batch I will never forget. Cheers to all my college mates…. I love them….

Forming, storming, norming and performing and the PM roles

Forming, storming, norming and performing are the stages of team development. A new person entering the team (forming)will be always evaluating his/her decision to join the team – whether it was correct or not. After some time, the new member gets assrtive about his/ her opinions and views (storming).  After the storming stage, the norming and performing stages follow. When the team is in the forming stage, the PM should play the role of a counseller. “What can I do for you?’ can be the right attitude for the manager at this stage. During the storming stage, the manager has to play the role of a moderator. Should not allow anyone to damage the team’s fabric. During norming and performing stages, the manager should allow the team to perform.

In today’s reduced cycle time of projects (3-6month’s), it is a great challenge for the manager to l;ead the team through all these stages successfully. Added to this, the team can have members at various stages.

This is one of the resons why the team performance will not improve by adding additional resources at the end of a project !

Fortune at the bottom of the pyramid – implemented

In the book ‘Fortune at the bottom of the Pyramid’, C.K Prahlad explains, how products adapted to price sensitive markets, can make profit on volumes. In simple terms, If you can sell a product to every Indian and make a profit Rs.1/sale, you are a billionaire !

Yesterday I took the Deccan airways flight from Cochin to Bangalore. The flight magazine of Deccan, had very interesting facts about their operations (operations of a low cost airline – definitely not low quality). The key points, they are focusing to reduce the cost of operation are;

  • Single class of travel – which helps them to save space and accommodate more passengers / flight
  • No free food – For snacks on board, you have to pay, and it is reasonably priced. This becomes another line of revenue for the airline.
  • Standardization on two models of the aircraft. This brings down the maintenence cost.
  • Employees playing multiple roles (reduction in team size)
  • Web based ticketing – this reduces the commissions to the middle men
  • No seat numbers – this allows passengers to settle down fast, once they are in the aircraft. This in turn helps to save time, hence improving the bottomline.

These are the points I am able to recollect. One noteworthy point is that, all the key positions within the company are played by well experienced people from the industry. So there is no compromise at that level.

I travelled yesterday, becuase in the past, i have had very bad experiences of flight cancellation by deccan. So this time I decided to travel one day earlier, and that flight was right on time!

Deccan air is changing. It started with just one aircraft 3 years back and now owns 20+ brand new aircrafts, an enviable growth indeed. Now they are really focus on schedule slippages and the results have started showing. Iam sure thet Air Deccan will give all other operators a run for their money, while providing a value for money service for the middle class Indian.

Air deccan’s is a true story of how one can enter an already saturated (the perceptions then) segment, where only big timers were involved, and then coming out with a low cost strategy and becoming profitable.

Good luck air deccan.

    Remembering Father Simon

    Recently I was reading the ‘puthary’ souvenier of Muttinakam church. I must say a transformed muttinakam. Thirty years back, Muttikam was a very backward village with absolute poverty. Distilling illicit liquor ‘kotodi’, was the main business. Even police and excise departments were scared to go there, as there were instances of attack on them by the villagers. No vehicle could reach Muttinakam, as there was no proper road, and whatever roads were there, were intercepted by small streams (‘thodu’). It was a self contained, closed community lived in absolute poverty. To this place, Father Simon enters, and it was his first appointment as the Vicar of a church. I have faint memories of him, as a pleasant, loving father, who was at the service of all in need, including my Grandfather, who was bedridden at that time. So Father Simon use to visit our house very frequently, and I was just 7 years old at that time. Even now, the glowing face of Father Simon is very clear to me. He was very special. The first thing, father did was to start a school there. He was visionary enough to understand that lack of education as the root cause for all the problems of the place. And he was very correct. It might have taken 30 years to transform the place and it is real. Now the transformed Muttinakam is a neat housing colony kind of; full of modern houses, a new Catholic Church. The number of high end model, expensive cars plying on the well laid streets of the new Muttinakam is itself proof to the reform that happened there. When most of the other priests served there could speak only of stuff like painting the church, starting a prayer group blah blah….Father Simon stands tall – Very tall. From the magazine I understand that he is terribly sick due to kidney failure, and is spending his old age with his brother at Ernakulam. Thank you dear father, for triggering this transformation.

    A little bit of management thought

    • Cause and effect are not closely related in time and space
    • Small changes can produce big results – but the areas of highest leverage are often the least obvious