Do Indians need to be challenged to perform !

Gandhiji had to be thrown out of the train in South Africa for his adrenalin to pump, resulting in the exit of the British from India. The 20-20 Indian cricket (world champions) team was the underdogs till the tournament started and at some point in time they were on the verge of exit. Captain Dhoni was frank enough to accept the fact that ‘lack of confidence by former indian cricketers in his teams ability to win’ irked him and his team mebers, which resulted in better teaming. The movie, Chuk De India – also portrays a similar situations. The current tour of the Indian cricket team is another example. The Australian’s tried to bully them, and it resulted in better teaming.

The same situation prevails at work. Very often the best performance comes out when one is challenged!. This is what is lacking in the Indian IT field. We are not challenged, or rather, the challenges are not visible to the average IT worker. We donot have a common enemy. Having a common enemy to fight / to play the game is a must for every Indian (my view)  

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Getting civlized and loosing

 Here is a news item appeared in the economic times

 PERTH: Struggling to digest the defeat India rammed down the hosts’ throat in the third Test, a section of the Australian media on Sunday reacted with dented pride and hurt ego as it sought to pick holes in the visitors’ emphatic win.

Stung after Anil Kumble and his comrades-in-arms halted the Australian juggernaut, denying them a record 17th straight Tests win, the media here cried foul, blaming the defeat to India’s financial clout and the game’s “weak-kneed” governing body.

“India’s stunning performance in the third Test at the WACA should be dedicated to a lot more than the 11 players out on the field,” a whining report in the ‘Courier Mail’ said.

“They should share their pay cheques with their bullying officials back home, the weak-kneed administrators at the International Cricket Council and certain members of the media who have taken every opportunity to put the knife into the Aussies since this series began,” Mike Colman wrote in the daily.

The barrage of criticism after the acrimonious Sydney Test had forced Ricky Ponting and his teammates to discard their ruthlessness and the rather civilised approach to the game never really worked for them, he said.

“Remember that scene in one of the Rocky movies where Rocky’s trainer tells him he’s no longer feared by his opponents?

‘Kid,’ he says, ‘the worst thing that could happen to a fighter happened to you. You got civilised.'”

“In the space of a week the Australians got civilised…So instead of a confident, arrogant, winning team, we get a nice, civilised one. Maybe a losing one,” it rued.

To read the original article click here

Vacation is over – Work starts now

My vacation is over and from tomorrow onwards I am at Dubai – starting off with a PMdistilled workshop. In fact I did not relax during this vacation also as usual. I was just busy with a different set of activities, which normally I dont do, when I am busy with my work. Some of the fruitful things I did during this vacation include;

1) 3 trips to Cherai beach

2) Attending 6 family functions

3) Investing in real estate (paid the advance for a Villa)

4) Spending some time with family (had a family get together where all my siblings were present)

5) Spending some time with my daughter

6) Deleting some blogs

Now it is time to embrace year 2008 – professionally !

classtube crosses 1000 registered users and will soon touch 1000000000000 !

Getting the initial set of users for  any newly launched product, in this case classtube (a SAAS – software as a service) for e-learning (students, teachers and organizations), is the most challenging.  Today is a proud moment for all of us at classtube, becuase the number of registered users crossed 1000 today within 3 minutes – SORRY – three month’s 🙂 of it’s launch. Thank you very much for your support and my special thanks to Tony Benito, who really made it possible.  We dont know whether this is the tipping point or not. We are just keeping our fingers crossed. With just two programs going live, 1000 registered users in 3 months flat gives us some hope :-).

go to classtube

Benefits of blogging

Yesterday I watched the debate on NDTV regarding blogging. I am blogging for the past few years and these are my learnings;

  • I hate others blogs. I keep visiting  compulsive confessor, becuase I want to understand how the current generation of Indians think and act. I dont even remember other blog titles, except my own blogs. My mind goes blank, when I try to recollect the names of other blogs !. So is it much ado about nothing !
  • I dont hate my blog. I am in love with my blogs. They give me company. I just watch the hits going up (most of the visits are by myself, just to check the hit counter – If there is a comment posted by someone I am lucky). Even then it is satisfying.
  • It does not matter whether other’s like my blogs or not… that is the beauty of blogging. I dont need other’s approval for blogging
  • Blogging helps me to enjoy freedom of speach
  • Blogging helps me to respect others (defamation suits, Intellectual property violations)
  • Blogging helps me brand me
  • Blogging helps me to release tension
  • When i dont have anything else to do, I can blog
  • When I have too many things to do, I can blog – just to escape from them
  • Blogging teaches me to observe things and situations better – You are always in the look out for something to blog
  • A blog picks up, if it has some value to deliver to the reader
  • A blog has to be nurtured like a plant. It has to grow and blossom
  • Others think that you are doing some very important work
  • When my mind is not working, I just blog :-). The number of entries in my blog is directly proportional to the dullness of my mind (sometimes)
  • When i brim with energy – I blog sometimes
  • When i dont get sleep…instead of smoking another cigarette…I blog
  • Recently someone recognized me at the airport becuse he reads my blogs – that was quite satisfying
  • I am dreaming about the day I become a celebrity blogger and my blogs getting 1000000000000000000000 hits / day 🙂

See you then. 🙂

The age of win-lose!

In today’s malayala manorama daily. Mohanlal – the super hero of the malayalam film industry mentions about the sadistic tendencies prevailing in today’s society. When somebody is suffering – someone else celebrates. When a country looses in a war – the winner rejoices. When Benazir Bhutto got killed, lot of people rejoiced. When Indira Gandhi got killed the same happened…when Rajiv got killed…the story repeated again. When a project fails – competitors rejoice. When Harbajan got accused by the Aussie team rejoiced. When the umpire Steve Bucknor became the scapegoat, so many rejoiced – It is becoming a world of more and more win-lose or lose-lose.

What is happening to win-win!. Is there further scope for win-wins. I am just wondering !

Finish it Off – Done (fast)

When I enjoy something, I want more of it. It can be just surfing the net, work, partying, design..etc etc…. I dont feel guilty about it, because it is human tendency to do so. I have lot of work to complete today, still I am blogging and I am enjoying it. There are some very important work pending. I will do it, that is for sure and at times, there are situations where my very important work is affected becuase of these flirtations with the stuff I enjoy. One side the innovative me is in action, where as on the other hand that solid work I must complete to make some meaning out of the innovative work I am doing is waiting for attention. 

I can spend another 10 minutes perfecting and enhancing this blog entry and I am not going to do it, becuse I have to submit two business proposals and be ready with the course material for a one day program !.

While enjoying work, the urge to finish it off fast  and move on to the next is also very important.

No plan is good enough so keep on planning !

Out of my 20 years in IT projects, I am yet to see a project, which went as per the plan from start till the end. We started every project with the best of intentions and tried to create the the best project plan ever, which never happened.  Some of the key learnings were;

  • Dont try to plan a project from start till end in detail
  • Start with a road map (with major milestones identified)
  • Break the project to the work package levels and estimate at the work package levels
  • For the immediate window (say 30 days – plan in detail at the activity level)
  • Use the simplest of the tools and stick to it
  • Keep perfecting / updating / changing the plan throughout the project. It is not a one time activity, it is an ongoing activity

Dont be in a hurry to finish off the design!

Arriving at the right database design is the critical success factor for any successful application software development. Since it is at the start of the project, very often we are in a hurry to show some progress hence in a hurry to finish off the design. Spend enough and more time for design, it is an investment!.  If the design is good then half the job is done. If the design is bad, the work involved gets doubled. Keep designing, till it gets simple (near third normalization).  Sometimes there can be situations where everyone involved agrees on a particular design and you are not completely convinced. Dont force a decision. Stop the discussion, get into some other activity, then get back into the decision making process again.

The gurus have already spreading word on evolutionary design and data base refactoring (www.martinfowler.com)

Nescafe Vs Britania (courtesy Gigy)

The marketing director of Nescafe manages to arrange a meeting with the
> Pope at the Vatican .
>
> After receiving the papal blessing, the Nescafe official whispers, ‘Your
> Eminence, I have some business to discuss. We at Nescafe have an offer
> for you. Nescafe is prepared to donate $100 million to the church . if
> you change the Lord’s Prayer from ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ to
> ‘Give us this day our daily coffee’.”
>
> The Pope looks outraged and thunders, “That is impossible. The Prayer is
> the word of the Lord, It must not be changed.” Well,” says the Nescafe
> man somewhat chastened, “We anticipated your reluctance. For this
> reason, and the importance of the Lord’s prayer to all catholics, we
> will increase our offer to $300 million. All we require is that you
> change the Lord’s Prayer from ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ to
> ‘Give us this day our daily coffee’.”
>
> Again, even more sternly, the Pope replies, “That, my son, is
> impossible. For the prayer is the word of the Lord and it must not be
> changed.”
>
> Finally, the Nescafe director says, “Your Holiness, we at Nescafe
> respect your adherence to your faith, we realise that tradition is
> essential to your beliefs, we fully understand the importance of the
> word of the Lord …………….but we do have one final offer. Please
> discuss it with your cardinals. We will donate $500 million to the great
> Catholic church if you would only change the Lord’s Prayer from ‘Give us
> this day our daily bread’ to ‘Give us this day our daily coffee’.
> Please, please consider it.” And he leaves.
>
> The next day the Pope convenes the College of  Cardinals. “There is
> some Good news,” he announces, “and some bad news   …..
> The good news  is, he continues to a hushed assembly, ‘ that the Church
> will get $ 500 million.”
>
> “And what is the bad news, your Holiness?” asks a Cardinal.
>
> “Sadly” says the Pope ,
> .
> .
> .
> .
> .
> .
> .
> .
> We would have to lose the Britannia Account !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Project management thought for 2008!

It is a confused world out there. People want to make money, by working in non-profit making initiatives. We have the PMBOK by the project management institute, which is a non profit making organization, which offers nothing free of cost. The PMI claims that PMBOK is the de facto standard for project management. Then the Britishers say PRINCE2 is the defacto standard for project management. Now I see P2M by the Project management association of Japan and there is another one from the Australians.

As a project manager and as a project management trainer from India, we have to cater to the needs of the customers from USA,UK,Australia and Japan…and many other countries, who are aligned to one of these methods (rather imposed). If this much complexity is not sufficient, then comes the Agile Gurus, who just plucked out the rolling wave planning and built on it’s foundation. Dont think that Agile Alliance membership is free. They also want to make money.

If this much is not enough, then there are another set of customers, who do not beileve in anything. The mantra is ‘Just Do What I Say – JDWIS’. This category of Customers allocates work whenever they feel like, will change it whenever they like and they also insist on plans and schedules. They need Extreme XP !

When I compare all these models, the similarities are more than the dissimalrities.

Here goes the similarities;

1) Everyone wants to make money

2) Everyone wants to use these methods as a strategic weapon to capture markets

3) It is the same old wine, in different bottles.

4) The Ingredients of the wine are plan – do – check and act

As an Indian project manager, I am sand witched between all these. In one of my project management workshops we were discussing about the need to understand the different cultures to function effectively as a global project manager. Suddenly someone posed this question….”Are we trying please everyone?. Is it becuase we do not have our own style?.  What is our style?. Are we just trying to impress others?. “.

In the past, we had some bad experiences with the flawed implementations of CMM. India is a nation which writes the maximum number of software code and at the same time we have not produced many killing software products coming out of India. Is this the price we are paying for trying to please others (hang over from the colonial India).

I think it is high time to filter the best out of all these and form a NON ALIGNED PROJECT MANAGEMENT !

It is disgusting to see this much ado about nothing. It is  high time to dispell all these and come out with a simpler – just enough one !. A NON aligned one – An all aligned one !.

I can be contacted at   abrachan (at) gmail (.) com

No resolution is my new year resolution for year 2008

Past two weeks I was spending time at my Village, doing nothing related to the corporate world. Nothing happened to the corporate world. It went on smoothly (if not better), without me. My life was also resonably good, without the corporate world. During my teens, this song was very popular ‘We dont need now education…We dont need now thought control…’. Hope this song is very popular even now becuase my daughter sings it once in a while (especially when her grades in school is not that great!).  We are all trained to live in a specific manner (as a doctor, as an engineer, as a coder….). We believe that that is our destiny. ‘Success is the enemy of greatness’ …very true indeed. Once we are successful, we are ‘Ok’ with it and does not want to try anything different.

I am an electrical engineer by profession, worked in the software engineering field for a very long time…..and I made my money in real estate 🙂

My resolution for this New year is to take no resolution at all. I just want to enjoy life…a day at a time. Let us see what happens !