Sunday, October 28, 2012

Being Google!

Get your Google BackGoogle came up with this video same day Windows 8 was launched. I agree it lacks the geek quotient but its a simple video explaining how the Get your Google back on Windows 8.  

Its a simple and smart way to ensure business is intact and at the same time show the customer that we care. An MBA professor can make a huge case study out of this underlining the jargon called Change Management. But that will be mainly BS.

The moot point being   - Often we take our customers for granted. How the world is changing around them ceases to be our concern. But its so important. 

Its such an obvious thing to do and yet so many companies around the world don't think on those lines. When I seek bad examples, I go no further that Indian telecom companies. With all the apparently sophisticated analytics they have in place, they fail to tell me that a cheaper plan is available for similar data speeds. (This being the change in their own eco system) but seem to always remind me of new Tamil tunes on Airtel even though my language selection mentions otherwise. And therefore, for reasons not so hidden anymore, I don't trust Airtel to help me ride the change.

Does your company help it's customers to ride the wave of change? 
Is your company being Google?. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Show is going on!

Apple reported its highest quarterly revenue and profits number ever. It briefly surpassed  Exon Mobil as the most valuable company in the world. Its cash reserves are sufficient to buy the top tech companies (refer pic) at 10% premium. Its revenues are greater than GDP of 105 countries in the world. And its profits are equivalent to the profit of Google, Intel, Microsoft and Yahoo combined. The picture below from WSJ summarizes it accurately.

Putting this into perspective with something I wrote in 2009 - The show must go on. Well indeed the show is going on.  Since then Apple's revenue have grown from a modest $10 Billion to $46billion in the quarter ending 31st Dec 2011. Cash reserves have grown from $28 billion to $97 Billion and gross margins have increased substantially.

And of course the juggernaut keeps amazing us each day. Apple has continuously kept changing their business model before people could fathom and created an enchanting eco-sphere for all their products and services. IT JUST WORKS!! And thats where the idiosyncratic Steve comes in. He was able to see/approve the model, much before anyone else could. Tim Cook, handpicked by Steve Jobs himself has taken over the reigns seamlessly. And he is got a tremendous team in Phil, Scott, Oppenheimer and Williams to take on the mantle. 

But its still too early to do away with the concerns raised in my earlier post - The current product portfolio and product pipeline can easily sustain the momentum for roughly another 2-3 years. And things will be pretty smooth till that time. Apple though needs to continously reign over and change the paradigm as it has been doing. It has got some amazing people who are capable of doing that but will they be crazy enough to do it? The answer I am hoping will be YES!!

P.S: I had a brief debate with Ankush on which company has bigger impact on our lives - Apple or Google. Well my obvious answer is Apple simply because they created the PC world in which the need for Google arose. And even if people don't use Apple products directly most of the tech products today are reflection of Apple's though leadership in design and technology. So, vote you heart out  on the Poll available on the right nav of the blog. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Work Bubble Concept

After what happened in 2008, we all know what an Asset bubble is. I am sure we knew it before that also but the glamor quotient came only after 2008.
Well, today I will expose you to what is a "Work Bubble". As you would have guessed, its not a complex phenomena which needs experimental evidence to be proved. Its just an abstraction of what we see around ourselves sometimes, typically in large organizations.

The genesis interestingly lies in the following simple traits of human behavior
1. Everyone wants to save their ass - No one wants to own up anything. Everyone always wants an excuse in case things go wrong.
2. Everyone wants to find work where there's none - Well does it need any explanation? People have to justify their salaries.

Its like disguised employment. Bringing in an analogy, work bubble means creating an illusion of work when there's none and charging the customer for that.
Now a visual representation of what I want to explain:

This is more like the ant story we have all heard/read here and there. But what does this entail?
This entails polynomially less "actual" work than portrayed out to be. Polynomially more costs , polynomially less efficient solutions. But do we care?

What this leads to is a false belief that things are on track because you are measuring the wrong things to track progress. Instead of measuring the actual work done, we measure the number of documents made till now, lines of code written till now, and taking a little more liberty sometimes we also tend to mention that meetings which we have held till now to showcase progress. Nothing could be further from the ideal scenario. In this respect, Eric Ries (a champion of this cause) is coming up with some amazing tips and a book.

At the end of the day, its about communicating clearly and getting the things done. No doubt communication is most critical and cannot be undermined. For sure, without consensus things cannot progress. But how much effort you need, to make communications simple and scalable. No doubt there will be some necessary non value adding activities.But in its guise of communication so much non value added activities are authorized by design that its close to appalling. 

Its like a Ponzi scheme. When everything is hunky dory this doesn't matter. However when going gets tough, pressure is exerted on the bubble. And for those of you who have studied surface tension, would appreciate the distress of a bubble under such pressure. Unfortunately this bubble is more thick skin and takes more time to bow out but bow out it shall.

Why it matters in IT?
Work bubble will not be a nuisance in industries where we don't have headcount linked revenue model.However,  IT services is in one of those phases where currently the prices are moving from transient to  stabilized levels based on the nature of work. Hence commoditized work would have downward pricing pressure and upward cost trends. On top of that, for the foreseeable future the incumbent model is here to stay. In such places, cumulative work bubble impact will become huge and almost wrecking for any organization.

Here's hoping that this bubble will also burst sometime and unlike the Financial industry which is back to its perilous money making ways, the tech service industry will actually come out stronger with better frameworks. Though they are being adopted to solve other problems , approaches like MVP, Agile, SCRUM are the way forward in cleansing the mess. Hoping these will not get corrupted.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tell the truth - It ain't too bad

Here's something for all you budding HR folks out there. I hope this amuses you enough to effect some changes in whichever organization you are in.

I hate to break this to you but its immaculately true - 'We discuss our packages within the team'. Yes our network is so strong and so fool proof. So, I don't know what one really tries to accomplish by treating the salary information as a 'Holy grail'.

My contention is this - If one is so confident about one's processes and the outcome, if one is so sure that the CTC actually reflects the value gained from the employee's job description, if one is so sure that there is little subjectivity in the system and all actual outcomes actually mirror the complex algorithms written to decide the quota, hike % etc, then there is NO reason to hide it. Unfortunately all the mathematics is just meant for the documentation whereas the actual scenario is completely different.

Why should compensation be hidden from other people. By hiding it, one creates more suspicion than faith. By hiding it, it becomes all the more clear that the remuneration is not based on the factors that are sung along in every god damn ppt by the management but some other adhoc scenarios. I understand there are pressures. I understand you work with some unreasonable expectations in terms of lead times and numbers when it comes to sourcing. So say it. Make it known to people that your salary structure is not meant to appease people and display the illusion of equality. It's market based. Whats wrong in admitting that. Unfortunately this comes up only in one to one discussions with HR managers where they put their case. Why this hypocrisy? Why this display of people caring when all you are concerned with is the least cost to company.
You know it, employees know it, even your CEO knows it!!

Here's some thing your senior management will never say - Being concerned with least cost to company is not wrong if you are getting the same talent. Get up today and CHANGE! Make it a honest place!

Rather, I would suggest a novel approach. Reach out to people really interested in the job profile. Make work interesting not by having Friday dressing (do tat by all means) but seek out people who love the work they do. And you will elevate.

Disclaimer : I know it happens in other areas as well. But HR is a good place to start

Appraisal of Life!!!!!!

APPRAISAL : The classification of someone or something with respect to its worth (As defined by WordWeb)

Appraisal is one word which raises lots of inquisitveness in our industry. "Hey dude, whats up man.... By the way what ratings you got". This is a greeting you can expect from your peers even when you are roaming around with one ear. Nobody notices your missing ear or enquires about it. All people care about at that time is whats your rating. Other irrelevant matters can wait until next month. People are ready to talk to some one they abhor just to know his/her performance rating. Thats true !!! people care so much about your performance that it wont be weird if a girl who had slapped you two days earlier comes up to you and talks all sweety.... cutey to get to know your appraisal ratings. Man .... People are curious to know how you perfomed in your professional life.I wonder about this peculiar nature sometimes and its origin but when I see m myself going nowhere, I attribute this to an aspect of human nature. :)

But there is another thing which troubles me a lot and that is how do I perform in life? Who is the one who will be doing the appraisal of my LIFE. Who will decide my worth. Who has the credibility of becoming my PDM(one who appraises). And as you all know before the appraisal we all set objectives. Lets say now if I am being appraised on my performance in life and I want to set my objectives. Obviously I will want them to be relevant and the way to make them relevant is to find out my purpose in life. This is the toughest part to figure out and hence this will take the largest amount of words in this article will be spent to finding the purpose.

After investing time in one of my most favorite activity i.e. SLEEP I am not left with much time for breaking my head on worldly matters of truth and reason or attaining that all important "critical attitude" towards every thing and anything which is oblivious to me. But some times (when I cross all limits of sleep and even my body refuses to relent to my desires) I give credence to the question raised above- "Whats the purpose of man's stint on this earth?". Is it just as simple as to mate with a woman and help producing more men and women so that they produce even more men and women? Or is it to do with mythological angle of man's curse of facing troubles for some thing he does not even know he did some time back? Or is it about earning lotsa money and fame and respect and go back satisfied without anything you earned? Perplexed with all these unconvincing Reasons to live I am nowdays trying to unfold the mystery. Guys dont think otherwise I am not joining any Ashram...... just pandering to my inquisitiveness.

"My Quest has taken me to the physical, metaphysical, delusional and back" - John Nash - Nobel Prize Speech. The line fits here exquisitely. I have tried desperately to know the reason for all this commotion in my mind. But all efforts have gone in vain. All I know is that life is some thing which is a cloak under which are hidden things which you are not aware. Nobody knows "Whats right or wrong for him/her". People think --- "Oh my god, Was this decision good for me or I would have been better off taking the alternative." This opens a totally new angle of destiny and fate but I will better not delve into it for the time being. They say every man's life has a reason. I dont know from where they got such an Enlightenment, but I really face a hard time figuring out my life's reason.

One of the major theory* which is largely endorsed(in India) is that GOD decides what we are supposed to face in life depending on our deeds. It is as if he is appraising all of us depending on his own parameters. In a world where God himself is fighting for few yards of land in court, i wonder from where he gets the time to check out deeds of 6 billion people (and counting). I mean we all know how messy the court fights can become.

So if I go by this theory atleast one of my queries is solved and that is who will appraise me? -- GOD of course. But here in company we have a meeting with our PDM(one who appraises) to decide upon the objectives. With GOD, such a meeting is not possible thats a glitch. But atleast GOD should tell us parameters on which he will appraise me.
I was just wondering as to how the processes which help our HR decide our appraisals can help GOD decide. It will be a sea of good if People Function Team (HR) can help GOD with a trick or two for this. I have some suggestions though:
Just imagine - Wouldnt it be better if we were sent along with a "birth-epitah" on which the reason for our lifes is engraved and we can work towards fulfilling that like we do for our Annual objectives?. May be GOD can bring some sort of accountability and predictability in this process by adopting the above mentioned method.
And after that based on the extent of our achievement, he can decide and give ratings "AE- Above expectations, ME- Met Expectations, BE- Below Expectations SBE- Significantly Below Expectations". Those can then be mapped to each of our graves, burials and pasted there. Guess Nandan's UID will help GOD in this regard (tat is if and when its successfully implemented).

Well another angle to this is that GOD has given us the freedom to choose our own reason and work towards it. But this shows GOD's denial of assigning task and just procrastinating. Well the jobs not easy but after all you are GOD!! you can just flick a finger and get the ink to write the epitah of all the people.

Anyways - my sanity has taken me back to the point I started. Not to ponder in unknown waters unless you wanna really drown.

For now Appraisal @ my company is all I can handle.