Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Uff... Get Organized

Messed finances get organized,

Too much credit get organized,

No time get organized,

Troubled life get organized,

Confused ? Get organized,

Misplacing things ? Get organized,

Missed deadlines ? Get organized,

Forgot important dates ? Get organized,

Screwed relationships ? Get organized,

Delay work ? Get organized,

Scatter attention ? Get organized,

Frittering chances ? Get organized,

Paying fines ? Get organized,

Forgot insurance ? Get organized,

Diagnosed bad health ? Get organized,

Missing active lifestyle ? Get organized,

Procrastinating ? Get organized,

____________ ? Get organized.

One solution applies to anything you wish to throw at it.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Velocity is the biggest Motivator

By reading and trying to adopt lean, I realized that the purpose of targets should be to drive velocity than to cut corners to reach the destination.
Treating target as an absolute figure to either shoot or scoot defeats the purpose. Year on Year there are bound to be hits or misses. What matters is whether the trajectory leads to hope or despair. Chasing a target is exhilarating for sure, but the risks of burn-outs abound. Inching closer with sure steps will help us enjoy the chase at a relaxed pace. Abandoning it after initial enthusiasm and not seeing through demoralizes inner self.

Choosing velocity calibrates the path, make us take informed decisions based on the business and economic conditions. Velocity keeps us engaged with the present, the work at hand, being "in" the role, continously expanding our learning, stretching our horizons as we take confident strides and be better at it with each passing step. 

Consider velocity as a target metric than an end state result that fades to transience and a new one comes in its place.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


It isn't what we do to gain trust that is difficult, but how we behave in a trust worthy environment  that determines our innate nature to trust others and be trusted.

Gaining trust starts with a constant scrutiny and an uneasy relationship that needs us to ignore loose ends, separate our judgments,  become blind and implicit to suspend any residual disbeliefs to start believing in self and others. Once we believe to trust, reinforcing the trust is built on a random sampling of behaviors from a heap of daily interactions, utterances, and perceptions.

Faking behaviors behind repute is unhealthy, misusing intellect is fraud, maneuvouring the vulnerability from a position of power is unpardonable, hiding behind a facade is deceit and any of this leads to disillusionment. Least of all it irrevocably breaks the beholden cradle of trust with lethal consequences. 

Keeping the trust then, needs to become the second nature of our existence. Being natural as to who we are and behaving consistently to our true self, drives better results in any sampling tests. "Just this time" or "Only in this situation" or "Not twice but just once" is a behavior that has been cruel to many lives.

[Ruminations based on recent cases and statistics that all news avenues mince daily]

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Relationships endure communications

Do relationships endure communications or is it the other way around? 
The levels of communication or the breakdown of it impacts this critical piece in our lives. The communication needs to confide or reach out for courtesy, execute a mandate or a flip-around to check reactions depends on how deep relationships grow. The intent in communication manifest in the message and by the way it is conveyed.   
 For the need to share, socialize, speak, be by the side, we need relationships.  Enduring them in good and bad depends on how we communicate. 
For feedback, coaching, mentoring, change management, project deliveries, sales, it is relationships that endure the communications Communications move around at faster pace where relationships are thicker and lesser are the chances of losing valuable opportunities. 
With various forms to communicate, it might be over-whelming, but the need for relationships would reduce the decision making to use the simplest means to be in touch.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Frailness isn't for the leader

And it is for a purpose. With the levers at disposition and the ability to shore up resources, it is by nature expected that a leader has wise counsel available and uses it.

More than anything else, a leader is trusted by their ability to choose what a wise counsel is and who they are.

How the leader acts is a direct reflection of the strength derived from choosing the right advice.  So an act of meekness and a show of weakness in adversity is not excused with "leaders are human" debate. Such fraillies expose the loneliness, lack of friends and the compromising qualities to the adversaries.

To start listening requires the courage and to choose the counsel we wish to keep than be surrounded by just a popular jest.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Mental Casting - How we wish to be?

A good way to wish away and break from the constraining thoughts of our context is by taking a leaf from movies. How glee would it be to wish away all the problems, save the world and be a do-gooder super hero in under 3 hours within our own life spheres.

Trying to cast ourselves as the protagonist and figuring out the behaviors, actions, and attitudes could uncover the gaps that we need to work upon to better our own personality and adapt the styles we like to be associated with. 

Coupled with the attitude of working to reach there, the model gains momentum and tangible results make it a worthwhile exercise of starting with mental casting on "how we wish to be".

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Loyalty based on experience

Trust is earned, it is said. Be consistent, allow predictability, have good intent behind deeds, minimize your self interests, probably few may trust their instincts to expect a behavior pattern in any future event thereby expressing their trust in your abilities. 

Trust is thus broken when inconsistent patterns and internal bearings are challenged without reasonable rationale. 

Where and what then is loyalty? Do we earn it like trust or is it a reward in retrospective? Is loyalty proportional to the count of followers among your reports? Is it part exhibit of an internal fear of needing to be associated with a group?, how much is it enforced by society like in marriage?, Does it matter with hierarchy and used as a means for propelling self's goals ahead?, Does leadership require loyalty for moving ahead or is loyalty a selfless act as marketed in a glamorous package? 

Many places of loyalty share the facet that it moves beyond trust, for sure. There needs a connect beyond the regular context and a quite different setting from the primary need of acquaintance and needing each other. There exists a share pattern of assumed "being there" at times of need, knowledge that every other thing will be subsumed at a time we need to be together and more of a comforting around feeling than needing to be proving useful or giving a solution. 

In hindsight it is always an under explained and un-expressed experience to be loyal to some one and have loyalty towards someone we like and love. And it commands the prestige probably because of this quality to remain unexplained and experienced.

Friday, August 16, 2013

If Data is God...

If Data is God, then

Recording is the ritual
Analysis is a religion
Metrics are the texts and literature
Good KPIs the spirituality

Reporting - the community service
Morphing reality -  the Atheist
Hiding the truth - the disservice
The mirage of "being the best" - The reality

If you can't find God, then there is no Data

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Preparation is better than planning: Where I see the convergence of Lean and SCRUM

One aspect in Lean I have come to appreciate is the ability to be prepared or in an ever "on" state of readiness.

May be, adopting SCRUM model for projects, it was easier for me to relate it this way. One hall mark of agile approach is to see planning as a flexible and an on-going calibration of tasks and schedules instead of a initiation or an initial hand over document expected to be met by teams.

Again to reiterate plans are indeed a part in Agile.

While SCRUM might enable teams to work on flexible plans in projects, Lean pushes the envelope for teams in daily and recurring operations. The best methods of Lean are always and essentially simple.

The hard work is in the rigor of implementation. Reviewing standard work conditions daily, adhering to the tasks as prioritized and planned, adjusting plans while not compromising on essential focus areas as per the target condition definition are critical elements of preparation for any change in plans.

Such teams then, do not wait for plans. They know that they would anyways plan when work comes their way. And until then, they will plan to pull in the work they need.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Unsolicited advice

While ideas and way forward can come for unsolicited advice, it often goes unheeded and resisted when offered one without asking for it. While merits may be there, it will do better to establish and gauge the context before offering one.

As managers or in a role who are expected to coach continuously, the hard work is to wait patiently till the context is established or nudge constantly till the direction is aligned, and the offer is made in a capacity of expectation or future improvement.

Continuous Improvement is one such context. As a team in continuous improvement , any advice can be unsolicited yet can never be washed away unheeded. It may not be acted upon but definitely not without giving it a try or thought.

Isnt that we want when we offer ideas/suggestions/advice ?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

If Children can, Why can't we: Introduction to Standard Work in Lean

If Children can study, play, enjoy, socialize and have fun, how come we miss them when we are the most empowered and responsible lot ? The dawn for me came with understanding of "Standard Work" that Lean culture practitioners must have realized long back.

Children and particularly students have a great exposure to standard work throughout the years of their study. When they are ready to step in to corporate world, the "break-free" mentality takes a toll on the essential virtue that landed them their most valuable prize: Independent and a self managed life.

The ability to prioritize, schedule and work through a calendar with:   
    1. Enough variations (subjects, sports and socialize),
    2. Adapt to changes easily (studies, exams, holidays) 
    3. Continous shift to higher classes of learning and levels(improvement in value and promotions)
    4. Allocate time for personal upliftments  (Arts, Hobbies and Entertainment)
And thus, enjoy a fulfillment of accomplishment, attention and happiness

We as a child and a teen in college had this wonderful practice and model which is suddenly conflicted with endurance to sustain it when faced with the turmoils of learning on-the-job, handling personal distractions with conscious responsibilities that often become a source of conflicting priorities.

Looking at Standard work as something we are used to as a child might bring in a relief to work, play and enjoy a balanced life while building a successful professional career.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Using "Boiler Plate" text to overcome Writers block

Recently I had writers block for more than 3 weeks. That too, on a task that is critical, important and binding upon me to complete. This is one task that cannot be delegated and is my core responsibility.

Till this task hit me I was under self-belief that given constraints and pressure, I would get myself moving and get things done. I have my standards for output and that when I apply myself whichever be the way (voluntary or forced) I would get the desired output that I am satisfied with.

This time, it was not to be. No amount of tools came to my help. I tried talking my way to get some force act on me, but they discouraged me further this time. I informed my boss hoping his mild censure will motivate me. Well, it was not to be.

The situation was strange. If I had not heard the word "writers block" I would have been frustrated at the state I was in. Here is a task where the end date is near but not too near to stretch on time crunch and with no other priorities at hand. You would exclaim, "Ideal time to be a manager." and I would agree. Yet not able to do the one thing that is the focus at the time and get it accomplished is a huge let down.

As usual, the end date got near and there was no way I could let the end date pass yet I still am far from the finish line.  And then Eureka, I found myself going at it with ease, pace and confidence. The first draft looked decently dressed and on track for a proper finishing in subsequent reviews. The magic that eluded me was: "Boiler Plate Text".

As I had to get the job done, I tried some random scribblings that I could repetitively use. The flow started to show itself. And then the scribbles fell into a pattern. I could see my writing show itself up in:
1. A conversational style.
2. Initiate my pitch from where the protogonist ends their story.
3. Giving a summary and then moving into the specifics.

Lo!. The exact phrases were in place. All I now needed to put my head on was to create the descriptive specifics. Well, that could be handled with less pain as these missing pieces were easier to visualize for the uniqueness.

And this gave me the way out of writer's block. Has "boiler plates" helped you overcome writer's block. I would be interested to know perspectives.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Agile is not synonymous with Un-preparedness

Many a times, in name of agile, I have heard that
  1. Planning isn't necessary, as we need to work on what comes our way.
  2. Control of work is to be eliminated as members will pick the next story once they finish their current load,
  3. Clients are free to submit the changes they want and move it to iterations or extend the schedules of Sprints,
  4. Technology and architecture (code in software/IT) can be modified at later time and redone as the requirements evolve anytime during the course of the project.
  5. Team members can come and go and will only be retained for the part they need to spend their timeand many similar stories...
  6. These are perceptions that are difficult to change and are needless to be associated, just because the word "agile" loosely means "flexibility".

In fact to be agile, it requires a great amount of preparedness. Each stakeholder (Client, Sponsor, Reviewers, Consultants, Vendors, Developers, Designers, Testers, Support staff) all require to posses in themselves:
  1. Attitude, Alertness, Adaptiveness, Swiftness, Resourcefulness, Decisiveness on the job
  2. Abilities to present, praise, practice, preach and be with passion through to the job sign-off
  3. Accept self-introspection, Admit faults in open, Assess the future state continuously
  4. Channelize the learning, Champion a cause, Customize their skills

It will be great to see results from agile implemented as a people practice and the team transforming their project and results experience rather than the other way around.

Friday, February 15, 2013

8 costly wastes to eliminate in Money matters

Lean principles aren't just for corporate settings. It could make us as efficient personally as the productivity and quality improvements we see in organizations and teams. In knowledge world, personal Kaizen is an important tool as much as practicing Kaizen and Continous Improvements in the worksphere.

A major focus area of Lean to achieve improvements in quality, productivity and thereby boosting business, employee morale and group innovation is the relentless attack in eliminating waste. Theory states that there are 8 types of waste identified in Lean.

In financial world, money is lost for every mistake done. We pay more for every day delay to correct the mistake. No waivers on this. Applying the Lean principles and with recent repeated losses, I started realizing these 8 costly wastes that could have been easily avoid with simple discipline.

1. Interest and penalty payments: All this takes is to set reminder alerts and ensure funds are available and done on time. Be aware of bank holidays which can make just in time plans go awry. So better is to alert self 2 days in advance and force execute them to avoid hassles of wasting money on interests and penalties.
It is good to allow for auto payment schedules. However, make it a rule to check if the payments are debited on time and there are funds in the account. Otherwise the fortunes of 2 companies at same time are improved at cost of "you".

My resolution is to never make an interest payment.

2. Discretions vs recurring expenses on Credit: We all love to shop. I love to de-stress with mall hopping and splurging for myself on occasional times. After joining professional world and moving out far from family, I find shopping pleasurable not during festival or off season sale times, but when I find myself strained, stressed and the random "where is my life headed?" thoughts.
We are so used to home and car loans that they are by default advised to be acquired as assets through loans and EMI than blocking own complete capital. Makes sense as far as cash flow arguments are concerned. However beyond them, discretionary purchases on home care, luxury goods, items beyond needs and immediate use goods will be smarter if paid from savings and not using credit.
Credit is a wise way to use on recurring monthly spends so that patterns could be un-covered and the self-control to afford them becomes a habit. So far, I resisted the urge to live life on credit. These days I have 3 loans going on that drains my income by 10th of every month.

Splurge, Spend, Live a good life, but please, not on credit but through  savings.

3. Paying upfront service charges or subscription amount: I made this mistake recently. Luckily it was a bearable amount. It was my weakness to be benevolent at all times that made me the "bakra" (scape goat) for this sales team. Thankfully I negotiated to a far less amount that I could experiment with.

Wiser from experience, I would recommend learning to say a curt "NO", when some one is saying that for a better service or lesser running charges, they need advance fees. Who pays us like that? Why should we encourage it for others ? It is a interest free loan that we extend at our expense and it is not good for our pocket. E.g. Brokerages, Time-share holidays, etc. Unless the clause is easy to pro-rate the advance against the services we would use/consume and it is just a means of parking the funds for mutual benefit.

4. Maintaining balances: Scourge on market for bank products that allow us to maintain zero balance in savings but allow you to have a high relationship value. These days banks offer schemes that allow you to have better facilities on relationship value than savings account minimum balance. Zero balance accounts are good. But when your account is needed to debit funds through ECS or auto-payments, then you need to maintain balance in your account on said dates.

5. In-secure or hedged spending: We spend in hope to buy cheaper products or services buy alternate services that are cheaper than current provider. Well, this is sensible and a financial savvy thing to do. However, in this competitive world, please check with current service provider on a competing offer that their competitors have offerred. Ask them if they would like to match it for the offer. If so, the problem is solved. Otherwise, terminate your current relationship before taking on other relationship. Evaluating 2 services or products simultaneously makes you pay for the same value twice.
I did this with datacard service providers and have just managed to exit after rental loss of 3 months.

6. Multiple Investment Options: Too many eggs in one basket is diffcult to count and too many baskets with one egg is difficult to manage.

Choose investment options that is comfortable for self. Meaning the investment is understandable to operate, grow, and the downsides. In financial advisor terms, determine your risk profile. If you are told that the instrument is best suited for fast track growth or an instrument is safe, invest in your understanding on how they work.

I was advised that Options and Commodities are exciting ways to manage downside of holding stocks. Hence little investments in these instruments will be desired in my portfolio. I did listen, as I always do but never understood how they work and what is needed of me to make them work.
As expected, they resulted in waste of my precious resource - money. Not to say they are undesirable means, but just that it never was easy for me to learn.

7. Losing Attention: Coming from middle class background with emphasis on education to ensure working in adult age, the drive was to excel at work. For excelling at work we make adjustments, compromises, decisions, focus on our careers thinking they would give us a good retired life. It does and will do, but this focus will not enable your money and investments to appreciate.

Just as careers improve due to focus and attention for most part of waking time, investments and financial conditions can only improve with focus and attention to this important sphere. Investing and forgetting them is sure way of not reaping fruits when they are ripe but picking them up after they fall to ground.

I learnt to attend to money matters as much as I care for work. It is not a dichotomy but an essential truth that both are required to succeed and improve our living conditions.

8. Inventory at Home: There are so many things in our house that when we put a cost to each and the utility of them, we know what we have on hand. Alas, many of them are lying assets that are aging and losing their value.

So, as in lean, maintaining inventory is a waste in money world. We keep substantial investments in physical assets that lying unused they are an under utilized capital. These cannot be done away with, but they can be thought of utilized better to recover the value of inventory.

Give a thought to charity and joy of giving, if possible.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Without Love or Care to do

Without Love or Care to our duties, we will never know how the actions hurt others. It is not the indifference that gets others irritated. It is a state chosen to be in, which though a crib, doesn't per se become a concern. What comes out of delegation from an indifference to the job is escapism at expectation of others to do your biddings. This becomes an irritant par expression. Escapism is the state of being a sadist.

All of us are self-centered creatures. In business, we are trained to address "What is in it for Me" as a motivator. This is not a selfish view at the cost of others but a view centered around the accurals for self with the benefit to others.

Not sharing a love or care for doing a duty, is the most depressing human tendency to address.

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