Monday, January 12, 2015

R.I.P Common Sense

Inspired from an Obituary printed in the London Times.....Adapted to India's reality !!

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, or which caste he belonged to, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape and the Babu in-charge demanded Rs. 500/- to retrieve it for us. 
He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
- Ownership of cow depends on who holds the stick;
- Why the early bird gets the worm;
- Life isn't always fair;
- And maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. You can get away with murder but get jailed for a harmless criticism on Facebook. In a hospital, the FORM comes first not the LIFE of the patient.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools charged more for teaching your child ABCD than what you spent for your entire education. 
Common Sense lost the will to live as religious institutions became businesses; and criminals like Ajmal Kasab was fed chicken biriyani while Tukaram Ombule's family wonders about their future.
Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from your own elected MP when he grabbed your land where you planning to build a dream house and worse face police action if you resisted.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live when astrologers linked your rape to everything under the sun like chow mien, your zodiac sign BUT not the sick mindset of the criminal or the non-existent law & order.
Common Sense was preceded in death,
-by his parents, Truth and Trust,
-by his wife, Discretion,
-by his daughter, Responsibility,
-and by his son, Reason.
He is survived by his 5 stepbrothers;
- I Know My Rights
- I Want It Now
- Someone Else Is To Blame
- I'm A Victim
- Pay me for Doing Nothing
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.
If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Execution: The Differentiator

"Strategy is now an commodity. The Difference between organizations if now Execution" ~ D ShivKumar (approx words NOT verbatim)

As you may or may not be aware, PepsiCo got a new CEO 30 weeks back in D Shivkumar. In one of my privileged interactions with him, he was stressing on the importance of execution and why strategy's importance is increasingly getting diminished.

Its something we all intrinsically realize at a sub conscious level that a good strategy + Bad execution < Bad strategy + Good execution. In the latter you can course correct and always win big. In the former you are always doomed unless your competition does worse. 

So what is Execution? It has several definitions but the one I believe most strongly is that "Execution is the art of getting done what you wanted, right the first time".

Here is OPERATIONALLY what I feel you need to get right to get Execution right:
  • Strategy needs to thorough. It needs to consider the entire journey upto the last mile.
  • It needs to be absolutely clear to the last pair of hands which are going to execute your strategy
  • It should be measurable and track-able by the last pair of hands
  • There is should NOT be any scope for simplification/data processing for the last pair of hands. It should be as simple as print the page and do it.
  • Execution guidelines, driven by 'Executer' insights, should suggest/recommend the path of least habit change. Otherwise energy will be spent in trying to change the habits rather than Execution.
However CULTURALLY we need to ensure that the last pair of hands don't try to play the role of a strategist. Once the strategy is set by the Strategy guys and translated into Field execution guidelines by the middle managers, others need to go DO IT and not 'plan' further. So discipline is something that can make and break your Execution.

All this is easier said than done. But how often are you paid well for doing something easy?


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

SmackD's nuska to revive Indian Grand Prix

Recently its been all over the news that F1's journey in India would come to an abrupt end. I have been expecting this from the first time I saw Indian Grand Prix on TV. It was missing the essential Indian tadka to the entire F1 experience - Potholes !
Driving on Indian roads presents a unique unsurpassable adventure, only because some kind soul put the effort to bribe somebody and use sub-standard materials while constructing the road. No, this is no sarcastic remark. Once you have adjusted to the idea of potholes, the whole thing suddenly metamorphoses into a game.
If you ever had the pleasure in navigating through series of one-ways in Bangalore, you would realize that we have potholes for all walks of talented people. There is surely a underground cult working on creating, developing and executing potholes. This group works within the larger framework of extreme sports enthusiasts. But lest you think otherwise, this cult is not for Champus. Only the very best potheads get to work in it.
Below I present a handful of the many gems that Bangalore can offer F1 drivers:
  • 'Chameli' the temptress : First on the list is the easy to create and innocuous looking, but very naughty, pothole. It is found bang center of the road and takes by surprise anyone new to the road. There is no way you can miss it unless you knew about its existence and changed lanes well in time. The formula is - create a pothole with Diameter > Width of the widest production car and with lesser space on its sides than the width of the narrowest production car. Veterans NEED to be respected and this pothole gets you loads of respect from the rookie. Also, given the impossibility of missing it once you enter Chameli’s suction zone (like a black hole), this is also a great way of punishing the incorrigible honker. The idea is simple – keep the honker on your tail and have him getting so hot in the head that he is ready to carve a sunroof in his car. Then just before you enter the suction zone, sidestep into the slow lane and give the ‘please pass me’ sign. The honker, senseless with rage, will finally see victory and rush to fill the gap created by you; flooring the accelerator until he realises the trap. Too late. Chameli gives him a nice rap on the knuckle. To add insult to injury, if you are the violent types, look into the honker’s eyes (he will be looking at you) and smile as you cut back into the fast lane while he is still in the pothole. Justice delivered.
  • 'Masterji' the teacher: Here you have two potholes so placed that the only way to avoid them is to put your tyre in the space between them. And the space between them is always equal to one tyre width (tread arc width for the technically inclined). For newbies this pothole is great fun. Because of the opportunity to learn steering precision control without too much punishment. The more your tyre overlaps the space, the less you get 'caned' the pothole. A perfect fit means you cheated the pothole of all its poison. It is not uncommon to see drivers pump their fists in jubilation when they do a perfect score on 'Masterji'. Now where in the world other than India do you get that kind of fun?
  • 'Langda Tyagi': This is the next level. Same as above, only that you cannot drive straight through the gap zone (gap refers to parts where the road exists!). Once you reach the periphery of the first pothole you need to swerve just enough to keep the tyre on the road and yet avoid one of your tyres (usually rear) entering the next pothole. Great fun! Who cares what happens to traffic on the other side? Maybe you just drove an old uncle into the pavement or worse, killed his chance of winning his own pothole battle. Don’t you fret one bit. Everyone’s a student on Indian roads because the potholes keep changing shape, size, location and number. I tell you, our roads department knew about road games before the word got coined. Are Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft listening?
  • 'Langda Tyagi Tritiya': Derived from 'Langda Tyagi' but then you have three potholes and have to swerve twice to keep your car from getting dunked. Unless you are an expert on 'Langda Tyagi', do not try this. Novices tend to overestimate their skills and jump into the Salsa action. Only to find their skills not matching the challenge and end up in one big mess at the third pothole (which is almost always the largest and deepest of all three). They either have to take their car to a garage or worse, take another road occupant to the hospital.
If you have mastered the above three types, welcome to the club of ‘Khadda Raja'. Members of this club can put any one front tyre into any possible line. Even if most of them failed their colouring lessons in school because they could not keep the crayon inside the line. Infact most of them have failed art classes.
  • 'Chammak Challo' : A deadly variation of above types but with the potholes spaced at distances less than the car wheelbase. Now when you swerve to keep your front tyre on the road, unless you keep within tolerance, your rear tyre will enter the pothole the front tyre just escaped. Not many 'Khadda Rajas' realize the exponential challenge this represents until they have failed a couple of times. Power steering comes in handy here. And you really have to know how not to give a damn to other people right to the road. Basically, the rear end of your vehicle will twist such that Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie will look like an American cowboy practice session.
Remember all this pothole fun is possible only when you have 4 lane roads with a divider to physically separate traffic into two opposite directions. In other words, potholes are signs of our growing infrastructure and justify our demand for a seat in the UN Security Council. Also, I wonder why we still do not have temples to pay homage to our roadies. Especially when they are responsible for so many people getting close, real close, to God.
Non-Indians will never understand how vital these potholes are to upholding democracy in India. Like when they decided to level all roads in the locality I live. It was mayhem on the roads. People accustomed to potholes went berserk, and started seeing imaginary potholes and drove their vehicle into the pavement, lamppost and what-not. A vote was held and people turned out in large numbers to vote for moonscape roads. The road department relented and came up with a new pothole plan. That has kept people busy and away from their frightening selves.
So, while the Schumachers of this world were learning to tie their shoelaces, Srivastavs of this world were negotiating potholes at the speed of scooter.
I hope to have brought some respect to our potholes and help you realise they are works of art. Feel free to let me know if you have more pothole types or pictures to add.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

SmackD style Solutioning

One of the problems of being extremely professional is that your verbatim gets so verbose and jingoist - its almost like you are the Oxford dictionary of jargons for your industry. This is my humble attempt to codify this corporate epidemic. 
Before I download this blog to you, I hope you’re up for some alignment  my two cents on the phrases we overuse and abuse. I have no doubt that you have the bandwidth to process it.
There was a time in my adolescence when somebody's professional language brightened my day. But at EOD there is only so much I can do FYI and hope it inspires some n/a from your end. There’s only so much Knowledge Transfer one can enjoy. Needless to say, this calls for a paradigm shiftGoing forward, we need an action plan to revisit these phrases and downsize them. Once all this gets frozen we need to close all loops.
From my point of view, you will have to be a bit proactive and push the envelope. Perhaps you should start thinking outside the box. But on second thoughts just double check whatever value add you think you might be doing. Maybe for a differentiated outlook, you need to be disruptive and the benchmark practice is to realign your priorities and stay inside the box. 
Let me help drive clarity – originality is No child's play. If it was, it would have been on X-Box on Playstation or Lego. At this point, we need to remain goal-oriented and result-focused. For now, I’m even willing to pretend the two are not redundantIf you leverage your skill-set smartly, you could actually come up with a synergistic solution to every problem. And thats why, if we ever find ourselves on the same page, you could bookmark it.
While we are at it, there’s another thing we need to transition into – we need to stop verbing nouns. Especially nouns which don’t exist. For instance, you do not incent people or punt on them. You pay them. It’s extremely annoying. Let me translation that for you – it really annoyances me.
You could use any method you deem fit and deploy buy your horses for diploma courses strategy. You could parachute in with fellow managers, do some blue sky thinking, or even resort to old-fashioned brainstorming. Statutory warning: The lattermost might require a brain. 

I do recommend thought showers, however. It might send right signals to our web partners that nothing they ever do has anything to do with the real sense of the term.
I’m certain by now you might have noticed how incoherent I’ve been sounding. Well, that’s how you sound 24/7. Don’t think any more. Just go ahead and pull the trigger. Else I will. The aftermath could be discussed during post-mortem.
We’ll touch base soon for a performance & development review - where I look forward to your developmental inputs. If you have anything further to add to this, lets take it offline.

(Credits: to some like-minded quotes from the net)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Truth, Lies & Everything in between !

We are always told to remember the idea, not the man, because a man can fail, he can be caught, he can be killed and forgotten, but years later, an idea can still change the world. Ideas are very powerful, people kill in the name of them, and die defending them. I strongly believe in Ideas I think it can bring more change than other any thing in this world.

I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine- the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition though we keep humoring ourselves with mantras and chants for 'Change'. I enjoy them as much as any other human being. While the bullets/bombs may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this world, isn't it? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where you have the illusion of the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit but the truth is you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing our compliance in the name of being a "law-abiding citizen" couples with the fear of punishment and soliciting our lame submission to a corrupt group of people empowered by a hapless set of laws. I hope to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives.

You may begin to wonder - How did this happen? Who's to blame? But again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

Isn't it obvious why we chose to do it? Fear, Insecurity ! Who wouldn't be? Riots, Terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt our reason and rob us of our common sense. Fear got the best of us, and in our panic we turned to politicians, diplomats and babus. They promised us order, they promised us peace, and all they demanded in return was our silent, obedient consent.

Why do we need order? Cant we have a unregulated world? Why so many laws that keeps the innocent in check and the outlaws free? Chaos sounds scary but believe me its a paradise compared to what we are submitting ourselves to today. People with vested interests would like you to believe otherwise. Think of it for a moment :: did we always have laws, democracy? Wasnt life peaceful then?

So if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, the rest, as they say, is history!
(** Adapted from "V for Vendetta" because it was apt and so fits today's scenario)