Thursday, 16 September 2010

Romancing Confusion!!!

To enlighten your souls, I had to confuse you by putting such title... Indeed you are confused now on why you landed up on this blog, and are reading it... when all you were expecting is either a porn star giving a blow job video or some Management Guru giving some Gyaan (Knowledge) on Project Management...

BTW its not bad to be confused... for those who think been confused is a sign of being an IDIOT, or Unprofessional.. I want to tell you that IT ISN'T. Confusion is a state of mind where evaluation of creativity or decisions begin. It is one thing that lets you explore good and bad things of your decision or action.

A girl after been proposed by her boyfriend is confused whether she should marry or not.. makes her creative juices in mind think of several things and help her make a decision with which her mind is ready to accept it. A confused state of mind is that state of mind where you dont know what is the answer to a problem, issue or a situation.. This is the situation when you think more creatively on the solutions.. The confused stage is a situation of mind like the duck travelling over a pond... one set of mind is telling you that you are confused and the other set of mind running miles and paddling hard to find a solution...

There would have been no great Inventions if the Newtons and Einsteins were not in a confused state of mind.. If Columbus was not confused on the way to discover the world he would have never reached a coast.. Confusion brings the creativity within you out to be recognized by a smarter solution...

So if you are confused about your new product feature or Idea, Romance this confusion.. let it remain for a while so that it lets you think creatively and take a wise decision.

If you have a confused brain in your meeting room, be it.. because maybe he is thinking smartly and is the next Evan Williams..

Of course don't let confusion take over everything.. because if you do that You are going to be tagged all over your life as an IDIOT...

Romance your confusion and try to make love to the solutions of your problems... Confusion is a state that will show you the right path.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Clear Ownership

So much depends on this one element called Ownership. When one takes up the ownership he defines himself to a spectrum and to ensure that the ownership results in an output that fulfils and extends the organizational goals. When the same ownership is enforced, it results in a potential and disastrous failure.

When you are working with the products, there has to thus clear definitions of Ownership. The Product Owner for business requirements, The developer for Quality of the code and product, A project manager for the Project Management and the entire Team for the USP and success of the Product. Empowered teams are more prone to take stronger ownerships... they are the ones you would find doing more than what is expected at the cost of there own times, they are the one who you would find fighting for the betterment of the product.

Cultures that have tried to entrust empowerment of Teams have resulted in better results at the same time cultures that have taken the path of control have failed mid-term. Next time you work with a Team.. remember....

Empowerment brings the sense of Ownership. Clear Ownership is a result of Trust and effort put behind the empowered Teams....

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The 25th hour

Do you ever feel that you have 1 hour less in the day? and that if you have had 1 hour more you could have done much much better?

Do you think that the 25th hour is what keeps you away from doing and getting things done?
Do you think that if you get extra hours you would get would help you complete all your pending items?
Do you think that stealing such an extra hour from your schedules is what will make you an effective time organizer?

Well if the answer to any or all of the above questions is YES.. then you are thinking like ME and believe me YOU ARE COMPLETELY WRONG... Of the last few months I have realised that there is no EXTRA hour which is the 25th hour in the day which will help you complete your tasks. This 25th hour comes at the cost of :

1. Your family time
2. Your rest time
3. Your sleep
4. Your exercise time or your leisure time

And in an attempt to make those extra hours available you sacrifice and disorganize yourself so much that the 24 hours become too less.. Anyways to conclude.. if you want to be a better time planner... make sure you do not depend on the extra hour.

However there is a 25th hour in every day. Many of us dont realise this, many of us dont care or bother about it. Many of us dont want to benefit from it. This 25th hour is that part of the hour where you are at your best in whatever you do.

I get this 25th hour every day.. and this is the time when I am at the best of my spirits. I use this hour to pray, read , learn , write and prepare myself for the next day which is going to bring a big bunch of challenges to me. This is that part of your day where you do things that can be finished in days and hours and months and years.. in minutes..

Well for you guys who find it challenging to manage your hours for your hobbies and passion, there is never an extra hour for you, but you look it with the right attitude and keep patience there is always that 25th hour waiting for you.. All you need to do is FIND IT...

Monday, 6 September 2010

Why Yammer works!!!

A few months ago we ignited a YAM into our system, a system where collaboration was key.. we had our development Team split between Pune, Chennai , Brentford, Wales, SFO and our product teams split in Germany, France and US. You can imagine that with such a distributed development Team it is not easy to manage effective communication and collaboration. Forget about effective at certain times even communication is not easy...

Yammer came to be a respite to our Team.. A microblogging platform, that works for your organization, has a set of handy apps to help you effectively use it at the same time has a cool set of Integration. Though we havent found ourselves to be the spamming users of Yammer we have definitely seen ourselves to be using it effectively.

Now no matter where our Team are we tell each other :

1. What we are doing
2. Where we are stuck at any point of time
3. We share some special Team moments , some announcements and sometimes even jokes and laughs.
4. We now know what our colleagues are doing
5. We know where they are stuck
6. We now have an easy way then sending an email and waiting for X person to respond.
7. We found a way to YAM now instead of asking someone to ask someone to ping someone...

Yammer is really effective and helps collaboration smoother and in easier way. There are Desktop clients for both Linux and Windows that let our developers across platforms use it. We got Black berry client for it, we have the browser version for those who dont want there CPU leaks to such apps, we sometimes switch to twitter and put a #yam to keep our Team in touch.

In the last few days we are using Groups effectively. So within the organization various groups like OPS and Project Teams now use groups to update. We now intend to use communities effectively where the Idea is to bring the Customer Services , Sales, Operations, Marketing everyone involved under different communities.. this would make them more collaborative and give more visibility of what is happening around.

How to set Yammer for your Team?
1. All you need a valid domain and email address on the domain to start with.
2. Visit
3. Create a Organization with your valid email address.
4. Receive an invitation and confirm.
5. Fill in your Profile details as in Age, Sex etc.
6. Invite other users with the email addresses that are on the same domain, wait for them to join.

How not to fail Yammer for you?
1. Keep on updating it.
2. Chat , Interact do not spam.
3. Use the apps and tools like gtalk integration, RSS feeds , BB app, Desktop app as you surely would not use the browser version for very long.
4. Dont be a spectator. Be interactive.
5. Yammer is not to monitor people. It is to interact with them. So if you are a manager use the tool to involve.
6. Share , Share and Share

Well if you are a development Team, Distributed .... You surely gonna like this.
Yam baby Yam.

India Enterprise

Vivek Wadhwa's article on Techcrunch shows the growing entrepreneurship in India and I just cant agree more... India Inc is growing, and this is not just in the field of Information Technology and Entrepreneurship but various other streams... A change is midway and this change is really very very significant and of course overwhelming... This also reminded me of Sunil Khaire a dear friend and I believe one of the regulars at my blog, who sent me an email that was a snippet of the blogpost written by the famous Bollywood / Hollywood director Shekhar Kapur.. labelled A Blackberry Addict. It shows Enterprise India all over... start your day and have a quick interaction with the milkman and end your day driving back to home through the security gates of your neighborhood. India is automated many places, moreover the attitude of India at grass root level is turning highly enterprise...

3 events happened in the last few days and I can just tell you that the effect is not just at building new products and technology ... but at a granular level.. and the contribution to India Enterprise is coming from many sections of society.

Event 1 :
Morning 03:00 AM.. drizzles outside, everyone at home fast asleep.. my phone kept on silent mode, lucky enough kept very close to a steel glass starts vibrating and the effect been a bit high wakes me up.
I pick the phone "Heeeeelllllo"..
from the other end "Sameer, I am very sorry I have to call you now" - A friend from my school time
"No problem, what's up?" - Me
My Friend : "You wont believe this, I am very near to your place and am stuck on the road, I was planning to drive out of city for some personal work, and this car has just given up"
Me : "Alright, where are you I am coming, maybe I will find someone garage mechanic to see if he can help"
My Friend : "Dont worry, Just come along, I called XXXX CS, The mechanic was here and they said it needs the car in the workshop and it wont fix now. And anyways 3 AM its not going to happen. I will push my travel back, you just pick us and drop us home"
Me : "OK"

On my way to pick him up, I knock the doors of a scooter garage, this 19 yr old kid has been amazing, he had got me fix my flat tyres 3-4 times, he had fixed our 2 wheeler almost 8-10 times, he is reasonable and he seems to know the nerves of the engine welll....

We 2 reach the destination, I get this guy look at the car, inspite of resistance from my friend. He checks the car, tries to give a kick start, does a external ignition.. no luck. My friend who is in a bad mood.. says.. get us home, let the car be here... bit worried about leaving the car on a highway with the mechanic from the Car company, who said he will tow it. In the meantime.. this guy opens the bonnet, lets the oil pipe go loose, drops a few drops of oil on the road. Pulls the oil vein back to the source and asks my friend to try the ignition...

Booooooooooooooooom... The car starts. Cant tell you how happy I was, it just saved me a 20 mile drive 2 ways in the early morning hours.

My friend asks him : "How did you do this?, the Car company could not fix it and they were going to tow it to the workshop for some serious work"
This guy replies "Next time when you are filling oil, make sure you shake the vehicle for a while"
Me "What?"
Him "Yes, every time the petrol pump guys put the nossel in, they get some air in the fuel tank, this air accumulates and with it reaches the point where it is just about to enter the engine, it creates a vacuum and then you have such trouble"
Me "Are you sure"
Him "Yes"
My Friend "This is not given in any manual's... will this vehicle be up and running"
He : "If they knew this, we guys would have died hungry"

Amazing, a few million worth car, who has a trained engineer could not get this fixed as opposed to the 19 yr old school drop out, who shows how much he knows about the core of the system.

Event 2 :
A couple of our product Managers were in the city for having critical discussions, as usual we order a working lunch for 3 days, but this day we get late in discussions forgetting to order... we decide to go order some wraps, as they could be quick... Elite trigger in mind.... Fasoos a tasty wrap joint that has bunch of branches in the city... and I know that they have something called Tweet2Order.. I tweet them my order and 25 minutes a delivery right at office with some awesome food. 1 week ago a friend used there on the wheel delivery and he get some delicious food delivered to the Railway station as he missed lunch before traveling and he could get some real food in the Train instead of waiting for a station to get down and pick up some food... Isn't this amazing?

Event 3 :
As a weekend gateway, Family decides to take a drive to a one day trip to a beach. Early morning we get on the roads, kids holding there Nintendo DS to keep them entertained. 10 miles on the highway, the gadget gets off... we think its the charger.. so we pull up a converter so the gadget get's charged... 30 miles kids start screaming... now we need to look at something that will help us get that gadget working or atleast find a way to convince the kids that it wont be available any soon. We stop at a electrical shop to check if they have a replacement battery. A man in his late 40's attends me.
Me : You think you have a Nintendo battery?
Him : No, I don't think we have this
Me : OK.. do you know anything that I can get around.
Him : Not in this town or any nearby place.. you have to go back to Pune.
Me : OK... Thanks.
Him : Show me, let me take a look if I can get this working.
Me : No its OK. its expensive and I have got it from US. I dont want it to be damaged. I will find a way to get it fixed.
Him : Don't worry Sir.. It wont be bad
Me : OK..

I hand him the device. He opens it, takes a soldering machine, does some checks, pulls a string or 2.. Meanwhile I ask him a few question and learn that the guy has not even finished his 2nd grade of studies, he could not even read or understand the instructions given on the device... eventually except the local language he could not even speak anything. He focus while I blankly look at him... 30 minutes , he adds a attachment like looking device which looks like to me as a bunch of alkaline batteries. Booooom it switches on. He charges me 200 bucks, 50 as his consulting fees, 150 as the cost of device. He tells me that I should use a converter from X to Y volts only as the device is meant for a low voltage and in India the plugs give more volts. Hmmm.. I think of the Wii, Xbox, Blackberry, Playstation 3 of which had been purchased in the UK or US. Did the guy just saved me a couple of thousands and ofcourse the effort to search for a service center? moreover the potential stress....

Isnt India Enterprise growing in all sectors? We have more knowledge about the Technology and this knowledge is effectively put to work. Isnt this a sign of growth.. maybe near future will see many innovations that would come out of this knowledge and service control. This is simply amazing... India is on its way.... The RIGHT WAY

P.S : The post was drafted in September, but edited with a few more additions that happened across October..

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Focus on your competition to FAIL!!!!

A lot of people think that keeping your competition in view is necessary for your business to succeed, a majority of this lot thinks that focusing on them means focusing on yourself.. in turn your too much focus on competition leads to SHIT your own quality...

Today I tweeted about something and could not stop myself from focusing on writing this blog away... I put my tweet below

When your focus is on competition, your quality is going SHIT. 5 yrs later#wadeshwar seems to have lost touch#pune #foodie

Yes.. After a long time, I took my time to shop for kids on the other side of the city. We happened to spent all our afternoon shopping hence hungry stomach's we decided to take a food break. Eventually of the Fergusson College Road specials like Vaishali Restaurant , Roopali Restaurant we chose the Wadeshwar (The first time I had been here was almost 5 yrs ago). The first few times and the few years later whenever I had been to this place I really enjoyed the food.

Now that the area surrounding this restaurant has further been crowded with several fast food restaurants, it seems that the competition on this road has tremendously increased. Eventually the competition has also changed the menu and the service.. in order to attract and accommodate crowd the sitting arrangement has been compressed, menu changed to challenge the competition... Finally I see that the authenticity and the ethnicity of this restaurant has been converted to a mix of the whole lot of restaurants that surrounds it. Terrible I must say.

It is no different to what is happening in the world of Internet... Google in attempt to focus on competition created by Facebook ended up investing and failing Buzz, Orkut. Facebook in order to take up the location based market ends up building Facebook Places (I believe this will fail). The Apple Ping is up to tackle change possessed by Twitter and Music world...

The result of all this focus is copy-over of features , unrequited competition, Race to cover market share and what not... but surely they don't realise that

1. Over the years Google is no more the ONLY favourite for people
2. Facebook grew but the growth is nearing the beginning of a negative line
3. Twitter growth is no more rocketing...
4. Be it Microsoft or be it Apple they are not sky rocketing or going to stop rocketing sooner or later...

Many such examples where it is clear that if you are busy keeping your focus on competition, you are going to end up creating a SHIT for yourself.

Friday, 3 September 2010

A Healthy environment!!!

The success of your teams depend on how healthy environment you create for them to work. A healthy environment is where they speak there mind without hesitation, where they move around without fear, where they challenge , where they question, where they ask, where they demand.

A healthy environment empowers freedom , Innovation , fun and laughter.. above all it develops a respect within.. The Team that likes each other is the Team that moves forward. The Team that loves each other is the Team that knows how to win.

A healthy environment spreads the positivity in the Team and helps people understand and achieve greater goals.

So if you are a part of any Team.. see how you can build a healthy environment.. an environment where problems and issues are seen as opportunities. Where troubles are seen as a way to gather experience, where pressure is seen as a way to relax, where learning is seen as oxygen, where Innovation is seen as life.

Lets build one for ourselves, and one for all of you wherever you are!!!!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Marry your blog first!!!

Kari and me discussed a day ago on how to manage time to maintain the blog. I realize that yes it indeed is.. very very difficult to manage time to keep the spirit and the blog updated. But in the end it is your commitment towards your blog that defines and shows how much you value it and how much time you spend with it. While I am in a humorous mood these days and also am understanding the dynamics of great relationships.. I thought it will be easier to put blogs and relationships together...

So the Seth Godin's , Arrington's and Om Malik's are those names in the Internet world who have married to there blogs.. and believe me they are very successful marriages. These are the guys who take blogging like marriage and blogs as their wives, result? you see quality post, medley gaps, but a very successful venture.. In Internet world a lot of people call these people Professional blogger.

So what is it that keeps this marriage going?

They are like those romantic moments of a married life, more the comments more the motivation, more the affection more the love. Of course you improvise on your marriage every time by putting efforts. Your coming home early, you buying gifts, those candle light dinners, those weekend outings and the cuddling post sex is what keeps the romantic momentum up. Similarly quality of posts, guest posts, accurate and timely information results in more and more interaction.... result ?

Visitors on your blog is like the time you spend with your spouse in marriage... the more the better. Every second spent on your marriage spouse increases the bonding, helps you strengthen the bonding and of course results in a successful marriage...

Well marriage is about satisfaction... some times you may not have everything going great, things would be bad , relationship strained.. but in the end its the satisfaction of having someone who loves you and waits for you, cares about you. Blogging is similar... sometimes you write for your satisfaction, people may not look at it, not read it, not like it ... but you care for your blog because you value it... the satisfaction of having something of your own keeps you going...

Well there are many other things that let these successful marriages of blogs reach heights... but lets also talk about those things that try to break your marriages...

So what stops you from keeping your blog up?

Many Wives dont work

2 blogs? 3 blogs? well its a disaster.. like you cant have many wives at once, you cant control multiple blogs at once.. though they stay on your input, they are very demanding... have a blog with 100 visitors, stop blogging within a very short span of time you would fine the page views and visitors going down... You have to spend time time on the looks of the blogs , structures, posts etc etc.. this demands a lot of time.. so while wives require lot of money (kidding), blogs need time... think of duplicating this and imagine the pain!!!!!

Affairs kill them
A lot of people who cannot hold on to their blogs is the reason of there involvement with various things... Social networks, chat tools, micro blogging sites and many other things...

I call Twitter as the glossy girl friend that gives the pleasure of marriage, but not the perks of it.. so if you see blogger turning twitterer's understand that they have fallen to the lucrative looking glamour of twitter. (I still advocate it ;))

Future - Kids, Money
One sign of successful marriage is future, kids.. A successful blog results in goodwill. The Arringtons and Scoble's started there blogging careers and are Internet celebs.. A lot of other blogger have turned not only in celebs but also do there living on it...

Now that we have known a bit about relationships and blogs with the limited wit and humour I have... lets find ways to keep our blogs running and let people learn from our experiences, share knowledge , enlighten people and succeed together.

For those of you who are still bachelor's in life... Go Marry your blog and be committed to it...I just want to say one thing... I Love Blogging

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Appraisal and Performance Criteria

I must have got at least a few stares and a few comments from friends that the post around How to handle Bad Appraisal was a employer perspective and very little thought was given for how one feels like when the appraisal goes wrong.

I felt it was not a employer perspective, instead it was a perspective on how one should cope up with such situation no matter what you are employee or employer... anyways, since I deal with development Teams more closely .. I also got a question that said that usually the Key Result areas or the performance evaluation critieria's are not made very clear, bench marks are not set , there are no clear definition of success and fail parameters and thus when it comes to appraisal time the developer / engineer thinks that he was the best and did the best and the Manager thinks that there was good work done, but there are a lot of things that did not go well.... So here I thought I would put together a few questions that can be used as indicators to one's performance . These questions would help define cleared goals and/or also in turn help a better appraisal process....

1. Attitude

Q. How does he/she perceive his/her job?
Q. How does he/she perceives he/she role in the Team?
Q. Do he/she stand by the Team, helping them on issues and small troubles?
Q. Do he/she needs to be called for help? or he/she walks by to help others?
Q. How does he/she take change?
Q. How does he/she work in absurd condition? tight deadline and power outages or urgent work needed to be solved but machine is slow, or long hours and so on.
Q. For a failed commitment how does he/she react? Blame on others, things, accepting mistakes, or retrospecting to improve?

2. Understanding

Q. How well does he/she understand the requirement and makes other understand it?
Q. How well does he/she adapt to the project and helps other adapt?
Q. How much of self time is spent on exploring the requirements?
Q. How much of value does he/she add to the Project?
Q. How many challenges or questions are raised by he/she
Q. How much depth is the understanding? like a high level feature understanding or a detailed scope?

3. Communication

Q. How does he/she communicate with the Teams.
Q. How frequently does he/she update about the actual progress to others?
Q. How much time is spent by him/her on the interactions related to project tasks with the Team?
Q. How well the person says YES or NO?
Q. How well does he/she explain the reason to those YES and NO

4. Reaction

Q. How does he/she react to a changed requirement at the last moment?
Q. How does he/she reacts when he/she is not center of attraction?
Q. How does he/she react to immediate and drastic change?
Q. How does he/she react to negative changes?
Q. How much of cribbing, whining, crying does he/she get past a task he/she is not supposed to do?

5. Skills

Q. How fast does he/she do his/her work?
Q. Are the core competencies utilized best?
Q. what are his/her best skills? Does he/she improvise on them?
Q. Does he/she document what and how he/she is going to do the task?
Q. Does he/she demonstrate frequent and consistent improvement?
Q. Does he/she actually do things instead of just talking about them?

6. Quality

Q. Is the quality of work done good?
Q. How many iterations happen when he/she does some work like estimation? Plans etc?
Q. How many bugs are created on the work done by him/her?
Q. How much of re-engineering and rework has been done on the task done by him/her?
Q. How much self initiatives are driven by him/her in improving the quality of the product?
Q. How many bugs are caught during the testing, by the customers, by him/her self?

7. Organization

Q. How does he/she manager his/her time?
Q. is he/she planned and organized?
Q. How is his/her desk kept? clean, dirty?
Q. How well does he/she plan the meetings and other times?
Q. Are the estimates given by him/her met? if not why?

8. Ownership
Q. Does he/she care about the module and takes he/she is doing?
Q. Do he/she take responsibility and show authority on his/her task?
Q. Is he/she passionate about what they are doing?

Well these are just those few questions that you as a Manager needs to ask yourself when you are putting someone on a performance appraisal. Pull these questions, customize it to your Team and let them answer these for themselves.. Your development Team's may get the best answers for themselves... Keep a lot of scope for project or release driven retrospectives as they are the best indicators of how one did...

In the end remember this is just one way to know what improvements you need to pull over for your Team instead of having a discussion "I did everything you asked me for, now why is it a bad appraisal?" or "You did OK , but not great"