Thursday, December 16, 2010

Office Office!

Ah yes. It shows. No posts of late. Work has officially started.

Gone are the days of sitting in front of your personal laptop, testing it to the core with the latest games. Gone are the days of sitting at home doing nothing, but telling the whole world that you are "working from home". Gone are the days of taking random trips outside while having to be "present" in "office". Gone are the days of drinking all through the night, every night.

The honeymoon period is now officially over!

BUT... not all is bad at the workplace. There are few good things to take away from where I currently work. For one, theres a cute woman who has recently joined. THAT'S REASON ENOUGH TO BE AT WORK ALL DAY! Amazingly, there happened to be that "jump" and "liveliness" in the area where I am seated, the day she joined. You know that feeling when you have suddenly won a million gazillion dollars? That was how excited my area was, that day.

Unfortunately, we are in two different teams. It is one of life's hardest challenges to introduce yourself to a cute woman who happens to be in a different team. You see, if she were in the same team, you have something to start off with. The "HEY! I'M IN YOUR TEAM" is a great conversation starter.

But, that advantage is lost when you are not in the same team. Even when you are sitting diagonally opposite her. You now have to resort to studying her movement patterns, and try to match yours with hers. The best way is to study her coffee drinking patterns. Learning whether she likes coffee or not. Like they say "A lot can happen over coffee"! A casual "bump" near the coffee machine is probably the best way to start off with the "HEY! I SIT DIAGONALLY OPPOSITE TO YOU!" conversation. At least I hold that card with me! I pity those people who do not even have that! (Actually, I laugh at them "HA HA!".)

The latest craze in town, at-least in the office, is now Microsoft Outlook. In a place where Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo!, and the like are banned, what better way to have a lively chat with your fellow friends from office (and outside) than through Outlook! The latest gossip, the hottest news, even heartfelt discussions about life, now spread across even faster than the speed of light! Lots of trips have been planned from here. Which never ever work out. Oh, and office work stuff happens too.

But one thing is true at the workplace (At-least to me it is!). Whether you are in your honeymoon period or not, you are DEAD tired by the time you reach home. It's amazing how as soon as you see the bed in your room after coming back from office, your first reaction is to dive into it and snuggle under the blanket. The "pretty cool" Mumbai weather makes it even easier for you to go to dreamland, and that much harder to get out of it.

Mornings during the winters are probably the worst time of the day! Especially in winters, when that blanket fills you up with so much warmth, that even thinking of getting out of it gives you the shivers. Corporate India should officially change office timings so that we, the common man, can get to snuggle under our "Rugs", "Rajais" and "Blankets" for as long in the morning as we want! IT SHOULD BE OUR BIRTHRIGHT! (At-least during the winters, IT SHOULD BE!)

Well, this is all I can write for now. My eyes are giving way, and I can already see the warm beaches of Dreamland... better get to sleep now! For tomorrow is a new day, with new things to look forward to! Ciao, for now.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

From The Silicon Valley to Social Networking - Takeaways

Yes. You guessed right, the motivation behind this post! If you haven't, then I am sure by the time you would have finished reading this post, you will understand. WORRY NOT. Read on....

It was just plain coincidence that I happened to watch both "The Social Network" and "Pirates of The Silicon Valley", recently. Both happen to be amazing movies in their own right. While "The Social Network" talks about how a very simple idea revolutionalized the face of social networking to a whole new level (Well. The movie, per se, talks about the rivalry within the "co-founders" of Facebook. But the underlying, i.e. Facebook, certainly has changed the face of social networking! So much so that I have even incorporated a similar "like" button for each and every post on this blog!), "Pirates of the Silicon Valley" talks about the intense rivalry between two very ambitions groups of people trying to get complete access to an industry that has changed the way the world works.

But in both these movies (Which are actual stories, though the story depicted in "The Social Network" has been denied by Mark Zuckerberg), there are a whole host of takeaways for you and me, the viewer, other than the fact that you may have just seen a very good movie. And had great pop corn. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of similarities in all these stories, and also in other success stories, like Youtube, Twitter, etc.

And here I am, like Lord Krishna to Arjuna, to show you the light. Hopefully, these words of wisdom will actually be what it is... words of wisdom! A Bhagwad Gita to good business, some may say!

Takeaway 1 : Nerds are my new best friends!

Let's face it. With the growing number of "enlightened" souls giving the CAT every year, and relying on the survival kit to get their coveted "jobs" in the market, there is as hell no shortage of businessmen to befriend. But, nerds who do cocky stuff and get caught hacking some computer or car or whatever? Few and far between! And all you need is some money in your pocket. Well, your post-graduate degree takes care of that! (Well, considering what I and my batch of fellow MBAs went through, I myself would beg to differ. But, to get into these B-schools in the first place, you would need lots of money. And I am pretty sure you will have enough to make your nerdy friend happy!)

All you engineering programing people who can program the complexest of codes. I AM YOUR NEW BESTEST FRIEND! The same applies to nerds in any other field/industry too.

Takeaway 2 : Never go solo.

Other than the fact that you don't have the expertise to come up with a great idea (at least I think as of now I don't, especially after my post-graduation), there is no way that you will be able to make your million billion gazillion dollar idea work, if you do it alone. In all the success cases described above, you see more than one brain behind it.

Group dynamics of the group is also very VERY important. There is always that bespectacled, freckle haired, bearded nerd grouped with the outspoken, suited up businessman. Which is why Takeaway 1 is all that more important.

Takeaway 3 : It's always in the simple ideas.

The concept. The thing that makes the mind of a nerd work. That is the thing that distinguishes a Facebook from a ...ummm.... BeOS (What in the world is THAT?! BeOS- The Wiki, for those who want to know. Apparently a disaster.) 

YouTube is a classic example of this. A simple idea. Sharing videos with everyone else. What does it fetch? A cool $1.65 billion dollars to the original founders.

WHY CAN'T ANY SUCH IDEAS COME TO ME!!! Again, I think Takeaway 1 is very important, for this takeaway to work. Let the nerds come with the ideas. As long as you have the initial money, this is something that we, the now extremely common MBA, need not worry about.

Takeaway 4 : GET INTO HARVARD!

What's Harvard got that IIM/MDI/FMS etc. ain't got? What's this with people studying in Harvard and getting these amazingly brilliant ideas? Is it that they cannot get it anywhere else? Why do these people get it ONLY AFTER GETTING INTO HARVARD? Why not before? Why am I asking so many questions? Why is there a lion standing right in front of you? (HA! If you had fallen asleep reading all those questions, then GOTCHA! If not, then.. well...you still would have read it! HA!)

Bottom line. HARVARD ki jai ho!

Takeaway 5 : Word of mouth works!

There is a very subtle difference between gossip, and word of mouth (or word of e-mail, in this day and age of technology)

With gossip, the initial message sent will be completely different from the final message received on the other end. And with it, goes the idea behind sending the initial message in the first place. A message like "A has a crush on B", almost invariably ends up becoming "A has proposed to B and has also slept with him/her!!". 

With word of mouth, on the other hand, the exact same idea/theme/message is sent across. And this goes on and on and on, till  a whole lot of people get to know of the idea. This is exactly how Facebook/Gmail/Youtube/Kamikaze's Konundrums became famous (I keep high optimistic expectations, you see.)

Takeaway 6 : The girls come alongwith the idea.

Get the idea. Or buy the idea. Just be associated with an idea. And the girls will come flocking to you! (OK. This probably was taken just from "The Social Network". Nevertheless, a notable observation it is! Even otherwise, once you have the moolah, the women come along, no?)

YES! That everlasting non answerable Konundrum that has been screwing my head up all these years has been answered!! Well, WHOOPDEDOO!!

Only one slight problem. The idea. It still eludes me. Hence, every woman eludes me. It's akin to saying "I don't have the idea. Therefore I am single" (You know, similar to "I think. Therefore I am." Get it? No? OK then ...)

I am pretty sure that someone will copy these takeaways and come up with some big idea of their own (Again. High expectations I have of blog viewership.) And that is when I will....

Takeaway 7 : Cash in when you get the opportunity.

Suing gives you the opportunity to make millions. So what if the other party concerned is making billions? If there is something wrong, and you are involved. CASH IN! And live a life of AWE...wait for it...SOME...wait for it again...NESS.

Well, these are the takeaways that I took from these enterprising, amazing discoveries/inventions. I am sure that you would have also taken something away from these movies/stories. I would love to hear them out!

Monday, November 15, 2010

You know you have....

Played too much NFS, when you see a construction site in Mumbai, and think of just ramming it, to see it fall and crush the vehicles behind you.

Seen too much KBC, when you say in a meeting "Let's lock this meeting, computerji!"

Seen too much KBC again, when you disagree by saying "Afsos, galat jawaab...."

Watched too much football, when you accuse someone of diving when he slips and falls down on the road/floor while walking

Not done much for a long time, when you start putting benchmarks in office as "winning the champions league in FIFA 2011"

Not done much for a long time, when your milestone in office becomes "having evening coffee"

Kept your laptop unlocked for a long time, when you find the absurdest of messages sent by you on Facebook/Orkut/Gtalk

Been online on Facebook for long time, if you can exactly predict by whom the next update will come, and when

Not conveyed your message properly, when the person listening to you asks during the QnA session "What did you say after HELLO?"

Become a huge fan of Sony products, when you always try to "MAKE.BELIEVE" everyone else to use their products

OK. That's all I can think of now!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Airway from hell returns.

This is the second part of two posts. The first part is HERE.


I had thought initially that my first experience with an Air India flight would be my last, as I was going back to Mumbai by one of those private airliners that ask for exorbitant prices for a sandwich that even I would take just five minutes to prepare (It just boils my blood when they say "Veg Sandwich for Rupees one hundred ONLY") .


I had strategically booked flights to return back on Monday. It had two distinct advantages :

1) It was way cheaper than the same flights on Sunday. Everyone wanted to board a flight on Sunday!

2) I could stay home for another day! YIPPEE!

When I did book the tickets that day, it was still my honeymoon period at the place where I am working. There was only time to do extracurricular activities, like playing Uno, Rock Paper Scissors, Far Cry 2, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011, and so on. "Work" was so tiring that I had to sleep for an hour after office, just to regain some energy!

After booking the return tickets, I was the happiest man alive! I just couldn't wait to go home! Now all that was left was to get that approval from the HR. Should be easy, right?

How wrong I was!

I was rejected my Monday leave, on account of my work starting on that day. How convenient! It was the only reason for which I could not give a counter argument to! After long deliberation, it was decided that I do take a flight back on Sunday.

And lo and behold! There was only one relatively cheap flight back to Mumbai on Sunday. Guess which one it was?? YES!! You got it right! Our own, dearest Air India! Unfortunately, at the time of booking, I had not gone through THIS. So the same old "YIPPEE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT!" was the feeling that I had.

November 7th

Even before I could finish saying the word Eyjafjallajökull, my vacation had come to an end. Sadly, it was time to go back to Mumbai. This time, however, there was no Gate entering fiasco that I had encountered the last time I was on board (rather, BEFORE I was on board) an Air India flight. They kept announcing a "Pre- boarding" announcement till it was an hour after the scheduled time for take-off!

On boarding the flight, I was to find out that I was given the most uncomfortable seats of the flight. A word of advice for those people reading this. Never ever allow the ticket attendant to allot you row 6 in an Air India flight. You will end up getting cramps if you sit there! Unless you decide to sit cross legged in that seat.

By now, I had gotten used to the standard in-flight procedures followed at Air India. I managed to catch a few minutes of sleep during the flight too! There was the usual "technical issue" with the air conditioning system. But that did not stop me from forcing myself to sleep during the flight!

Unfortunately, I had to check-in some luggage, with all my extra clothing and food that I just had to take to Mumbai. (While I had gone home with just 2 small bags, I came back to Mumbai with 3!) And with that, came the next set of problems.

The flight reached Mumbai at around 11 in the night. I was totally expecting to reach home by 12, so that I could get a good nights' sleep before going to office the next day. Bur then, Air India had to have its say in postponing my sleep! Enter stage.. ummm... anywhere, another "technical snag", and "shortage of manpower". The check-in baggage doesn't start coming for another hour. And even after that, my luggage was one of the last to come (Always is the case, isn't it?)

I finally reached home at 1 in the morning. Looking back at both the flights, I guess I must have encountered some problem or the other at all stages of the flight, starting from the check-in, to finally getting the luggage!

I have learnt my lesson, and I hope whoever is reading this will do too. 

Moral of the posts : DO NOT EVER BOOK AN AIR INDIA DOMESTIC FLIGHT! (For International flights, I wouldn't know. But I would not want to take any chances either!)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Airway from hell.

September 11th

I get a call from a friend of mine, who tells me that there are no tickets left to go home for Diwali. I quickly browse the net to find air tickets. The only direct flight was that of Air India. I think "WOW! International flight! Service must be world class! I will also get to see all those international chicks that usually go on all these flights! Can't wait!".

Oh Boy! Was it to be a completely different experience.....

November 4th

The flight was scheduled for one in the morning, as is the norm with all Air India flights, whether it be going from Mumbai to Kochi or to any other destination. The TV screen said that we would be boarding the flight from Gate No. 6A. So, like what any other normal traveler would do, I went and sat right next to the said gate, and waited. And waited, and waited and...... It was almost 12.50, when suddenly a guy comes from nowhere and shouts "AIR INDIA FLIGHT TO KOCHI!!! PLEASE FOLLOW ME", and just runs away, leaving us to find out where exactly he went from the body odour he left behind.

We eventually realized that we had to board the flight from another gate! It took another good ten minutes to finally catch up with the guy (BOY!! What odour he had!). The only way the flight could have been considered OK now was if a super good looking woman sat right next to me in the flight.

And guess what happened.

I was sincerely hoping this would not happen again. It did not. This time, I composed myself to start another random conversation, only to find that the woman was fast asleep! Another opportunity lost!! WHY SHOULD THESE AIR INDIA FLIGHTS FLY SO LATE IN THE NIGHT!!

It was a whole different point that I myself was feeling very sleepy. All the adrenalin, testosterone and what not, that I had mustered from having to start a completely random conversation with the woman sitting right next to me withered away, and I suddenly felt extremely tired. My eyes just screamed to close and my brain pleaded with me to reach dreamland.

As I was about to embark on my now customary "Sleep that I should have whenever I get into any vehicle/train/flight" (Although, in this case, it was actually bed time! So even a normal person would fall asleep!), I get shouted at by the air hostess. She kept on shouting "FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS! FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS! FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS!", without even bothering to note that it was late night and that everyone wanted to just SLEEP!

Well, atleast if the air hostess was good looking, I would have said "Women air hostesses! They have only looks!" and would have just laughed the whole incident off. But, alas! That was not the case with the hostesses in this flight. The less I say about them, the better it is for.. well... them.

After the seatbelt fiasco, there was a bit of a lull. Again, it being the middle of the night, I was feeling very sleepy. I was about to fall asleep when again came the barrage! "PLEASE OPEN YOUR TRAY! PLEASE OPEN YOUR TRAY!" they said, this time around. And dumped some food on the tray, and left off to wake up the next person from his/her wonderful dream.

The food, I have to say, was actually good. I gobbled it up in a matter of seconds. The woman sitting beside me was still sleeping. She had not fallen for all the tricks that the hostess used to keep us awake in the flight. "WHY ME?! WAKE UP WOMAN!" was what came to my mind at that time.

Next up, they come to serve us tea and coffee. AT 2.30 IN THE MORNING! I was reminded of my time in college, frantically trying to stay awake to read up something to write for the exam the next day. Tea played a very important role those days. If not for tea/coffee/caffine, I would not have passed Engineering/MBA!

But then, this was not one of those days. In fact, it was just the opposite. I so wanted to sleep! But no, these hostesses would not go away unless we had our cup of coffee. And thus, I ended up staying awake for the whole flight journey. And the woman next to me slept like a baby.

Thankfully, I had not put any checkin luggage. But, at that time, I had this gut feeling that it would, in the end, come back to haunt me. And it sure did. All that for a later time, though.....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Heights of Fraandship

Man is a social animal. So is a woman, for that matter. And he/she will do anything to socialize. Anything to make that extra friend, so that he/she can keep his/her "kewl YO!" quotient on the high side, always. Atleast for the men, that's the case. 

In this day and age, with more and more time spent in front of the computer or TV, and lesser time in actually mingling with the masses, what better way to do it than through the amazing invention that is facebook (Orkut, for beginners). Gosh, if I had a penny for every second that I was on facebook, I would have been a gazzillionaire by now!

I am sure there is no woman, who has ever been acquainted with orkut, who hasn't gotten the message "Will you be my fraaand!" from atleast one desperate male soul. A male disguised under a female profile may have suffered a similar fate too. Each and every female profile that I have seen has had that "fraandship" extended freely. (OK. You might now ask as to what I was doing checking out their profiles in the first place. My answer to that is, ummm, well, a lot of time on your hands makes you end up doing such stuff. Just plain, simple browsing! ;) )

As though this was not enough, people have started taking this fraandship thing to the next level. They now know that these women (or men in women profiles) are smart enough to just ignore and "report abuse" them. So how do they extend their fraandship?

Easy peasy.

Through the "Idiot Box"!! You heard it right! "How?", you may ask. "Brilliant question!", I would say. Ever notice certain music channels having a bar below, where people can sms messages that would be displayed on the screen? Well, a few enlightened individuals graciously decided to extend their friendship (alongwith their facebook/orkut ID, of course. The more the number of fraands you have, the more cooler you are. YO!) on TV! You get a ready audience (At 8:30 in the morning, that might not be much. But something is better than nothing!), and if anyone does respond, you can consider it a huge success. 

The only downside is that you are actually paying exorbitant premium sms rates to send that message through your phone. And with multiple channels having that facility, you can easily see a big proportion of your monthly salary going away in this. Not that I have actually tried this out, but the premium sms rate is what I assume from the * that all companies are always so accustomed to attaching to any offer or service they provide to the customer (CONDITIONS ATTACHED or PREMIUM RATES APPLY).

But, what the heck! Anything for a fraand!*

(Yes, the * is there. CONDITIONS APPLY!)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

If you really look at it....

Some random thoughts during this extremely "busy" week for me.....

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Spiderman cannot fight crime in places other than metropolitan cities. Only in big metros do you see high rise buildings. And Spiderman needs those buildings in order to travel fast, by means of spewing webs from his hands, which glue onto the buildings. If the buildings were shorter, he would either not be able to get the leverage to fling himself forward, or would end up scrapping the road a whole lot of times, that he would be injured even before reaching his destination!

This was the result of a very interesting conversation that I had with one of my friends after we watched "ROBOT". Which reminds me....

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If Rajnikant and Chuck Norris were to come together and have a bet/fight, who would win? That would be the most interesting duel of all time!

Let's see how this would pan out. On the one hand, you have CHUCK NORRIS!!! 
  • There are no weapons of mass distruction in Iraq because Chuck Norris lives in Oklahoma.
  • Chuck Norris doesn't make friends or enemies. He makes only victims. (YIKES!!)
  • Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door.
  • Lightning never strikes twice in the same place because Chuck Norris told it not to.
  • Chuck Norris stopped the ice age with a single match.

And on the other hand, we have our own, namma Thalaivar, RAJNIKANTH!!!
  • Rajnikanth does not know where you live, but he knows where you will die. (DOUBLE YIKES!!)
  • Rajnikanth can strangle you with a cordless phone!
  • Bullets dodge Rajnikanth.
  • Once a cobra bit Rajanikanth's leg. After five days of excruciating pain, the cobra died.
  • Ghosts are actually caused by Rajanikanth killing people faster than Death can process them.

(Yes. This has been directly taken from the site most widely used to search for anything and everything that you would ever need. Also, in namma Thalaivar's own words - "I will hit you so hard, even Google will not be able to find you!... MIND IT!!")

My God (Oops. Don't know whether even God would be able to survive this!), the rivalry between them would be INTENSE!
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It took ten santros to first conquer Mt. Everest! ("Tenzing" Norgay.. get it?! Couldn't resist. Don't mind, pleeezzzz!)

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There is only one programme that could stop people from watching Big Boss 4. And that has Amitabh Bachchan in it. Let my 9PM slot be locked, computerji! But, somehow, my roomies over here manage to see both the programmes at the same time. I think that the breaks have been scheduled by boththe channels in such a way that when one gets over, the other starts. That way, the audience do not lose out on either! But the problem with doing that is the breaks end up being ridiculously long, for those who watch only one programme. While the programme slot is 1 hour, the actual programme ends up being only for only half the time!!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Aiyo! Help Needed!

As time passes through this relatively free period, I find myself with a whole lot of stuff to do, and a whole lot of time in which to do that stuff. I myself am surprised at the huge spurt of movies that I have been watching at the theaters over the past couple of weeks, ranging from namma Thalaivar's "Robot" ( I am actually tempted to watch the Tamil version too!), to "My name is Emran Hashmi, and I have to smooch (and do a lot more) atleast one actress in every movie that I act in" 's "Crook". Yes, huge amounts of money spent in random acts of charity. I strongly believe that each person who watches "Crook" needs to be given a tax rebate on the money spent for the movie. Same goes for "Anjaana Anjaani". I think that's the only way more people would come to watch those two movies!

I probably may have had other better stuff to do, if it were not for the international football weekend in Europe. This world is truly global! If only the EPL were on, I would have saved myself the embarrassment of going to the ticket counter and seeing the smirk on the ticket counter guy's face as I bought tickets to watch the movie whose name actually had no relation to what the movie was about. ("Crook", if you din't guess the movie name.

But then, during the little time that I was in my room, I realised that I was getting severe burns on my lap, while using my laptop. I had suddenly found the solution to all my "Ironing" problems!! Why pay the ironing man, when you can use your own laptop to press your clothes!!
  
It was time to do the right thing.... to go and watch Sachin score 14,000 test cricket runs on TV!!

Sorry, they were showing the repeat on TV just now... had to rush over.

Yeah. It was time to do the right thing. To get my hands on a new laptop, and to bid farewell to my 4 years old (which would be about 120 human years) laptop.

First up, the research. Between the millions of brands available, I get a gazzillion replies as to which one to take. It's amazing how no one goes absolutely crazy while trying to find out a suitable laptop for yourself. You hear a "Hey this ABC laptop is absolutely ammmmaaaaazzzzzziiiinnnngggggggg man!! I have had absolutely no problems at all with it, and the servicing is top class!" only to hear a "OMG!! Why are you going for ABC laptop man??!!? The service just sucks... BIG TIME!!" before you could even take a breath of the highly polluted air of Mumbai.

But then, lots of Internetting (what we managers like to call IR - Intense Researching) and shop hopping later, I have managed to reduce it to a couple of brands - The Sony Waio VPCEB36(or 35)FG and the Dell Studio 15. Both have almost the same price, for the almost same configuration.

CLAP CLAP CLAP!!! What an achievement!

But now, the real problem starts. Like they always say, it's easy to reduce your choices to two, but it's the most difficult to reduce it from two to one. (They have always said it, no? If not, then I am saying it now.) And here is where you, my dear friend/pal/buddy, come in.

WHICH ONE SHOULD I TAKE?!!?!?!?!!? Please please please please please help me out here. Pretty please, for all you women out there. All your views will be taken into consideration! Any thoughts on the brands themselves would also help this poor soul in making his decision.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Trainings, unravelled.

In my very short corporate career of two years and three months, I have had the privilege of attending a whole lot of training sessions. Some were useful, while others informative, but most were just a way to while away your time when you did not have anything else to do in terms of actual work. Having being through quite a lot of them (I guess most of you would have understood that I have quite a lot of time on my hands, from the frequency of posts), I have learnt (through the various "messages" in the dreams that I have had while sleeping during these sessions), that there are certain classifications of training, depending on various factors, like the situation in the industry, mood of the trainer, the sex of the trainer, and so on. 

They are as follows....

The I have no job to give you benchers now. So go for this training - very prevalent in the IT industry, where three-fourth of the working population are on the bench. Training sessions include basics of programming in a language that you will never ever use in your IT career, either because you would either be on the bench the whole time, or give your CAT so many times that you will end up getting in some B-School or the other, eventually.

The Ooh! The trainer is hot! Let me go for that training - Usually seen in organizations that have a very skewed gender ratio. Ends up having a huge audience. Precautions need to be taken by the employees to make sure that they see the PHOTO of the trainer before going for the session. You do not want to have your hopes high only for it to be dashed AND then having to attend the session too! The lesser the knowledge of the trainer, the better it is for the trainees (Not that they would be listening to the trainer in the first place.).

The Let's keep giving the lot something to do in life till we get all the people in the programme some profile! training - This is prevalent in organizations that recruit people to a certain programme. This programme is a way to give the employees potential access to the higher management in the organization. Only problem is, if they do not have sufficient jobs for the employees, they keep on giving them some training session or the other to "indulge" them. Those with confirmed profiles will have to just go along with the ride.

The Yes! We know you did not learn anything in college. So go through this! training - Training will be given in everything that you learnt in college. What you learnt in 4 years of engineering and 2 years of MBA, will be given to you in a couple of days. Makes you wonder "WHAT DID WE DO FOR SO LONG IN OUR COLLEGE!??!?!!!"

The All other training sessions are over and done with, and still these people do not have any profile, so let's give them this training - The most dangerous of them all. The contents of the training may be made on the spot too. And, the thing is, whatever it is they say on the spot, you have to do. This tests the trainer's "Strategic" ability. And the trainee's ability to withstand the "Strategic" things being thrown at them left, right and center. Usually happens when more people have been recruited to an organization than needed.

The Oh we never learnt this! training - Usually given when someone in the team does something really wrong, and a meeting is called to ascertain the actual reason for the failure. Provides an easy answer for the employees to give their manager, and the manager to give his/her manager, and so on.

The This is very important for your career in the company training - The most widely given reason for having a training session. Also, the most HRically sound reason to give. Can range from simple stuff, like "Advanced Excel", to the more complex things, like "saying strategic stuff in your workplace to make you sound more corporate" (Mind you. Acting "strategic" is an art!).

These are the types that I could come up with. Your careers would have definitely thrown up a lot more types of training sessions. Can you come up with any more classifications? Do comment your answers!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Six Sigma - More common than you think.

FACT : Statistically, Six Sigma means 2 defects per billion opportunities. Read The statistical definition of Six Sigma for more. This is what I have used as the "standard" here.

Six Sigma. Yes, the two words that force companies to spend millions to achieve. A green/black belt in Six Sigma is a sure shot way to reach the higher echelons of corporate life (which is inversely proportional to how your real life would go). It enhances your CV value so much, that recruits won't even listen to what you have to say. All your strategizing will be done with those words written in your CV.

But, if you really look at it, Six Sigma is being used by more people than you can think of. It's as though we were being groomed to be error free. The only problem was that we never knew that we were using it. THANK GOD FOR THAT! I can only imagine the amount of strategizing and analysis we would have had to do all throughout our lives (as opposed to only when you are trying to work, get a new job, or a girlfriend), had we actually known that we were trying to follow Six Sigma!

For instance, when we were REALLY REALLY young, your main focus was on how to run away from all the "daants" you were getting from your parents. Hence, at that time, your Six Sigma Process (SSP) would have been :

To actually get only 2 daants for a billion times your parents tried to daantofy you. 

Then, of course, there were those exams. Your main aim was to somehow pass them. You had no idea why you wrote them. All you knew then was that if you did NOT pass them, you would get daantofied by your parents. Hence, your SSP would have been :

To fail in 2 exams for every billion exams written - Looking back, I think I failed badly on this one, with the failed CAT attempts (before finally FINALLY getting through), the IIT tests, the learners licence test, and what not.

Then, you become a teenager. Puberty kicks in. And with that, your "emotional" quotient skyrockets. You find a girl in every nook and corner cute. Which, in Kerala, was literally every nook and corner! (Just the numbers). Your SSP would then change to :

Getting 2 slaps/shoe or chappal marks on your face for every billion times you propose - I am still single. Go figure.
Next up, college and then B-School. You start staying in a hostel. You meet a lot of new people. Your perspectives also change a bit. And so would your SSPs :

To sleep in 2 classes out of a billion attended - I failed in this one very VERY badly. I would have reached a thousand sigma if my SSP had been "To stay awake in only 1 class out of a billion attended"!

To go to the library (for the right reasons) twice out of a billion times I pass by it - Passed. With flying colours. It was like a repelling machine, the library. The only time I think I did go was during the summer in Gurgaon, whilst trying to save myself from melting down, when the Air Conditioning was on.

To puke 2 times out of a billion times I have a lot of alcohol - I don't remember. Hence, I cannot comment.

Hence, as you can see, all throughout your life, you encounter processes. And in all those processes, you try to achieve Six Sigma. In fact, it's interesting to note that your whole life itself is one big SSP.

To be successfull twice out of a billion attempts at it.

This could be termed as a lot of other stuff. Like long term ambition, vision, the answer to "Where do you see yourself when you are fifty years old?" or "Where do you see yourself when you are retired?". Things become so much easier to answer when you realize that it's all a process.

To further prove how common Six Sigma is in the lives of people, let me put forward some of the SSPs that were very clearly followed by some of the famous personalities in this world.

George W Bush

People of this world, do not blame him for what he has done during his tenure as the President of the United States of America. For, he was actually following his SSP :

Make 2 right decision for every billion he makes.

Yes! He was bang on correct with this SSP.
But Wait! I never DID make a billion decisions. Hence, I never even got the chance to make ONE RIGHT decision!
He also had a smaller SSP that he perfected in :

Getting hit by only 2 shoes for a billion thrown at him at press conferences.

HA HA! Missed me! AGAIN! HA HA!
Harvard Business School graciously "felicitated" Bush by actually changing its SSP to :

To churn out only 2 George W Bush's out of a billion who pass out.

(Yes, I know. Organizations CANNOT be Six Sigma certified. But, if HBS were a person, he/she would definitely have felicitated so.)

Suresh Kalmadi

Oh yes. Who can ever forget the guy on whose shoulders lay the weight of the nation. And we all know what happens when you give responsibility to him.

But WAIT!! He did not do anything wrong! Spare him of all the criticisms!! For he too has followed his SSP perfectly :

Making sure that only 2 bricks are standing in its original position for every billion bricks used to build the CWG venues.

LISTEN PEOPLE! I have done what I have come here to do. Now let me go Scot free! To Scotland, to organize the 2014 Commonwealth Games, of course! HA!

Hence, as you can so clearly see, Six Sigma is present in all our lives. It is way more common than you can ever think. All it takes is a bit of imagination, and some practice. And that goes a long way to you being a self proclaimed Six Sigma certified person!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The survival kit to the rescue!

DISCLAIMER : All this is written in lighter vein. For those people who were actually part of the "characters" in this post, no hard feelings. I had a really great time, and would like to thank all of you for a wonderful two months!

For those who do not understand what I mean by the heading, kindly read this blog post.

OK. Now that you have gone through and understood the survival kit, read on.........

Having gone through a rigorous (which means spending hours and hours "working" from home on your "project") value chain process (which was, incidently, for 2 months. Same as that of our internship season. With the company people treating us like those strategizing type B-School interns), I realized that the survival kit actually helped me out quite a lot during this "tumultuous" "waiting a MILLION GAZZILLION YEARS for a five minute meeting" time. And this is how....

STEP 1 : The PPT. 

Bill Gates certainly did come to the rescue with that wonderful piece of software. It is amazing how much a little bit of animation here and there can add a lot of "value" to a presentation. Kudos to him and his company for coming up with the concept of "smart art". Your PPT wouldn't look like a PPT, if not for these amazing inventions. This just reiterates the fact that Bill Gates IS the father of strategy. The "Gate"way to effective strategizing, you might say! Ha!

References, as you may have guessed, have been handpicked from "you know where". (If you don't, then you are not an effective strategist. Kindly re-read the survival kit before proceeding.)

There were loads of excel sheets and graphs in the PPT. It's amazing how the panelists' eyes just widen when they see a link in a PPT with the words "MODEL" written on it. It's like they were expecting Heidi Klum to come up when you click on it. But then they see this grid with a whole lot of numbers splashed over. A lull in their expressions. A whole lot of strategic words (from us) later, and their faces would go back to the "HEY THAT IS HEIDI KLUM" expression. 

STEP 2 :  Keep in touch with your mentor. Frequently.

Every Monday and Thursday. We used to literally barge into my mentors' cabin. And give our 2 minutes of what we did. Which was followed by an hour and a half of the mentors' insights into the whole updates. Of which we understood only 2 minutes. Which would be our updates for the next meeting with the mentor. 

STEP 3 : Use of "strategic" words. 

Profitability mix. Volume and margin drivers. Scalpel vs Hacksaw. Eyjafjallaj√∂kull. Oh yeah. The presentation was glittered with strategic words. It was like giving the mentor umteen opportunities to conclude the presentation, in case he/she missed out on one of them. 

END RESULT 

A brilliant couple of months, and a presentation that was appreciated by the panel.

Having tested this kit during my internship season before jotting it down, and having successfully implemented the kit during these two months, I can give you my stamp of approval now. 

THE SURVIVAL KIT WORKS!

My main concern now is... did my mentor go through the kit before taking upon himself to mentor me...???

Friday, September 17, 2010

Deadlines : Saviour of the economy.

You keep doing something that you think is work. You are perplexed at the complexity of the problem. You try to do a Pareto analysis of the causes, only to realise that you don't even know that there WAS such a thing as a Pareto analysis. Your MECE and POA frameworks sound to you like a famous football player and a particular breakfast dish.

And then you get a deadline. 

All of a sudden, the work that you do makes sense. And you end up making a 125 slide ppt in no time. And add cool snazzy animation alongwith it. Something that would normally take you a million years would, all of a sudden, take you less than a day. Your Pareto analysis is done in a jiffy, as though you knew it inside out the whole time. You do your MECE framework as skilfully as Messi would play football, and POA as brilliantly as the Poha you get to eat. (Yep. Finally understood the attempted joke at the end of the first paragraph, right?)

My theory on deadlines is (Let's call it the Kartik principle): 

99% of your work gets done in 1% of the time before your deadline.

Deadlines do exactly what spinach does to Popeye. Imagine, if Popeye had spinach in the beginning of the cartoon, you would never HAVE Popeye cartoons in the first place! But then, Popeye would have had his own deadline. Hence, that cartoon just emphasises my point over here. If you can understand it. No?

I am sure that if Thomas Edison were working for a company with deadlines, would have done 9995 of the 10000 attempts to come up with the light bulb in the last week before the deadline. Ditto Suresh Kalamadi. Oh wait, he is already doing that!

Now, while doing your MBA, the scenario changes a little bit. Deadlines are there specifically for the students to make more deadlines. This is partly why a lot of the MBA students end up doing well in strategic and negotiating positions.

You are given something to do by a particular day (SUBMISSION BY 11:59:59 PM!!). You wait till exactly 11:29:59 PM, and then call up the professor, to extend the deadline. This process continues, till you finally realize that the term in which that subject was taught, is over. Then a nightout later, you are done with whatever it is you had to submit. Come to think of it, if we had worked from 11:29:59 PM to 11:59:59 PM, we would have completed the thing. But then, that's not what deadlines are for, right?

And that, my friends, is THE REASON why the meltdown in the world economy took place. In India, you had the MBA boom (which, I think, is still going pretty strong. It's going to take a really strong needle to break that particular bubble!). While in B-Schools, these enterprising students were doing the exact same thing described in the previous paragraph. A lot of these people, in the process of getting their coveted PPOs and final placements, went to financial hubs of the world, like the US and the UK. Obviously, once in the industry, they would do the same thing. A lot of time was spent negotiating on the deadlines, that the actual thing for which the deadline was kept in the first place, was missed out. The financial breakdown was when they realised "Oh! It's just like the term got over and we haven't submitted our project yet!!!", and finally decided to work on it. And the result? The economy is doing much better than before.

Thus, if you really look at it (Oh. This sentence reminded me of that strategy class), the main reason for the economy coming up now, is deadlines. I can only imagine what would have happened, if those deadlines were not there in the first place!