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Showing posts from April, 2009

Day 4 - 6: Business As Usual

Another day, this time I thought I would have meetings but spent mostly working on documents etc. I may also postpone my travel plans to India, originally scheduled next week, and concentrate on getting done as much as possible remotely. In fact, I realized I am better off planning a very busy schedule when I actually travel, which I was not doing for the last few months. This means I shall be in the UK for a while, at least till the middle of May uninterruptedly and would be able to organize my life and work better. I am hoping that this will impact my productivity significantly and help me turn around things much faster. [I recognize one of my big problems is the long time I take to respond to emails or return phone calls, which is partially because I am hardly at one place and I do get pulled in at different directions during a day's work.]

I had a fairly busy Tuesday, though I am not sure how much of that actually went to any of my three prime tasks, ILR, Company Restructuring …

Day 3: Thinking about immigration

I had a relatively productive Monday, which is always good for a crucial week. I have noticed that I work in bursts and a good start helps - as I would have covered a lot of ground by that. I had a long awaited meeting yesterday and if I can follow-up on the ideas and execute things, this meeting will help me a lot to restructure our operations in India. Critically, I have realized that we have to reposition our English offering in India, and offer this more as a skill to complement other objectives - jobs, immigration, professional studies - rather than by itself. We are working to create an international employability course, which covers the critical employment skills, but then we need to do more. I have in mind the international accounting qualifications, which is quite popular among Indian graduates, but given that the accounting training is always tricky, one has to steer clear of regulatory roadblocks to offer such training. Yesterday's meeting will help me to create an int…

Day 2: On A Monday

I had a rather lazy Sunday, despite planning to do a number of things beforehand. I finally heard from India - a meeting I was trying to set up for selling a particular territory franchise will finally happen between 30Th and 5Th - which effectively means that I am travelling next weekend. The prospect of immediate travel made me focus on household chores, which I never get to do. I love travel, I still do - but I think I try to do too much these days in travelling, saving money on flights and hotels and compressing my itinerary so much that I don't have to spend much money. This was okay about 20 years back, when I was 20, but now it is really catching up with me.

I did read, and find that exercise enlightening. I am reading GeertHofstede's Culture and Organizations, a short paperback synthesis of his seminal Culture's Consequences. This is an extremely interesting read as I learn about the methodologies behind the derivation of Hofstede's dimensions. I also read and r…

A Final 100 Days : Day 1

I love 100 days. They focus my mind. I am somehow used to this number 100 - they are sufficiently long to appeal to my long term nature, but not very long to forget about what I need to do. I have done this before - and the 100 days go a long way driving my transformation. And, transform I must, I keep finding my inadequacies, and must change to make my life more meaningful.

So, a fresh start yet again. This 100 days will take me to the 3rd of August. By then, I shall be almost out of English training project and work on whatever I do next. At this time, I am very keen to spending a year in the university, fine tuning my marketing knowledge and skills. Provided I can find the money, of course. Besides, I am trying to evangelize at least one business in India. And, trying to find myself some employment which keeps me going indeed.

Within these 100 days, I also have to finish my dissertation for my MA. I haven't done much, but I know I would love to do the work. Sort numerous things o…

Culture Training in India

I am a sort of a culture enthusiast, or so I have become in last few years. The reason is rather obvious: I chose to live in a different country and the culture issues affect my daily life. This exposure allowed me to explore the academic literature on culture at work, and what I found both impressed and scared me. I have been selling internationally for many years now but have never known the nuances of various cultures. And, this is not just about choosing the right word or behaving properly: I understood that this is about the whole way of thinking and behaving.

With many Indian companies going global now, and more dealing, or attempting to deal with, International clients and their customers, this must be a huge issue to be tackled. Indeed, I have seen this gem of a movie called Outsourced, which takes one through the life of an American manager forced to live in India. While this fictional rendering is of enormous value, the practical aspects of culture at work needs to be explore…

India's Culture : 'Articulation is mistaken for Accomplishment'

NarayanaMurthy makes an interesting point in an interview he recently gave - he talks about the culture of execution in India and says our Brahminical Tradition undermines the culture of getting things done.

I shall not repeat his words here, but would rather write a personal reflection.

I know this observation is very true. Everyone living abroad knows this actually, when you watch how many things you are expected to do by yourself. When I came to Britain, I was soon struggling because I never fixed the electricity at home, never cooked a proper meal and never fixed the water supply before. Couple of years down the line, I had this awkward idea of creating a DIY website for India and I was laughed at, and eventually discouraged, because 'no one who would buy things on the Internet would ever want to do the jobs themselves'.

I had the same issue when I was setting up operations in India in my current job. The first things I brought for the office was an electric kettle and a toas…

Rubina: Our Moment of Shame

Rubina Ali is in news. Of course, she is - she was the girl child in SlumdogMillionnaire. That movie which made news, won Oscar and infuriated some of our chatteretti. I recall reading a stunningly insensitive piece written by ArindamChaudhuri, the education entrepreneur, media owner, movie producer and aspiring politician, somewhat the pinup boy of the shining entrepreneurial India. There, he argued, that SlumdogMillionnaire is a shame, it shows India in a bad light - something the Westerners still love to do - and undermines India's progress.

I have read chat room postings - this is not real India - and followed the blog chatter accusing non-residents like me being insensitive to the shame of the slums. I obviously made no secret that I liked the movie immensely, as I did like The White Tiger, ArvindAdiga's Booker Winning effort, both of which were united in celebrating the spirit of the underdog. I did think that the real progress in India is being made as Jamal becomes the …

Abdicating to Taliban

Nations are ideas. We try to fashion them as territories. But how can a river, a mountain ridge or sometimes an imaginary line in the middle of a field can explain the wide division in the lives, thoughts and futures of the people who live on different sides? Nations are not the people too. Indeed, people build nations and become its body. But the soul of the nation is an idea: People come together on an idea to build a nation.

While that's what a modern nation is - an idea - and that way exceptionalism is not an American exception, very few nations are as completely defined by an idea as Pakistan. There was hardly any political, geographic or military rationale of Pakistan other than the idea of an Islamic homeland in South Asia. [In that way, the ideological brother of Pakistan in the family of nations is Israel] This, abated by the short term political calculations of some backroom colonialists, created a modern state which must be solely sustained on that singular idea.

Religion…

Time to Re-examine!

As I think about the reality of doing a year in the university, one thing surely scares me -the prospect of writing examinations. I was always bad at exams. I have done much better in class but disappointed my tutors in examinations. Truth be told - that had nothing to do with my knowledge or my ability to comprehend. I was not disciplined, an adolescent habit which I corrected since; and I hated doing anything because I have to, a character trait which remained.

Whatever is my personal predicament, I think exams are meaningless, a very last century thing. Why make people memorize and write things when everything can be googled? I was reading Howard Gardner [Five Minds for the Future] and he makes the point that memorizing comes from the age people did not have enough books. Because it was costly to have a complete work of Shakespeare at home, one would learn to recite him from memory. Because you could not afford to buy an Encyclopedia Britannica, encyclopedic memory was at a premium.…

Sun & Oracle : Over to Cloud Computing Then?

Oracle has made the announcement to acquire Sun, for $7.4 billion dollars in Cash. This is a bit of news. Obviously what dominated the tech circles for last few weeks is the possibility of a Sun-IBM merger, which made sense technology-wise. Till Sun turned IBM down, it looked like a done deal, and it is now emerging why Sun was so confident in the first place.

Hopefully, this deal will go through. After the two failed headline mergers, that of Microsoft and Yahoo and of Sun and IBM, one would wait to see this through before making any noises. But, the two companies seem better fit than the other pairs here. Sun and Oracle worked side by side in many projects, and I am sure they are defined the common enemy above everything else. Besides, Oracle and Larry Ellison seem particularly adept at pulling through successful mergers. Oracle has managed to pull through a particularly bitter acquisition battle with Peoplesoft, and followed this up with a successful acquisition of Siebel, both of w…

A BBC Story - Flash On TV - For My Scrapbook of Ideas

Story as appeared on bbc.co.uk Website----------------------------------------------------------------------------------Adobe has secured a deal to put its Flash software into many of the chips that go inside TVs and set-top boxes. It will enable developers and content providers to create applications to deliver web-based content such as news, weather and share prices to TV screens. Flash will be included on most chips -those made by Broadcom, Intel, NXP and STMicroelectronics - but the deal does not cover TVs made by Sony and Samsung. The first applications using Flash are expected to hit TV sets early in 2010.
Sony and Samsung already have a number of connected TVs on the market, but they are using Yahoo's rich media platform of widgets instead of Flash. More than 420 million TVs, set-top boxes, and media players are expected to ship globally in the next three years and increasingly they are capable of being connected to the net. Adobe hopes it can get Flash inside many of those…

How Long Is The Tunnel?

One interesting thing I realize when I speak to anyone in India, the recession has not affected the morale yet. Everyone seems to say, yes, times are bad, but it will be over yet soon. Some even say that the recession will not affect India at all, at least in a major way. They point to the prudence of Indian banks, and are emboldened by Joseph Stiglitz recently saying that the Reserve Bank of India has better judgement than the Federal Reserve. More to the point, many Indian businessmen point to the huge untapped potential of the country and see the recession as a temporary blip, and expect things to return to usual growth soon.

Sometimes, I feel this is a very Indian thing. I spoke to friends in Dubai, who strongly believes that things will be back to normal soon. I also had discussions with Indians in the UK, and when I told them that the house prices are going down, they told me that this can not happen for too long and they would rather go out and try to buy houses now. I have this…

Animal Spirits : An interview with Bob Shiller - From McKinsey Quarterly

Amartya Sen recently wrote that while the current recession has shifted back the focus on Keynes, in fact the other economist who deserves a reading now is Arthur Cecil Pigou, Keynes' colleague and a rival in his time, who actually gave human psychology a greater role in economic studies than any other professional economists. Here, Bob Shiller argues that our economic models went wrong as we have not allowed psychological implications in the modelling exercise: We put too much faith on Homo Economicus, the rational economic man.
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From Animal Spirits

For years, the world economy has been on a roller coaster. Yet not until it began to veer off the tracks did the passengers realize that they had embarked on a wild ride. Abetted by their thoughtlessness, the amusement park’s management didn’t set limits on how high they could go or even provide safety equipment.

Why didn’t people recognize the warning signs u…

Right Brain Leap: What the Conceptual Age may mean to backward economies

The idea of a Conceptual Age, as described in Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind or in Howard Gardner's Five Minds For The Future, has significant implications in policy making in developing countries. The current orthodoxy in development planning is indeed that an economy must go through stages - from manufacturing to services and up the value chain - and therefore most developing economies today compete to attract western firms to shift their manufacturing bases. Obviously, this policy has startling successes, like China, which dominates the store shelves across the world. This sequential thinking, indeed a result of our left brain orientation, dominates the economic science, and possibly one gift that Karl Marx passed on to his successors. And, because of its origin, there is a broad consensus between the left and the right on this issue of steps in development process.

However, if we step aside economics and infuse the paradigm of business in development policy-making, the flaw…

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