Showing posts from 2010

Arguments with Myself: Search for a New Career

I am signing off early. With 30 more hours to go in 2010, I already had enough. I am rather eager to start the New Year. It is always good to start a New Year in a high. And, considering that I am all too aware of the fragility of any upbeat feeling, that should be okay. This isn't like 2010, when I knew I was doomed. In fact, the last time I started a year with this feeling was back in 2006, but indeed, that was a different reality altogether. Lots of things have changed since. My life is different; my demands are completely transformed. In January 2006, I was seeking adventure, all but ready to take on an USAID funded position in Beirut, notwithstanding the pleas from my family and friends; now, I am looking forward to a few more years in Suburban London, keeping my day job and working on some new possibilities within it. The irony is: In 2006, I was all too attached to my family, with my mother still around; now, I am living the the loneliest time in my life. But, that apart, t

Elizabeth Gilbert on Writing & Creativity

How The World Searched: Google Zeigeist 2010

Say I Love You First: The Power of Vulnerability

Randomly Miscellaneous Words, Life and Love

I discovered a word : Serendipity. I came across this before, indeed, but never understood it. This was one of the more exotic bits of my adopted language, which I kept neatly tucked away, never needing to use it. It was as beautiful and as unnecessary as the three Persian princes of Serendip , the story that gave us the word. I traveled around, but never liked the expression - if you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there. For all what I am, I am a dreamer, a planner in disguise. It made no sense to arrive somewhere I did not plan for. Or not to want something that I do end up having. The real life experiences are just the opposite - I do not get where I want to go, I scramble for what I want. This is indeed exotic, out of the way, as unreal as those little princes of Persia. All wonderfully miscellaneous for the busier ends of life. The point is, indeed, as it must be said at this Christmas pause, that all the busy ends, all these busyness, all planning, are

Guest Post : Soaring College Costs: Should College Education Be Free for Everyone

According to a Money Magazine article, for over two decades colleges and universities across the United States have been increasing tuition four times faster than the overall inflation rate. After adjusting for financial aid, the amount of money families pay for college has soared 439% since 1982. The soaring costs of a college education has brought back the discussion of whether or not college education should be free. Let's take a look at the two sides of the debate. Arguments in Favor of Free College Education Student Debt : Many students graduate with an overwhelming amount of debt, which can significantly affect their lives. The average yearly cost, including tuition and expenses, of attending a public, 4-year school is close to $20,000. The costs of going to private for-profit and non-profit 4-year colleges are $30,000 and $35,000 per year, respectively (Source: National Center for Education Statistics; 2007-2008 school year). Fortunately, some students do receive grants and

Essays for the New Year: The Context of 'International Higher Education'

The recession is refusing to go away. Even before some good news emerged in the United States - at last - Europe started crumbling. It was Deja Vu all over again: The leaders' scramble, a patched up loan fund, a North-South divide, and one crisis after another. We are just in the Christmas Break from the crisis, and there is no signs yet that the domino effect has been contained. And, it is not about the financial crisis alone. The world continued its journey towards becoming a more dangerous place. Despite some drone-induced victory against Al Queda and Asif Zardari clinging on to power by his teeth in Pakistan, the American-led coalition in Asia looked tired and divided, ready to cut-and-run, in contrast with their opponents, who seemed to have an endless stream of recruits, covert state sponsors and a zeal to continue for thousand years. North Korea, on the brink under pressures of economic crisis and leadership succession, continued to play dangerously. The Chinese induced

Teaching Adults: The Question of Migrant Students

Something I learnt reading Stephen Brookfield , but now tested it in the classes I took and become an absolute believer: If you are teaching adults, it is absolutely crucial that you encourage the development of a positive self-concept. In short, that's obvious: Don't teach adult students as children. In fact, it is better to assume that they know what they want even when you may have an urge to 'teach' them. The point is that they can decide. Post-compulsory education is all about choice, and they have made the choice to sit in your class. Whatever barriers you may want to erect, if they choose to walk out, they will. This is a particularly important understanding for me at work. We have a number of overseas students at the college. The current UK Border Agency norms hold the college responsible for the conduct of their students and hence, give a lot of power to the college over its students. In a way, this is problematic and show how little the bureaucrats at the Home

Julian Birkenshaw on Management Revolution

End of Man: Ideas for A New Age

Arguments with Myself: Entrepreneurship Redux

I wrote on this blog that my career in business is more or less over. That was earlier this year. I was feeling burnt out, which I wrote about over and over here. I came to a point of a general disregard for the business culture of the day and found nothing similar to the romanticism I felt about my grandfather's profession - being one's own boss, having customers who were treated with respect and who gave respect in return, and having a high standard of professionalism and integrity (which, in lay terms, translated into keeping one's word, paying on time, being honest and transparent, paying one's taxes and never committing to bite more than one can chew). I say this is the romantic conception of entrepreneurship because this, in my experience, is passe. My take is that such things/ values become out of date as 'making money' took over the world. In the Gordon Gekko world, such things like parsimony and humility were indeed out of step. Today's entrepreneu

Randomly Silicon Roundabout

Policies need to be made of dream stuff, particularly in these difficult times. Reality is always hard to believe and good words are usually handy to keep away wrong statistic: Like the drop in real incomes for middle classes for a decade or the very current drop in employment numbers. But this is the way of the world - or, as Stephen Covey puts it, an area of concern - and the decent thing for plain folks is to get on with it. What makes the Old Street roundabout Britain's answer to silicon valley? The place is indeed run-down, ideal for new property development. It is rumoured that Russians are now moving in and buying the Bangladeshis out. Commercial Road is becoming, well, commercial. Indeed, there are so many other creative hot spots in Britain, and as a friend rhetorically put it, why not Brighton, that one wonders whether the vision of a silicon valley in Hoxton has anything to do with creative enterprises, or is it a clarion call to beleaguered property developers. I must

Back to the Sixties?

It was interesting to watch London in a foreign news channel last week: The student protests got more footage than anything else. The Police Officers are already warning that we are entering into a new age of public protests. All over the Europe, this is evident. Strikes are back: Anger is back. We are no longer confined to our Post-modern cocoon of differences, but suddenly linked up in a grand narrative being played out on the streets. Back to the sixties, shall I say, and expect a re-emergence of Hippies, spiritualism, LSD, and all that? It seems somewhat similar, as conformity gagged creativity in our age, reality TV dominated the public imagination and an unpopular war is raging on for far too long. But, sixties were about the demise of grand narratives, not emergence. Sixties is when we lost the hope for humanity, and started discovering our selfish selves above everything. Sixties is, in a way, the high noon of Industrial Man, and the birth decade of post-modernism. We are indee

Why Your Employees Should Have Access to Facebook

There seems to be a problem with such a straight-forward question. It is political. There are two sides on it. Battles are being fought over it. This simple innocuous question denotes the battle for the soul of the organization, though its methods are certainly less grand. The side that says NO has a simple reason: People should be working in office. Not socializing. Not playing. Facebook is playful, even immoral. Let us call this group High Priests of Scientific Management. These gurus are usually the Command-and-Control guys who believe that office work is about putting a bunch of kids in a cage and giving them some simple menial tasks to perform. This is where they get it wrong. They forget that office work is no longer like that. May be, they don't get because they are mostly managers: They don't work anymore. They sit in their cabins snooping around on other people, forgetting that it is social connections and free energies of the educated adults that determine the fate

Arguments With Myself: A Story in A Year

I am in the year-end mode, finally. It was almost difficult to let this year go: It has been one of those years of transition, from one thing to another, may be for good, but looked like a long tunnel. It was just not ending. However, as someone quite helpfully picked my pocket and stole my wallet on Wednesday - along with all the bits that made up my self and identity - it was easy for me now to call an end to this year. It is not about the fact it could not get any worse: The point is that it has ended itself. What an interesting contrast this end of year makes with its beginning. For me, 2010 began with an email, from an ex-colleague who I knew and respected, writing to me about his inability to join me in a project which we have been discussing for months. By then, I was all set to end my commitments with my the then employer and almost certainly knew that it would not be a painless parting. The project in question was the only thing I was looking forward to, and the colleague in q

Amy Tan on Creativity

On Creative Entrepreneurship

I spent the afternoon in an event celebrating the University of Creative Arts' ( UCA ) Creative Challenge event, the student competition to come up with creative business ideas. It was very well organized, at very cozy meeting rooms on a bar on the Greek Street in Soho, with great food and drinks to go with it. Besides, the event was lightened up by a brilliant presentation by Mike Southon of FT and Beermat Entrepreneur (See his profile here ). His inspiring presentation of 45 minutes, built around the story of Beatles, arguably the best creative team/ business in history, was aided by clips, stories and intelligent contextualization by Mike. Overall, a great afternoon of ideas, just what I needed to lift my spirits amid a rather miserable run. Apart from the entertainment, this was useful time spent, considering that I am trying to give some shape to rather abstract ideas of 'digital enterprise' that we are working on. Of late, I have been displaying some disillusi

Student Visas in Britain: To Be or Not To Be

The British government seems to have woken up and realized that at least a quarter of student visas issued by Private Colleges in Britain are abused one way or the other. Right diagnosis, possibly, but as governments tend to do - the government has zeroed on to wrong solution: They wish to bar private colleges from sponsoring foreign students altogether. This is surely meant to please the crowd, and it will. The government is in desperate attempt to divert attention from its desertion of the British middle class, particularly in the area of university fees, and the political trickery must now whip up an another issue which pleases the voters. Foreign students have no votes, and this has surely been a prime consideration behind this policy announcement . But, I shall argue, the policy is largely misdirected. But, before we come to this policy, a word about the muddle on university fees is well in order. You can almost spot the same confusion: To Be or Not To Be? The government can'

An Afternoon

I remember that afternoon. The rain seemed to be tiring off intermittently; the wild wind was waking it up yet again. It was all darkness: I did not want to work. I took the instrument, And the tune of the rains flew out of it. She came to the door, and went again. Then, came out to the balcony. Then, slowly, came to the room and sat down in silence. Kept knitting. Then, stopped knitting and looked out of the window to the faded trees. The rain stopped, my music stopped. She went to do her hair. Nothing else: An afternoon of rains, music, darkness and silence. History is full of stories of kings and wars, dime a dozen. But, this afternoon, this frozen moment, would remain hidden in Time's chest like a rare treasure; Just two people will ever know of it. (Translated from Bengali, a poem by Rabindranath Tagore)

However Far Away I Go

Wherever I go However far, There travels with me Weaved in waves The name of our river. However far away I go. Embedded in my eyelids There remains The neat courtyard Painted with Lakshmi's footsteps However far away I go. (Translated from Bengali, A poem by Subash Mukhopadhyay)

Developing A New MBA

One part of my work is exciting: Developing a new Global MBA programme. The college I am working for have been offering an MBA for a while, a general one validated by an UK university. It is a quite well structured programme, highly successful among international students. However, over last six months, I taught in the programme and was involved in managing it along with my colleagues, and this experience has given me some insights which I want to utilize now. So, I am currently working on a change agenda, with the objective that we would want to develop a truly differentiated, global programme, in step with the post-recession world. I have set myself a period of six more months, by when we should implement a new programme design and ensure greater manageability of how the programme is delivered. While I go along this route, however, I wanted to keep a narrative of the journey, so that I can look back at this process and reflect upon. Hence, this post. At this time, my plans are quite

Creativity Under The Gun: Perspectives

I am working on a paper about teaching 'Creativity' at the workplace. I have been fascinated by the various workshops and consultants who teach 'Creative Thinking' to white collar workers, and whose methods range from well-set formulas to the abolition of collar, and everything in between. I must admit my curiosity starts from my rather dim view of managers of all sorts, those poor souls who has no skills other than carrying out orders and shepherding others to carry out orders, those who wants to be as far distant from the customers and as close as to the boss/ the owners as possible, and those who don't even possess the skills of making a cup of tea for themselves but claim to have the solutions which can solve the problems of the world: But then I exaggerate. However, whatever the managers are capable of doing, I wonder, how can they be creative: Isn't management all about maintaining the status quo and not to be creative? This one question pushed me to at

Journal Entry: Snowed In

As you can see from the pictures, taken during my regular mile-long trek to the nearest working railway station (about 20 minutes walk for me), I am currently snowed under. This whole week has been quite a nightmare: Monday, it was the Tube Strike, and though I could get in alright, most of my colleagues suffered and many of the meetings got canceled. Then, Tuesday came the snow and complete collapse of the transport system. Tuesday night, I took four hours to get home though it is only about half-hour journey. (Still I must consider myself quite lucky as most people could not get home that night and ended up staying in Train carriages overnight) The misery continues, though I am getting used to it. I have now adjusted to this mile-long walk every morning to the nearest working station, queuing up behind the crowd well outside the station concourse for the hourly service to Central London and then doing a somewhat similar exercise every evening. The fun is that it is not snowing in Lon

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