Sunday, September 28, 2008

Shanghai Nights

I am back from my business trip from Shanghai this morning. I didn't cover much of my first visit to this modern buzz city as the Korean trip that followed my visit to Shanghai dominated my blog post.
I did spend 4 days this time and took time in the evening to go around the city as well as the Saturday forenoon to explore. The city is buzzing with activity and the areas are earmarked for day and night exploring respectively. I had indicated the MAGLEV experience last time. The Shanghai metro is also one of the best and cheapest and easy to go around. Yes, the taxi fares in Shanghai are reasonable, of course still we come across some cab driver who pretends the taxi meter does not work and demands fare beforehand.(More so at 11 in the night).
The city is rich mix of old and new the temples like Jingan temple and gardens represent the old while modern sky scrappers and broad roads and museums on science and techonology takes you to the present day trends. The Bund tunnel ride reminds one experience I had in Madame Tussauds.
Yes, there were some learnings too, in my return flight, last night from Hongkong, I had left a bunch of new magazines purchased in my seat and went for a bio break (as soon as I boarded the plane) when I came back in 2 minutes, all were missing!!!. So the learning is take out magazines after the flight takes off. Also it shows you ( I learned) that how uncertain things are!!!. It all can go in a minute.
Till next week, take it easy and take care; Live conciously.



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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Work life choice, Awards, Drucker, Hammer.


I thought I would touch up on the work life choice topic from an Indian context. I prefer the term Work life choice as coined Jack and Suzy Welch. It is all about working a value with which personal/ work factors are taken. I am of the view that values change and working a balance between personal/ work life is one such area which doe not change with time. My personal view is that this practice more established in an Multi national cultural environment with western focus. Of course, it is all to do with your boss, your organization is as good or as bad as your boss. Based on the reality check, on first hand account from my close friends who had worked 10+ years in MNC and then moved to the Indian companies have found that this concept is practically non existent and are wondering what can be done to inculcate such practices. I had a discussion on this with my wife, and my theory is that in an Indian scenario, I told her, (She had no view on this!!)the family sees making money for the security aspects that they themselves dont push for the work life choice to happen, It is put aside in preference to wealth creation.(Still in the first or second rung/ stage of Maslow theory on heirarchy of needs!!) I guess, this could be true from CEO to an ordinary employee in a typical Indian work culture who worry about wealth accumulation and comfortable life as main task. I would assume the family has to take the blame for the lack of work life choice. What the family can do to turn it around??? by taking initiative and see the employee see the value of worklife choice. Also the Indian work culture evolves around power distance which is high, (Less than some countries in Asia) Boss is always right and his comfort is my comfort, with no room for dissent. Forget work life choice, the typical Indian companies, I am not sure encourages, telecommuting, remote management aspects which are common place in many industrialised world. (Outside software environment, even there I wonder!!). It would be interesting to hear views on this forum.!!!.

I was pleased when Lalitha received the best employee of the month award (See picture above) from her employer. I am from a conservative thinking side on awards, that you take the best employee on board and get the job done and success and rewards will all be part of all intangibles. I feel some times these rewards and recognition (Some times they call rapid recognition) loose its meaning and significance, if they are given out just to meet some targets set. I have heard comments from folks that these award plaques are no more worth than paper weight!!. Ofcourse, this is not to take any credit from places where it is fully valued and felt important.

After 21 years of first seeing the book, Effective excecutive by Peter Drucker, I took out time to go through the book. No wonder he can be called the father of management. Amazing concepts.

I am saddened by the passing away of Michael Hammer during the first week of September. I consider his HBR article Process Audit a path breaking one on re-engineering. It gave me a clear idea has to how to approach from a process perspective on any business systems. May his soul rest in peace.

Till next week, take it easy and take care; live consciously.
Regards
Karthik.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Down the Memory Lane. Dr RV.

I was away Business travel to Madurai the town where I had done my Graduation studies. Honeywell has a facility on the premises of college where I studied. I took time off from the schedule to visit the college and catch up with some of the college staff. This was my first visit to the college since passing out in 1983.

Really, it was a walk down the memory line, when I walked through the lengthy stretch of road from Honeywell facility to the college(see map) the memory of subjected to ragging/ and irritating questions by senior students back in 1980 just flowed through. Yes, they were within limits and there was no physical harassment involved. I wonder where is the status of Ragging (Hazing) now?. I feel,One side of ragging is that it helps you to build courage and face realities of the world at a younger age as you step in to competitive environment at work.

The college itself has undergone lot of changes as one would expect!. New buildings, new canteen facility,statue for founder of college Thiagaraja Chettiar. A case of one more chettiar contributing to the education wellnsee of India. Of course! I was puzzled / amused by the new Ganesh temple in the facility. Religious, as I am (A little conservative you may say) I strongly believe that Religion/ religious practices have no place in educational institutions and it should be secular more so in open institutions. You are there to study Science, Language, History, so I was kind of wondering what lead to the building of temple inside college premises!!!??.

Ofcourse, I was more than deligted to catch up with my chemistry lecturer(Then) Dr R Vasudevan who is now the dean of external coordination. My professor, Dr V Subrahamanian, is no more (He passed away in 2006). Dr Vasudevan coordniates the research on use of recylce plastics for laying roads and has worked a patent on the plastic bitumen technology which is gainining popularity. We could catch up besides on the college progress, Dr RV's personal interaction with President Kalam on his research, on trends in education, quality of educational systems. It is another matter (A sad one!!) that the engineering colleges have mushroomed to a ridiculos level that any one and every one who passes high school is assured of a engineering seat, thus leading to poor talent pool who some time lacks the basics to survive in a competitive environment.

Steering away, I am excited to see Sarah Palin being chosen as John Mccain's running mate. I guess this gives Americans a chance to redeem themselves for missing out in 1984 (Also for democrats, who missed electing Hillary!!). She is one heart beat away to create history!!. My personal beleif is that women manage issues a lot better and their emotional / social intelligence levels are better tuned to manage issues. Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher would substantiate this with their turnaround. So I am predicting a Republican continuation at white house. Ofcourse, I respect Obama, he is also good. But this is more personal choice. I recollect rooting for Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton in the past.

I am saddened by more bombings and death in Delhi last night. I guess this raises the question about strong anti terror laws. Coming in the week of 7th Anniversary of 911, just makes you wonder that how post 911 security well has been managed in USA. I guess it all boils down to political will and courage to go beyond vote bank politics.

TIll next week, take it easy and take care; Live conciously.
Regards
Karthik.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

100 posts. Chrome, Ethics.

I am indeed delighted to post the 100th Blog post. It has taken close to 3 years to reach this milestone. (Almost 3 postings a month). The next mile stone could be 500 postings. (That looks far away!!! should take good 4 to 5 years !!! ). I promise to do 75 to 100 posts a year from now on. I have done my best to pass information on what I think as well as what is a good value add.

I have downloaded and tested the new Google Browser, Chrome. I guess still it is in beta version but it looks different and good user interface. It might give IE a run for the money. You may read the review by Walter Mossberg.

Came across an interesting blog post in Ethics / ethical by BV Krishnamurthy. My belief is ethics is all to do with what is commonsense and judgment dictated by circumstances. I more consider values to be core indicator to guide true north and lead life.

Ok, till next week, take it easy and take care; Live consciously.
Karthik.


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Sagrada Familia Barcelona. A must see church in Barcelona.
















The water fountain in Rambla (Near Plaza Catalonia) where it is believed that drinking water from this fountain will bring you back to Barcelona.








Statues in Barcelona too good.
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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Strange reason, Customer service,Alcala, Gazpacho

I am sorry that I could not post my 99th Blogpost Sunday. The reason was that I had missed my connecting flight and was on Air flying back home from London. The reason for missing the connecting flight was strange!!! as below.

I was to take the 0630 pm flight from Madrid to London and connect to Bombay for the 2150 Hrs. I reached Barajas Terminal 4 around 4pm and was told to take the 1730Hrs BA flight which was delayed by an hour, thus giving me a chance to reach London early. We boarded at 1830 and pushed back. Then to our surprise we were put on hold on edge of the runway for want of a legal requirement for the take off weight which needs to be reported. Unfortunately there was a communication gap between, the flight crew, ground attendendant, Heathrow and Madrid. So we waited for 90 minutes at the edge of the runway. By then the fuel had depleted so we had to return to gate, get the required information, top up fuel and left 3 hrs late. The 630 pm flight long gone. We reached London at 1015 pm with Heathrow wearing a deserted look.

Yes, this gave a chance to interact with the customer service at Heathrow terminal 5. I must thank the Customer service agent Rob Martin who was kind enough to put me on to the next direct flight to Bangalore Saturday evening. I had Jet Airways connection from Bombay to Bangalore.(All this was done to avoid a stop over in London as well as to reach Bangalore early!!!). They also provided me an accomadation at Reniassance airport hotel at Heathrow as well as voucher for travel and breakfast. So I must say that BA did their best. I did stay over. This gave me a chance to explore terminal 5 in detail before boarding the flight. In my opinion the versatality of Terminal 4 is missing in Terminal 5.

I was amazed by the size of Madrid Airport. I am told it is the second largest single terminal building in the world (700,000 Sq Met) after Hong Kong Terminal 1. Yes, the access to the terminal can be confusing as were some of the Highway signs in Madrid. Barcelona was clear, No such issues. So watch out!!!!.

I had a chance to explore the city of Alcala. This is about 20 Kms from Madrid and looks historical with universities. We did spend a couple of days. I had chance to taste the veg tomato soup Gazpacho. Excellent for vegeterians to cool themselves. Yes, it was hot at 104F. The hotel I stayed in Alcala was great with good rooms and Facilities and in calm area away from noise. Good place to relax.

Yes, It is another matter, that we bumped in to plenty of girls with whom you would not like to have encounters!!!!.

Ok, till next week, take it easy and take care; Live conciously.

Regards
Karthik.

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