How I would act if I am PM – My 2 cents

PM Modi may be right or may be wrong about his focus  to remove black money and time will say. I am concerned about the plight of the common man who paid his taxes and have no black money. While we can debate the pros and cons of the drive, let us focus on immediate problem today,

I agree that every implementation has challenges. My question always connects to whether PM Modi is working on ground to solve problem or expecting others to solve problem, being on foreign travels, while common man suffers. It is easy for me to have opinions and thoughts. Here are some of actions that I would take if I were PM.

Action 1: Digital approach  1: Setup monitoring room.

Ask his officials  and bank officials to  setup dashboard that shows summary of cash availability across all bank ATMs and branches in India.

  • When cash goes empty or close to empty in ATMS or branches, it shows red
  • When cash is available, it shows green

The dashboard should be be displayed state-wise and branch-wise. If  a bank ATM goes red, the bank CEO gets SMS and is expected to fix the same in next 2 hours.  This happens 24 hours and not during day hours. if officials need security, he can arrange for the same. Have a RBI representative for every state, any fault of ATM or branch in state should involve the representative working with bank officials to get this corrected in 2 hours.

Transparency: Expose above dashboard to public. Let public see how things are made effective by PM. Let banks get good marketing by making things work or  bad marketing when things are worse. The representative would give announcement of day’s progress in the evening to media at 6: 30 pm about how effective they were. PM  would consolidate and address the nation at 8 pm.

Servant Leadership: Let PM walk down and get cash in bank ATM. Let him do this at different part of the country without informing officials.  He can be joined by Finance minister and RBI governor also. The point is for  Modi to demonstrate that he is on the ground to solve the problem and is really working to balance removal of black money and the challenges of common man.

I am sure  his demonstration will motivate everyone in the entire bank machinery to  ensure that cash is replenished  to branches on time.

 

Who did we give our remote control ?

“Do not give your remote control to someone else.”

Some one remarked that not having money to spend is making them anxious. I see the long queues in ATMs and bank branches. The weekend  brought to me to question         “Can we punish all including  innocent person as we cannot identify who is guilty?”

When I went around neighborhood, road-side merchants and vendors reported losing 50% business from customers as customers do not have currency. On more enquiry, one offered me chat and I replied that “I do not have new money to pay for chat”. He gave me chat and offered me, asking me to pay later. I acknowledged his act of kindness  and ate the offer. Same is story heard from old newspaper vendors and construction workers. I thank people who helped their maids and drivers with cash they have and also request them to realize that poor people have more self-respect and may not ask for money in Indian society and may instead choose to starve without money.

On a different note, I received email written with right intent that educates employees who have bank ATMs within corporate offices to visit their offices to withdraw cash. Are those ATMs only accessible to employees working in corporate offices? What would common man do? Some one would say  “If you have worked in IT park, you would have no problem. Not working here is your mistake for losing privilege “.

Everyone has privilege or right to live in the world and get privilege from nature and not from firms or humans or any governments. No invention and no innovation defines breathing of humans.

To have better life, a government setup was created. No government or firms perform favors by allowing us to have a good life, right food and surrounding environment. We choose them and gave them power and rights to act in our behalf. Think that we need to remind ourself that our life is not define by some one’s good nature or some one’s pity.

Looking around, I feel that all animals expect humans seem to live with more freedom. The urban man seemed to have lost his freedom completely and is on path to become slaves for experiences, comforts and conveniences that he enjoys. That includes me too.

Fundamentally, seeds sown in fields to grow crops has been taken over by MNCs. Today lot of farmers do not keep seeds for sowing for next crop. We are afraid to east fruits with fear of pesticides. Children think that food comes from departmental stores.

We are happy to swallow medicines and take injections given by doctors without questions.  You are not ready to be cured of fever in 5 days and demand doctor to provide antibiotics for quick relief. Soon, mobile applications are arriving to recommend medicines and injections to patients without even visiting doctor.

In India, there is a long tradition of sharing front portion (called thinai) of our house with travelers and visitors for free.  Our history talks of families sharing food with  guests and sleeping with empty stomach. 20 years back, I have gone to Palani and stayed in Chattaram which was almost free. Where are chattarams today? In trichy, bus stand is still called chattaram bus stand.

thinnai.png

Today we justify and share or inability with living  in apartments and have security and not able to allow people to come in easily. In addition, with advent of airbnb , we now rent rooms of the house and make money.  Your apartment  has club house that is large and empty and you cannot share the same with homless for nights. You also have bathrooms down for staff which can be used by them. You still do not allow them. what has comfort and convenience lead you to?

In my birth town, my father had never used to drop me at school in his official jeep, while he used to pick employees/workers on the way to office. His employer did not expect him to do that. I know that he was paying back similar privileges received  by him when his superior with jeep picked him and he had no personal jeep assigned.

Today, we take rides using Uber and Ola. When we ride as single individual, can we pick guy known to us travelling in same direction, waiting for bus? Some of us would say that this is not allowed and once can use OLA-share or Uber-share. Has someone tried the same?  When three passenger can climb from your home in Ola-regular for same price, what stops us from picking this guy waiting for bus?

In last few months, my kids cajoled me to experiment using OLA and Uber. I have started to travel by bus, cycle,walk for many years now.  Earlier, I have pitched to my children of reducing pollution, reducing fuel consumption and also cheap travel( when they were young and had half/no tickets).

For shorter rides, children pitched that costs for 3 people to go in OLA was less than going by Volvo bus in Brookfield area. Very true. When we I tried to hail auto for same travel, we learnt that cost of hiring auto was more than hiring cab  using mobile app. They seem to ignore the other things. What happened to them?

Let me remind myself that girls travelled in bus for close to 8 years, when we did not own a car. My younger one used to like Volvo bus to play monkey style in Volvo bus and the elder one liked breeze in auto and complained against car and preferred auto in the past.

While hiring online cab, I was wondering how to move my children to take bus. when I looked at their regular activity, children traveled by school bus for a shorter distance and for other travel, they go along with my wife in car and have less exposure to bus today. Now both of them demand for AC in car, once car is on the roads.

For me walking and travelling by bus and cycle, I found the comfort of OLA and Uber nice. I started to experiment myself  with Uber and OLA to observe my own needs of comfort and conveniences. Visits to Chennai made me realize comfort that Ola-share and Uber-share provides same quality service at less costs. For rides, where prices are same for both option, I choose normal OLA and where prices was costly, I choose OLA-share.

I kept paying by cash and resisted payment by card. When a driver failed to turn up, I walked to metro station close-by, got a bus and went to suburban station and reached home. I was not ready to allow me influenced by the comfort.

I felt that lower cost has become more important criteria than benefits of car pooling to save environment. I realized that for long distances that I like comfort of Ola-share.

Coming back to Bangalore, I find myself more getting used to comfort of car, moving from cycling to work.  Becoming aware of my comfort seeking, I pushed myself to cycling again.

On day of demonetization, I worked late at work and had planned to take OLA. With cash currencies of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 not acceptable any more, the first thought was whether to connect my credit card with OLA to enable going by OLA.  My inner mind started to question why I have not asked for office cab and why I am falling to comfort. I decided to walk home and walked 4 km to reach home.

Yesterday and Today, I observe a lot of people standing in long queues before ATMs and sure lot of them work for IT companies. What is productivity loss with people standing in front of ATMs and anxiety of not having cash? When there is a strike and employees are not able to report to work, Bangalore employers complain about loss of productivity. Why there is no sound now?

On other hand, IT industry is happy with behavioral change induced by current situation to bring more business  online. There is little or less thought on the difficulty brought to their employees, beyond the challenges faced by themselves without cash.  Maybe thought is employees have to visit ATMs in their personal hours and will not impact productivity.

Banks promise that customers can use ATM at their convenience. In past, bank representatives come to our offices to open accounts. Where can they not send today people with cash to offices and disburse the same?  They have failed to keep up their promise as part of service contract.

While I acknowledge efforts of bank employees as individuals, I view that banks as entity have failed their customers. Banks pushed customers visiting branch to use online services and ATM services, some charged money for visiting branches.  To show that they are customer friendly, some published notification to effect that charges are waived.   When customer failed to maintain minimum balance, customer is not charged for not meeting commitments and is rarely given a chance. Are banks justified for negligence?

Today, banks have outsourced operations including ATMs and is that reason they find it difficult to handle scenario.  Technology can be used for good or bad. What would happen, in these challenging times, if there is failure in power grid and ATMs stop working? What would happen if there is natural calamity in these times?  Let me thank God and nature for protecting us. Has Indian government thought of these risks?

 

How inclusive are tech meetups, hackathons

I attend and participate in meetups and technical events on Saturday. I started to observe the presence of more men than women in these events. The ratio of men to women looked like  75: 25 or 80:20. In last few week, I was involved in few activities and experienced some new learning and sharing the same here.

diversityI am father of 2 daughters. Last few years, my wife started to work and some Saturday morning, she needs to attend events at her work, where I offer to take care of my children. Few weeks ago, my wife had planned work for whole of Saturday and I was leading event at my office on the same day. When both of us discussed to take care of children, I decided to take my children to my office. (they hanged with my cousin for large hours across lunch). While i was happy that i can keep my children with me, they shared with me that it was exciting initially and felt bored and restless after few hours.

My personal experience made me look at our volunteers. We had one female employee to volunteer. She was one year experienced and that made it easy for her to come.   I looked at male employees and asked myself ” Who was taking care of their children in their homes?  Are their wife house-wife’s?”. Felt good when a manger brought his son for few hours to event.  I found volunteers were mainly men. I was surprised with lady HR executive who stayed whole event, possibly she is recently married.

Our whole day event(9 to 8)  got delayed by 30 minutes. My wife came and picked children around 6 pm and I was left to come home late. A mother would have found it tricky to balance delay in event and needs of her children.  My own daughters become uneasy and uncomfortable when mother come few minutes late from promised time.

In another technical meetup conduced, a female colleagues and women had come. When thanked for their participation on weekend in their busy schedules. they shared ” Event was closet to my home for me to attend”. If you look at Bangalore, more of events happen in Koramangala or IndiraNagar. What is percentage of weekends events that happen around ITPL ? When I inquired women about joining session online, they said “Not easy to join webinar. kids allow father to do office work and not mothers”. Reminded of ex-colleague who takes conference calls being  present in bathroom to reduce disturbance.

While I  consider hackathon helps to identify talent applying knowledge rather than only being good theory and enable hiring of diverse talent. How much hackathon help companies to recruit qualified  2 to 5 years experienced IT women professionals, married and mothers. Do companies miss to hire women employees using hackathons? On a different note, women employees stay for long time in their jobs compared to men. To leverage short-term benefit, are we sacrificing long-term benefit?

On Google of  words “hackathon Bangalore  women”, here are few result links.

I observe that  above were single day hackathon. Recommend companies who want to hire diverse mix of candidates to have 1-day hackathon compared to 2 -day hackathon ( Friday evening to Sunday evening). While  48 hour schedule  favors men than women, i acknowledge that married men & fathers want to spend weekend with their families.

Happy to see lot more inclusiveness  in paid events  TechSparks events are on Friday and Saturday, completes early evening, allow  participants to return home/families. HasGeek events are more on week days.  NPC events are mainly on weekdays, with night networking on the first event day. Can we measure the number of women who stay to network ? Let me thanks them for allowing Sundays to the participant families.

Move beyond competition, Create value.

competition

[For sharing with my children]

“Everything ends in competition. Hence be ready to take part in competition” seems to be what most of us are saying to ourselves. New age philosophy takes it to next level as “If you need to grow,  be ready to live a life that contradicts with what you believe. It does not matter what your values are and what is important is to win competition”

Does Clash of Opposite’s only create or lead to growth? No. Man and Women collaborate and live peacefully to give birth to a child. No proof that man and women competed and gave birth to a child.  There are more worldly examples to demonstrates that collaboration between living beings (not restricted to humans) creates more value for all

Can we think for moment what would be the result  if earth and moon decide to competes to prove whose gravitational force is best?  Close to home, How would you feel if cats, dogs and other living organism around house start to compete with humans? Did we even think in this way?  We take what does not compete to be granted.

Let me say where we created competition more than anywhere. It is creation of food. The more we consume the food created through competition, more sense of competition is developing among humans.

Nature has provided good to humans, insects and worms.  Corp-orates produce fertilizers and pesticides and also made us to believe that insects and worm’s are our competitors. Humans have become pawn in the competition with insects and worms in farm, equipped with fertilizers and pesticides to eradicate insects and worms.  What happens to activities that insects and worm were doing to maintain balance in the environment? May be plants that die get decayed and enrich the soil as natural manure for plants.  How will soil get enriched when there are no worms and insects? Corporates have helped humans with easy answer ” User more fertilizers and pesticides”.

Observer that humans with 6 senses have attempted to eradicate insects and living creatures with 3 senses and still have not succeeded  in eradicating insects completely. Instead of accepting our failure in competition, we try to compete by using even more fertilizers and pesticides. Effectively, We are responsible to expose our food to more and more chemicals and our land has lost its original richness of minerals and We have worked to make our land to become barren or dependent on chemicals.  Do we realize this?

All living beings mostly live together as group or herd and also live dual approach of both being together and being alone. They share beyond what is needed to survive for that day and have not build any physical or artificial walls. A tiger eaten its prey to its full is not eager to attack deer or cattle walking closeby for next day good, next week food and next year food.  May be that is what makes animals to coexist together in herds or groups.

While animals with less senses live together, humans with six senses find more and more difficulty to live together. In a century, brothers and sisters have started to live separate and in last 2 or 3 decades, parents and children have started to live separately. Competition between their egos has caused separation in relationship. Do we realize that we have lost the benefits of being in stronger relationship ? May be we need to think how will it be if our 5 senses compete with each other?

Let us remind our-self that we have things to receive from people both similar to us and who are opposite’s to us. There are things that we can provide/give to other people, including people from whom we receive.  Only humans defined that two things are opposite’s. Nature did not define them as opposite’s. Nature wants them to coexist.

We do not need to agree with opinions, judgement and wishes of another person?  There is not need to agree. We can disagree and still live with differences and create growth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you use? Email? SMS? IM? Phone?F2F?

Today  multiple modes of communication are leveraged in our professional and personal lives. E-mail, SMS , IMs or Chats, Phone call and In-person F2F meeting. Are you leveraging the right communication channel? Are your leveraging right communication channel best suited  for real life scenario? Here is my attempt to answer.

Email  are used to communicate for non-urgent matters and  scales fairly well, being asynchronous. As emails document facts, emails  qualify to be considered formal and are suitable to be prioritized, free of pressure to respond immediately. The sender is aware that he would obtain response based on receiver priority. Receiver is aware that he can schedule time to check and respond emails. Easier for both parties to develop a disciplined approach for communication over emails

Emails are ill-suited when people use emails to resolve conflicts. Emails can become nuisance when emails are used to assign tasks to individuals. In these scenarios, it is better to talk or meet person in F2F mode or Phone mode

SMS are for short messages and for asynchronous communication. Used communicate quick status or interest to other person. Examples are like reached place and do not see other person at scheduled time, keep informed of delay to arrive to F2F meeting and so on.

IMs are suited for quick short informal messages prior to F2F or phone discussion(using voice) when both parties show attention to IM,  IM becomes more efficient than a candid back-and-forth email thread.

During conference call, IM are used to share quick facts on a topic  and IM can be treated as confirmation of facts across conference call.  IMs allow teams to collaborate internally better with exchange of private messages within the team, even during a joint call with multiple teams. Any IM interaction for more than a minute or two may become tricky and for IM interaction more than two or three minutes, explore options to move to voice based IM or phone call. Let us accept that  voice is quicker/cleaner than typing!

IM Pop-ups can be distraction( Remember to set ” do-not-disturb” when necessary). They are not good to document formal responses and are to be limited to internal team discussions. IMs are efficient with customers with IM federation enabled IM of customer.

Phone calls are useful when both parties cannot wait for F2F meeting to occur, or critical issues cannot wait to be scheduled F2F. Please schedules phone calls, being aware of time loss due to unscheduled Phone calls. Either answer  unscheduled calls for less than a minute to schedule or call back unscheduled calls in planned hour. While one needs to be aware of distraction on one’s focus due to unscheduled calls, there are times where one needs to  pick up phone and  talk, instead of long  back-and-forth e-mail threads.

F2F meetings are most suited to resolve conflicts or brainstorming sessions. Too many F2F meetings can be a time-killer. Schedule F2F meetings that are truly necessary with a clear agenda communicated in advance so everyone has time to prepare. Take meeting notes and documents action items. Send notes and action items to all invitees/participants for F2F meeting. if  the magnitude of conflict increase, it is very important to have F2F meeting as soon as possible, as it has potential not to let any problems linger around!

To end, please remind yourself of the cost of the meeting to the company. Remind yourself mentally with everyone’s salary  engaged in conversation. Ensure to finish meeting early when agenda of the meeting is completed. When key person required for a meeting is not able to attend, please postpone or reschedule meeting.

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Big data is not the master

Extract tangible business value & insights from quality and integrated data is more important than volume, velocity or variety of Big Data. Business users who consume Big data don’t know or care about its bigness. They want the right data applicable to their particular business problem, and also want to trust that data and analysis derived from it.

Data and models lie in the context of a larger decision support system. The quality of the data, and quality of the model are two independent limiting factors of such a system and one always begin the decision support process with questions like.
• What problems must the business address?
• What questions does the business need answered?
• What insights does the business need for innovation?
• What business decisions and actions need quantitative support?

First, Develop models to support above business needs and then  decide to pursue for  the required data. Big data is the servant, not the master. The real value in decision making is highly influenced by organizational decision support process in  2 ways.

Start with assumption, instead of a hypothesis (Similar to being in a mission to “Prove” something). Team perceive an outcome and try to align data, analysis and do everything necessary to achieve outcome that syncs with assumption. Starting with assumptions make people cherry-pick data, models, algorithms, visualizations, and even share information with objective to “prove”.

Start with a hypothesis to be proved or disproved. Testing happens. Verification happens. Multiple models are generally used instead of one. Here more focus is spend on “whys” in addition to the “whats.” Teams that are open for critical thinking have the risk of slipping in to bias here, while the genuine focus still continues on the accuracy of result.

Big Data Cycle

Big Data brings focus to three “V’s” (volume, velocity, and variety); More  value from Big Data comes from variety. With little or no domain expertise, techies  focus system design to handle larger data volume . Hence business folks need to focus/emphasis on  data variety and needs to be educated to forget more of big volume and focus on big variety.

  • Get value out of your variety is data integration task. Ensure that no Big Silos gets created and first integrate existing data silos.
  • Integrate far flung disparate systems to generate insights with a holistic view of customer and product attributes along with sales data by channel, region and brand.

When Variety takes precedence over volume, exponential data still gets collected, we need to address data error correction on an exception basis. We cannot scale manual data correction to keep up with our increased data volumes. We must automate data quality processes to catch and fix those errors up front with tools at least as robust as our data collection and storage resources. For unstructured data too, we need to apply  the same data quality standards that is applied to more traditional transaction data.  To achieve data quality, it is important to understand how  business users interact with the data.

Traditionally, applications were designed and developed and  consumed by users until it becomes apparent that applications need to be modified or replaced. Computing played role to tells us what happened in the past and allow humans to speculate what happens in future. Today predictive analytics make machine to speculate about the future and allows humans to take decision/action.

Predictive analytics needs continuous process evolution towards “It is not requirement followed by solution.  It is a process and a journey and not a project. It is not plugging in some technology” When predictive analytics helps to get better understanding of customers, focus is needed to “get inside their souls.” and to continually tune adaption to changes in the business and customer activity.

  • How to  prioritize, data present in the report or person consuming the report?
  • Does applying analytics change things for you in role of a professional and in role of a citizen? Are you agreeable with  new change in both roles?
  • What you did with data 5 years ago compared to what you are doing with it today?
  • As effective data usage is a moving target,  Does “more data”  become a more realistic desire than “all data.”
  • Does velocity matter more than having data in a format that’s actionable and in a format that maps to business objectives?

Are social networks addictive?

Do I become more happy on seeing more readers read my blog or there are new comments on the blog. I have seen this practice in last few months, where I check whether more visitors are coming compared to previous month. This had made me question of my own priority “Do I blog to express my own idea and thoughts with indirectly influence on others?” or “Do I blog to influence others? Is expressing myself in all topics really important?”. The first thing I did was to stop sharing my new blog posts to LinkedIn.

social

Known to lot of you, I have kept myself away from WhatsApp. Answering to others on my absence in WhatsApp, I questions myself whether I need to join whatsApp to be in touch with my friends. I observe work related discussions happen on WhatsApp and there are no emails on the same topic. May be I am losing some work related interaction, being absent in WhatsApp. My mind asks me this question “Am I being missed out?” and answers “I have made choice and should learn to live with it.” Occassionaly I check WhatsApp for NGO in my wife’s phone and she is part of NGO group too.

With all social networks, I observe that “When one login to social networks and browse to a different page and return to social network page, you are already logged-in.”. Having seen this as benefit  earlier, now-a-days, I see this feature as disadvantage. Is there setting to expire session of social network login after a configured interval?

With LinkedIn, I observed more articles arriving directly on first position by email. The email has list of articles from friends to read. On click of article link, you are directed to login to LinkedIn. Is it not enough for LinkedIn that I receive emails from LinkedIn and read articles in LinkedIn? Why do they force me login to LinkedIn. Can LinkedIn notification emails not have access to public URLs to allow me view message without login? I do not like getting forced login to read article of a friend.

On analysis, I observe that I follow large number of public persons in LinkedIn Pulse and found option to unfollow public persons. Some of them I chose to explicitly follow and some had no clue why I am following. Pruned the same. Asked myself question “Should I leave leave LinkedIn?” and found answer “Reduce noise interactions on LinkedIn. Follow few people and maintain LinkedIn profile for professional purpose. Get glimpse in to other people’s backgrounds, prior to meeting and plan my conversation better”. I like when people with a past relationship respond to your private messages. I hate when experience people send invitation and when you respond sending message after accepting, they do not respond.

Earlier I used Facebook effectively for my charity campaigns. Realized spending more time on Facebook reading other updates, I started first to stop adding comments on others posts in Facebook. In last 60 days, I have disabled my Facebook account thrice, with a promise not to enable the same. Twice, I got pushed to login to Facebook and became aware of what I have done only after login. This awareness had helped me to be away from Facebook for last month and resist to log-in.

Once I disable Facebook, I am sure that my blog updates are not published as part of my Facebook feed and are not visible to my friends.

I continue to use twitter. Twitter also notifies to email address to pull you come online and login. Is there option, where i can stop twitter not to send messages? Why am I sharing updates on twitter of what I read? Is it not possible to leave all social network?

I find my book reading, listening to songs have come down and time spend on social networks has increased. I need to become more aware and make changes that are important to me.