Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Who is a leader ?

This is a poem which inspires me.  Written by an Anonymous Poet. 

A Leader

Patient and steady with all he must bear,

Ready to meet every challenge with care

Easy in manner, yet solid at steel, 

String in his faith, refreshingly real, 

Isn’t afraid to propose what is bold, 

Doesn’t conform to the usual mould, 

Eyes that have foresight, for hindsight won’t do

Never backs down when he sees what is true, 

Tells it all 
straight and means it all too, 

Going forward and knowing he’s right, 

Even when doubted for why he would fight

Over and over he makes his case 

Reaching to touch the ones who won’t hear, 

Growing in strength, he would not be unnerved, 

Ever assuring he’ll stand by his word. 

Wanting the world to join his firm stand, 

Bracing for war, but praying for peace, 

Using his power so evil will cease : 

So much a leader and worthy of trust, 

Here stands 
a man who will do what he must. 

Monday, 19 January 2015

The Bizarre Case of my Defective Geyser

I was really frustrated.  

Last month I installed the third geyser in my bathroom . Brand new ones. But somehow the water would just not heat up ! 

I had shifted to this house a few months back. So, when the already installed geyser did not heat the water, I thought that maybe the geyser was old and I should replace it. So , I bought a locally made geyser.  But even after keeping it on for 2 hours , the water was lukewarm .

"Ok..." I thought . "Maybe the geyser is defective. It is locally made without any quality standards....".

 After a few more days of futile trials, I bought another geyser from a standard company . It also had a warranty of two years. The installation engineers came and installed the same.  It was working perfectly.  "Ahh ..." I thought. "Finally I will have nice hot showers ... "

I enjoyed my bath the next day and the day after .  After the 4th day, again the water was lukewarm. The next day I kept the geyser on for a few more minutes. The result was good . Steaming hot water. Two days it was fine. Again the fourth day the water was lukewarm ! Even after keeping the Geyser on for 15 more minutes, it was not even lukewarm ! 

The next day I called up the service centre. The service engineers came and tested the geyser.  It was working just fine.  I did not know what to say. I told them that the Geyser was behaving erratically and they should take my word for it .  

"We understand Madam... ", they said "whenever you face any problem, just give us a call and we will come the next day and fix it.... today it is working fine .... !". 

The engineers were trained to be polite . 

The end result was that even in this freezing cold, I was really nervous of taking a bath ... I did not know whether I will get warm water or not ... ! I took resort to heating water on my gas oven for my bath. 

I called up the service center again.  After 5-6  repeated calls,  the Geyser company was kind enough to replace the Geyser and install another brand new one.  But to my utter frustration, it did not solve the problem at all !  Some day it worked excellently , the next day it did not .  

I just did not know what to do ! 


About 10 days back, I went to visit an ailing relative who was suffering from acute back pain.

"You know Ananya ... " She said . "All these years I suffered , thinking that something is wrong with my bones .  But this time when the pain was really acute, I had a thorough checkup and the investigation report and further discussion with my doctor made me realize that all these years my perspective was wrong.  I was taking care of my bones, taking Calcium supplements , having probiotic food , but actually the root cause was Ergonomics !  My work involved a lot of twisting and working at a particular angle for prolonged periods of time. This was the root cause.  As soon as I took corrective action about my posture, things improved drastically "

"Really ? " I said 

"Yes ! See, I was looking at the problem with a preconceived idea about the solution ... the problem was somewhere else ..... !"

Something clicked in my mind . 


The next day, I started with a fresh mind. 

I logged the days when the Geyser worked fine and the days it did not.   I tried to link all the activities before and after I turned on the Geyser in the bathroom . The study gave a strange result.  

It showed that on the days the maid cleaned the bathtub, the Geyser did not work properly.

I investigated further. 

And the investigation result was an eye opener for me

I found out that the pipes leading to the bathtub was linked with the Geyser pipe leading to the shower. And since the pipe to the Bathtub was at a lower height , there was a backflow of water into the geyser tank if the tap to the bathtub was not closed.  When the maid cleaned the bathtub, she invariably did not close the tap of the hot water , instead she closed the main tap. 

So what was happenening is  that the Cold water tap of the bath tub was open and water from it flowed back into the pipe which led o the shower and the cold water mixed with the hot water and the temperature of the water from the shower became lukewarm !

From the next day, when I switched on the Geyser, I closed the cold water inlet tap of the bathtub and I got steaming hot water from my shower - everyday, everytime !

So, the problem was not in the Geysers , but somewhere else !


Don't we make similar mistakes at workplace and also in our lives ? 

Sometimes, we just have to make a paradigm shift in the way we look at problems. 

The solutions lie infront of our eyes, but maybe due to the dreary habit of looking at the problems with the same angle and in the same way, we fail to find solutions to them ! Sometimes, "our clear stream of reason loses its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit". 

I have learnt my lesson. 

I will always try to keep my mind open when I try to solve problems. 

Have you ever faced such situations ? Do write your comments.

Monday, 12 January 2015

My Weight Loss Resolution Fiasco

Like every New Year, this year too I made resolutions.  The top one was to lose weight. As I wrote my resolution in my personal diary,  to my dismay , I found the same resolution written dated a year back !  

Folks,  I am sorry to say that I had failed to keep up my resolution.In fact , instead of losing, I have managed to put on weight . I kept my pen down and thought really hard. Where did I go wrong ?  I did start with a bang , but what happened after a few weeks  ?  Well ... there are always some festivities , ceremonies and get-togethers where we tend to overeat and these situations are bound to happen always.  So does it mean that I will never succeed ?  I became despondent .  But again , I thought harder.

I always like to go to the root of the matter and as I went deeper, I realized that there were two major flaws in my execution of the resolutions.  

1. I did not measure my progress
2. I did not keep it visual. 

Measurements are the keystone of tracking.  If we don't measure, we will never know how we are doing, which way we are heading and when we should come back on track for making progress.  

The basic point is that "the things that gets measured are the things that get done" !

We measure our academic success and try to do better. We measure the time taken to complete assignments and set benchmarks for estimation for completion of tasks.Measurements of schedule variance, defects found in the finished products,  number of complaints lodged , effort variance etc. all are measurements which help us to take informed decisions for the growth of the organization. 

In fact , I remembered that I had written the following verse for the in house magazine in one of my previous organization : 

I wonder…..
How far is the sky ?
Is the threshold large enough to keep it blue ?                          
Scale in one hand and magnifying glass in the other,
I wonder ……
What should we measure so that we can see a problem through ?

Measure , measure, measure,
Take a scale in your hand –
What is the life expectancy of a bug ?
How many defects were introduced ?
How long are we working ?                                       
What can we measure to get a clue ?
How are we doing on effort ?
Is the variance too large ?
Are we varying in schedule ?
How do we know we have reviewed ?

All measurements but no improvements ?
Hey ! This  does not sound correct !
Let us do an ISHIKAWA to get an essence.
Let us  measure our measurements ,
We should not measure what does not make sense.

Measure , measure, measure,
We will continuously  improve !
We have to monitor our thresholds
I am sure our  customers will approve !

So , the root cause of not being able to keep up  my resolution  was that I did not measure what I was eating, how much exercise I was doing and most importantly,  I did not weigh myself  periodically .

I have got myself a new diary and written "My weight loss program" .   I will now write every meal which I eat , all the workout which I do and a weekly log of  my weight

And most importantly, I will create a trend chart of my weight measurements and make it the wall paper of  my laptop.   This will serve as a visual dashboard and act as a motivator for me to be on track. 
If we use measurements to improve the organization, don't you think it will help me improve my life? 

Do write your comments.

Friday, 2 January 2015

The Factory which Converts Failure into Success

In one of my earlier blogs, I had written about Failure .  Read :  Why Do we fail ?

We all know that failure teaches us to persevere, to become stronger , learn lessons and move on

But have you heard of someone who picks up failures or drop-outs and makes a success out of them and in turn mints money for himself as well as for others ?  

Well, he is by far the smartest unknown  Indian IT entrepreneur - Sridhar Vembu  - the co-founder of ZOHO Corporation - the company behind the ZOHO Suit of online applications. offers a comprehensive suite of award-winning online business, productivity & collaboration applications.  It gives competition to giants like Microsoft.  It has a CRM product which gives a run for money.  

Vembu, a graduate from IIT Chennai and holds a Ph.D from Princeton University in Electrical engineering is a humble, down to earth and low profile person , usually dresses in traditional Indian attire - Dhoti and Kurta has set up the most profitable product organization in India. 

Zoho has sales offices in the Silicon Valley as well as in other parts of the world, but 90% of his workforce in in the Chennai office in India. That makes it very very profitable . And ... ZOHO is Bootstrapped - never accepted a single dollar from Venture Capitalists !

But having development centre in India is not a new concept . 

What is unique about ZOHO are its hiring and people practices. 

Apart from the founders, none of the developers are from premier institutes like IIT. ZOHO believes that coding is an art and not science. It is also emotion and not just logic. 

Their unique idea is to hire drop outs - 12th graders or the students who have not been able to complete their graduation due to economic or family constraints.  The society feels that these drop-outs are failures so much so that the individuals too start feeling the same when they get rejected in admissions and marks are deducted due to their drop out year or status.

For example, a 10th grade pass out joined ZOHO as a Security Guard . But he showed lots of interest in computers and took the initiative to learn a few things by himself. He was noticed and  put through the year long training and now he works as a developer in ZOHO !

Zoho takes rounds of the Government run schools , scouting for 12th graders . These trainees start earning from day one so that they can support themselves as well as their families with some contribution.

The "failures" - the rejected people from big organizations like TCS, Infosys , who are labelled as unemployable graduates are put through a three month paid incubation programme.

According to Vembu, there is no co-relation between academic credentials and job performance. Unlike other IT organizations, employees of ZOHO do not require to produce their Academic certificates or past credentials.  After the three month incubation , ZOHO's hit rate is 60% !

ZOHO has a small HR team - less than 10 people.  The HR team mainly looks after the employees welfare .

Understandably so,  ZOHO enjoys a very low attrition rate. The employees have loads of trust on the company and its management.

Trust is the glue which keeps them together. Loyalty is the oxygen on which ZOHO survives.

 ZOHO is expanding.

Not in big cities of Metro's. But in small towns. Where ZOHO will generate employment as well as grow its business.

ZOHO factory converts Failures into Success !

May we have many more Vembu's and many more ZOHO's