Jan 25, 2007

India escape to victory

Rediff has an interesting title to their report on India's win in yesterday's cricket match with the West Indies. - "India escape to victory"

Too often we have heard the Indian cricket team doing a 'snatch defeat from the jaws of victory' - just like they did in the last two Test matches in South Africa and the series in West Indies before that. Given this, it is was heartening to read that headline.

Meanwhile I will continue to resist the temptation of watching India play international cricket to avoid the tension and later, the heart burn. But with the World Cup right around the corner, it will be a tough proposition.

Jan 23, 2007

'Two Swipes And A Lunch' - Antiquated, Yet We Persist

Today on the bus to work, I was watching several young 'knowledge workers' stand in the bus for an hour, and thought, "They are all travelling tens of kilometres every day, only to converge in a place called 'office' where most will soon get buried in their own cubicles in desk work or telephone calls. After two swipes and a lunch that mark and measure this work-day, they will once again battle massive evening traffic only to reach home exhausted and frustrated. "

Doesn't this sound insane? After all it is a fully wired world now, with monthly broadband bandwidth costs approaching that of an evening's worth of fine dining. The productivity loss of two hours of a single day's commute itself could easily pay for an entire year's bandwidth and electricity costs required for 'work'.

Before the Industrial Revolution, business was accomplished in close-knit communities that used to work and live together. Industrialization in the last two centuries gave rise to factories which necessitated workers to come to the shop floor to produce goods on a massive scale. Soon by the early 20th century, optimisation techniques thanks to the likes of Alfred Sloan imposed a 'modern workplace' regimen on the shop floor, of work package - time slice monitoring and time punch. Now time punches have 'technologically advanced' to time swipes.

However today with distances having been conquered by waves of tectonic transportation and technology developments (the latest one being the Internet), this model needs to be turned on its head. Unfortunately old attitudes die hard, and this modern-corporate-commute practice owes much of its identity to the century old regime. Corporates like the power they wield over the cubicled masses, and losing it to telecommuting may not be appealing. And how can desi software service firms addicted to hourly wages prove their wage bills are right without timesheets to back them up?

The future will eventually be one where technology gets us back to the olden (golden) times where people specialise in specific skills, the change being we are now globally connected. So one can enjoy a home view in say, Araku Valley and still participate in a sophisticated global supply chain. Technology will also enable people to meet co-workers on-demand and not all-the-time. In fact most co-workers will live around each other, just like the artisan villages of the past. New business models will evolve that will set up such a collaborate-on-demand infrastructure.

Indian firms are still mired in the Industrial Age mind-set and one hears about no new thinking, except may be some startups before they don the corporate avatar. IBM has done relatively well in having 30% staff (all are not just sales guys) working remotely. Best Buy has already started on this journey with its wildly successful Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) initiative. Getting there needs conviction and maturity. Let us hope the rest of the corporate world sees the light.

Jan 5, 2007

Linkedin Reaches Critical Mass

Linkedin the online networking site appears to be fast reaching a tipping point. In addition to growing number of users (has about 9 million members now), this Valley-Biggie-VC backed venture is also getting a lot of attention. Guy Kawasaki, wrote a good piece on his blog. I have liked and followed Guy since I read his book the 'Art of the Start' a couple of years ago. His blog reflects his thinking with its elegant design, easy to read fonts, easy-on-the-eye colors, simple layout, meaningful content and of course his witty remarks.

I have registered with Linkedin about an year ago and my network has just reached the magical number of one million people. No I don't know all the million, it just means I am directly connected to 166 people I know (colleagues, clients, classmates, friends etc) who know more people who in turn know even more. So it is a two-level connect. There is this well known saying that every person in this world is connected to another by seven links. Linkedin works on the same principle. At one point I was rapidly adding people to my network but now I am selective (Guy claims to have the largest 'pending invites' list on Linkedin). Like anything else, it is a choice of quality over quantity.