Sunday, December 18, 2016



This is a common idiom used, when apparent differences between items which are thought to be incomparable such as apples and oranges.  I have come across this many times at work and home, when questioned about performance, compared regions, products, etc.  I have used it many times on to establish why my area of work is different to others, why the performance / results cannot be compared.

I am thinking, why we shouldn’t compare Apples to Oranges; aren’t “disruptive” ideas born when we start comparing unrelated things to achieve more?  I feel it is okay to (or should) compare “Apples to Oranges” to experiment on new things and possibly excel.   Some of the organisations come to my mind who have compared themselves to unrelated things and possibly be in the path of success.

  • Amazon from booking selling online store to an IT service provider
  • Google from search engine to possibly big player in automobile industry
  • People like Neroli Fairhall paralysed from her waist down, Oscar Pistorius with both legs amputated participating in Olympic games (not only Paralympic games)
  • Some of the inventions like airplane, nuclear power, our emails, etc

On the contrary, few organisations who ignored to compare Apples to Oranges; like the ones below;

  •          Kodak once pioneer in the industry failed to transform in digital revolution
  •      Blackberry who had huge market share on smart handled, led way to Apple and Android
  •          Sony Walkman  (don’t think the younger generation even remember)
  •        Many individuals surpassed you and me (for sure me) and we have decided not the compare and “stay put” .
l   I recollect an old Tamil  movie lyrics by writer Kannadasan, which reads as “paravayai kandaan vimanam padaithan, Ediroli keettan vaanoli padaithan”    (translated in English – Scientist compared the birds and invented airplane,  listened to echo and invented radio) which sounds like people dared to compare Apples to Oranges.
     In summary, what I want to convey is let us not excuse ourselves saying, “ I am different”,  “that is different” at the first instance.

   Do you think it is important to compare "Apples to Oranges" at individual level and at organisations level?  I am looking forward for your comments and examples for YES and NO for comparisons.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

MY PERSONAL MAINTENANCE - 4 day in AOL Bangalore Ashram

MY PERSONAL MAINTENANCE  - 4 day in AOL Bangalore Ashram

Last week, I have chosen to spend four days in a residential course at Art of Living ashram in Bangalore.  It was a different and refreshing experience;  I have learnt some new things and also it made me to experience the past.   Let me narrate my experience.

COURSE:   The course were a combination of Yoga, breathing exercise, stretching and meditation.  The class starts at 6am in the morning and ends at about 830pm in the night, with two long breaks (breakfast and lunch) and couple of small bio breaks. This 14-15 hours day was long, but not tiring.  If similar meeting was to happen in office for four days, there will be numerous breaks for refresh, may this course itself is meant for refresh, so why refresh breaks?.  “If we do our work with love and energy,  we can work long with less breaks” 

Most of the courses were done with eyes closed,  it means we don’t have to worry about how others are performing and no inhibition on how others perceive our performance.  The  learning I take here is “ have less of distractions for effective performance” 

The toughest part (at least for me) of the program is “SILENCE” – yes, we were not expected to speak for 3 full days.  When my children ask, what I do at work,  my response used to be “I keep speaking and get paid for it” ,  from there to “no talk” for 3 days was difficult and I could managed with some exceptions (one  call made).   “Dare to do something different”

Among many types of programs, we were also asked to do some creative drawing in about 10 minutes.  It was amazing to see many creative work,  this is mine !  “I think everyone can be creative, age no bar.”

ACCOMMODATION:  The room was not equipped with 9” mattress, foam pillows, shower with luxury toiletries, climate control, flat screen with WIFI, etc.  The room is small non AC, 4 people shareable, hard single beds with thin mattresses with shower facilities.  I used to stay in similar type rooms when I started my career, it was nice to go back to that experience.  The rooms are clean and fit for purpose.   “Luxury does not guarantee satisfaction, but fit for purpose and basic expectations will” 

FOOD: The food served were not 45 items, 5 course meals;  it was good, hygienic, single course meal (like rice, sambar, vegetable), thrice a day.   There were no coffee, snacks in between.  I was bit surprised on how I managed without caffeine for four days.  “Light on stomach is heavy on energy” .

SEVA (SERVICE):  The course also included doing Seva for about an hour a day.  I did spend time in kitchen (vegetable cutting), garden and model village.  It is very different experience to do work in mass kitchen (believe they do 10,000 meals a day).   “It is good to do some work on the ground once in a while as a service (I am not talking about as a service in IT)”

I really felt it was a good maintenance (like car) for me, both mind and body.  I think it will help for individuals and corporate go for maintenance once in a while.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

“Soap bubble” - Transition to a new role

In the corporate environment, change of job either by joining a new organization or job rotations is important and inevitable.  These changes (new person in a new role) helps the individual to learn / contribute in the organization and also gives a fresh perspective to the function.

My questions to the hiring manger are, when we get a new person to the new role (internal or external hire),
-          - are we expecting the person jump start and produce results ?
-          - are we giving her enough time to settle down ?
-          - are we allocating resources in educating about the org / role ?
-          - do we have sufficient self-learning material?

I    I feel as a hiring manager we need to spend quality time with the “new hire” on induction, not just for the job role, also about the group, organization, people, culture, processes, decisions, goals, etc.   I often see Managers are in a rush to deploy the person into the role (billable project or otherwise) and expect the person to produce value (results) quickly and allow a natural path of long learning cycle about the rest of the organization.

I am sharing my experience when I joined this organization little more than three years ago.   I was joining this company after a long stint of 22 years in my previous organization;  I had some butterflies in my stomach.   I also knew in the new role, I will be inducting lot of leaders and hence decided to watch my transition bit more granular for the first 90 days.

First, I said to myself ; in my first 90 days, I will take over from the incumbent like a “soap bubble” and I will ensure “the bubble” does not break.  I also said, I will neither attempt to re-size nor reshape the bubble.  The meaning here is, will understand the details on its own merits; however set aside the changes / recommendations post 90 days.

Second, I did jot down all my interactions with the colleagues and categorized them as “value consumed” or “value delivered”.    If I had learnt / understood something from someone, I have categorized those interactions as “value consumed” and given a numerical value of “minus 1” and if have I have contributed something significant in the conversation, solutions, etc, categorized those as “value delivered” and given a numerical value of “plus 1”.   At the end of each day, computed the cumulative net value delivered to the organization and plotted a graph.   As expected the net value was –ve initially and more –ve later, less –ve over a period of time, break-even and grew +ve thereafter.    Interestingly,  it took about seven weeks for a break-even in my case.

Third, I have broken down the net value further by functions (ex: Delivery, pre-sales, Talent acquisition, etc).  The observation here is, some of the function had a more +ve net value and some of had more –ve net value at the end of 90 days.  I am not advocating more positive is good or more negative is bad.    The point, I am driving is depends on the role we are hiring the person, if we can steer the induction we may get better results.  

Fourth, I have also recorded the people who have spent time with me in my transition and group them as top management, Sr management (mostly peers in my case), team, self-reading, etc.  In my first 90 days, about 137 hours are spent on me in various forms of interactions.  Interestingly, self-reading was on the lower side.  The learning I had on this is, when we hire new people, it is important to spend time with in educating about the organization (beyond the job role)  and these interactions are not one way, it has to be on push-pull mode, meaning the new employee has to pull people into the conversations. 

Fifth, I had jotted down my recommendations on what we need to do better; more from an “outside-in” perspective and did present this to my mangers after about 120 days of joining the organization. My managers not only appreciated those views, also given me green signal to implement some of those and I am glad to say more the three-fourths of these ideas are implemented.

My transition has given me learning on hiring and inducting people in new roles, the key ones are

1      1) Allow new hire to understand the organization beyond the job role (don’t break the soap bubble).
2      2) Focus the transition on the key areas beyond the job role as well.
3      3) Allocate time and resources for transition (including the hiring manger’s time).
4     4) Motivate the person to get fresh perspective (outside-in) in the early days, before s/he get used the organization.    Recognize good ideas and explore implementation.
5     5) Create self-reading material.

Thank you for reading this, looking forward for your comments.