Jag Venugopal's Blog

October 24, 2012

The Power of IT

Filed under: Project Management — Jag @ 6:13 am

I’m re-reading Hammer and Champy’s “Reengineering the Corporation”. In their new preface, they quote an anonymous person as saying “IT allows us to make worse decisions sooner.”

Couldn’t agree more with that observation. When I worked at CTP, we used to illustrate the futility of automating inefficient business processes with the following diagram. From my experience over the last decade and more, we keep strapping IT rockets to the business dog and hope to get a Cheetah.



October 11, 2012

The new iPad mini has a Cornea display

Filed under: Project Management — Jag @ 7:16 am

Retina is so 2012. The new thing for the iPad mini is a Cornea display. And they apparently have a new technology to create picture-perfect color using individual red, blue and green pixels. All in an iPad that fits in your shirt pocket and can be held in one hand. Apple’s raised the bar again. I’ll be queueing up at the Providence RI store before midnight! Take that Samsung/Motorola/Google/everyone else.

August 30, 2012

Boss vs. Leader

Filed under: Management,Project Management — Jag @ 6:42 am

Via Michael Roberto and Bill Flemming’s interview comes this quote from Russell Ewing, a British journalist:

 “A boss creates fear; a leader, confidence. A boss fixes blame; a leader corrects mistakes. A boss knows all; a leader asks questions. A boss makes work drudgery; a leader makes it interesting. A boss is interested in himself or herself; a leader is interested in the group.”    

July 31, 2012

Is a union such a bad thing after all?

Filed under: Project Management — Jag @ 6:23 am

There was a very unfortunate incident in India recently where workers of its biggest automobile company (Maruti, a Suzuki subsidiary) rioted inside the factory, set fire to a portion of it, killed a manager and maimed countless others. I have never heard of workers rioting so badly in a very long time. Not in the new India.

Interestingly, this very same factory had experienced strikes and labor unrest last year. And while that episode was free of violence, Maruti bought out the union leaders, disbanded the union and formed a new one.

I’m speculating that the problem with Maruti is that in the absence of a mature union, there is no one to represent the workers, channel their grievances, find an acceptable solution and hold them to an agreement. Unions exercise some level of leadership over the workers, who listen to their union bosses. In the absence of an established union, anarchy prevails, with complete and total lack of discipline.

A legitimate union, with an official hierarchy, processes and procedures, affiliated with one of the national trade union federations, may not be to Maruti’s liking. But it may be just the thing to ensure that such terrible incidents do not recur.

July 25, 2012

Groupthink in action

Filed under: Project Management — Jag @ 6:35 am

From brainpickings.org through Michael Roberto comes this experiment in groupthinking. A notable observation is that when one person bucks the trend, others feel emboldened to follow.

One lesson we can derive is to be the one person who does not fall in with the rest of the group. When we do that, politely but sincerely, we embolden others to state what’s truly on their mind. From the conflict and churn of ideas, great things emerge.

From a personal standpoint, I chafe at conformity. I’d much rather people on my team speak their mind than impose an artificial uniformity on them. Sure, there will be the occasional disagreement, and we may end up saying different things in a public forum. But that is a small price to pay for the great benefit of having everyone’s honest input in a discussion of any sort.

June 6, 2012

Never forget the radio station WII FM

Filed under: Project Management — Jag @ 6:33 am

I get countless calls each week, that all go the same way: “My name is so and so, and I want to talk to you about such and such…”

In precisely 100% of instances, these communications have been summarily deleted. I never take a cold call.

I feel sad for the person that’s trying to make a sale, knowing that they will meet with similar rejection in every call they make. How could they do better? I have three suggestions:

First, clearly answer the question “What’s in it for me?”. If you cannot answer it, don’t bother. If, on the other hand, you’ve somehow come up with an answer I like, then your pitch becomes a lot more persuasive.

Second — do your communications resemble brochures, or do they actually give me some small nuggets of information that are immediately actionable? If you want to talk about BI, first provide some BI related information that I actually care about. Then, segue to your company and your product. You don’t need to serve up a big tome… a few tidbits of useful knowledge conveyed in a newsletter will motivate me enough to read more, and actually understand what you’re trying to say.

Third, don’t offer bribes. Two companies proposed to give me Red Sox tickets in exchange for considering whatever they were selling. Countless others send me all manner of tchotchkes. You’re wasting your time and money. I will never accept a gift from a vendor. Ever. Tchotchkes like pens and pencils with your logo on it get gifted to the first kid I can find. Money wasted for you.

Ultimately, Dale Carnegie said it best: “Bait the hook to suit the fish”.

March 17, 2012

The new iPad and those crazy fanbois

Filed under: Project Management — Jag @ 4:21 pm

Those crazy Apple fanbois, standing in line from Thusday afternoon, just to be the first to make Apple even richer on Friday morning. I’d never do that. Besides, I’m asserting my fifth amendment rights against accusations that my son and I kept hitting refresh on the Apple store’s webpage all afternoon on the day of the iPad’s launch, just so we could get the next iteration of the gadget on March 16th, the day of release 🙂

So — how good is it? The text and photos are outstanding. The original iPad was a marvel. We loved it and continue to use it heavily in the family. But, when we put the two side by side, one can clearly see the immense difference in clarity when it comes to text, fonts, and pictures. The previous iterations of the iPad look bad only by comparison against the new iPad — the older models can hold their own against any other tablet currently on sale.

Should you buy the new iPad? Yes — its not something you’ll ever need but its one heck of a toy for young and old alike.

RIP Encyclopedia Britannica (print)

Filed under: Project Management — Jag @ 4:09 pm

This CNN article carries comments attributed to author A. J. Jacobs, testifying to the superiority of Britannica (print) to Wikipedia for some very specific uses:

One man told Jacobs that he used the books not just for knowledge, but as weights for rehabbing a hurt wrist.

“You can’t do that with Wikipedia,” Jacobs says.

Renowned explorer Ernest Shackleton, he adds, “took a set on his famed voyage. He ended up burning it for kindling.”

March 10, 2012

iPad, circa 1935

Filed under: Project Management — Jag @ 10:41 am

This is what Lord Grantham might have used to read ebooks, back in his day. Saw it in the Daily Mail.

Then: This 1935 image showed what an automated reading device using microfilms could look like

January 21, 2012

Principle vs Principal

Filed under: Project Management — Jag @ 5:12 pm

Principle Technical Something-or-Other.

Principal Technical Something-or-Other.

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