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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Profit from Open-sourced Information

Yesterday evening while driving back from Alappuzha district where I had gone to Umpire an all kerala T20 cricket tournament, I happened to listen to this www.ted.com talk.  Not sure what made me tune in to this particular talk from the list of suggestions which my mobile app had thrown up for me at that time. I guess the words 'Great' and 'Coach' may have made some influence.

Here is the talk which I'm referring to:




It's interesting to see the comparison that the speaker makes between the traditional pedagogical view (read - as followed by most academicians) and the view that professional sportspersons take when they are attempting to travel from 'Good to Great'.

What I liked about the whole thing is that there is no mention of any commercial connections like certifications while espousing the value of coaching.  To me the commercial interests have made very relevant concepts like coaching (discussed here) frowned upon by the very folks who are in need of it's depth. Certifications have evolved along commercial lines and the very often has occurred at the cost of depth.

I foresee a balance of  traditional as well as modern (read Internet) modes which we humans will employ in our pursuit of greatness. 

Knowledge snippets are available to the ones who seek them.  Formal sources will continue to play the role of influencers initially but depth will be attained via open sourced information as commercial interests will not be in a position to match the 'current-ness' of information obtained via crowd-sourced material which Open source depends on.

Will be interesting to see how this trend changes in 2018... 

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Teacher: Teaching and Learning in this millennium

Context for this blog is my recent interactions over social media with groups of people in my state who are kind of re-inventing the wheel when it comes to using updated pedagogy for teaching and learning.
When one hails from the first state within a country which was declared 100% literate some years ago - one tends to develop a unique outlook towards teaching and learning. As a result, one's expectations from Kerala's teachers will be higher. If I put myself in such shoes, it gets coupled with the fact that my parents happen to be teachers (Mom taught Maths and Dad taught Geography to army men).  Due a combination of forces, my mediocrity meter may have become a bit more sensitive than normal.

My exposure to the Education Industry (yes, it's become an industry during my time) as an HR professional gave me many opportunities to look under the veil. From the time I passed out with a campus placement in 1998-99, I've got to witness the transition of management education from being 'Scope' based popularity in the late 90's to denigrate (for majority of institutions) to being a 'Placement' machinery in the boom days after 2008 recession.

Looking back, I feel very lucky to have been gained my basics of management from an institute which at that point of time had over 90% visiting faculty. I guess this made sure that only practitioners from diverse corporates in Pune who loved to teach and could find time outside their office hours on a daily basis (talk about being busy) were the ones whom we got to raise our questions and thoughts. I so wish management institutes figure out a way to find such volunteer teachers for they are the ones who stand a better chance to provide value and create an impact to humanity via their attempts to foster learning.

My last full time stint with corporate world brought me back to my home state in 2008. There was the natural need to get connected with local talent pools (B-schools and Professional colleges included). During this process, the results of which are now in public domain - I've had many experiential learning opportunities, some of which are being shared via this blog as musings.

1. Teaching as a Career: I get to listen in on many conversations during the trips i had made across Kerala and this one stands out. A Senior person was heard explaining to the parents of a daughter why 'teaching' was a good career option for women in particular. The reason - There are over 3 months of paid holidays! Exemplary way to choose a career right? It's no real wonder then that the schools end up taking life away as the following video explains.



2. Teachers as thought leaders: I'm fortunate to have many employee-hr connections turned into life long friendships and one among those are three pals have set out on an entrepreneurial journey some years back along with their B-School Teacher to form a unique venture. They are doing some amazing stuff these days. When I get to see such thought leading collaborations on one end of the spectrum, the trouble is that I find the opposite end very sad to digest / connect. Recently, a group of academicians and some Industry experts attempted to convince me about the relevance of Industry-Academy interface and explained their unique approach towards that goal. More on that later as the jury is still out but I really wish that the Dunning-Kruger Effect was documented at least a decade earlier so that self-declared thought leaders from my state who believe that they are marching towards the zenith (if there is one) of management education would have got a chance to watch the following Ted-Ed video.

I could go on and on but let me place some thoughts as a solution to those leaders who care to dig deeper.

The Industry will always find ways to reach out to real Talent - I mean the 'Candidates' among the those students who flock to professional colleges (Engg and Mgmt or other graduate level courses). They (The industry) will also find ways to weed out 'Job-Seekers' as the progressive among them have realised that it's the candidates that create value even when faced with uncertainty and will hence evolve methods to attract such candidates, with or without academic qualifications.
Use the time available to you to forge unique linkages with Industry segments which can provide conduits to your students.
When open sourced content is already available on multiple devices (sound as well as text) - attempt to leverage those and create value to the Industry via your students and yourself.
Volunteer for programs with Industry forums and be known for knowledge snippets that you create from the plethora of sources available to you with the access you have as academicians.

Our current students are headed for stuff which most of us cannot imagine now - this article by my good friend Shahana will give some glimpse of that future.

Want a case worth emulating in Kerala? Take a look at #Ulab and Theory U via the MIT.  Kerala has enough problems to solve and it can act as opportunity for academicians.

Glad to spend time with anyone who is willing to 'think' and brainstorm and this is beyond calling one group as 'Think-Tank'

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Lessons for Life via Brazil

It was during my BSchool days in Pune (1997-99) that I came to know about Richardo Semler via his book 'Maverick' and it was to his teachings that I would turn to whenever I was faced with an uncertain situation in the corporate world - the world into which I ventured gleefully from mid 1999.

Therefore, it was kind of natural that I bought his 2003 bestseller - The Seven day Weekend, around the time I took up my biggest ever role in Jan 2008 as Employee No. 1 of Arbitron India.

For those of you who missed catching up with Richardo's work - You can get this highly recommended book from this link.

Here are some videos from Richardo Semler -


Some of the stuff which I read became bases for the arguments I had (and won) while setting up workspace at Arbitron India's 45k Sq feet office - yes we had a hammock in our open garden. Some of the 'Freedom' concepts became building blocks of the unique Culture which we documented later in our life story with support from IIMK faculty. They helped us coin the term 'Responsible-Freedom' as the base element.

When we ventured out to support the IT Small and Medium firms in Kerala as 'Growth Catalysts' via www.ssconsult.in, I harboured this desire to take Weekend outside my week.  It's taken me over two years but I get this feeling that I'm closing in on that with what I've experienced over the past three months.

So here is a link to that author's talk about his book - The Seven Day Weekend.

Wishing you all a 'Happy Weekend' - yes, the seven day version. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Management, Structure, rules et al...

Stumbled on this talk via the youtube algorithm last week and as I was listening to it, I recollected stuff from another talk by Dan Pink about incentives. Posting the two videos for readers to connect in their own way. 




Management is definitely in need of a renaissance... better late than never.  Glad that the hbr.org came up with this article - https://hbr.org/2017/09/management-is-much-more-than-a-science



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

2015 - The year of Disruptions?

If I would ever look back at my life in search of a time which by itself catalysed the disruption to my own thinking and approach to life, it would be the year 2015 without an iota of doubt.  I've been thinking about writing a note about those for a while now - having raved about the impact this year's events have been creating on my life. so here goes...

Yes, it started off with a disruption. The baby i helped nurture was no longer going to be around. The baby grew up and was adopted by another much bigger family where the it's core will become just one of the areas of strength to the new parent company.
From a very decent monthly salary  - After starting off as Employee No. 1 for #ArbitronIndia's captive unit in Kochi from Jan 2008, I had not thought about venturing out on my own ever. Yes, not even in my retirement plans. So when the circumstances presented an opportunity to try out something on my own, it was the closeness to comfort (Ex-Colleagues and Boss) that made it easier for me to take 'the plunge'.  The results have been very enriching for me. Here are the highlights:

1. Discovering Retainer HCM Roles and the dormant potential waiting to be explored for supporting IT SME growth journeys in Kerala - will write about that some other time soon.
2. More time for my new found interest of birding for #CitizenScience. Never imagined that I would be among India's top 10 birders when measured by checklists. I had written about this earlier.
3. A Self-funded trip to the US of A to attend the largest conference of HR professionals in the world - the #SHRM15 at Las Vegas along with the special privilege of being part of #SHRM15Bloggers 
4. Attended a total of 7 HR and Gen-Mgmt Conferences across India and USA - this, along with connect via social media, gave me a first hand feel about HR talent across the country.
5. Family Time with Kids and at getting used to Work-From-home - 
6. More result oriented time on Social Media - This meant that my confidence around solving problems using social media tools increased. No immediate plans for monetising them as I'm learning a lot for that at a later stage in my life.

Yes, it all started with that disruption - my salaried job vanishing into thin air.



Bird Atlas Kerala Musings on Onam 2017

So this year we 'did not have' Onam. Yes, Keralites will quickly connect to meaning of this sentence.  Let me explain for the benefit of others. Whenever a Keralite family does not celebrate Onam - they mention that situation as 'not having' Onam.  The most common reason is when you loose a close family member and this particular Onam falls in the ensuing 12 month mourning period.

So this year I ended up spending time to write stuff on Onam day and it resulted in this Facebook post about a recent interest of mine.

I realised that this post itself will be buried in my newsfeed on Facebook - going by the fact that I tend to post over 25 times in a day on this medium from the time we gave birth to our baby - SS Consulting. So in an attempt to make the contents searchable, I'm converting the same into a blog post.

On this #Onam day, I want to express my gratitude to my friends and related folks who via Facebook as well as in person, introduced me to the 'why' of documenting my #Birding activities. Little did I realise then (Early 2014) that will be contributing to #Nature and it's conservation activities beyond things that I will ever imagine myself or in the groups I will get exposed to in my lifetime.
I also love the fact that, the http://ebird.org/india platform provides numerous ways to #measure my contributions - albeit in esoteric ways at times - but measurement surely has been the reason why I keep exploring the depths that #CitizenScience has been able to offer. Trust the image I'm attaching to this most is less esoteric.
The ability / freedom to choose stuff which I do with my time which SS Consulting's contributions to #ITSME journey's in Kerala has been giving me from 2015 means that I'm now in a more comfortable position to think about spending over 10 days a month (besides wknds) for #birding.
Birding comes with many surprises, some pleasant and some very painful. Leeches, Deer-ticks (my nightmare), Elephants (while in Kerala's forests), snakes and harsh weather all add to the #StoryTelling value - once you are back in one piece and breathing ie.. 
So on this special time of the year for #BirdAtlasKerala - I'm daring to post an idea of mine on this platform. Here goes:
Wild thought - final year of atlas can we throw open to top Ebird Contributors from all over the world to contribute with their annual holiday spend in Kerala (subcells included) in a unique company of local (this is the uniqueness) bird experts volunteers from in and around a district.
Will need to rope in all relevant stakeholders from our state to make this branded as unique and once in a life time event - for the participants.
Needless to say, we will abide by all prevailing precautions / written laws and guidelines around protection of sensitive species.
This is birding for a cause along with local citizens (global + local = Glocal). So can be branded as a #Glocal contribution to #CitizenScience.
Have to get Ebird #metrics as determinants of participant selection, from the list of applicant #Birders via #Ebird. Example - Birders with a specific no of checklists / No. of species to get priority.
The global partners #CitizenScientists get a unique #Kerala paid holiday, so I'm sure Kerala Tourism will get the hang of it first  - while #BirdAtlasKerala gets a global launch - maybe get the CM to release the final atlas to the world in June 2020.
Rationale - this type of scale will make all naysayers see the real value of what our folks have been doing - selflessly.
The proceeds if any (although that should not be the objective) can be used to give back to #citizenscience - be it litigations or movement to conserve / bring out books or whatever. I'm sure we can find ways to put money to use.
This will also get the much needed attention from Media and Corporates - for whom #CSR is still on paper . Many miss the fact that there is a category for Environmental Sustainability in Schedule VII.
As for birding - it will be taken to a statewide scale and beyond the "hotspots" - that's good for birds and conservation as well.
To put it into the plan and make it unique - let's say we do a repeat of all #Forest subcells again in the final year of #BirdAtlasKerala - 2019-20. I've already decided to put this idea to test in person during the next season along with some friends.
Having said all this, I'm requesting all my birding pals, most of whom I met via FB, to tag themselves to this post if they feel 'Yes' for exploring this. Yes, this is not fully formed or critiqued as an idea yet and I'm hoping to use this platform for refining the idea itself.
My take is that even if we take the commercial angle out of this idea and execute it for Conservation, we will reach the moon - as this to me (Did check with few pals as well) is aiming for the stars.
Yes, to connect to some #results about success of the concept, imagine the hundreds of well meaning devotees of various religious and spiritual sects across our country who are making a living from #Volunteers who throng for #Seva.
Tagging few of my #Birding pals for attention and requesting anyone who feel they met me via birding to comment / tag themselves to this post.
#HappyOnam2017 - Wishing you all a great year ahead.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

#SHRM17 - Sinking in to #NoLA

So why do over fifteen thousand HR (People Resources?) make it a point to attend SHRM's annual conference and exposition? This is the question that many relevant stakeholders back in my country has been asking me whenever (it's been 3 times since 2012 now) I get back and start talking about it. Here is my attempt to provide answer(s) with some visuals.  Why pictures? Well, they will get my readers to feel free to imagine and thereby connect and maybe even find their own 'why'.

View from baggage claim at NoLA Airport
Look what I got to see when I landed at the New Orleans Airport on 18th June. I had taken an early morning flight from Dallas where I had an eventful time with my classmate and his family after I landed in US from Kochi (Via Abu Dhabi) on 16th June.
SHRM has got the location into the design of the conference itself and attendees will get to feel and experience the conference in multiple ways - the above is just one of them. So later, when a speaker(s) talk about the importance of creating 'employee experience' - attendees may find it easier to connect.
Next on - I get the opportunity to collect my conference badge (you will see why that's important to me if you follow my pics on Twitter / FB) at the airport itself. How's that for preparation?
Check out the lineup of speakers for General sessions. Three days are done and dusted now so you can catch up on summaries via SHRM17 Bloggers squad . To initiate, here are just two snippets that i recommend:
1. Our youngest blogger's post - https://blog.shrm.org/blog/overwhelmed-and-excited-at-shrm17
2. David's blog  https://blog.shrm.org/blog/live-from-shrm17-day-two

View of attendees from Opening General session - a cross section of the 18k

Gender Diversity - anyone? 
SHRM's annual conferences are about content. There something for everyone. So much that you need technology to support attendees to make informed decisions. Yes, there's an app too.

I've been busy with my attempt to click a selfie each as a visual way to connect to the attendees that I interact with at SHRM17. I got my first opportunity immediately after fastening my seatbelt!
I had blogged about it earlier.
My new friend via #SHRM17Selfie all the way from Nigeria
Hope I've been able to answer some questions and also create more questions - which was my hidden intention in a way.
I'm going to rush off to see my good friend Steve Browne's session now. Keep following my tweets, Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram posts if you want to follow me around #SHRM17.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

#AllIn at #SHRM17 and Introducing #SHRM17Selfie

#SHRM17 would be my fourth time at a SHRM National conference and my third time as part of the socialmedia squad - a chance to be amongst some really exciting action oriented human capital management folks with whom I had first met up in Orlando (2012). Those times still remain as a 'Deer-in-headlights' moments for me.

If you are from India and are planning to attend #SHRM17 - feel free to reach out to me for an inside view over DM's / comments / email. I'll be glad to share notes about why this conference is a 'must to be ticked off item HR Pro's bucket. Hope to see some of you at the special reception that SHRM organises to honour over 1k international delegates who attend this conference every year.

My #SHRM17Blogger pals have all been in the thick of action over that past 2 months. The HCM retainer projects from my venture made me miss most of the action on Twitter / Blog this time - so I'm really looking forward to making it up with the forth opportunity to meet IRL with an SHRM national conference.

I want so share a definition of IRL which I connect with. Let me point out to this wonderful post by my good friend Steve Browne to know more.

Taking Steve's ideas a step further, I want to propose an action plan towards making IRL moments at #SHRM17 captured for posterity.
We got #SHRMI15 trending...

Selfie with SHRM India CEO Ms. Achal Khanna

Add caption


These are some selfie moments which I got to capture from SHRM India events over the past few years. Most feature some of the prolific HR folks who breathe social with their life and work.

Get the message? Well for the uninitiated, here are the suggestions:

1. Attempt to meet as many delegates as you can while you are at #SHRM17 - I know that Steve Browne is going to be leading this effort from the front.
2. Capture those moment(s) with your smartphone and spice it up to make it a #Selfie moment.
3. Share those #selfie's via social media channels using the #tag #SHRM17Selfie.
4. Please don't forget to tag the new found friend(s) of yours who just a moment back would have been just a delegate among the 15k attendees for you.

IRL is all about making connections and let's attempt to make selfie as a catalyst for connecting #SHRM17 attendees.

Excitedly looking forward to my first selfie moment. Who wants to be the lucky one tagged?

Signing off with this link which I recommend to any first time attendee - a blog post by my friend Dave Ryan.