geordee


No Risk, No Glory!

During a recent discussion on risk management, I suddenly realized that we tend to see risks too negatively. We were trying to enumerate risks and it was easy for everyone to come up with negative risks (threats) and not so in exploring positive risks. May be we do not want to call it risks; we prefer the word opportunities – it sounds a lot more positive.

But, isn’t there an inherent threat in every opportunity? Isn’t there an opportunity in every threat? There is, and this is not something new! A little search in the internet gave me some food...


Time and Talent

The two basic questions in any project/task are – are we doing it in time, using the estimated/allocated effort? Most of the important metrics are then derived out of these parameters – time & talent, as I like to call it. Time & talent are curiously unique while being the very basic parameters of any project.

The most intriguing aspect of time is that we cannot save time. We may be able to – in the most simplistic sense – if our project does not have any dependencies on anything in the world, which is not real. The other option...


The All-rounders

As today’s professional world is adopting a knowledge-intensive culture, it is tough to find a right combination that covers the depth and the breadth of a specific area of knowledge. Conventionally, we relied on deep, explicit, documented knowledge as in the case of research and development projects. But in recent times knowledge acquisition has become broader because of mainly two reasons.

Firstly, technology has helped distributing information wide and far and power of knowledge has become evident in activities beyond research and development. People then needed to acquire knowledge from more than one domain and were restricted in the depth...


Value Addition

Howard Artrip – a manager in Toyota – knows what he does. He knows when he gets up, how long he takes to get ready and get to work. He smiles when he says “I’ve maximized my sleep time”. Toyota’s philosophy of continuous improvement is his personal statement.

Sometime back, I was talking to an engineer from a highly capable and mature company about what he thinks about quality. At the end of a very colorful description about the practices and processes, he confessed that it is difficult to follow them all. It was a...


Well Begun, Half Done

It is a very old saying of Aristotle – well begun is half done. We find this true in many fields, especially when it comes to accomplish a certain goal – whether it is in studies, sports or projects.

We have developed and mastered many techniques and processes to execute a project. But we deal with project initiation with a bit of laxity. In the height of dramatic events involved in realizing a project, we sometimes fail to see the fine cracks that are being developed – in terms of missing out details, under-estimating functionalities, setting aggressive timelines etc. It...


Manufacturing Software

Various books about software engineering usually compares software development to manufacturing. The comparisons often highlight the differences so as to establish a separate set of processes and methodologies for software development. While it is true to a larger extent in the current scenario, the future of software development may blur the line between manufacturing goods and manufacturing software. What makes software unique could be the replicable nature of end products.

The common conception (or misconception) on the difference between software development and manufacturing is that software development is more intellectual than manufacturing. This was true in the nascent and adolescent...


Qualify Qualitatively

Quality is one of the evergreen topics for discussion in business world. I attended yet another session on quality a few days back and that made me think a bit deeper – more on concept and perceptions. Our instructor described quality as conformance to requirements and fitness for use, the common definitions from Philip Crosby and Joseph Juran. Next, our instructor mentioned that the need for quality is to survive in competition and to get repeat business – with heavy overtones from sales and marketing.

Many talk about product and process qualities further complicating the matter. They point out the...


Systems Approach

Currently I am reading a book named Long-Range Forecasting – From Crystal Ball To Computer (LRF). The author – J Scott Armstrong – begins by introducing a simple idea which he calls systems approach as the first lesson to be learned in forecasting. The approach is an elementary technique for analysis and planning. Many such important techniques in management have been known for decades or even centuries. We keep reinventing, repackaging and reselling!!!

The systems approach helps in developing, evaluating & implementing projects (programs) with a holistic perspective....


Negotiate the Value

One of the confounding terms in the business world is value. Outside the business world the term poses difficult questions to philosophers, economists, religious thinkers in the sense it matters to them. One of the main challenges is to define whether the value of an object/service is absolute or relative. For example, neoclassical economists perceive value as relative while classical folks try to measure it as innate worth, and an objectivist acknowledges the worth, but play it down with reason.

In a world, where value seems to be driven by perceptions of individuals, it is difficult to assess the true...


Learn from Ignorance

What prompts a person to learn? I have been trying to find an answer, especially in the context of work. For many, once out of educational system, learning becomes almost a matter of choice. The biggest hurdle in making this choice is the refusal to accept ignorance. We have built a culture around us where ignorance is considered a shame.

Look around! Many of us are trying to convince ourselves that we know, especially in the areas of our specialty or work. Seldom we realize that those confidence-boosters become obstacles in our learning process. The first step in learning is...