Friday, December 31, 2010


Value is something which is spoken multiple contexts, by multiple people. An organization would have created a value system for their employees, clients, suppliers and other stake holders. A marketing team in the organization would have value proposition for their customers of their specific products. A school would instill value education to its pupils. Individuals hold values dearest to them and hold them high all through their lives.

This broader scope of values, makes it difficult for us to understand the underlying commonality. So what are these values? Asking some basic questions will help us appreciate them better.

How do we define values for ourselves?

There could be multiple definitions of values. But my favorite definition is - A value is something which is a reflection of an individual's or an organization's or an entity's personal integrity. It is the reflection of an internal self which will not be compromised to an external force.

How do we choose values?

There are multiple interpretations of choosing a value. Here is a broad definition of the process of choosing a value. Firstly a value is something that is freely chosen. Secondly, the choice made must be from a list of alternatives. Thirdly, the consequence of choosing a particular alternative should be considered and then choice be made. A predecessor to this process is value ranking where the individual examines, ranks, prioritizes and then makes a choiceful decision.

Why are certain values close to our heart?

The sum total of values of all the individuals in this world could account up to a zillion. But then people do not choose values or hold them dear to their heart just because everyone else around them is doing so. There are certain values which the individuals cherish. It is these set of values that the individual feel proud of, when they posses it. They affirm their choice publicly.

Why do values change time to time, for the same person?

Choosing values and living up to the ideals of these values is a continuous process. As individuals grow and mature, educate and experience, relocate and Value choices have to be assessed and re assessed. Chosen and re chosen. It can never have the same depth, meaning and direction throughout one's lifetime.

What makes a value a value?

In simple terms a value is chosen, prized and acted upon. Anything that is chosen and prized but not acted is not a value or something that is prized and acted but not consciously chosen is not a value. These are partially formed values or value indicators but not values. Other important differentiators is that a value must be stated publicly and should enhance the overall development of emotional and spiritual well-being.

All the values that individuals, enterprises, organizations possess go through this process consciously or unconsciously which makes them what they are!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Working in a Team - How to get it right?

The way we define work and work places has taken a significant amount of transformation over a period of years. Working as individuals in isolation has changed face to working in teams at tandem. Business organizations spend a lot of time, effort and money in getting the most talented workforce. But then, did organizations get it right, with their workforce getting tasks accomplished as team? It is a million dollar question, to which most of us do not have a strong affirmative answer yet. All of us, are still working towards creating a perfectly cohesive teams to build great work places.

Alright, so how do we get this right? To understand how to get it right, it is essential to understand how do we get it wrong in the first place. There are 'five dysfunctions of a team' which are more dangerous than the most dangerous pathogens attacks. They are interrelated to each other like and even if one goes wrong, cause destruction to the workplace harmony!

Absence of trust

It is universally acclaimed that the basis for any successful relationship is the element of trust. The same holds good for workplace relationships. Contrary to the classical definition of trust, absence of trust is actually the dysfunction of individuals not being genuinely open to one another about one's mistakes, misconceptions and weaknesses. It is the understanding and acceptance of one simple fact which could set everything straight. Everyone has vulnerabilities, which need to be accepted and acknowledged. Once this is in place, all inhibitions are shed and establish that there is no reason to be protective or careful about self. This leads to the building of more open, accepting and accommodating teams.

Fear of Conflict

Like in case of any relationship, to be genuine and build on the foundations of trust, both sides of the coin are essential - acceptance and conflict. Conflict in this context means healthy and effective engagement of multiple viewpoints. Conflicts are thought to be best avoided in workplaces as they are viewed as destructive to the smooth functioning of a team. But the reality is that, conflicting ideas and healthy debate bring in excellent outcomes to work. They must be encouraged and not avoided. A point to ponder here is that conflict here means, conflict of concepts and ideas , individuals and personalities. The moment an individual is comfortable in being expressive and taking different view points objectively, the team as a whole is one step closer to their target of being the perfectly cohesive team.

Lack of Commitment

Age old myths - that consensus in decisions is important to the team's functioning and the team has to be predictable. In the event of seeking consensus, teams delay decisions and hunts for every bit of data that will make every individual agree. The fact of the matter is that a complete buy-in from every individual is not possible. Also, to be predictable as a team, a certainty in decisions is needed. In the seek of certainty, decisions a made no matter they are right or wrong. In the process of achieving consensus and certainty, the fundamental objective of creating clarity and priority for the entire team is lost. Aligning the team to a common goal is sidelined. Commitment (as a team and not individual) is lost.

Avoidance of Accountability

The very reason that team members tend to avoid interpersonal discomfort leads to holding themselves from having difficult conversations. This stops them from wholehearted commit in the team effort. It is imperative that individuals goals do not align with team goals. Members tend to lower expectations on each other and eventually, there is hesitation to hold one another accountable.

Inattention to Results

This is the ultimate dysfunction of a team. Other than obvious results like that financial goals, sales targets or shareholder profits, there are less obvious but more important goals the team must pay attention too namely, team status and individual status. Being a part of a team is merely not sufficient. Self-preservation in a group is not constructive. Both of these cause ripples in the greater good of the team, the attention and progress towards collective results.

There are multiple tools and techniques by which organizations can overcome these functions but the first step is understanding the dysfunctions. This understanding and admittance itself takes us one step closer to our goal - harmonious working teams!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Diversity in Workplace

The number of organizations that are transnational are increasing in the Business World today. With increasing translational nature, there is an increase in the diversity of the workforce. We find people from different ages, cultures, ethnicity, so on and so forth. Given this differences, each organization wants to created a Diversity-Sensitive and Inclusive work environment. To achieve this stature, organizations must understand the demographics of their workforce.

Age Diversity

Today, we witness workplaces employing four different generations in tandem, namely the Depression Generation, Baby Boomers, Baby Bust Generation, Baby Boom-lets. In Asian context, organizations have still not reached this stage where all four generations work together.

The Depression Generation (Born between 1927 to 1946)

This is the Generation born during the Great Economic Depression. Also known as the World War II generation or the Cold War generation because of their generational markers. They are 45 Million in number. They are a patriotic generation, very conservative and sacrificing in nature. They have high work-ethic, they are on the retirement verge. But they are redefining retirement at workplace, they continue to work filling in for positions like low-skill work or part-time work. These are the areas where the younger generation gets their first experience. This leads to inter-generational conflict.

Baby Boom Generation (Born between 1947 to 1964)

This is the post world-war generation. They are 76 Million in number, almost double of the Depression generation. They are the largest generation in the workforce today, most of them are very successful. The markers of this generation are Vietnam war, civil rights movement, war on poverty and many more. They blame the depression generation for these problems. Unlike the Depression generation, they are idealistic, optimistic and liberal. They have good school education and are high profiled at work. Some of them are today's most successful entrepreneurs. They are pressed by the higher costs of educating their children and taking care of their elderly relatives today and also the need for saving for their retirement.

Baby Bust Generation (Born between 1965 to 1983)

Also called as generation-X, they are 66 million in number. They do not have huge or pronounced generational markers unlike their predecessors, the Baby Boomers. However, they witness the era where diseases like AIDS came into existence. They are also the generation which is marked by exposure to multiculturalism, advances in technology etc. They are a very diverse group but are pessimistic compared to Baby Boomers. They are the youngest to enter labor force. They have increased exposure to various cultures and are tech savvy. They are latchkey kids with both parents working. A significant characteristics of this generation is the decline of loyalty and commitment at workplace compared to the previous generations.

Baby Boom-let Generation (Born between 1984 to 2002)

This is the dot-com generation or the Generation Y. They are 75 million in number. They are a part of the information era of high-tech and fast-paced society. The problem with this generation is the difference between their basic education and skills needed at work due to half-life which grows shorter and shorter due to technological advances. They are used to the violence around them through difference means and it does not have a big impact as it does to the rest of the generations. They are sensitive and aware of the issues of the environment. They resemble the Depression generation by the characteristic of have and have-not society.

Culture Diversity

Cultures, subcultures, groups and individuals are classified from more tightly woven to loosely knit. This classification helps in distinguishing between thinking and behavior and also in characterizing each group. In general, the Cultural Continuum is divided into three namely Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Cultures based on the ethnicity. While Alpha and Beta are tightly woven, Gamma belongs to loosely knit. A Trans-cultural Manager needs to understand multiple cultures and its forms of behavior in order to appreciate his/her team better, to resolve conflicts and to motivate.

Alpha Cultures

They are like a woven basket that reflects function, beauty and meaning together. When the basket breaks, the its function is lost. Hence these cultures are fragile and vulnerable to destruction. They are closely attached to nature and its function. These are conservative cultures likes the native American, Africans, Latins and the Arabs. They are indigenous and live in Clans. They obey leaders and elders.

Beta Cultures

They are analogous to a Brocade, delicate and stylized. They have a set of values and traditions, handed down from generation to generation. These are transformational cultures and like the brocade, with high tensile strength. These cultures lay importance of values which are evolved and a part of the heritage. Most of the Asian cultures are Beta namely Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Thai et al. They live in evolved societies. They obey parents, teachers and managers.

Gamma Cultures

They are like the electronic chips connected on a circuit board. The details are abstract and upto the interpretations of the observer. These are culture which reflect the idea that change and newness are rules of life. Here, values are unknown and are meant to be negotiated. These are the new found cultures from the West and their colonies. They are transient groups and are more individualistic in nature. They follow science and learn from their mistakes.

Most often, at workplaces characterized by multiple cultural groups, communication barriers occur as the unspoken language of culture is not interpreted or misinterpreted. Hence Cultural sensitivity can easily be attained by means of knowing the background and value of the individual which reflects the unspoken self. However, a piece of warning is that individuals cannot be stereotyped based on their cultural backgrounds, a fair knowledge of the culture can only help in guessing the behavior in different situations and not the characteristics.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

If this is the face of youth today, what will be the future of India tomorrow?

I had been to an engineering college today for some Campus Connect program. It is a 25 year old institute in Chennai and going by the ranking, it is a fairly decent one by standards. In fact, some say it is a good institute. I have a few managers in my unit who have graduated out of this college. Without any further dilly-dallying, let me get to the point; let me tell you what happened.

I reached the campus of this Insti at 9. AM Well, South India is very popular for the hospitality its people exhibit. Not an exception to this rule, the hosts fed me good breakfast! I should admit that the steaming hot filter coffee helped not only in washing the breakfast down my throat but also one of the worst disasters of the day: the placement officer and his talk about his greatness. I honestly admit here that I could not stand him for 10 mins. I wonder how his students stand his lectures for hours! On the hind-sight, will he even be able to deliver lectures? If he does, would he make sense at all?

The man seemed to be more bothered about telling my colleagues and me, about his own self and his greatness than the program we had come for. He is 22 years old with that institute and according to him, it is great that he is still with it because he could have stepped out and joined anyone of the umpteen number of institutes en route the college from the city. Honestly, I don't see any greatness in it. If he was here for 22 years and the richness of his experience does not show any signs of wisdom in the way he talks or carries himself. To me it only meant that he is incompetent.

I was all geared up to meet some young minds and have a eventful day! I wanted to meet some dynamic and smart youth. I was all set to be challenged. I wanted to make a difference and make a small contribution in grooming them.

The reality held a different picture from the one I had imagined!I saw a bunch of laid-back youngsters.

Non-response was their mantra!

From the time I stepped into the room, the standard response for any question, query, doubt or whatever I raised to them was a blank look. I was screaming my guts out that they respond. They can afford to make mistakes now and learn from them rather than not make an attempt. No use! No use!

They lack ambition to excel in career or for that matter an object or focus to life!

When I did their personal interviews, I was shocked to know what they were doing to themselves! When I asked them "Why do they want to become software engineers? What do IT jobs mean for them?" the answer was this: It gives you good money! Oh! Really?

I went one step ahead and asked them, why did they choose to do Engineering. It is because their parents wanted! Thats it heights of it. Even if that is the reality, have they not found a purpose in the last 3 years they have spent studying? Were they not able to attach a face to the name they bore?

Learning? What does that mean?

When I was a student, I saw almost all my classmates and friends brimming with zeal and enthusiasm. No one was restricted to the four walls of the classroom. Always wanting to learn news things, talk about them, share experiences, make papers, presentations, projects, industrial trainings etc. were very common. Learning possessed some meaning ! When I anticipate the same thing from them, what is it I got? Disappointment!

They do not have a point of view about anything!

If I ponder a little deeper, I could actually see, they lack of a point of view in them. I do not know if this is because if they do not have the
needed exposure, or the time for it or it is because they simply do not care!

It is very disheartening to see the youth of the nation to lack an objective in life! With no focus or drive towards an goa! No passion! No interests! No ambitions! Take life for granted! Are not at all opinionated! Wonder What future is going to be!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

"Thank you, Thank you"

Its been 3 weeks since the article is published and I am still receiving congratulatory messages.

Orey Autographs, Photographs, Bouquets, Phone calls!

Sounds Deja Vu?


Monday, February 01, 2010


Pondy was the place!

Long drive along the ECR, wonderful company of Benjie and Mr Revolver!

Pondy ke log apne se zyada Auron ka sochthein hain! The thing about this place, everything starts with 'Auro'. Well, you have an 'Auro'bindo Ashram and as a side effect, you also have Auro-cafe, Auro-Shoppe, Auro-shika, Auro-service, Auro-everything. Wonder if they would start calling auto-rickshaws as auro-rickshaws, auto-mobiles as auro-mobiles. (Wonder if Balki was inspired by this, to name our man Auro in Paa!)

At the end of all the Auro Shopping at the Auroville and the Auro Clicking of photographs at the beautiful yellow French Consulate, the Grey Ashram, the rocky beach and the Auro DVDs at the tic-tac, our beloved friends to do their dues!

The biggest disadvantage of being a teetotaler is that people deem you useless during your trips to Pondy. Not very different from earlier times, my co-travelers were cursing me and my ideologies. But does that stop me from having fun? Who will mind to sit with 3 drunk people instigating them and making them maunder. Believe me it is so much entertainment!

Here we go marching, with our Don aka the Doc from the Pondy leading the troop, Benjie and Revolver dutifully following him, me in anticipation of some entertainment, all the way up to beach. From there, one pagdandi goes this way to the Old City and the other pagdandi goes that way to the Petrol Bunk. There! Sea Gulls is there! In the shadow of Pondy port!

Unfortunately, Sea Gulls was closed. Oh Oh Oh!

Destination next was Asian House! A very beautiful place, I must admit, with yin yang thrown generously all over the place. Lost in the beauty of the house, we go closer to the door. Two A-4 size sheets, "Today, Dry Day". Oh Oh, only now we remembered, Martyrs Day! Yes, Martyr's day and out our great Martyrs sacrificed the joy of having Cocktails and ended up with mocktails! And me, ya like it makes a difference!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Want to listen to my story?

I have a story to tell you!

Children, have you heard of Mickey Mouse?
Now, have you heard of Val-Mickey Mouse?

Ha ha! This is how the story telling workshop(as a part of launch of two Tulika books, Vyasa's Mahabharath and Hanuman's Ramayan) started.

House full of kids. I and Benjie struggling to handle them. But nevertheless, we did a good job. We had a real good time!

The Authors' of the books were really happy to see us enliven the characters in their books by becoming Banana trees, Bridge, Musk rat, Ganesha, Cat, Hanuman and what not!

We goofed up here and there because the kids were hyper-active. Whatever it was, it was fun! Children are these lovely little things! Such a nice feeling it left in the end! After all, that is the most important thing. Right?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pseudo Patriotism!

Zoom and Times of India remake Mile Sur Mera Tumara and launch "Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara"on the occasion of our 61st Republic Day.

Mile Sur Mera Tumhara is a timeless classic which has lived through decades. I have grown up seeing this wonderful piece of art which instills a higher degree of patriotism, sense of belonging and oneness, pride about the rich and varied heritage of my mother land, India. When I came to know that a remake was being made, I had very high expectations that we would get to see another classic, master piece which would showcase the richness of our nation and make it an enjoyable experience to watch it.

First the good things:

The songs starts with our A R Rahman sporting a green kurta, playing a saffron fingerboard with white buildings as background. I am not sure if the tricolor was the idea they were trying to bring out, but I thought it was nice!

The song features a few talented but not very popular people like Amaan and Ayaan who play the Sarod. It also featured Vijendra Singh, our Olympic Champion Abhinav Bhindra et al.

A few elements represented contemporary references like the piece from drummer Sivamani, The Taj Mahal Palace & Hotel background which has stood the test of time in the 26/11 terror attack, the trio band of Shankar Eshaan Loy et al.

It was inclusive enough to feature children with disability (Minus Sallu, of course!)

It has a special coverage on the defense forces towards the end.(Though it appears to be an after-thought soon after a brick hit their head making them realize that there is too much of Bollywood in it!)

Shobana's Bharathnatyam at the Shore temple in Mahabalipuram, Gurdaas Maann and Juhi's Punjabi hymn with the Golden Temple Background, Zakir Hussain's tabla, Sivamani's Drumming, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his sons - Amaan and Ayaan playing the Sarod, Kerala's bit with Kaikottikali, Snake Boat race et al in the backdrop were nice!

Now the not-so-good things:

There is too much of Bollywood-ism in it. It completely failed to capture the original India, the common man, the cultural wealth, traditions, et al. Of course they have captured various parts of India. But the various parts of India does not necessarily mean Physical features geographically and the buildings ought there. The native people, featuring their culture was completely absent.

Every Bollywood personality was claiming his/her own share of glory than contributing to the objective of the video.

It was more like a 'Family affair' of the Bachans. Thankfully, Big Bachan appears separately in the beginning. Else it would have been like the Kajra re - season 2. Aish Bachan and Abhi Bachan romancing by holding hands on the sets of the Ajanta-Ellora (I hope I got the place right!)

Each Star was so busy building his/her own identity. SRK was trying to make his mark with his Kal Ho Na Ho looks and expressions, Aamir his 'Aye Kya Bolthee Tu' style singing.

It did not pay attention to small details. Rangoli is not a part of the keralite tradition whereas the traditional pookalam was not to be seen. They showed Rangoli instead! Well, the big details themselves were a big blunder, how one earth will they get the minute details right?

Some parts of India were completely forgotten. Goa did not feature. So was Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur et al. Bhupen Hazarika was the only reference to the North-East. Disappointing!

If sports persons are being featured, why is it like an eyewash? They come and go in a flash. What happened to the rest? Hockey - the national game of India? Cricket - the most popular game of India?Mahesh Boopathy? Leander Peas? Vishwanath Anand? Sania Mirza? Vijay Amrithraj? Karnam Malleshwari? They have brought numerous accolades for the country. None of them are featured.

If they were trying to Showcase progress on Science and Technology, what happened to Chandrayaan? The numerous PSLVs? The Nuclear Tests? Role of entrepreneurs in urbanization and technology revolution? NRN? Azim Premji? Tatas? Birlas? Ambanis? Indhra Nooyi? Nandan? Green Revolution? M S Swaminathan? They are a very integral part of India playing a pivotal role in changing faces of India bringing in people' progress. I could only relate Vijendra Singh to medicine from the entire clip.

Few things that were really sad:

Vikram dint look as though he was a part of a patriotic video. It appeared as though he was singing a romantic duet with an eye-candy heroine.

I dont know what patriotism is invoked by Deepika Padukone's wet body and bare legs!

What was the overgrown musk rat aka Sallu doing in the patriotic video with torn jeans and exposed muscles? Mr. Musk Rat dint have any idea as to what exactly he was doing in that video! In the making of the video clipping he told that the video's message is that we are in the same plane, no rich, no poor, no cast, no creed, no color. Whereas the idea was not that. We do have all these differences, yet united as Indians!

I completely fail to understand what good does Ranbir do to the video. Neither do I connect with the purpose of Shahid Kapoor holding the mike in POP star fashion with disco lights behind and bark!

In short

Most of it was bad. What a waste of time, energy, effort, money and resources!

I understand that times have changed, country has progressed which they have tried to showcase with by featuring tall buildings, glass houses, western clothes, Solar power gadgets in the backgrounds et al.

The original one was a 6 min video, an awe-inspiring one! This one, though spans for 16 mins, it does not convey what it is trying to convey. A sheer failure! It is painful to see the blasphemy of our very own pristine "Mile Sur Mera Tumhara"!


Mile sur Mera Tumhara - Original Video
Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara - Part 1
Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara - Part 2

Republic Day!

India celebrates its 61st Republic day today! On this occasion, the patriot in me wants to write about it! Yes, the right to freedom and speech, on of the six fundamental rights recognized by the Constitution; Making full use of it!

Why January 26th, 1950?

Republic Day, celebrated on January 26th every year, is one of India’s most important national events. The constitution of India came into force on this day when it became a truly Sovereign, Democratic and Republic state. The significance of this day dates back to 1929 when the Indian National Congress took pledge to work towards a 'sovereign democratic republic' of India.

The constitution

The constituent Assembly, with Dr. B R Ambedkar as the Chairperson, drafted the longest written constitution in the world. It contains 444 articles and 12 schedules, Total of 117,369 words in the English language version. OMG!

Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the first president of India with the constitution coming into effect on the Republic Day.

Republic Day Celebrations

To commemorate the occasion of Republic day, a parade is held showcasing India's military might and cultural diversity. It covers an 8 km route, starting from the Rashtrapati Bhavan through the Rajpath all the way upto the India Gate and winds up at the historic Red Fort in Old Delhi.

The Republic day events begin with the Prime Minister visiting the Amar Jawan Jyothi at the India Gate. He then arrives to the central enclosure and awaits the arrival of the President of India and the Chief Guest who, generally, is a Head of another Country.

The President, after his arrival, meets the dignitaries present and unfurls the National Flag, followed by the National Anthem with a 21-gun salute to the National Flag.

Gallantry Awards

A brief investiture ceremony takes place during which the President presents India's top gallantry awards, the Param Veer Chakra, the Veer Chakra and the Maha Veer Chakra are awarded to the outstanding soldiers from the defense services.

Republic Day Parade

Four helicopters from the armed forces fly past the parade area showering rose petals. Each chopper carries a flag - the first being the Indian flag and the other three carry the flags of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.

The march past begins immediately after the fly past. The President, as the Supreme Commander of the Defense Forces, takes the salute of the mechanized, mounted and marching contingents of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Paramilitary forces, Police and the National Cadet Corps.

Following the parade is the spectacular displays from the different states of the country. The Exhibits depict various scenes of activities of people in those states, their music,songs and art forms.This is the most colorful part of the parade demonstrating the vast cultural heritage our motherland possesses!

Bravery Awards for Children

After the march past and the cultural extravaganza from Various states, the Children winning the Bravery Awards enter the celebration area over decorated elephants. Now this is something unique which unfortunately is to be discontinued. The Children are to arrive on Jeeps instead of the elephants this year onwards.

Beating of the Retreat

After three days of Republic Day parade, a closing ceremony known as "Beating Retreat" is held at the Vijay Chowk in New Delhi. Beating Retreat is performed by the bands of the three wings of the military, the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force on the evening of 29th January. The Chief Guest of the function is the President of India. With a Bugle call, the National Flag is lowered, marking the formal end of the Republic Day celebrations.

Did you know?

1. They actually took 2 years, 11 months and 17 days to prepare the Constitution!
2. There is no Republic Day speech by the President or the Prime Minister!
3. The Param Veer Chakra was designed by someone born to Hungarian Mother and a Russian Father!
4. The Bravery Award for Children was Conceived on Gandhi Jayanthi - 2nd Oct 1957; Announced every year on Children's Day - 14th Nov; Presented on the eve of Republic Day - 26th January!
5. Ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity in the Preamble of our constitution was borrowed from the French!