Wednesday, February 03, 2016

System 1 and Diversity

I am fascinated by how diversity, travel and reading enrich people and teams. (Diversity, not just in terms of gender, religion and the like, but also in terms of preferences, thoughts, actions, experiences..) 

If I were to interpret Daniel Kanhemann,  

Diverse experiences enable us to form a richer and more complete System 1. System 1 happens to be the more influential, instinctive and intuitive part of our thought process. 

"The main function of System 1 is to maintain and update a model of your personal world, which represents what is normal in it. The model is constructed by associations that link ideas of circumstances, events, actions, and outcomes that co-occur with some regularity, either at the same time or within a relatively short interval. As these links are formed and strengthened, the pattern of associated ideas comes to represent the structure of events in your life, and it determines your interpretation of the present as well as your expectations of the future." 

Antifragility of Design Thinking

Design thinking values extreme users over average users. 
Antifragility values dispersion of a distribution over its.

Isn't it inherently the same insight?

The upside of variability.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Types of managers

Types of managers :

- Don’t say what they expect but expect it done nonetheless
o Works at very senior levels or where the two have worked together for so long so as to be able to read other’s minds
- Tell you what they expect and expect it done
o Works best with senior competent people who know their jobs and can execute them with minimal supervision
- Tell you what they except and how they expect it to be done
o Works best in situation when there is lack of trust and/or competency or at junior levels or on critical projects
- Tell you what they expect, how they expect, when they expect, who they expect to do it and pretty much anything there is to it
o Not sure if this ever works

Monday, February 01, 2010

Great Companies vs Great Managers

So how to decide on a new job -
based on the manager and the comfort level you share or based on the potential of the company?

Re-orgs are a fact of work-life. If you join based on a 'great manager' you end up being stuck with a not-so-great company minus the manager.

Friday, May 15, 2009

First time managers

Easy way to spot first time managers. I am just using the term for all those people who want to show "responsibility" rather than act with "responsibility".

The term "First Time Managers" is just to catch eyeballs. There are some really mature new managers and some really bad experience managers.

Telltale signs include : -
- On email 20 hrs a day with email response time < 2 min
(See how hard I am working)

- Pointing out non-existing or inconsequential issues to show they are on top of things
(See how hard I am looking)

- Hitting the "Reply-all" and copying anybody of "importance"
(See how I keep everyone informed)

- Taking umbrage anytime they are not copied on emails
(See people are not cooperating with me or not respecting me enough)

- Micromanaging everything
(See I well I manage projects)

- Gruff behavior with team and peers, unnecessary need to assert/be aggressive
(Now you see how is the boss! - I am no pushover)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ambition is over-rated

I think ambition and growth is a trifle over-rated!

Ambition gives you a target to achieve in a certain timeframe.
What happens if someone is more interested in the journey than the destination - that's ok too.

Some trips are well planned. The luggage all neated packed, the luxurient hotels booked, the flights confirmed, iternary put down to the last minute. It is fun!

And yet, who can deny the fun in an unplanned trip, the stopover at the road-side dhaba for a quiet bite, the dipped feet in the un-named stream and the sudden detour. Is this trip any less meaningful! any less fun!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I have observed that bosses typically fall into three categories : Dumb, Mediocre and Smart.

These adjectives are meant to describe a bosses' faculties in comparison to you .. dumb actually means is dumber than you, mediocre means about the same as you and Smart would be much brighter than you.

How to deal deal with each of them :

Dumb bosses :
They have their own uses. Provided ofcourse you learn their levers and are able to handle them well. As long as your boss is not threatened by you and you are able to make him/her feel that they are great and all your good ideas are infact coming from them, they will depend heavily upon you and you end up controlling the boss and your destiny. The important thing is to make sure that the people who really matter know your worth and its only a matter of time before they will notice that you are actually doing your boss's job in additional to yours and might even promote you for it. You are entering a danger zone if your boss is feeling threatened by your competency in which case he/she will personally ensure and take pleasure in your fall.

Mediocre bosses :
These bosses would work great only if you share a great personal rapport with them. When the bonding is strong, each of you is able to forgive the other person's mediocrity and focus on their strengths. If the rapport is missing, the professional relationship too is doomed because you end up noticing the lack of competence more; there is nothing to compensate for or forgive for the lack of brilliance on either side.

Smart bosses :
If you willing to work hard and willing to learn, these are the ones who will challenge you to do better. The catch lies in the fact whether or not you are able to deliver to their expectations. If you do, they help you grow and more importantly you can bask in the glory of a job well done and the accompanying sense of achievement. If one the other hand you'd rather live/enjoy your life and don't want to spend those extra long draining hours at work, these bosses are not the ones to forget and forgive - probably its time to move on.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fights and arguments ..

Have become one too many recently.

Stressful though they maybe I am willing to walk away but not give a walk over.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Something to believe in ..

Everyone needs something to believe in ..
Something that lets them suspend their logic ..
Something that make them think about abilities larger than their own.

Kids have monsters, aliens, ghosts, UFOs, and the like
Believers have one or many Gods

This belief gives us all an escape into dreams and possibilities.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Witness to mundane things

The movie "Shall We Dance" happened to have a dialog that caught my attention ..
(Movie courtesy of rest and recuperation following a bad bout of food poisoning)

The dialog mentions that people marry to have a witness to their lives .. so that their lives don't go unnoticed. The promise that the most minute and mundane bits of the lives will have a witness and a viewer ..

Isn't it also the reason why people "Twitter" or update/read status on "Facebook" or Blog?
To have witnesses to their lives (or be witnesses) ..

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Work @ Home

A Mother-in-law/Daughter-in-law relationship is like a employee/boss (though it is hard to say who is what)

Just like a good boss-employee relationship, a happy m-i-l/d-i-l interworking too is a rarity and should be fiercely cherished.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Superstition : The other view

I had observed for some time now that if I don't wear my rings, my workday is more stressful.

When I think of it again:
- probably it has nothing to do with the stones but more to do with the fact that without my rings I have nothing to fiddle around with, vent out and de-stress ..

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Optometry in life

Our view of self and world depends on the clarity of our vision and focus.

We can view ourselves to be bigger or smaller than what we actually are .. respectively making us look either too vain or lacking in personality to others.

Friends, family, teachers, mentors or other influences in our lives act as corrective glasses to compensate/fix the defects in our vision (myopia, presbyopia, astigmatism, hyperopia etc.)

The worst things we can do to ourselves in a to wear a wrong set of glasses .. to listen to people which falsify our vision rather than correct it. People who cloud our sights, color our vision or make us lose focus or see stuff which is not the way it is.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Life as a journey

Where I go and reach depends on both my Capability and Will.

Capability : I may be willing to go to some places and yet not have the means to reach there. The capability could limited by my conveyance, physical capacity, monetary capacity, my companions or knowledge/ignorance.

Will : There are places where I could go but just don't feel inclined to go to. It is also possible that I don't feel inclined to go to anywhere and just stay put at home and be content with it.

As in a journey, so also in life.

Where I reach in my life and what I achieve depends on both Capability and Will.

While on this journey the possibilities are many. A person may,

- Enjoy the journey and also the destination
- Love the journey but feel let down by the actual destination
- Enjoy the journey but never reach the destination
- Hate the journey but bear it for the love of the destination
- Hate both the journey and the destination and still undertake take it for various reasons
- Take an alternate path
- Just stay home and do nothing, enjoy the comfort and luxury and a sense of belonging and knowing - basically just chill and reach nowhere and do nothing - and it is OK, not everyone had a need to travel or see places!!

Just because one person is widely travelled does not necessarily imply the person is also happier or more satisfied. Does not even imply that the person in more knowing than others.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Don't crib

Another of my favorite recurring themes that I keep telling everyone (and hopefully following it myself too) ..

Don't crib, do something about it.
If you don't like something or someone or a situation, there are always three choices
- Accept it and live with it
- Change it
- Leave it

As usual I was lecturing someone about their difficult position when I happened to use an analogy that I particularly liked.

Each person is like a TV set which plays out certain channels, if you don't like what is showing you always happen to have the following choices :
- Either try to change the channel and hopefully you will like the new one better
- Shut the TV up completely - if you can't find the remote, switch off the power
- Move to a different room, possibly with and alternate TV set
- Go and read instead and ignore what is playing :-)

On afterthoughts though, it isn't as easy at it seems.

The TV may be priceless (emotional value, heritage value etc.) and impossible to get rid of but still practically useless.
The TV may be playing stupid soaps and stuff but maybe you are addicted to them and not ready to quit the habit however so you may pretend
The TV may be so loud and distracting that it may follow you to the other room
The TV may be your sole company and maybe you can't afford a new one!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Astrology in life ..

I guess I have become a believer in astrology after all these years!!

Each person is a unique planet revolving around the central theme in their life.
This core purpose of life is both their Sun and life giver.
If they go too far away from it, they become cold and dead. Come too close and it scorches and sears them.

In turn each of us has our neighboring planets, planets that due to their own gravitational forces help us maintain our orbits, lest we collapse into or get sucked up into another planet or drift too far away into the emptiness of space.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Evolution and religion

Continuing with the theme of evolution in the context of religion.

Why do people take up to religion?
Why do people give up religion and become atheists?
Why do people change their religion? or prefer one over the other?
Could be that different religions in this world cater to different needs to a different extent?

Could it be that all the rituals, all the “puja”, all the offerings, the chanting, the abstinence (or lack of it in Tantra), all the posturing, bowing appease an inherent need for all things “physical and biological”

Could be it be that all the religions gathering, the sermons and the “satsangs”, the mass prayers, charity satiate our “Social needs”

Religion answers some of the questions, mostly it triggers more questions that is answers, encourages some to find answers to the riddles of life, could it be that this triggers our “Intellectual needs”

Do we choose religion based on our individual needs and the religion/sect that satisfies it best?
Does the extent of how religious we are match with how complementary our personal religion is to our needs ..

Monday, June 02, 2008

Addendum to the previous post

There seems to be a similar reason behind dividing the life between the four ashrams or period..
Bramacharya ashram
This is how one starts, leading a disciplined life with the mastery and control of instincts (biology)
Once the instincts are conquered, one learns to live in accordance to family and people (society)
After family, next comes the pursuit of intellect (mind)
The final step in evolution is to reach above all three and renounce everything!

An evolution of a person

More thoughts on evolution :

In the early years of ones life, a person is struggling with survival. Life is based on basic needs and their instinctive responses.
(A struggle of biology over inorganic)

As the years progress, a child becomes a social creature and acceptance becomes as important as physical needs.
(Society taking over biology)

With time, the young adult/adult becomes curious and starts questioning. The intellect gets stimulated, starts questioning norms, often at the cost of going against the society and losing acceptance!
(Intellect conquering society)

Different people are stuck up in different states of evolution. Some dissipate their minds and bodies and lead an inorganic life, others are instinct based, yet others believe in working for the common good and lastly some lead a lonely life of thought and questioning!

Neither of these states is absolute and people struggle all their lives with each of these forces winning at different times.

On a side note, is there a reason people get into a committed relationship/marry around their 20-30s?? Has it something to do with evolution and meeting point of biological, societal and intellectual needs? Too early and biology/instincts win (crush/infatuation), to late and intellect takes over (not enough passion)

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Layered heirarchy of evolution is : (Lila : An Enquiry in Morals)

Inorganic -> Biology -> Society -> Intellect

In the heirarch of human needs is : (Maslows heirarch)

Physiological -> Safety -> Love -> Esteem -> Self Actualization

Both are almost identical, seems like the society and individuals evolve together/in a similar way!

Monday, May 19, 2008


Some people are smart, they don't need others' help.
Some people are smarter, they take others' help.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Freudian slip?

When Hillary Clinton says this race is not over yet, it is a freudian slip or a (un)intended pun?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Another of life's contradictions ..

Life is never simple, sometimes by choice and at other times, unwittingly, inadvertently.

People strive so hard, every single day :

To climb mountains they do not love,
To amass things they don't really want,
Achieve goals that are hollow and mean nothing,
Realize dream that make living a nightmare,
Attain heights that leave them lonely and acrophobic,
Follow paths that leave them lost,

They keep believing that life is worth living only when we die trying hard ..
.. they are too serious about life to be able to live every moment of it ..

Trying to be brave and living a life they do not want .. it would be so simple to just let go ..

At such time, bravery lies in not being brave but giving up ..

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Classification of people

- those who look for diamonds
- those who look for shiny stones that they can easily pass as diamonds
- those who look for shiny stones believing them to be diamonds
- those who look at diamonds as nothing but stones

Returning after a long gap ..

Only to realize that life in itself is always full ..
- sometimes with work and at other times with leisure ..

Thursday, November 29, 2007

When the going gets tough ..

.. the tough gets going.

Have you ever noticed that the struggles, tough times, whatever you call them seem to have an affinity for the tough people, the people who can persevere and survive ..

.. or is it that only the tough survive these hardships where the others would have bailed out ..

.. or maybe this courage and perseverance is actually a weakness, agreeing to stay in difficult circumstances just because the threshold of tolerance of pain and difficulties is higher, just because they can still bear it, continuing with situations where quitting is preferred ..

.. who is to say what is courage .. at times it is living in pain and at others it is quitting the painful life and starting afresh ..

Thursday, November 22, 2007


When a personal falls on the fringes of the 'normal' curve, what is to be preferred?

Should the person wear a cloak of normalcy and hide the differences or continue to stay on the edges often making others and self uncomfortable in the process.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Life : Ups and Downs

Occured to me as I wrote a mail ..

Ups and Downs in life are a good indicator of the fact that life neither ignoring you, nor passing you by..

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Games and Sports

Why is "Playing Games" bad but "Being a Sport" good?

Games are associated with more 'fun' and less 'competition' so why does "Playing Games" have a negative connotation?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Generation Gap : Another look

I had brought up generation gap earlier, this is another look at the same thing from a different vantage point. And they don't contradict :-)

People are in different stages of evolution (for want of a better word) at any point of time. I would like to think of them as :
- Dependence
- Independence
- Inter-dependence
- Indifference

Generation Gap is quite literally a Generation/Development Gap!

"Generation Gap" happens when two people happen to be in different 'evolutionary stages which leads to a conflict of values and differentiated view points.

As examples :
If I am at the stage/generation where I value Independence and the other person is at a stage/generation where they value Inter-Dependence, I would take every effort by the other person for a synergistic relationship or mutual dependence as a threat on my Independence and react sharply. This is what I think is a "Generation Gap". Once I grow and start believing in the benefits of synergies without fear or threat, I would behave differently and in the process overcome the gap.

Same goes for a young child - still very dependent and the parent who is independent. Here too there is mismatch in the developmental stages which could lead to a lack of understanding.

Generation gap is a natural process and wanes (or grows) with time and experience.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Tough choice..

Life often metes out unfair, tough choices ..

.. like the one between the tedium of not doing Vs the fatigue of over-doing
.. the balance is just a chimera ..

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Shapes of food

Why is it called a "Square Meal"?
How does it fit in a not so square stomach?


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Two sides of the same coin ..

People often use the phrase "Two sides of the same coin"

When they talk about the two sides they are essentially focusing on the surface area and overlooking the thickness/depth of the coin which gives the coin its weight and volume.

We need to learn to ignore the surface/superficial and start looking at the weight/depth of the matter.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Quick Thought

Its funny how for some people the definition of personal space is to be able to recede into their shell and for the others it is to go really far away, outside of their current existence.

The thing to note is that in both the cases the attempt is to go away from the current, the difference is only in the direction of the movement - inside or outside.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


RIFs, Lay-offs, Cost-cutting, by any name are painful.

The topic came back recently and had me thinking that they really are no different from pruning. People will have different opinions about whether or not it is required and they will have different views on how much and where to prune for best results. Needless to say too much pruning can kill the tree unceremoniously just like too little can be impact less.

There is no magic in pruning, a seasoned gardener know wheres to cut, how much to cut and also importantly the right season to cut so that the tree can flourish after such a severe impact.

What about the branches that are shed? so thanklessly cast away?

If the severed branch is strong and healthy and are capable of growing from 'cuttings' this gives them an opportunity to grow into independent trees rather than branches of a dying tree.

If they happen to find an accomplished gardener, they might be 'grafted' into another tree growing 'hybrid' exotic plants; better and more useful that either the base tree or the branch which is grafted.

A cut is a disruptive event, it need not be destructive.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


OK, so this one is really weird but I can't hep myself from penning this, so here goes..

There are tons of analogies for men and women, Martian and Venusians being a very popular one. How about AC and DC?

Women are like AC with lows and highs, peaks and pits, men by comparison more like DC and less fluctuating and more constant.

Points to ponder
- Debate about what is better, AC or DC would never cease
- AC has alternating polarity while DC has constant polarity
- AC magnitude and direction is variable while both are constant for DC voltage
- AC is easy to easy to step up or down
- AC current is capable of transformation (due to induced emf) unlike DC current
- AC current has more losses compared to DC
- Nothing can stop the AC, not even a straight wall .. eh .. capacitor

The clinching evidence ..
- AC currents can be more dangerous than similar levels of DC current since the alternating fluctuations can cause the heart to lose coordination
- Analysis of AC system always involved complex numbers, while DC is only a real number

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

One of my favorite analogies

I find that one of the best analogies of all time is that of the six blind men and the elephant.

Blind men think of an elephant as a pillar, rope, tree branch, fan, wall or pipe depending on which part of the elephant they touched. Each is right and yet at the same time also wrong. The concept of right and wrong is very much entwined with the context of relativity. What is right for one isn't necessary so for the other. So often, a part truth is actually closer to falsehood and causes more harm than good.

I find this analogy also applicable in the context of my work.

Eachdomain (Dev, QA, Docs, Marketing, Sales, PM - etc.) happen to be the (not so blind) men looking at the product from their perspective alone. Losing sight of the whole picture, sometimes by choice, sometimes otherwise. Each concentrates in understanding their part of the picture and executing on it really well. Frequently there are disagreements between teams because each comes from a different perspective depending on the function they have touched. Each team needs to get deep into their stuff and make it strong. The executive team needs to take a whole picture view and delineate the elephant (product) for what it is, not a sum of its part but much more complete whole.

On a side note, when Sr. Management goes deep into one aspects, it does so at the risk of losing the complete picture

When the domain experts start looking too much at the big picture/top view, they do so at the risk of leaving one aspect weak.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Nothing has changed..

Its been a year since I moved to my new job and nothing has changed.

I continue to miss my old place and am still in love with my (not so) new job. The two places continue to be as diametrically opposite as ever.

Its been quite a ride and I have survived so far .. and look forward to another year of roller-coaster fun ..

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Opposites attract?

Some people we like because they are so much like us,
Some people we like because they are so different from us?

And the other way round works just as well, I know of many people who are very similar to me and yet I don’t fancy them too much, as well as people quite the opposite of me and those who I hold high in my regard.

It is neither a straightforward case of likes attracting or opposites complementing each other.

I guess this has more to do with the inherent qualities of a person rather than likes attracting or repelling.

If people exhibit traits similar to ours, but those qualities that we don’t care too much about, it’s a case of similar people not getting along well.
If people embody traits that we look up to, even though we might lack them ourselves, it’s a case of opposites attracting

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Generation Gap

I wonder often about generation gap, its origin and impact.

A generation gap exists when different people (due to age, circumstances etc) have a different sense of responsibilities, privileges, values and behavior, both for themselves and for others.

I believe that these differences in themselves are harmless and what causes the conflict is duplicity of standards and applying different parameters for self and others.

In the traditional parent-teenager conflict, the parents have a different sense of what is right for them vs the kids. Its OK for them to eat junk food, drink, smoke whatever but they recoil at the thought of their kids emulating them. Same goes the other way round, if parents start dressing/behaving the way the kids do, kids would find it very embarrassing. Between siblings,
the youngsters want to enjoy the privilege of being spoilt and pampered and yet they do not want it to come with any strings attached, with any list of dos-and-donts or I-told-you-so. Elders on the other hand want the younger siblings to listen to them and do as they are told without letting them experiment and learn on their own like they did years ago.

The conflict arises when each side has a distinct image of how the other should behave and yet oddly they do not want to conform to the same image themselves. This duplicity is what causes the conflict, not the differences.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Just occurred to me that parallax effect is not limited to the physical space. It is quite as applicable to the mental space.

So what is parallax?
The difference in appearance or position of an object when viewed from two different locations.

Impact of parallax?
- Observation is relative your position
- If you move, you perceive that the object under observation moves relative to you
- The difference in the angle of sight between the right eye and the left eye creates a parallax, our brain considers the parallax and gives a perception of depth perception.

Isn't it also true of our mental perceptions?
- We judge differently depending on our own positions.
- Our perceptions vary with time as we change or move on
- Most of all having contrasting view points (or eyes) gives us a better depth and understanding

Friday, June 22, 2007

Morals and Ethics

Is there a difference between the two?

I can sense a subtle but important difference by find it hard to verbalize and point out exactly.

The way I see it is (which could be totally off the mark)

Ethics : relate to code of conduct and the generally accepted good practices
Morals : relate to concept of what is right and wrong

Ethics guide as to what is acceptable to a group (company, society, country, family etc)
Morals are individual oriented and more ambiguous than ethics. What is 'moral' for one might not be so for another (take vegetarianism for e.g.)

Probably 'shared' set of morals over a period of time which get codified as ethics.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Elusive Nirvana

Life is a constant tug-of-war between belonging and standing apart.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is depicted as a pyramid (copied from Wikipedia) starting at Physiological -> Safety -> Love/Belonging -> Esteeem -> Self-Actualization.

Even though I don’t completely disagree with the theory, I don’t think it is as straight and simple as is depicted by a pyramid. My observations show that it is range of mountains to conquer rather than a peak to surmount.

Each starts off with their own pyramids to climb. Given that each of us is unique in our preferences, needs, circumstances, our pyramids differ. Each one has different footprints for the 5 components that make our needs (physiological, safety, love, esteem, self-actualization). We constantly strive to climb to the top of our pyramids. And yet, as we climb up, on the way and in the process, we change our circumstances, our environment, our needs and hence the pyramid itself. The pyramid is a dynamic entity.

To simplify, we start on our climb up, we acquire the basic needs and finally a sense of belonging to our environment. Once we belong, we immediately strive to be perceived as 'unique' - a class apart, probably this comes from trying to fulfill the need for 'esteem'. As we acquire a sense of esteem and associated uniqueness, we start disassociating ourselves from our current environment and start identifying with a different set of people/ class/ society/ circumstances. As the dissociation becomes stronger, we hop on to the new environment.

In the new environment with all its associated 'newness' and awkwardness (which is really a new or modified pyramid) we start the same cycle by trying hard to belong .. And then to prove that we are unique and finally un-belong by moving to a yet another pyramid.

This is the circle of life - two steps forward, one step back. The 'Nirvana' or "Self Actualization' remains for ever far and elusive.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Yoke and Yolk

Shuffling through my old stuff, caught an old analogy of mine ..

We all start with a fragile shell and a gooey yolk, depending on how life cooks us we end up being hard boiled, soft boiled, poached, scrambled or beaten!

There is nothing either weak or strong, but thinking makes it so ..

Who is to say what is a strength or a weakness? I have long noticed that my strengths are my weaknesses and my greatest weakness of times my biggest strengths. There are many who will give testimony to the fact that they cannot counter tears which are in fact a symbol of weakness and yet, in their own way also the person's strength.

Reminds me of the story of the mighty Oak tree vs a blade of grass. When put through a storm, the Oak is upright, resistant and finally uprooted, the grass bends but survives, who is to stay which is stronger? Stubbornness or resoluteness are both two sides of the same trait. It can be both a symbol of strength in sticking around in difficult situations and yet is also in some way a weakness at being inflexible. Knowledge is power but often I have realized that 'not knowing' is also a strength since it come with no preconceived ideas and is able to bring an fresh/individual perspective. So we fret at being only a mere generalist and lacking specialization that could set us apart, and yet, this generalization is also a value we bring to any task. It helps us see the overall view which gets missed by an expert deep inside in one area. And yet specialization mostly certainly is a strength in itself.

Strength and weakness depends on the particular circumstances, how it is applied and most of all in what it is believed to be - a strength or weakness.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Go with the flow

I am like a river, I have nothing of my own. What I get I pass on, no less, no more.

If I river passes on more water than it gets from the mountains it become dry and shrivelled, if it gets too much or keeps too much without passing on the gift, it swells and become obnoxious and destructive. It can take pride in bringing life and prosperity to all around its path and yet, it does nothing more than pass on the gift of the mountains and the glaciers. If the mountains take pride in filling up the river with sparking cool waters, it really does nothing but pass on what it gets from the skies. If the skies where to swell on showering the mountains with pure white snow, they do it only because of the infinite depth of the bitter, salty waters of the seas which boil over and fills the skies and makes life possible for everyone.

As with a river, so also with life. We need to go with the flow. When we get a gift, it is impossible to repay the person who helped us, it might not even be appropriate. It would be like a river flowing backwards. It wouldn't set the flow in motion. Oftentimes the person who gives you a gift is because s/he already has a excess of the entity. The person providing us is not always the best recipient of our gifts. It would be counter to nature. It would probably make more sense if pass on the our gifts to someone else and set this flow of life in motion.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Gender Diversity

Ended up discussing the push for gender diversity at workplaces. I don't agree that this is a means to set things right. Why do such topics make me so passionate, even agitated?

A part explanation could be the fact that all my accomplishments, however humble are well earned and have been on no account due to my age, sex, religion, caste and the like. I hate to have such 'drives' give ammunition to those people who think otherwise. Such drives take away some of the sweetness of my hard-earned personal victories.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Most of the time success drives a person to excel and do even better next time. It is the proverbial carrot for the efforts. And yet, if a person faces regular success for a long enough time to make it a habit, the fear of failure - the fear of not being 'successful' can become potent enough to prevent experimenting and making the person stick to the 'more known' and 'less risky' path. Without evolution, with experimenting, success if hard to come by, thereby accelerating the path away from success.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Nature is perfect and yet, perfection itself is unnatural.
Kind of strange :-)

Perfection is a tricky subject.
If used as means of motivation to do better, it is priceless. However oftentimes, the stress of trying to achieve perfection can take away the sense of achievement and pleasure in a well done fun activity. In the worst case, a person is can give up because perfection is unachievable and anything else is not good enough.

Agreed that 100% is better than 99% but if all the way is impossible to reach even half way through is better than not attempting.

(Otherwise none of us would have cleared our school and college, we'd be forever stuck in some grade trying to achieve the perfect scores!)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

in continuation ..

of my previous post on 'personal mountains to climb'.

Part of a manager's job allocating the right mountain to the right person.
What is right for a person would depend on their capability, maturity, risk-taking, attitude, experience and so many other things that make each person unique.

Too high to climb would be demotivating as would too low. Wrong planning would lead to 'accidents' and free fall.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

What is better?

What is better?
Scaling the heights of a small mountain or reaching half way through to the highest peak?
Even when the effort required for the job is same, what is preferred? being mediocre at a tough job or being the best at a relatively easy job?

It guess it depends on personal choice and what matters to a person.

If the person is motivated by success the best way would be starting with a small mountain, conquering it and repeating with a higher peak each time. This ensures both success and satisfaction.

If a person is motivated by the act of climbing itself, the challenge of reaching higher, and not so much by the destination in the form of the peak, it is preferred that the person starts with a high enough mountain to scale and feel exhilarated all through the climb. There is no specific target and the person can scale as high as they can.

So also with work. Whether to join a top-notch company and always on the toes to prove your worth or of join a mediocre company and be a star!

Friday, April 27, 2007


There is nothing more inpiring than the crumbling of an archiac stereotype.

Once such 'moment' I encountered a few days back ..

A women in her 50s talking on her cellphone without a headset while driving a stick-shifting Honda-CRV in traffic and seemingly at ease.

Why is it iconoclastic --
- Its not like every other car on the road is a Honda-CRV
- much less a woman driving it
- even less, a woman in her 50s
- while talking on the her cellphone
- without a headset
- and also maneuvering the stick-shift in traffic at the same time
- and most of all, showing no signs of stress, hurry or discomfort..

Monday, April 23, 2007

Yet another analogy ..

There seems to be a perfect analogy between Food and Movies ..

Some like it spicy with lots of 'masala' and yet others like it like it boiled and bland!
And just using the same spices, like not all 'chaatwalas' can tingle the taste buds, also also with movie directors/actors. Even a master chef/director have their good or bad days.

If you have the same fare for a long time, the taste wears off and you have to keep trying new stuff.

There's a pattern to my blog

Most of my blog entries are related to patterns and analogies, so it makes sense to update the title ...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Power and Control

I always maintain that I have no need for power, and I yet I have an inherent need to be in control.

Is there a contradiction? After some thought I have the most convincing reasoning that I have found points to the fine distinction between power and control.

If life is car, control is the steering wheel and power is the gear/accelerator/clutch combo.
I care about where I am going, not necessarily how fast or in which gear.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Cast and Typecast

I forced the doctor to prematurely remove my cast - it felt too much of a constraint, icky and stinky; understandably my walk feel funny and wobbly and worst of all it hurts.

This made me think of the parallels between our mind and bodies.

We put cast/plasters on to specific areas with a specific purpose. They support or restrict our join/muscle motion and prevent injury, stress or pain.

So also with out opinions. They are no more than a 'cast' on our thinking. What purpose do they serve? Maybe to prevent us from stress or thinking too much, maybe as a mode self preservation. And yet, even though they serve our purpose, to someone outside our mind, they stink!

When the cast it cut, normal things like wriggling our toes or the sensation of water on the skin are an exhilarating experience, so also when suddenly we remove the 'typecast' in the mind - it can quite stimulating!

After the 'cast' is removed, normal things like walking can be scary and hurtful. It isn't too different with the tearing down of metal shackles. It feels unfamiliar, is intimidating and it hurts. And just like there is a need to bandage for some more time after the removal of the plaster, one probably need reassurance and support to break down the mental barriers.

We are usually very accommodating of other people's physical cast - we give them all the support they need to tide over the time, get strong and get back on their feet; And yet it is so hard to be accepting of the mental casts and give people the help they need to be strong enough to break out of their mental typecasts.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Why am I writing this?

.. given the fact that I am neither looking for a change nor looking to hire..

After an interview ..

If you check the status of your interview, you are too desperate, if you don't you not interested.

Friday, March 23, 2007


When you think about it - there are similarities between your -
- a workplace and an eatery .. work and food ..

You go to a place for different reasons, either because you like the food, the price or the ambience.

- the food can be fancy or home-made or a unique recipe (start up??)
- ambience can vary from the casual to the formal, friendly to the oppressive
- might go to a place by choice or because there is not alternative. Then again, you might go by habit or because you dislike changes
- some have a buffet style while others put you the hands of the chef

However the food, whatever the place, unless you can trust the chef - its no good.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


IQ : Intelligence Quotient -> indicator of the extent of intelligence
EQ : Emotional Quotient -> indicator of how emotional you are :-)

Bitter pill

Feedback is a means for remediation when things aren't going as expected. When people are brutal in their feedback they need to realize the medicine analogy.

A bitter pill may be more effective but a little sugar alongside will go a long way in getting someone to take the pill in the first place.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Apples and Oranges..

People often quote "You can't compare apples with oranges!"
Every time I hear this I suppress the urge to retort back and ask, "Why not?"

As long as you have identified the context/attribute for the comparison you can very well compare them (or anything else for that matter)

For beginners :
- you can easily compare the Vita A, B, C etc. content in each of them
- you can compare the Sugar, Iron, Sodium, Cal, Mag etc. content in each of them
- you can compare the price and availability in a shop
- you can compare their weight, density, texture
- you can compare which is easier to grow in a particular soil/climate
- you can compare which is more susceptible to a particular disease/rot
- you can compare what make a better diet recommendation based on a person's condition
- you can compare which of these fruit has more juice for the same quantity
- you can compare which stays longer with and without refrigeration

What the heck, you can even compare which taste you like better!

Women's day madness..

Women's day madness is catching up everywhere. Companies are outdoing each other in showing that they care about their 'women' employees and shower them with gifts etc. To me it sounds no different from the hype and madness of 'Valentine's Day'.

I am a woman and even if I had a choice, I'd still chose to be one. I feel, act, live, enjoy as a woman but that make me neither inferior nor superior in any way. I have enjoyed many a wonderful conversations with a friend of mine. And yet, oftentimes I hear him say - 'You sound too much like a guy!'. Its meant as a compliment but it touches a raw nerve.

Am I too much of a feminist? What is a feminism (
Going by : "feminism is a belief in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes" - I am an emphatic feminist.

But this does not mean I am the same as a man. Equality is not the same as being identical. Men and Women are different and can celebrate the differences and still be equal.

(All these conferences and workshops are no more than a lot of 'gyan' that I could do without. Don't give me 'gyan' about being a woman and waste my time. Don't tell me of how good and tough I am, my triumphs and the tribulations, I live through them every day. I love it all and would have it no other way. I have my special privileges and I have my unique challenges. Take these lectures to the families of women and maybe it would make a difference, something these conferences certainly will not)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

To each his own ..

Each person has a unique way of working. Each one attaches different values to different aspects of their work life :

- What they do
- How they do
- Who asks them to do
- How much for what they do
.. and many many more

What they do : Technology
Some people get hung up on the technology or content aspect of their work and make a strong distinction between 'good work 'and 'bad work' - cool work and crappy work etc. They want to work on the latest technologies because they happen to be the cutting-edge technologies, not because they are better suited for the particular work. Technology becomes the end goal rather than a means to achieve a goal.

How they do : Process
Some people are all gung-ho about the proper way of doing things. All they care about is that the process be defined, followed, created, reproducible, documented and the like. While it is all for the good, they sometimes (oftentimes) lose sight of the fact that these process are created for a purpose and are not the purpose in themselves .

Who asks they to do : Hierarchy
Then there a people who would do/not do a certain task depending on who ask them to do it. It can usually be assumed that something coming from your parents/Sr. management etc is more serious than your friend/colleague etc. saying the same thing. Nothing really wrong in it. The pain comes during the crunch times when the luxury of the message coming 'through-proper-channels' isn't necessarily there.

How much for what they do : Money
I don't care about what you make me work on as long as you pay me and pay me well! All very well except that this becomes the very reason for doing the least wanted job and eventually never grow out and above - even in the monetary sense - the very reason which made you take this job in the first place becomes the reason you get stuck.

Each person needs to find the right balance of all that is important to them and their work in their job spheres.

Theory of Comparative advantage and micromanagement

Comparative advantage was first described in an essay on the corn trade. It was to England's advantage to trade various goods with Poland in return for corn, even though it might be possible to produce that corn more cheaply in England than Poland.

The details available at

Micro management is more common than is obvious.

So often you'll see team leads doing the role of engineers, managers doing the work of leads (even engineers), and directors micro managing managers and so on. Maybe (note maybe) they do it better than the people they manage but it doesn't necessarily follow that they much do it just because they do it better (or think that they do it better!)

Setting aside the cliched (though sensible) arguments like - let your team learn from the mistakes etc; it makes business sense for people to to do they own job and leave their team's job to the team - even at the perceived penalty of doing it less efficiently, less quality etc.

Given your limited resources of time and scalability, The law of comparative advantage kicks in. The overall advantage of you doing your job is much higher than you doing the role of someone else who is lower in the food chain. This comparative advantage more than offsets the penalty of your team doing what you would do potentially better, faster, cooler, whatever!

What happens if you can do your staff's role better than they can and if you don't have enough work for yourself? should you?
Unless you are paid very poorly (in which case you should anyway leave your job) you run the risk of not adding enough value to justify your cost and should start looking for a better match between your price and value.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Birth Order

Of all the theories that claim to explain human behavior I have found Transaction Analysis the easiest to understand.

Explaining personalities in terms of relative size of 'parent', 'adult' and 'child' is easy to grasp. A child brings spontaneity, creativity and unadulterated emotions - the felt concept of life. A parent brings a sense of authority, nurturing, criticism - the taught concept of life. An adult is our ability to think and determine actions based on data - it is what brings in the thought concept of life.

Relationships and manifested in interactions between various components in different people. Intimacy, conflict, dependence, games, all are explained as interactions between adult-adult, child-child/parent-parent, child-parent or ulterior transactions.

I have observed for quite some time a pattern and correlation between a person and his/her birth order. Only now it occurs to me that probably the reason why the birth order has an impact on a person is because it determines how dominant are the parent/adult/child in our personalities.

When a couple has their first child, they are still unsure of what to expect. Their behavior is tentative, they strive hard to become the world's best parent. They want everything to be perfect. The child is always in the spotlight, her behavior under a scanner, to be analyzed to the minutest details. Under close supervision which inevitably leads to excessive nurturing and/or criticism, the child develops a big PARENT component.

The opposite happens in case of the youngest child. The parents by now are seasoned pros in child rearing and no longer fret over an upset stomach. They are no longer panic at the child starting late to walk and no longer work hard to make sure the child has mastered the alphabets in their second year itself. They are more able to enjoy the child as a child. Without any pressure on either themselves or the child to prove that they are capable. The child on account of elder sibling and (by now) more mature parents is pampered. As a result of being the baby of the family, child has a big CHILD component in their personalities.

The in-between children are of course more balanced. And not to forget that a lot depends on the parents themselves and the unique circumstances of the child.

Neither a big CHILD nor a big PARENT component is good/bad in themselves. They just bring a different quality to the table.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Pattern Matching .. intuition continued

Whoever said software is all about logic - wasn't too far away from truth!

What is Intuition?
A black-boxed, custom built proprietary pattern matching algorithm used for predicting. It can be fine tuned over time but is near impossible to reverse engineer. It is certainly not collaborative and license is tied to the owner.

What is reasoning and logic?
An open-sourced, collaborative pattern matching algorithm for predicting and coming to conclusions. It is generic and richer but of times too many incompatible versions available simultaneously leading to confusion. No licensing requirements and anyone is free to use.

Sounds familiar??

The tough thing is deciding when to go for the proprietary model and when to use open source :)

Thursday, February 08, 2007


The most important gut-feeling that a person needs is to know is when to trust your gut-feeling ..

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Working ..

When you think of it, there is a reason why exercising is called working out. There are so many parallels.

First and foremost, different people have different reasons for working out, some do it for the sake of doing it, some enjoy doing it, some do it for the end results and some are advised/initiated by their family/friends/doctors into taking it up.

Some people love working out in a gym while others like to do it within the confines of their home. Each person has its own set of favorite equipment and exercises. Some like to stretch out on a mat while the others sweat it out on the treadmill. There are those who find the gym ball fun while other might like to do the weights. Just like each work is important but different so also the different form of exercising. Who is to say that aerobics is better than yoga or weights training. It depends on your attitude, aptitude , metabolism, body type, unique circumstances and most certainly what you are trying to achieve. Depending on your attitude you might prefer to go solo on a treadmill or join a group for kick boxing.

Some enjoy the process all along while others can wait to finish it and get done. Some do it with music while others are totally focussed on the dials. Some micromanage each micro-gram and calorie while others lose focus of what it was that got them into this and do anything at random.

To some it is a form or relaxation and for others it means a lot of pushing and pumping to feel the rush of the adrenalin. Some love all the action and excitement that it adds to their life while others to calm their frayed nerves.

Some come to run away from others while others join a gym to meet more people. The way you chose where to work(out) depends on various factors, the equipments, cost, timing, culture, availability, distance or simple brand recognition - and there are those who just like to 'belong' to a cool club.

Some are self driven and push themselves to newer limits each time. Others need the goading from the trainers to continue. Just like at work, a good trainer/companion can have a lasting impact and make all the difference between loving it or hating - not to forget success or failure. Doing it wrong or not following the rules can be disastrous.

Different people achieve different amount of success. Then again, different have different goals and define success differently. Take the case of the simple treadmill. Each person chooses a different workout with the exact same equipment - just like at work. They choose a different program, a different timeout, a different gradient, a different speed. Some do it fast but don't last long. There are others who are slow but go far. Some others ramp up fast while others like to go gently. Some put a time limit (9-5??) while some put a limit in the form of calories (Finish this work and go). Some would work hard enough until they get their hearts pumping!

Just like at work, if you are doing all right, you go achieve a higher goal each time. The fitness level just like success at work is a factor of many things, your training, your trainer, your hard work, the right equipment/tools, your perseverance, your metabolism (smartness??) . Just like at work, experience and age play some role but only some.

I could go on and on .. I love analogies, patterns, abstract stuff but I guess its enough for now.