Friday 25 November 2011

Book Review: Upworldly Mobile by Ranjini Manian

In less than 200 pages, Ranjini Manian has provided useful tips and insights to an Indian professional working in global business environment. Using anecdotes, she has shared her wisdom throughout the book. I would recommend this book to every Indian who aspires to convert himself/herself into a global Indian.

Friday 21 October 2011

Book Review: Making Breakthrough Innovation Happen

This is truly an inspiring book. It not only provides 11 Indian Innovation case studies but also provokes the reader on why he/she can't pull out next radical innovation. The case studies include Dainik Bhaskar, Aravind Eye Hospital, CavinKare, ITC-IBD, Bosch India, Trichy Police, Chola Vehicle Finance, Titan Edge, Shantha Biotech, Surat Transformation and Su-Kam. I would strongly recommend it to every young person, regardless of his/her age. This book could also become a great gift for your dear ones.

Friday 7 October 2011

Notes from Book: Romancing the Balance Sheet

I conduct Financial Literacy course for my company colleagues. Hence I started to read this book to pick up few ideas to include in my course. Following are my notes from that perspective:
  • Two Rules of Good Financial Management
    1. Never invest your money without ensuring that the assets you acquire can generate a return which is at least equal to the cost of your capital.
    2. Invest your money in such a way that the assets will generate an inflow of funds before the liabilities demand an outflow.
  • Lessons from Rule No. 2
    • Long-term funds should be used for long-term purposes and short-term funds for short-term purposes.
    • Healthy organizations may use, or should use, some long term funds for short-term purposes.
    • But no organization should EVER use short-term funds for long-term purposes.
    • Healthy organizations must maintain a current ratio of about 2:1 and a quick ratio of a minimum of 1:1.

Book Review: Romancing the Balance Sheet

Not sure whether you can become champ with romancing the balance sheet by merely reading this book, but this book can help you to have a good beginning. :) Written for a layman, Dr Anil Lamba, the author this book, has explained the complex subject of finance in the simplest manner possible. The book reads as if author is having a chat with you. Though it runs more than 200 pages, you are most likely to finish this book in one or two sittings as the book holds your attention very well. As title suggests, the book covers basics of financial statement but it also covers financial topics that need to be known to people working in non-finance departments. These topics include inventory management, working capital management, marginal costing and leverage analysis. I would strongly recommend this book to every first-time manager to understand how his/her actions would affect financial performance of his/her employer.

Friday 23 September 2011

Notes from book: Information Architecture for the World Wide Web

I have started reading this book titled "Information Architecture for the World Wide Web" written by Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld. From initial chapters, I made my notes in form of following mind maps. I am yet to finish the book so more mind maps would come!


Tuesday 13 September 2011

Notes from book: Business the amazon.com way

I happened to glance through first edition of book titled "Business the amazon.com way". It is published in year 1999 so no wonder it looked like an outdated book to me. It's second edition is published in year 2002, which I guess would have covered the dot-com-burst phenomenon. Nevertheless reading a pre-dot-com-boom book in year 2011 was an interesting experience.

In this book, the author Rebecca Saunders has shared following 10 secrets of the world's most astonishing web business:
  1. Live and breathe e-commerce
  2. Fill the place with entrepreneurs (hire entrepreneurial talent for key positions)
  3. Focus (to be the world's biggest store on the net)
  4. Brand the site
  5. Get and keep customers by offering great value
  6. Develop unbeatable logistics
  7. Stay lean (practice frugality as value)
  8. Practice technoleverage
  9. Constantly reinvent the business
  10. Grow with the best (alliances, acquisitions and partnerships)
As such, they are not so much secrets as of now. Still I found this list worth noting!

Monday 12 September 2011

Notes from book: Coaching People

Following are my takeaways from reading a book titled Coaching People. The book is authored by Patty McManus and is published by HBS Press as part of Pocket Mentor series.
  • Coaching is a means for learning and development. It is guiding someone toward her or his goals. It it also the mutual sharing of experiences and opinions to create agreed-upon outcomes.
  • Coaching is NOT an opportunity to correct someone's behaviors or actions. It is NOT directing someone to take actions to meet goals. It is also NOT being the expert or supervisor with all the answers.
  • Effective coaching is ongoing.
  • Coaching Skills
    • Active listening
    • Asking right questions (both open-ended and closed-ended)
    • Advocate opinions (to balance question-asking mode)
    • Give feedback as coach
    • Receive feedback as coach
    • Build agreement
  • While giving feedback, focus on behavior - not character, attitude or personality; be specific; be sincere; be realistic. Give feedback early and often.
  • Coaching style could be directive, which is useful for developing skills and for providing answers. On the other hand, supportive coaching style is useful for facilitating problem solving, for building self-confidence, for encouraging employees learn on their own and for serving as a resource for others.

Book Review: Coaching People

If you are pressed for time and want to get quick information capsule about coaching then this book is for you. In less than 70 pages, this "pocket mentor" from HBS Press tells what is coaching, describes key coaching skills and provides tools in terms of forms, checklists and worksheets. A small test near the end of the book not only assesses readers' understanding of concepts but also reinforces them. An annotated list of learning resources concludes this book. Along with structured information, this book also provides few anecdotes to illustrate concepts. Overall it is worth reading for every practicing and aspiring manager. 

Thursday 1 September 2011

SARAL methodology

Last week while traveIing in a bus, I thought of a methodology for delivering business technology solutions. I struggled a bit to capture its steps in specific words so as to get an easy-to-remember acronym name for the methodology. The result was SARAL methodology  having following steps:
  1. Study client's business context and IT landscape.
  2. Analyze gap between current and desired state.
  3. Recommend solution options.
  4. Activate client-chosen solution option on a pilot basis for early feedback.
  5. Launch full-fledged solution.
Yes, I agree it's old wine in new bottle! Hope new bottle is more elegant though!!

Jokes apart, there are couple of differentiators that I have tried to capture in this methodology:
  • Instead of studying just business requirements, study the business context as there could be some hidden requirements that we would otherwise miss.
  • Don't recommend "the" solution but few solution options for client to choose. Ideally we would propose three solution options which could resemble like fast-food, square-meal and seven-course-meal options!
  • A beta version needs to made available to users before launch to seek their early feedback.
That's for now, more later.

Shaping Customer Agenda

On 23rd and 24th August, I attended training program on the topic of "Shaping Customer Agenda". It was conducted by Rhea D'Souza and Siddharth Singh from Paradigms Unlimited. The focus of this training program was to learn about approach for Customer Enchantment. Like any other behavioral training program, this program was full of activities that made me think harder and reflect deeper.

Quite a few thoughts and topics were discussed in this program. I have noted following thoughts that touched me the most and can be considered as my takeaways from this program:
  • Context is decisive. It decides our thoughts, feelings and action.
  • It is easy to miss something you are not looking for.
  • We carry many unexamined assumptions (e.g. I cannot draw, I am not good at talking to strangers etc.). It is needed to examine them time and again.
  • Only interested people are interesting.Are we interested in others?
  • Simplify to amplify - can we write about our business in less than 8 words?
  • Enchantment is defined as creating voluntary change in hearts, minds and therefore actions of customers.
  • Become aware of listening filters that include:
    • It is not possible
    • Judging
    • Looking Good
    • Taking it personally
    • I already know
  • Observable patterns of behavior can help us understand interaction styles of people around us. The interaction styles are:
    • Relater: Introvert with emotion orientation - expect trust
    • Analyzer: Introvert with action orientation - expect accurate and valid data
    • Expresser: Extravert with emotion orientation - expect something new/big
    • Director: Extravert with action orientation - expect competency
  • How to manage client expectations? Set clear expectations, stay aligned to expectations and make your progress known.
  • Conduct pre-mortem analysis before starting out with new project/initiative; assume the project has failed and discuss reasons for the same and then plan out ways to prevent these reasons to happen.
  • Actions for enchantment:
    • Likeability - listening, language, smile and handshake
    • Trustworthiness
    • Listening - facts, feelings, intention and filter
    • Become Mensch, a person of integrity and honor
    • Reciprocity - transactional, pay-it-forward and goodwill
    • Appreciate - say it when you see it
  • Personal Branding Statement should explain what you do and why you exists. It must be Authentic, Believable and Coherent.
BTW, I must thank both Rhea and Siddharth for two days of wonderful learning experience! It seems they delivered such training program for the first time and delivered it the best for sure.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Book Review: McKinsey's Marvin Bower

This book is a biography of Marvin Bower, who is often referred to as
father of management consulting. The book weaves together many
anecdotes to illustrate vision and thought process of Marvin Bower. I
found three case studies viz. Royal Dutch Shell (1956), PwC (1979) and
HBS (1979) quite useful. The book provides quite a few lessons in
consulting hence I would recommend it to every budding consultant.

Friday 5 August 2011

Book Review: The Social Media Marketing Book

This book provides a knowledge capsule on the topic of social media
from a marketer's perspective. After an introductory chapter, eight
chapters cover each of the following social media types: blogging,
twitter and microblogging, social networking, media sharing, social
news and bookmarking, ratings and reviews, forums and finally virtual
worlds. The author provides prescription for strategy, tactics and
practice in the second last chapter. The last chapter is devoted to a
crucial topic of measurement. Well-structured information and
insightful wisdom about social media marketing makes this book useful
for everyone interested in exploiting social media phenomenon for
marketing their products and services.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Latest Forrester Wave on Enterprise Architecture Management Suites

In this month, Forrester has published Forrester Wave on Enterprise
Architecture Management Suites (EAMS). The EAMS market is not so well
defined, so I guess Forrester is trying to establish this product
category through this report. It has identified 10 vendors, which
offer products that closely matches the Forrester definition of EAMS.
It has identified Mega, Troux, Software AG and Alfabet as leaders with
following comments:
1. Mega is the most advanced second-generation EA tool migrating to
EAMS with strong GRC.
2. Troux Technologies is the strongest for standards and application
portfolio management.
3. Software AG promises the best business connection to EAMS.
4. Alfabet is the thought leader and a defining force in the EAMS category

Forrester has further identified Metastrom, IBM, Casewise, Avolution
and The Salamander Organization as Strong Performers with following
comments:
1. Metastorm offers interesting technologies to become an EAMS player.
2. IBM offers a modular approach to EAMS adoption.
3. Casewise builds on its ease of use to construct an EAMS strategy.
4. Avolution is a newcomer with a surprisingly strong showing.
5. The Salamander Organization provides a toolbox and services to
build your own EAMS.

Finally there is one vendor - BiZZdesign, which has been named as
Contender as it provides a strong second-generation EA tool but lags
in the EAMS space.

Though this report would be useful for Enterprise Architects in
general, it would have become more useful if it had contained more
discussion about this product category itself.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Book review: Head First Data Analysis

Data analysis is a relatively complex topic. Hence it is nice to see a
very different and welcoming treatment as used in this this book. This
book is a learning guide on topics such as optimization, hypothesis
testing, bayesian statistics, regression, etc. Each chapter uses a
case study to discuss the topic. The book makes use of a lot of
pictures and exercises to provide conceptual understanding and to keep
you awake while reading! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book while
(re)learning otherwise complex topics. I highly recommend this book to
all those who are new to data analysis and wish to enjoy learning the
same!

I give five stars (out of five) rating for this book!

Saturday 2 April 2011

Book Review: "Psychological Testing at Work" by Edward Hoffman

If you are generally interested in knowing about what kind of psychological tests that could be used in workplace then this is an excellent book to read. It provides an extensive survey of several dozens of psychological tests, classified by the purpose they serve.

What I liked the most is chapter three briefly covering history of workplace testing. Then there is another chapter (#7) that is dedicated to probably the most popular psychological test at workplace – Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Other chapters that could be of interest include the ones covering tests related to leadership and emotional intelligence.

In all, it is a book to read if you do not know much about psychological tests but wish to know the basics within few hours.

Thursday 24 March 2011

Publishing powerpoint slides on youtube

It took me quite a few hours to figure out how to publish powerpoint slides on youtube. Finally, I picked up following approach for doing it. Not sure this is the best one but it has worked for me for the time being.
  1. Save PPTs into PNG images. PowerPoint will save all slides as images in a folder.
  2. Use Windows Movie Maker (freely available with Windows XP) to convert these images into WMV video file.
  3. Upload WMV file on youtube.
Right now used default settings of Windows Movie Maker. Yet to figure out how to control things such as timing of slide transition.

BTW my youtube channel is at http://www.youtube.com/user/shrikantnmulik.

Freemium

Today I learned a new term - Freemium. It is a business model where in
you give away a core product for free and then generate revenue by
selling premium products to a small percentage of free users.

I guess this model is well known, thanks to the companies such as
Skype that have championed this business model. But it was interesting
to see that someone has named it so well.

For more details, please check out Wikipedia article and also a blog
site at http://www.freemium.org. This site features an e-book that
explains this term in more details.

Happy reading!