Monday, December 04, 2006

Agile Enablement

I was talking to one of my friend who is big time into agile enablement. In fact I did the same for an organization as a consultant. I told my friend an analogy about how Christians sell their religion. I remember when I use to live in DC one of the Christian organization rep walked into my house and below is the conversation we had.

Rep: Can I come in
Me: You can but pls don’t take too much time (I am a huge fan of NFL and redskins game was about to start)
Rep: (after intro) “I think you are living in dark”
Me: I don’t like too much light, is the room too dark for you, I will switch on the light
Rep: No I meant about your religion
Me: (That’s all, that made the most cynical bastard in me come out.) Why do you think so, you guys light candles in front of Jesus which tells me that your god himself is living in dark and needs light. Your god shows you way with the light you have provided him (just humor guys, nothing to get offended)
Rep: That’s not the significance of lighting candles
Me: I am not interested in knowing, because the game is about to start. Take a beer, if you want we will debate after the game.
Rep: Shall I come back later
Me: Next time you come, bring a lot of cash.
Rep: Why
Me: So that you can pay me for my time.

Rep left and I watched the game. Coming back to enablement, I told my friend that agile enablement is similar to selling religion. He started laughing when I gave him a punch line, “Go Agile – Enlighten your Organization”.

At the end of agile enablement exercise, I asked the guy who paid me “do you think you are agile now” he said I am not sure. I said you need to hire me for one more month and started laughing. From that instance on I am trying to come up with a strategy to measure the quality of enablement? Working on it, hopefully will get to something soon.

My friends and I have had lot of discussions/debates about whether you need to sell a religion or not. Some of them believe that’s the problem with Hinduism. How can we, there is no process for conversion defined in Hinduism. Agile is more or less like Hinduism, “do whatever that works for you”… that said do we need to sell Agile?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

My Journey of Job Hunt

For the first time in 10 years I have been asked by an organization to leave. Owner of the startup that I am working for does not want to spend money on product development. He has decided to close the Bangalore office and keep the Delhi office as it is much cheaper to operate in Delhi. So I am back in the market looking for a job. I have met so many idiots in past one month, wish I had enough financial backing; I would never work in this industry. Below are some of the conversations

I went to a company in Diamond District (they have some asset management product)

Interviewer (I): What would you do if you are stuck in a forest with flat tires and do not have spare, with your family

Me (M): my daughter has super natural power of fixing flat tires, she will fix it and I will move on

He got offended; I told him hypothetical answer for a hypothetical question. I really can’t understand what this idiot was trying to measure, if he was trying to measure how I would react to an unplanned event, i think I faired well.

Next Question

I: how many maruti zens are there in Bangalore

M: If you are trying to measure my presence of mind I can give you any number and you would not be able to do anything about it.

I: give a number

M: 100,281

I: how did you come out with that number?

M: fact that you can’t validate it/debate about it sitting in this room

He was again offended; I don’t see what was wrong in my answer. All these F**** can’t accept blunt answers for their stupid questions.

I met VP engineering of company called DumbObjects (Not the actual name, I don’t want to hurt core values of dumb people), below are some of the conversations

I: 15 days before the delivery of the project, architect (Key person) resigns, what will you do?

M: 15 days before the release if your project requires architects then you are in much deeper shit than him resigning (hahahaha).

I: I want to know how you would handle it

M: I will try to find out the reason for him to leave, if there is anything as an organization we can do then I will try else I will plan a smooth transition and let him go.

I: How many people have you fired?

M: I don’t have the count

M: I asked him what he would do in the same situation

I: it depends; I would probably convince him not to leave

M: That means you have an employee who has no clue what he wants or you are so charismatic that you can convince him. One of them has to be true; I don’t think the latter is true.

Obviously VP did not hire me, reason they gave was that they were not happy about some of the blogs that I had written. I told him; neither do I want to work for some hypocritical bastards. I asked him one question; let’s say I write an article about a social issue and you have a different stand about the same, you will not hire me? He did not have any answer.

It’s beyond my comprehension what all these morons are looking for in a person when they are interviewing. The very fuckin mentality that they are doing a favor by giving job to some one leads to such stupidity. After coming back to India, Thoughtworks probably has the best interview pattern. At least such stupid questions are less (not zero hahahhaa…).

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Breeding Innovation

I keep thinking about a workplace that is conducive for innovation. What kind of environment helps people innovate?
Thoughtworks is one place i felt has fairly achieved it. An environment where people can express their ideas and opinions with out any apprehensions, is what probably breeds innovation. If organizations have environment where people have to blindly follow processes/hierarchies, they stop thinking. The best analogy i can think of is; all the rituals and religious things we do without knowing the actual significance of it. Some of them really made sense at that point of time but not now. A community is all about reviewing and adapting to changes. An Organization is nothing but a community. Its easier said than done but thats what the challenge is all about.
Some of the key things about environments conducive to innovation are
  1. Transparent/Open environment: As mentioned earlier, an environment which encourages people to express their opinion/ideas. Important thing is that people should not have any fear that it will be used against them.
  2. Confidence in youngsters we have hired: If this is missing, we start taking inputs only from people who have experience or rather old. Stereo typical mentality is that people with out experience will not be able to contribute at higher levels. I feel the other way is true. Some times old people have thoughts of their generation which do not hold good during present times.
  3. Open feedback: if people cannot accept feedback/criticism about their ideas and take it personally, its a major hurdle for innovation.
  4. Meritocracy:a system in which the talented are chosen and moved ahead on the basis of their achievement not based on their age.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Is "Change" that Hard

Last weekend i took my 1 year old daughter to swimming pool (was her first time at the pool). She was in the pool sitting in a floater. She started paddling her legs and flapping her arms with in no time. I was amazed seeing that. kids have such an inherent ability to adapt and learn, its just so opposite of us (adults). Above narration is a preamble to what i started thinking in the pool.
I work for a startup product company which is doing fairly well. We are at a stage where management wants to invest money in product development. Initially they were behind revenues, (this is the case with any startup, else they will go belly up) which has led the product to such chaos that its impossible to manage now. We had Product strategy meeting in Delhi last week to come up with a plan to make the product manageable. What i observed is listed below.

  1. Resistance to change: When i was trying to explain some of the aspects of agile, lot of them were skeptical, especially people on whom organization is dependent on. I was trying to convince them that distributed development can be done with less pains using some of the aspects of agile. Resistance was from people who are considered as extremely important in the organization today. Since i termed them as bottle necks they were offended but sincerely when i think, they are bottlenecks.
  2. Knowledge Transfer: Delhi office was started before bangalore office, naturally they have more domain knowledge than people in bangalore. Delhi public dont want to transfer knowledge, may be because they are scared of loosing their job. This is probably due to management not updating the people about organizational goal or people we have are so incompetent that they are scared of being laid off.
Both of the above mentioned observations are not good for a growing organization.
I was wondering looking at my daughter, why dont adults like us have what a 1 year old has?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Is Resigning a CRIME?

After coming back to India and working with more than 3 organizations I have found that resigning is a CRIME. I have observed in couple of places that boss stops talking to you and do not even smile when he sees you. Its not that I am missing something, I can’t stop laughing at such immature thinking. In such a globalized world its very common that people find better opportunity and move on. As an organization we should respect others dreams and priorities. This is what is missing in most of our organizations. If the person has spent lot of time in an organization that he may feel that his life has become monotonous and wants to do something new. Organizations should only try to reduce the impact of loss of such a person.
This is a nice story that I would like to narrate (its real). One of my friend who has umpteen years of experience joined Cognizant. After a week he felt that he was in a wrong place and wanted to quit and informed the same to BU head. As usual these guys think that they have such an amazing charisma that they can influence some bodies thinking and try to give a pep talk. This did not work, so the guy asked him to serve notice period. Can you believe it, for one week of employment 60 days of notice? When I heard this I was rolling on my stomach. What does this convey? People who are heading organizations are so irrational; they have even lost the ability to think. They don’t even know what is good for the organization and what is not. Lets take this scenario and elaborate. What will an organization get by this guy serving notice period. It would be such a loss for the company since they have to pay him for those 60 days and get nothing out of it.
This is the reason why I feel that organizations need to have some young blood at the decision making level. Having only young blood could also prove detrimental; it should be a nice mixture of young and experienced people. Young blood will most of the time have the guts to accept the market reality and take decisions based on the same.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

R We Slaves Still ?

Off lately i have started working at a new place. Its one of the big Services company in India. Yesterday was my first interaction with the team and the customer which also happens to be an indian company. I was shocked to see the personality of the team members and the way they conversed with the client. First thing that struck me was team members calling me "Sir" and every other Tom Dick & Harry the same way. When i told them that they are not suppose to address me that way, they could not believe it. Secondly i was shocked to see that the receiver is happy being addressed that way, else he would have objected it the way i did. All i could think of is, all those years of slavery whether its mughals or britishers has left such a huge trace in our blood that it can be seen even today. I always believed in this cuz when i was in US, i used to see HCL consultants who did not know the meaning of word "NO". They would probably even offer BJ (read as blow job) just to make couple of dollars. I understand people have different priorities but is it worth being a slave? I have failed to understand priorities of such people hence its hard for me to answer this question. One thing that i felt yesterday was, to start with atleast i have a challenge at this new place, that is to change the mentality of these people. I know there would be lot of resistance from both the slave and the master but i feel i should try atleast.