Saturday, April 21, 2007

Terminology differences

There are several inherent problems associated with process mapping:

* Terminology differences: Perhaps the most common problem between different standards or process models is one of communication - the actual terminology is different. For example, consider the different words that may be employed to indicate the activities within a process - words such as: 'task', 'step', 'practice', 'action'. Although these semm like minor differences, what about the situation where the same word is used, such as 'process', but with different definitions in each process. It is essential, therefore, that these differences in language can be identified and clarified.

(p. 94, A Pragmatic Guide to Business Process Modelling by Jon Holt from Viva

Four countries involved!

Consider the case of an ISP based in the US, with a European office in London. One of its customers is an Italian, resident in Italy, who posts on his website, which is hosted by the ISP, an allegation about a French politician. The French politician complains but the ISP does nothing to remove the allegation. If the French politician wishes to take action, he can, in theory, take action in any of the four countries involved - England, France, Italy or the US. His best hope of winning a court action may well be in France but there is little point in bringing an action in France unless the ISP has some sort of legal presence there. The same applies to Italy, a country where, in any case, the law is not renowned for bringing cases to a rapid conclusion. The politician will probably opt for action in England, on the grounds that, in such cases, English law is much more sympathetic to the person claiming to be wronged than is American law. It may still be necessary to persuade the English court that this is a matter that it can properly consider.

One concrete example is that a court in New Zealand recently ruled that an organisation based in New Zealand could take action in a New Zealand court against an Australian newspaper that, it was claimed, had published defamatory statements about it on its website in Australia.

(p. 197, Professional Issues in Information Technology by Frank Bott from Viva

Why verify

Verification is important to assure that parties (to global environmental cooperation) are living up to their obligations. Most regimes include verification measures that collect information about parties' compliance. Nations are more likely to comply with their international obligations if infractions are promptly and accurately reported. Treaties vary widely in terms of who collects this information and how frequently. Since self-reporting can run the risk of nations misrepresenting their records, impartial third parties can sometimes be used. For instance, after the Cold War ended it was discovered that the Soviets had been routinely lying about their whale catches and the amount of radioactive wastes they were dumping in the ocean. In practice most treaties rely on a complicated mix of verification arrangements.

(p. 130, Global Environmental Governance by James Gustav Speth and Peter M. Haas, Pearson Longman

Understanding Russia

Padma Desai: The president is authoritarian, the bureaucrats dominate the ministries as well as the regional and local administrations, and the oligarchs control Russia's dominant industrial sector. How can genuine market reforms proceed from this straitjacket?

Grigory Yavlinsky: There is no way. However, I want to share with you my views about the kind of system we have created in Russia. With Yelstin's election in 1996, we began moving toward a system that I variously call corporatist and criminal, a managed democracy, or a quasi democracy. One may also call it a Potemkin-village democracy. Yet it is different from the arrangements that prevailed under Soviet times. The Soviet system was totalitarian in that it destroyed democratic and civic institutions as they appeared. The prevailing managed democracy is not destroying these institutions, but the major institutions are being controlled to serve the needs of the executive authority. Thus the private TV networks have been abolished; the elections are being maniupulated; and the judiciary is subservient to the Kremlin's political authority. The lack of freedom of these cornerstones of a liberal political system is the chief attribute of the current managed democracy.

(p. 196, Conversations on Russia: Reform from Yelstin to Putin by Padma Desai, Oxford

Nice Russia reader!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Myths and Facts about SHW (sexual harassment at work)

First, a definition of sexual harassment from the verdict of the apex court in Vishakha vs State of Rajasthan, August 1997

Sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behaviour as: physical contact, a demand or request for sexual favours, sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography and any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature, for example leering, telling dirty jokes, making sexual remarks about a person's body, etc.

Myth 1: Women enjoy eve-teasing/sexual harassment.
Fact: Eve-teasing/sexual harassment is humiliating, intimidating, painful and frightening.

Myth 2: Eve-teasing is harmless flirtation. Women who object have no sense of humour.
Fact: Behaviour that is unwelcome cannot be considered harmless or funny. Sexual harassment is defined by its impact on the woman rather than the intent of the perpetrator.

Myth 3: Women ask for SHW. Only women who are provocatively dressed are sexually harassed.
Fact: This is the classic way of shifting blame from the harasser to the victim. Women have the right to act, dress and move around freely without the threat of attack or harassment. The most popular slogan of the women's right movement of the past three decades has been: However we dress, wherever we go, 'Yes' means 'Yes' and 'No' means 'No'.

Myth 4: Women who say 'No' actually mean 'Yes'.
Fact: This is a common myth used by men to justify sexual aggression and one-sided sexual advances.

Myth 5: Sexual harassment is not really an issue. It doesn't hurt anyone.
Fact: Persons subjected to sexual harassment experience a wide range of physical and psychological ailments. There are economic consequences for the victim's physical and mental well-being, and the organisation's productivity, efficiency and work ethic.


(pp. 112-113 Urban Women in Contemporary India: A Reader edited by Rehana Ghadially, Sage

Representation is more respectable than reservation

The expansion of people's capabilities is to be done in the area of education, health and income. They are now expressed as components of Human Development Index...

Liberal capitalism is inseparable from democratic institutions where freedom to choose is guaranteed. It is brought out clearly that under the conditions of democratic capitalism, achievement of social justice as 'fairness' is theoretically possible....

The market, in theory, does not recognise the social background of the person who produces it. It is also necessary to see that these groups or communities are represented both in production and distribution in order to expand the base of the market and to enhance the capabilities of individuals. This is made possible by drawing people into the system and by providing representation to each of the groups in various institutions....

To make democratic capitalism function efficiently, all the groups need to be represented proportionally in the organisations whether they are public or private, education or employment, parliamentary seats or panchayat berths and so on...

(pp. 179-180, Caste-based Reservations and Human Development in India, by K.S. Chalam Sage


"The beauty of your system is that one out of 5000 dabawalas makes a mistake only once every two months, i.e. one error in every 16 million deliveries (including the return journey) that involve no documentation. This makes it one of its kind supply chain in the world. Your 'critical-to-quality' process capability in delivery of dabas is outstanding, because you are harnessing only human competencies in your chain of operations. Quality and durablity go together. What is durable in your business?"

"The need for homemade lunch."

Message: "Search for what is durable in times of major change; it provides the wildest of business opportunities."

(p.28-29, Dabawalas by Shrinivas Pandit, Tata McGraw-Hill

Thou shalt not worry about things ye cannot control

As far as Abel was concerned, even when things seemed to be going perfectly all right disaster lurked on the fringes, just waiting to leap out and get at him the minute he lowered his guard. I remember once when we all pulled up into the office car park in the company minibus that used to ferry us, Abel came rushing out, "Thank God you guys have reached safely. I was so worried."
"Abel, why don't you stop fretting and relax a bit. Why don't you let Francis of Assisi guide you?"

"Francis of Assisi? Never heard of him..."

"I didn't think you had Abel. He wrote what we call the serenity prayer - Dear God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."

Abel pondered over this for a moment.

"Yeah," he replied, "but Francis of Assisi didn't have to worry about sharing the roads with these call-centre cabs... or the Corporation bus drivers. Have you seen how devastating..."

"Oh, all right, Abel... relax, will you...?"

"You're right," replied Abel, looking not in the least reassured. "I will... I will relax... soon as the last three vehicles have come in." Then he wandered off in a most desolate fashion, mumbling darkly to himself all the while.

The result of Abel's worrying nature was that he was decidedly the busiest and most troubled guy I have ever come across...

But the day I really got worried about him was when I was passing by his cabin and saw his screeensaver. This is what the slowly revolving words said --

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes


(p. 131-2, M.O.D.E.L. The reutrn of the employee by Mukul Deva, Response

Comment: Are you Abel?

Ethical leaders

Sound ethical leadership is rooted in respect, service, justice, honesty, and community. It is the duty of leaders to treat others with respect - to listen to them closely and be tolerant of opposing points of view. Ethical leaders serve others by being altruistic, placing others' welfare ahead of their own in an effort to contribute to the common good. Justice requires that leaders place fairness at the centre of their decision-making, including the challenging task of being fair to the individual while simultaneously being fair to the common interests of the community. Good leaders are honest. They do not lie, nor do they present truth to others in ways that are destructive or counterproductive. Finally, ethical leaders are committed to building community, which includes searching for goals that are compatible with the goals of followers and the society as a whole.

(p. 368, Leadership: Theory and Practice, Fourth Edition, by Peter G. Northouse, Sage

Comment: Seen them?

Thoughts on Good Friday

"Oppose those who oppose me, Lord, and fight those who fight against me!
Take your shield and armour and come to my rescue...

May those who plot against me be turned back and confused!
May they be like straw blown by the wind...

Without any reason they laid a trap for me and dug a deep hole to catch me.
But destruction will catch them before they know it; they will be caught in their own trap and fall to their destruction!
Evil men testify against me and accuse me of crimes I know nothing about...

Don't let my enemies, those liars, gloat over my defeat.
Don't let those who hate me for no reason smirk with delight over my sorrow.
They do not speak in a friendly way; instead they invent all kinds of lies about peace-loving people.
Don't let them say to themselves, "We are rid of him! That's just what we wanted!"

(p. 555, Psalms 35, Holy Bible - Good News Edition - from The Bible Society of India, Bangalore)

Comment: Wish the lines offered comfort to those who suffer in Iraq and other conflict zones.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

How to monitor the health of a forest

The dependence of the insect population on plant diversity is both food and habitat specific. The honey-bee is placed at an important noble centre of this food-chain. It interacts with all the tiers of the forest and collects nectar from a variety of plants. The honey-bee can therefore be used to monitor the health of a forest. With its help it is possible to identify deforestation before it gets too late. A forest with abundant honey must therefore have the following properties: a high canopy, having grown through a 3-4 storey structure of a forest; dense undergrowth; and a rich diversity of flowering plants providing an important source of nectar. Finally, there must be continuous water supply.

In a healthy forest, honey-bees, of which there are several kinds, gather nectar from flowers distributed over different stories of a forest. This is their territory of operation. They prefer not to be disturbed in their work of honey production. Some are more sensitive to human sounds, such as tiger-bees. Accordingly, they make their hives in high places, like tall trees, on rocks and st0nes on top of hills, between crevices, or inside tree trunks. These living spaces are normally shaded and in proximity of water sources.

(p.480 'Environmental Issues in India: A Reader' edited by Mahesh Rangarajan, Pearson

Wind power

Although wind mills were in use several centuries ago, the actual growth of wind power started taking place in the 1980s in the wake of the oil price hikes that affected the global economy. Europe took the lead in this field. Today Denmark gets about 15 per cent of its electricity from wind power. Germany and Spain are other countries producing and utilising substantial quantities of wind energy. In India, by teh end of 2005, electricity generation from the wind power sector was about 3800 MW (3 per cent of installed capacity). It is estimated that about 45,000 MW of wind energy potential exits in India. The production cost of electricity from wind energy in 2005 was about Rs 2.50 per KWH.

(p. 91 'Environmental Studies' by D.L. Manjunath, Pearson

10 ways to become more confident

1) Value shyness
2) Take to the stage
3) Don't be too modest
4) Take charge
5) Start afresh**
6) Keep the cat in the bag****
7) Challenge yourself
8) Accept the odd knock
9) Small talk matters
10) Smile

** If there's one place you go where you're treated as doormat, find a way to stop going there. It might mean changing jobs or moving into a new circle of friends.

****If you start a conversation by saying you're nervous, people will categorise you as such. Unless you tell them, most people won't know.

(p.64-65 'The Life Plan: 700 Simple ways to change your life for the better' by Robert Ashton, Pearson

Conference callers

For example, a conference facility may perdict that as many as 20 users could simultaneously place calls with their wireless IP phones within every 10,000 square feet of the conference facility. If you are deploying 802.11b, you will need three access points covering each of the 10,000-square-foot areas to produce enough capacity to support the calls. Each access point will service up to eight simultaneous calls, so the total supported will be 24. To make this arrangement work effectively, you need to reduce the radio cell size of each access point to cover approximately one-third of the 10,000-square-foot area.

(p.155, Deploying Voice over Wireless LANs by Jim Geier, from Cisco

IST is...

...humorously interpreted as Indian Stretchable Time.

In Mexico, time is treated rather cavalierly. One commonly hears the expression 'Hora Americana, Hora Mexicana' which means 'your time is our time'. In Manila, guests enter the house of the host generally an hour late for dinner. In certain Arabian countries, the host feels offended if the guests arrive on the dot, for he and his family are rarely ready to receive them on time.

(p. 80 Time Management: For Happiness and Success by Ramesh K. Arora, Paragon International Publishers www.paragonintpubcom).