Monday, March 31, 2008

The Secret History of the American Empire

“During my first assignment in Indonesia, I showed my bosses that I was willing to create the inflated economic forecasts they desired. As a reward, they promoted me to chief economist (even though I held only a B.S. in Business administration and at the time was the company’s sole economist), gave me a raise and sent me to the Middle East.”

“I had already written reports on Iran, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, but my research had been conducted at libraries and through interviews with people from those countries working for us in Boston. This first trip was a short one to get to know Iran and Prepare a more in-depth analysis of its energy sector. Charlie Illingworth who had been my project manager in Indonesia, suggested that I stop over for a couple of days in Beirut. At that time, the city’s reputation as a playground was still intact. It would be, he told me, an ideal place to relax, catch up on the time zone changes, and familiarize myself with Middle Eastern culture. He knew someone at the embassy there who would show me around.”

“Lebanon had enjoyed a golden age following the end of World War II. Agriculture and small-scale industry flourished. Beirut developed into a wealthy, cosmopolitan city, the center of Middle Eastern banking and trade. As I read about the country prior to my departure date. I was intrigued to find frequent comparisons to both Switzerland and Paris. I was amazed to learn that ski resorts dotted the mountains outside Beirut, a Mediterranean city I had visualized as sitting on the edge of a desert. And that cabarets and art galleries rivalled those of Paris. I also read about Lebanon’s shadow side.”

John Perkins in The Secret History of the American Empire

Andy Grove

“There were no personal computers in 1968, nor were there minicomputers. The industry was dominated by gigantic mainframe machines. IBM had announced the introduction of it 360 in 1964. This product offered the customer soup-to-nuts computing power. The 360 was the quintessence of a vertically integrated, proprietary product. Its very name, 360, suggested its all-encompassing ambition. The 360 encircled all the customer’s data needs, just as 360 degrees defines a circle.”

“The standard technology for the memory function in mainframe computers was “magnetic core.” It was a well-understood and “well entrenched” technology. “Magnetic core memory was a complex product in which rings of magnetic metal were woven together with interlocking strands of copper. Intel was not attacking a competitor currently in the market, it was attacking a whole new class of products for which semiconductors had not customarily been used previously. This was “intermodal competition.” In order for it to succeed even in getting the attention of firms the size of IBM and its competitors, is had to offer a product that was not just a little better, but an order of magnitude better than what was already on the market. To escape the pull of commoditization, Intel planned on being a moving target. It would invent, price high, skim the cream, and move on to the next invention before competition drove prices down on its product.”

“ Moore thought first-mover advantages were very valuable in his industry. Here is the analogy he liked. Think of a rifleman who shoots at a blank wall, finds the bullet hole, and then paints the target around it. “He always hits the bull’s eye.” The second rifleman has to hit a specific spot already defined by the first.”

“Sounds good. But you better make sure that blank wall is the right one. Otherwise, your bull’s-eye will merely prove that you have succeeded in becoming number one in game of one.”

Richard S. Tedlow in Andy Grove

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Please Explain

“It took a long time to learn about our chromosomes. In fact, until 1955, we thought that human being had 48 chromosomes-the real number is 46”

“They were a huge mystery until very recently, the most mysterious of them all being the 45th chromosome. Part of the mystery surrounding this particular chromosome was its involvement in diseases carried by females. Although these disease, which included haemophilia and red-green colour blindness, didn’t affect females, they affected males-very strange.”

“For a long time, this mystery remained unsolved. In algebra the symbol ‘X’-chromosome was given its name. (if it was named after its shape, then all the chromosomes would be called ‘X’).”

“And the Y-chromosome? Well, it was pretty mysterious too. ‘Y’ is the next letter in the alphabet after ‘X’ which is how the Y-chromosome got its name. It’s as simple as ABC.”

Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki in Please Explain

IT Portfolio Rationalization

“IT innovations have led to many innovation in business. Some of the most prominent ones include the emergence of web technologies. Organizations have been able to extend their enterprise to a global customer base with the help on internet and associated technologies. A company’s website can support a wide variety of business applications ragging from simple information sharing to complex commercial processes. There are many businesses, having christened themselves as ‘internet companies’, running their entire selling operations online with no physical customer contact whatsoever. Other applications of web technologies include marketing, customer service, employee productivity, supply chain, etc. such automation enables businesses to improve existing business models and create innovative processes that result in reduction in operational costs, better time-to-market and increased employee productivity.”

“Over the last decade, the focus on innovations to help companies gain a competitive edge in the marketplace has increased. New technologies can play the role of a catalyst in product and process innovations. The challenge in this case is not to get overwhelmed by the technology itself and go on an acquisitions spree. The decision to adopt a new technology should be a direct function of the organization’s business and IT objectives. The change management processes under ITPM ensures necessary due diligence and business-to-IT alignment for such new initiatives.”

“New technologies must be able to meet the given business need while complimenting the existing IT strategy and application portfolio. Process innovations require the underlying infrastructure to be flexible and agile; otherwise it will not be feasible to implement such innovations. IT portfolio management provides not only such an infrastructure but also a holistic view of it in order to understand the impact of changes, maximize benefits and mitigate any potential risks.”

Prashant Halari, Sushil Paigankar, Hitesh Salla, and Rajaram Vengurlekar in IT Portfolio Rationalization

Entrepreneurial Management

“Women entrepreneurship was not foreseen much on the psychosocial angles especially in developing countries like India. Rather, it was seen in terms of target achievement ideology where the real training mechanism does not truly inculcate the perceptional personality dimensions of women entrepreneurs. This might be one strong reason which prevents women to enter into an entrepreneurship for long. Of course, the patriarchal social system, norms and taboos might have dominated them over years in a country like India. For long, women have been unable to get involved in an economic activity. Surprisingly, in India, women entrepreneurship started to sprout in the late 1980s-initially at a slow pace and then gradually gaining momentum. However, they are still stagnant with their percentage of contribution in enterprises. This in not very encouraging. Also the number of successful women entrepreneurs in numerically less in comparison to the hefty population of the country. The question arises as to why the situation has remained the same for so long despite all the governmental policies, plan of actions, financial schemes, training mechanisms, facilitating organization, interfacing institutions, academic institutions and universities that purse gender studies, concentrating on women entrepreneurship and empowerment. In comparison to men, Indian women who are equally talented and potentially capable have still not been perceived as the significant agents of entrepreneurship and contributors to the economic growth of the country.”

Shivganesh Bhargava in Entrepreneurial Management

National Movement and Politics in Orissa, 1920-29

“The emergence of the nationalist intelligentsia could be traced back to the 1860s when Orissa feel prey to a severe famine. Locally known a Naank Duvikhaya, the famine (1865-66) took a toll to over one million human lives, that is, nearly one-third of the population in the affected areas. The famine brought about a perceptible change in the social, political and intellectual life of the state. Fakir Mohan has discussed it at great length in his autobiography. Later (1990) he stated that only after the famine did the government begin to pay some attention to Orissa .The intelligentsia looked afresh at the nature of British rule and linked it with the underdevelopment of the state. The tragedy was largely attributed to the government’s unwise famine policy. The inadequate relief and the state’s laissez faire policy did little to check the price rise and pushed the poor people to starvation. The native officials being mostly “outsider” (non-Orissa), apparently misled the administration. The intelligentsia complained that this aggravated the crises. Following the famine, the intellectuals began to address both the administration as well as the people. Such efforts at establishing a two-way link between the authorities and the people ushered in the process of mobilization of the people, and of nations making in Orissa. The year 1866, thus, became a turning point in the modern history of the state.”

Pritish Acharya in National Movement and Politics in Orissa, 1920-29

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Unlock behavior Unleash Profits

“Most leaders are very good at measuring results-operating margins, sales, etc. few track behaviours in the same way, but it’s important to do so-it allows you to be more aware of what is happening at the individual and work-group levels.”

“Good measurement helps you see how to change behaviours when you don’t get the results you expect. Measurement also helps you identify successes to celebrate and problems to attack. Finally-perhaps most valuably-good measurement helps you observe and track important pinpoints so you can learn more about behaviour and whether it is working for you or against you.”

“Measurement adds incredible power to your leadership tool set.”

How come we Don’t Measure Very Often?
“Determining what to measure and how, and whether to measure both behaviours and results or mainly one or the other, can get pretty detailed. This explains why companies generally are weak at measuring behaviours, first, it’s hard to do, and can take a lot of time-behavioral pinpointing is hard work. Second, we all have experienced measures that produced too much data and too little information. Don’t lose sight of the purpose: to collect data for evaluating success and guiding analyses and action.”

“In our experience, simple measures work best. A few checkmarks in a notebook beats an automated spreadsheet if the notebook measures are collected consistently for important behaviors that can be altered to improve the business.”

“We view behaviour as only a cost until its value is clearly defined and its return on investment can be determined. After all, behaviour spent on one initiative is diverted from another. Behaviour spent in the classroom or ca coaching sessions is behaviour not invested in sales, manufacturing, shipping, or project management. We suggest that you view behavior like a stock purchase-an investment of known quantity (time and effort) in an area that is very likely to deliver a profit (return on investment).”

Leslie Wilk and Braksick in Unlock behavior Unleash Profits

Built to Serve

“Successful pro athletes focus on winning, not on fans. That is part of what makes them professionals.”

“Organizations are similar; only the problem is worse. In organization, fans actually infiltrate the team, interfering with the players focused on getting the job done. Often, they dress in the same uniform as the players, so security cannot readily differentiate between players and fans. In organizations, fans attend meetings, make sales calls, prepare reports, and even claim job titles, but they are nothing more than impostors-fans masquerading as players.”

“Looking at an organization’ successfully. For too many organizations subscribe to a “needs-based” approach to hiring. In other words, no serious recruiting, interviewing, or actual hiring of talent takes place until a specific need arises. This approach is especially popular in numbers-oriented cultures because the organization is measuring itself against a predetermined published labor budget for the quarter.”

“A needs-based operation created complicated and drawn-out procedures requiring multiple approvals before any additional employees can be hired. The time between identifying the need for a new person and receiving approval to make the hire causes a steadily increasing strain on team members because they are shorthanded…”

“Culture-driven, people-centered organizations adopt a healthier approach. They are always looking for players, even if no need exists. This requires a commitment to scout for players, make immediate contributions without tearing the cultural fabric fo the organization. On the other hand, impostors rarely contribute more than dissent and disdain.”

Dan J. Sanders in Built to Serve

Friday, March 28, 2008

Governance of Water Institutional Alternatives and Political Economy

“The section officer is an important key component of the irrigation delivery system as he forms the key link between the field-level staff and the central staff. This is especially true with regard to the function of recovery and demand estimation as the demand gets consolidated and the bills get issues at this level. However, the officers who function as section officers provide the greatest variety in terms of the nature of appointment, qualifications and levels. There are three categories of section officers. The first category of section officers are those who were earlier appointed as overseers (meant to a assists the section officers )and who are Class III employees. The second category, the Additional Assistant Engineer, who also works as section officers, apart from those who are graduate civil engineers who are Class II employees. The section officers, apart from those who are graduate civil engineers have little chance of promotion beyond the section officer’s level. They have the responsibility of monitoring the activities of the work assistants and chowkidars, consolidating the demand in their areas and also improve the recovery of irrigation charges.”

Vishwa Ballaba in Governance of Water Institutional Alternatives and Political Economy

Common Questions & Answers on Central Excise Customs & Service Tax

“What is CAAP and how it is done?
Large number of companies have started maintaining their records in electronic format (some companies are paperless). These companies have global perspective and are competing internationally and have huge volume of records. The system of manual audit is not adequate to handle volume of records. The system of manual audit is not adequate to handle the auditing of such assesses. Auditing of their records require understanding of not only the accounting systems but also computer skills to read and process data files. The auditors need to be equipped to interrogate the data electronic format.”

“The Computer Assisted Audit Programme (CAAP) is a method of audit of such assesses. By using CAAP, the auditor analysis the business system of the assessee, understands the systems flow chart, computer programming flow chart, the layout of the files and finally determine the data transfer mechanism. The linkages and discrepancies in the assessee’s data are detected for the purposes of identifying and narrowing down the possible areas of tax non-compliance, which helps in conduct of EA-2000 audit.”

“After downloading the assessees data files, the auditor prepares these files so as to make them readable for the audit software. The WINIDEA software is used to perform various functions on this data like, File stratification, Joining of data bases, Extraction of selected portion of data bases, detection of missing invoices of duplicate series etc. Essentially this software allows the auditor to interrogate and analyses data for audit purpose.”

“Thereafter, the steps are the same as those in EA-2000 audits. The CAAP has been started on experimental basis in few selected Commissionerates.”

Thakur Shailendranath in Common Questions & Answers on Central Excise Customs & Service Tax

Service Tax

“Service tax is payable only when a taxable service is rendered or provided to the service receiver. While generally, in case of sale, receiver is the buyer or customer, in case of a service, service receiver is the client. There should exist a relationship of service provider and service receiver between the two parties to a service , service, and rendered to the client who can be called a policy holder (as defined in Insurance laws) or a subscriber (as defined in Telegraph Laws) or shipping line or franchisee or customer or just a client, as the case may be. Oxford English Dictionary defined client to mean a person or organisation using the services of a lawyer or other professional person or company. Clients collectively are clientele.”

“Black Law Dictionary defines client to mean an individual corporation, trust or estate that employs a professional to advice or assist it professionals line of work.”

“A service provider can not be a client to himself. There must exist a commercial relationship between the two i.e service provider must charge to the client should pay for the services received. Client is an external person who avails the services of another person for an agreed consideration.”

Parthasarathy, Sanjiv Agarwal, and Raja J. Chelliah in Service Tax E

Luxury Brand Management

“When a brand has the power to influence a great number of people, it must be careful what it presents for people to dream about-and how it presents it. The CEO of MBW know something about this. In February 2002 he withdrew an ad showing a nude couple on a bed, with one of the partners’ heads covered by a magazine showing the latest BMW. Unfortunately, this need for responsibility is not felt strongly enough today by directors of brand, creative directors and directors of communications. The same happened to Marithe and Francois Gribaud in 2005 when they published and advertisement showing the Last Supper composed of languishing ladies and men in unequivocal attitude, and were forced to withdrew the ad.”

“Provocation has been utilized extensively in luxury brand communication, but we feel that it is a dead end. If provocation is based on infringing existing social taboos, it has its own inbuilt limitations. When all taboos have been infringed, what is left to express? We are convinced, however, that it is very possible, with talent and taste, to promote values like seduction, sensuality, eroticism, and sensual pleasure without
crossing the line into the vulgar or the shocking. That was not the choice made by the Sisley brand-whose advertisement in February 2002 showed a young girl stretched out on an bed, looking at us as she touched herself. For a brand director to engage in this kind of advertising is to show a lack of respect for potential customers and the rest of the population. Not everyone shares or even know about Sisley’s approach to managing brand identify as interpreted by photographer Terry Richardson, who decided to position the brand in the domain of “pulp provocation,”

Michel Chevalier and Gerald Mazzalove in Luxury Brand Management

The Soul of the Corporation

“In an economy where many competitors offer comparable products and services, it is important for firms to make themselves easily recognizable to customers, prospective employees, investors, and opinion makers. companies such as Starbucks, IKEA. AND The Body Shop have achieved high levels of external recognition through a unique combination of physical aspects (design of outlets, visual identity), product selection, marketing strategies, and corporate values. Bang & Olufsen has distinguished itself from all other makers of consumer electronics through consistent emphasis on design, careful management of the brand and the distribution network, and projecting to the outside world its unique philosophy and management practices (relaxed working atmosphere, care of its people).”

“A firm that enjoy a high level of recognition thanks to a unique and valued identify does not need to promote itself in the usual ways to relevant constituencies).”

Hamid Bouchikhi and John R. Kimberly in The Soul of the Corporation

Production and Operations Management

“There are certain concepts in job design which need the job designer’s attention. These are job enlargement, rotation, and enrichment. Job enlargement is the horizontal loading of a worker’s job. This means certain tasks of the same skill and mental level as being handled by the worker presently are added to his job. For example, a worker on the assembly line fitting the tail lights may be given the additional task of affixing the car and company logo at the back of the car. This will give him a sense of pride, though this may not be very long lasting.”

“A better solution in this case may be job rotation. Highly repetitive tasks like in assembly lines are swapped (interchanged) amongst workers after a suitable interval of time. For example, a worker fitting the tail lights may be shifted after a suitable interval of time to the workstation where the steering wheel of the car is fitted, and so on. This helps in removing the monotony of a worker up to a great extent.”

“Job enrichment means giving some additional responsibilities to a worker, witch are slightly more dignified than the routine tasks being handled by him. This is also called vertical loading of the worker’s job. For example, in addition to doing his own work, a worker fitting the tail lights at a workstation on the assembly line may be given the responsibility of supervising work at the two workstations adjacent to his. This will have two advantages-first, the worker’s monotony will be broken and, second, the number of supervisors may be reduced, thus saving on the cost of supervision. Job enrichment of workers can also be done by the formation for self-directed teams. These teams of workers are given the liberty to initiate changes in the work processes in their domain for initiating improvement. These workers are given proper training in process improvement, kaizen, and teamwork.”

Kanishka Bedi in Production and Operations Management


“ If you’re a leader attempting to break down silos, encourage collaboration, and engage teamwork across your organization, take note. Moral disengagement always companies political, combative, and self-centered behavior. You’ll see this kind of routine morel disengagement in the form of narrow labels (“bean counters,” “gear head,” corporate,” “the field,” “them,” and “they”) used to dehumanize other individuals or groups. To reengage people morally-and to rehumanize targests that people readily and easily abuse – drop labels and substitute names. Confront self-serving and judgmental descriptions of other people and groups finally, demonstrate by example the need to individuals by name and with respect for their needs.”

Kerry Paterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler in Influencer

10 Minute Kabbalah

Kabbalah and Pop Culture
“Before we get into out discussion of what Kabbalah can do for us, I want discuss Kabbalah’s popularity today. As I was writing this, an article appeared in People magazine discussing Kabbalah’s popularity in Hollywood. Winona Ryder, an actress of Jewish ancestry, wore a red ribbon around her wrist during her shoplifting trial, since it is an old Jewish superstition that a red ribbon will keep away the evil eye. Demi Moore and Madonna also wear red ribbons.”

“Superstitions are not about Kabbalah, and Kabbala is not about superstitions or magic. In fact, Kabbalah isn’t magic. To consider it magic is to buy into long-standing prejudices against Jaws. Think about the Salem witch trails. The women accused of witchcraft were living in a repressive, highly religious community. Their heresy was not just against the community, but also against God, according to those who judged them.”

“For centuries, Jews have been accused of witchcraft. And , although this stereotype may no longer be prevalent, to imagine that Kabbalah writings or, worse, the Torah, will somehow allow you to cast a spell or find out the secret of living forever is a misuse of the power of Kabbalah.”

Shoshanna Cohen in 10 Minute Kabbalah

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Definitive Drucker

“Peter often state, “Every Knowledge organization is a learning and teaching institution. Knowledge can’t be taught, but it can be learned.”

“The best learning comes from a combination of experience, hands-on training, and mentoring, with explicit feedback loops. Development is still primarily experiential or “on the job,” involving a series of progressively more challenging assignments, a structured rotation through various departments, organizational units, and geographies, or even a series of apprenticeships. Ideally, these are positions of substantial responsibility integrated into the day-to-day operation of the business, not separate programs. Home Depot, for example, keeps the learning curve steep for high performers: The average age at which managers get their first P&L responsibility is 26. Unlike other retailers, the sore managers have the freedom to hire their own people, order their own products, and set prices-the kind of autonomy that sets them up for learning.”

“A flat, decentralized organization provides an unusually broad range of opportunities of assignment of this types. Special projects are often good development opportunities. They usually require problem solving, cross-functional integration, the ability to persuade and influence, and a certain level of judgment, and many afford exposure to senior executive. Arrow Electronics frequently uses projects to develop high-potential young manager.”

Elizabeth Hass Edersheim in The Definitive Drucker

Fantasies of A Bollywood Love Thief

“Sun-N-Sand is a Bollywood landmark. One of the first luxury hotels to cater to the film industry, it opened in the 1970s. Though there are many grander and more luxurious hotels in Mumbai now, Sun-N-Sand still attracts a filmi crowd. Below us is the swimming pool, a turquoise amoeba surrounded by tiles. Beyond this is a line of coconut palms and sand, then waves. Ajay and Vishal stand in the shade of a beach umbrella, discussing the location shooting in Lucknow and Allahabad.”

“Inside the suite, Ajit and Abhishek huddle over shooting schedules, pencilling in corrections, as if doing an elaborate crossword puzzle. Ajit rubs his eyes and yawns. When I ask how much sleep he’s getting, he shakes his head.”

“Right now I’m getting enough. The problem is I’ve started dreaming about the film,’ he says. ‘Then I wake up worrying about what we’ve forgotten. The other night, I realized we hadn’t organized fireworks for Omi’s wedding.”

“Debashree tells me that she is writing about the making of the film for a media research group in Delhi. She recently completed a degree in film studies at Jamai Millia Islamia university in Delhi and is undecided about whether she should pursue a career in film scholarship or filmmaking.”

“Throughout the afternoon people come and go. Tassduq drops by briefly. Robin arrives; handshakes all around. Rahul Nanda also shows up. He’s a marketing consultant-a thoughtful, bookish man who looks out of place in the gathering. Rahul explains that marketing budgets for Hindi films are absurdly low.”

“In Hollywood, they spend $15 million to promote a film. Here it’s no more than 30 lakhs.”

“Rahul has yet to hear the script all the way through and during the reading he is given a seat directly facing the circle of actors and treated with special attention-the marketing guru in whose hands the fate to the film lies.”

Stephen Alter in Fantasies of A Bollywood Love Thief

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

5 Kick-Ass Strategies

“A new minority is emerging. Labelled multiracials, these are members of more than one ethnic identity. Some 7 million Americans identify with two or more races, among them Tiger Woods, Hall Berry, Christina Aguilera Mariah Carey, Derek Jeter, and Vin Diesel.”
Though just 3 percent of the population, multiracials are a growing community of primarily young people (42 percent are under eighteen years old vs. 25 percent of the general population). These are the early adapters, the buying leader whom marketers covet. Young aggressive, savvy, and street smart, they follow no ethnic norms. Instead, they set their own.”

“They epitomize the Gen-Xers who grew up post-Civil Right. No cultural boundaries. No cultural boundaries. No preconceived notions of ethnic specificity.”

“Many marketers, in their never-ending effort to stay hip and trendy, court the multiracial (and the multiracial wannabes). In the field of fashion, many of today’s hottest models are of multiracial ancestry. Clothiers see an opportunity to appeal to all cultures by offering up models of ambiguous heritage.”

“Acculturation among ethnic groups has created a homogenous society best characterized by the multiracials. Marketers after elusive Gen-X-ers would do well to court this pacesetting group.”
Robert Grede in 5 Kick-Ass Strategies

India Of My Dreams

“People talk about information technology and we are very proud of the fact we have done exceptionally well with information technology. But information technology is a very generic technology for more important is biotechnology, because, biotechnology will resolve the issues relating to health, and it will attempt to resolve our issues relating to environment.”

“Why agriculture? Because it is only through biotechnology that you will get seeds which are resistant to both biotic and non-biotic stresses. I will give you a small example. We in the global community consume 160 billion tonnes of water more than we replenish on the planet annually. And if we were to convert these 160 billion tonnes of water, it is equivalent to a convoy of trucks that runs 17 times around the circumference of the earth. That is the amount of water that we consume annually more than we replenish across the globe. And if we were to look at the economics of it, to grow one tonne of any agricultural produce, it needs an enormous amount of water. Most of the water is used not for human consumption but for agriculture. Now you must have a solution to produce the same amount of agriculture produce by using much lower amount of water. And this can come only through better application of science and technology. Most of the soil in the Punjab region has already become saline. Therefore, the question is how do we grow crops even in saline soil? Again this can be achieved only through science and technology. We need to raise the levels of farm production by newer scientific and technological interventions, so that we can have more food grown with lesser intake of wager and fertilisers and thus serve the increasing needs of the growing populations across the world and that too at far lesser amount of damage to the environment. We need to discover new chemical entities so that we can deal with the new diseases we are beset with already and will be grappling with more in the times to come. And this can happen only through biotechnology.”

Surendra Kumar and Pradeep K. Kapur in India Of My Dreams

Travelling Through Conflict

“The historian Ira Lapidus has described the history of Islamic societies as ‘a dialogue between the realm of religious symbols and the world of everyday reality, a history experience of Muslim people that has shaped the formulation of a number of difficult but inter-related Muslim societies’ Elsewhere in his monumental work he described the impact was different’, it ‘upset the equilibrium of institutions’, threw up new power elites whose responses to the new situations and pressures varied from place to place. In this wide-ranging endeavour, the modernism of elites and the inteligential vied with the reformism of the ulema and thus produced ‘alternative concepts of reconstruction of their societies, each on variation upon past orientations towards ath relationship of state and religion.”

“The recent history of these societies, and particularly of Arab Muslim societies, thus becomes a critical elements in addressing the intellectual and the societal evolution of the thought process relating to the role and efficacy of the new states which took shape in these lands principally in the 20th century. In this context, the failure of the Arab state to deliver internally and to perform externally, propelled thinking away from Arab nationalism and towards ‘a reinterpretation of the Islamic tradition in a way that lends itself to a revolutionary meaning’, signalled the ascendancy of those who came to be known as the fundamentalists.”

Hamid Ansari in Travelling Through Conflict

Indian Army Vision 2020

“Ideally, border management should be the responsibility of the Ministry of Home Affairs during peace time. However, the active nature of the LoC and the need to maintain troops close to the LAC in a state of readiness for operations in high altitude areas have compelled the army to permanently deploy large force for this task. While the BSF should be responsible for all settled borders, the responsibility for unsettled and disputed borders, such as the Loc in J&K and the LAC on the Indo-Tibetan border, should be that of the army. The principle of ‘single-point control’ must be followed if the border are to be effectively managed. Divided responsibilities never result in effective control. Despite sharing the responsibility with never result in effective control. Despite sharing the responsibility with several paramilitary and police forces, the army’s commitment for border management amounts to six divisions along the LAC, the LoC and the AGPL (along the Saltoro Ridgeline west of Siachen Glacier) in J&K and five divisions along the LAC and the Myanmar border in the eastern sector.”

“This is a massive commitment that is costly in terms of manpower as well as funds, as the deployment areas are mostly in high altitude terrain, and needs to be reduced gradually.”

Gurmeet Kanwal in Indian Army Vision 2020

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Marriage, Migration And Gender

“The complex interplay of money, marriage and gender has significant impacts upon women’s status in society. It highlights the important issues of women’s power and autonomy, as well as the constructions of culture tradition and patriarchy. These connection come into sharp relief in the context of migration, being particularly evident in the custom of dowry that occupies a central place in many Indian marriages. Dowry is a crucial index of the status of women in many Indian society. Its expansion in many parts of India and the spate of cases of bride burning, suicide and harassment reveals its is characterised by an element of compulsion in that the bridegroom’s family exerts pressures, implicitly or explicitly, on the bride’s family to fulfil their demands and expectations. The development of an Indian diaspora in alien lands and in critically different socio-economic settings has not eliminated dowry from the marriage system. Media reports, government survey and academic studies (see for example, Bahchu 1985; Walton-Roberts 2001) indicate not only the prevalence of dowry but also its changing forms in the process of migration from India to the adopted country. This is witnessed in the Indian diasporic settlement in Canada too.”

Rajni Palriwal and Patricia Uberoi in Marriage, Migration And Gender

What’s Your Story?

“Good stories touch your imagination. Great stories steal you soul.”

“Good stories resonate with us and may even cause a tear to involuntary from in the corner of our eyes. Great stories cause that twist of gut or bowel. They make our blood boil and drive us blindly into battle. Great stories fire our rage or bring us peace. They can inspire people, companies, movements, and sometimes even nations.”

“Good stories inspire action. Great stories build industries. A case in point is the aerospace industry, whose origins can be traced to the first time a human looked toward a bird and considered its biological advantages or turned his or her vision to the stars, the moon, the sun, and the planets and wondered if it were possible to reach something that appeared almost close enough to touch.”

Ryan Mathews and Watts Wacker in What’s Your Story?

Who Stole My Energy?

“At times people fed into their emotions and the dramas of life. I have seen many people do this a few times and one I have found is very popular is when someone wants to lose weight.”

“They say want to lose weight but they create emotions like impatience and feed into it. They may constantly say they are huge or fat, or overweight, and they can’t do it as it is just too hard, and they are physically upset when they express themselves, feeding it into the emotions. Remember feeding into your emotions is resistance, avoidance to change. When a person feeds into their emotions over wanting to lose weight they set themselves up to overeat, binge, or what is best known as emotional eating.”

“Emotional eating is suppressing your feeling and of course your emotions; also you suppress anything you to not want to deal with. Allowing your emotions to do their job in the first place may allow you to stop feeding into the emotions and then you would not feel the need to suppress.”

“When you feed into an emotion you are actually avoiding change and success. If you are constantly feeding into your emotions and not allowing your emotions to do their job, you are holding up your own success. Realizing you are feeding into your emotions will get you one step closer to achieving success and your personal or professional goals in your life.”

Ariana Trinity in Who Stole My Energy?

Four Crises and a Peace Process

“Both India and Pakistan are slowly coming to an understanding that while nuclear weapons can deter the other side’s nuclear weapons, they cannot deter other forms of conventional or subconventional conflict, such as proxy wars, forces, or controlled wars of attrition. In other words, “instability in the nuclear realm encourages instability in the nuclear confrontation. However, in the event that a limited conventional confrontation subsequently spirals into a full-scale conventional conflict, escalation allows nuclear powers to engage in limited violence against each other.”

“In the South Asian crises, especially the last three, Pakistan and India were quite innovative in exploring the options that lie between conventional and nuclear conflict. They showed a willingness to test the methods by which they might escalate without triggering a nuclear response and sometimes heightened the crisis atmosphere by signalling via missile tests and large scale military exercises this has required a continuous process of exploration, since each rung of the escalation ladder heralds a new dynamic in which graduated offensive action needs to be countered by an appropriate defensive reactions, so as to ensure that escalation dominance is maintained at all times. But there have been problems with this. In brasstacks, India miscalculated Pakistan’s willingness to escalate, and in Kargil the boot was on the other foot.”

P.R. Chari, Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema, and Stephen P. Cohen in Four Crises and a Peace Process

Democracy in the family

“Empowerment does not necessarily take place when income are generated or when livelihoods are enhanced or for that mater when groups are formed social capital empowers people undoubtedly. However, the scope of that empowerments is limited. This is because within families and households, hierarchies and structures do not alter.
Hence, changes in public areas with respect to new formations of social capital or new avenues of income generation, especially when they are directed to and through women, even contribute towards accentuating tensions within households.”

“An individual women is placed within a domestic environment and has to negotiate her spaces within it. The domestic unit is placed within a larger macro environment and, as a collective, negotiates for space within the larger reality of the macro environment. Both the domestic and the macro environment comprise of the same four components, namely, physical, economic, socio-cultural and political. This macro physical environment is shaped by certain initial physical characteristics depending upon geographical location, soil, climate, landscape, and so on. The macro economic environments is shaped by economic opportunities offered by the economy, institutions, level of industrialisation, state of the rural economy, and so on. The macro socio-cultural environment depends upon the structures of caste, class, race, religion and the inter-group as well as intra –group relations within each category. This environment also depends upon culture, kinship patterns and gender norms. The macro political environment is determined by the level, type, quality and transparency of public office. It also depends on the kind of govern-ance that exists in the state. Citizenship and matters related to public life fall within the ambit of political environment. One finds that macro changes in the nature of stateenforced political and economic interventions alter micro level dynamics, thereby, changing the opportunity patterns of families and individuals. “

“The policies and interventions made by the state and non-state bodies act upon the macro environment, which in turn alters the domestic environment. This has a consequent effect in altering spaces for the individual.”

Joy Deshmukh – Ranadive in Democracy in the family

The First 90 Days

“Organizations can end up misaligned in many ways. Yours goal during your first 90 days should be to identify potential misalignments and then design a plan for correcting them. Common types of misalignment include the following:

Skills and strategy misalignment. Suppose you head an R&D group and your goal is to increase the number of new product ideas your team generates. However, your group does not understand the latest techniques and support tools that would let you run more experiments faster than before. In this case, your group’s skills do not support its strategy.

Systems and strategy misalignment. Imagine that you lead a marketing group has not established an effective way to compile and analyze information about those customers, your group’s systems fail to support its strategy.

Structure and system misalignment. Suppose you manage a product development group whose members are organized by product line. The rationale for this structure is that it focuses specialized technical expertise on specific products. But this structure has a downside: The group does not have efficient systems for integrating the overlapping expertise of different product teams. The resulting mismatch between structure and systems would make it difficult for the entire group to perform optimally.”

Michael D. Watkins in The First 90 Days

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Janitor

“Oh, boy! Roger laughed. “I am seriously curious now. What does Directive Five say?”

“Very simple, really,” Bob answered. “Directive Five says: Don’t spend; invest!”

Bob paused a moment to let Roger absorb the statement.
“Alice was careful spender, you see,” Bob continued.
“even when we were more than comfortable. But the directive doesn’t refer only to financial resources. It is much broader then that. Alice was a firm believer that we must evaluate all our activities in life as either an investment or an expense. Whenever she would see me stressed-out over things that were not that important, she would whisper, “Don’t spend; invest.”

“I don’t understand,” Roger remarked in a tone of voice encouraging Bob to continue.”

“It is really simple,” Bob explained, “so simple, in fact, that you are already don’t it-you just haven’t thought about it in those terms. You must pause and reflect on your activity and the brain time that you are putting into a task or decision. Then you play the tape forward a bit to see where all this work and tress is leading. Then you ask yourself whether the eventual outcome has any significance. You can take it a step further and ask yourself whether the outcome could have any eternal significance.”

Todd Hopkins and Ray Hilbert in The Janitor

Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning

“One of the fundamental impediments to learning transfer is the “out of sight, out of mind” problem. Employees are constantly reminded of their other obligations through required reports , balanced scorecards, financial information system, and conversations with their manager. In contrast, remainders about following through on learning transfer objectives are rare. For the great majority of programs, the participants never hear about learning after the end of class-until they receive a solicitation to sign up for the next course.”

“In the absence of reminder, commitment to follow through on learning lose “share of mind.” With many reminders of other commitment, but nothing to reinforce the importance of following through on learning transfer, the urgency of education objectives declines. Eventually they are forgotten completely.”

“Those responsible for marketing a company’s products invest heavily to ensure that the brand’s massage is memorable and encountered with sufficient frequency to stay “top of mind.” In their classic book on marketing, Positioning. The Battle for Your Mind, Ries and Trout (2001) emphasize that the same message must be repeated many times to get through the clutter of competing ideas. In the clutter of competing priorities that managers face, the message about the importance of transfer and application will be lost if communication stops as soon as the course is over.”

Calhoun Wick, Roy Pollock, Andrew Jefferson, and Richard Flanagan in Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning

Entrepreneurship in the Social Sector

“We offer the following observation as guidance for social entrepreneurs utilizing the Internet.

1. CONNEVTIVITY: The Internet transcends space and time and creates connection opportunities; this its transformative.
2. CONVENIENCE: It has the potential to radically reduce transaction barriers and costs, but this potential is realized only if the nonprofit makes its site highly user-friendly.
3. CAUSE: This is the motivational engine that attracts the donor; Web site technology can present the cause in captivation Technicolor form and beauty.
4. CONTENT: This have to have substance behind the sizzle, and that requires a dynamic ongoing knowledge and story production process.
5. CREDIBILITY: Trust is the nonprofit’s key intangible asset, but for online givers, this requires security, Privacy, and transparency built into the site’s system.
6. CONVERSION: This is the great power-converting the interested into the engaged, the e-mail newsletter reader into the donor, the donor into the advocate.
7. COMMUNITY: Durable conversion comes when the constituents feel they are a significant and engaged member of a group that has common purpose and shred values, and this requires a site that enables two-way dialogue and multiple opportunities for interaction and contribution.
8. COMMITMENT: To obtain committed donors via the Internet, the nonprofit must be committed to continually investing in its Internet presence.
9. COR CAPABILITIES: This means that the Web should be viewed not as an administrative tool but as a strategically central capacity and mind-set."

Jane Wei-Skillern, James E. Austin, Herman Leonard, and Howard Stevenson in Entrepreneurship in the Social Sector

The Extreme Future

“In the decade to come, medicine will be revolutionized. The convergence of Pharma, biotech, and nanotech industries will from the biggest global marketplace with one underlying theme: life extension for sale. Botex today will lead to gene-replacement therapy tomorrow. Face-lifts today, nano-engineering stem cells for babylike,, wrinkle-free skin tomorrow. Prosthetic titanium hips today, growing new organs tomorrow even memories will be for sale, superagility and enhanced intelligence thrown in for good measure.”

“The seeds of this trend are firmly in place today. Longevity scientists that I have met are unlocking the secrets of age embedded in out genes, and as organ-replacement and stem-cell research frontiers are being crossed, I forecast that the era of longer living, beyond one hundred years of age, will become common within ten year and be considered a birthright by 2025, due to Longevity Medicine. The individual’s right ot be enhanced –genetically, physically, cognitively-will become a complicated social issue in democratic societies. Success may be determined by enhancement features like beauty, intelligence, or skill.”

James Canton in The Extreme Future

The Fast Path to Corporate Growth

“Learning is a two-way street in the world of new market applications. An innovation team must ask itself some questions.”

-How do potential customers learn about new products or services? Do they respond general advertising, or do they require trusted sources of information?

-What must users learn to make a decision about trying a new product or service? In addition to the benefits claimed by the innovator, how important is price in the user’s overall trial decision?

-Once the decision to try a product or service is made, what else must the user learn to gain maximum value and appreciation from that trial?

-What proof will make the trial of a new product or service a lasting adoption?

“A system approach to the user and the end –to-end experience can reveal answers to these questions, and those answers should guide product development and marketing.”

Marc H. Meyer in The Fast Path to Corporate Growth

The Flight of the Creative Class

“Most international economists concur that the outsourcing of work has at most a minimal effect on the U.S.labor market. The vast majority of job reductions, they argue, are traceable not to outsourcing or globalization but are the consequence of labor-saving technology. Of course, the evolution of the world economy and increasing competitive pressure will inevitable lead to more jobs being moved offshore in the future. And that’s an understandably difficult fact to face for many of us who, maybe for the first time in our lives, feel pressure from abroad to shape up or get shipped out. This is way N.Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the Bush administration’s Council of Economic Advisors, was publicly skewered for his comment that the movement of these jobs overseas was “probably a plus for the economy in the long run,” even through is was largely accurate.”

Richard Florida in The Flight of the Creative Class

The Cult of the Amateur

“Throughout history, art and culture have helped to bridge generation, establish a rich heritage and generate wealth. Today, the primary value of Web 2.0 companies is in advertising dollars, not in establishing a rich cultural legacy. Take Google, for example, the economic paragon of a truly successful Web 2.0 media company. With a market cap of approximately $150 billion, the Silicon Valley company took in $139 billion in revenue and $1.465 billion in profits in 2005. What is telling is the fact that unlike companies such as Time Warner or Disney, which create and produce movies, music, magazines, and television, Google is a parasite; it creates no content of its own. Its sole accomplishment content to other pre-existing content on the Internet, and charging advertisers each time on of these links is clicked. In terms of value creation, there’s nothing there apart from its links.”

“The core of Google’s business, 99 percent of its revenue, lies in its sale of advertising. In fact, of the $16 billion spent on online advertising industrywide in 2006, $4 billion, a whopping 25 percent, is estimated to have gone to Google. Indeed, Larry Page and Sergei Brin, the multi-billionaire founders of Google, are the true Web 2.0 plutocrats-they have figured out how to magically transform other people’s free content into a multi-billion –dollar advertising machine.”

Andrew Keen in The Cult of the Amateur

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The New Age of Innovation

"As digitisation permeates every aspect of business, every business is, in effect, an e-business. Every business process is enabled by the underlying ICT architecture. It is meaningless to expect capacities for flexibility and efficiency in business processes when they rest on an aging legacy system designed with rigid technology platforms..."

"Hence, senior managers need to pay attention to the quality and capabilities of the ICT architecture. While the hardware and connectivity part of this architecture can be delegated to the IT departments and vendors, CEOs and line managers cannot delegate strategic decisions on the business applications, analytic capabilities, and data warehousing. It is the business applications and the analytics engine that form the backbone of the business process architecture."

C.K. Prahalad and M.S. Krishnan in 'The New Age of Innovation' (

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Breakthrough Company

“Most of us understand the idea of hedging a bet: a move to minimize or protect against a loss by counterbalancing one transaction against another. We found numerous examples where breakthrough companies effectively hedged their bets, like Intuit was able to do by acquiring a license to TaxCut’s engineering code. But when faced with a potential big bet, too many companies confuse this proactive process of hedging with another common definition of hedging, which is to “act in a noncommittal or ambiguous manner.” This kind o hedging can have deadly results. Our study of breakthrough companies suggests that before making a bet, organizations are rife with controversy as members debate the merits of making the bet or not. The difference, however, is that once the bet is decided upon, the organization brings the full force of its commitment to bear. While these companies may place additional bets to make sure they “win, even id they lose,” they don’t “hedge” through indecision; they pursue victory with all their might.”

Keith R. McFarland in The Breakthrough Company

Strengths Finder

“What happens when you’re not in the “strengths zone”. You’re quite simply a very different person. In the workplace, you are six time less likely to be engaged in your job. When you’re not able to use your strengths at work, chances are that you:

dread going to work
have more negative than positive interactions with your colleagues
treat you customers poorly
tell your friends what a miserable company you work for
achieve less on a daily basis
have fewer positive and creative moments
“Beyond the world of work, there are even more serous implications for your health and relationships if you’re not in the strengths zone. And Gallup’s research has shown how a strengths-based approach improves your confidence, direction, hope, and kindness toward others.”
“So way isn’t everyone living life with a strengths approach? One big problem is that most people are either unaware of, or unable to describe, their own strengths… or the strengths of the people around them.”
Tom Rath in Strengths Finder

A Whole New Mind

“Symphonic thinking is a signature ability of composers and conductors whose jobs involve corralling a diverse group o notes, instruments, and performers and producing a unified and pleasing sound. Entrepreneurs and inventors have long relied on this ability. But today Symphony is becoming an essential aptitude for a much wider swath of the population. Te reasons to back to the three forces propelling us out of the Information Age. Automation has taken over many of the routine analytic tasks that knowledge workers once performed. Many of those tasks are also heading to Asia, where they can be done equally well for much less. That is freeing (and in some cases forcing) professionals to do what computers and low-wage foreign technicians have a more difficult time replicating: recognizing patterns, crossing boundaries to uncover hidden connection, and making bold leaps of imagination. Meantime, a world teeming with information, individual choices, and just plain stuff is putting a premium on this aptitude in our personal lives as well. Modern life’s glut pa options and stimuli can be so overwhelming that those with the ability to see the big picture-to sort out what really mattes – have decided advantage in their pursuit of personal well-being.”

“On of the best ways to understand and develop the aptitude of Symphony is to learn how to draw-a skill that, as that self-portrait demonstrates, wasn’t exactly my forte.”

Daniel H. Pink in A Whole New Mind

Reverse Psychology Marketing

“The younger people of today are much more product-oriented and far less susceptible to marketing gimmicks and extravagant ad claims than the previous generations. In fact, they could be called the prototypical “show me” generation. The idea of reverse psychology words well on them since they are intrigued, even enthralled, by any “ unexpected” tactics from firms whom they generally take to be self-serving and profit-oriented. The two European apparel chains, the Spanish Zara and the Swedish H&M, are playing this game with considerable panache. Their stylish, fashion-forward clothes at prices that do not seem to match lead to that initial, quizzical interest among young women-the desire to come, see, and judge for themselves if the deal is worthwhile – and, finally, that internally resounding “wow” one the matter is settled beyond doubt. Not surprisingly, these stores have substantial pulling power over their customers, and their rivals have, accordingly, copied the strategy wholesale.”

“The moral for all companies is that they have to work on their product and brand superiority, price them reasonably, focus less on glitzy campaigns, and attempt to pull customers instead. They key, above all, lies in building a viable customer network by recruiting or giving incentives to certain influential members (whom we call “hubs”), who will bring their followers in their wake.”

Indrajit Sinha and Thomas Foscht in Reverse Psychology Marketing

Hug Your People

“In the end, you really only do what you want to do. When you’re forced to do something, you may do nothing more than go through the motions, and in the long run that’s counter to our culture. What’s consistent with our culture is to explain the value of why we believe satisfaction calls are important, and whey it’s crucial to double-check everything in the tailor shop, and why it’s important and fun to come to a company picnic. Rather than force people, we are more than willing to discuss why a particular individual might do a particular task or participate in a particular event, and many times there is a good reason that is acceptable to everyone.”

“I hear that in other cultures people are sometimes forced to attend meetings or seminars or social functions, events where they have to sip cocktails and schmooze with people they don’t know because “it helps drive the business numbers.” Which means, of course, that many time money outweighs their personal lives or feelings.”

“The classic example is when you are forced to go to a meeting, finish a project, or travel, halfway around the world to Bahrain while your spouse, child, or grandchild is celebrating a birthday or graduating or has a big field hockey game-and you had to miss it .You know it happens a lot!.”

“Not only do you not enjoy your assignment, or enjoy the event or project that takes you away, but also you often don’t agree with the purpose of it because you were not part of the decision-making process. Your participation and sense of engagement were taken for granted. You were never told how valuable you are and why it was you and not anyone else chosen for this important job. And so your mind-and heart-are somewhere else.”

Jack Mitchell in Hug Your People


“Credibility is, to coin a phrase, a terrible thing to waste. Yet businesses and brands may be doing just that if they assume that buyers will believe anything simply because it is repeated again and again.”

“A study by Yankelovich Partners, called “The State of Consumer Trust,” found that as many as two –thirds of Americans believe that businesses would take advantage of the public if they had the opportunity, and if they did not believe they would be discovered. As many as one-fourth of Americans believe that there is literally nothing that business can do to recapture their trust one it is lost.”

“Credibility in marketing usually involves current and potential customers recognizing a brand’s expertise and trusting that brand to deliver whatever it promises. That is one of many reasons why companies must wing the race they may not even know they are in, a race to gain the lead share of credibility which, like the lead share of market, can create important competitive advantages.”

"Credibility is the “yin” to the “yang” of relevance. If a brand is credible but not relevant, the prospect has no interest. If the brand is relevant but not credible the prospect cannot trust the claims and thus is not likely to be interested, either.”

Lynn Upshaw in Truth

From Principles To Profit

“In terms of business relationships, one of the most pressing issues is the relationship between management and employees. At on extreme are those situations where employees are exploited. This does not only refer to sweatshops in developing countries but also to those organizations where financial performance is the ruling dictate. In a ruthless search for efficiency, relationships are often pushed aside or ignored. Another level according to Charles Handy, a well known business consultant, is when companies treat their employees as mercenaries. They are employed for a particular task and then turned out when the task is completed. The current trend towards outsourcing in encouraging this type of attitude as the company becomes once-removed from a direct relationship with the employee.”

“A third view, one supported by Handy, is that the employees are citizens of a company, people who feel proud to march under the company’s banner, who speak of ‘our company’ and see management as part of ‘us’ rather than ‘them’. (Handy, 1997).
What is often overlooked in the rush for efficiency and short-term gain is the energy and power that manifests when a person is committed and loyal. When employees identify their future with that of the company, when the relationship is close, the quality of the work is bound to be finer.”

Paul Palmarozza and Chris Rees in From Principles To Profit

The J Curve

“Saudi Arabia is unusual among countries in the region-and among developing countries generally – in that it was never colonized. Prior to the discovery of oil in the 1930s, the peninsula was considered a desolate area of little interest for those who might have sought to control it. There were nineteenth – century military garrisons of Ottoman Empire there, but no single authority dominated the area until the Saud family unified most of it in the early twentieth century.”

“Because Saudi Arabia was never the colonial possession of foreign power, there are none of the usual pattern of development for a country under foreign domination: a colonial bureaucracy, a sophisticated system of education, or an educated class trained to staff the institutions of colonial rule. Nor was there an anticolonial nationalist movement organized around the principle of evicting an imperial overlord. Before the turn of the twentieth century, the peninsula was peopled by hundreds of tribes and clan with no loyalties beyond their small groups. Violent rivalries within and among tribes were the order of the day, and there was no central authority to arbitrate them.”

“But the partnership that would eventually unify the peninsula was formed long before the dawn of the twentieth century. The alliance in 1744 of Muhammad bin Saud, a local chieftain from the peninsula’s interior, and Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab, an Islamic preacher, created a durable partnership that elevated each toward the dominant positions their descendants hold today. The two men laid the foundation for an Islamic kingdom inspired by an earlier golden age of Muslim greatness. The alliance provided an organizing principle for some of the peninsula’s still endemic tribal conflict: some tribes and clans became part of the ikhwan, or brotherhood, and followed Abd al-Wahhab; others united against this movement. What had been chaotic conflicts of all against all became battles between the ikhwan and those who resisted its influence.”

Ian Bremmer in The J Curve

Friday, March 21, 2008

The education of an accidental CEO

“I have often thought that career-wise the best thing that ever happened to me was coming up on the marketing side of the business. I’ve always believed that the marketing principles that apply to consumers also apply to people within an organization and even to individuals themselves, whether they’re interviewing for a new job, selling their house, or getting their kid into the right college.”

“One of these principles, as already noted, is ‘breaking through the clutter.” And one of the more effective ways to break through the clutter is what I call “shocking the system,” taking whatever the conventional wisdom or prevailing attitudes are and turning them on their ear.”

“Giving bonuses and raises outside the usual cycle is one example of what I do to shock the system. In fact, I’m always looking for these sorts of opportunities. That’s way I handwrite so many of my memos and directives. You don’t expect ot get handwrittennotes form a CEO or a president (and you certainly don’t expect them to be signed with a smiley face, as mine are).”

“Today at Yum! Even our annual reports, which we call our “Cuztomer Mania Reports,” are designed to stand out from the crowd, with pullout gatefolds and lots of colourful pictures of happy people. They are also very readable. The best adivice I ever got about this was from Warren Buffett, whose Berkahire Hathaway reports are so legendary they’ve become collector’s items. Warren Buffett said to me, “I talk to our owners and potential owners like I would to my sister Bertie. Bertie is very intelligent, but she does’t know our business, so I start out with a silent ‘Dear Bertie,’ then I write in plain English what I think she would want to know: Here’s where we want to be; here’s how you can measure us; and here’s how it’s going to work for you, I sent one of my reports to Warren for his feedback, and he wrote me back, “Berie would be proud.”

David Novak with John Boswell in The education of an accidental CEO

Doing What Matters

“A company must function like the finely tuned engine of a racecar. It must not only have all of the right components-injectors, valves, pistons. And the like –but each element also must be properly connected with all the others, and the timing and movement of all components must be absolutely in sync. Even the slightest miss in timing will result in poor performance.”

“Racecar crews are obsessive about gitting the just right connections, interactions, and timing of all the engine parts. In business, little time and less-than-adequate attention are focused on aligning all the elements of the business organization. All too often, the attention goes to the glamorous parts of running a business: hiring marquee-name executives to full high-level positions; acquiring trey businesses and brands; making headlines with promises of great things to come.”

“The efforts seem to flag when it comes to the disciplined work of establishing a process that provides an understanding, direction, and detailed timeline and action plan for getting the most out of all assets and all people in the organization.”

James M. Kilts in Doing What Matters

The Versatile Leader

“The vast majority of leader would recognize, at an intellectual level, that forceful and enabling leadership both have value. Yet in practice they entd to be lopsided.”

“This is one of the fundamental oppositions that leaders need to reconcile. In the simplest terms, forceful leadership is taking the lead and enabling leadership is creating conditions for other people to take the lead. It is getting things done by directing the action of other people versus creating conditions for other people to direct the action. It’s being a force to be reckoned with and at the same time allowing-better yet, actively arranging for-other people to be forces in their own right. This distinction by one name or another has permeated the academic literature on leadership for decades.”

“Forceful leadership is a virtue, and enabling leadership is a virtue. The versatile leader puts either approach foremost as the situation requires and rarely ignores one for the other for long. The versatile leader’s organization thrives thanks to the leader’s attention to both dimensions.”

Bob Kaplan with Rob Kaiser in The Versatile Leader

Leaders Who Transform Society

“We don’t need to go to outstanding and booming industries to see transfrometional leadership in action. Such leadership also appears in more mundane eontexts, for examp;e in the field of education. Take the story fo Jaime Escalante, a Hispanic math teacher who worked in a Los Angeles suburb. Escalante taught at an under-achieving school with students who came from families living in slums ridden with drugs and violence, and saw themselves as lacking any chance of reaching higher education (and therefore lacked maotivation). He led these student to meaningful achievenments, to outstanding success in examinations in which only 2% of the students in the United States succeed in examninaitons that are a condition for admission to prestigious colleges like Prenceton, Harvard, and Yale. The success was os spectacular that the authorities suspected cheating, and the students were forced to take the exams again under the supervision of the federal authorities. The second time around, their results were even better.”

Micha Poppers in Leaders Who Transform Society

Becoming a Coaching Leader

“In his book The On-Purpose Person, author Kevin McCarthy describes the difference between efficiency and effectiveness: “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”

“In essence, that’s what priority Management is all about. It’s about doing the right things at the right time. It’s about moving from reactive to proactive, from unfocused to focused, from unclear to clarity, from living out someone else’s priorities to living out your own, and from being driven by circumstances to being directed by purpose.”

“ Priority Management has everything to do with your convictions and passions. What’s most important to you in your personal life and in your business? How can you be intentional about making those things happen?”

“ Everybody wants to live a life that counts, both at work and personally. I so and so do you. But to do that, you need to stay in the driver’s seat of your business and of your life. You simply can’t spent most of your time letting others drive you wherever they think you ought to be going.”

“By managing your priorities, you can begin to create a very intentional and purpose-filled week for yourself. Doing this can move you from the backseat of your day to the driver’s seat. It can help you to say, “I am not going to be kicked around by my circumstances anymore. I refuse to be driven by whatever comes across my desk or whatever the phone brings. I want to make sure I’am doing what I really want to do.”

“When you begin to live your life in an intentional and on-purpose way, you stat to benefit many others tremendously. You also begin to experience some thing you may not have felt in a long, long time: a genuine sense of control and freedom – as will those you coach through this process.”

Daniel Harkavy in Becoming a Coaching Leader

How to Make One Hell of A Profit And Still Get To Heaven

“I once addressed 1,000 employees and asked, “How many of you would love to know more about where you stand in the eyes of your supervisor or employer?” All the hands went up.”

“One of your employees’ greatest frustrations may be not knowing where they stand. People become more focused and negative feedback. When you both knew what their strengths and weaknesses are, you can discuss how to apply or capitalize upon them.”

“The following employee evaluation is a gem. It lets employees know exactly where they stand and assures increased productivity.”

“Write down a list of all the character traits you expect from your employees, and make them known. Then every quarter, you (or whoever manages the employee) can sit down with each employee and go through the list. Both you and the employee give your evaluation of the employee’s performance, with the employee going first. Use the numerical rating system 1= poor, 2 = fair, 3 = good, 4 = superior.”

“With 38 traits on my list, this was the scoring system (out of a possible 152):

Below74 Unsatisfactory; dismissal
74 to 85 Probation; merit raise zero percent
86 to 101 Below average; merit raise 2 percent
102 to 117 Above average; merit raise 8 percent
118 to 136 Above average; merit raise 8 percent
Above 136 Outstanding; merit raise 10 percent

“Do this evaluation every quarter and your employees will be more motivated and self-managing. When raises come up, you’ll both know whether or not they deserve non, and why.”

Dr. John F. Demartini in How to Make One Hell of A Profit And Still Get To Heaven

The Millionaire Zone

“Here’s something that is not a secret: Doing what you love to do makes work not seem like work. Focusing on what you’re passionate about (or following your bliss, as Joseph Campbell famously called it) is essential to getting motivated to take stops toward your financial success. Each one of the people profiled in this book truly gushes with enthusiasm over what he or she does. You can’t start a business without that drive, nor can you propel your career forward without a lot of energy.”

“Lot’s not kid ourselves: Getting a venture off the gourd takes enormous time and energy. So does constantly pushing your career to the next level within corporate America. In my survey of high net-worth individuals, 82% said it took them more than five years to attain their financial success. You’re going to need to love what you’re doing to keep yourself going for the long haul, even when your biggest account calls to complain, or an employee asks for a raise, or scores of other issues arise, as they will with any venture or new project.”

“ Of course, the whole point of this book is you’re not doing it alone. When times get hard, you have your LifeNet for support. The success stories of the millionaires profiled in this book show how they all relied on others at various points in the game. You’ll also see that they all have a passion for what they do.”

Jennifer Openshaw in The Millionaire Zone

Bad Samaritans

“Countries like Finland, Norway, Italy and Austria – which were all relatively backward at the end of the Second World War and saw the need for rapid industrial development – also used strategies similar to those used by France and Japan to promote their industries. All of them had relatively high tariffs until the 1960s. they all actively used SOEs to upgrade their industries. This was particularly successful in Finland and Norway. In Finland, Norway and Austria, the government was very much involved in directing the flow of bank credit to strategic industries. Finland heavily controlled foreign investment. In many parts of Italy, local government provided support for marketing and R&D to small and medium-sized firms in the locality.”

“Thus practically all of today’s rich countries used nationalistic policies (e.g., tariffs, subsides, restrictions on foreign trade) to promote their infant industries, though the exact mix of policies used, as well as their timing and duration, differed across countries. There were some exceptions: notably the Netherlands (which has the best free-trade credentials since the 19th century) and Switzerland (until the First World War) consistently practised free trade. But even they do not conform to today’s neo-liberal ideal, as they did not protect patents until the early 20th century. The Netherland introduced a patent law in 1817, but abolished it in 1869 and did not re-introduce it until 1912. the Swiss introduced their first patent law in 1888, but it protected only mechanical inventions. It introduced a full patent law only in 1907.”

Ha-Joon Chang in Bad Samaritans

The Undisclosed Punjab

“Founding of the Khalsa :1699
A believer on the right of sword, Guru Gobind convened an assembly on Baisakhi Day at Anandpur Sahip in 1699. It was attended by 80,000 people. When all were seated, the Guru stood up and with a drawn sword, asked, “Is there anyone who would lay down his life for Dharma?” There was no response and the Guru Repeated this question three times. At the third call, Daya Ram, a Khatri from Lahore, offered himself for the sacrifice. The Guru took him to an adjoining tent where he had kept five goats. Daya Ram was left there but a goats head was cut by the Guru with his sword and then he displayed the dripping sword to the assembly. He then called for more volunteers. In this manner five persons in all were taken from that assembly. They had all volunteered themselves to die at the Guru’s bidding. They are known in Sikh history as “Panj Piaras”. They were: Daya Ram, Dharam Chand, Mohkam Chand, Sahip Chand and Hiimat Rai. Then, in the presence of this huge gathering, the Guru initiated them in a novel way. Guru Gobing Singh changed the initiation ceremony and introduced “Kahnda Ka Pahul” or Baptism of the Sword”.

“As iron vessel filled with water and sugar cakes (Patashas) was placed before the Guru. This was stirred by a double-edged dagger by one of those five. The sacred hymnas of the Gurus and Adi Granth, Japji, Anand, Chaupai and Sawayya were recited. The water thus prepared was named Amrit or Sacred Water of Immortality. It was sprinkled on their faces and they were also given five palmfuls of it to drink. This came to be known as ‘Baptism of the Sword”. The selected five of Guru Gopind Singh were termed the Khalsa or the purified ones and they had to assume the new names of Singhs. Thus Mokham Chand came to be called Mohkam Singh and so on. They were then asked to wear five K’s, viz: (i) Kes (long hair), (ii) Kachh, i.e. a pair of knicker-bockers, (iii) Kara or an iron bagle, (iv) Kirpan or a sword, and (v) Kangha or comp. Then the Guru Exhorted how his Khalsa were to live in this world. They were all equal and could marry among one another without any caste consideration Relationship with smokers was banned. Idolatry was banned. Thus arose a powerful fraternity of soldier saints. Chunningham says that Guru Gobind Singh through baptism of the sword “roused the dormant energies of a vanquished people”.

Birbal Nath in The Undisclosed Punjab

Five Love Languages of Teenagers

Silence and Power
“When the parent is extremely controlling of the teenager’s life, making all decisions for him, the teenager feels powerless. The teen is unable to develop independence and self-identity, and he believes silence is the only way to gain the upper hand with his parents. With silence, the teenager is in control, at least for the moment. He has something the parent wants and he refuses to give it.”

“When the parent panics and woefully moans to the other parent or other concerned adults that the teenager will not talk or when the parent verbally explodes and says loudly, “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s wrong,” the teenager is winning the battle. That is precisely what the teen wants: to be out of your control. At the moment, silence is one way he can establish this independence.”

“Thus parents of silent teenagers need to ask the hard questions: Am I being overly controlling of my teen? Am I giving her enough freedom to think and make some decisions for herself? Am I allowing her to be a teenager or am I treating her as a child? For the overly controlling parent, the best approach is to communicate the following massage: “I know that sometimes I get too involved in your life. I know that you are a teenager now and may not want to share all of your thoughts and feelings with me, and that’s ass right. But when you do want to talk, I want you to know that I am available. I am willing to listen when you want to talk.” Then give the teen an expression of love, using the teenager’s primary love language. Such a statement, accompanied by an expression of love, creates an atmosphere where the teen feels a sense of recognition. If the parent will maintain this position, I can almost guarantee you the teenager will begin to open up when he or she is angry with the parent.”

Gary Chapman in The Five Love Languages of Teenagers

The Five Love Languages of Children

“If you are raring teenagers, you know this job is like none other in the world. Because of the changes they are experiencing, your teens, giving and receiving of love may also change with their moods. Most teens go through periods that can best be described as “grunt stages,” because all you can get out of them is a couple of muffled words that sound like grunts.
Mom: “Hi, Honey how are you doing?”
Time: “Ok.” (Barely audible)
Mom: “What have you been up to this morning?”
Tim: “Nuthin.” (Barely Audible)

“A teenager in this difficult stage may not be able to receive any love language except physical touch, and only then if you are quick about it. Of course, these teens do come up for air now and then, and during their more coherent times you will want them all the love you can, especially in their own primary language,”

“Teenagers at time make it difficult for you to fill their emotional love tank. They are testing you, to see if you really love them . They may do this by acting sullen for no obvious reason, making something more difficult for you than it should be, or simply by being passive aggressive in their behaviour may be their subconscious way of asking, “Do you rally love me?”

“These behaviours are always a test for parents. If you can remain calm, cool, and pleasant (firm but pleasant), you pass the test and your teens will eventually mature beyond that difficult stage.”

Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell in The Five Love Languages of Children

Thursday, March 20, 2008

India Budget 2008 – Highlights

“Section 115JB of the IT Act provides for levy of MAT on the basis of book profits of a company. For this purpose, the expression “book profit” means net profit as shown in the profit and loss account prepared in accordance with the provisions of Part II and III of Schedule VI to the Companies Act, 1956 as increased or reduced by certain adjustments, as specified in that section. It provides for increasing the book profits by income-tax paid or payable and the provisions therefor; if debited to profit and loss account.”

“Section 115JB has not specifically provided for add back of some such “below the line” items like deferred tax, dividend distribution tax, etc., as they were thought to be included in the term “income-tax”. However, there has been some ambiguity regarding add back of these items, if debited to profit and loss account. The hon’
ble Kolkata ITAT in a recent decision in the case of Assistant Commissioner of Income tax payable and as such, the same cannot be added back to arrive at the “book profit”. Further, the Hon’ble Panaji ITAT in the case of Salgaocar Mining Ind. (P.) Ltd. v.Jt.CIT [2006] (102 ITD 289), has held that interest on income-tax cannot be added back to arrive at the “book profit”.

“With a view to clarifying the intention, it is proposed to provide that the book profit shall be increased by the amount of deferred tax and the provision therefore, if debited to profit and loss account.”

Astute Consulting in India Budget 2008 – Highlights

Television Criticism

Aristotle’s Narrative Theory
“Narrative theory can be treatise back to ancient Greece. Aristotle’s Poetics, written in 330 BCE, is a treatise on the making of a dramatic work of art. Aristotle explained that drama is defined by its shape, composition, manner of construction, and purpose. While character, thought, dialogue, song, and spectacle were considered important, Aristotle said that plot is the most important part of the narrative. He said that plot is the unified arrangement of the incidents, which must have a beginning, middle, and end. Television programming appears to most strongly follow aristotle’s advise with tightly structured scripts that usually have to be 22 to 44 minutes long. Aristotle also said that unnecessary people and incidents should be omitted from a story’s plot. Aristotle’s guidelines are familiar to viewers of television in the 21st century. Television scripts must present the conflict in the first few minutes to the first act along with the hero, antagonist, and other essential characters who are related to the problem. The successive act(s) present complications and other incidents, and the final act presents a solution to the problem. We expect the familiar structure of the final act presents a solution to the problem. We expect the familiar structure of the beginning, middle, and end; we expect unity of plot; we anticipate seeing only the essential characters with whom we are familiar; and we enjoy stories not only for the pleasure they give, but also for the order they offer.”

Victoria O’Donnell in Television Criticism

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Power of Adversity

"When I first tried to meditate I fell into the trap of trying to do it in the classic, Eastern way: sitting cross-legged, endlessly repeating a mantra... the whole Yogi/Swami/Zen master nine yards. What I didn't realise at the time was that the secret to meditation is merely letting your mind go - not attempting to wrestle it into awkward contortions. My formal and mechanical meditation attempts were exactly in the wrong direction for me, which I discovered when I talked with Jon Kabat-Zinn seeking his help in solving my apparent inability to meditate. When Jon learned that I swam almost daily, he asked what I thought about during my laps in the pool. I told him I concentrated on my form and breathing. He said, 'Al, you've been meditating for years, and you haven't recognised it. When you're in the pool you free your mind. That's all meditation is!' Approach meditation like physical exercise, or even combine the two, like I do. The important thing is to meditate daily to rejuvenate and rebuild yourself, and to come to realise firsthand that adversity is just another name for the series of choices called life."

Al Weatherhead in 'The Power of Adversity' (

Wealth, War, and Wisdom

"The Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression of the 1930s affected almost everyone, but if you kept your nerve, hung onto a diversified portfolio or an index fund, and if you had not been a speculator, you at least preserved some wealth. However, you had to have staying power and patience. Ambrose Bierce in 'The Devil's Dictionary' describes patience as 'a minor form of despair disguised as a virtue,' and certainly the despair at the wealth losses in the long depths of the Depression must have been almost overpowering."

Barton Biggs in 'Wealth, War, and Wisdom' (