Frenzy or the Bench?

Work style and ethics have been changing over a period. Life was much more straightforward in historical times, until as late as before the industrial revolution. The revolution has started new products, new facilities, new systems, and modern ethics. Round the clock availability of electricity has changed everything upside down. In olden days, one was required to go home before it became too dark. Dependence on sunlight decided many things including lighting and heating needed in winter. We take for granted many things that support the workplace to run round the clock. Hence, we have started thinking that work must be done 365/24/7 by individuals.  Looks like time has come to take a relook at how we handle these changes.

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From olden times there have been people who were very efficient and extremely sharp. There have been others like you and me. The super smart or go getter-gang can do things maybe 50% better or faster than others. They rise up in the hierarchy quickly. The people reporting to them are fascinated and tend to hold back. The downside of this is that “others” don’t grow because they never get the opportunity to develop; the boss has already done their work. There is a line of people for getting instructions from the boss. The boss never waits for others, the task is rarely delegated.  

A typical example is that of a Banyan Tree. When Indira Gandhi died, it was said that no other leaders developed under her. All were followers, they became good party workers. Indira Gandhi helped many people to survive, somewhat like the Banyan Tree provides shade to many. The earth beneath the tree does not allow anything else to grow. 

There are other fruit and flower trees like Banana Trees, Apple Tress, and some Berries, which start giving fruits and flowers in six months to one year. These trees have a minimal cycle of production, but they also help many birds and others like butterflies. This quick recycling creates a clump of such trees around. Unlike the Banyan tree, other trees are allowed to grow in their vicinity. 

The Banyan tree type of leaders create many followers or support people, but no leader is allowed to grow, there is no successor. This is because they do not enable the generation of leaders. But when the time to replace Banyan tree comes, there are no candidates.  

I have known of an organisation chief who observed a Banyan Tree type leader in her organisation. The leader was giving tremendous results, and his area showed promising results. But the boss realised that under him, no new leaders were coming up. Another aspect she observed was that the leader would always go home late, sometimes as late as 9 pm. He would drag all the group to work in this fashion. A couple of smart people resigned and went elsewhere. In exit interviews, they wrote that they could not handle the daily routine of 9 am to 9 pm work. People started depending too much on the leader and work would suffer in his absence. The leader forgot the principle that the efficiency of your department is really seen when you are absent. The owner felt that such a status was not good for the organisation as well to the individual.  

She called the leader for a one on one meeting and discussed everything threadbare. The leader was a nice man and agreed that the things on the home front were not so good for him; he had two kids. He was rarely present for any programs, celebrations or sometimes on weekly offs too! The boss explained to him the issues surrounding the methods of the leaders work. The boss told him about the possibility of burnout. Then a plan was chalked out. It took almost six months, but it worked out in the end. 

The master plan started with a delegation of work, but that was obvious and essential. Slowly the leader started reducing the time spent in the office. Well, he started going home on time, began delegating work. In the initial phase, he would check if his colleagues managed things well. One more thing the leader started was letting things go. He realised that some meetings were not very important; so he started excusing himself from such a meeting for 15 minutes, to attend another quick meeting. While doing this, a colleague would cover him in the original meeting.   With this tactic, he became available to more people;  colleagues also started going home on time.

One more important thing he started, was finding out from his colleagues about the area where they wanted his help. One of the colleagues told him that she wished for his suggestions on new projects. For running and routine projects, he started getting updates on email. Additional time was now available to him.  

The top boss also realised after his discussion with the leader that, the leaders never complain of overload. They just keep on accepting the load and doing it. But many times they just go away without any hint. Overload does affect lives is a fact of life. It is for the senior management to track the fast-rising stars and nurture them carefully so that they don’t burn out.  

Infosys had a great leader in Narayanmurthy, who had formally written to all employees against working more than regular stipulated hours. If you get a customer call late, the organisation should decide the cut-off point, beyond that time, the call should be handled on the next working day. Of course, there can be an exception. Exception handling should be a transparent and fast process.  

There is a downside to the frenzy. Service and Support organisations in the IT field started a new system. When taking up projects, they commit, say, 100 people. The contracts are made such that an additional 20% of people are held in reserve. These (20%) poor souls have no work. When projects are completed, sometimes it takes months for people to get the next project. Obviously, there is no work. There is a pay cut. But the employee must complete their xx hours every day in the office doing nothing! This is the other extreme of the frenzy I was talking about. Some people start getting used to the “Bench.” The most important aspect is that these are humans, individuals first and the company employees later! These matters need to be handled with sensitivity; I am aware that there are commercial matters involved. But for all companies human assets are vital.  

I read a case study of a lady, who was really a go-getter; she was smart and a bit abrasive. She was extremely efficient, so she started going up the ladder fast. She did everything very fast and every day at 4.30 pm would call a meeting of her team. She was ready with the “To Do” list for all. At the end of the session, she would update the lists, if required. She expected others to complete their work. But she would leave the office every day at 5 pm because she had finished her work. Senior management found it difficult to handle her. She now runs her own business.   

Superstars need to remember that they should not try and take over every project, learn to say no, extend work hours as not all can handle these hours, force ideas on others. At least once in a while, use someone else’s opinion though it may be second best.  

Superstars also should prioritise demand on their time, avoid overwork and burnout, and most important remember that there is a  team; you are not the only one!

A different view of looking at go-getters!

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Jingoism or Pragmatism!

Years back when Japan started exporting good cars to the USA in a big way in the ’80 s of the last century, there was a lot of noise created in the US! The US decided that this needs to be handled at the highest level. During a visit of a President of the US, they had informed the Japanese government that the President would push Japanese to open their market for American cars. Japanese agreed immediately. During the meeting it was it was declared officially. When the detailing was being worked out, Americans found that American car makers, engineering-wise, were unprepared, to make right-hand drive cars needed in Japan. They lost ¾ years in this! Rest as they say is history.

In the last few years, the winds against the so-called free trade have started blowing in the USA! Even in Britain, Brexit has happened, and Britain is hoping to walk out of the European Union. Brexit is a classic case of a referendum. The young people who did not want Brexit were too busy to take part in the poll. The seniors did. Currently, the British people have a significant advantage of visa-less travel to Europe. The young brigade could jump to holiday locations, for a job or weekend excursions to the places of their choice. British business had a big, trade barrier-free market available to them. Current British Government is trying its best to find a face-saving formula or do what the majority population wants. (even though referendum said otherwise) Another option may be a second referendum.

Every nation, every society needs to look after self-interest and self-respect. As the country grows, its business grows. The business growth will make the nation and its people proud. Value-added growth could happen when modern products and services are developed in the nation internally. The business needs support from the government, for such a growth. The Indian government is attempting to follow this method. When they sign a contract for import of high technology defence items like radar, planes etc. they try to ensure that the deal is in two parts. Initially, India imports some quantities fully assembled; later at least 30% of production is done in India along with some local partners. Make in India is the name of this project. The results of such initiatives will be seen 20 or 30 years hence.

Why do nations change their thought processes? A country like the United States is technologically the most advanced nation in the world. In the last 50 years, they have many world-class organisations, especially in the IT field. Most of the other countries play the catch-up game with them. They have created world-class hardware and software products like iPhone, Android OS, Windows OS, Microsoft Office to name a few of them. They are also famous for aircraft manufacturing facilities. But where hardware manufacturing was involved, they slowly moved production to China. China also has done a terrific job of going up the value chain; China is now called the world’s manufacturing setup.   Similarly, India has become back office of the world. Since the last couple of years, India is also trying to go up the value chain.

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With the election of Trump, thinking in the US has started changing. Why did this happen? When we refer to the USA, we think only of the East coast and the West coast. We never bother regarding the Rust Belt. Rust Belt is the American midwestern area where industries went into decline due to various reasons. The decrease is mainly in sectors like steel, mining and to some extent automobile.  Add to that the local culture which went into a social rot. The problems of this area can be understood if you read a book called “HillyBilly Elegy” by D Vance.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillbilly_Elegy

We will understand better, Trump’s election victory, after reading this book. Jingoism has started after the win and America began to looking inwards by having tariff wars with China and India. Trade wars also led to the wave, “Make in America”!

History repeats due to lack of proper planning. Apple is the classic case of Make In America failure. There is the story “A Tiny Screw Shows Why iPhones Won’t Be Assembled in the U.S.A.” in New York Times. Apple started churning out great products in the last decade, after struggling since ’80 s of the previous century. They wanted to make the most of it and began subcontracting work. This improved their profitability. Over a period, they shifted all their assembly work in China to Foxconn. Most of the significant components in iPhone were made in the USA or other parts of the world. Assemblies and small parts were made in China. As assemblies entirely moved to China, US industries were left with unused capacity for many small items, and they closed shop or moved to other business. The classic case is of a non-standard screw needed in the assembly. China can produce any quantity of such screws. When an attempt was made to move production back to the USA, capabilities for producing such items were found missing. On top of this, Chinese wages are the US $ 2.10/hr for workers as against the US rates which are very high. On top of this, the totalitarian regime in China does not bother about labour laws. Meeting the targets are achieved by waking up the workers from home at night (when required) and are made to work the night shift. Getting people out of bed for factory work is not possible with US laws and culture.

Jingoism does not solve the problems; it merely creates an unhealthy atmosphere. In the case of Apple, history is getting repeated as it did in the case of cars in the last century! Governments and industry both need to be pragmatic. Apple is facing another issue. The iPhones assembled in China get a tag “Made in China”! The US government wants to charge high tariffs on “Made in China” items. On one side iPhone sells are sliding, margins are slipping; market capitalisation is dropping fast. Higher tariffs will add to Apple’s woes!

While taking any decisions in life, especially when these decisions are business related pragmatism should come to the fore and not Jingoism. The British decided in the referendum about Brexit. The analysis found that high % of citizens in the group above 55 age were for Brexit. Whereas against Brexit was a mixed group, young and old. Brexit is going to create problems for the young ones.

Jingoism takes a society towards a situation where governments promise something during an election or political rhetoric but are not able to deliver — not being pragmatic leads to further churning. Governments try to show their strength by taking a firm stand which is not sustainable. Politicians remain in political mode all the time leading to Jingoism.

Hope the leaders and nations who are following the path of Jingoism learn their lessons quickly; otherwise, the voters correct the same anyway. But for the period till next election, a lot of damage is done to the fabric of the society, and most importantly economic setbacks can cause long term damage to all concerned.

Bappa’s Constitution!

Yesterday when we were going out, in the car Rhea asked a question to my daughter Priya.  She said, “Is it our flags birthday today?” It was not a simple question. Priya said, “No, it is our constitution’ s birthday!” For a five-year-old, the next inevitable question was what the constitution is? Priya said, “It is a rule book for all of us.” Rhea then asked, “Did Bappa write the rule book?” Bappa is the Marathi word for God.

In childhood everything is very straightforward, that includes life. Good things in life happen because of God, and the bad things occur because of the demons. They define everything as  0 & 1; things are either black or white. There are no shades of grey. Childhood naivety is responsible for an easy life. For kids, there are no complexities. When life is good, they laugh when it is sad, they cry.

But adult life is tricky and where everything is in shades of grey. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a book representing today’s times. For the benefit of those who are not aware of this book here is the link.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifty_Shades_of_Grey

This book is about sex, control, wealth and combination thereof. Wealth is about ownership. The concept of ownership started ten thousand years back when humans started organised farming.  With farming, the nomadic tribes began to settle into areas near the water, rivers or lakes. Many settlements also started near the sea, but the drinking water was a problem initially.

With the ownership started the issues of controls. In other species like monkeys, controls were mainly about leadership and females. There were no other assets hence things were and still are simple. But today humans need to control the area, then the city, state and nation. Further people want to control other countries. Controls are taken to get natural assets.

I was just trying to imagine a naïve world as seen through the child’s eyes. Life would be simple. Children can play, chat with each other. There are no language barriers; they don’t have territory issues. We should use Google Earth, metaphorically. When we open  Google Earth and see our home,  we can get to know the house distinctly when we zoom in. Start zooming out.  First, we see our colony, then the area, then the city.

Further zooming shows us the state where we live, then the nation. As we zoom further, we see our continent — finally the whole earth. What is the meaning of this change? These images take us away from the barriers we have created, the barriers crash. We go away from our small abode; we are taken far away from the language spoken and finally from the geography of our nation and the continent. We need to rewrite the Bappa’s Rules, as seen from Google earth as there are unnecessary barriers. We need to think out of box. We should become naïve like small kids.

If you think that Pramod is trying to visualise utopia because I am trying to say something that is impossible; no sir! It has already happened to some extent in our world. What is the European Union (EU) after all? EU was born in 1993. Most of the European nations joined the EU or agreed to be part of EU and share the same rules, currency, visa and so on. They have managed to remove the unnatural barriers. A couple of years back when we took an Alpine tour, we started in Germany, went to Austria, then to Italy.

Further, we travelled to Switzerland, again to Italy and back to Switzerland. Finally, we took our flight back home from Frankfurt in Germany. No border checks, no customs inspection, we could use the same currency Euro in most of the places.

When a big continent like Europe can survive using naïve rules where they tried to remove many unnatural barriers, I am sure other nations can also work to remove the obstacles. There are problems in EU, but questions had been worse when there were more barriers. Imagine a world free of passports, visas, x-ray machines and so on! There are problems galore like terrorism, refugees who made it necessary to create such complex systems.

When she was younger, Rhea had asked me one question in a Mandir. “How does the Bappa know when I ask him to make me wise, in Marathi? Does he understand all languages?” Bappa or God is our creation. He does not bother about barriers; he understands every language in the world. We know him as God, Jesus, Mohamad. The different species look different; some fly, some are underwater. Some are two-legged, most are four-legged. Except for humans, all other species follow nature’s rules. They die when they die. Nobody takes them to hospitals. Birth and death are natural processes and should be accepted as they come. I am sure some of the species must be feeling sad when one of them dies.

In many cases, when their time has come to go, they only go away from the clan and die.

Which constitution or the rules are the correct rules or better rules? Bappa’s Constitution or the nations’ constitution? A good idea will be to have a mix of the two the way EU manages their affairs. The nation should follow local rules for running the nation and God’s rule for international relations. Writing these two lines is quite simple and bringing them into practice will be tough.

Coming to the naivety of 50 years back, what has changed in the social fabric? In India, there used to regular riots between people of different religions, the number of riots have come down. But the social atmosphere, these days, is always either tense or very tense! In the United States, African Americans were not allowed to take part in beauty pageants. There used to be open discrimination till late ’60 s of the last centuries. Discrimination has reduced somewhat, but I feel that people have become subtle, they have not changed. The coarseness in the Americas is on the rise for the last few years. The stressed social fabric of current times is due to jingoistic social media and political atmosphere both in India and the USA.

Galloping technology is supposed to bring ease of living, but it also brings in a big gap in rich and poor! Besides the usual reasons for a socially tense atmosphere, this divide of haves and have nots is going to add to the stress — all the more reason why Bappa’s Constitution will make more sense.

Let us all pray to him in any language (he will understand) to bring naivety back to our society. Pray to Him to teach us to improve ourselves so we can remove disparity, hate and barriers!

Rhea, to me Bappa’s rules are always good!

Without imperfections one cannot become perfect!

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At every stage, we need to act, decide, guide, advice or seek advice! We all are fallible. So everyone can and will make mistakes. Without imperfections, one cannot become perfect! It is the ladder of mistakes, some people call it experience, that one needs to climb to become perfect. One can change or improve only if we accept our mistakes wholeheartedly. We should celebrate our mistakes; this helps us to remind where we went wrong.

Making mistakes is nothing new for humans. The error we make is that we focus on the wrong things. We try to reach our goals at any cost, including moral values. We take a wrong path, we steal, we cheat. We lie. We deceive others as well as ourselves. We are afraid to talk to others openly. We see crime or fraud and don’t speak out. But don’t forget that we may be proper persons but we may make a wrong judgment or take incorrect decisions. We may later find out that we have changed totally, we have evolved as humans, we are not the son that we are, we are not the father we are, our personality has changed. Ever wonder why this has happened? But don’t forget that this has occurred due to errors or mistakes. It can happen to the best of us! The good part is that if we accept our mistakes wholeheartedly, we can become the person we have been! When we lose our path the solace is that it does not happen permanently, it is reversible.

It’s essential that after making a mistake or error in judgement, we follow the correct path and choose good options. In younger days we get a few traffic tickets or get into incidents where police had to get involved. If we the person does not learn from these mistakes then there is a problem. We can come out of the issues if we accept responsibility, but if we do not take the blame for the error, then we end up into a vicious circle of incidents which ultimately might lead to major criminal issues.

It’s not that you stumble, it’s essential that you get up. It’s not that you did something wrong but that you realise what’s happening and change. It’s not that you messed up as a friend or lover, it’s that you see ways you can be better. Having the wrong priorities is terrible enough, but realising that and refusing to change is worse. It’s not that you never took the time to smell the roses and admire the sunset, it’s that once you realise this, you take the time to notice. You make mistakes in your business. You recognise what mistakes you have made. Still, you don’t try to mend ways. Instead, you try to cheat and move ahead. In our life, for every situation, there is a feedback loop. Take it in the correct spirit, don’t take it as criticism.

Mistakes made in personal life are too private, and everybody needs to find their own way. But there can be a plan for how errors in office environments can be corrected.

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Admit your mistake

The first step about mistakes is to accept them wholeheartedly. Immediately inform your superiors. Lies and mistakes tend to get exposed at the wrong time so never try to hide. The undeclared mistake will force you to do something wrong, it will indicate a lack of professionalism. Employers value this trait the most, from the employees.

Present you superior a plan to correct the error

Once the mistake is accepted, you need to work on priority to repair the same. A mistake can sometimes have domino effect too. The plan should include correction further down the line also! Reassure the superior that the solution is the right one.

After finalisation of the plan, present it to your superiors and mention the expected results. The details should also include the time needed and costs involved if any. The second time nobody is going to accept the evil consequences. But this can happen, and there should be a plan B in case plan A does not work out. While doing all this make sure others understand your problem-solving skills.

Don’t point fingers at someone else

When you are working as a team, the mistake may have happened while making combined efforts. Though people are waiting to take the credit, mistakes are orphans. Owning the mistake will be appreciated by your superiors. When the group meeting is called others may not be willing to accept the blame. Pointing fingers is not going to help. But rest assured that for a mistake made by the team, superiors are aware as to which persons have different responsibilities.

Apologise, but don’t keep on blaming your self

Accepting the mistake is the central part of the process but no point berating yourself for the mistake; don’t scold yourself publicly. After you have given your plan to the superiors talk about solutions; you want them to forget about the mistake in the first place.

Never brag about how you correct your mistake quickly. Don’t forget that you have made a mistake in the first place.

If possible correct the mistake in your own time

You may be paid overtime pay for additional work done. But extra work due to a mistake is because of the mistake. It may be a good idea not charge company overtime pay. Let your boss know that you do not cost the company additional expense.

Friends, you must remember that correcting your mistake is about fixing the mistake. It is about explaining to superiors why it happened in the first place. How you are going to repair it at the lowest possible expenses. For your own good, it should be done discretely for natural reasons.

I am the best I never mistook self! 😀😀😀😀

The Size of Canvas!

In 1960 there was a bet between two people for US $50/. His friend challenged Dr Seuss that he will give him fifty dollars if Seuss wrote a book using only 50 different words, an entertaining book for children. Dr Seuss took the bet and won. The result was the book called “Green Eggs and White Ham!” Since publication, the book has sold more than 200 million copies, one of the best-selling books ever. I read the book yesterday!

We can think that it was a one-time fluke, but if we look at what Dr Seuss has done, we will understand the meaning of “The Size of Canvas”! Dr Seuss had a restriction that he could use only 50 different words. There is no question that Seuss was talented. He took up the challenge and was at his creative best. The constraint brought the best out of him. Many a time it so happens that too much of everything does not work, it becomes a hindrance to achieving what you want to do.

Many times, constraints bring out the best out of humans. Constraints put the limitations on resources available; they put limits on time possible, they may set restrictions on your network available.

How to use your constraints to your advantage?

The classic case of constraints bringing out the best in people is that of the nation of Israel. We all know that it is a tiny country, surrounded by enemies. Two things could have happened. They would have been crushed and overrun by the enemy. The second thing is they could have become a belligerent state fighting all the time. They chose the third path. They somehow managed to survive, thanks to the USA. But at the same time within their limited resources, they developed skill sets which are on par or better than many nations. Their skills in developing radars, AWACS and rockets and many such things are unbelievable. They have done fantastic developments in agriculture to convert their arid deserts into a highly productive zones. They have a smallish population of 8.9 million people as per records in 2018. By making it compulsory for all to join military for at least two years, they have a large pool of highly trained people. They had no choice, and they had no option, they had so many constraints but they overcame the issues. But they managed to convert these constraints to their advantage and made Israel a developed nation within a matter of a couple of generations.

I must give an example from cricket, my favourite sport. The great Sachin Tendulkar was going through some issues in his batting in 2004. India was in Australia. He was getting out hitting a cut or a cover drive on the off side. Sachin practised and practised! Someone suggested to he needs one big score to get his game back. In the Sydney test match, he decided not to play a single shot on the off side. Once Australians understood his strategy, they packed the fielding on the leg side and bowling on the off side. Sachin had created a constraint for himself of not hitting anything on the off side. His great talent helped him achieve this. He scored 241 runs under this constraint. It is one of best test match innings he has played.

For the cricket enthusiasts here is the link for the inning.

All of us have options to live life the way we want to live. Sometimes we are forced to work under constraints, but I feel that it is a good idea to work under some constraints. Here is why and how of constraints.

Constraints inspire creativity

You may be a basketball player of average height. You will find different methods of scoring in spite of having all your opponents who are much taller than you. Barak Obama became the first black president of United States; he is a live example for a book similar to one by Dale Carnegie “Win friends, Influence people”!

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Oscar Pistorius’s had both his legs amputated when he was a baby. He became a para champion in running and won a medal in standard running races too, with artificial limbs. He won them instead of these constraints or was it because of the constraints? Limitations drive you to figure out solutions. Your constraints inspire your creativity.

Constraints force you to get something done

I have been blogging for a few years, but since last year, I have become a serious blogger. I have forced myself that I will produce a certain number of blogs every month. It takes 3 to 4 hours of writing and research, an hour of fine-tuning before my blog is published. I have written a blog on flights while travelling from the US back to India. I have written blogs when I was on holiday in Manali. I could have easily skipped the writing during these times, but my constraints have forced me to remain productive. There is no compulsion, but it has become a passion.

Then there is a passion for maintaining certain quality standards I have forced on myself. Without my schedule (the constraint), I would have pushed those blogs to a different day. Or I would never got around to them at all. Constraints force you to get something done and don’t allow you to procrastinate. I believe that professionals set a schedule for their creation while amateurs wait until they feel motivated.

Remember that constraints are not your enemies.

But constraints are not the enemy. Every artist has a limited set of tools to work. Every athlete has a limited set of skills to train. Every entrepreneur has a limited amount of resources to build. Once you know your constraints, you can start figuring out how to work with them.

Here again, I will share the story of Manasi Sagar, a young painter from Nashik. She had decided that she wanted to become a painter and that too an artist painting nude portraits. A middle-class girl from an average family like you and me finally put a constraint that she wants to become an artist of nude portraits. It’s tough, very tough. She has no contacts in the elite art world and is struggling. She has decided not to marry so that she can live the life that she wants.

Read my blog about her journey.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/11/26/what-is-porn/

I am a trained engineer with ages of experience but now want to become a serious blogger. I don’t know at what stage I am, but I have put myself the constraint of remaining prolific round the year. I have also decided to try and maintain quality come what may. I don’t know if I am on the right path. But let me assure you constraints do help in a big way. Given below are the statistics from WordPress of what I have done in last year. It positively encourages me to work harder and better.

What constraints are you setting for yourself? What type of schedule do you have for your goals?

I have decided the size of my canvas!

wordpressstats31122018

 

Why technologies are replaced?

How does technology evolve? How long does it take for technology to become commercially viable? What are the pluses and minuses of this evolution? Who will win these races? All these questions always come to mind, but I am really not sure if there is a right answer for this. There are divergent technologies, and there are convergent technologies. What I mean is that some techniques start as all-encompassing technologies but end up into a particular technology or an application. Whereas some begin with a very focused technology but end up into divergent usage of the technology.  But the ultimate question is why technologies are replaced?

I am really not sure if the inventors of these are also sure how long the product developed will last in the market. It is possible that I may interchange the word technology and product. Some products have a very long life, and some have a very short life.  

Telephones 

The typical case is the telephone. The phone was invented more than hundred years back. Over a period, it became popular and useful; later it became mandatory in our lives. World over the proliferation of phones was quite fast and penetrating. I remember that during my visit to the USA in 1981, there were telephone booths at Carlsbad Caverns 800 feet below the surface. However, in India, it got delayed. Till 1984, I did not have a phone at home. In that year too we got it by making a misleading declaration of medical emergency to get it. Rest as they say is history. But nobody had expected the revolution that will come when the Telephone’s cousin Cell phone came around. As usual, it started as an expensive toy; they charged Rs.16/ minute to make and receive a call in 1997. The cell phones could store 100/200 numbers in the directory. Now 20 years hence, calling is free, data is as good as free, and storage space is as good as unlimited! Proliferation in India is 80% plus. Telephone, which is now called landline has now become a distant, poor cousin of the Cell phone. The cell phone has democratised the society. Now almost everybody has a cell phone. Along with this by providing decent cameras, cameras are also democratised. After ten years in what format cell phone will be available and what it will do is tough to predict.  

Credit and Debit cards 

Another product whose technological days seem to be numbered is credit/debit cards. These came into vogue on ‘70 s and ‘80 s. But the first one in use was Diners Club credit card in 1950. Initially, it took time to spread but later on it came up with magnetic tape authorisations, and now embedded chips have replaced the tape. With the introduction of debit cards, card business was also democratised. By democratised, I mean that the proliferation and spread have gone beyond 70% in the country like India with a very high population. But now the cards are getting a run for their money. With net banking, UPI, PayTM et al. making payments has become really easy. The only advantage with Credit cards is some Credit that people get when they use credit cards. But with QR code Technology the chip technology authorisation may become obsolete. Check the link below 

https://www.bing.com/search?q=QRCode&form=WNSGPH&qs=SW&cvid=7c3ff0870d024924a802ecbfc4cc27a3&pq=QRCode&cc=IN&setlang=en-US&nclid=24A557D17F20EE04675E8683A3F58054&ts=1546314473043&elv=AY3%21uAY7tbNNZGZ2yiGNjfMOcjiriOwJ1nqF69MVaiRhknXKq2yVeO57P6iMx77Fso5jrbCq%21wVi3FpaWVUx2j6Gw8VgYd6zPRlWeMWfOlVK&wsso=Moderate 

Click this link, you will see a box showing QR code generator. Type whatever you want and scan the generated code! There you are!  

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I am giving below a link for QR code reader app for android

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=tw.mobileapp.qrcode.banner&hl=en

This one is for iOS

https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/qr-reader-for-iphone/id368494609?mt=8

Download this or any other on your cell phone and scan the QR I have shown above! This is just for fun!

The QR code and touch type authorisation are the next technologies which can derail the business of Credit cards, but I am sure they will also come up with their own systems to remain in the race.  

Hotel Room Keys 

Another technology that has changed is the for room keys in the hotel.  

 

Hotel rooms had large locks and keys, which then graduated to brass keys, latch keys and so on. Then came the locking systems where customers were given a card, and the key for the room was “prepared”!  

Magnetic credit card size hotel key cards may soon be phased out in favour of smartphone app digital keys reasonably quickly. While key cards felt like a massive step into the future when they were first introduced, they do have their issues. 

Many large hotel chains like Starwood, Hilton, and Hyatt are already making the transition to digital apps in many of their establishments. Guests directly download the relevant app and enter and lock their rooms via Bluetooth. 

Car Mirrors 

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Many higher-end cars tend to come with camera-and-display setups as standard. Primarily, to provide functions like aiding the driver when reversing or parking. 

While each manufacturer will give the technology a different name but these technologies are all essentially a form of CCTV for the car’s immediate vicinity. These systems also tend to provide the driver with other information like speed, direction, and obstacle proximity etc. 

In fact, from May 2018 it became mandatory for all manufacturers to include backup camera systems for all new cars, in certain countries. Other manufacturers, like Tesla, have also announced they plan to replace all side-view mirrors with cameras in the future. 

This will provide various benefits to the driver but also make the vehicle more aerodynamic. Physical mirror replacement will also work in tandem with the drive, excuse the pun, for fully automated driverless, or partially automated, vehicles in the future. 

Photographic Films 

Kodak was the company which was linked to photography. It had so much hold on technology and market that generic name for photo films manufactured by any company would be called Kodak films. 

What happened to Kodak? They apparently dug their own grave, unknowingly.  They developed the digital camera and apparently forgot about it. Maybe their marketing arm did not understand and visualise the market potential for digital cameras. Kodak really never knew what hit them. Other manufacturers picked the digital camera technology and galloped ahead. Then the cell phones with the cameras started coming to the market, and they have become the norm for smartphones. Camera technology and camera film existed for a long time, but digital camera simply pushed them aside.  

This is a classic case having invented the technology and lack of vision from the pioneer company. But why are technologies replaced? Ease of use, safer and there is cost benefit. With the advent of IT and computers, many manual systems are getting replaced with software; software once established is effortless to use and cost-effective. The new technologies are superior too! There is one crucial aspect; nobody can stop the progress and onslaught of the latest technology, in any field. Some technologies come like typhoons or floods. Society has to accept it and go along with it. Those who ignore can become new Kodaks!

 

 

 

New Year Resolutions!

Happy new year, 2019, to all my friends!  

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I now resolve that I will not make any new year resolutions in future! Not that I ever made them!  

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A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but now also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behaviour, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their lives.  

Now with modern high-speed travel, video communications and communications in general merging of the societies western and eastern is taking place. With this, good and bad things from different communities are seeping into each other’s nations, culture, and even homes. Making New Year’s resolutions is one such tradition which is “in thing” to do, nowadays!   

What are the origins of this tradition?   

Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.  

  • The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus; the month of January is named after the God Janus.  
  •  In the Medieval era, the Knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to fairness.  
  • At watch night services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions.  

This tradition has many other religious parallels. During Judaism’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon one’s wrongdoings over the year, and both seek and offer forgiveness. People can act similarly during the Christian liturgical season of Lent, although the motive behind this holiday is more of a sacrifice than of responsibility. The Methodist practice of New Year’s resolutions came, in part, from the Lenten sacrifices.   

The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually. Humans reflect on whatever they are doing in life to check if what they are doing is good or bad! It is a course correction. In our lives, we meet new people, make new friends, start new ventures. In the course of doing these things, there is a possibility that we may drift from the path chosen by us or the correct paths as per societal norms. In Marathi, we call it सिंहावलोकन!  

A lot happens throughout a year. Lessons learned. Victories. Hardships. Physical changes. Special moments. Personal growth. New relationships. Breakups. Wrong decisions are taken, willfully! In all this journey there are small events taking place which may affect our long-term goals. But by the time New Year rolls in, we often forget most of what happened, because life gets in the way. A review can track such things.  

Every human has goals, but these are as diverse as the way humans look. The targets can be about eating habits, behaviour, exercising, reading, consuming alcohol, having too many cups of coffee or tea in a day and so on! But what could be the reason to set a goal on the first day of the new year? I have one query. We spend the night of 31st December enjoying the arrival of the new year, and there is a flood of Alcohol. On the first of the new year, will we be in the right frame of mind under the influence of hangover & headache? 

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There can be two reasons for making resolutions for the new year. The first is that it is easier to remember to decide to make the changes on the new year day. Second is the famous game of us humans, procrastination! We want to postpone everything. When we want to reduce alcohol intake why start it today? Why not give away those bottles of your famous tipsy to someone? Why not start going for a walk today?  All this can be postponed to the new year day!

What could be the success rate of achieving the fulfilment of such resolutions? I am really not sure, but I feel that it may not be more than 10 to 12%. Main reasons for failures can be setting unrealistic goals and not tracking what targets have been fixed.  

What needs to be done to achieve success? First and foremost, one should set tangible or measurable goals! If you just say, I am going to start walking it does not work. But you can decide, I will walk five times a week minimum, then you may be able to achieve it. Or you can say that I will walk every day for 50 minutes. When you set something measurable, you know what you are hoping to achieve! It is like inviting some friends by saying, “Why don’t you visit us one of these days?” This is called Puneri invitation because it is vague. Instead of that, one can say, “Why don’t you come to our home for brunch next Sunday, at 11?” This becomes specific and is achievable. Success rate increases when such goals are set!  

A positive attitude is always helpful in any situation. When I went through cancer treatment five years back. I was quite confident during the procedure. My radiation oncologist was an efficient person and had a great way of explaining things. He said, “Pramod, as far as we are concerned, experts, medicines, equipment make about 65% of the stuff. Balance 35% is the positive attitude of the patient and his family.” But that does not mean that if one shows a very positive attitude, one is going to get cured, come what may, in a specific time-frame. There are other variables too!    

It took me and my body about six to seven months to achieve a semblance of normalcy. Had any of the variables been different, I could have needed much more time to recover. Had the cancer been of the spreadable variety, I would have stayed under constant worry about recurrence.  

Hence there are certain areas where setting the goal is not correct. A friend of mine is unwell. He had a stroke, and his one side is paralysed. In the initial phase, for 10/15 days he was under the influence of drugs hence was more in a trance. Later, when he went home, he showed an incredibly positive attitude. Along with medicines, he was required to take physiotherapy.  

Unfortunately, he set himself some goals about getting well. For example, he set a goal that his two fingers should become functional in two months. In four months, he should be able to lift something with a paralysed arm and so on. In such significant illnesses, things don’t work on target basis. Some improvements can take two months for some people and six months for someone else. Since no two bodies are same, for recovery, if any, time frame will be different. 

But do we set new resolutions or we don’t? Don’t do this activity as a tradition or one-time event. For every business, there is a balance sheet at the end of the year, this helps one to understand if what was done during the year, was done right or wrong. What needs to be improved, changed, or removed/added. Similarly, we should also take out some time for ourselves to make a review of our life. Like in business or in a job, year to year performance guides you if things are going as planned. Your performance is tracked by a CA or your boss! But in our personal lives, there will be no one who will do this for you.  

In western countries, Christmas time is a holiday time, so people review during that period. We need not ape the west. We can do it during Diwali time. We generally have our holidays during this period. We should look back in peace and maybe discuss with the spouse or a close friend. Perhaps you consult with your mentor if you are lucky to have one.  

So, this new year resolve that I will not make my new year resolutions just as a process! You will give yourself time, you will plan achievable goals! Yes, you will also resolve that you will read Pramod’s blogs regularly and give him your suggestions! See, immediately you are slipping to something intangible! One resolution everybody should make is that they resolve to practice 3 G’s, Gratitude, Giving and Gumption!  

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