Thursday, June 27, 2013

Nelson mandela .. the long road to freedom ...

The most famous apostle of non-violence after Mahatma Gandhiji .. Had it not been for his reconciliation efforts with the whites in a free South Africa, the history and future of that country would have been a bloodied one ..

A young Mandela with a fighting spirit ..
At his wedding with Winnie ..
Robben prison room where he spent 18 of his 27 years ..
With his daughters and their husbands..
The extended family ..
Old, but calm ..

1983 prudential world cup cricket Indian victory ..

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kedarnath, Uttarakhand landslides ..

Really tragic to see the Himalayan Tsunami striking the sacred town of Kedarnath on the Mandakini river at Kedarnath town in the Garhwal Himalayan range last week.  It is one of the holiest Hindu places of worship with  a Shivalinga placed there. The shrine is open only from April to end November every year to pilgrims.

The image of Kedarnatah before the landslide and after ..



Nature's fury ..



The army has been doing great service in evacuating people, about 73,000 have been evacuated so far .. Read this link ..  of the temple priest recalling the horror.

It is very sad, as is usual for all major calamities, that some petty political parties are scoring petty political points and trying to claim credit for the rescue efforts undertaken by their leader. They claim thousands have been evacuated by their one leader when the army and air force could not do much. So petty .. The people are neglecting this communal leader and his cronies..

The admin says it may take upto three years to reconstruct the shrine as the idol has been removed.

Nature's fury is unpredictable..

This also exposes the Govt preparedness in tackling such disasters. One of the greatest disasters India has had after independence. The death toll may cross more than 30,000 they say ..

ge.. (photo courtesy daily.bhaskar.com)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Backwaters of kerala..

The only land on planet earth which has not been plagued by any natural calamities for millenia, except the land far South, the continent of Antartica .. Truly, God's own land !!  Kerala ..

How can one explain this beauty !!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Two great HBR papers on Toyota ..


The past few days, happened to go through two HBR papers published in 2007 and 2008 respectively in Harvard Business Review on the Toyota system, in my research of the Toyota system. Going through and taking notes from papers are a part of my profession , but this one was really different. What I was looking for the past many months comes to me directly as two high value papers..

The papers are  
1. "The contradictions that drive Toyota's success" by Hirotaka Takeuchi, Emi Osono and Norihiko Shimizu in June 2008, HBR, and 

2. " Managing for the Long term - Lessons from Toyota's long drive", an interview by HBR editors Thomas A Stewart and Anand P Raman with Toyota's former President, Katsuaki Watanabe, July - August 2007, HBR.

Watanabe, earlier Toyota President ..
I am amazed by the vision of Toyota. I do not own a Toyota nor do I have any plans to own one in the near future. But the simple thoughts and dedication behind the system baffles me.

The first paper talks of the Toyota culture : the obsessive respect for people (employees) and their welfare, how getting around contradictions is a way of life in Toyota, constantly challenged by nearly impossible tasks, a very understanding management which takes "constructive criticism" in its stride, making Toyota a learning
and thinking organisation for its employees, constantly evolving from one level to another ..
Akio Toyoda, present Chairman ..

Toyota does not keep their culture secret, in fact it is so open, they are sure no one on planet Earth can ape it !!.  They are very public about it, but no other country or company has been able to replicate it anywhere else, except for Toyota. The great example of Toyota and GM holding hands together to form NUMMI and reopening the Fremont Calif. plant in 1984 as a joint venture between GM and Toyota is studies as case in Business schools around the world. The present situation of the plant is difficult partly due to problems with GM and its bankruptcy measures.

To  train the "Toyota culture" to the new employees in different geographies, Toyota sends in mentors from Japanese plants to these new sites. For this they retain Toyota employees in Japan who are aged more than sixty years too. The Toyoda family which still retains the top positions and takes major decisions in the company holds just 2% of stock. No one dare topple the apple cart ..

Naturally out of curiosity, I have this simple question to the authors,
Is not the Toyota culture - a system of extreme humility and obeisance to authority, practiced in the plant and outside in their dealings with all other stakeholders, very much a  part of the Toyota DNA or way of doing things. Is this not part of the Japanese culture of respect for others and exacting discipline which is evident in all these practices ? Will it not take thousands of years to imbibe this "country-specific" culture ?

The second paper is more insightful into the Toyota system of manufacturing and operations management, which is opposite to what is taught in Business schools around the world. 

Radical innovation - kakushin and drastic reform - kaikaku implemented at the new plant at Takaoka in Toyota city incorporating the simple, slim and speedy production system was a great insight. The paper highlights the fact that Toyota is not a complacent organisation, not resting on its laurels as the greatest manufacturer of the twentieth and twenty first centuries, it is constantly innovating and changing itself, constantly being challenged by nearly impossible tasks.

One of the innovative programmes they have is - by joining several components into one integrated component, Toyota intends through design and development  to reduce costs and add value - the program is Value Innovation.

A very radical vision of Toyota is to make a dream car that will make the air more cleaner, that cannot injure people, prevents accidents, that can make people healthier the longer they drive it, one that can excite, entertain and evoke the emotions of the occupants and one that can drive around the world in just one tank of fuel - in other words making environment, energy, safety and comfort the themes of Toyota's future development.

Toyota is presently obsessed with and trying to be very narrowly focused on improving the value of the product and giving the world the supposedly best product for transporting people from one point to another. In future as how Science evolves, we hear of teleportation and other new concepts picking up.  If humanity over the next few decades comes up with a technology that can do away with the need for physical transportation, and thus vehicles to carry humans, how will Toyota survive and what will be the production plans or production lines of Toyota then ?

Having visited the Bidadi, Bangalore, India plant of Toyota Kirlosakar on at least four different occasions with a purely academic mind to grasp and understand Toyota Production systems and the Toyota culture, the two papers were an eye opener for me. A great learning of six years of the authors with the company will be a great experience for me and my students too ..

My research into the Toyota Production system continues ..

ge..

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Jiji thomson st gregorios bangalore

With MGOCSM members - the promise of the country  ..



With John achen, MGOCSM youngsters and elders ..
Exchanging pleasantries with Col. George uncle and aunty.
Jacob Abraham introducing Jiji Thomson, Vicar Fr Mani Verghese on dais
Jiji Thomson speaking to the congregation ..
Having dinner ....
Not missing the 10 PM Indian news, wherever he is !!

Monday, June 03, 2013

Will Infosys weather the storm ?

This a very difficult question in the present circumstances. Nobody can answer this question with certainty. As any organisation passes through its growth cycle, Infosys has plateaued out and is on its way out. Unless a radical process or thought is brought in under a dynamic leader, Infosys may not survive this shock.

There are some reasons which I feel Infosys needs to handle on an emergency basis, else it would crumble. It calls for an innovative mindset  !

1. Retain customer Focus : Times have changed and customers have become more demanding. The customers require the organisation to respond to their needs. If an organisation is not ready to do that and instead continue with its dreamy world offering of premium, quality work and live in an Utopian world, (when the workforce is no different than the other competitors), the customers will go elsewhere.

2. Move from a process to product concept : The service concept of offering end-to-end customisation of an organisations activities can now no more bring revenues until a drastic re-engineering of its processes is done to keep costs low. The Global Delivery Model does not make Infosys any more different from the competitor. The company should now change over to a product concept and allow more innovation in its product offering to customers. Infosys has a large bank of talented employees, it should release some of them from their usual tiring work of petty customisation and instead permit their creativity and imagination to soar and bring in innovations.

3. Adapt to changes : The citibank world wealth report of 2011 gives a very different image of the growth of the world economies in the coming 40 years. India will regain the position of the top economy of the world with $ 86 trillion GDP PPP and China, the second with $ 80 trillion. US will be third with a GDP of $39 trillion. Does this give any indication as to where the new businesses are going to come from US, Europe or mainland Asia ? Concentrate more on India and China than the West and US to survive, lest get wiped out.

4. Allow an innovative culture : Infoscions are fed up of going to the company daily and doing the same job, day in day out, targets and deadlines, adrenalin raising and so on. If not for the "welfare" and perks, most Infoscions would have been dead by now of ennui, lassitude and monotony .. Allow them to innovate, let their creativity soar, let them develop newer products and services for the burgeoning markets of India and China. We may not be in a position to tell what the product or process maybe, but allow the employee creativity to soar and identify that product or process.

5. Manage smaller units effectively : As TCS has divided its businesses into $ 250 million businesses and then have separate heads to manage them semi independently, enabling quick, effective decision making, Infosys should also do something similar. 

6. Bring effective, professional leadership : Bringing professional leaders from the outside is the only solution to Infosys. Narayana Murthy coming back from retirement at this age to lead the company cannot ensure its growth. He does not bring new vision, nor does his son. Instead  the polished old vision is applied.. Young professional, promising leaders need to be brought out either from within or from outside.

I believe there is a difference in a person going to Ivy League Univs of the world on one's own strengths and on one's father's strengths. "Gaining respectability" could also be a double edged sword !
A rich man without charity is a rogue; and perhaps it would be no difficult matter to prove that he is also a fool - Henry Fielding
NM will damage his clean public image and repute by taking a second plunge. He should have trust in the professionals he has handed the charge over to and let them manage the affairs.  No dearth of high class talent in Infosys .. Just have to identify it.

I know NM would not do it, hope this is not an NM ploy to get his son a "respectable" lateral entry and "push" to the company he helped found .. Professional values and trust should not be compromised.   Avoid conflict of interest. Hope Jairam Ramesh is proved wrong ..

ge..


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