Saturday, October 28, 2017

Advice from the oncologist, Dr Thomas Varghese

When Dr Thomas Varghese trained at the Tata Memorial Cancer hospital in Mumbai and developer of the Varghese technique in cancer surgery, started his practice from Kochi, Kerala, little did the people of Kerala know about him.

Having proved himself in a short time to be a great trained oncologist surgeon from Kochi, he gives valuable advice to people on how to prevent cancer. 

According to Dr Thomas, urbanisation and food intake are the greatest threat mankind is facing which limits his working life and his restful life out of office hours. 

Dr. Varghese says that of all human food intake, white sugar, salt, milk, maida (American flour) and white polished rice are the greatest reasons for cancer of different kinds, not forgetting redmeat. Salted foods, snacks are great promoters of cancer in human beings. Not taking more food and having more frequent and less food intake, not snacks or packaged food, can also ensure that we lead healthy lives. Avoiding processed and packaged food can also be a positive step to a healthy life.

Urbanisation has resulted in humans leading a very subdued and less active life (with no exercises). This also found to be another great contributor to cancer. Proper walking and other body relaxation and stretching exercises is a good antidote to the early onset of cancer.

Environmental pollution which includes air and water pollution, is the modern day cancer agent. From his vast experience at Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital in Mumbai, Dr Thomas has seen many instances of cancer of the liver and the kidneys among people living on the banks of Ganges and Yamuna river. This talks of how unwarranted pollution of two famous and large rivers in India has been a health risk to the people staying on the banks of these two rivers.

Having listened to many of Dr Thomas' speeches, it is opined that more of vegetables, fruits, fibrous foods and curds with enough of fish (with easily digestible fats) with enough opportunities for lots of exercises for the body and the mind, including yoga, can ensure that we keep cancer at bay.


The Malankara Titans .

Friday, October 27, 2017

The 7 Rs of Process Innovation

Steven Shapiro's 7Rs of Process Innovation ..

Rethink - fundamental rethinking of the process

Future head transplant by Italian surgeon Dr Sergio Canavero ..

At first I thought this was an April Fool's joke being played on the people of the world, but later I realised it is really a surgeon trying to convince the world of the success of such a surgical process from his limited knowledge and exposure ..

A 36 hour mammoth head transplant surgery involving 150 surgeons in Harbin Medical University in North China is what Dr Sergio Canavero is planning by end 2017 or early 2018 (click here for the news from Guardian) to fix the healthy body of a brain dead person to the head of a quadraplegic patient.(the medical term for the procedure is cerebrosomatic anastomosis)

By June 2015, Dr. Canavero was recruiting surgeons to participate in the procedure, which will be conducted on Valery Spiridinov, a 31-year-old Russian man with Werdnig-Hoffman disease, a rare genetic condition that prevents his muscles from growing. .. the Observer website ..

There is a Newsweek report of the first patient of Dr. Sergio being a Chinese patient. Needs confirmation.

Joining just 10 to 20% of the millions of nerves passing through the spine to the different parts of the body is what Dr Sergio says makes his intention of doing a successful head transplantation very easy.. But by doing a part shoddy work on a human patient, is Dr Sergio inviting to give birth to Frankensteins on planet earth ?

Click here for the TED talk by Dr Sergio ..

His idea sounds very plain and lacks the needed academic and professional medical rigour and looks like he believes human physiology, especially the nervous system is a simple as that of rats ..

Can the civilised world get up and sensitise the people of the world as to the threat this experiment would pose to humanity as it would be akin to releasing a genie out of the bottle ?? Can there be a consensus among the medical fraternity of the necessity and ethical position regarding this head transplant ?


Monday, October 23, 2017

Privilege - the bait that weakens oneself ...

What are privileges ? Oxford dictionary defines privilege as a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group. For example, ‘education is a right, not a privilege’

When we do not make use of privileges intelligently and use it as a favour for a select few in society, privileges can be like a millstone tied around your neck.

Click here for the video explaining this concept pretty well with a common example from society. The video explains clearly the concept of privileges.

The best example to explain the bad effects of privileges is to take examples from well-to-do rich influential families. Why do children from rich privileged, influential families lick the dust when it comes to open competition ?

Rich, influential parents, out of ignorance and pride, shower more and more comforts and privileges on their children thinking it would take them ahead in life, only to find their less than average kids fail in life. They contemplate that riches, influence, power etc can help their kids, when actually it only spoils them !

The same logic applies to rich countries too. US and Europe are fighting hard to keep off competition to it's spoilt children, not knowing that they are just waiting to see their children being wiped out of contention soon .. 

Share your wealth and riches with the less fortunate. Better still, devote your life for the upliftment of society, not for your personal benefit and comfort. 

Why is Tata Son's surviving even after 150 years of existence ? Pure reason is philanthropy .. 70% of Tata Son's profits go for philanthropy, like cancer care, orphanages, education, research and so on. 

How is the Travancore royal family still finding itself respected and manage to be the richest royal family in the world (though its riches are lying in the vaults of the Sri Padmanabha swamy temple in Trivandrum, a trillion dollars to say the least) !! They are roughly 150x the British royals .. the sole reason is philanthropy !!

The Travancore royals were intelligent enough and quick to realise that all the riches showered on them actually belonged to the society .. They felt it their responsibility to give back to society and they have been doing it for more than three centuries.

A true inviolable truth .. Privileges are intentional baits to spoil you. Accept the truth and make peace with the less privileged, share and be equals ..

George ..  

Friday, October 20, 2017

Why and How of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) .. ??

We have very frequently come across the term Standard Operating Procedure. What exactly does this mean ? Should we try to follow the SOP religiously, will it help us, how can it reduce defects, how does it improve the final output, does it finally lead to better quality, these are some of the questions that are constantly in the minds of production managers and top decision makers in organisations.

Let us see whether they can be answered by a discussion on SOPs.

Standard Operating Procedure is a written procedure prescribed for repetitive use as a practice, in accordance with agreed upon specifications aimed at obtaining a desired outcome.
A standard operating procedure, or SOP, is a set of step-by-step instructions compiled by an organization to help workers carry out complex routine operations. SOPs aim to achieve efficiency, quality output and uniformity of performance, while reducing miscommunication and failure to comply with industry regulations. -
A neat template to implement SOP in the organisation
An SOP provides consistency, predictability and ensures consistency of outcome, in other words, it reduces the variability of the output. It does not require constant supervision, facilitates training for the employees to be better at the jobs they are good at. It also enables cross-training of the employees at different tasks by having very detailed and definite instructions neatly laid down enabling work to be done with great consistency and less variability.. 

I usually teach about Standard Operating Procedure by playing a game in the class. It is called the paper folding game.

Click here for the presentation on the Paper Folding game.

This game helps the students to understand the importance of having a formally accepted set of instructions to do any task the way it is done, which reduces the variability and thus improves the quality of the task. More clearer and detailed the SOP, better is the compliance and less the variability.
Lesser the variability means better quality and lower costs of non-compliance ..

Whenever there are repetitive operations organisations need to do on a regular basis, the only way to do it consistently and uniformly do it is by insisting on Standard Operating Procedures to be implemented and adopted.  

The other advantage of having an SOP is that the employees can come up with improvements over the existing SOP if it improves the quality.  An SOP can thus challenge the employees to constantly look to improving the quality of their work and the work output, as also to look at reducing the use of inputs and ensure better compliance.


Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to make your phone faster

Japanese Management principles rely on Lean Operations to a great extent. Standard Operating Procedure forms a great part of the discipline anyone needs to follow to ease up your work, make it smarter, efficient and less cumbersome. 

In this day of innumerable smartphone apps available for download and cheap data, we tend to use more apps and download more data. More frequently than not, most of our smartphone systems software do not have auto cleansing features. It does not prompt us to

1. move apps from the phone memory to the SD card
2. delete cache data and other data stored in phone memory to clean the phone's internal memory so that the phone will be fast to use.

Here is an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) while downloading apps to our smartphone to keep the phone fast and healthy..

- Beginning of document -

Smartphone Cleaning and Sysem Updation Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
SOP No.: A1
Department / Organisation : Personal / home
Country of Origin : India
Date prepared : 20 Oct 2017

Objective : To make smartphones / tabs work faster
Scope : To cover all smartphones and tabs work faster
Smartphone Operating System - Android
Recommended version - Android 5.1.1

Procedure :

     A) While downloading new Apps
        1. Go to Google store
        2. Search for the desired app from the most secure source
        3. Download the app
        4. Go to Settings,  -> App management, -> (downloaded) app, -> Move storage to SD card

     B) Weekly once, to clean up your phone
        a. Go to Settings, App Management, 
        b. click on apps taking more than 50 Mb of storage and
        c. ensure app storage is on SD card and
        d. data is deleted
        e. Reboot the phone

    C) Monthly Once, system updates
        a) go to Settings -> Phone -> System updates -> click on OK
        b) after system updates (from 10- 20 minutes), system will automatically roboot with updated features and better speed

Date prepared : 20 Oct 2017
Date of next revision : 19 Oct 2018
Originator Name / Designation / Signature : George Easaw, Author and Professor, -sign-
Approver Name / Designation / Signature : George Easaw, Author and Professor, -sign-
Version no : 1.0.0,
Previous version - nil

- End of document -

Being a heavy user on the phone for almost 50% of my waking life, I find my Lenovo Octacore, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB SD memory smartphone following this SOP gives me true value for money !!


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Some more aspects of BPR ..

These slides give some very vital aspects of BPR. It helps us to demystify the common misconceptions of BPR in the minds of the public and organisations.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tiangong 1 coming crashing from space ..

The 8.5T Tiangong I Chinese space station launched in 2011 after making 34,479 orbits around earth is coming on a crash visit (actually crashing) to earth between Oct '17 and April '18. Now it is at an altitude of 300 km ..

Tiangong 2 launched in 2016 is also in orbit. 

Compare this with the 77T US Skylab launched in 1979 and the 20T Salyut 7 launched in 1991.. Both of them have crashed to earth. 


What the future beholds !!

Click here for the video link.  An excellent video which tells us what future technology beholds for humanity, especially the developed and developing world.

At the outset, let me say, the speaker Vivek Wadhwa is opposed to Chinese and Chinese manufacturing. He seems to be ridiculing Chinese manufacturing prowess in this video, but let us realise that it is Chinese interference in solar PV module manufacturing that brought down solar energy to INR rs. 2.9 per unit in Dubai, world's cheapest. 

As the speaker says 3D printers will be very powerful in the coming years. Wait till Chinese enter the 3D printer market, they will control the whole world then.. 

Banks and financial institutions will still be there, but may not be mainstream..

Growing organic foods in vertical farms on buildings etc is an interesting development, have to wait and watch how far it is practical ..

Overall, very many powerful, potential ideas were discussed .. 👌👌

BTW, recycling, waste management and environment concerns were not discussed..  😟😟

George .. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lessons from ERP - successes and failures ..

We all have heard success stories of enterprise resource planning (ERP) (click for presentation) software in different organisations. But a great number of ERP installations fail. Gartner mentions that about 75% of all ERP implementations fail .. Why is it that these implementations fail, even after committing so much of human resources, material resources, money, time etc to the project. 

No study of ERP systems is complete unless we make an earnest attempt to understand why ERP systems fail.

Though ERP systems are just a collection of basic RDBMS software that connects all the departments in an organisation to help in the smooth functioning of the organisation, maintain integrity of data, enable secure access of this centralised data, with a smooth software interface connecting the user, the customer, the server storing the centralised data, the implementation, upkeep and maintenance of the ERP system is very challenging.

I had my first experience on RDBMSs with Ingres working  on mini computers, then came Unisys, ( both at Goa Engineering College) and Oracle. Oracle now remains one of the top RDBMS sofware in the industry, mainly because of its reach and ability to convince customers of its user friendliness. 

In the free and open source software domain, we have two great RDBMSs , PostgreSQL and MySQL. MySQL was formerly powering Facebook but of late has been purchased by Oracle and to the best of my knowledge killed so that it would not be a competition to Oracle, the small commercial business package.  

RDBMSs form the basic component of any ERP package and SAP is now one of the most popular, widely used ERP software of the world. 

It makes better sense to study about any system by first having a general understanding of the system and then what are its drawbacks. The links given here are examples of failures or weaknesses of ERP packages and what could be done to overcome them.

Most of failure of ERP systems have taken place due to improper implementation.  Let us  look at what are the essential six phases of any ERP implementation.  In the Big Bang approach, the different stages of implementation are done serially and then in a big bang it is brought in line in a short period of time. This implementation process is very risky.

Organisations frequently go for the iterative approach where the implementation is done phase by phase with important departments in the organisation. The transition is slow and incremental. The advantage of this approach is that the errors in the implementation (inevitably there will be many) are progressively discovered and attended to, one at a time, so that the system does give a surprise to the organisation and keeps serving the basic interests of the customer and organisation and other stakeholders on a limited scale initially and then maturing to an advanced state later on.

Top 5 reasons why ERP implementations fail and what one can do about it .. Click here ..

A student report from UT Dallas on why ERP systems fail.. click here ..

ERP failure case at HP .. Click here ..

ICMR case on ERP Failure at HP ..

A Pemeco Consulting white paper on what led to ERP implemtation failure at Hershey's..


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Jack Ma on the 3Qs of the human body and the third technology revolution ..

The Chinese business magnate Jack Ma was recently speaking at a conference where he spoke of the 3Qs of the human body.

All of us are aware of the IQ and the EQ. But how many of us are aware of the LQ - love quotient ? Jack says that it is this quotient that is going to help the world survive for the next thirty years.

The first technology revolution released the human body from the bondages of hard and heavy work and gave him leisure, free time and improved productivity.

The second technology revolution concentrated around transportation and gave the humans the ability to cover distances by automobiles, trains, planes etc..

The third technology revolution revolved around knowledge and wisdom, the developments surrounding Information Technology and its effective use have taken mankind a lot ahead. People and countries have stated competing with each other based on the knowledge they have or they can generate, not based on how they could leverage the muscles and conquer distances.

These are thoughts from a very plain headed person who is one of the top rich persons on planet earth and leading the world in e-commerce..

George ..

Monday, October 09, 2017

Business Process Re-engineering - Basics and links ..

What is a business ?

An organization or economic system where goods and services are exchanged for one another or for money. Every business requires some form of investment and enough customers to whom its output can be sold on a consistent basis in order to make a profit. Businesses can be privately owned, not-for-profit or state-owned.

Business process reengineering (BPR) is the analysis and redesign of workflows within and between enterprises in order to optimize end-to-end processes and automate non-value-added tasks. - what

BPR - What to do if your business is failing .. 

A good BPR FAQ .. from ..

A World Bank BPR presentation ..

A good presentation with case studies ..

Steps and procedures in BPR .. click here ..

Click here for the Hammer article Re-engineering work, dont automate, obliterate in HBR July '90

This document from Bain & Co has interesting links ..

Diff between BPR and Kaizen .. ( a student paper, but neatly written..)

How to make reengineering work, Hall et al, HBR, Nov '93

BPR as a quality improvement tool .


Wednesday, October 04, 2017

How predictive shopping can remorph supply chain frontiers ..

Most of us by now are aware of the most common e-commerce business model of shopping-then-shipping. Once the customers makes the choice of items, the e-commerce portal would initiate operations to get the ordered items to reach the customer by accessing different databases.

With advances in Artificial Intelligence(AI) which we are advancedly witnessing in our daily lives, a day will come soon when AI would be able to predict with more than 50% probability items which we would like to purchase or are looking to purchase and the e-commerce portal would ship the items to us in advance of our placing orders. On receiving the items, the customer would favourably look up the items and select the items which he wanted to buy but never had the time or inclination to purchase. The business model now changes to shipping-then-shopping.

This idea was discussed by Prof. Ajay Agarwal and team from the Rotman School of Management, Toronto, Canada in the Oct issue of HBR. They looked at the benefits it can bring to an organisation in terms of the change in strategy it entails. But from a supply chain professional's view point, it makes more of business sense to catch the customer earlier before he goes to competitors and their products. This brings in better profitability and in the long run dedicated customer base and better customer retention.

Knowing your customers' likes and dislikes before-hand and shipping the required items to him with higher probability of acceptance, reaching anywhere near to 90% acceptability and a proportionally high profitability,(as sales are realised faster, reliably, with less costs and with less returns) would in fact be the utopia a supply chain professional would be dreaming in his organisation.


Ref : 1. How AI will change strategy, a thought experiment, Ajay Agarwal et al, HBR, Oct, 2017.

How to do effective brainstorming ..

Rational left and the creative right ..
Brainstorming got a fillip after 1981 Nobel medicine laurete Dr Roger Sperry of Caltech proposed the Split Brain Theory back in the sixties, which stressed that the left hemisphere of the brain was more rational while the right hemisphere of the brain was more creative.  Click here for my blog .. The term 'brainstorming' was proposed by Alex Osborn in his 1953 book, Applied Imagination.

The latest research undertaken by Prof. Leigh Thompson of Kellogg School of Management, North western University US was very interesting.

Any brainstorming session would focus on two aspects to measure the efficacy of the output, one being the quantity of ideas generated during the session and second, the variety of ideas (flexibility) generated during the session. 

In a research on about 93 managers divided randomly into three member groups done by Leigh Thomson, members of half of these groups during the introduction session was each asked to narrate an embarrassing event in their life during the preceding six months and each of the other half group members were asked to narrate their achievements during the preceding six months. 

Leigh Thompson and her team gave ten minutes for the introduction part and ten minutes for the brainstorming. She then observed the efficacy of the brainstorming session in terms of quantity and variety of the ideas (fluency and flexibility). 

It was observed that the groups that were asked to introduce with embarrassing stories over the past six months generated 26% more ideas (fluency) spanning 15% more use categories (flexibility) than their counterparts who introduced themselves within the group with achievements over the preceding six months. 

What could be the reason for this change in group behaviour of the embarrassments narration group over the achievements narration groups. My thinking led me to come up with these few thoughts.

1. By narrating embarrassing events, the team members were more aware of their shortcomings and thus were at a lower ground of thinking to start with, which helped them generate more diverse fields ideas.
2. By narrating embarrassments and failures, the team members unconsciously did more of innovative and self-corrective thinking than the achievements narration group 
3. By narrating their embarrassing actions and at the same time listening to others' embarrassing episodes, there was more realistic evaluation of events than the achievements narration group.

I am planning to test this on my students in the class for a first hand understanding of the psychology behind this research finding.


Ref : 1. Leigh Thompson, For better brainstorming, tell an embarrassing story, HBR, Oct, 2007

Monday, October 02, 2017

Crowd science - how to manage a crowd .

The recent deaths of 22 people at Elphinstone Railway station of the Mumbai suburban train system was very disturbing. The casualty was high because of our poor understanding of how crowds form and how they behave.

Crowd Dynamics explained - 6 vital questions answered.

1. What is a high density crowd ?
2. how can crowds be deadly ?
3. what is a crowd crush ?
4. what is crowd collapse ? 
5. How do people die either by crowd crush or crowd collapse ?
6. How to protect yourself in a crowd ?

Answers to vital questions that could save or kill you ..

Prof. David Still, Prof of crowd science, Manchester Uty explains .. 

True Indians ..

Cannot agree more with Justice Katju .. 

How much do you agree or disagree with this one year old post from former Justice Markandeya Katju praising Keralites to be the *only true Indians* featuring all desirable qualities of hard-work, tolerance, intelligence, magnanimity etc.. 

Quote : "Keralites are hard working, modest, and intelligent. They are broad minded, liberal, cosmopolitan and secular in their views (though no doubt there are a few exceptions ). All Indians must learn from them. Long live the Keralites !," : unquote. Justice Katju finishes off in what is clearly a long, glowing tribute to Malayalis.

Probably, Justice Katju would have read ancient world history when Cranganore in Kerala (Muziris) had great trade with ancient Rome even during 100 BC and was the largest trading post in this part of the world..

Findings from the Lost cities of the world Project supported by the Rockefeller Foundation. (Muziris is Lost Cities #3) is reported by The Guardian ..


Data Visualisation Presentation..

Dr. Sukanya explaining the finer aspects of Data Visualisation in R Today 19 July 2019, Business school and Engineering school of Alli...

My popular posts over the last month ..