Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A technological marvel - the 55 km Zhuhai - Hong Kong bridge road ..

The longest bridge in the world, the 55 km long bridge connecting the Chinese port city of Zhuhai to Hong Kong opened on Monday to the world.  Xhuhai Hong Kong bridge. Built at a cost of $20 billion, it is said to boost Chinese and HongKong economies by as much as one trillion US$ by 2025. The 7 km long underwater passage at a depth of 44 m enables free passage of ships through the water above. 

This 55 km long, $20 billion bridge reduces travel between mainland China and Hong Kong from 4 to half an hour.

China has taken up this technological marvel and now the need for air travel reduces between the two cities. Can we effectively use such massive projects to ease transportation across islands ? 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Case Study methodology workshop from IESE

It was really nice to listen to a Marketing Professor from IESE, Barcelona, Spain (2017 Global rank #10) speak and engage the aydience about the Case Study Method and go through a live case study session at The Taj Westend in Bangalore yesterday 20 October 2018 at 4 PM. It was an invited audience, as I got the invite I too attended the session.

IESE Barcelona Spain
The case was about the expansion strategy of an organisation which was going through tough times. The protagonist was an employee who had joined the organisation and was facing tough times as the organisation was getting ready to wind up.  

The students, about 12 of them, had already read the case which was emailed to them. They had their own notings and comments made on the case sheets. Professor was giving the session to potential aspirants to IESE. 

At the start the Professor
1. asked the students broadly what the case was about, the issue behind the case. His strategy was to first get the participants come up with their comments about the case and then issues of the case they find needs urgent attention which needs to be sorted out. The first 30 minutes, the Prof tried to get different facets and perspectives of the case from the participants. He noted all these points on the two white boards kept at the front on both sides of the audience facing them.
2. Then he tried putting issues which he felt were important and elicited their responses.. 
3. When someone gave a slightly interesting twist to the case, he latched onto it and got more clarity and brought in the different perspectives to the discussion.  Next what he brought in was the solution. 
4. The Professor then asked the participants what they thought would be possible solutions and listed them on the board for all to see. 
5. Since the case was written by the same Professor, towards the end of the case, he spoke of how he interacted with the three promoters of the company and told what each of them felt about the organisation and it's future. 

Harvard Business School, Boston
The discussion went on for about 45 minutes when almost all participants took part in it. At the beginning, not all were with the Professor at the same frequency and bandwidth but towards the end, they were all in unison with the different strategies they needed to take to solve the problem.

The data of the organisation which was noted in the appendices to the case, was also used in the case to get the students to know how to arrive at the facts of the case from the data given. The most interesting point for the students the Prof made was regarding the fact that there are no final right and wrong answers to the case. Once the student gets to know the different aspects and perspectives of the case, it is up to them to make the final decision which they feel right. Even though he tried to play a video case, because of some hitches with his laptop, it was not possible. 

Once these students go into the wide world of global business and are faced with such instances of decision making, these out-of-the-box thinking, discussions and classroom training helps them a lot. 

A seminar hall lecture in session at Alliance U
If a student has read the case well, completed some peer discussions, he/she can bring one or two perspectives of the case. Imagine in a class of 60 or 70, imagine the richness of the discussions !! Each of the five IESE classes in a year are 70 strong. A friend of mine on an executive program in Harvard Business School, the leaders of employing the case study pedagogy in business schools, used to say how each of the top executives in her 40 strong class used to bring three to four perspectives of each case, from their vast experience, and how in the classroom discussion it used to be just ideas and ideas and deep interesting discussions in the Harvard classrooms.

Thus it is imperative, binding, mandatory and inescapable that students read the case well and prepare their personal notes before they start the discussion for an enriching, reinforced learning experience !!

Modeled on the lines of Harvard Business School, IESE on an average gets the students to go through almost 400 cases in their 19 month program at Barcelona. In between the 3 month internship after the first year which they get to do in other top bschools of the world adds value to the students' exposure.

This exposure and further discussion with the Professor over tea on further nuances of the case like bringing in discussions about sustainability, global climate change impact on the business, prospects of global manufacturing in China etc has just reinforced my thoughts that case study method is the best way to teach some advanced topics in Management. Overall the case discussion was high quality and the learning from the case study was high quality.

India has excellent student resources but somewhere in our development and rich culture of ten thousand years, we missed the industrial and technology bus and are languishing now in low levels of industrial and societal development. China too faced a similar situation prior to 1979 before it opened its economy to the outside world. Lets be positive that our youngsters are ready and willing to  take humanity to greater levels of growth and development in the coming years. My basic aim is to see the case study pedagogy spread more extensively and effectively in Alliance University School of Business at Bangalore to help raise it to the same league of IESE and otheer top Bschools of the world in the next couple of years.


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Why Latex ..

Why Latex ??

Latex is an interesting document preparation system in wide use in the scientific and technological world.

Click here for a Latex Tutorial which I co-authored with Prof. Henri Gavin of UNC.

Latex is the defacto communication software of the scientific and management world.

george ..

Monday, October 15, 2018

Internet and Block Chain - foundational technologies

No recent management article is complete without a mention of the benefits of blockchain that is going to change the field of secure and transparent transactions around the world.

TCP/IP and the Internet added great economic value to society by lowering the cost of connections ..
Block chains are going to add great economic value to society by lowering the cost of transactions 

- Prof. Marco Iansiti and Prof. Karim Lakhani, The truth about Blockchain, HBR Jan'17, 
Everybody who is somebody tries to talk about Blockchain, but when probed deep, nobody knows much regarding Blockchain other than what it can do or what is its potential and how it can change the world of transactions for ever.

Like the Internet as a foundational technology, changed the landscape of connections around the world forever starting with the DARPA Labs experiment in 1973 connecting DARPA labs to major  academic institutions across the US, Blockchain too is giving all promise and has the potential to be a foundational technology which would change the way humans transact forever. As different from disruptive and innovative technologies, these foundational technologies hold the promise of changing the foundations of our economic and social systems, of understanding of how to carry out safe and secure connections, communications and transactions.

What is a Blockchain ?
A blockchain, originally block chain, is a growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data. By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data.- Wikipedia
In this world we come across lot of daily transactions, carry out different processes, make numerous payments, sign contracts and so on. When digitised all these processes and steps carry their own digital signature.  

If we could digitally use this signature of different processes and transactions, it becomes easy to transact and store them for future validation. By doing so, we are indeed building one of the world's most trusted and secure transactions processing system.

For an  interesting video on blockchain , click here ..

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Transitioning from old to new technologies ..

Why are new technologies finding it challenging to get accepted or overtake conventional incumbent technologies ?

Why are ecosystems of technologies and it's challenges of great importance, even as much or more than the technology itself, while deciding on the acceptance of new technology or the extension of use of old technology. For example hybrid cars with conventional IC engine cars or magnetic memory with solid-state memory .. 

An Insightful HBR article from professors from Dartmouth Tuck School of Business and Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business .. One of the top 10 HBR articles of 2017-18 .. This free online version link has an excellent explanatory video too .. 


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Attn : Jeff Bezos .. The extremely high Carbon Footprint of Amazon packaging in India ..

Most of the people have this strange behaviour of complimenting others and organisations when  they observe them doing good either for the society and environment or for the final customer. Of late the customers of Amazon in India have been floored by the packaging of goods they have been receiving from Amazon India. It is definitely high class, high quality, safe, reliable and durable .. Durability - that is what is troubling them and other quality and environment-conscious customers ..
The extra-strong and sturdy AMAZON packaging, who is paying for it ..
The customer or Amazon ?

How can Amazon India deliver more value to their customers in terms of packaging ? Is the customer delight Amazon India is presently delivering to the customer being misconstrued by the customer as an overkill and an affront to the environment ?

Is there a growing concern at the Carbon footprint of the packaging materials used by Amazon ?

Some useful suggestions to Amazon global. (For Jeff Bezos)

  • Please reduce the heavy packing Amazon uses to deliver products to the customer. Optimising packing quality, dependability and durability to match the value of goods being delivered !!
  • Reduce the mismatch between packing box volume and delivered items, smaller items should be delivered in smaller boxes, particularly in the case of Amazon pantry. Try to reduce the number of shipments too ..
  • Amazon's packing materials are very durable and strong, customers don't feel like disposing them and store it for future use at homes
  • The value add Amazon deliver is not only for the materials they supply, but also in the quality and reliability of the delivery mechanism. This no doubt, brings extreme customer delight !
  • The Indian customers are equally concerned about the "damage Amazon does to the environment" in it's over-obsession to serve the customer, while forgetting the damage it does to the environment. Use optimal packing modes
  • With the fear of having to stock such high quality packing material at home or disposing them safely, the customers are not sure how soon one will find fill the homes filled with packing material and make customers re-think their personal e-commerce strategy and force them to go back to old methods of brick-and-mortar shopping - all for the sake of the environment 
  • Amazon India should develop a reverse logistics strategy (at the delivery time itself) of collecting undamaged packaging material which could be used for future packaging to other customers.
  • Amazon India can consider developing an extra performance metric of Packaging turns, like inventory turns. Try to aim for a value of 3 and more, the value of which signifies the number of times the same packaging could be used to serve goods to customers.  Else Amazon India is  doing a great disservice to the environment. 
  • The Indian customers wish to understand and analyse the cradle-to-grave account of Amazon packaging material to ensure the customers are not damaging the environment by shopping at Amazon.

The typical and time-tested approach of the world's oldest civilization from India to resource consumption and  to all aspects of life has been to have an optimising mind-set. Not of the Jugaad type, but of the useful, reusable, recyclable and environment friendly product type.

Not sure, but will a deviation from this mindset potentially damage the brand image of Amazon in India in the long run ??


Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Nobel peace prize 2018 to Nadia Murad

Nadia Murad Basee Taha is a *Yazidi Kurdish* human rights activist from Iraq. She was kidnapped and held by the Islamic State for three months. In 2018 she and Denis Mukwege were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to end use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.

Bravery in spite of personal insult and shame .. Nadia Murad ..
Listen to Nadia Murad narrate her painful experiences of repeated mass rape and torture - sexual jihad by the Daesh militants in Mosul, Iraq and her subsequent escape wearing a black abaya on BBC's Hardtalk when she was just 23 years of age in 2016 ..  Six of her brothers were murdered by the Daesh militants ..

The Nobel Peace Prize committee has rightfully selected this 25 year old victim of inhuman war crimes - it has exposed the cruel, brutal, sadistic and vicious sexual crime of continuous, mass rapes in confinement by this group of criminals of Iraqi ISIS from the group Daesh who by their devilish and monstrous acts on a young girl and thousands like her have no explanation to offer to the world for their demonic behaviour .. 

They do not belong to any religion and may never be brought to justice to face the law, if only it existed in that part of the world .. They are walking free now .. 

It is but a sad reflection of the vacuousness, moral degradation and deprivation of a once rich civilisation now completely disintegrated and disoriented.. No religion practices such extreme forms of violence on anybody else . 

This award from the Nobel committee may not help identify and punish the criminals in society but should shame their leaders and the community behind them. Mankind acting in unison should take positive steps to prevent it's recurrence in future .. Spoils of War or Prisoners of War, let us not forget that first of all they are women and part of the weaker sex  ..

George ..

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Importance of Communications ..

The Operations stream at Alliance School of Business is very much obsessed about Continuous Improvement (Kaizen). The continuous improvement is of students knowledge, student skills, syllabus, teaching pedagogies, classroom cases, interactions, classroom discussions, faculty skills, faculty commitment, faculty interactions, physical infrastructure, intellectual infrastructure and so on ..

As the first step we are having an area meeting to discuss about the strengths and disadvantages of strong and weak communication. It is an activity based session .. 

george ..

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Alice Vaidyan enters Fortune Top 50 Most Powerful Women of the world list

Alice Vaidyan,, pic courtesy Bennet Coleman.
It was great to hear of my sister Alice Vaidyan breaking into the Fortune Top 50 Most Powerful Women of the World list for the year 2018 at rank #47.

She is the only Indian woman in the top 50 ..  The former Chairman of Board of Governors of IIM Bangalore and founder of Biocon, Kiran Mazumdar is not even in the top 100 International list ..

Click here for the Fortune magazine link ..

The year 2018 saw the exit of Indira Nooyi, former CEO of Pepsi (Indian origin but US citizen, a product of IIM Calcutta and Yale University, US) and the former CEO of ICICI Bank Chanda Kochar and Shikha Sharma of Standard Chartered Bank.

Alice Vaidyan, a veteran of the global insurance industry brings with her 30 years of international insurance experience. She is the Chairman and Managing Director of  $6.8 billion General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC Re) spread over 160 countries of the world ..

Under her leadership, GIC rose from rank 14 globally to rank 10 and expanded operations to 160 countries across the world. GIC is the Government of India's second largest dividend payer at approx. INR 1200 crores ($200 million) for the year 2018.

Alice Vaidyan graduated in Chemistry from St. Josephs College Irinjalakuda, Kerala, completed her Post Graduation in English from SB College Changanassery, Kerala in 1983 and later got extensive training at the Harvard Business School, Boston in Strategy and Leadership.

Alice has three kids, all grownup and is a doting grandmother to a 8 month old boy. Her husband, Dr. M G Vaidyan, was the former Deputy Managing Director of India's largest state run bank, State Bank of India in Mumbai. Her parents Easaw Mathai (from SBI) and mother Thankamma Easaw, stay in Kochi, Kerala.

George ..

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

What’s happening to General Electric ?

Is General Electric on it's way out ? The change of leadership at GE has created some disturbance in the global technology market when a global technology leader fumbles..

I bring such interesting points of discussion to the class. It gives students an international exposure and makes them think like entrepreneurs and CEO managers to change companies and their operational style..

In spite of Flannery being the darling of the Board till 14 months back, suddenly lost grace and was replaced. At high levels such events do happen and it is real. It reflects on the immediate compulsions of the organisations.

GE market cap in the year 2000 at $600 billions is now worth just $107 billions, on revenues of $122 billions in 2017, (just 9% of Apple's $1100 billions market cap) a clean wipeout of $500 billions !

No corporation can forever remain immortal .. 

The company founded by Thomas Alva Edison in the 1880s is now floundering like never before.. It is the only one of its generation still surviving the 120 years of history ..Will the new CEO, Culp, a Harvard Bschool alumnus be able change its fortune at all ? 

There are many questions the world (or my students) are looking for an answer..
1. Is the 120 year old GE a company from the older generation waiting to be replaced by a younger entity ? 
2. Can the new leadership give a new purpose to GE and take it to the top ? 
3. Why have shareholders been losing their faith in this company which was the darling of the masses till a few years back ? 
4. Is this the path that all corporations will one day have to take of initiation, growth, sustenance and decline ..? 
5. Will the new CEO, Culp, a Harvard Bschool alumnus be able change its fortune ? 
6. Will market cap decline be a forewarning to decline of the corporation ? 
7. What will be Culp's strategy to help GE re-emerge in the hi-tech market of the world and remain a dominant force ?


Monday, October 01, 2018

Understanding the Google work culture ..

What is special about Google work culture ? 13 experts from the Forbes Technology Council speak out in 2018 .. 

Just like manufacturing companies around the world try to ape the Toyota Production System and are still at it, companies try to follow the Tatas as do lot of community service, can service organisations around the world look at their work environments and excel ? A Forbes Technology Council set of points and recommendations.. 

Consider employees first, keep them happy, creative and innovative by good pay, perks and a simple, natural work environment looking at continuous improvement.. Is that a long list ? Let's simplify .. 

Treat people well, innovate on processes and finally ensure continuous improvement ..

George ..

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 ..