Sunday, March 31, 2019

How to be more effective in your daily tasks .

Being active and effective in our daily tasks is one thing all of us look upto. Being effective relieves us of the routine boring work and and gives us more creative time to pursue our interests and hobbies. It is with this objective in mind that we take up tasks and responsibilities. Each completed task, successful or not, gives us valuable learning. If successful, it makes us think how we could have carried out the task better, if a failed attempt, we think what else we should have done to succeed in the task.  Either way it is great learning.

Recently a study was done across geographies by a faculty member and student from MIT on about 20,000 people across the world, aged 25-60 years who were readers of Harvard Business Review spanning a cross section of junior level and senior level executives from almost all continents, with Europe and US getting maximum representation. 

The main points from this study were three and are being highlighted here.

1. Prioritise one's tasks and do the most important things first
2. Manage information overload effectively by deciding your       intervention strategies, not allowing information overload to drown you.

3. Understand the needs of our colleagues for shorter meetings, clear directions and leadership. 

The most important point I wish to prioritise here is on managing  one's information overload, notes and interesting information or maybe for news ? Is it really necessary to spend too much time scanning through all this data and information to help us take the right decision. how one can manage the inputs coming from different social media sites, news sites etc..

How frequently do we check our social media posts and sites for updating news and global business updates. Is it really necessary that we need to get updates every ten minutes or is it vital that we need to reply to social media posts as fast as possible. 

Prioritising on our responses are very important. Will our responses kick start a series of responses and replies leading to an overload of information and a wasted feeling of time at the end of all these transactions ? do we take the pain to understand whether we really care for the time of our subordinates ?

The choice is on us to take the right and competent effective decision. While writing this post I have resisted multiple efforts to update myself on social media postings and concentrate on writing and reading which I have prioritised over the next one hour.


Ref : Pozen, Robert and Kevin Downey, What makes some people more productive than others ?, Harvard Business Review, March 2019.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

ET Woman CEO of the year award ..

Alice Vaidyan from General Insurance Corporation of India gets the ET Prime Woman CEO of the year Award..

Great occasion for my sister ..


Friday, March 29, 2019

Aparna from Kollam is making waves by removing waste from Ashtamudi Kayal and upcycling them ..

Aparna from Kollam is making waves by removing waste from Ashtamudi Kayal and upcycling them to interesting works of art .. 🙏🙏👍👍💐💐

Click here for the link ..

The project has become very famous and besides students social workers, society leaders etc are flocking to be part of her innovative movement to cleanse the Ashtamudi lake (part of the great Vembanad lake) free of all plastic and glass litter.

Aparna really needs good appreciation and encouragement from all of us to continue her innovative work.

Can Amazon start selling her products ? She is nt doing for any -profits but the heightened need ijn her to prevent abuse of the environment is making her do all these things at a very tender age.. She is in the final year of her BEd.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

IIT Bombay memories and crossword puzzle

A collage of some images ..
In 2018, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mumbai (Bombay) celebrated 60 years of its founding.

Set on an area of 550 acres in 1958, in the marshy swamps of Powai, with only Godrej in Vikhroli being the nearest industrial area, in 60 years Powai has grown to be India's top IIT with almost 14 departments, research entres, students from UG level to Post Graduation, Doctorates and PDFs.

The alumni in 60 years run into thousands .. And some of these alumni have been very thankful for their four years spent at the Institute, courtesy the Indian taxpayer and have given back to the Institute in ways unheard of and inimaginable.Click here for an account of the conf I attended at IITB in 2018..

The ingenuity and far sightedness of India's founding fathers from Jawaharlal Nehru onwards have given India's one of it's best technical Institutes, respected around the world.

For the old timers of IIT Bombay, this simple puzzle will help brush up your memories.. 


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

India's IRRESPONSIBLE push for Star Wars .. ASAT capability ..

India became the fourth nation in the world after US (1958), Russia (1964) and China (2007) to develop the capability to attack low earth space objects meaning satellites in 2011-12. Additionally another test was successfully conducted this morning by a team of researchers and scientists from Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) and ISRO. There is great controversy around this launch citing political reasons.
The threat of Space debris, only for those who can understand.
Definitely not the dumb Indian politicians..

Apart from the cheap political mileage attempted to be gained by the Indian PM for which there was a huge protest from the scientific and research community in India besides the well-thinking people of India, basically what does this test mean for India ? Are we playing into the hands of our enemies who want us to get more offensive day by day.

Do we really need to use this missile to flex our muscles or do have more urgent things to be done in India to uplift the 30 million poor people of the country ? Let’s analyse.
1. The main reason why Dr Manmohan Singh the earlier PM did not authorise these space weapons was the global understanding of the space debris that was going to be a major danger for space objects and future space missions. (click here for BBC report). Even though India claims it was a low earth orbit of 300 kms altitude, and the debris would ultimately fall into the earth and not float around, NASA says it is difficult to predict the exact trajectory the space debris would take.
The European Space Agency said that as of January 2018there are about 29,000 objects larger than 10 centimeters, around 750,000 objects that range between 1 cm to 10 cm and about 166 million objects between 1 millimeter to 1 cm in size.
2. Good, India moves ahead of other countries of the world in acquiring the space capabilities triad of launch, offence and defence. But we were already the fourth greatest space power for the past four years already !! 
3. The advanced countries in Europe and Australia would look up to India for help and advice in times of need. They are looking up to India not to be an impulsive and offensive regional player, but a responsible global peace-loving SUPER POWER .. 
4. Even though this is basically an offensive and also a defensive capablity, it is a deterrant for the other countries of the world from interfering in the internal affairs of India and its neighbours.
5. Even though US has completed 60 years after its first Star wars experiment, India has done it only eight years back, reinforced again today, the gap between the first and fourth nation is very large. 
6. The technology testing was for low altitude satellites, (where most of the satellites in the world are, except geosynchronous satellites which are at 36,000 kms altitude), what can happen at higher altitudes ? Even the International Space Station and other space assets of less developed countries from Europe etc is within reach of these four countries. If any country from these four acts rogue for some reason, it may well spell the doom of the human race on earth .. China did the ASAT expt at an altitude of 850 km in 2007 and invited lot of international rebuke, like India has done now..
Operation Shakthi of India has been the latest such action by India after China blasted one of their satellites Fengyun 1C at an altitude of 800 kms in space which resulted in spreading space debris of 3000 pieces, one of these space debris proved to be detrimental to one of their satellites too.

Operation Shakthi resulted in spreading 400 pieces of space debris as part of out A-SAT exercise. As commented by Chief Administrator of NASA, Jim Bridenstine, this operation has put in 400 more pieces of space debris and after a week only about 20 pieces have been identified. The rest 380 pieces are potential threats for other space vehicles from India and other countries. DRDO and ISRO claims that they will ultimately fall into earth's orbit and get burned off, but in what time frame ? (click here for the CNN  reportage of the NASA administrator remark..)

1. Why did ISRO and DRDO take steps to carry out Operation Shakthi at this moment of time, knowing that India already had the capability by 2012 ? 
2. Is it election pressure that led PM Modi to resort to this experiment for cheap political propaganda to gain an upper hand ? 
3. Why did DRDO and ISRO get themselves involved in this cheap political game which has seriously eroded the credibility of both the organisations as apolitical organisations ? 
4. What can be done to bring back the credibility of both these organisations as national organisations beyond petty political gains ?
          5. Are our petty actions synchronising with our stature as the next  super power of the world ?

Lot of answers need to be settled now.


Cancer drug from Kerala ?

Is Shri Chithirai Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala getting ready to overtake top cancer research institutions from Johns Hopkins, Massachusetts Gen Hospital, Harvard etc in finding a cure for cancer using an intravenous injection of single molecule plant-derived chemical transported in  albumin mixed media in blood ?

Do not know how the international oncology medical professionals community would respond !! 

Which is this common plant ??

Does Socialism work ??

From the Internet .. 

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Socialism principles: All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A.... (substituting grades for dollars - something closer to home and more readily understood by all).

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy. 
When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. Could not be any simpler than that. These are possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Trying to decode and avoid India's potential second Airlines collapse .. Jet Airways ..

Like the Kingfisher Airlines went bust in 2012, Jet Airways of Naresh Goyal is facing tough times since 2018 and may go bust anytime unless there is a great help from SBI and political circles. Naresh and wife stepping down from the Director Board of Jet Airways is a welcome move so that lendors can inject INR 1500 crores more into a sick airline.
Is Jet Airways going the Kingfisher way ??

What went wrong at Jet and why is it now in a very trying moment in its life ? (click here for a Forbes mag report)

Was it a problem with mishandling of finances or operations or marketing of seats or leasing of new planes ??

This also explains why operations strategy is so crucial to organisations. Organizational Strategy as practiced in business organisations is same as Operations Strategy ..

If one does not concentrate on operations parameters to

  • Realise Reduced cost
  • Improve customer value
  • Achieve Continuous Innovation
  • Incorporate Business Process Reengineering
  • Assure Quality Assurance especially six-sigma concentrating on reducing process variation
  • Fulfil Highest Service processes
  • Secure Waste reduction focusing on value improvement and reduced costs
  • Bring about Improved Output and Productivity
  • Carry out Effective Material or Service Transformation
  • Accomplish Continuous Improvement or Kaizen
  • Exercise Inventory Optimisation 
  • Implement Data Analytics
  • Work on IT apps like ERP
  • Leverage on Cloud based SAS
  • Administer Blockchains
  • Implement Artificial Intelligence etc, all industry and market interventions come to a big naught or zero !!
Operations Management Strategy is vital to
successful business operations
After scrolling lot of data and interacting with the traveling public and experts, the author teaching at a Business School at Bangalore has identified some of the operational problems with Jet Airways and is reproduced here.

1. The passenger load factor for Jet on any domestic / international flight was only 81%. (click here..). An airline can run profitably only if it's passenger load factor in above 93%. (click here..). In the urge to capture more flying slots, Jet took too many flights but did not generate enough demand leading to the huge losses. 
2. Jet's main stress was on premium sector, and its low cost sector was Jet lite, which was treated with a step motherly attitude. Jet failed to realise that the Indian traveling public was cost conscious compared to the business class or corporate customers. Jet made the same mistake as Kingfisher underestimating the customer craze for moderation unlike western airlines. According to a 2001 National Household Travel Survey (95% confidence interval limits), business accounted for nearly 41% of all purposes for air travel across the world. This means that 60% is still very cost conscious.
3. Offering Great value for money : By offering different variants even in the low paying segment, the economy class in Indigo has four variants for different luggage carrying capability, (default being 15 kgs), the low cost airlines is intent on giving consistently high value to customers every passing day.  
4. Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines teaches us the same lesson. Indian traveling public is very cost conscious and is not ready to waste money on frills and food. Airlines need to give more value to customers. Even Narayana Murthy and Sudha Murthy of Infosys used to travel in economy class most of the time. 
Vital to the survival and long term vision of any organisation
5. All airlines flying in the Indian skies are equally fast, safe and highly safety conscious, all of them fly to main city airports, the only difference being the in-flight luxury and entertainment, which the Indian traveler on short and medium haul flights is willing to forgo. 
6. The low demand-to-capacity ratio kept Jet bleeding unlike the low cost airlines which had almost 93 to 95% demand-to-capacity ratio.  
7. The recent action of resting all 737 Max 8 and 10 planes from Boeing , which Jet has many, was also an important factor, though not significant in ensuring aircraft availability and capacity augmentation. 
The author is of the strong feeling that it was simply operational miscalculations and ineffectiveness which has led to the fall of Jet Airways from its glory to the present state of decline and morass.

It remains to be seen whether until the business model of Jet Airways is changed from an upmarket luxury airline to a low-cost one like Indigo, Spicejet or GoAir, it would once again float or go bust..

Click here for  McKenzie Asian Business Traveller Research Report ..


Shipping containers .

How they are made .. (click here..)

Making homes .. (click here..)  again .. 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Environmental Movements in India..

There are majorly two environmental movements that had public participation to a great extent and which resulted in popular movements that made a big difference to the way environment is looked at and dealth with.  Chipko Movement and Save Silent Silent Valley Movement are the two most important among them.

Chipko Movement history (click here)

Save Silent Valley Movement (click here)

We need more such popular movements to help save the pristine environment in this part of the world so that our future generations also enjoy nature and its gifts the same way we have enjoyed.


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Using Bloom's taxonomy to improve understanding and student learning ..

Courtesy Vanderbilt University
This morning I was discussing with Prof. Sajan Mathew regarding a question paper and I happened to show him a model of the paper.

We prepared it according to the Bloom's taxonomy principles ( click here for a very interesting and useful site giving the different aspects and levels of learning.)

Right from Benjamin Bloom's presentation in 1956 to the revisions in 2001 of addressing the learning outcomes  from any learning teaching experience is well illustrated in this document from Uty of Central Florida. (click here)

Critical terms to include in the Learning Objectives..
The accompanying image gives a good understanding of the learning at different levels and why we need to go to the higher levels in understanding and comprehension to ensure students are able to make better use of the knowledge with them. It also helps them to analyse and comprehend ideas better than usual.

Click here for an excellent video ..

The figure on left gives us the different terms that can be used to execute the different stages of Bloom's taxonomy while explaining or testing the students understanding. This can also be used while preparing or setting evaluation papers.

The first two columns help only to check the knowledge and understanding the other four columns terms help to understand the student knowledge and understanding in deeper ways through application, analytical thinking, evaluation of different perspectives and creation of superior ideas, innovations and applications ..

Another comprehensive list of interesting and useful terms that can be used to check the students understanding and application of knowledge is given in this picture on the right.
Comparison between older and newer versions of
Bloom's Taxonomy

In short, incorporating Blooms Taxonomy in our teaching encourages students with higher cognitive thinking. It helps us ensure students are tested in their understanding and made to think more creatively and analytically.

At higher levels of education, the student through this approach is found to have better understanding and appreciation of the knowledge and find creative and innovative application of ideas in their professional and personal life.

Hope all teaching professionals in institutions of higher learning are made aware of these aspects of testing student understanding and awareness to improve the general teaching-learning environment in educational institutions and online educational sites.

The aim of any learning process should be to instill higher order thinking skills in the learner.

Click here for a crossword puzzle on the Bloom's Taxonomy concepts and thinking skills which is being distributed to the participants of the Bloom's Taxonomy Workshop to be held in Alliance University Bangalore for faculty participants on 22 Mar 2019.

Click here for my presentation to the faculty of Alliance University ..


Monday, March 18, 2019

Retailing and its future ..

What will retailing look like in the future ? What additional strengths we need to imbibe in the coming years to excel in the global retailing scene ?

This is a Forbes article that highlights the future of retailing and the top 5 trends in 2019 (click here)
1. Customers are looking at faster delivery. 
2. Customers are more aware of brands that engage in CSR and improved social consciousness activities
Warehouse Retailing where warehouses themselves double up
as the retail outlet points.
3. Experiential retail for the millennial customers is aimed at experiences in shopping (VR or AR) as different from just sales and order fulfilment.. An experience in a clean and green environment or an ecological setting can leave a deeper impression on the millennial than an formal office or store setup. 
4. Subscription e-commerce would be sought after in the coming years and businesses would be in better position to curate products to customer liking and offer them them direct to customers in as short time as possible. 
5. Multichannel retailing that happens over social media sites, ecommerce sites and physical brick-and-mortar stores will be the norm in future, than just one channel.

Click here for an interesting writeup from me for a class discussion.

Click here for an interesting video ..

European Bank video (click here ) on the future of Retailing ..

Metro Cash and Carry in India is an example of Warehouse retailing. The Warehouse itself offers a no-frills retailing experience.


Thursday, March 14, 2019

A Big Salute to Azim Premji !!

Sir, you are the model Indian .. !!
Full respect ..
I was really taken aback this morning to read of the great and magnanimous acts of philanthropy shown by one of India's richest persons, in fact, India's second richest person.

It was indeed really heartening to read of the huge philanthropic endowment corpus promised by the 73 year old Azim Premji, the Chairman of WIPRO (Western India Palm Refined Oils Ltd or more recently Western India Products Limited) the IT giant from Bangalore, India. If I am right, Azim Premji committed 67% of his holdings in WIPRO to philanthropy.

I am reminded of the great philanthropist from US, John D Rockefeller in the beginning of the 20 th century kickstarting directed philanthropy through the Rockefeller Foundation.

John D. Rockefeller Sr., Standard Oil
Click here for the facts of that kind act around 1896 AD by John D. Rockefeller, the first billionaire of the world, setting up the Rockefeller Foundation .. John D Rockefeller had a net inflation adjusted worth of $350 billion at the time of his death in 1937 at age 97. In today's terms it would be worth more than $850 billion. Rockefeller has been the greatest philanthropist of the world of all time.

I am too happy to include Azim Premji in that list of the greatest philanthropists of all time, to be in the 'A team' of John D. Rockefeller.

Can Azim bring about the change
he wishes in India ?
The Bangalore headquartered IT Czar has been known for his philanthropic activities  for a long time, and recently to top it all , he promised a $7.5 billion contribution to this corpus increasing his total endowment corpus to the Azim Premji Foundation to $ 21 billion (or approximately INR 150,000 crores..).

I request the PM of India to come out in the open to acknowledge Azim's great actions and to felicitate this kind soul for his magnanimous deed to humanity. Azim Premji Foundation funds almost 150 non-profit organisations in India. Modi's silence is deafening ..

Click here for the Hindustan Times report ..

Give, give till your hand aches ..
By this great act of humanity and by endowing so much resources to the Azim Premji Trust, Azim Premji is setting an example for the whole of India and the world. His ventures in the field of education through the Azim Premji University is worth mention here.

I doubt whether any other business conglomerate in India other than the Tatas have done such great social service in the country. Tata came to India from Northern Iran around 1840s. The Birlas, the nouveau riche Ambanis, the Singhanias, the Bajajs have all failed the country in giving a hand of solace to it's citizens. They have throughout history of the past hundred years been sapping the country's resources for their personal benefits. What ever they have got from society through their entrepreneurship or enterprise, they have not shared it with the society with the same openness..

Bill Gates and Azim Premji .., courtesy inshorts 
I have seen a bunglow which Kumaramangalam Birla purchased for INR 430 crores in Mumbai Malabar Hills in 2017/18, on the beach, which is unoccupied and unutlised. Birla are poor philanthropists in comparison to the TATAs.

It fails for our common sense to understand why these people who have sapped the society of resources legitimately or otherwise, who were asked by chance or God or MOTHER NATURE to be custodians of society's resources, fail to give back to society in equal measure for the benefits they have gained. I believe they have not been given the right value systems by their parents.

May the other great unethical group, the MNCs of the world, start similar Foundations by earmarking a fraction of their profits yearly, the legitimately or illegitimately earned wealth and riches from the developing, less developed and developed nations of the world with the less fortunate in the society.


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Strategic Fit in Supply Chains..

Thanks Pearson Education ..
Finding the zone of strategic fit is an important aspect of any business.

So you may ask, how come the e-commerce supply chain of Amazon is able to offer items through an efficient supply chain at low costs for the uncertain demand from customers...

How does this happen ?

The GREAT Democratic exercise in India ..

While in Goa government service I had the good opportunity to be part of the Indian Government in it's election activity. I considered it always my sacred and bounden duty to be part of the largest democratic exercise of the world. In fact, it was a great privilege not every one would get to enjoy. Right from 1989 to 2006, I have officiated as Presiding Officer in almost eight elections, which included state legislative elections and elections to the Lok Sabha or Parliament and a couple of times as Counting Officer too. I am so thankful to the Goa Government for making me part of the largest democratic exercise in the world. (click here for an earlier writing on Indian elections)

Interesting facts about the upcoming Indian General Elections ....

Indian democracy at work .. Courtesy India Today.
Election is the festival of Democracy, but it is slightly expensive. It is at any point of time better than dictatorship (like in North Korea) or one party rule (like in our neighbourhood China, trying to make a mockery of human existence) or doctored elections by the military (like in Burma or Pakistan) or a mockery like in Somalia ..

Indian democracy thanks to it's great leaders from all ideologies and walks of life have contributed in large measure to its survival. India could have been taken over by the military (like in Pakistan) but we were lucky. We had great learned and well read, statesmen politicians like Pandit Nehru, who along with other great leaders like Patel, Prasad, Moulana Azad etc.. braved great pains, trials and tribulations to get the Indian Democracy ticking and kicking..

India's first Prime Minister could have been removed by the military, like in Pakistan, or he could have taken a very narrow stand, be communal or narrow minded and cunning, but his excellent global education, exposure and global standing made him act in tune with the great traditions this land always carried forward, tolerance and integrity.

Indian elections are getting expensive. In fact, it will be the most expensive elections ever done in India till date. The 2019 elections will be the most expensive in the history of the world at INR 50,000 crores ($7 billion). It translates to INR 555 per vote for the 900 million strong electorate, though only about 600 million are expected to vote. This would take costs per voter to INR 833 to get each Indian to walk to the polling station to make democracy tick in the world's largest democracy.

Voting machines, courtesy Getty images.
There are some booths in the inaccessible Andaman Nicobar Islands where the voters are so far and electoral officials have to go by boat, helicopter etc to reach the place. 

This surpasses US elections of 2016 which cost US $6.5 billion for 138 million Americans who voted (app $46 for each voter) ..


Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Beena Kannan and Seemaatti

The success story of a lady entrepreneur from Kochi - Beena Kannan ..

Th story of how a Kottayam, Kerala born and raised girl, Beena Kannan, the only member of the 108 year old Seemaatti family, changed her family business of trading in sarees and other dress items to be one of South India's largest saree designing and sales centres. From about 30 outlets in early eighties and nineties, run through her uncles, cousins etc, the group now has only two major stores of more than 500,000 sq ft each in Kochi and Kottayam in Kerala..

Beena finished her education from BCM college Kottayam, Kerala and very soon got entrenched in the 108 year old family business. She got married early and after the demise of her husband in 2000, got together on her own and set up  one of Kerala's best and best admired ready made and retail textile houses which houses a large collection of silk sarees for which it has already been known for the past many decades in South India. Having developed to many parts of South India through her extended family, she finally decided to keep her focus only in Kerala in Kochi and Kottayam and helped make the present $80 million (INR 500 crores).

Her focus was not on mindless diversification but on focused differentiation ..

The idea was a lean approach
  • focusing on centralised large stores for better control
  • reducing the waste of needless communication, 
  • reducing costs of wasteful logistics, storage, transportation etc. 
  • procuring raw materials and sarees of original weave right from the source
  • adding repeatedly great value to the customers by
    • offering better and focused medium and high value merchandise 
    • through limited and 
    • well designed outlets ..
Her success mantra has been not of expanding the business mindlessly, but
  • being more focused in the offering
  • limiting the range on offer
  • getting high quality input material and designs for customers straight from the weavers
  • being more customer-centric ..
It is indeed a great success story of Beena to be listed in the Forbes mag issue of Mar 2019. The story of going through major hurdles in life, losing her husband early in life and almost single-handedly leading the store from rags to riches in twenty years.

Click here for the Forbes India link ..


Basel Convention ..

Frequently we come across unethical ads in the newspaper that try to sell old iphones at Rs 5000 or so .. Have you thought how this trade happens ?

You are exposed to the wide unethical world of disposal of electronic wastes or e-wastes. If these items are treated as wastes in the country of it's origin, mostly developed countries of the world, it becomes a hazardous waste management problem for the country. Waste disposal involves finding safe disposal practices, finding disposal sites, safe disposal of wastes at these sites, continuous monitoring of these sites for any pilferage or leakage into the environment or contamination of ground water table and so on. The easy way out for them to neglect and go ahead ..

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Do Co-work spaces offer a sustainable and shared work layout ?

On Sivarathri day, I was at 91 Springboard, the co-work hosting space above Big Bazar, near Forum Mall in Koramangala, Bangalore from 9.30 AM to 4 PM.

A personal office for the needy at low cost 
Why was I there ? One of my earlier colleagues Raju Gundala had set up a startup to help small and medium sector industries with a dedicated website and wanted me to visit their office at 91, Springboard. It was the first time I was visiting a co-work space. I went with two BBA final semester students to give them an experience of co-work spaces and the life of startups.

The office layout properly secured has long tables separated into cubicles which offers private working space, but in view of others, with comfortable chairs. The sides of the huge floor hall has private meeting rooms or private office space for the slightly well off entrepreneur looking for private rooms. Everyone around seemed to enjoy the group co-working environment, yet appreciate the privacy on offer, all at very low, affordable rents. For a startup, it is networking and mentoring which is most important. Some times one can get very much depressed and disheartened and is in the gutters it is mingling with others and breaking from routine working that can distract one and give relaxation to the mind to be more productive and creative in the long run. 

What exactly is co-working culture and what are the benefits of such a culture ? These definitions give a better appreciation of the idea which is almost 10 years old globally and is popular in India for the past 6 years.

These definitions of co-work space give the true essence of what one can aim for and how one can benefit from shared work spaces and peer interaction.
Co-working is a business services provision model that involves individuals working independently or collaboratively in shared office space. The typical user of a coworking facility is self-employed, a telecommuter, or a freelance worker. - 
Co-working is a self-directed, collaborative, flexible and voluntary work style that is based on mutual trust and the sharing of common core values between its participants. Co-working involves a shared workplace, often an office, and independent activity. - 
Co-working is a type of work that includes “the use of an office or other working environment by people who are self-employed or working for different employers, typically so as to share equipment, ideas, and knowledge” - 
Co-working is about creating a better place to work, and, as a result, a better way to work. Co-working spaces provide more than just office space. They are community centers, friendly gathering places, think tanks. When you rent a desk or an office, you gain coworkers to bounce ideas off and that support you professionally in a way that you can’t find working from home or in the corporate office. Co-working connects you to a global network of professional peers.- Jamie Orr
Spacious, conditioned and quiet focused workspaces
The 3 COs - COoperation, COllaboration and COmmunity .. Millennials really love this working style. 

What is the most valuable resource for a startup and its promoter ? You may say customers, ideas and so on. Actually it is money and time... The startup promoter is full of ideas, he/she is ready to give that idea all the time in the world to see it come to fruition he/she is ready to put in heavy hours of hard work, meeting people and clients, talking to them, ready to check out his ideas and get quick results, success or failure, reorient himself and face the future the next day, till he comes up with a viable business model and gets his first customer.

Click here for TEDx talk on co-work spaces in Thailand .. Excellent ..

Most of the co-work spaces offer the following amenities -

1. Network with high-speed Internet 2. Computer Rentals 3. CCTV Coverage for safety 4. Training rooms 5. House Keeping 6. AC & Utilities 7. Access Control 8. Reserved Parking 9. Power Backup 10. Locker & Store 11. Building Security 12. Landing line phone 13. Restroom 14. Paid Food (breakfast, lunch and dinner) 15. limited access 16. recreational activities 17. Flexible renting plans at excellent costs ..

The renting plans are very varied like monthly, 24 hrs, weekend, closed, open etc .. All of these come with meeting rooms, unlimited tea coffee, silence, proximity to mentors, facility to meet up with other entrepreneurs and CEOs ..

The charges at 91 Springboard ..
Emergent Research has come up with interesting statistics that say that almost 1000 cowork spaces have opened in the second half of 2018 around the world, half of it in US. By 2022, almost 6200 cowork spaces will be functioning in the US. Bangalore being part of the global coworking ecosystem, is an important member. Koramangala in Bangalore hosts the maximum startups in India. The emergence of cowork spaces has reduced the barriers of entry to have one's own startup.

The benefit of joining a popular cowork space is that one can go to their offices anywhere in the country or world (Wework is a global coworking space) free of charge and meet clients or customers. The entrepreneurs need not spend money on meeting halls, refreshments etc, helping them concentrate on their ideas at the initial stages of their company. The hand-holding they get at those critical stages on the company is indeed very valuable.

One great point I wish to make out here is that all the people I was seeing on the aisles, everybody was in a world of their own. Nobody had the time to think of anybody else, with whom he is meeting, who is coming to the building and so on. Nobody was even prepared to acknowledge our presence, everyone was in their own world, chipping away at their laptop keys or engrossed in deep thinking at their small cubicle. At rates very affordable and no caution deposit, it was the right place for entrepreneurs to test out their ideas.

Ad revenue on coffee vending machines
gives  free coffee and tea 24x7 to members
The governments past and present in India have not met their promise on creating new jobs, and have not been able to provide jobs to the youngsters. They have been helping the major industries and businesses to succeed, which is also needed in a country. There are millions of fresh youngsters who are entering the job market every year in the country. If we do not give them jobs, they will turn out to be a great burden and threat to the nation. We need to handhold and guide them to work on their creative startup ideas, if they have any. The initial hand-holding could be given by these co-work spaces. And this is a small way, we can do our bit for the society to help the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

In Alliance University we could offer working spaces and desks for these startups at very cheap rates. This will also motivate lot of our youngsters to think of promoting startups, either partnering with these startups or starting something on their own.

We do not know when and where the next GOOGLE or FACEBOOK will come out !!

Wework is also another popular international co-work space in Bangalore. International networking and meetings are possible with a wework subscription ..


The way forward for India and China ..

It is a fact that the Southern Hemisphere countries are getting involved in major conflicts aroubnd the world and often these conflicts are settled violently by arms and ammunition supplied by the countries in the Northern hemisphere. We find this causes great pain and tragedy to the poor and sidelined people of the world. The developed countries in the Northern hemisphere thrive on the hardships and death, misery in the Southern hemisphere ..  Is it the correct global strategy ?

Click here for an interesting TED talk video ..
Can violence ever bring peace, growth, prosperity and development ?

Shouldn't great economic powers like China and India concentrate more on diffusing tensions between the countries of the world, offer a helping hand at timers, than flexing muscles and causing social unrest resulting in loss of life ??  Let our political leaders weigh the options and deliberate ..

Is flexing muscles the right thing to do ? Will a bullet for a bullet strategy work for India ? Especially when India is in a growth trajectory, should we try to defuse tensions with our neighbours or act belligerantly and aggravate the situation letting it go out of our control ? What is the most appropriate thing to do? Shouldn't we think more intelligently and act ?

Can we afford to let our guard down and allow the enemy to hurt us ?  Should we be more alert and peace loving ? Should we concentrate more on development than on destruction ? Should we work  more and talk less ?

Let us really introspect !!


Sunday, March 03, 2019

Kaizen ..

10 Principles of Kaizen

The Kaizen method follows ten specific principles, which are described below:

  1. Improve everything continuously.
  2. Abolish old, traditional concepts.
  3. Accept no excuses and make things happen.
  4. Say no to the status quo of implementing new methods and assuming they will work.
  5. If something is wrong, correct it.
  6. Empower everyone to take part in problem solving.
  7. Get information and opinions from multiple people.
  8. Before making decisions, ask "why" five times to get to the root cause. (5 Why Method)
  9. Be economical. Save money through small improvements and spend the saved money on further improvements.
  10. Remember that improvement has no limits. Never stop trying to improve.



Saturday, March 02, 2019

Drop Factor and implications

Drop Factor in last mile delivery in distribution logistics refers to the (average) number of parcels delivered per stop or recipient. It is gaining attention with the growth of e-commerce. 

If this drop Factor is high, there are economies of scale and profits are high. On the other hand if the drop Factor is low, it means, the delivery at each stop or to each customer is low and hence profitability is low. 

The value of the parcels delivered is also an important aspect. Low value items do not bring in the revenues to make the delivery profitable, even though the drop Factor is high. 

Recently I happened to order from the cloud kitchen Zomato. The cloud kitchens usually have a drop Factor of one, as each customer order is from different geographical location and coordinates. Moreover there is no time to aggregate orders for last mile delivery as customers are pampered with under 20 minute preparation + delivery in most cases. It works in most cases. But is it profitable for the provider in the long run? 

Can AI be used to make predictions of future orders ? Can the delivery boy take more items predicted to be ordered by customers enroute without actually receiving orders but with the hope that orders can come on the way and can be delivered very fast. When the orders cross a quantity threshold, Predictive logistics can improve drop factors and bring in more revenues for the organisation. 


Friday, March 01, 2019

Environmental Footprints - Air, Water and Land ..

Human development has many impacts on planet earth. The major impacts are on land, water and air. The impact on land can broadly be classified as ecological footprint, that on air as carbon footprint and finally the impact on water is the water footprint. These three resources are vital to the sustenance of life in general, of the different flora and fauna, especially human life on planet earth.

This classification is beneficial as every action or event in planet earth has an impact on either of these three ecosystems, land, air and water. If one is aware of this, his / her actions will turn out to be more responsible and beneficial to the planet earth in the long run.

Air Based : A carbon footprint is historically defined as the total emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent.- Wikipedia. I am shocked the damage the industrialised countries of the world are doing on the economy. The example I usually quote is that of the CO2 equivalent gases released by our people who travel in their own automobiles, instead of the public or pooled transportation. Almost ten years back, I did a study on the employees of Infosys.  There is a trend among Infosys employees to be careless about the impact of their actions on the air.

Water Based : Water Footprint :
Blue water footprint :
Volume of surface and groundwater consumed as a result of the production of a good or service. Consumption refers to the volume of freshwater used and then evaporated or incorporated into a product.
Green water footprint :
Volume of rainwater consumed during the production process. This is particularly relevant for agricultural and forestry products (products based on crops or wood), where it refers to the total rainwater evapotranspiration (from fields and plantations) plus the water incorporated into the harvested crop or wood.
Grey water footprint :  It is defined as the volume of freshwater that is required to assimilate the load of pollutants based on natural background concentrations and existing ambient water quality standards. It is calculated as the volume of water that is required to dilute pollutants to such an extent that the quality of the water remains above agreed water quality standards.
Land Based : Ecological Footprint. The simplest way to define ecological footprint would be to call it the impact of human activities measured in terms of the area of biologically productive land and water required to produce the goods consumed and to assimilate the wastes generated.- courtesy WWF.

Country rank for Carbon footprints, 2015 data
Rank                   Country          Total tons CO2    Per capita, T CO2
                                                        (00,000 T)
2United States4997.515.53
7South Korea585.9911.58
10Saudi Arabia531.4616.85

Water Footprint (country rank, UNESCO data 2011)
1. China: 1.5 billion people, 362 trillion gallons annually
2. United States: 300 million people, 216 trillion gallons
3. Brazil: 175 million people, 95 trillion gallons
4. Russia: 143 million people, 71 trillion gallons
5. Mexico: 100 million people, 53 trillion gallons
6. India: 1.1 billion people, 30 trillion gallons
7. England: 60 million people, 20 trillion gallons
8. France: 60 million people, 20 trillion gallons
9. Canada: 33 million people, 19 trillion gallons
10. Australia: 20 million people, 12 trillion gallons , National Water Footprint Accounts 2011.
In the US it takes 12.2 acres to supply the average person's basic needs, in the Netherlands it takes 8 acres and in India it takes 1 acre. What this means is if every person onn planet earth were to live like an average splurging, careless and selfish American, we would need five planet earths to sustain such a lifestyle. Holland already needs a country 10 times its size to support it's lifestyle. India would need just 35% extra land than India has to support their lifestyle.

Ecological Footprints : Countries With The Highest Ecological Footprints

Ecological Footprint In Global Hectares Per Capita

Threat of Urbanaization - 

By 2025, two out of every three people on planet earth will be living in a city.

By 2025, there will be 30 megacities exceeding population of 8 million and 500 cities with populations exceeding 1 million. 

Ref : 

1. Stuart Hart, Beyond Greening, HBR, Feb, 1990 (click here for pdf copy..)


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...

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