November 17, 2013
Here’s a list of eminent Indians who haven’t been honoured by Bharat Ratna.
Field Marshal Sam Bahadur Manekshaw:
Took a burst of LMG bullets in his stomach for the nation.
Delivered greatest military victory in the modern history.
Major Dhyan Chand:
Won Olypics gold for India 3 consecutive time. Competing with top 32 hockey playing nations.
1932 Los Angeles
There are no stats of his achievements, but this feat is itself reflects his commitment.
Father of the nation. I need not write anything about him, but the fact is every member of Nehru – Gandhi dynasty has Bharat Ratna.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel:
Now imagine Bharat without this man.
I need not write much about the greatest mathematician of 20th century.
Homi Jehangir Bhabha:
Father of Indian nuclear programme. Thanks to him, we are not bullied by our enemies.
Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai:
Father of Indian space program. Thanks to him be are not dependent on US or Russia for our security.
M. S. Swaminathan:
Father of the Green Revolution in India. Thanks to him we had surplus food. Otherwise our condition would have been no different than that of Somilia or Syria. In late 70s India had to devalue it’s currency against dollar as a precondition to import wheat from US.
Initiated world’s biggest agricultural development programme, “Operation flood”. Operation flood not only transformed India from a milk deficient nation to largest producer of milk, it also provided employement to millions of people in rural region.
Sachin receiving Bharat Ratna ahead of this list of dignitaries, I certainly cannot bear this. I can survive without cricket, but without wheat and milk we would all cease to exist.
Dr. Ambedkar received Bharat Ratna after 35 years of his death. What was the reason?
Democracy… of the people, by the people, for the people.
Unfortunately it also implies that popular opinion supersedes logic.
People learn to read between lines. Populist decisions are never in the interest of the nation. Yes Sachin is the greatest sportsperson we have witnessed, but then.. lest we forget contribution of our real heroes.
August 14, 2013
Writing this blog on the auspicious Independence Day, trying to understand what freedom truly is.
This question is lingering for a long time, probably since I was a kid who ran wild errands wherever he went. Superficially it appears simple, but for me it probably it’s the very question of my existence.
Fortunately I was raised in a family and school which respected freedom of expression above all the virtues. Crisis began when I went to college. No longer could I write things the way I pleased, it had to be written in a specific format with each checkpoint carrying some weight. Back in school things were different. Writing things in creative manner was often appreciated and following status quo reflected badly on the mark sheet. Folks mugging up guides and journals could never compete with me & free spirits always posed a challenge.
The question was what is more important? Freedom of expression or status quo. In quest of the answers, I did nothing. Didn’t do well at college and lost my freedom of expression. The moral crisis became severe each year and the worst part was I could not understand what was happening. Job experience was even worse, since it had more stringent processes monitored by even more stringent process ;-). Ultimately a time came when it became unbearable. I quit the job just like that, without thinking about future and still failing to understand what the crisis actually is. Over a period of time, opensource lent me the support.
Now each day is some revelation, probably bringing me closer to the answer I had been seeking for a long time. The most amazing experience was when I gave an assignment to my interns.
They were supposed to introspect and find answers to these questions. It turned out to be quite a revealing experience for me as well. More things might unravel as we go through more iteration.
The questions asked were
- What is freedom of expression?
- What is liberal art?
- What does opensource mean to you?
- What do you want to achieve through this project?
- How would benefit from your project?
Every question was linked to subsequent question. The assignment started with as formality with eloquent words with no thought, similar to a school essay on “my pet” considering the fact that some of us never had a pet. They had to repeat the assignment, till something of value was extracted out of it.
Just summarizing the answers:
- Freedom of expression: Express oneself ourselves completely, without any inhibition.
- Liberal art: A civic virtue essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life or contribute to the society.
- Opensource: Code which is free and written to express ourselves.
- To develop cognitive skill in designing, to develop solution to real world problems.
- My favorite one and perhaps the most candid answer. Who would benefit from this project? I would 😀 This is probably the first principle of product design. Would you use the product you designed in the first place? People who got this right are the ones who poured life into their ideas.
Later I pointed out things that essentially did not imply by above definition.
- Lack of purpose voids the very premise of being free.
- Liberal art may or may not benefit the society. Society may or may not perceive your contribution beneficial. Important aspect is your contribution.
Achieving anything of significant would essentially mean that at some point going would go tough. Passion for our profession helps us overcome the highest mountains and the deepest oceans and end of the day still keeps us fulfilled and happy.
Freedom is certainly not limited to British troops leaving Indian shores for better, but standing upright for our values we cherish from bottom of our heart.
Probably Gandhiji was already enjoying his freedom when he stood firm and said, “They shall do what they want, but they shall not have my obedience”. Freedom is certainly not stooping low on morale to garner jobs, reservation, perks. Freedom is not about being a corporate stooge for fat salary and materialist life, but probably about pursuing your heart and leading a fulfilled life.
History has witnessed that liberal art of any form, be it music, painting, drama, literature, etc. has always put civilizations on a new pedestal. History has also witnessed the dark ages when liberal art was
Over a period of time paradigms change, but the core values don’t. The paradigms of liberal art have changed, but the core values remain the same.
Not that I am Linus Torvalds, but probably someday my efforts would contribute to take human race forward.
August 1, 2013
I Recently saw this movie “Ankur Arora murder case”. The movie is about a kid who dies after his surgery because of negligence of the doctor, who is subsequently prosecuted and ultimately truth triumphs over evil bollywood style. I am engineer, but still feel that it’s too harsh a critique on the surgeons.
Let’s assume that a particular surgeon is an evil money monger as shown in the movie, but some facts.
It takes lot of dedication to be a skillful surgeon and at least 10 years of academic training.
We all make mistakes at times in a very critical situation and so do surgeons. The surgeons have very less room for error compared to most of the other professions and is associated with severe consequence for trivial mistakes.
Now coming back to the movie, our antagonist Kay Kay Menon is a top class surgeon, arrogant of his abilities and his status in the medical fraternity. In a surgery he forgets that the kid has eaten biscuits before the surgery which he shouldn’t have. Post-surgery the kid goes in coma and the doctors know that he will die soon. They cover up the situation by putting him on a ventilator and give some techie explanation to the mother, who obviously fails to grasp the situation. As predicted the kid dies. There is a court case and the hospital is made to pay 10 cr to ailing mother, plus imprisonment for the doctor. So what purpose does it serve, the kid is already dead and hospital is deprived of a good surgeon however arrogant he might be.
This could have been easily averted had the mother taken caution and prevented her kid from eating anything before the surgery. Now there is a scene where the lady signs the consent form for the surgery just like that, without giving it a second glance. Lady you are not creating an email account to ignore the technical terms, you kid’s life is at stake literally and the doctor is not god to trust blindly (Anyways blind faith is always bad).
I have heard stories similar to this one, although never witnessed one. I am sane enough to understand that these things are not rare occurrences in India. Most of the surgeons do make fatal mistakes similar to our surgeon here in the movie. The issue here in India is great disparity between no. of skillful surgeons available and no. of patients, who are unaware of their legal rights and whose life is too cheap for legal experts to give a second thought. Even most of our literati won’t be able to distinguish between civil and criminal court, let alone their legal rights and with a huge population of illiterates or barely literates the doctors in India are rarely prosecuted in such cases.
As my grandfather use to say “a wise man never goes to court”, we have to be proactive and take some preemptive measures in such situations. Dragging surgeons to court is certainly not the solution to our problem and the society will have to bear the brunt of putting surgeons behind the bars. However trivial a surgery might appear, we have to be absolutely sure of what we are getting into. Sometimes a patient can die because of anesthesia administered to pull out their tooth.
So here’s that we can do when our dear ones are going for a surgery. We need to spend at least a day or two understanding what are the implications of the surgery, what are possible risks, refer to friends and acquaintances who are expert in that domain.
Two most important things that I would do in such situations:
Cross question the doctor on every single word that I don’t understand on the consent form, also make the surgeon aware that you have done some solid homework as well. This should indicate the surgeon that you are not someone who can be taken for granted. A doctor who is not willing to spend time with me for this procedure is either arrogant or incompetent, in either case not worth the risk. Find another doctor who understands that it is important to spare time for this process.
Understand all the possible risks that might arise and their mitigation. When both the doctor and the patient are on the same page, this should make the doctor’s job easier. I feel we should be little more empathetic towards surgeons as well in worst case scenario. An unintentional mistake of the surgeon should be forgiven. If the risks are too high/many, maybe we might not go for surgery.
Miracles can happen people can survive worst kind of errors made in the surgery, preoperative and postoperative care. I would rather trust my common sense more than an divine intervention.
November 19, 2011
So recently been to this event startup event on startups called unpluggd. There was an element of anxiety since my startup made in the final 10 startups who would be presenting in front of Angles and VC firms.
When short-listed as a finalist I don’t expect the organisers holding a bouquet for me at the entrance, but at least I expect them to turn up before hand at the venue and provide some briefing as to how they have planned the sessions, dos and donts, etc. Well the organiser were themselves late. My queries might be stupid or obvious, but someone from the organisers need to address those.
Well things get delayed in India, that’s the way we Indians are. That’s the way our bureaucracy is, our politicians are and so is the traffic ! It is so easy to blame the whole system for that and we won’t change the way we are. Still no issues. What really pissed me off was so called Mr Ashish, one of the organisers/volunteers of the event turning cold shoulders when I introduce myself. OK I am not expecting organisers to give me red carpet treatment, but ‘Hi Chaitannya Nice to see you.. XYZ would brief you about presentation.’ would have been sufficient. Instead you just turn around ! WOW ! I had been to Nasscom Conclave and there some of these volunteers who owned more than million $$ businesses were so courteous. There was a warmth in their behavior. I was there just attending the event, not even as a speaker and in terms of revenue nobody. That didn’t matter to them, they valued all their attendees as they much as they valued their speakers.
Next shockers was folks presenting their product had to pay as well. “We had emailed you” Stop lying ! I didn’t get any such email. I don’t mind paying, but prior notification is very essential. Just a week back I paid 1500 bucks for Nasscom conclave and there were a 1000+ startups who happily did that. Even after paying 700 bucks, you had to write your own name in their database, on your Name tag, collect your notepad , pen , etc. Good enough, but at least look into the eyes of the person and with a smile say ‘Hi, welcome … something.. something’. Very similar to movies where you see a prisoner who has to collect his stuff and move on. Reception guys at Nasscom welcomed warmly 1000+ people to the venue. Can’t you say ‘Hi’ to 100 odd people here.
As usual the session got delayed. Next shockers was no diversity in the presentations.
Facebook + linkedin + deals + geo locations + hiring + education + SaaS → you make a bhel and VOILA ! That’s your next billion $$$ startup. I have nothing personal with these startups, you folks chase your dreams, build great organisations. The organisers should have taken care to have startups from diverse background. I know companies in Pune, doing excellent products in Medical electronics field, DSP, embedded systems, critical electromechanical domains. Aren’t these startups ? Don’t they deserve platform to pitch their products and companies ? They are not on facebook and linkedin, you have to reach out to them through phone. If you are interested only in Social Media, why not make your agenda very clear. Why not shortlist only those startups for the event. What was a guy like me from Embedded Systems doing there ? When I presented , all I saw was blank faces. My presentation made no sense to people from non-embedded systems background. I didn’t get any traction from the event. When we organise ‘Startup Saturday’ here at Pune, Sandeep Saxena from Acton Biotech would spend hours and hours making sure we have speakers from diverse segments of the industry and motivate us to do the same. At Nasscom, the volunteers spent around a month with speakers of the likes of Vinod Khosla, Naveen Jain, Vivek Paul reviewing their presentations, making sure that there is no conflict in terms of content., timing their presentation, pushing for creativity,etc. They put in every bit of effort to make sure, they had speakers from diverse segments and their talk delivered 100% value to the audience .
Before my presentation I had a few queries, but some Mr. Pratyaush was busy discussing best places to booze around and made me wait for ten mins.
The intention here is not to compare this event Nasscom Conclave or Startup Saturday (Far better than your event), all I would request you is to be courteous and attentive to people who turn up for the event. It helps a lot even if you smile and say Hello when they greet you.
May 5, 2011
On 1st May 1945 US announced death of Adolf Hitler and year later on the same day, US again announced death of Osama bin Laden. Probably they are still celebrating in US, but is the justice really done.
This dialogue for the movie “Halla Bol” has permanently itched on my mind, “Khoon toh bohot bahaya hai maine, par khoon bahane se aadmi marta hai samasya nahi !”
Rightly pointed out by Pankaj Kapoor’s character; shedding blood would only kill the person, not the problem.
A few facts before putting up my opinion.
The mansion where Osama was killed is technically a part of the premier Military training academy of Pakistan equivalent to India Military Academy or the Royal Military Academy of UK.
Even officially US has records that he lived in this mansion for at least 2 years.
There were no records of ownership of the land or financial accounts of the people who lived in the mansion.
The mansion was literally a fortress built to protect such high-profile terrorist.
Apart from the public statement of President Obama, there is no other credible source of information that he is dead.
There was no official confirmation from Pakistan that their intelligence or Military was involved in the operation. It took more than 24 hours for their Prime minister to deny it.
Till date $19.6 billion aid was given to Pakistan, $13 billion for security related purpose. The multiple occasion of Pakistan defaulting loans from various countries/ banks, loan waiver are not included in this figure.
The amount of aid given, has accounted the death of only 1 major terrorist.
Now some speculations:
Osama’s pics are not released, keeping his identity completely secret. President Obama released a statement saying the pics would not be released and showing sensibility by stating that the job is yet not done.
Osama’s body was (allegedly) set to rest in the Arabian sea. This means no chance of autopsy in case someone wins the right to verify the facts from.
Based on facts and speculations we can place our assumptions in 2 sets.
Pakistan hide Osama in his fortified Mansion.
Pakistan had no clue of Osama hiding.
Laden was killed as mentioned by the US statement.
Laden was killed way back sometime, details unknown. US now realised it and planned a cover operation.
Laden is still alive, details unknown. There is a mounting pressure in terms of elections and mercenary business (unlikely, but possible scenario).
The two most logical combinations are to my mind are.
Pakistan hide Osama and Laden was killed as mentioned by the US statement.
Pakistan had no clue and this was a cover up operation. Laden was dead long back, details unknown or unverified.
In either cases Pakistan’s situation looks very grim, the first case is obvious.
Overall looks like Pakistan’s Major source of Income is terrorism. Hence giving protection to high-profile terrorist becomes very essential for them. They operate the way farming is done.
Sow the seeds in the young minds. Nurture them in a protected environment. Boost their growth with subsidised weaponry from mercenaries or allied nations. Harvest them when ripe and sell them to international market creating artificial need to eliminate the terrorism. Then hoard them the most wanted ones and rake is as much as benefit as possible. Finally at the tipping point sell the harvest at enormous profit.
The diplomats on Indian side would go on saying “Told you so.. told you so…” . Pakistan’s would go on with their monotonous monosyllabic response, “Denied… Denied !!” and USA would in its own league would talk of “Freedom, liberty, Justice league of America, Men of honour … ” and then giving out billions of dollars of hard-earned people’s money in aid to Pakistan so that they can buy M-16 and Falcons from US. In a way money comes back to the US defence allied companies.
In second case the threat would be, why did US plan this cover up operation under the very nose of Pakistan’s most elite military academy and abode of top brass retired army officer? Do they want to make a point that Pakistan’s military is indulged in terrorist activities ? Internally US has already considered ISI as a terrorist organisation.
Surprisingly what I see is that for years together there have been no education related partnerships from the US or aid been channelised in that direction. India would have to thank Russia (former USSR) for setting up the IITs and US for setting up the IIMs. There are multiple programmes / partnerships which are running between elite universities of these nations and worldwide, but Pakistan. Not a word on education. All the elements of terrorism are still there in Pakistan and Afganistan. Poverty, illiteracy and radical religious fanaticism. I won’t be surprised if there are more terrorist attacks and more Ladens and Zavaris taking leadership of misguided youths.
Sadly what US is doing here is just keeping a things evenly poised so that there is a continuous demand of weaponry.
What can we do?
So far, I don’t think as tiny little responsible citizens of India can do anything beyond reading newspaper.
April 9, 2011
These are the snippets that I collected from the session organized by NeN on business plan writing, conducted by Mahesh Murthy.
A VC typically has close to 60 secs for any business plan to scan around, based on the flood of business plan they receive each day. In that time a VC has to take a decision to throw the plan or try digging more into it. So how do you compel a VC to do that?
Here is some insight from a investor’s point of view.
A VC is similar to mutual fund business, where money is pooled form people and invested into startups in for some share in the startup. Unlike mutual funds, a VC firm cannot sell it’s shares in an open stock market.
So then how
- Does a VC firm book profit.
- How is it different from a mutual funds.
Typically a VC firm would return 25% IRR, which is way higher than mutual funds. It’s a high risk high gains fundamental.
Lets assume that a VC firm invests 10 crores in 10 different companies. Generally a VC firm would expect this at the end of 5 years.
3 venture would die
3 would be break even, but there is no exit visible for the investment.
2 will give 5 crores on exit
2 will give 10 – 15 crores on exit.
So ideally an investment of 10 crores, the VC firm has made 30 crores of profit.
Now coming back to original question, is your company worth returning 10x returns on investment at the end of 5 years. VCs have to think with that conviction for every company. A 10x return on the investment is achieved only if the company is no. 1 player in the segment, no. 2 position is far fetched. So do you have in you what it take to be no. 1 in your segment?
Now on to the exit strategy. How does the VC firm book it’s profit.
A VC firm would never want a pie out of your company’s profit. They book profit only when they sell their share to someone and exit from your company.
- Management buy back: Typically when the management has 70-80 % share of the company why would it buy more. Deal is uninterestin for the management and a tough bargain for the VC.
- Merger or Acquisition : Best option for the VC to exit from the company
- Public issue: Very unlikely, a startup making headways into the stock market. None the less this is a viable option. Typically a IT company would have to have valuation of 50 crores, a manufacturing company should have valuation of 200 crores, etc
Now another important question for the VC can you survive with the money that they handover you and thrive thereafter.
Let’s summarise what a VC looks into your business plan.
- 60 secs pitch that should arouse interest. So business plan has to be concise and not an encyclopedia of what your business is all about.
- Before getting into the deal, does the investor have a profitable exit door after 5 years.
- Can you survive with the money given by the investor to you.
- Can you thrive to be no. 1 in your market segment.
For an investor all you need to give is a spreadsheet with shows when the break even point occurs and what happens at the end of 5 year.
So just grab an excel sheet and start filling the numbers. Doesn’t matter if they are right or wrong. Start planning, get it vetted from peers, successful businessmen, investors.
As Mahesh Murthy has put it, business plan is a model not the real thing. In reality no business runs the way it was planned for. The business plan is a blur reflection of your ideas for the investors to which they can relate to.
Some number nuggets:
- Typically a VC firm would be looking forward for investment in the range of 2-5 crores, with a share of 20-30 %.
- For that share of your company should be close to 50 – 200 crores at the end of 5 years, for the VC to rake in their 10x profit.
Well the facebook and twitter streams , my mailbox and my sms inbox are all flooded with “Support for lokpal”.
Something of this significance and of national importance cannot be simply overlooked and I started digging in.
Anna Hazare is the man who is at the epicentre of it. He is a social worker and a Padma Vibhushan. I haven’t had an opportunity to interact with him personally or really investigate his work, hence would consider his role from a very neutral angle.
Wikipedia mentions that this bill was presented in the parliament for the first time in 1969 and has been unsuccessfully been staged there after. The bill is drafted taking references of similar act implemented in Scandinavian countries in and apparently looks like it worked for them. Sweden and Denmark are least corrupted countries today based on statistics. As Navjot Singh Sidhu would have stated, status are like mini skirts. They reveal a great deal, yet hide the essential things. How can statistics account for White collar corrupt practices.
Lets start listing down key clauses of the bill:
- ‘Ombudsman’ / Lokayukta : In simple words the person / entity who can initiate a proceeding on his own for greater cause of the people against a complaint. Now prosecuting culprits or not by Ombudsman, our honourable MPs (Whom we have elected / ignored to vote) would debate on.
- Appointment is to be made on the recommendation of a committee. Lokpal will have its own administrative machinery for conducting investigations.
- The Lokpal is supposed to complete the inquiry within a period of six months. No minister or bureaucrat will be able to influence their investigations.
- He can order search and seizure operations.
- If any work of any citizen is not done in prescribed time in any government office, Lokpal will impose financial penalty on guilty officers, which will be given as compensation to the complainant.
- Lokpal is supposed to investigate cases of corruption only, and not address himself to redressing grievances in respect of injustices and hardship caused by maladministration.
Now thinking like an electronics engineer.
- Now why can’t these amendments be made to IPC / CBI / Income tax / Excise rules, a system already in place for investigation. Why a separate institute?
- Lets say there is a separate institute, who are the most qualified personnels (ethically and unethically as well) for this job. Well no prize for guessing, Judges , CBI , Income tax / Excise, etc.
- Indians love the game called “Pass the buck” .. Now let’s say that there is a case which lokpal is handling. There is a huge money scandal, like Hawala. Automatically IT (Income tax) dept comes into picture and then a few more committees to audit their reports. Now lets say the guy is a criminal. The CBI/ CIA/ KGB / Crime branch Mumbai, etc comes into picture as well. Now these guys decided to pass the buck. What can Lokpal do? File a lame report?Moral of the story: A scandal clean up drive is not single person’s (institute in this case) undertaking.
- Now how do we know Lokpal is not corrupt? Ghourmint of India’s Classic solution… Set up a committee, investigate for like 25 – 50 years and then the parliament has to reject the recommendations unanimously. By this time the kids of the accused person are chilling their heels in some states of Ambrika.
- How is corruption not different from maladministration. Lets say I allow a blacklisted vendor to bid for a project, oops I didn’t knew it was a blacklisted company. Thanks to my insightful vision which usually cannot be tried in the court, the vendor wins the bid.. Now is this a case of administrative mismanagement or corruption.
Ok let say all my logical arguments are proven wrong and the parliament passes the bill. This would be truly a landmark event, but are we ready to nurture this sapling into a humongous tree which would protect us from the blaring heat of corruption.
Let’s find out with some simple introspective questions:
- Do you have voter’s ID. You might have driving licence and passport, but do you have voter’s ID.
- For ZP / municipal corporation elections, which ward do you belong to.
- Who is your local corporator. What was the budget allocated to your ward this year.
- What’s the fine for not carrying your driving licence, assuming you have a valid driving licence.
So if we don’t know very basic things about the government we are part of, no amount of committees and institutes can help us. We need to participate at basic level.
January 30, 2011
Now the fun begins, computer scientist might actually enjoy watching evolution software algorithms. So as we entered the office concerned officer to be referred as Babu hereafter 😀 was attesting some tax related docs. He found a glitch .. immediately the peon was summoned (अरे तुक्या !! हेच्या receipts कुठे चिटकवल्या).
Now both started backtracking the references for the taxation made for that property ( Linked list) , finally the bug was found and the account was settled. Then the officer greeted us with a smile and asked us to have a seat. We were by then desperately looking out for chairs and by god’s grace a few officers / peons/ good for nothing folks / leeches were off duty (It’s a ghourmint Affice after all). The officer then went to hunt file related to our property. Now there were huge line of cupboards (again antique) with cryptic numbers on them. He found the right cupboard but met with the segmentation fault … The file was missing from the right shelf, fortunately it was placed in the same cupboard. The thick file had all the records of the previous owners of the land since it’s inception, I guess. After sometime we very done with our job and then the babu started doing his exclusive job.
- Manually copy a letter from template. (Time 30 mins)
- Check for all spelling mistakes.
- Do some correction (whitener and scratching stuff)
- Fill my details (Name, age, etc )
- Get my signature.
- Attach the new docs into the file.
- Start numbering the pages from based on the ref no of the latest doc.
- Update the index on the last page with relevant doc titles and page no.
Once done with that .. File moved to senior babus, तुक्या is summoned again, using VFTP (Vintage File transfer protocol) .
Then senior babus summons junior babus for IRC chat session.
File is then locked into the xyz shelf of the abc cupboard.
August 16, 2010
This is an interesting story that I had come across years ago. Later on I couldn’t find any references, so I am not sure if the story is for real. Yet it’s an interesting story we all can learn from.
So there is a poor man who wants make a living out of sword fighting. He has heard that the Tsar rewards sword fighters handsomely. He wants to earn a big reward, so that he can take care of his ailing parents.
He had heard that there is a monk who lives on the mountain is an excellent sword fighter. So the man goes to the monk and asks him if he could teach him sword fighting and how much time it would take. The monk replies that he can teach him sword fighting in ten years. The man is astounded, his ailing parents would die meantime and he would never be able to serve them. He got anxious and told the monk can he make it bit quicker?
The monk replied, “Yeah , you could take twenty years.”
After some argument with the monk the man relented, decided to stay with the monk and do whatever it takes to be a good sword fighter.
So the training starts with mundane tasks like watering the plants, doing kitchen work, cleaning the monastery, etc. Slowly the monk starts hitting the man with stick without any warning while he is doing his work. As the days pass the frequency of the attacks increase. Now the man is whipped even when he is sleeping. Yet there is no sword training in sight.
The man is of tough vigour and continues to stay with the monk. Meanwhile he now slowly starts defending those attacks, with whatever strength he has. Over a period of time his reflexes become very sharp, he learns the nature of his master. He is able to read the moves of his master before he attacks him. Over a period of time he is able to defend the monk even when he asleep.
After five years of such harsh thrashing the man now becomes impregnable, his reflexes are extremely sharp and he has completely read his opponent. At this moment the monk decides to teach him sword fighting.
To summarise, the man becomes excellent sword fighter and wins two Olympic golds for Russia in sword-fighting.
Well there are some very important lessons for us from this story. Here the monk does not teach his student how to defend. The student learns on his own, based on cognisance, skills, strength (physical, mental and emotional) and vigour. His ability was inherent, is was not made by the thrashing it is only brought forth.
We all have to lead our lives. Now the question is do we lead it complaining about the hardships en-route or do we take up the challenge unto ourselves and face it with all that we have.
Each one of us have our own set of skills, strengths and weaknesses. Formal education would form the structure the structure of your goals, but it can never be the foundation of it.
Life is similar to this monks, it hits us without any warning. If things go wrong, understand that’s a lesson for you to learn. You have to face it and successfully overcome the challenge with your own skills, cognisance and strengths. Over a period of time you develop your become impregnable and bad things stop happening to you or at least you have the required strength to overcome a bad situation. It is life’s own way of teaching you. You are first slapped hard on your face and then taught a lesson. This way you won’t forget the lesson even when you are half asleep. So next time when life presents with you a challenge, understand you are being chiselled for a bigger opportunity.
Second thing the monk teaches is “Haste makes waste.”
You cannot learn things in a hurry. If you want to be a master in your field, you must dedicate necessary time to acquire the mastery with a laser sharp focus on the goal.
If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere. Life is tough, but it only makes me stronger.
Cheers to life !!
May 23, 2010
Powers of ten:
I just came across an interesting case study on product design. This is one is called “Powers of 10”. Powers of Ten is a 1968 American documentary short film written and directed by Ray Eames and her husband, Charles Eames,
The Powers of 10 analysis helps innovators identify stakeholders, envision scenarios of how their product may be used, and anticipate how it may make a difference in people’s lives
So the product involved in our case study is a product by Lubrizol known as PuriNOx a.k.a. Q white, an emulsification of diesel and water which reduces / eliminates the NOx emission into the environment.
A few things that the author observed were.
- Product developers often focus on the aspects in their comfort zone or closer to their comfort zone
- Technologists are technology driven tend to focus on the technology alone (I fitted in here in early stage of my career)
- Companies often fail to take into account all the different views and requirements of all the stakeholders of their product. I would like to add that in a most of the cases companies fail to identify even the stakeholders or justify their role in the whole ecosystem.
- They don’t envision potential difficulties in gaining acceptance in the target market.
- They also fail to leverage enthusiasm of other stakeholders and potential role in encouraging it’s adoption.
Now how did Lubrizol assess their challenges using the Powers of 10.
101 Molecular levels:
- The ad agency and the technologist focused on the molecular structure, which did not concern the stakeholders.
- Technologists were unhappy over the ad agency for portraying their molecular structure as some junk food candy.
- This brawl gave jitter to the executives who had to invest money into marketing and sales of the product.
102 Blending water with diesel:
To blend the unit you need a new blending unit, lots of engineers, suppliers, eventually opening door to new opportunities. Now the question is would the blending process be hidden from view or prominently displayed. But the Powers of 10 suggests it should be visible, providing a new opportunity to establish a visual brand identity of the product. Elaborated in 103
103 The blending machine:
The water molecules blend temporarily, settling to the bottom of the mixture unless they are stirred. The supplier/stakeholder has to incorporate the new product line into his work routine, which is critical to the product’s long term success. How will he react? Anticipating stakeholder’s needs affects the product design itself. Companies would always want their products to be widely appreciated and accepted. Lubrizol anticipated these concerns and designed a support programs for them.
104 System Operations:
The typical supply chain management trail chain, which sprocket fits when and where. Resistance of the existing shop floor folks towards learning new thing and unlearning the old ones. This certainly affects the productivity in the initial stages. What about the union, plant manager, et. al? Lubrizol addressed the concerns by educating them on the benefits and use of the product, not pitching the benefits to the plant manager alone. From the start, the operators and maintainers will have a sense of the goals of the new product and the purpose behind the process changes.
And as always education helps reduce foibles.
105 System Operations:
This new fuel affects residents around the refinery, politicians dealing with pollution in their city, and even the gas stations. Could these stakeholders harm the product’s success? Or could they be used to the company’s advantage?
This would involve political level decision-making. Does clean environment only means using a different type of fuel, how do politician take a decision, formulate policies? Can there be subsidy or a mandate for using this new fuel. Could the enthusiasm of the environmentalists be leveraged?
I guess I should stop here because the context is getting beyond my scope.
108 Global environment:
FYI it deals with humanity and environment.
The Powers of 10 analyses people who are relevant, and scenarios of each of the identified individuals provides needed insight and understanding. Scenarios ensure that people remain real.