Sameer Agarwal

His views, thoughts, introspection and rants

Archive for the ‘Introspection’ Category

What do you enjoy doing most?

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Well I haven’t been blogging for ages now. Blame it on my lifestyle. Or Twitter. Or Facebook. Or the world! But the fact of the matter is that I haven’t been inspired to write for a really long time. Perhaps like I have not been inspired to do several other things that I like, or shall I say liked doing.

I am caught in a stupid rat race. Of beating the inflation (well even that was satisfactory performance during the recessionary times). Of staying at par with who I think are my peers. Of just being one of those millions, if not billions.

The times, they keep changing though. And a series of events lately have made me think quite a bit and re-assess myself. My priorities. My purpose. No clear answers yet.

But I did look back at my life. My professional life too. And in there, I realized that I enjoyed coding the most. It’s been many, many years since I’ve coded. But coding is indeed poetry. Perhaps that was the one thing I REALLY enjoyed doing. The irony is that when I used to code, I wanted to do ‘bigger’ things in life. But the fact of the matter is that the ‘bigger’ things just meant faffing around as much as I could and making stupid PPTs.

Hmm, so anyway. I was discussing this with Sakshi the other day. And she has already given me a task. I need to now build up a website for her as her Valentine Day gift!

Inspiration… Where are you?!

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January 28th, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Go green – Umm really!

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Pick up any statement from a utility or financial service provider and you’ll read pleas urging their ‘valued’ customers to subscribe to email statements and hence save a tree. Noble cause you’d say. I agree. And hence I did whatever in the Tree’s name they asked me to do to subscribe to email statements. The result – well I did start getting email statements but the paper statements never stopped!

The culprits (in the order of their ‘plea strength’) – Vodafone, Airtel, Reliance, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank. These are the service providers where I explicitly requested for paper statements to be stopped. The one surprise exception here is Citibank but that’s perhaps because the banking product that I have (Suvidha) was never designed for paper statements.

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June 14th, 2009 at 6:27 pm

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Welcome 2009!

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2009 is here and it couldn’t have come sooner. Time just flies by and by and by…………! 

2008 was quite an eventful year. Like all years I guess – just that 2008 is fresher in the memory. Traveled quite a bit – thrice to Delhi, once to Mysore, once to Chikmagalur, once to Coorg, once to Trichy and twice to Chennai. Made some resolutions, broke most of them! Did not exercise enough. Did not read enough. Made reasonable accomplishments at work – was Employee of the year, got a top rating and made my own road almost literally by incubating a new service line!

The last few days were complete hibernation. Did not touch a computer for almost two weeks. Did not read a single newspaper, nor watched TV! But hey such luxuries ought not last for too long; else the nomenclature changes – ‘luxury’ would then become ‘deprivation’ I believe!! Anyway, am back on the ‘scene’ – good or bad!

2009 ought to be the year of fitness. Got a gym membership AND a spa one too! Need to lose at least 4 inches off my waist and generally feel (and perhaps look) better. Let’s see what I do…

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January 5th, 2009 at 11:59 am

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People notice more than you think they do

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We use Microsoft Communicator for instant messaging at work. Communicator has an option of setting a status message which is visible to everyone who has you on their contact list, but in a rather non-intuitive manner (see below; the pinned note; on taking the mouse over the status message of the contact appears as tool-tip text).

I did use to check status messages of other people on my contact list generally, but I thought that was just me and my quirks. So I thought I’ll test it out.

And so, I put a status message saying that

FY09 planning for iKnow on… If you bothered to check my status – well, then may as well pass on some ideas :)

Now who would read it I thought. But the truth of the matter is that several people did. Interesting….!

PS: iKnow is an integrated Knowledge Management, information and communications program for one of the teams (Decision Support and Analytics Services [DSAS]) at Hewlett-Packard.

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November 11th, 2008 at 10:23 am

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Why can’t you say it straight?

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Hell, rant again. Seems like I’m the most inspired to blog when I have a rant. Why on earth will I want to make a rant public? I guess it’s similar to just “talking it out”. So here goes.

One thing that really pisses me off is when people can’t say it straight. I don’t seem to understand why this fear psychosis really spans everyone – across gender, ranks and culture! I guess there is one set of people who have the courage/assertiveness to say things the way they mean and the other much larger set who can’t.

Why can’t Yes or No be easier to say. Whoever believes in Ms Rand anyway! There is no black or white for them; it is all gray and as ambiguous as it gets. Some people survive on ambiguity for they feel it keeps their options open. Am I one of them? Very difficult for me to answer, but I sincerely hope that I’m not. May God always give me the courage to call a spade a spade. Amen!

Ok I’m feeling better now :)

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October 29th, 2008 at 6:20 pm

What do I want out of life?

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Must be a simple question for some, but the most difficult for me. I guess I’ve been trying to figure it out forever. Heck my conclusion is that I’ve no burning ambition in life – an ambition for which I may give up everything, or give ‘it’ everything.

A little secret. People often ask (typically in training programs and interviews) what my ambition is. Sometimes I’ve been honest enough to say that I really do not have an ambition, but sometimes I just make up something. And it’s not that, that ‘something’ is not something I want. Well I do want ‘that’, but does that qualify to be a burning ambition. Heck, no.

For the time being I’ve given on identifying my burning ambition. Guess I’m fine without one. It may be a very mediocre thing to do (being fine without THE BIG goal), but well I haven’t found it yet.

So. So what if I don’t know what the big goal is yet. How about the small ones that keep coming to my mind everyday. I read somewhere recently that writing ‘it’ down brings commitment to a thought. So well I thought, why not. Let me write down, and possibly keep writing my-goals (that’s the tag I intend to use for similar future posts).

Here goes. Some of the things I want out of life (Disclaimer: some of them will be VERY contradicting, but that’s how I am!):

  1. I want to be an entrepreneur – run a startup
  2. I want my startup to go public
  3. I want to make a lot of money
  4. I want a  life of solitude – with nothing to do
  5. I want to read all the books on the planet (or the ones that count)
  6. I want to go back to school – Harvard
  7. I want to travel at least 50% of the globe
  8. I want to go on a cruise
  9. I want to own a yacht
  10. I want to do sky-diving
  11. I want to do scuba diving
  12. I want to learn how to play the guitar
  13. I want to learn how to play the piano
  14. I want to learn how to swim (funny but yeah I don’t know how to swim!)
  15. I want to learn Waltz
  16. I want to learn Salsa
  17. I want to learn French
  18. I want to learn horse riding
  19. I want to learn how to fly a plane
  20. I want to own my private jet
  21. I want to live away from the city, in peace and tranquility with no material interests whatsoever
  22. I want to…

Well that should be enough for a lifetime. Maybe no. I’m sure I’ll keep adding to this list. But I guess the more important thing is how many I accomplish out of this list. Let’s see……..!

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August 17th, 2008 at 8:21 pm

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Do you really need Knowledge Managers anymore?

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The trigger for this post is an interesting article from Atul Rai here. Atul articulates that from a ‘tacit knowledge sharing’ perspective (call it Web 2.0 or social networking if you have to) communication is probably not that relevant. He cites the SMS and twitter phenomenon has changed the way we communicate as people. Fair point – SMS hs chnged rules qt a bit & its nrml fr cnvrstns 2b lk ths.

But is communication all about the way we write, or speak. Isn’t their more to it? Bloody well yes, communication is about effectively transmitting a message from a sender to a receiver. While articulation (for traditional, ‘explict’ kind of KM) requires good writing skills, and for Web 2.0 kind of KM it does not, the realm of communication is much beyond articulation alone!

‘Communication skills’ is about an understanding of what mediums work best to be able to most effectively ‘transmit’ information. As Knowledge Management, or Knowledge Sharing professionals isn’t our job to create an environment conducive for effective collaboration? How people collaborate, what appeals to them and what doesn’t – including the medium (say Web 2.0) and language (say twitter/SMS kind) – is something that will fall in the communication realm for sure.

Of course you can argue that it really is about understanding human behavior, but ‘communicating’ with humans effectively to get the desired behavior is key, and ‘that’ definitely is the task of a master communicator.

In a corporate setup you’re trying to reach out to employees for a whole lot of reasons. Employee engagement,  knowledge management, information dissemination and a whole lot of other things. Poor employee! There are too many voices, too much clutter, too much confusion. Why can’t we have one voice, why can’t we align the communicators and the knowledge managers?  Is it because the knowledge managers think more in terms of processes and systems while communicators more in terms of info bytes? But isn’t knowledge management just a name now – is it not about knowledge sharing – sharing of knowledge bytes. Isn’t Web 2.0 breaking the structures and the processes out of KM? If yes, then aren’t communicators and knowledge managers inadvertently converging at “employee engagement”? Both trying to make sure employees know what they need to, and tell what they ought to…

Think about it. And if you agree, then well do you really need knowledge managers anymore? Isn’t it better to have a bunch of people who understand human behavior and the mechanics of bringing people together (broadly in the realm of employee engagement) run the show? Isn’t that very close to what communicators typically are anyway expected to do?

Footnote 1: Of course some technology may be involved in setting the mechanics up – but that can always be outsourced.

Footnote 2: I do a dedicated “KM” job as well, and am at an equal risk of losing my job if people buy in to what I said!

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July 15th, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Run faster!

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Yeah that’s what I keep on doing I realize. Sometimes run faster to do better on the job, sometimes to keep up with family commitments, sometimes for this and sometimes for that. Lately (just been two days), I’ve been trying to run faster on the treadmill (maybe I’ll find my L-Spot!). And that’s making me mind run faster as well. Maybe I’ll not be late again, this time around with what I’m thinking! I hope I don’t lose the interest, build some focus and just do it!

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June 5th, 2008 at 10:10 am

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Getting buy-in

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I thought I was a master at that. But today we could not get buy-in for an internal project that we wanted to drive. We thought it was a great idea and people will jump off their seats. But that did not happen. Here’s some introspection on what we could have done better:

  • The team selling the idea should have spoken the same language. There were three of us trying to sell an idea to a team of about 25 people and we were not on the same page. Probably because we were overconfident about the merit of the idea.
  • Better planned. We came with a slide deck but we started using the whiteboard. It is a great idea to use the whiteboard but not when half the people have joined on the phone.
  • Positioned it right. We did not position the idea correctly. It came across as too much work even though in reality it is not.
  • Identified people who could have influenced. Typically in large groups there are a few people who can influence the rest. We did not make an effort to get a buy-in from them and then present to a larger group. Eventually the people who could have been influencers were actually the most vocal against the idea.  

Not given up though. I’ll figure out what to do hopefully..

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May 16th, 2008 at 6:08 pm

A picture is worth a thousand interpretations

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Well yes, it is. It conveys so many different things to different people. For example, the graphic that I have as the header of my blog (as on May 14, 2008) is a picture of me smoking a hookah. I put it up because I thought it was cool. But today someone told me the picture ought to be changed because it looked like I’m sipping something else since the hookah is not completely visible! No marks on guessing what that “something else” could be. Let’s see how much time I take to change this picture… am mighty embarrassed as of now, but maybe I’ll leave the picture as is, since I don’t really care what others make out of it as long as I like it. Let’s see what I do…!

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May 14th, 2008 at 4:01 pm