She got up from her brief reverie with her shadow. The sun had got bigger, brighter and it had gotten hotter. Small beads of perspiration appeared on her forehead. She wiped it off and got up to leave. As she walked in towards the horizon, she felt someone following her - the shadow. She asked "Are you following me?". The shadow merely laughed, and said "I am you, I am with you, I will always be with you". A small, yet unconvinced smile appeared on her face.
It was a strange land she was in. With no one around but her shadow, the strange land suddenly felt like home. She missed her real home though, the shadow tried as much to make up for the void. A void that would almost never be filled. She walked, and walked till the shadow got smaller. She wondered as to why the shadow was getting smaller....
The shadow replied, you need your space, I need mine. Though I am with you, you have to be you, I have to be me and we have to be us. Its time, that's all it is. It tells us we can't be together, always, but I will be there even if you can't see me. You will still feel me as I am always with you...
Afternoon strolled into the evening and the shadow grew, yet again. A smile, a small smile appeared across her face. She was glad to see the shadow as it were in the morning. Little did she know, that it would be dark soon. The sun had started to set, and skies were getting dark. She wandered along the path she had been, looking startled about the darkness engulfing the shadow. Like cloud that covered the sun, the darkness soon engulfed around, the only light was that from her large, bright eyes. She called out for the shadow in fear that she might not see the shadow again...
What is darkness? Is it the absence of light? Or is light the absence of darkness. They co-exist like good and evil, love and hate, plus and minus. The shadow replied - Just because you can't see me, does not mean I am not there. I will always be there. I will follow you into the dark.....
There are certain tell-tale signs when you can sense that management is in trouble. What I've tried here is listing the symptoms.
1. The incessant art of meeting: This is the most cruel form of torture for any person who is actually not involved in full proportion in so called management activities - Meetings. Well, for employees who have regular tasks, filling a weekly time sheet is not at all a big deal, they would always find enough activities to make up slotted time. But a manager, has to fill hours on a weekly basis towards management activities. Hence meetings are used as filler activities to fill time sheets. When a project is in trouble though, you can sense a sudden change in the air. Meetings are now not limited to team leads. Approximately one in every five meetings would involve the entire team. The mood of the manager would be quite sober (as if he/she were at the funeral) and all addressing would begin with general terms like team or guys etc.
2. SWAT it!: SWAT or Swift Action Teams evolved from the army and the post world war II era along with the whole concept of Quality Management, Operations Research etc. SWAT's are basically small teams that consist of highly skilled persons capable of completing tasks faster than a normal person. Ideally, in a project of 100 persons, a SWAT unit would be 5-10 persons.
When a project is trouble, the first step that management takes is to create such a SWAT unit and the primary functionality would be to undo all the wrongs done earlier. When such a team is initiated, you know, trouble's brewing somewhere...
3. Managers and the art of Disaster Management: Quite recently, an MNC changed a HR policy to promotions to a management role. For an employee to be promoted to a management role in a particular functionality, he/she should have spent at least 6 years in a enabling role in that functionality. (Being generic is a right pain in the wrong part of the anatomy, would be simpler to just quote names!). Well, one of the explanations for this move could be this. Disaster Management - the art of management creating a disaster and then implementing SWAT teams to revert the disaster they created. Had the manager had the experience, the probability of creating a disaster would be lesser, hence the HR hedged against disaster. Good move, some might say.
When a project is in trouble, management goes mum on ideas. Ideas are open to the floor. They actually begin analyzing pro's and con's rather than just use the easier approach of one size fits all. Like they say, every silver lining has a cloud. Analysis of pro's and con's can be a problem when the floor is open to ideas - Too many ideas.
4. Discussions that go awn and awn: Once the first three signs have come forth, the next stage starts - discussions, on anything and everything that could, would or should be done. These are generally done on a one-on-one basis or with the SWAT unit as a whole. There will be moments when the SWAT team would rather shoot themselves that SWAT!
Whats the reason behind these relentless discussions. The funda is simple. When your shivering out of fear, if you are under water, the shivering would not be seen. One of the primary skills of management is oration, good or bad. Hence the fear when there's trouble is masked using relentless speech. Also, ever heard this. If alphabets A-Z were given values 1-26, then HARDWORK adds up to 98, ATTITUDE to 100. But above all else, BULLSHIT adds up to 103. The golden rule..
5. Rock - Management - Hard Place: This phase, for the benefit of those who didnt get it, is between a rock and a hard place. This phase is when, management has to take a call to push things forward or accept defeat. The one's with a fairly excessive amount of self belief push for results and the losers give up. The thing about these two options is that, its always a Win it all or Lose it all situation. The truly brilliant managers take the mid path, somewhere between pushing for it and giving up. At an individual level, they've pretty much given up (the next sign is on how to identify that) but at a team level, they will push it all. That way, they know the eventuality, but they manage to stretch it as much as they can using the unwilling souls of the employees. Its genius, sheer genius.
6. Enter Neanderthal Man: Once the middle path has been chosen, based on whether there is a possibility of consensus to continue an agreement, the project either chugs on or coughs to slow inevitable halt. When there is no consensus possible, but management decides to stretch the engagement for as long as possible, that is when Neanderthal man comes in. Managers walk with a droop, there hands flailing around as if independent of the ball and socket joint. They wear smiles but its fake, they laugh, but its actually a howl that hurts. Yet, the carry the project with such a panache that few would understand the underlying turmoil.
When all the signs have manifested, its only a matter of time before the curtains fall or the sun sets...
My love and fascination of the Indian Railways, mixed with the agony at the very thought of how an organization as complicated as the railways even manages to function despite being so disconnected, disoriented and several other "dis'" and "dys'", is indeed ironic. My very first post Numero Uno was about a railway experience. Had this been a movie by Goutham Menon, it would probably be tagged as "Another story is railway line".
Last sunday morning, I had to book tickets for a certain special train (read as train that was launched to cover additional passengers who crop up during a particular season). Since this service was launched only on that day, the train was not listed on the online booking service. Hence with no other option I cajoled myself and my almost jalopy to get the ticket booked at a nearby reservation center.
I've been to this reservation center in the past, and it is generally a pictorial representation of complete chaos - people trying to maintain something close to queue, stray reservation forms with footprints, an old dirty fish tank (the fish in the dirty seemed quite content, probably bachelor fish), agents with bags slung across with multiple forms etc. And this is on one of the off days, sunday mornings are usually worse than the above description (thank god, the regular trains are available online!). With above image in my head, I headed towards the center with a trepidition almost like that when I have no other option but go shopping (Nothing can match up to that fear and arachnophobia). But to my pleasant surprise, there was almost no crowd, much lesser than what would be there on even the so called off peak period.
I meandered through the sparse crowd, before heading off the ATM to withdraw money, only to realize that they now accepted credit card payments. Irony, it seems always trails me. Its quite awesome, how the railway booking office has evolved with flat screen computers and even a flat TV outside each counter. These TVs flash advertisements ranging from the IPL to Cosmetics to Social Responsibility. Quite fascinating. Curiosity got the better of me and I quizzed the clerk behind the counter if the crowd was less only today or numbers had falled since the inception of online reservation. Indeed, the latter was the reasoning I got.
Anyways getting back to the point of the TVs. The bottom half of the screen had something like a search engine for trains with fields to enter the From and To location, and had a field to indicate the number of tickets available etc. I was only ruminating as to whether I would see what was being entered in the clerks system on this screen, the clerk responded saying - "Saar, you can see there when ticket is being booked". Awesome! I waited for the data to flash on the screen. It seemed to take for ever, when the clerk asked me for the card to complete the booking. Apparently the machine was not working and hence never showed the information. For a few fleeting moments I was almost in complete awe of the system and yet somehow all that came crashing down in a fleeting moment.
Its ironic indeed, that a system as chaotic as this could be as awesome as it is...
Its been an awesome weekend. I've watched 2 movies (apparently) and ate loads of food. Two experiences that I'd most definitely want to put in words...
The weekend literally began on a high note and a couple of friends and me headed off to MTR, for breakfast. Breakfast at MTR is always a pleasure. Though extremely high on calorific value (I state this only to reiterate certain facts to myself), the masala dosa's there are one of its kind. As I write these very words I can almost feel the food melting in my mouth. The more I type on this, the more I think of the food. The more I think, the more I am pulled down by my own growing internal mass. This is getting a be major force almost competing on the gravitational scale. That's part of the reason for the sedentary life style. You see, its a vicious circle, the sedentary life style causes the mass; and over a finite period of time, the mass itself is the cause of the sedentary life style. A simple cause-effect-cause case...
Anyways, I bother little about the growing horizon that some call the curve of prosperity, hence I decided to indulge further in the race of gluttony. Hence I headed to this restaurant called Khandani Rajdhani, a Rajasthani style restaurant. Well, its a place you need to go, but go there after a fast to make most of the unlimited menu.
The key to eating here is to take no breaks. Just go on an all out assault on the food. Why? The minute you take a break, your brain that up until then hibernating, would make a fairly quick assessment of what has breached the barrier of your lips and virtually lead you to cover your mouth in utter dismay (In some cases, the virtual is real). This utilizes a bit of the appetite. Its almost like how a computer works, just keep churning the data. Stop start, you might just crash. Its one of those places where you can eat until beads of sweat appear on your forehead. And when that happens, its time to stop, gradually though. It makes you wonder if you can add another dimension and bloat up to be a 4-dimensional object. It even makes you ponder over whether the you got bigger or the table as its starts to come in contact with your expanding body. It was an awesome meal (comprising of a substantial number of rotis and pooris, with 5 different side dishes, punctuated by sweets, samosas and completed with buttermilk) that went down in matter of a mere 20 minutes. You see my point on not taking a break?
The end to the weekend would have been perfect with a movie. Unfortunately, that wasn't meant to be. Yet I did manage to watch 3 Idiots, today. An awesome entertainer, hilarious all through with a perfect blend of drama, suspense, humor and fairly good music (Being a rahman fan, its difficult to accept anything un-Rahman). A movie on a Monday, a weekend that could have pushed me from fat to almost obese - a great start in the new year. With nothing great apart from the redundant work at office, interrupted with subtly absurd realities of management and all related gyan, I have only three words to say - All is well!!!
P.S. I didn't have the patience to come up with a title, hence found it simpler to cook up the idea of a series.
A few days earlier I received this e-mail on 5 management principles. This is a list of those five principles and a little more. Throw in some imagination, if Vadivel (the Tamil comedian) were to be a management guru, what would he think of these principles....
1. Keep in mind that business without risk is business without growth
Vadi Version: One of the many pre-requisites to be in management (applicable to over 99%ile of those in management) is the lack of a mind, hence linear thinking, in fact lack of any sort of thinking. Hence as a manager, you don’t keep things in mind (That’s what post its and secretaries are for). As a manager, unless you are beyond the normal realms of stupidity, you are completely risk free. For any of the managers in the 99%ile, growth would happen in any case because of their excellent skills at delegation of work and the art of taking credit. As a conclusion, screw the risk, growth; just evolve to higher levels of “weasality”.
2. Work with the facts. Listen to the market and not your ego.
Vadi Version: Ever heard a teacher use the line “This place is a fish market” to silence a noisy class? If you haven’t, then you definitely have not been my classmate. The fundamental feature of any market is noise, chaos. Never take an idea from the market. One, it could be a psychotic maniac shouting random words that sound great. Secondly, it means that the idea is already out there, so it’s not virgin.
3. Act quickly and decisively. Delay makes things worse, not better.
Vadi Version: Never take a decision. Taking a decision would mean “doing something”. As a manager, decisions should be taken by those delegated menials below you, so much so that, the only thing you “do” is “nothing”.
4. Be a proactive leader and clearly communicate your decisions
Vadi version: Thoughts and actual actions are always to be inverted. Hence, a manager should be proactive, and capable of making decisions. If this were a thought, I leave the actions to the reader. Considering that you have read point 3, there cannot be a faux pas as taking a decision would be doing something. Always leave decisions and bad outcomes to people in line and probability, credit for success is always there.
5. Be resilient and continue to innovate. Success is not forever, neither is failure.
Vadi Version: Too true, for a change I almost completely agree with that statement. Resilience as a manager is an important facet. Hypothetical situation, leading a team of over a 100 people is not a joke (though in some cases, the one leading the team could be a joke). The problem with management is that irrespective the quality and quantity of resources provided, as a manager, you are expected to “deliver results”. That’s not the only unfortunate part; the definition of “results” like all scope definitions from senior management is arbitrary and vague. Also, innovations have to be centric to delivering these “results” as that is what the senior most management expects. The last part of any strategy is the outcome. What is it about these management strategies that make them so interesting? How often they work? Well, the question could be rephrased as how often they don’t work. Either ways the answer is about half the time.
To summarize on all management ideas that existed, exist or will come into existence, management gyan is generally arbitrary with massive generalities.
Let me try to list 5 good reasons as to why you SHOULD watch this movie.
1. You and your girl/boy friend are heading for a break-up. Watch this movie together and the break up wont seem all that bad.
2. Suppose you are extremely happy with the way your life is headed, you have no regrets, no sorrows, so much so that you are a non believer of Murphy's laws; then you need to watch this movie to remind you that life is not all happiness, but a some sorrow as well.
3. If you are a pitiful fool, at the end of your rope and need that last jerk to take you off this mundane lifeform, watch this, it might just do that.
4. Shriya, please see that this is the 4th reason.
5. I cannot try another reason, it isnt worth even free tickets, hence the reason why Shriya was bumped up to level 4 from 5.
The irony of watching the movie is the hype before the release. This has probably been the most "talked of" movie in Tamil cinema since Sivaji and Dasavatharam. Some claimed it as the mix of Sivaji and Anniyan (both being films by Shankar). If there was one thing in common between Sivaji and Anniyan, it was a storyline and a plot mixed with some masala for the masses. But Kanthasamy is different from the other two movies in the fact that it has no plot. You spend your time in the movie trying to figure what the plot is, if any. At the end of one half, most people are completely dejected and few steps away from insanity.
A few stupidly optimistic people look at a twist in the tale post interval. But you can wait for all you want and you will fail to find the faintest trace of anything remotely close to a storyline. With all due respect to the idea of flying across water with the aid of mechanical leash, what did you think that the leash is invisible?
Ok, so no story line. A lot of movies have been awesome despite that. This too might have been had it not been so ridiculous. You have a story every 15 minutes and may sit in the belief that they all culminate in a super plot. No! They culminate in statistics of black money (deja vu, Sivaji) making it seem like a documentary.
The other reason apart from the great story line that was the reason for the success of Sivaji, Anniyan etc was the music. Here, the music is what truly kills the movie. Apart from the amoebic story line, the music and additional cast is a pain in the wrong part of the anatomy. The movie might probably have been bearable if not for the music and obscene timing of songs.
This movie is like ordering a plate of biryani and hundred different varities of raita to go with. You end up enjoying neither and an overdose of both. If I had to give this movie a star rating, I'd give it one star and an egg.