Saturday, July 3, 2010

Understanding the Why?

Inspired by Simon Sinek on his video at, I was curious to know how many of you can answer this question - why? Take this poll when you have a minute.

Do you know what is that you do at work, how you do your work and why you do your work?

Knowledge Transfer in AEC firms - a practical solution?

As turnover is increasing due to the current economy within the AEC firms, what is happening to knowledge transfer?

Effects of today's economy:

Highly paid senior people are replaced by young, inexperienced people (mostly contract employees) - do you not agree?
Morale goes down, inspiration lacks and learning stops - do you not agree?

Practical Solution - just a thought:

I read in an article a couple of years ago on how a Texas corporation identified the need for transferring knowledge between generations and this solution is based on this corporation's idea. Here you go!

Step 1: In your organization, request all you senior executives (ex. office leaders) to conduct a peer review on what best practice or knowledge that a particular seasoned employee possesses and rate that knowledge's importance to company's mission on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being very important.

Step 2: Conduct a survey among the seasoned colleagues, asking them to rate their retirement year on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being they plan to retire very soon.

Step 3: Now multiply both the ratings and on a scale of 1 to 25, the knowledge possessed by a seasoned employee of score above 20 is very critical knowledge that the company cannot afford to lose. Losing the knowledge could be either because of retirement or unavoidable cut downs.

Step 4: Find a like minded younger employee and verify with him/her of his/her future goals and pair him/her up with this seasoned professional as a mentor-protégé relationship.

Step 5: To sustain this knowledge within the company, such paired-up teams could be assigned to develop tools or techniques to capture this knowledge and share it with the rest of the company!

Knowledge transfer happens, morale increase because employees feel that they are valued, ability to develop bench strength during the tough times like this increases and will prove beneficial when high times start in the near future!

This is just a thought, what do you folks think?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Why India?

If you believe in solving world problems.... you may start in India... there's plenty of reason why India - says Nandan Nilekani - Indian Bill Gates...
Nandan has become my new hero! He has left his company that he started - Infosys - to join the Indian govenrment in creating the first Social Security Number equivalent to all of 1 billion Indians... Man what a challenge that is!
Hope to join this force one day!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Zero INFO Footprint: PRINT me not! FILE me not! SHARE me yes! MOBILE me yes!

I read somewhere that a file size of 100 Mega Bytes is equal to _____ Tons of CO2 emissions. Man, thats a stretch. To play devils advocate, lets see the global impact of information. It is obvious that information doesn't flow freely - it needs infrastructure like, hardware, space, cables, security, ofcourse money and so forth... so companies always look for a smaller info footprint. But how could organizational practices reduce info footprint?

The next time you recieve an email or other electronic information ask yourself is this information GREEN? So, What the heck is a GREEN information? Its a far stretch but lets explore for fun....

How many of you have or have seen email signatures with "please think twice before printing this email" or some version of this message? Ok! a lot of you. I used to as well. But what's the point? By saving that one print we may attempt to save a paper but the real culprit is in the nature of flow of information in our lives.

Ok! I am mostly talking about professional information flow which dwarfs the personal information flow in memory size. As we all know, information say a doc or pdf flows through the organization network via emails and gets stored multiple times in multiple servers.

So you may say, a centralized server and emails with no attachments but links would work in reducing the network clutter. But the problem is not only information in form of documents but also in form of emails.

Even though you could overcome the network clutter and duplication by centralized servers and organizational policies for linking in lieu of attaching docs, the information regarding such documents' existance and/or usefulness for the organization is burried in an email.

So what I am talking about is nothing new.... Many software companies like Microsoft have pioneered in this area and developed many brilliant software applications like Sharepoint to enable peer to peer information flow within and outside organization thus acting as one single repository of information.

But what I think completes the circle and really makes such information GREEN is its accessibility. How often have you printed a document with 20 pages just to take it to a meeting? Everyday right?

Taking information with you via a laptop allows you to readily access such information and avoids printing. Netbooks is today's new invention and I believe they will allow for a company to have a smaller INFO footprint and much more greener information flow.

I have one of these first generation netbooks and I simply can't be without it. Along with the netbook, I purchased this software called OneNote that allows me to take quick notes and track research for multiple projects all in my Netbook. So far in my 6 months of use with netbook and onenote, I have successfully avoided filing 6 projects and all extra-curricular activities...

So even though it is a far stretch, imagine if an entire organization runs on mobile platforms (ofcourse supplementing your desktop production machines) with immediate access to information.... then thats when the organization can use all their time to creativity as opposed to data mining! Happy sharing green info!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Prem's Global Warming Belief Index

Wow! Its been a while since my last post!

Anyways, this subject fueled me to write my thoughts on it!

I just watched a movie - THE LAST WINTER - an interesting thriller based on the current hot political topic of allowing oil exploration in the Artic! In simple terms, the message from the movie is - Stop lavishly using up earth's resources and if not earth reacts in unimaginable ways to defend itself - just like a species would do!

Its not your usual sci-fi, its probably one of the intelligent scientific thrillers that I have seen that is about a situation as current as it can be.

Anyways, I sometimes wonder how movies shed either a very different perspective on a certain subject or reinforce an existing perspective. In this particular instance, it got me thinking how do people perceive about global warming and where do I stand amongst all!

I thought, well let me try to map people based on their belief on global warming!

(((WARNING: This is strictly a mental exercise - the views expressed here are completely mine and does not reflect the views of any organizations or corporations I am affiliated with!)))

Obviously there are two extremes to begin with.

A. Pro extremist

- the ones who are hard core environmentalist: lobbying, researching, campaigning to save from the harmful effects of global warming

Z. Con extremist

- the ones who are hard core anti-environmentalist: lobbying, researching, campaigning to stop the pro extremists from taking over! (just so there is balance:-))

In between the extremes, I think lies the vast majority of this world and that's who I am interested in talking about!

I believe at the mid range between the two extreme lies the biggest chunk of the human population - THE DON'T CARES!!

In my mind "The Don't Cares" can be vastly categorized as follows:

J. The ignorant don't cares

- the ones who are unaware of what's going on around
(children or aged who are roughly around 35% of world population are prime examples)
- the ones who really don't care to connect the dots who are already overwhelmed by their lives!
(people below or near poverty line who are roughly around 12% of the world are prime examples)

S. The conscious don't cares

- the ones who are at least partially aware of such a phenomenon but really think that there's nothing that they can do!
(the regular 8-5 job goers who are typically the non-voters are prime examples)

Between the mid-range and the Pro extremists lie some interesting mix of folks:

E. The wants but cants

- the ones who are well to moderately aware of the situation and really want to do something because they believe in it but can't because they don't know what to do!
(the regular 8-5 job goers who are typically the real voters are prime examples)

D. The doers!

- the ones who are very well aware of the situation because they believe in it and do really know that they can partake and are the ones that are doing something!
- they too have a range in terms of what they are doing to stop global warming depending upon their means and measures to take part!
(the professionals who are in one way or other affecting the planet seriously just by the nature of their jobs are prime examples)

The other side of the spectrum also has some interesting mix I think!

Between the mid-range and the Con extremists, people could be categorized as follows:

V. the affected disbelievers

- the ones who are really getting affected by the harmful effects of global warming but still don't believe in it!
(People in power; people implementing power and people protecting power are prime examples)

X. the affected blamers

- the ones who are again really getting affected by the harmful effects of global warming in one way or the other (when you throw in economic freedom due to the pursuit of oil etc...) but instead blame other causes for the effects!
(Radicalists, extremists and terrorists are prime examples)

I got some stats off the web (don't worry - trusted sources, either way this is just a thought experiment) and pulled a chart for your viewing pleasure!

OK now is the real question??? Where do I stand?

I tend to think myself as part of the doers!! OK as far as what I do to stop global warming - that so calls for another post - stay tuned!

But how about you??? Think for a while before you categorize yourself into PREM's Global Warming Belief Index

Sunday, December 2, 2007

E2K - - is this a reality?

In Thomas Friedman's words E2K stands "for all the energy programming and monitoring that thousands of global companies are going to be undertaking in the early 21st century to either become carbon neutral or far more energy efficient than they are today. India is poised to get a lot of this work."

As Indian IT companies are begining to scratch the surface of this wave, what is the Indian Government doing?

This energy / global warming crisis is not just a problem for the developed nations but for every oil dependent nation in the world. (Although only time can tell how well the Brazil's ethanol experiment will form the solution for such oil independency).

But change is in the air!!!!

About one-sixth of the world's population is begining to face a new energy code.

Yes! for the first time in India's history there is a national energy rating system for buildings. Apart from the LEED-India movement, this energy movement from the energy and resource institute of India (TERI) is about to bring a whole lot of change in the Indian Construction industry.

As a result of this, the brain-powered IT industry in India is begining to understand not only the global need for such energy measures but also the local need. It is going to be a WIN-WIN for everybody - a nice boost for the booming construction industry in India.

It's ironic that my dad predicted such boom roughly eleven years ago.

Once I got out of high school, following the mob, I started preparing for entrance exams to get into engineering schools (after realizing rather lately that the entrance exams for architecture schools had already been conducted - - this is where I think... awareness is important... in future every school should have a "career corner" where they can expose the kids to the wide range of opportunities India could offer them... anyways for now this is added to my list of ideas to implement in India :-)).

Indian education system favors caste based allocations to access to education. What does this mean? The assumption being the lower castes are socially challenged to access and means to education compared to their higher caste counterparts. So the government (atleast my state cleverly did this a long time ago - - many states are now going through this huge caste challenge!) reserves certain allocations based on caste. For one to be qualified to get into a good school for education, his/her educational merits (high scores in test etc) is only considered second to their caste heirarchy. So me being in the so called Forward Caste (even though I was from an average Inidan middle class...) am required to score really high in all my exams to get into a decent school and study what I like to study.

Guess what! I some how managed to do that! Pumped up... since I could not get into architecture school, I was good at computers and India then was getting ready to solve the world's Y2K problem -- I was motivated to get into an engineering degree focused on computer science. I got into a decent school for my engineering after a wait for few months. Only during your second year in engineering one decides which specialization he/she will opt for! I was hoping to get into Computer Science. Then came the reality!!

I started slowly hearing that since me being a Forward Caste student will not be able to pursue Computer science and will only be able to pursue the lowest in preference - - CIVIL ENGINEERING. I was rather hopeless. Understanding my state of despair, my dad did some research... again this was 11 years ago... and he predicted that by the time I graduate India will be in need of Infrastructure. He started feeding me news after news on this subject... I slowly started adapting to the notion that CIVIL Engineering is my future and boldly opted for CIVIL Engineering at the end of the first year for all my three preference choices.

Begining of the second year, to my surprise I came to know, that my scores where enough to garner Computer science. Nonetheless, I was focused to learning on how to shape India's future infrastructure! I am glad now that I followed my dad's instincts!

Anyways long story short.... Indian infrastructure boom is a reality and so is the E2K wave!

Lets learn to surf this new wave!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

KISS your complicated solution goodbye!!

Is there a simplified approach to achieve a balanced sustainable decision?

I believe everything is simple and we as humans love to make it as complicated as we can so that it will sound cool!

If I can ask the following three questions everytime I make a decision whether it is life or work related... then I think my decision will have some sustainable base!!

1. Can I reduce the need as much as possible?
2. Can I capture what is available for free?
3. Can I restore/ reclaim/ regenerate/ reuse more with what is available?

Let's apply this on to something and see if it works.

Say I am trying to find a solution to achieve water efficiency in my project.

1. Can I reduce the need for water use? - I guess I can! - multi-use of a space reducing the need for more water use; waterless urinals etc.

2. Can I capture freely available rain water? - I guess I can! - a simple diversion of rain water from the roof to the landscape!! or an extravagant rain water harvesting system - it is law in my home state Tamilnadu, India to divert roof water to an underground cistern and let it percolate to the underground water table... how tough is that to do? we all know we have water scarcity! all we need to do is to care!

3. Can I reclaim the used water for something else? - I guess I can! - Tamilnadu just did - restore the underground water table by reusing the collected rain water; we can reuse water used in the building as grey water for landscape!

You see this works... through this process atleast I would have thought about how to save water even if I couldn't implement any of these on my projects... which is the next big step!!!

Try it on some of your decisions... it could be as simple as how big of an opening should I have on my west wall to have the much desired view through that opening??

food for thought!

P.S: KISS :- "Keep it Simple, Stupid!"