Thursday, May 28, 2009

Structure, order, discipline - How it aids to creativity

Structure, order, discipline -- Grr... People hate it.. Claims it restricts them.  
General belief  - Freedom encourages creativity, discipline restricts it.

My view - order allows us to see the non-order better!

When information is presented in a neat/disciplined way, it allows the receiver to assimilate the information quickly, aid better analysis and see the gaps i.e the "non-order" i.e rough edges.

I get upset when information is presented in a unstructured way, as I need more energy to sift them and assimilate leaving me with less energy to see the gaps. It is easier to see the "jumble" when anything is presented in "orderly" fashion. "Jumble" is the creative part!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Common sense – Is it really common?

A few years ago I met a CIO of a large manufacturing company in US who had outsourced work of application development to a company in India. When releases were made, he would discover that there were errors in “apparently simple things”. In the course of conversation he said “these errors should not be there, all this required was application of common sense and not great software knowledge – wonder why people don’t have them?”- I am sure that you must encountered many situations like these too.

Let us think now… what is common sense? We say it is “common sense” when we feel that that knowledge is supposedly self-evident; knowledge that does seem to require special training/coaching, knowledge that is expected to be known by all.

When does anything become self-evident? When does it become common knowledge? Only when it is applied many times, mistakes made, reasons understood, solutions implemented and learning gained. When it happens multiple times, we become very aware of the problem, have done deep analysis, and applied the solution so many times that we know it “by heart”. That is when it becomes common sense!

So common sense is not something superficial, but really deep knowledge. So only when the knowledge gained is deep enough, does it become “common sense”. When knowledge is imbibed well that it seems to present in the whole body that it radiates from the fingers, it is called common sense. Understand that common sense cannot be common, in the sense that we understand it. That everybody should know it. It is really deep knowledge and reflects the highest maturity.

So the next time you say “this requires common sense” – think!

Have a good day!
T Ashok

Maturity – What is it after all?

In my interactions/conversations with colleagues, I have always pondered on "what is maturity"

Maturity to me has been...
… About seeing the large picture and not just the parts
… About dealing with fuzzy information well
… About asking questions that help in understanding

Have a good day!
T Ashok

May 27, 2009

Are we focused enough? Learn using Google Earth!

I was recently chatting with my colleagues on the topic of focus. The question was “Are we focused enough in our business?” The answers I received were surprisingly wide-spectrum. I assumed that the question was well understood and there was no scope of confusion in the question. That set me thinking. I thought we were sharply focused on what we do. I believed this was largely true. So why did this variation occur?

My analysis goes like this…

Here is the picture of Bangalore as seen from an eye altitude of 40000 feet above the earth (Courtesy Google Earth).

What I see is a bunch of buildings and some lakes (green colored water bodies).

Let us go to a lower level – eye altitude of 4000 feet. Here is what we see:

Lo behold - I see the indoor stadium and the nearby velodrome! I see that there is a lot more greenery near the stadium. But wait a minute – This is just part of Bangalore, not the whole. Sure enough, the eye can see only this much at this level!

So what do we learn from this little Google Earth experiment?

1. What we see depends on the ‘eye altitude’

2. How much expanse we see depends on ‘eye altitude’

3. What degree of detail we see depends on the ‘eye altitude’

4. The inference that we make depends on the clarity of data and this depends on ‘eye altitude’

See the correlation now…My analysis of “Focus i.e. what we see” was from a certain ‘eye altitude’ (40000 feet), whereas my colleagues looked at the same from a different ‘eye altitude’ (4000 feet). I saw the whole picture (Bangalore), understood the overall picture and then came down in my ‘eye altitude’ for specific businesses, while my colleagues saw just the stadium and possibly missed the rest and then construed that I was not focused enough!

Focus according me is setting the context to the right ‘eye altitude’, setting the size of the canvas and then capturing the image. If what we do fits in this canvas then we are focused enough, else we are probably digressing.

I am a software test professional and to me FOCUS is very important. Within the given limited time I need to check the software and release it if it meets release criteria. Although I would like to test the software thoroughly, it is a daunting task. Hence I need to focus on what is most important to customer, what features are most used.

FOCUS buddy....

I would like to hear your comments.

Have a great day!

T Ashok