Facts to Essence Series – Episode 3

Facts and the essence extracted from them…

  • Eminem would spend hours every night studying the dictionary, so he could expand his vocabulary for his rhymes. 
    • There’s no such thing as “an overnight success”! There’s no such thing as being “too lucky”! There are “no miracles” in a business! The success that we see in today has always a loads of work behind it. It’s a result of years of hard-work and consistent efforts. As they say: “Luck is nothing but an opportunity meeting a preparation”.
    • As mentioned in earlier posts, there’s no substitute of competence. Even if someone copies your work, labels it with their name, takes whole credit; the amount of work that you did behind it never goes into a waste. It becomes a learning experience and stepping stone for you to do more great things ahead.
    • For the people who sustain their life by their labels and the names, rather than a value and an essence behind them, they always face a one definite problem: “Sustainability”. Being a one time success, or a celebrity by accident is easy, but to sustain a position as a man of content, is too hard.
    • Only people who can do something extra, who can walk a mile more than planned, who can motivate themselves to push some extra effort in their work – are ones who love their work, who’re passionate about it. For the rest work means just passing through a fixed hours of work day.
  • Trees can send warning signals to other trees about insect attacks. 
    • There are always more than known ways to communicate, to deliver the message. Beyond the realms of verbal and written communication. Your grace, attitude, body language, also delivers a message. Message of your passion, zeal, enthusiasm, curiosity and interest. Often people who’re lying – it’s their bodies that betray them.
    • Similarly in business, when we lie – promising more than we can deliver, disclosing more than we’ve achieved, communicating wrong numbers. Our reports may not lie, but their are other things that would expose us, for those who’re investigative and know how to read the signals. No one, even the most excellent in field of management can control all the parameters. Hence, it’s better to promote transparency, honesty and integrity in your culture. In the long-run this always helps the company and team to survive in difficult situations.
    • Sometimes we can feel the presence of something, but we can’t see it – we feel the presence in the way other things react and appear. Just because one can’t see something, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.  There’s always a skepticism for two possibilities here, either we’re measuring the wrong signals, or either our sensors aren’t equipped enough to trace what’s invisible – yet which is showing its presence by the aftereffects, correlation and consequence. Scientists often use proxies to measure such variables that they can’t measure directly. What’s hidden or immeasurable doesn’t mean can be totally unaccounted for.)
    • Similarly when it comes to dealing with people, either in team-management or in customer interaction – not always we can see what’s wrong or what’s making them loose a traction. But there’re hidden signals, signals that may require a help of proxy variables, allowing us to read between the lines.
      Like for example one can’t detect the frustration (emotion) of a person should one only relies on a direct verbal or written communication, yet there are ways to detect and measure it, proxies like how they interact with you, how they interact with their work or product of yours, how responsive are they, how proactive vs. reactive, etc. Often a proactive approach by you as a manager/ support asking if something’s wrong and if you can be of any help also does wonders. Suggestions do reveal the signals that something is wrong or working differently than your expectations.
  • Prescription drugs kill more people each year than heroin and cocaine combined.
    • More than categorizing things or labeling them as good and bad. It’s important to see them in a proper context.
    • What’s considered a “life-saving” is toxic in high doses or badly times ones. And what’s considered harmful or toxic in general, often in sparse quantity, when mixed with other remedies in acute precision does actually perform a life-saving miracles.
    • As mentioned in previous article of the series. Often what’s industry wide known as a “best practice” – when poorly implemented or gets implemented out of the context does more damage than a good.
    • Sometimes breaking the rules and not overemphasizing them for the efficiency, helps us to achieve what is effective. There’re no rules when someone’s exploring the uncharted territories – when all hope is lost, big risks got to be taken. As long as such risks aren’t going to destroy anyone’s ability to take them again.
  • We have more detailed maps of the surface of Mars than we do of Earth’s oceans.
    • Depths of own lands are always more terrifying and tough to explore than the surface of others land. Sometimes curiosity of what’s visible yet unknown outside, triumphs the wonder of finding out what’s hidden in an unexplored territory with-in one’s self. From missing conscience to resorting to hiring an outside help, from taking what you’ve for granted to mingling in outside affairs – we repeat the same pattern over and over again.
    • As much as one has to satiate the hunger and curiosity of exploring other worlds – products/ markets/ talents, it’s equally important to reflect and self-introspect. To seek if there’s a hidden talent or opportunity that we might have missed. That could’ve been worth more than an incorporation of external asset.
    • The companies like Google, rather than going on a acquisition spree in-spite of their quickly growing size and stature in the earlier years of growth and development, relied completely on their assets, their talents. More than half of their now commercially available products are actually a brain-child of their employees – A more mature version of a prototypes their developers invented in company allowed 20% time for individual and independent development.
    • People/ Team/ Communities with passion to do something never cease to amaze – one must not undermine their spark and instead try facilitating them so that they can grow their subtle talents. One may reach a point where an outside help is not required at all, and success story takes a birth from with-in.

– Prepared for workshop/ lecture classes I conducted on “Project Management and Organizational Leadership” at Mohammad Ali Jinnah University (MAJU) and Khadim Ali Shah Bukhari Institute of Technology (KASBIT), both situated in Karachi.

Disclosure: Facts (in italics) come directly from @UberFacts twitter stream.

Note: “Warning: Never Trust A Proclamation Without Citation” – (Always be ready to do your research!)

Facts to Essence Series – Episode 2

Facts and the essence extracted from them…

  • Ferruccio Lamborghini, invented his company when he’s disappointed by the Ferrari he owned and his complaint was rejected.
    • Your customers can either be fan of your product and your evangelist or they can be your fierce enemy… what you want them to be depends on the way you treat them.
    • Every great thing that’s born somewhere has come out of some disappointment. Frustration plants a seed of an innovation.
    • Best way to criticize something is to create something better, in competition. Or to offer a working model – a solution. If you can’t do that, you should still voice your opinion in as objective manner as possible.
    • Suppressing the voice is suppressing a possible innovation.
  • Stray dogs in Moscow have learned to use the city’s subway system. They get on and off their required stops. 
    • Even dogs show this much intelligence, exhibiting an unsupervised learning. With the changes in a surrounding – in the ecosystem you are an inhabitant of, you got to change yourselves too. This is called an adaptation.
    • If there exists a way that can improve your routine, that can help you to do things faster, better or allows you to finish them with more quality – you should implement/ adopt that process.  If that’s not possible, one should strive to discover or invent such way.
    • Continuous Process Improvement is the name of a game, in which you regularly monitor your habits/ your routine, and keep working on improvising.  First in small batches as a test, and then slowly covering the whole base.
    • Only habit one should have is a habit of performing better while adopting to a change in best possible way.
  • Due to their extreme atmospheric conditions, it actually rains diamonds on Neptune and Uranus.
    • As mentioned in series’ previous article,  assumptions can be wrong. Evidence can point us to something we might have never thought before.
    • What’s impossible in one system or rare in one state, can be possible and common somewhere else. When systems differ so do the conditions, and with them the results.
    • Know your mission, know your team, know your context and know your culture – Before thinking of any rules and their implementation.
    • Gather a collective opinion, test on a small sub-set, work out the problems and hurdles, optimize according to the results, and then bundle it with rewards and reputation before full system-wide application. Optimize your culture first and then optimize the strategy.
  • A woman from Michigan named Barbara Soper gave birth on 10/10/10, 09/09/09 and 08/08/08 — The odds of that are 50 million to one.
    • As mentioned above. Rare things happen, just because they haven’t happened yet, doesn’t mean they can’t or would never.
    • Everything has a probability to occur, when we can’t come up with a good number as in probability of their occurrence. It is probably due to that thing being overlooked or missed being envisioned.
    • Always be open to the possibility of things that can happen. Keep your planning intact but your body adaptive and mind open.
    • When planning for risks, there’s always a probability of missing the risks being envisioned. After all due-diligence done that’s necessary for the project, uncertainty buffer has still its place.

– Prepared for workshop/ lecture classes I conducted on “Project Management and Organizational Leadership” at Mohammad Ali Jinnah University (MAJU) and Khadim Ali Shah Bukhari Institute of Technology (KASBIT), both situated in Karachi.

Disclosure: Facts (in italics) come directly from @UberFacts twitter stream.

Note: “Warning: Never Trust A Proclamation Without Citation” – (Always be ready to do your research!)

Facts to Essence series – Episode 1

Facts and the essence extracted from them…

  • In feudal Japan, merchants were the lowest class because unlike farmers and artisans, they don’t actually produce anything.
    • There were used to, and there still are some spaces in world where creativity and expression is valued more than mere management, merchandising, and administration of it.
    • People do realize that there are certain jobs where man becomes easily replaceable.
    • At the end of the day, when it would come to a calculation and operations management machines would surpass any human being, but when it comes to creativity, innovation, critical thinking and expressing with emotions – machines have a long time to catch up with.
  • Pixar credits its success to its anti-Disney approach — Meaning no songs, no happy village, no love story.
    • As mentioned in previous Project Management related post, standards are only better than ad-hoc, but not better than innovation and optimization.
    • Breaking out from the existing mold, re-shaping the structures, destroying the boundaries, expanding the horizons is the name of the game when it comes to achieve a success in saturated markets. Risks got to be taken.
    • Those who love and swear by standards, should always know that even at best they’re following something which is a mediocre, as by the time something becomes a standard, a new best has already replaced the last one.
  • Vatican City has the highest crime rate in the world.
    • Quite ironic isn’t it? One place where you expect it not to happen, one place where you think that due to presence of the Pope, world’s most famous and exquisite churches, and religious clerks in abundance something like this shouldn’t happen. And that’s where it does.
    • Lesson to be learned here is assumptions can be wrong. And what appears to be straight can be curvy when seen from the right angle or correct distance (in depth or as a big picture).
    • o Another lesson: Whatever is considered too big to fail or too aligned to go haywire, does fail – often from with-in. Sometimes we don’t notice the change from outside, but the system sets itself on a path of deterioration, and one day either it crumbles into pieces, or becomes so weak, that in case of what appears to be a minor fault or injury – the catastrophic chain reaction begins and whole system becomes non-functioning.
  • Lack of exercise kills just as many people as smoking.
    • Being stuck is as fatal as going backwards… Not doing something that body requires to survive and stay healthy – is as harmful as doing something negative and harmful to it.
    • If you want your organization/ project to remain fresh and not go stale, you got to focus on continuous process improvement.
    • Nothing is perfect. Everything is on a journey of perfection, and stage of perfection is a goal that always leaps a bound right before one’s about to reach it… It’s not a disappointment, but instead an opportunity to explore more, to optimize more, to evolve your designs and plans a notch ahead.
  • If you’re more than 16-years-old, you have lived to be older than the average caveman.
    • Human evolution as specie and evolution of man-made social systems like civilizations have allowed us to live more than our cave living ancestors could ever have. It is as good as it’s bad.
    • Good in a sense that there are lesser pressures on survival now then there were before as far as life and gene forwarding is concerned.
    • Bad in a sense that now many people don’t realize gravity of survival has shifted from just a life to survival of human beings as intellectual and competent species – survival of values, education, intellect, critical thinking and logical reasoning. So unless society puts a serious pressure on people for that, majority is completely fine with being their older selves – no change is observed.
    • In spite of being specie gifted with intellectual abilities like vision, reflection and retrospection, most people tend to wait till a time when cost of their not changing becomes greater than their assumed cost of changing in order to upgrade themselves.

– Prepared for workshop/ lecture classes I conducted on “Project Management and Organizational Leadership” at Mohammad Ali Jinnah University (MAJU) and Khadim Ali Shah Bukhari Institute of Technology (KASBIT), both situated in Karachi.

Disclosure: Facts (in italics) come directly from @UberFacts twitter stream.

Note: “Warning: Never Trust A Proclamation Without Citation” – (Always be ready to do your research!)

Project Management Keynote

Management quid bits… These are what are learned from an experience.

  • Project Management’s number one principle is: “Crisis is here.”
    • From stage of planning to execution, from stage of execution to monitoring and control; one thing that has to be kept in mind is that crisis is already here. Every risk that can materialize will materialize; so, in all aspects due-diligence is necessary.
  • You can’t manage what you don’t know.
    • So as much as we value management’s core skill set (planning, organizing, monitoring, and controlling), know-how (technical, business domain) and people management (soft-skills, leadership) are equally important for project managers.
  • You can’t manage what you can’t measure.
    • You measure so that you know how far you are from the target.
    • Sometimes you can’t measure things directly. So, you have to use the proxies (indicators that hint you of the underlying phenomena that you actually want to measure).
    • Hardest resource to manage and keep the measurement tracks of is human. (Though one should realize that people are people, not just another “resource” referred as human).
  • You follow standards because you don’t want countless and unorganized ad hoc solutions.
    • Standard beats ad-hoc, optimization beats the standard.
    • Standards are there as a result of best practices agreed per popular opinion (often of experts). What’s popular is not necessarily always the best. Usually at best it’s something which was optimized and is now generalized, but since everyone that means business starts following it, it’s soon becomes mediocre.
    • Standards are industry’s best practice but there’re always a way for optimization, to modify or create a best practice that’s suitable for the context of your organization, your business and work culture.
    • Since there’s always a room for improvement, it’s very necessary to induct this practice in Project Management’s all knowledge areas.
  • For managers and engineers, and for any profession on earth, the competitive advantage always lies in competence.
    • Technical skill-set alone is never sufficient. Your experience matters. Your vision matters.
    • Experience comes from execution and mistakes. Much you do better you are. Avoid mistakes by self-improvement and feedback.
    • Factors that differ one’s competence from other is: novelty, depth, creativity and expression. Taking up challenging tasks and executing it while keeping an eye on opportunities for improvements.

Source: Written for and used in management class/ workshop that I’m conducting at Mohammad Ali Jinnah University, Karachi.

The great refuges: Suppression – a classical conditioning; Censorship – an indispensable tool

Suppression and Censorship

Suppress and Censor

Welcome to the animal farm!

Yep… Good going.. Ban YouTube, Ban sites, Ban Torrents, Ban TV Channels, Ban Books, Ban Pillion Riding, Close Networks, Kill Packages…

A land or community where censorship and suppression is preferred more than the awareness and reason, pronounces as much about the character of its leaders as it does about its people.

Ssshhh…! Don’t you dare raise a voice, our leaders believe in oppression more than the rights of citizen; in suppression more than reason and setting the right direction. Count yourself among the fortunate ones, that they haven’t advanced enough to hear your chatter and probe into your social networks, otherwise you’d be eager to just express let alone act. – Uh-oh…!

Sometimes I wonder if it’s the very act of our always settling down for little which makes us to lose a big picture right away. Being quickly thankful, calm and satisfied for when something is thrown our way or something is not taken away – gradually turning us into an indifferent being for the others; if it’s the same thing that makes us less curious, less eager, and less passionate to fight for our rights, to stand for others and to strive for what we deserve.

A sole person may be a victim, but when it comes to people – a collective, it’s more than a usual that they themselves are participating as a culprit in their own victimization. Any time when you ignore raising a voice, when you suppress your emotions, when you’re “OK” with the way things are even when in actual you’re not; Any time when you pretend to go with a flow, when you conform to the masses while your logic and reason says otherwise; Any time you don’t dare to take a stand against the dictators, don’t ask for transparency of information you deserve – you lose an accountability on your part to make sure that the people who’re administrating or representing you are doing the right job. You put yourself in comfortably numb position, where you become a poster – an invitation for exploitation.

If being pessimist is to be passive, why being an optimist isn’t to be an ‘active’? Why just settle for a half-glass and count yourself a king of the world, why not accept the truth and strive to do better? Why are we so comfortable in being treated like a vegetable? Why choose a shortcut – an under the table deal? Why suck a lollypop that won’t last long instead of choosing to learn, apply and have a right to make your own candy-land?

For the leaders: When you choose censorship over nurture-ship, banning and shutting over devising programs that inspire and motivate people, set their direction, make them better in logic and reason, yet all in engaging way – you exhibit rest of the world that your people aren’t capable of that… that they haven’t yet reached a bar of maturity required… that they would rather be suppressed than being taught or reasoned with. Well, then good luck for trying to stop other worlds (societies, communities, groups, nations) taking an undue advantage of you, or you stopping those who’re already doing it… because evidently you literally spelled out to them what you’re made of.

By the way, good luck censoring your local screw-ups on the global radar… you can’t do that, can you… ? Hmm!