Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Itz Halloween time

The Stage 3 of the MBA program has started. As always,we had choclates and candy at our desk when we walked in to the class today morning. Since, it is Halloween time here, our cards had messages that warned us that this stage would be even more spooky and scary. :)

One of the guyz in the class has organized a Halloween pubcrawl for October 31st.The email sent to the class said that "costumes on the pubcrawl are MANDATORY".There are different prizes too (. best costume, most original costume etc). I'll get the pictures and post them for you.

Here is a picture from the CIO Magazine that talks about the 25 IT Horror Stories

Sunday, October 29, 2006

"Nigeria, the happiest country in Africa"

One of the guyz in our class is from Nigeria.He has an excellent sense of humor. At point 4s, he often talks about his country and shares his views. He talks about the population, diversity, education system and the corruption. When he talks about the Nigerian customs and tradition, I relaize that a few of them are very similar to the Indian traditions.

The whole class would agree with me when I state that our man is one of the most cool,jovial and likeable character at the MBA program.He has a great sense of humor and often during class discussion we eagerly wait to hear his point. :)

I just read this article on BBC and it explains how Nigeria has developed humor in its people amid all the chaos.Nice article..Do read it.

Humour abounds amid Lagos chaos

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Reflections - IT Journal

At the end of ten classes of “Managing Information Technology”, I realized that it is the leadership in the organization that can make a BIG difference to an organization.IT can only serve as an enabler. The right processes, system and the application of knowledge would be of no use if the leader sitting at the top of a pyramid in the organization cannot create an impact.
I also learnt that the IT puzzle primarily comprised of 4 stages: -the Organization, Architecture, Implementation and Outsourcing and as a future manager I need to understand this puzzle well.

In today’s competitive environment, organizations simply imitate the technology used by the market leader hoping that they would replicate the results. There is no justification done or a need for a business case done. The most important lesson is that as a manager I first need to define the problem, analyze the situation before taking any decision. I should avoid taking any drastic decisions or hope that IT can solve the problem. There might be instances when communication, strategy, vision or expectations is the underlying problem and a manager might overlook that and use IT to solve the problem. Success will hardly be achieved this way.

To summarize, the IT course has made me aware of three things that are most important while managing Information Technology – Right Leadership, Sound Strategy and an effective project management.The real challenge for me begins when I graduate from this program. I will be tested at every stage to stop for a second, think about these take aways before making any decision related to IT in business.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Software Success Survival Guide

“If you are not careful, the dream of information integration can turn into a nightmare”
T.Davenport, HBR, 100998

As Prof Mufti displayed a slide with the above quotation to the class, I had a smile on my face. My professional work experience has involved working in IT implementation projects for clients and seldom was a case where I did not experience any confusion, chaos or uncertainty while implementing the project. Hence, I could appreciate the quote.

The session dealt with the IT implementation where we examined the implementation of enterprise systems and the need for a business case.I had some important take away from this class.

Here are some survival guide tips from Software Engineering Laboratory (SEL) at NASA. It is common sense but something that is found no so common ! :)

Don’ts for Software Success
1. Don't "gold plate" requirements
2. Don't implement changes without assesing impacts and obtaining approval from change board.
3. Don't overstaff,especially early in the project
4. Don't overstaff, especially late into the project
5. Don't assume detailed documentation ensures sucess.
6. Don't relax standards to cut costs or shorten results
7. Don't assume a schedule slippage in the middle of the project can be made up later.
8. Don’t assume that a large amount of documentation ensures success

Do's for Software Success
1. Create and follow a Software Development Plan
2. Empower project personnel
3. Minimize the bureaucracy
4. Define the requirements baseline, and manage changes to it
5. Take periodic snapshots of project health and progress, and replanwhen necessary
6. Reestimate system size, effort, and schedules periodically
7. Define and manage phase transitions
8. Foster a team spirit
9. Start the project with a small senior staff

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Marketing Makeover

I went downstairs to the cafeteria today morning to get some breakfast.
As I was busy eating, I noticed a few undergrad students discussing an article in the newspaper.I picked up a copy to see what it was and had a look at this article.

This 1.15 minute video on on beauty titled "Dove Evolution" has become one of the most watched videos on You Tube. (More than a million hits).It was created by Ogilvy & Mather (Toronto) for Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty website.

A perfect example of Viral Marketing.Do watch the video here.

The End of Enron?

"Are you smart?".
"I'm f**king smart"

That was what what Jeffrey Keith "Jeff" Skilling said during his admissions interview at the Harvard Business School. He got his M.B.A. from Harvard , was in the top five percent of his class and joined McKinsey as a consultant. It was a dream run and he would have never imagined that he would end up something like this.

The episode at Enron has stressed the importance of ethics in Business at B-Schools .The former chief executive's prison sentence would be a gentle reminder for any student who thinks of "crossing the line" and doing something that will hurt the trust of the stakeholders.

Just another reason why I like Microsoft

IE 7 was launched a few days back, and so was Firefox 2.0
The MS team sent a Congratulatory Cake to the Firefox folks..!
Check it out at Digg

Herez the pic of the cake from the site:

Monday, October 23, 2006

Happy Birthday Ipod

i stands for Isolation
i stands for Iconic
i stands for Innovation

You are cool!
You are sexy !
You are compact.
You are something that every youngster should must have.

I never knew you could start a big revolution. A drink, a jeans, equipments and accessories - almost everything in the market has been released to compliment you. You symbolize a life style for the youth today.

You hold a special reputation in B Schools worldwide because you are often discussed in the Marketing class..or in the Strategy class. You are so young, yet you are so wise.

When I worked on a project for Apple last year for my past employer, I had never imagined that you had would make such a world wide impact.

You turn 5 today. Happy Birthday IPOD!
Enjoy your day

First iPod - 5GB (2001)
iPod video - 80GB (2006)
iPod Nano - 8 GB (2006)
iPod Shuffle 2GB (2006)
Apple has sold 68m iPods since 2001 (Source:
Piper Jaffray)
BBC has a article on you
Congratulations !

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Happy Diwali

Oh, I miss home..I miss India...and I miss being at home on Diwali.
Happy Diwali folks ! Let us celeberate the victory of good over evil.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Exams Over

After 40 assignments,
8 subjects,
Numerous group presentations,
Several individual assignments and more about 240 hrs of classes in Stage 2.
Itz finally over !

Stage 2 comes to an end. Happy Diwali to you folks.
More blog posts to follow soon.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Presentations through the week.
Reports submitted last week.
Individual journals/assignments to be written.
Dinner at a friends place.

Exams starting on Monday.
Hardly any time at my disposal
Blogging is not really what I want to do now.
Let me prepare for the exams.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Queen's is No 1 - The Best remains the best

The Business Week Ranking of MBA schools 2006 is out and once again
the Queen's MBA program is No 1 in the International Segment
( Outside the United States).

Queen's maintains its dominance for the 2006 rankings!!

The new rankings for 2006:

#1 Queen's
#2 Ivey (Western)
#3 Rotman ( Toronto )
#4 IMD
#5 LBS
#9 Shulich (York)
#10 HEC Montreal


This is what Business Week has to say about Queen's:

How does Queen's do it? For starters, it divides students into groups of five or six
"participants," with each group consisting of several different personality types and
nationalities so that conflict is almost guaranteed. Unlike most B-schools, where new teams
form for each class, Queen's students belong to a single team for the whole program,
much as they would on the job. Each team is assigned to a 15-by-20-foot "office" where
each student has a cubicle and is expected to keep office-like hours. It's here that
students spend a majority of their non-class time, discussing projects and working
on assignments. And it's here where much of the magic happens. Students learn how
to work as part of a team--resolving differences and solving problems--in a way
that can't be taught in the classroom. "Students are treated like professionals,
and they're expected to treat it like a job," says Alan Ridgeway, a 2006 Queen's grad.

This experiment in reality learning has students and recruiters singing the school's
praises. But administrators aren't easing up. In late September, Dean David
Saunders announced plans for a curriculum redesign that will allow students to
customize their course loads based on their experience and career goals. For
Saunders, the decision to make the change was simply a question of listening
to the market. "We talked to employers and alumni and built off of their feedback," Saunders says

While hiring Consultants

The operations class today had a case study on Deloitte Consulting. As the on campus recruitment season is on and quite a few folks in the class are interested in Consulting after their MBA, there was a good discussion generated in the class.

Prof Roman initiated a discussion on “When and when not to use Consultants for your business.”

Some key notes to keep in mind while using Consultants for your business:

Consultant's should not be hired
- to rubber stamp decisions
- to act as referees
- to second guess your own people

While hiring Consultants,
-Make sure that everyone is in the loop- internal consensus
-You insist on custom made solution to your problem
- You nail down the scope
- Find out who's going to be on the team- theirs and yours
- Ask for Frequent updates
-Be prepared for internal skepticism /hostility
-Give them feedback-they want it
- Be prepared for their fee!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Google gobbles You Tube

You Tube was just launched 19 months ago.And Google paid $1.65 billion dollars for it.
Check out the co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen speaking on the buy out.
Young guyz...working for pay pal...got an idea one day....explored it...and made it big.!
And sold it to Google for 1.6$ Billion!

Return of the dotcom days..Perhaps!

Watch this videos.
On how they started You Tube..

Monday, October 09, 2006

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving

In Canada Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Unlike the American tradition of remembering Pilgrims and settling in the New World, Canadians give thanks for a successful harvest. The harvest season falls earlier in Canada compared to the United States due to the simple fact that Canada is further north.
More details here

Sunday, October 08, 2006

What it takes to be a successful CEO

A slide in the Change Mangement class that caught my attention :

“There was a time when I thought that brains were everything. That view has dimmed recently. I think brains are important, but now I also look for good team-builders, good communicators, and courageous people who don’t get stuck with an idea. You need people who are more nimble, who have the ability to lead organizations in changing and tumultuous times comfortably,
without panicking.”

- Larry Bossidy, Chairman & CEO, Allied Signal, Inc.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I have arrived

A poem to think about ...Dr Bill Blake talked about this poem in the Leadership Class when he asked us not to "sweat the small stuff" and think about what is important in life.
This poem captures the dark side of white-collar success.

I Have Arrived
Natasha Josefowitz

I have not seen the plays in town
only the computer printouts

I have not read the latest books
only the Wall Street Journal

I have not heard the birds sing this year
only the ringing of phones

I have not taken a walk anywhere
but from the parking lot to my office

I have not shared a feeling in years
but my thoughts are known to all

I have not listened to my own needs
but what I want I get

I have not shed a tear in ages
I have arrived

Is this where I am going?

IT Outsourcing

Oct 05th, Thursday:
The IT Management class today was on IT Outsourcing. For someone like me who has worked in the IT Outsourcing industry for more than 5 years and has "been there and done that", I wondered how much of value addition would there for me.But I was completely wrong! The class exceeded my expectations, showed me a new dimension and made me think more about this business.

My experience had involved mostly working in the implementation phase of an IT project. Sometimes, I was pulled into the Request for Proposal (RFP) stage or did an assessment of the outsourcing project. But what I learnt today was of significant importance.

We had a guest speaker, Ms TJ Virk from IBM, who gave us an overview of the “anatomy of the outsourcing deal”. She talked to us about the various stages of the deal- Determine Interest, Define value, Detailed Analysis, Assessment and, Contract which I found extremely interesting. I was surprised to know that several years of relationship building, a lot of hard work and a bit of trade off (negotiations) is involved before a big outsourcing deal is bagged. Also, when IBM goes in for bidding an outsourcing deal, it looks at several evaluation criteria. Of the various criteria that she talked about, of particular interest to me were the one on "cultural fit" and the "commitment to long term strategic partnership". Ms Virk even walked us through a case study where the IT services of a Bank in Canada were outsourced to IBM.

So what are the reasons for outsourcing? There are many. Reduction in costs, make costs variable, focus on core business, improve service levels are few of the reasons. I found this session extremely useful because in a nutshell it gave me an overview of how things are done from the concept stage to the implementation phase.

Later, during the class, Prof Mufti showed us a framework that can help managers take a call on whether a company should go in for outsourcing. On one axis of the grid , we had the “Strategic Dependence” of the work in the organization and on the other axis, we had the “Operational dependence”. If the Strategic dependence is low and the Operational dependence is also low, it would be in the best interest of the company to outsource their operations. If the operational dependence is high, but the strategic dependence is low, organization can think of outsourcing, unless it is huge and well managed.

One of the last slides that Prof Mufti showed to us was very interesting. He said that more than 90% of the supplies of young professional for work in offshore centers reside outside the current hot spot cities of the world. Only 28% live in India. The remaining 72% live in countries like Chine, Russia, Philippines, Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey and Poland .
IT outsourcing is about to explode and every country with pools of talent would want a share in this pie soon. !

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Urinal and Process Controls
In the operations management class today, the Professor talked about process control.There was a short discussion where the students discussed how proper controls can be implemented to reduce wastage, improve quality and increase efficiency.

Here is something that the Prof then showed us :He showed the below picture that is at the the Urinals of Amsterdam Airport.This fixture from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol depicts a "fly target" embossed on the porcelain.

Read this description:

In Amsterdam, the tile under Schiphol's urinals would pass inspection in an
operating room. But nobody notices. What everybody does notice is that each
urinal has a fly in it. Look harder, and the fly turns into the black outline of
a fly, etched into the porcelain. It improves the aim. If a man sees a fly, he
aims at it. Fly-in-urinal research found that etchings reduce spillage by 80%.
It gives a guy something to think about. That's the perfect example of process

Other urinal that became extremely popular during the Soccer World Cup are the Wee Goals.

XBOX finally in India

India becomes 31st country to get the Microsoft XBox! Videogaming fans in India can now officially purchase the Microsoft Xbox 360 gaming console from the local markets.Herez the launch commerical in India.

The company has signed Bollywood star Akshay Kumar and Cricketer Yuvraj Singh as its brand ambassador.The Company also plans to launch a title in the future keeping the Cricket World Cup in Mind.It would be called the : ‘Yuvraj Singh International Cricket 2007.

Watch Peter Moore making the press statement here
BTW, I found this X Box commerical launch on Cock Fighting stupid !

X box is priced at Rs 20,000 which might appear costly but I am pretty sure that there will a lot of sales generated. Young teenagers and software engineers would be into this soon for sure.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tattooing their Brand on Americans:
Who Next?

For the business strategy class, we had an assignment on Harley Davidson. We were asked to compare Honda and Harley and then identify what factors resulted in Harley's success. The baby boomers were the target market for Harley. It became a brand for America and gained a special reputation in the heavy bikes segment. Harley focused its strengths and efforts into one niche market in the heavyweight segment; the super-heavyweight. Harley’s brand, an intangible resource, was a key competitive advantage that differentiated their product from Honda’s

To stay competitive, Harley was now going in for a geographical expansion. They sell in Japan and Europe. I received an email from a friend today that Harley plans to enter the Indian Market. I googled and found this news piece.

So, as I sit and type this, I wonder if an Indian entry would make sense for them?

The Pluses:
Booming Economy
Incresased disposable income
Attractoion of India to American brands ( Pizza Hut, McDonalds are a hit)

The Minuses
Where are the roads?
Indians to decide between style and performance.
Is there a market?

The article states that “The company is betting on the increasing attraction for high-end bikes, as seen in the interest in Suzuki Hayabusa and Kawazaki Ninja. Harley Davidson hopes that increasing disposable incomes in India powered by a booming economy will help it make the cult bike do well in India."

The bikes would be imported to India and would attract a 60% import duty. The price of Harley Davidson bikes in India then would be in the range of Rs 4 lakh to Rs 14 lakh. So, will it sell?

I think there will takers for that in the Metros. ( This will be a class, esteem product!)
But what concerns me is that are there roads in India good enough for these bikes. Perhaps they are in the metros.

We all know that the Honda bikes are technologically more advanced than Harley.
So will India select style over performance? I'll wait and watch. The lady in our team asked the guyz if we had the money which bike would we buy - A heavy engine Honda with power and superior technology or a Harley with power and style that cannot be matched.

I chose the former option but the team had mixed reactions! It’ll be interesting to know how Harley fares in India.