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It’s all about execution

Foreigners often remind us that Indians are a bright people. But foreigners are too polite to add that Indians can also be ‘over-smart’, and this creates its own problems. We think and argue too much, see too many angles, and don’t act enough. It makes hiring and recruiting talent particularly difficult, for all Indians come out sounding well in an interview, and how do you separate the doers from the talkers? National stereotyping can be dangerous and is usually wrong. We have learned this only too well from the history of the violent 20th century. Hence, I prefer to rely.
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Fear is the key

Recently, in the midst of a deep chat about the motives and responses of some of our professional acquaintances, a thought hit me right between the eyes. One of those knock-out blows. I realised that people take most of their decisions to become free of fear, not to move to something better. Let me explain. A person is faced with two choices, one which is most probably “better” (define the word the way you want to) but unfamiliar to his acquaintances, and the other which is familiar to a few of his acquaintances but is certainly ordinary. He’ll choose the.
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How the culture of effort is dying out

Just read an interesting article about letting kids fail. (Aside: In typical American style, its title almost explains the main point of the author. No effort needed there.) Why is this entire idea of the necessity of effort being lost among the young adults I deal with? The entire focus these days is on results, on outcome. We too talk that language in the corporate world. But we must not talk that language when we bring up youngsters, be they kids or young software engineers straight out of college. As one can well guess, the focus on outcome discourages people.
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Who is a geek, really?

A recent incident at home set me thinking and gave me some disturbing insight into the true nature of geekiness. We have a carpenter who has built quite a bit of the furniture of our place. He is honest and painstaking to a fault, and has done a lot of work for us over the last decade and more. I recently asked him to replace the doors to both the bathrooms at our place — the original doors were flimsy and were beginning to show their age. The door frames needed replacing too. This man got to work. He prepared.
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Professionalism

“What does professionalism mean? What makes for a good professional?” My friend Abhijit, a renowned HR consultant, asked me this one day, out of the blue. I took two cups of good black tea and 15 minutes of thought to respond. A good professional has a few attributes. The full scope First: a good professional understands the full scope of the job assigned. A poor professional says “I did the job, as was needed.” But he often fails to realise that this is not enough. A good professional understands, for instance, that testing of a new system, or installation of.
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Why small companies don’t grow into big companies

Most small businesses do not grow into large businesses, in spite of (i) dynamic business heads, (ii) delivering value very competently to customers and (iii) earning reasonable profits. Why? I have seen a variety of recurring reasons, so here they are. This is not an exhaustive list. Some of these reasons hit companies started by techie entrepreneurs. Others hit even businesses started by traditional and experienced businessmen from business communities. How much of this is India-specific? Frankly, I don’t know. I suspect about half of these points would either be less relevant to non-Indian entrepreneurs, or would be presented very.
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Why small companies don’t grow into big companies part 2

It must be run by employees, not entrepreneur Any business which wants to grow must keep the entrepreneur or CEO almost completely out of the delivery loop, and preferably, out of the business generation loop too. This is such a common issue that I am tempted to list this as one of the most common challenges of all small businessmen from all sectors and backgrounds. A scalable business must not require the CEO to manage projects himself or deal with customers himself. He may monitor the work of others to ensure that both business generation and delivery to customers are.
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Trading, manufacturing, services and Indian IT

Traditional ideas of services imply work done without generation of physical goods; many experts define “service” as intangible economic goods. Traditional ideas of trading imply purchasing of goods from a supplier, performing little or no value addition on the item, and then selling it to a buyer, hopefully at a profit. And traditional ideas of manufacturing imply applying a process of transformation on physical raw materials using labour and/or machinery to create something substantially different from the raw materials. These ideas do not work with software, and specially with the Indian IT industry. What are services? Services are easy to.
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My country, my pen and my watch

The English language has a way of muddying the waters of some of the most basic ideas. Take the simple word “my”. What do you think the word means? You will say: it means ownership. “My pen” means “the pen which I own”. And what do you make of the phrase “My country”? What about “my faith”, or “my profession?” It becomes apparent that the simple two-letter word actually means two opposite things, depending on where you use it. When I say “my country”, I mean “the country I belong to”. When I say “my profession”, I mean “the profession.
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How we read

We don’t read the way we used to. We read a lot, but not the way we used to. I watch youngsters — including the young officers in my company — read their mobile phone screens. They are constantly reading. They are constantly writing too. Facebook, WhatsApp, SMS, and sometimes, emails. It all feels very nice — you say a silent hosanna to these wondrous new technologies. But this evaporates when you see them trying to solve a new problem or study a new software library or software system. You then realise that they’ve forgotten how to study. In fact,.
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