26 March 2012

Random Thoughts on "Add Value"

Having been in the industry for quite sometime, i took a lot of time to understand the true meaning of "add value" and practical meaning of "add value". I never shy away from being bold and often share my candid opinion with a caveat that i could be wrong. When i share, i understand my limitations in my own thinking and offer to correct my thinking flaws when an argument is made with evidence. This post need not necessarily my experience at my workplace. This is just a "how the world can be" thinking. 

Many people who manage people use these tricky words - "add value". I think, the statement "add value" is so abstract. Can you make it concrete so that understanding becomes easier? When you go abstract, you become more philosophical. The abstraction has to be an outcome of one's own thinking. It is outcome of your thinking when you play with few concrete things and you understand them. It can and should never be taught. When we say "add value", what do we mean by that? Have we clearly said what is basic expectation and what is value addition. Being in an industry where there is large human churn (due to attrition), being sticking to a company for few years is basic expectation and  serving the company for long years is adding value. can the mere presence be considered as "adding value"?

How will you convince a worker who is so passionate, who maintains a very low profile who thinks that he is doing something what is expected out of her. Here, "adding value" is built in. You cannot differentiate such worker and value. How can you define "add valuing" to such a person? Will you exploit him when she says "she is normal guy".

Why is that adding value never be practiced? When you have so many people under you, it is much easier to make noise, can you step up your contributions through critical thinking? Are you dare enough to say, "come on guys, fire my thought process, let us learn something new, thinking fresh is more important than value itself". You know, being an example takes a lot of pain and we have to endure a lot of pain. The commitment to remain painful is a way to "add value" to your folks. For example, you have endure the pain of no results for many months before seeing something. Are you prepared for it? When your team is in incubation, will you rally around it?

Unless we have such a commitment towards shaking up status quo, we can never be "adding value".

With my little experience, i infer that only rebel can add value in words and spirit and i also believe that the value driven out of such a person will never be visible. Because such a value will lead to paradigm shift.

25 March 2012

Open Gyan - The Commitment

This year (till now), Open Gyan, has conducted two workshops on Linux. We planned two more workshops in different colleges (DS/algo, JVM Internals and Linux) but we decided to push those to next semester as we felt that it would be little hectic for the students to prepare for their semester/labs and attend our workshops. All these workshops would be scheduled next semester along with few new workshops.
Visit us - http://www.opengyan.com

I would like to share couple of ground rules that would instill our long term commitment towards Open Gyan, its values and long term goals.

Since we are receiving the workshop requests moderately but we are very selective. At Open Gyan, we are interested to have a specific format (in delivery, hands-on and do it yourself) on selected topics. We don't want to repeat what the students have already learnt (or will be learning). We can certainly customize our workshop based on the students' exposure but we would not be interested to cover the entire syllabus (we feel that the college should be doing it). We welcome workshop requests that enhances the thinking/programming skills of the students and we aren't interested in merely repeating some text books and syllabus. We want to do workshops that shapes up thinking and to people who are passionate about computers/programming and conduct workshops (to curious minds) that challenges our own thinking. With this, we will also be challenged enough and knowledge sharing will be two way street.

The second issue is that many are asking for financial commitment. With the best interest of Open Gyan and its members, it is correct time to clear the air. Open Gyan will not be charging anything as fee. Our workshops are free (free as is in Open Source). Our companies pay us enough to have a moderate lifestyle. This initiative is driven out of passion. So, if you are looking out to cash something through us, i think, it is better to say "Open gyan will be truly open". Open Gyan will remain non-profit now and in FUTURE. Another caveat is that if our workshops require over night stay (which is very rare), we expect accommodation be arranged. With this, our original and true intention are preserved and our values won't get diluted. This will also help us to set expectation with any new members who join Open Gyan.

We are pleased about the response for Open Gyan. We have been meeting people and contacting them (through referrals and personal contacts). It would be great if you can share this with your friends specifically who are in academia (they could be professors or students). 

You can do two possible things 
  • Forward this post using the link at the bottom of this post or copy/paste this post in a email.
  • Visit/like our Facebook page (post this on your wall). In order to make your job easy, i m sharing couple of links.

Open Gyan@Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/opengyan

Once again, we thank you for the support. We sincerely hope, "Together, we will make something meaningful to the community".

Have a Great Week.

Open Gyan Team.

22 March 2012

Commitment Vs Compulsion

There are two ways by which you can complete a work. 

The first way is to complete it because you are committed to do it. You love to do it and in that case the work itself becomes reward. You don't expect anything back when you do such a work. 

The second way is to complete it out of compulsion. You complete it as you don't have any choice left. If you do it this way, the work will be so much incomplete even though it is complete.

You, only you can decide which work is "compulsion" and which one is "commitment".

So, decide. It is never too late to do the work that you would love to do.

21 March 2012

Stretching the limits - Why

Have you ever stretched your limits? If you have done it, why did you do that? What did you infer by stretching the limits? Did it make you happy? Did you feel so good? If you felt good, why did you feel good? If you felt bad, why did you feel it that way?

So many "silly" questions.

By stretching, i didn't mean slogging in office for more hours. Now, you understand that this is not that "silly". By stretching, i mean - the thinking, your thinking (damn serious?).

Why should we stretch our thinking?

I feel that one should keep stretching their limits to infer that we are limitless.

It is not expanding the boundary or expanding the thinking envelope. It is experiencing that we are limitless.

So, let us stretch the limits and become limitless (got the gyan?)

19 March 2012

Top of the mind Thinking

Whatever clever we are, we just do most of the things from top of the mind. We do something when others watch us and we tend to do totally different thing when there are no one around us[another variation is when you are near a person know to you versus when a stranger is watching you].

You can have any value system (it evolves or degrades over time, i m not commenting anything on the value system) but make sure that it is available at the top of your mind. In a very passionate/emotional situation, we tend to do things from top of the mind. If you happen to do something against your value system, just don't feel sorry. But make sure that you make an initiative to bring the value system to the top of your mind.

More than thinking, "top of the mind thinking" is more relevant in day-to-day decision making.

Once you do that, you will never feel sorry in life (buying certain things that you dont need, deciding on your next job, taking an extra scoop of ice cream in Baskin Robbins, dieting and life style changes that we are trying to alter everyday etc).

18 March 2012

Is your career a Gambler's Fallacy

We stand in the sideline without much contribution (i should accept that there is no dearth of oral contribution). By contribution, i mean mutual value creation. We think that many people in the past were successful by just doing that we are doing (being close to idle). When something goes wrong, we tend to think about a "pyramid" and compare our growth with the pyramid. We just think that it is natural to get dropped at the bottom. 

Is our career a gambler's fallacy?  Those black balls never come next time and we keep betting on the black balls. Like the previous times, we continue to lose this time too (and probably next time).

Standing in the line for extended period of time is like gambler's fallacy.

So, i happen to conclude that law of averages, law of large numbers and gambler's fallacy helps people who think. Thinking fuels you to make better bet.

14 March 2012

Standing in the sideline

When the game is on - you can play it or choose to be on the sideline.
Wherever you want to be (it is just fine. If you don't play this game, you always have time to play another game), just say it loud and be specific (to yourself and others)

  • Let your stand be loud and clear to others so that others don't lose/experience the game. 
  • You have to be loud to yourself. You must not count the returns when there is no input. And just standing in the sideline doesn't make any sense - you don't have time to play another game (which would have really a game changer game in your life)
When you are on the sideline, it makes sense to be clear to others/you that you are on the sideline and move on to play another game.

13 March 2012

Open Gyan - News and Update

This year is quite good for Open Gyan. Having started this initiative during 2009, it is glad to see some momentum and we see that this initiative is taking off a bit. We decided that it is apt time to invest more time (personal/leisure) and as a result we came up an idea of focusing on two areas. First is DS & Algo and the second one is Linux. DS/Algo helps us solve the problem and Linux makes it simple (KISS principle).
OpenGyan - Logo

This year, we would be doing series of workshops in these two areas. Each area will have at least two workshops (basic and advanced). As we already said, the workshops would be hands-on (and we just don't stop with prescribing something. we sit with the students and make them do things. So the learning will be mutual).

Next comes the update.

OpenGyan gets a logo.

We are bootstrapping new website. Please visit us and share your thoughts [www.opengyan.com]. 
After getting inputs from few of our friends, we prepared/updated our main presentation slides for "what is Open Gyan". We are constantly updating our goals and priorities based on your inputs. We are looking forward for your inputs.

Once again, we would like to thank you (a tonne) for supporting us and spreading the goodness. Please share with people that you know who can benefit out of this initiative (students/professors in colleges).

09 March 2012

Get the Gyan

Get the Gyan, it is never too late.

Either you learn it hard way or learn it from others, make sure that you get the gyan. Learning it from others is just an optimization. Don't bother if you cannot optimize.

Get the Gyan.

07 March 2012

When you ask for Feedback again

People often ask others to give them feedback on them - what they feel, what would make them effective, efficient, better. An usual, cyclic ritual.

When someone gives you a feedback,

  • at least have a courtesy to say "thank you" immediately (at least before a month).
  • when you ask the feedback the next time, make sure that you convey people what did you do with feedback that was already given. How did you act on it? If you thrashed them, just say so but politely. It is much better than not saying.
Without the feedback of feedback (a courtesy), the people do not actually need to be courteous again. They have options - option of giving feedback to people who value it.

06 March 2012

Do-It-Yourself (OpenGyan) - Write a (your own) shell

This is one of the exercises we give to students in our workshop on Linux programming. Many of the participants understand the concept behind the shell and use basic process management system calls (fork, exec, wait and exit) to write a miniature shell on their own. Given time (and effort), i think one can write their own shell. Here is the requirement for a brand new shell (feel free to assume/add more requirements). As an additional effort, try to find the features that are missing in existing shells and implement those in your new shell.
Write a mini-shell with a following features
  1. The shell should receive command from the user and execute it. If the user just gives the command, you have search the command in all of directories defined in the environment variable PATH. If you are not able to find the command, you have print "no luck, seems like your program is toasted". If the user specifies the path along with the program, it is enough if you just load and execute it.
  2. You should store the last command that is execute and its exit status.
  3. You should implement a facility to run the program in background.
  4. You should remember last “N” commands and print it upon user request.
  5. You should name your shell and it should appear as the prompt.
  6. When you type "quit", you must quit from your shell with a greeting.
Hope you find this interesting. Happy Shelling....