Tuesday, November 29, 2011

IITF 2011 at Pragati Maidan Delhi

My family accompanied me to IITF 2011 as has been the case almost every year. IITF 2011 was an altogether different experience for me as for the first time I was able to fully understand the layout of the various halls and pavilions in Pragati Maidan. However, as is usual the communication regarding how to reach the fair venue and from where to purchase the tickets left a lot to be desired.

Buying the Ticket

Based on newspaper notifications what I could gather was that the tickets were available only at Delhi Metro stations and at selected gates in Pragati Maidan. First we went to INA Market Metro Station and came to know that the tickets for the day had all been sold - very surprising since it was around 10am in the morning.

After that we went to the Race Course Metro Station on one side of the circular roundabout only to be told that only those who board the metro at that side of the station can purchase tickets. Others need to go to the station on the other side of the circular roundabout. Negotiating the traffic in the circular roundabout was highly inconvenient and unsafe as well. Anyways finally we managed to get the tickets from the other side.

Reaching IITF Parking - Sunheri Pullah near Dayal Singh College

Again based on newspaper notifications I came to know that car parking facility was available at Sunheri Pullah near Dayal Singh College (at stone's throw distance from CGO Complex). The arrow marking was all confusing. And it appeared to me that the parking site as mentioned in the newspaper was actually not  the one where I finally parked my car which I think was actually the DTC bus parking. In fact I am still not sure where Sunheri Pullah actually is?

My father told me that there used to be an open area near CGO complex which apparently got converted into Sunheri Pullah during the preparations for CWG 2010. Reaching Sunheri Pullah is quite simple. If one is coming on Lodhi Road from Safdarjung Tomb side, one needs to take a right turn immediately after Dayal Singh College. And if one is coming on Lodhi Road from Nizamuddin side, one needs to take a left turn immediately before Dayal Singh College

Reaching IITF Venue - Pragati Maidan

Well after all the hard work to purchase the tickets and to reach the parking venue I got some relief when I came to know that free shuttle buses were available right from inside the DTC bus parking to Gate 2 of Pragati Maidan. However to add salt to the wound I found that the trade fair tickets were being sold in the bus itself. It seems this came in the newspapers but was not as widely publicized.

Visiting the Pavilions 

We sat in the bus and after 15 minutes or so it started for the onward journey to Pragati Maidan Gate 2. After getting down there and going through security checks we were finally in. This time we decided to give a miss to the state pavilions other than of two states - Uttarakhand and Jharkhand.

Right when one enters Gate 2 one would come across Hall 6 so we started from there. After that we went to Hall 1 and then after some refreshment walked across to Hall 18 on one side of the fair venue. From there we walked in almost a linear fashion and came back to Hall 7 (passing through 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, etc.).

And of course we did purchase some stuff from the trade fair. The best part is one gets to see so many things. For kids it's a great learning experience watching the replicas and models of dams, mines, power generation plants, etc. And yes one can also watch the Dog Show performed by the Canine Warriors of Indian Army. An amazingly entertaining show to say the least!

Back to Pavilion

After a full day well spent we came out and took the return bus from Pragati Maidan to the Sunheri Pullah car parking! And as is said all is well that ends well we felt in the end it was an experience truly worth it.

P.S.: It was good to note that for crowd management and security the organizers have made some excellent arrangements like after a certain time no tickets are sold, after a certain time entry is not allowed and also at the entry point there are scanners like the ones at airports.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Nature, Inc. versus Human, Inc.

Development of world economy has brought the battle between nature and human to the very front. For now it might appear that Human, Inc. is winning the battle over Nature, Inc. but that's not true if one scratches the surface a bit. What will come to the notice is not very surprising but also deeply concerning.

Nature Doesn't Need Human but Humans Can't Survive Without Nature

Nature doesn't need human beings but human beings need nature for their existence. If tomorrow there were another world war which exterminates the human race for ever nature won't come to a halt. Sun will rise every morning, rivers will flow on their course, wind will blow, stars will shine and earth will continue its movement.

It is imperative for human beings to exercise extreme caution and care as they put nature to its service. Utilization of natural resources shouldn't cross the boundary where use turns into abuse and/or misuse and/or waste.

Cleanup Act - For Humans to Survive Nature Has to be Saved

Governments the world over have been propagating awareness and actions in many areas, as listed below, which are aimed at taking care of nature:
  • Elimination or reduction in pollution causing substances
  • Use of renewable sources of energy
  • Conservation of water and other natural resources
We human beings owe it to our future generations and we must take care of nature. The people who will inhabit earth, let's say a century from now, will thank and fondly remember us not for all the technological advancements that have been made (especially in the last 5-6 decades) but for a very simple thing: they are alive!

Nature, Inc. for Human, Inc.

Yes taking birth and staying alive itself will become the primary endeavor and the biggest challenge for human beings if we don't clean up our acts. Being able to breathe fresh air, drink clean water, eat hygienic food, will become difficult in times to come if we continue our current adversarial relationship with Nature, Inc. It is clear that for it not to become extinct Human, Inc. must follow the will of Nature, Inc. We must remember that Nature, Inc. was always supreme and will remain so.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

High Designation Doesn't Mean Higher Level of Leadership Skills

The experience of coming across someone with a high designation in the organization but low level of leadership is quite interesting. I had such an experience recently.

One Experience on Leadership Skills or Rather the Lack of It

For some activity the person's department was selected, probably for the first time. On top of it the person missed some of the email communications sent earlier and when a direct communication was sent to him subsequently (by someone who was authorized but having a lesser designation) it was taken as an insult.

The person tried to wriggle out of the whole thing by asking basic questions - why me? if not earlier why now? why no one told me earlier? why is this needed? what is needed from me?

What Can We Infer - Some Feelings

It brought the following feelings: 
  • Amazement - how this person got promoted to such a high designation? leaders can't be leaders in the true sense if they have closed mind and hard attitudes 
  • Anger - how can someone react to a 'change' in this manner? leaders are expected to not just accept but also drive changes. 
  • Agony - how someone like this can help in organization's culture building? leaders are expected to help build and nurture organizational culture through positive actions. 
  • Anxiety - how someone like this can possibly destroy the organization's value and systems? leaders are supposed to demonstrate organization's value and systems in every instance.
Why this Happened - Some Probable Reasons

Equally important to what happened is to try to understand why it has happened. Here's my take on it:
  • When one thinks he/she is above the crowd and expects special treatment as a birth right
  • When one is the proverbial blue-eyed boy and think he/she can get away with anything
  • When one sees change as a threat and responds to it by opposing it
  • When one is not sure of his/her abilities or the way he/she performs the work
  • When one thinks he/she is indispensable to the organization and can pressurize others
Why Such Persons are not Needed in Modern Organizations

Whatever it might be such persons should have no place in professionally managed and progressive organizations. And the logic is simple, in a knowledge economy such attitudes are obsolete.

Job Titles, Roles and Salary Bands

Many organizations struggle with parity between job grades, roles and salary bands. If one were to categorize companies they would invariably fall into one of the two categories:

Job Grade Obsessed

In such organizations one would hear conversations like, "how many M4s we have currently?", "let's hire another M5", etc. In these discussions the focus on competencies and responsibilities might get diluted. And as a result such organizations can have a situation like this - three employees work on similar assignment though one might be M3, another M4 and the third one M5.

It is generally the case that Mi will be associated to a certain salary range. And regardless of the value added, actual performance, etc. Mi will generally draw higher salary then Mi-1. In case of salary range overlaps it is possible for a high-end Mi-1 to draw a salary marginally higher (and sometimes significantly higher) than the Mi.

Because of the job grade obsession it is possible in such organizations that the head of department A might be an M4 and the head of department B might be an M7. In terms of accountability in respect of their department's performance both will be treated at par but the M7 will have higher authority than the M4.

For high performers such organizations will prove to be a career trap since one's responsibilities might undergo no or little change when one is "promoted" from M4 to M5 to M6 to M7. This is especially true in case of small sized organizations and is generally amplified due to the "old boys club" (OBC) culture prevalent there (Old Boys Club in Small Companies)

Salary Band Obsessed

These organizations are more direct in terms of using the term salary band explicitly since an employee is seen as nothing more than an expense in pure accounting sense. So higher salary band will mean higher cost. Hiring in such companies will focus on money that is kept on the table for the selected candidate to accept the offer. The mapping of salary band to competencies and responsibilities might be a weak one. One would hear conversations like, "how many B4s we have currently?", "let's hire another B5", etc.

In such organizations an B10 might be a Principal Engineer or a Senior Manager. And this when not seen in terms of the role the B10 will perform might lead to hiring misfires. In such organizations the Job Titles might sound confusing at times.

Because of the salary band obsession it is possible in such organizations that a B10 might have no one reporting into that position whereas another B10 might have 100 people reporting into that position. Obviously the competencies required for both are different and salary band being same doesn't convey much.

For high performers such organizations may be better in terms of career growth. Since the salary bands have a direct correlation to the money on the table, the organization will try to add more work or more complexity to the existing work which will result in ensuring the higher salary spent translates into higher value added to the organization. There exists strong possibility though of no or little change when one is "promoted" from B5 to B6 to B7 to B8.

Why Role is More Important than Job Grade and Salary Band

Somewhere job grades and salary bands are correlated to the years of experience on one's resume and also the loyalty factor as trust scores over talent (What Comes First - Trust or Talent?)

However for professionally managed and progressive organizations, it is imperative to look at role as the driver for career growth and progression of an employee up the organizational hierarchy. If one gets promoted as "Senior Manager" from "Manager" this should also mean the promoted employee does something more, something different or the existing work differently (more complex, more challenging, etc.). If that's not the case then it's difficult to understand what "getting promoted" means.

In the back-end though there has to be salary range so that someone in higher role draws a higher salary. It's justified in this case since "getting promoted" is translated into "contributing more" to the organization.

A flat organization should ideally be defined as a hierarchical arrangement of roles where any role higher in the hierarchy requires "getting promoted" in the real sense. It is ironical to note that in many organizations even the HR promotes the job grade and salary band concept over role concept. It probably allows ego-massaging of the employees where one might perform the same activities over 10 years but as M4/B4 in year 1 and gradually "getting promoted" to M8/B8 in year 10.

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