Monday, May 28, 2012

Collaboration, Courage and Candor in Chennai

I was in Chennai for around 5 years and this is the city where I started my software career. In-spite of its shortcomings, there is a strong emotional attachment to this city and I feel it whenever I come here. 

This city loves education and is passionate about it. True to its stand, my fellow mates in the session, though initially skeptical, participated in an intense discussion on MS Project. Everyone of them came forward to work as a team doing practicals. Never felt so good! 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Japanese Terms Which Managers Need To Know!

Some of the terms which are truly interesting, applicable, and above all timeless. Though all of them are Japanese, the beauty of it is this – they are applicable to all industries and also in life. 
Below are some of the terms which I have come across while discussing with some of great managers I have come across. They are practiced by many, most notably, Toyota and have been the cornerstone for many other companies, irrespective of verticals. 

The terms are Japanese. And my experience with Japanese terms – they are broad, not narrowly defined to a particular meaning. You may find them to be used somewhere in a different context – here it is with respect to industries and day-to-day life. 

1. Doryoku:-
Visible demonstration of hard work and commitment, which is rewarded over achievement. 

The best example is of course the Baseball team of Japan, itself. They practiced long and hard, in brutal summer, each player throwing endless pitches to others, which may be meaningless or irritating to others. 

And though Baseball is not the national game of Japan, they won the fist baseball classic championship in 2006. 

2. Kaizen:-
Continuous Improvement 

I think it has been used to the hilt by many. But then, it comes up again and again! Kaizen means continuous improvement, which is done in “small measures”. The beauty is however small it is, there is an improvement and it is emphasized. 

This has been now a fundamental principle in modern Quality Management. 

3. Genchi Genbutsu:-
Go see yourself to thoroughly understand the problem – the hands-on approach. 

How many times you have come across people sitting in GM/PM/DM roles in a hi-tech company who have no idea of how technology works, forget if they written any single line of code in their life. 

I am NOT saying they need to code, but do they know the eco-system. Well, these will be first companies who will be wiped out fast in the information age. 

To understand a problem, you have to have your hands dirty. 

4. Jidoka:- 
Stop when there is a Quality Problem

As they say “Quality is always planned, designed, and built in – NEVER inspected in.”

Reason is simple, the Cost of Quality is higher when the defect is found later. Hence, the best possible strategy is to stop and check, whenever there is a quality problem. 

5. Heijunka:-
Level out the workload or schedule

In modern management, as a Project Manager, you have to look for ways to level the workload or schedule. If the load is NOT evenly balanced, there is a disaster waiting to happen. 

6. Nemawashi:-
Make decisions slowly by consensus, thoroughly considering all options, and implement rapidly. 

I think Google will be very good example of it. There decisions are very scientifically analyzed, very patiently planned, and during execution the speed is break-neck. 

7. Hansei:- 
Let us stop and reflect. 

In Japan, parents usually tell their children “Please do the hansei”. 

In industry, it can be – let us go through the design again, let check completely the acceptance test cases so that we do not miss out any, let us review the architecture of the system again.

Reference source: The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World's Greatest Manufacturer by Jeffrey K. Liker