Monday, February 27, 2006

RadioShack

Recently, CEO of RadioShack Mr. David J. Edmondson was fired because he lied in his resume that he had two degrees when he has none. He joined the company in 1992 with false resume and as a severing package he was given a million dollars. (CNN) The company was having nonprofits for past 2 years and he announced a two-year turn around plan, which the board was not convinced of.

Now the interesting question that comes to our mind is, did the board ignore (or pleasantly over looked) the facts for 14 long years.

Why was the “stretching the truth” or more correctly “almost true” or “a little while lie” over looked in this pre-employment educational background verification? That too, in a country where information is structured and every citizen has an SSN. One phone call to the college where this guy claims to have studied would have given them a clear idea. Right?

Just a passing remark in this context; how many of the software guys, with genuine education credentials got visa refusals at US consulates of Chennai/Mumbai, just because the colleges don’t have OLIVE (OnLIne VErification)?

Are the rules for CEOs and ordinary blokes different?

The answer lies in the two critical factors.

1) Figures
2) Aura

Let me explain further.

Figures: The cash flow in the case of the CEO. If you had read the fine print, the company is facing loss for past two years and board was not interested in his plan for turn around. Hence they needed an excuse to fire him.

As long as the ‘deliverables’ are met, no one is bothered about the credentials.

Aura: Though a loaded term, I prefer to use it. This guy was given a million dollar package, for what? He had that charm (or the aura) to take with him half the company and had the brains (or was it a image projected to the board) to compete with them. Board found it to be prudent to pay him off, so that he doesn’t cause any damage to them.

How to apply it to our careers in our own little sphere of influence?


As mentioned earlier, we too need to take care of the following.

1) Never be under the impression that we are indispose able.

Whether it is CEO or the Managing Director, as long as it is not “your own” company/organization, you are at the mercy of the management. There are cases where even the best CEO was shown the door. Remember Steve Jobs was sent out from his “own” Apple for a while. That is a different story, that he was called back and he Apple to the place where it is now.

So, every three months make a survey of your own marketability and always have a backup option.

Note: When trying to have a backup option, never do that for the home city you are in. Say you are in Chennai and want to have a backup option, then always have an offer ready from Noida or Gurgaon. It has two fold advantages.

i) If you keep on putting all the companies in your home town on hold/backup, you will be left with no other company as choice, say after 3 yrs to join. As you have exhausted all the options locally and have to relocate to some other city.
ii) With an far-off city as an option, you can always give a “genuine” reason to companies in your city to join them, instead of a better package offer from distant land.

2) Build our own figures.

Whether you are a CEO or a code coolie, let the figures talk. (Management likes more of tables and charts, than monologues.)

i) Just always take a note of no. of hours you work, not the mandatory 8 hrs you fill in the time sheets. Have something of your own.
ii) Have something to say like “delivered 3 modules, with 8.7 m LoC, with 110 bugs (no critical bug, of course), delivered with in stipulated 20 man-months.

3) Build our own aura.

Always build an aura around you. There are those who just talk/baffle with technical jargon, with no tangible output, but considered to be technically “sound”. I am not suggesting you to join that bandwagon, but nevertheless, have some aura.

i) Participate in any technical discussion organized at practice or unit level.
ii) Always volunteer to give a “talk” or conduct a “workshop” on your technology/domain of choice.
iii) Contribute something to your “in-house” newsletter or be a part of “that” group that produces “white papers”. (Even if you firmly believe that the technical white paper is worth less the paper printed on, contribute.)

In other words, be “visible”.

4) Be honest about resume.

No harm in telling the truth that you were jobless. It is a known fact. Also if all are employed, how can Naukri/Dice survive?

Even, if you get a lower pay or slow promotion, you need not be under the constant threat of losing job due to the “fakes” you used to get hold of job. Also, that fear can hinder your performance, eventually leading to your ouster.

All the best!!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Noise

Ever wondered what is that “dot-dash pattern” that you see on the television when ever there is no channel transmition?

Ever wonder what that unique sounds no radio are when you are not tuned to any particular radio station?

It is the gamma or cosmic waves causing that noise. It is said that there is always a static amount of noise in this universe which one can’t avoid and this noise/waves are coming from the end of universe. That is, since Big-Bang, this universe is expanding and it continues to expand, that corner most edge that pushes the vaccum (or what ever) to create space generates some electro-magnetic radiation which is relayed back to us and they are called cosmic waves.

Hmn.. Interesting… isn’t it….

Now, ever wonder, what might be lying there at the edge of universe? Something beyond the expanding universe??

If something is expanding, what is containing it?

As you put out your soapy head out of partially opened bathroom door and call out aloud “Towel please”, imagine putting your head out of the edge of universe and see what is there.

What do you see? (I don’t know the answer)

Hypothetically, if you travel in straight line, straight into the sky and keep on going, for a long, long time, do you know where you end up?

Yes, you will end up at the place where you started.

This is something like, starting from your home and traveling to east in an airplane, for one or two days, you know that you will end up at your home, arriving from west. This is the case with universe also.

All the above is not my idea, but collected arguments put forth by eminent scientists.

What do we gather from the above…

1) There is constant “theta” amount of noise and dust in the universe.
2) You come to the same place where you have started.

Using these two “scientific” reasonings, how should we go forward?

As we have accepted to live with the said amount of dust in our universe, we also need to accept the said amount of dust in our daily lives. If someone makes lots of noise and no practical output, we need to just ignore it.

Don’t you change the channel when you get noise screen on the T.V.?

Same way, just ignore or change the channel.

Some may say, change the T.V itself. Like changing a company, if you don’t like boss or changing the project if you don’t like the client. But, remember the two principles.

Even if you change the T.V. there is no gaurentee that noise will not be reduced, because of Point – 1 and you will be at the same situation again, because of Point – 2.

I don’t say, you live with it, but learn to ignore the noise and take only the pleasant channels for your viewing.

All the best, my dear coolies.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

CXO

It is rather an uncomfortable situation for any IT service guy/gal to come up with a satisfactory answer, for questions like

“Show me the enterprise bus in this integration architecture?”

“Where is the SOA in this proposal?”

Usually we tend to give some explanation that "SOA is not in scope of this particular venture" or say that “This entire scheme is SOA and we can’t show it as a separate component” etc.

Then the client CIO/CEO/CXO starts talking about the SOA models and we realize that it is of no use to put forth our side of story. Some one aptly said, “A fool can ask, what the wisest can’t answer”. How true!!

Theorem: “I.T. Management is always driven by magazines”

Assumptions: None what so ever.

Proof:

A mere look at the IT landscape across all the boundaries of organizations, one comes across a similar trend.

Early 90s where full of open systems while late 90s was full of migration to client-server model with a mass exodus of application to packaged enterprise applications and then came the sweep of n-tier of JAVA/MicroSoft. Not to be left behind these paradigm shifts gave way to some buzz words (and of course revenue) to EAI, SOA, Agile, EDS, blah-blah etc.

Should we think that these mass or near hysterical movements were part of some global-wave-of-thought-pattern? (Just to add some meat for that global-wave-of-thought-pattern concept, Mahavir, Gauthma and Confucius came up with similar tenets for human lives, with no interaction with each other, in different geographical locations, at a close time lines. Couple of hundred years is not such big quantum when we talk of Universe with genesis.)

The answer would definitely be a big NO.

It is highly unlikely that all the CXOs would meet and form a consensus to move their enterprises IT infrastructure into different paradigm. (Here it is worth noting that ‘X’ ranges from A to Z and multiple no. of times. Consider a designation CAISSO which reads out a Chief-Application-Integration-Strategic-Solutions-Officer. To represent the same in true blue blooded IT guy, am using CXO.

C[A..Z][A..Z]*O – Unix Style

{ Ca+O a in α } and α = {A..Z} – Set theory of mathematics.

If am wrong in the representations above, please do correct me.

Then, who drove all these CXOs to make these kinds of paradigm shifts, that too at a rapid pace. Someone can shout aloud that ‘technology’. If at all the rapid innovations of technology from the hidden laboratories of academy or industry have paved way to changes, explain the dodo called eSpeak of HP. (More on eSpeak later, mentioned it now, just to give some sense of suspense.)

Any technologist would vouch his life for the fact that industries don’t accept any technology unless there is a stamp/endorsement from the magazines/journals. (I do not how ever wish to name the same to avoid any legal suites and damage charges, but it is left to the good guess of the reader.) Once the branding is obtained and a technology is baptized, you can find the same hostile industry wooing to embrace it at the earliest.

Example:

eSpeak of HP was not given enough mileage in any magazine so industry never bothered to give it a second look. Now the same eSpeak got baptized as W-e-b-S-e-r-v-i-c-e-s”. Yes you read it right. eSpeak is nothing but WebServices.

Look at the noise and dust surrounding it. Any IT event is abuzz with the words like SOA, Agile, XML, EDA, what-not.

A brief tour of eSpeak: The founder/innovator of eSpeak at HP was Dr. Rajiv Gupta, who went on to start “Confluence Solution” which was taken over by “Oblix” group, which again was got by “Oracle” recently. Where was Oracle all along? It woke up only when magazines give some larger-than-life picture of WebServices.

Thus, proves my theorem that “I.T. Management is always driven by magazine”

Colliery: Coolies need to digest magazine.

Now let us turn our attention to our (Code Coolie’s) livelihood. We coolies get our sustenance for survival only when the “client” comes up with a “unique”, “singular” and “trend-setting” requirement for a “state-of-art” I.T. infrastructure. For providing the same to the client, we work in the technology of clients choice, be it SAP or TIBCO or JAVA or Fancy free Assembly.

The well known axiom is “Coolies need to slog for their wages”. Now, can’t we make some modifications to our own slogging to make it less drudgefull? Yes, we can and we should.

CXO decides on the I.T. spending, be it shelling out or freezing the budget and our theorem above proved that his/her thinking is guided by magazine not by logic. Few good reviews, there is money in it and few bad reviews fizz is lost with job cuts in that arena. So we too need to be abreast of what is being written about our dear technology. It is not the organizations that need agile infrastructure; it is us, who make a living out of it that needs an agile brain.

If client is not convinced about a technology, which we are comfortable with, we should be adaptable enough to jump into the bandwagon of the client and show our prowess. In other words, we need to operate in the artificial demand markets created by the nexus of Industry and its magazines.

I remember a recent case, where I did blasphemy of my cult status Enterprise tool, to win a contract. That night I could not sleep but reason dawned on me the next morning. As a coolie, it is against the very tenet of coolidom, to think in terms of ‘Intellectual’ debate with a CXO.

Here I would like to indicate the novice coolies, who can’t access the magazines. These snooty blokes at the so called research centers think no end of themselves that they have restricted access to their ‘reviews’/’articles’, so that only the gullible janta (read CXO) would read it.

The best barometer is not by spending on them, but to observe the “jobs” section of any daily. Check the trend, if for more than three (3) months there is no requirement vacancy for your current tool/language; then you are on the verge of extinction.

If you feel threatened, follow these steps. (7 effective habits of a efficient coolie)

1 . Check out buzz words in the news papers.
2. Search for any nearest venue for conferences that have these buzz words.
3. Ask you management to nominate you. (Let them pay, if not search for free nominations)
4. Get a good understanding of what they are talking about. (Usually jargon, but try if you can correlate.)
5. Ask dumb questions at the conference. (It is better even if others think you are dumb, than to be a real Dodo.)
6. Rush to nearest training center and enroll or better still do a study yourself.
7. Emerge as the new evangelist of the latest technology.

When I say rush to a training center, I meant a real training center, where the trainer has some dope on what he/she is talking about. If you end up at one of those plethora of useless centers that dot the landscape of Ameerpet in Hyderabad, forgive me if you cant come out a winner. (Incidentally a close friend of mine, marked a copy of this mail, also owns a center in Ameerpet. Never the less, my opinion remains the same.)

Wishing all the coolies, the best of everything!!!