Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Our actions are driven by what we think.  We are what we think.  Think Lean does mean really and literally to think of a lean system which will eliminate and cut out all the unwanted waste or fat.  Be it an individual or Organisation or Government it is important to think lean.  Physical fitness is all about staying fit and lean by burning the excess fat.  If you think lean you will stay lean and your will really mean lean in your thinking on everything.

Lean Thinking is a process of thinking which is based on continuous improvement.  If you are thinking lean it means that you are on a path of excellence and on the way to becoming a competent individual.  The objective is to continuously add value to yourself, the people you serve and the society in which you are living.

How does one measure the "Value Add" is very simple - is the person who is receiving your product or service happy to pay the price.  If the customer is able to see the value in the product then he will willingly pay the price.

The buying decision is always made in a split second and the clinching moment when the customer decides is buy is when he mentally compares the "perceived value" with the price at which the product or service is being offered.  If the perceived value is more than the price then the buying decision is made.  If the perceived value is less than the price at which the product or service is offered then the decision is not to buy.

The pressures faced by business organisations are immense and contradicting.  A customer is always looking for something new, improved, better but at the same time not willing to pay more.  How can we deliver better results at reduced costs and still stay profitable.  How can the continuous improvement in products and services with reducing margins be still sustainable?  This is where "Lean" plays a role.

"Lean" according to the Lean Enterprise Institute means "creating more value with fewer resources".  A lean organisation understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it.  The ultimate goal is to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero wastage.

I was introduced to Lean Thinking and Lean Management by my friend Dr.Kievan Zokaei who was introduced by a common friend in 2013.  He was the Director at the Lean Enterprise Research Center in Cardiff University.  He is a visiting Professor at the University of Buckingham.  He is a world renowned trainer, author and Consultant of "Lean and Green".

Dr.Kievan is a specialist in Lean Thinking and has written several articles, books and technical papers.  Among his works the notable one, in my opinion, is the book on "Lean and Green".

Dr.Kievan has been advocating "Lean Thinking" by combining it with "Green Thinking".  According to him an organisation should combine the efforts of Lean with Green so that you not only add value to the customers but you also continuously add value to the Environment and Society simultaneously.

Think "Lean and Green", stay fit, add value, stay on the path of excellence, continuously improve and be happy.

Chennai, India
22nd February 2017

Friday, January 27, 2017


The waiting game is interesting and fruitful only when deployed under the right and the most appropriate circumstances.  I see people adopting the waiting game for everything and anything.  Is it smart to play the waiting game on every situation?  May be the bad habit of procrastination is being hidden under the waiting game.

As a business strategist I do advise my clients to play the waiting game but I am very selective in giving this piece of advise.  If you are not the market leader and you do not have deep pockets to make some bold and pathbreaking decisions, then the waiting game is the best option.  You can wait and watch how the market behaves and what the competition is doing before making your own moves.

The key is to swing into action at the right time and not continue to wait for too long.  

There was a butterfly in the cocoon who was struggling to come out.  A small boy was watching this and thought he should not wait any longer for the butterfly to emerge from the cocoon and hence he broke it.  The butterfly came out of the cocoon but remained crippled for the rest of its life.  The struggle within the cocoon is designed by nature for the butterfly to gain strength on his wings so that he would break the cocoon with his own wings by repeatedly trying and finally when he breaks the cocoon with his own efforts and emerges out he is fit and ready to fly the next minute.  The butterfly is meant to live by flying across different plants and not sit at one place.

I am reminded of the story of the Chinese Bamboo which i read some time back.  The Chinese Bamboo grows 80 feet in just six weeks, but do you when?  In the fifth year of planting the seed.  In the first two years there is nothing visible but still you need to water the plant and keep caring for it.  In the third and fourth year is shows little signs of growth and this is exactly where the patience is tested. 
Interestingly it is not the growth of 80 feet in six weeks.  It is the watering and nurturing of four years which finally yields the results in fifth year with 80 feet bamboo tree.  What is visible is the 80 feet growth in six weeks in the fifth year.

It is the faith and hardwork of the farmer which brings the results.  Our life is full of such waiting games and watch this motivational speech by Les Brown:

My friend Shridhar Sampath has been dreaming of launching a programme to Inspire, Challenge and Empower young minds.  His dream has been to inspire 1,000,000 people.  Yes that is one million people.  He has been nurturing this idea for the last six years and finally he has now launched the first of his Master Class which is scheduled for 28th January 2017.  The waiting game is now going to yield results and I wish him all the very best.

Shridhar, the waiting game is over and now it is time for your to rock.  All the very best for the first Masterclass and I am sure you will follow it up with many more at regular intervals all over the world.

Dubai, U.A.E.
27th January 2017

Friday, January 20, 2017


Working smart, thinking smart, acting smart, talking smart, living smart is the only way forward in today's world.  Smartness is required in everyone, everything and in every action.  We live with smart devices, smart applications, smart administration, smart management, smart families, smart colleagues, smart society and smart government.  I am glad that the word is very clearly defined and used in the right sense when we refer to Smart Government.  Smart Government is the use of innovative policies, business models, and technology to address the financial, environmental, and service challenges facing public sector organizations. The concept of Smart Government relies on consolidated information systems and communication networks.

Smartness was always linked to clever thinking and clever thinking was always thought to be the result of intelligence.  With the intelligence and clever thinking being handed over to technology where is the value addition from the individual and how can the actions still qualify to be termed "smart"?

According to Mr.Narayana Murthy, Co-Founder of Infosys, honesty is better than smartness.  A famous quote that I like the most is "Be Smart, but never show it".

Intelligent people are sometimes not very smart and smart people need not necessarily be intelligent.  Smartness is linked to presence of mind and quick reflex.  Smartness is also sometimes related to the ability to seize an opportunity by being quick on the draw.  The mnemonic dictionary defines smartness as "intelligence as manifested in being quick and witty".

I distinctly remember a Partner of the firm where I worked telling the other Partner who happened to be my mentor "this guy has been well trained by you and has become a good chartered accountant but he is not street smart and I do not know how he will prosper in life".  This was a comment on me by a Senior Chartered Accountant about 25 years ago and I do not know if I have ever improved over the last 25 years.  Everything around me is Smart and every day I dealing with smartness wondering if I am Smart.

According to John Billings "Common sense is an instinct given to man and enough of it is genius. Smartness is measured by the level of common sense one has, not by how much educated or knowledgeable he is."

One good thing that has happened to me is that I have always used common sense and acted based on common sense approach in every tricky situation.  I do not know why it is so uncommon for people to use common sense.  I am fortunate that I am able to use common sense and find solutions repeatedly over the last several years.

Even when objectives are set, one is expected to set SMART objectives and here the word is not used in its literal sense but as a mnemonic " Stretching, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, Time-bound".

Smartness is omnipresent and so overpowering that the basic traits have been clearly sidelined in favour of Smartness.  The basic traits, which were considered extremely essential couple of decades back, viz., Honesty, Commitment, Sincerity and Hardwork, is slowly getting pushed in the background in favour of being Smart.

In the quest for being smart I have seen people trying to outsmart others which actually breaches the line of honesty and sincerity.  On many occasions the tricky solution (named as Smartness) actually ends up being unfair to the other person.

With all the ambiguity and confusion around this concept of Smartness, I am not sure if one should really make efforts to develop the skill and ability to be smart.

It is extremely important that the smartness is restricted to only intelligence.  In my opinion the SMART people are "Self Motivated Affable Rational and Transparent".  No wonder the great genius Steve Jobs wanted to hire Smart people.

Be Smart, Stay Smart and Live Smart.

Dubai, U.A.E.
20th January 2017

Saturday, December 31, 2016


When we reflect on the path we have come through it only leads to proper action for the future.  I am now reflecting on a few things, my blog, my professional experience and 2016 in particular.

My blog is now 75 months old and I am now writing 275th piece of scribbling.  On an average I have scribbled atleast once every week and quite happy about it.  Along the way I have learnt lessons on what people like and what people reject.  I have had resounding success on Music and Entertainment though the expectation was that my motivational articles would be well received. On Reflection into this record I have now thought that the action going forward should be to sustain one article per week in this blog to inspire and encourage the younger generation.

My professional practice as a Strategy Advisor is now 63 months old I have handled 71 different assignments.  On an average I have landed on one new assignment each month and it has been a very challenging and very exciting period so far.  Some of the clients have paid well and some have paid moderately but overall it has been highly remunerative.  There are some assignments where I have not been financially remunerated but it has added great value to my experience.

I strongly believe in the three types of Reflection, viz., For Action; On Action and In Action.  I have personally practiced the three types of reflection in a very systematic way.  Probably this is what is helping me to improve in every facet of my life.

These reflections also helps in how we would like to shape our future and career.  Our aspirations and vision is driven by these reflections.  "What matters most is how you see yourself".

While it is important to reflect on how we see ourselves it is equally important not to forget the past at the origins.  I always vividly remember my early days in life when I used to go to far off places including my college in bicycle.  Those cycle rides are still green in memory after more than 30 years.

Perceptions keep changing and everything in this world is driven by perception.  Even a buying decision is made not on the basis of what is needed but rather on the perceived value being higher than the price at which the product or service is offered.  One can clearly see the shoreline in the below picture but at the same time you can also admire the picture as the outline shape is a formation of a perfect Guitar.  It is also possible to see the beautiful Sun Rise or Sun Set thus the perception is a view only focused on the Sun.

Reflection and Action helps in reaching the desired vision or desired goals in life.  We do use the idiom "fish out of water" in certain circumstances.  It has applied to me on several occasions but I have always achieved the desired results or reached my goals simply due to my perseverance and determination.  Look at the fish out of water and how he manages to reach the water ultimately by sheer determination to live.

2016 has been very eventful and challenging.  Professionally it was very exciting year with lot of new and good assignments.  I have also undergone a course on Business Valuation to upgrade my knowledge.  I have done 10 different workshops on IFRS during 2016 which is a very satisfying aspect of 2016.

As an active participant in the Excellence Programmes of the Government I am engaged in Dubai Quality Award; Sheikh Khalifa Excellence Award; Taqdeer Award and Sharjah Economic Excellence Network.  These engagements provide a lot of learnings and insights into the best practices in different industries.  Engaging in four different excellence award programmes during 2016 has been a real highlight of the year.

On the personal front I lost my father on 18th August 2016.  He is the greatest inspiration for me in life and my character is influenced by my father to a large extent.  He continues to be my greatest hero though he has left this world.

On 21st August 2016 my mother-in-law passed away.  A very simple and kind hearted lady whom I admired a lot.  She was truly a role model and extraordinary lady.  I have never seen her angry or upset or shouting at anyone in life.  Her patience and self-less service is unforgettable.

These two set backs in personal life was followed by a good news on 19th October 2016 when I was blessed with a Grand Daughter.  She is the new addition in the family and has brought lot of joy in the family.

Overall it has been a quite exciting, challenging, eventful 2016.  I look forward to the New Year.

I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

31st December 2016
Dubai, U.A.E.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


Cho Ramaswamy left this world on 7th December 2016 after spending 82 glorious and fearless years. He was a great personality with abundant wealth of knowledge, wisdom, wit and humour.  As a child I enjoyed his portrayal of comedy scenes in Movies and enjoyed his Drama though many dialogues which were penned to attack the politicians could not be understood by me at that age.

I have seen many of his Stage Plays like Unmaye Unn Vilai Enna; Mohammed Bin Thuglak; Judgement Reserved; Nermai Urangum Neram; Yaarukkum Vetkam Illai and Endru Thaniyum Enda Sudandira Dhaagam.

In his Drama - Yaarukkum Vetkamillai there is a dialogue " Confusion can come only to persons who are capable of thinking.  One who does not think will never get confused".  What a statement and how true it is in real life.  I get confused quite often and once the confusion is cleared I feel doubly happy - one for getting clarity and other for having been thinking.

I had the privilege of meeting him in Shri.T.T.Vasu's house and feel I was honoured to meet the man in close quarters and be part of a brief conversation.  Despite his age, position, stature he was so humble and simple in front of Shri.T.T.Vasu who was his ex-boss.  Cho has worked for 18 years in TTK Group as Legal Adviser and I am privileged to have worked for the same Group much later than him.

He says "everything has been happening to me" and narrates how he became a playwright; actor; publisher; etc.  Watch this interview which clearly shows the genius in this man:

He says everything that he has done is part of the profession and not any kind of a service to the nation.  He says his strength is he will not tell a lie.  "Whatever I feel as justified I will express those ideas or views" he says.

I have always admired him for his wit, satire, comedy, spontaneity, sarcasm, courage, wisdom, quick reflex and common sense approach.

Long Live Cho Ramaswamy through his great words and works.

29th December 2016
Dubai, U.A.E.

Sunday, December 25, 2016


7 is a very powerful number.  

7 Colours in Rainbow; 7 hills in Rome; 7 hills in Istanbul; 7 hills in my hometown Tirupathi; 7 Heavens; 7 Seas; 7 days in the week; 7 Wonders in the Ancient World; 7 Classical Planets; 7 heavens; 7 Chakras; 7 Notes in Music and yes ofcourse 7 Habits.

Habits determine our lifestyle and Habits actually also decide our attitude to others.  I read recently in a quote which said “Bad Attitude is like a flat tyre in your Car.  Unless you change it you cannot move”.  Success in life is all about how you feel.  What you do.  Whom it impacts.  How it benefits you and the people around you.  The right positive Attitude and Discipline will lead to Success in life.  Do you know that the sum total of the numbers assigned in the alphabets to the words Attitude and Discipline adds to 100?  Don’t you think getting 100% in return in Success.

In order to achieve Success in life I just said Attitude and Discipline is important.  Success in life comes from developing good habits and research has proved that the 7 Habits make people highly effective in what they do.  High effectiveness would certainly lead to Success.  The 7 Habits as propounded by Stephen Covey are as follows:

First and foremost the basic habit to be cultivated is “being Proactive”.  In order to be pro-active you need to see the alternatives and not just the roadblocks.  Focus should be on what you can influence.

Second Habit - Begin with the end in mind – mental creation should precede the physical creation.  Define the practical outcomes and visualize the end result before setting out on action.

Third Habit – Put first things first – Focus on the most important things first and not necessarily on the urgent tasks.  You should have a weekly plan but you must have daily action.
These three Habits will help to manage yourself well.

Fourth Habit – Think Win Win – Win Lose is only in games and in real life when we deal with ourselves, our lives and that of others we cannot afford to play any games.  Hence our actions should always be thought in a Win-Win situation which in turn with foster better relationships.

Fifth Habit – Seek first to understand then to be understood – I got married in 1989 and for the first 20 years of my marriage I have had innumerable fights and disagreements with my wife.  It is after the 20 years of struggle that I realized that I should first understand her before allowing myself to be understood.  Last seven years have been less turbulent.   I have finally learnt the art of empathetic listening.  I have also learnt to give honest and accurate feedback.

Sixth Habit – Synergise – the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.  Try to synergise to arrive at new and better alternatives.  Cultivate the habit of creative co-operation.  Look for synergies and collaborate with other professionals and businesses.
The three habits above helps us to lead others and stay in harmony.

Seventh Habit – Sharpen the Saw – it is important to renew ourselves in body, heart, mind and soul.  It is important to update and upgrade to stay in the race for excellence.  This is the 7th habit which actually helps us to unleash the true potential that is hidden within.

So my friends Success is achieved by unleashing our true potential and I am sure you will agree with me that developing these good habits will help in the achievement of success in life.  The key to success is after all in our own hands.

I wish you all Season's Greetings, Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year.

with warm regards,
Dubai, U.A.E.
25th December 2016

Sunday, November 27, 2016


26th November is an unfrogettable day for Indians as eight years ago the terrorists attacked simultaneously several points in Mumbai and in the process around 166 people died within a space of two days.

26th November 2016 after eight years I was sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of the Auditorium of the Emirates Institute of Banking and Financial Services.  From 6.15 p.m. to 8.15 p.m. for about two hours Capt.RaghuRaman spoke on the Leadership lessons to be learnt from Saichen Glaciers.

I have been to several seminars, workshops and events over the last so many years and this would rank among the top 3 in my life time so far.  It was a very inspiring and very gripping speech with real life instances from the Indian Armed Forces on how they handle the extreme conditions in Siachen Galciers to protect the nation.

The soldiers and officers of the Indian Army are stationed in Siachen Glaciers which is considered highly risky both from the weather point of view as well as the frequent fighting with the neighbouring country armed forces.  This is 26,000 ft above sea level where the weather is around -35 degrees most part of the year.  If it is summer then the temperature is down by about 5 to 10 degrees.  Summer or Winter the weather is around - 35 degrees - extremely chill, windy and dangerous.  The soldiers walk in the snow which is sometimes as deep as their full leg (see picture below) and they still have to walk with about 20 to 30kgs on their back to do the patrolling of the area and protect the nation from enemies.

The pre-read (The Rope) for the speech sent by Capt.RaghuRaman actually made my blood freeze for some moments.  His presentation was truly amazing and gripping particularly after the pre-read and the initial insights that he gave into the background of getting posted in Siachen Galciers.

"The Rope" explains in detail about how the patrolling in the Glaciers is so difficult with all the crevasse and the dangers of soldiers falling into the crevasse and not being able to come out.   The sacrifices that the soldiers go through is really unthinkable as we are all in the comfort of city life with all the comforts and least challenges.

Capt.RaghuRaman has worked in the Armed forces for 11 years and then spent another 11 years in the Corporate world before joining back the Government of India five years ago.  He said in the army you know which side the enemy is but in the Corporate world and Government Departments you really do not know which side is your enemy.

The speech started with three simple questions:

  1. What is the most difficult challenge you have faced?
  2. Have your efforts been rewarded and has life been fair to you?
  3. Do you have adequate resources to face challenges thrown at you?
He gave a few minutes for the audience to think of an answer to all the three questions from their own individual life experience.  The same questions were posed at the end of the speech and for me the answers to these three questions were completely different.  

He asked Why do soldiers fight?  They fight for their comrades and immediate troops and to save the people who live in the country.

The Leadership lessons that one could learn from the Armed forces was summarised very nicely in the form of five lessons.

Lesson No.1 - Good teams are joined at hips

Lesson No.2 - Walk the Talk.  It is important for the Leader to show to his team members and make them know that he knows the pain they go through.  Under the pain the team members go through.  The members who are on the ground are expecting a human leader and not the Ideal Leader.

Lesson 3 - There are no good or bad units/teams.  There are only good and bad leaders/officers.  Leaders make the difference.  Blaming the whole team is of no use when the leader himself needs to look inward and change.

Lesson No.4 - Safety, honour and welfare of your country comes first.  The honour welfare and comfort of men you command comes next.  Your own ease, comfort and safety comes last.  The moral of the story is "if you genuinely look after your people, they would do well".  Leader should always ensure that his team is happy and safe.  Jim Collins in his book Good to Great has said that great companies deliver 7 times better results.  These companies are Great because the Leader moves to the back putting their people in the front.  This is called Level 5 Leadership which can be taught and inculcated in Leaders of the Corporate World and Governments.  The leader should focus on team results and not on their personal individual achievements.

Lesson No.5 - Get a perspective.  Leaders have to change within before they can change the outside environment.  A good leader needs to have excellent practical knowledge and extraordinary ability to communicate.  The ability to communicate, story telling and empathy for ground realities are true qualities required for a good leader.

I salute Capt.RaghuRaman and every Soldier and Officer in the Indian Army for all the sacrifices and endurance they are demonstrating in their singular mission of saving the nation.  Capt.RaghuRaman request to the audience was the most touching - he said please send a "thank you" message to the Indian Soldiers in Siachen Glaciers.

Thank You Indian Army for protecting the Nation.  "Thank You" to every soldier and officer in Siachen Galcier.  Jai Hind.

Dubai, U.A.E.
27th November 2016