Sunday, April 8, 2007

Straight From The Gut

By Jack Welch ( an autobiography)

Hi Friends,

I am posting an Instance from the book "Straight from the Gut".
This is a fantastic book which emulates the strategies followed by the GE.

Welch always stressed on that people are the firm's biggest asset, and he was very harsh on evaluating people. There is no room for complacency at GE.

Please follow the stratergy "Boundaryless" which stresses on a seamless flow of ideas and knowledge within and outside the organisation.


Workout was a huge success. It was used to take out the bureaucracy from the organisation. Ideas were flowing much faster than before. It will help transfer the brainpower of so many individuals into one a common forum. Helps in exchange of ideas. Workout was breaking the tradional boundaries of the organisation. Boundarlyless will remove all the barriers among the various functions: Engineering, Manufacturing, marketing and the rest. There will be no distinction between the domestic n foreign operations. It will focus on team work rather than concentrating on individual efforts. It intends to break down the external walls and make the consumers and suppliers part of the core team.

Boundary less will reward not only the incubator of the idea, but it will also reward the person responsible for realising and fulfilling the ideas. GE was not closed to best ideas from the industry. It had spearheaded many a idea which were not invented at GE, like the Kanban manufacturing from Japan. The motto was “Finding a better way every day”. All these ideas gave a new momentum to the learning culture at GE. It intended to induce groups to share ideas among businesses. Managers were being graded on this attribute in Human Resource review meetings. Jack discussed the four kinds of managers who were there at the GE… He says that the managers who don’t share the values n culture of GE have to leave even if they deliver on all their commitments. Jack wanted all the employees of his organisation to clearly focus and follow all these ideas of globalisation, reality, candour, speed and empowerment. He fired many managers not following the GE philosophy to drive the idea home.
Jack focussed on excellence and was intolerant of bureaucracy. He wanted to tap the global intellectual pool and people with global skill levels. Jack heavily promoted the idea of learning culture and focussed on integrated diversity. Jack revolutionised the idea of compensation, and promoted that the compensation system should be based on the organisational performance and not on the performance of individual captive units. Jack wanted the overall company’s results and stock price to mean more to people than the results of individual business.

GE has slowly increased the number of people getting option grants to reinforce the idea of self belonging to the organization. These option grants are given to the top performers of the organisation. Boundary less focussed on the idea of continuous sharing of ideas, by linking the series of planned meetings and reviews throughout the organisation. Jack focussed on making the idea bigger and better each time it was discussed. Jack encourages people to showcase their ideas in ten minutes over a two day event. This helps for new ideas free flowing in the organisation. There is a continuous evaluation which helps to identify the brightest and the best young people of the whole lot. Jack initiated a corporate initiatives group which focuses on building new initiatives within the organisation. The corporate initiatives group acted as a catalyst to speed up the flow and implementation of ideas. GE promoted the idea of a matrix, whereby all the best practices were listed and the managers were asked as to how did they achieved that best practice. This promoted stiff competition among the managers who all competed to be the beat in the industry.

GE followed the “Quick Market Intelligence” strategy which was to identify and solve the customer related problems at the onset itself. This involved meetings between the sales personnel and the manufacturing and plant staff to identify any hiatus in quality and other consumer related stuff. If any discrepancies were found, they were immediately solved and taken care of. This prevented any backlog in quality issues and helped to foster a good consumer image. There were weekly telephone calls held between sales team and the business’s top marketing, sales and manufacturing managers. This helped to solve the product availability and the quality issues facing the managers.

GE developed its own in-house auction system which was relatively very cheap as was available from the outside vendors. They used this platform to invite bids from the suppliers so that they can choose the lowest bid supplier and can make cost savings. This proved to be very successful as different businesses came up with their own cost savings targets and strived to meet them.

GE reinvented its strategy whereby it shifted its focus from being a no1 or no 2 in a narrow field. They instead now focussed on not garnering more than 10 % share of a big pie and divesting in a lot of businesses. This will give it more market share and propel it towards becoming a 100 Billion firm. Like in Medical systems GE moved from measuring the share of the diagnostics imaging to measuring all of the medical diagnostics.

GE opened its ambit to include fuel, power, inventory, asset management, and financial services. Even though it just had 1 – 5 % share of this huge 170 billion market it helped it to expand its revenue base. Owing to this strategy went from $70 Billion in 1995 to $130 Billion in 2000.

Hence this bounadryless concept was really working for GE cutting ideas n people across internal as well as external boundaries.

Entrepreneurial and People Factory:

GE has been at the forefront of discovering and promoting great people. It follows the strategy of “Everyone you meet is another interview.” Welch stresses that finding and retaining the right people is one of its core competencies. GE has always sought to bring a differentiation in its people hiring policies and in evaluating them. There is no place for complacency at GE.

GE followed the vitality curve (Strategy) to differentiate among its top 20, Middle 70 and bottom 10 percent of the people. This was used to identify the top notch talent based on performance and talent. The bottom 10 percent usually had to leave the organisation. Based on the position has on the vitality curve will decide his compensation package. Vitality curve focuses on performance management within the organisation.

All the managers and executives are evaluated on the basis of 4 E’s and corporate objectives of customer focus, e business and Six Sigma… are:

1) E --- Energy
2) E—Ability to energise others
3) E—Having a lot of edge
4) E—Successful Execution.

GE believes in treating people with dignity and giving them voice.

Jack stressed the need for maintaining a performance culture in order to ward off complacency from the workplace.

Five Point Someone

by Chetan Bhagat

This is the second book I have read written by Chetan Bhagat ( The first one was One Night@Call Center. The style of writing of both the books was same. The author starts with the vivid description of climax scene and leaves the audience in suspense, enticing them to read the entire writing.

The book is about three IITian’s from IIT Delhi, who worked very hard like everybody else to get into this top notch Technical Institute of India. But once they are there, there perception about life and themselves changes. The story revolves about the three central characters Hari, Alok and Ryan. Hari is the narrator of the story.

The story spans from the first day of their college to the last day. It covers hostel ragging, assignments, exams, marks, families and adventures. Hari and Alok are simple family boys whose sole aim was to get good placements from IIT. But Ryan was different. He was smart, talented and dare devil. He was the person brainwashed Alok & Hari regarding their attitudes towards life and studies. He gave them first taste of vodka and grass. He was the person who devised the methodology of C2D (Cooperate to Dominate). But he was the role model of Hari. Apart from their friendship one common bond they shared with each other was Five Point Something G PA (Grade Point Average). And this is where the novel gets the name from.

Ultimately Hari got in love with the daughter of his HOD. And result was that all three had to pay dearly in terms of marks. Then there was interesting event of stealing papers from HOD’s office. When caught, Alok tried to commit suicide and changed the rules of life for all of them. But apart from their casual and mischievous conduct they were fascinated by lubrication technology and worked day and night to provide new face to it. This with initial hurdles lead to the improvement of their impressions in their Mechanical Engineering Department and subsequently exemption from one more semester. Alok and Hari were eventually placed with software firms, while Ryan was still in his style was working on lubrication project.

This story though about IIT, will surely remind each of us about our college days. The story is pure fun to read.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Art of War

By Sun Tzu

This is the book I started reading around five years back. I saw it lying in the drawer of my boss. It was love at first sight. Since then, I have never left it.

This book was written by Sun Tzu around 3000 years back. Was it written by him, or compiled by him is still unknown. The book is juice of Chinese tactics of warfare. It is greatly inspired by Taoism. As the book is in Chinese, we get to read only the translations. Lots of authors have tried to translate it and present the exact notions of Master Sun Tzu. But none have succeeded much. I have referred to the translation by Thomas Cleary.

The book says that the great warrior is not the one, who wins the war by fighting it, but is the one who wins it without fighting it. The book has lot of quotes inspired by Taoism. My favorite one among them is:-

“Deep knowledge is to be aware of disturbance before disturbance, to be aware of danger before danger, to be aware of destruction before destruction, to be aware of calamity before calamity.
By deep knowledge of principle, one can change disturbance into order, change danger into safety, change destruction into survival, change calamity into fortune.”

The book is divided into 13 chapters covering all the major areas of war
Strategic Assessments
Doing Battle
Planning a Siege
Emptiness and Fullness
Armed Struggle
Maneuvering Armies
Nine Groups
Fire Attack
On the use of Spies

There are five parameters of assessing the war scenario of different armies involved. These are The Way, The Whether, The Terrain, The Leadership and The Discipline. Based on these parameters general can determine whether his army will win or loose, before going to war.

Though the book was written from the perspective of ground warfare, but the wisdom in it can be very well applied to any war like situation even today. It could be personal enmity, business situation or any other scenario. Lot of business leaders, army generals and politicians follow it religiously today also.

Once I discussed with one of my mentors that I have been reading it since last 5 years but every time I read it, it seems totally a new book to me, and till date I have been only been able to absorb 20% out of it. According to him, he has been reading it since last 30 years and could absorb only 40% of it. He further discussed that if we can assimilate all the wisdom in it in few years, then what would be the difference between Master Sun Tzu and us.

This is the book to be presented to your friends and kept away from your enemies.
More information about it can be found on

Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Search

By John Battelle

Hello friends, after long time I have read any book and that too techno + information. I came across this book when I started my MBA. The book was assigned to one of my batch mates for submitting the review on it. But so were many other books. Now, why I was enticed by this book was because of the name ‘The Search’.When I was doing my engineering three years ago, we used to hear a lot about ‘The Information Age’. I remember lot of courses was launched by computer coaching institutes on e-commerce. Even I and my friends use to quote a lot about ‘The Information Age’, and the associated jargon, but to impress others. In reality, we didn’t have the idea what is this all about. But today, I can feel it. My second job at ‘Philips Lighting’, I got through e-portal ‘’. I got admission in MBA College, when I came across its site ' ’. The latest laptop purchased by my friend was after negotiating with three vendors in three countries, via internet. Also while doing the job, I found that the people with the habit of hiding the knowledge, were left dumbfounded when I just got the required information via net in a single click. Surely, the times are changing and the new age has begun ‘The Information Age’.Now, the most important activity we do on internet is ‘The Search’, and that is the book all about. The author is the cofounding editor of ‘Wired’ and the founder of ‘The Industry Standard’. With a very close and keen observation of the organic growth of World Wide Web, the author takes us through the journey of its evolution. He could be approached via his search blog at initial part of the book focuses on ‘The Database of Intentions’. That is how we are ourselves creating the database of intentions, every time we type the word into search engine and telling it what our intentions are. Then it tells us about the initial search engine players prior to giants like Yahoo and Google. It talks about the players like Excite and Archie. Then it explains the mechanism of search i.e. what is going on behind the display. The components like web crawler.Then it talks about the recent players like,, And finally about Yahoo and Google.The author talks about how both Yahoo and Google started in Stanford. And both were started out of curiosity, without any intention of making it business, and without any idea about the revolution it would bring in the world.Yahoo was started by Jerry Yang and David Filo, both were pursuing doctorates in electronic design automation at Stanford. The real reason as per the founders to create Yahoo was that they were bored with their PhD’s and they did everything they could to avoid writing their thesis.Google was started by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, while pursuing their computer science degree at Stanford.The difference between Yahoo & Google was the timings. Yahoo was pre-dot com burst company and Google was during the burst.The unique thing about Google is its Page Rank Algorithm, which works behind the search to give most relevant results. The algorithm is basically the software version of peer review methodology being used in Research Papers for years.While most of the search engines compromised their results by the amount the sponsor company pays to them, Google was different. Its mission was to give most relevant result. Then the question rises ‘How Google does make money?’ Exactly this was the question bogging the founders. But soon they found the salvation in Adwords. While searching on Google, on the left side of the screen the best relevant results are shown, while on the right side are the sponsored links. Every time anyone clicks on the adwords, Google gets money from the sponsor. The other revenue generation techniques were to act as database for other companies.The commercialization has just begun. Now every time we insert a word in the search engine, we are giving our psyche away to it. The next time you surf net, via Google or gmail, the sponsored links on the right side are not only the sponsored ones, but they are more relevant to you then the previous time. This is how the search is capturing whole our life. If anybody has read the short stories ‘The Last Answer’ & ‘The Last Question’ by Isaac Asimov, then it will be reminiscent of MULTIVAC, giant computer governing the whole planet. The same concept was shown a bit in ‘The Minority Report’. Now the only difference between search engine and artificial intelligence is that the machine till date can’t understand but only process the data. The moment it is able to understand, we have created ‘SKYNET’ (Terminator Series) ourselves.Now the competition is not between Google and Yahoo anymore, it’s between Google on one side and Yahoo, Microsoft and IBM on other. With the acquisition of sites like Orkut by Google, the Google is adding almost 1 feature, like Gtalk + Orkut, Gmail Mobile, per day in last week.So friends, the chess board for the ‘Information Wars’ has been already set. Let’s see who wins the game. But irrespective of who wins, the search has long way to go towards perfection and will change our lives forever.
If you want to know how GOOGLE function read this
If you want a complete REPORT on the book, please leave ur email id on the comment.

Angry Hills

By Leon Uris

I read this book because it was written by Leon Uris. And this author holds all my respect for his creation ‘EXODUS’. It was my second reading of his work. I think I won’t be wrong if I say that this guy gets enthralled by wars and war like situations.This novel was in the form of story in which an American writer is caught in Greece during an invasion of Greece by Nazis during WW II. This writer possesses a list which is critical both for allied forces and Nazis. Whole narration is regarding his escape from turmoil.This novel has its own class. But definitely it is not of the class of ‘EXODUS’


By Maxim Gorky

I have been fascinated by Russian stories since childhood. Then by Russian Revolution and their technology. I have read some technical books of Russia and admired them. This was my first chance to read rich Russian Literature – Mother.It was simply beautiful. It is the story of how revolution – ‘The Russian Revolution’ was deep rooted inside the masses which forced these so called workers to come up and carry the onus of forming new world of their own where every member is ‘comrade’ and no exploitation because everything is common – nobody says ‘mine’. It was a wonderful process.In this story our hero Pavel Vlassov is first among comrades who with his conviction and reasoning pulls his downtrodden soul out and see how deteriorated their lives are and think that ‘Did God really made man in his own self ?’ . With this he decided better die with the cause as noble as liberation than die for a dog’s life. He was a brave boy. Brave as he was to the extent that he became leader of the movement, influenced his friends, relatives and above all his mother.The title of the story ‘Mother’ is very apt because it is from a mother’s eyes that we see the revolution, from her heart we felt the pain of loosing her only son to the movement. If Pavel was brave then his mother was braver because she couldn’t think but she felt for the movement, for her son and his comrades. It is mother which brings the force to this novel which touches every heart that comes across in the same way as it touched in 1907 when it was first published. Napoleon very rightly said ‘Give me good mothers. I will give you a good nation.’ And his words were indeed materialized in the form of a model nation Russia was immediately after the revolution.

LOC-Line Of Control

By Tom Clancy
It was my second experience with Tom Clancy. The first one was ‘Net Force’. That was a brilliant presentation of science fiction with the elaboration of danger that internet and its users are bound to face with its continuously increasing are of influence.This novel I wanted to read from the last two years for two good reasons. Firstly the name ‘Line Of Control’ – this was the same line of control which is the responsibility of my country and it owes lives of uncountable countrymen of my country. Second reason was that it was ‘Tom Clancy’s’.Initial plot was good. But being born on this land I think I know more than the author and co-author. So it was really lousy to find that this good author was wrong at many places. This as a whole forced me to think that writers lack research as well as they bluff at some places. But the difference is that you don’t have any means to doubt or verify.As a novel initial plot was good but during middle of course it lost its pace and readers were bombarded with insignificant timid details.The story tells us that how there was a plot by India to execute nuclear attack on Pakistan and at the same time getting political mileage of the whole world. Then how the American team from OP – Centre was caught in this plot and was left with only one choice to uncover this plot.The narration was full of details that enriched us with the information of military tactics, gizmos, etc. and the description of Himalayan journey was also presented in a way that everybody was thrilled.

Forward the Foundation

By Isaac Asimov

After reading this story I am left with no choice but to use the word ‘maestro’ for him and his ‘masterpiece’. I am not the type of person who easily appreciates any novel or work. This is indeed a “master’s” work.I thought of the concept regarding equations defining human psyche a few months back. It was a mere fantasy at that time. Then I read ‘The Second Foundation.’ So this concept was not only thought about, but even presented very well 50 years back. From his Second Foundation onwards I was very curious that who was Hari Seldon and how he executed these Foundation’s foundation work. Throughout this novel I got the answer to my curiosity.The Summery of the NovelThis is the story of Hari Saldon and his theory of ‘Psychohistory’. This is the story of his friends, his associates – Eto Demezerel, Don Vanibilis, Raych, Cleon, Wanda, ……..He was Heliconican ( a small planet in the empire) by birth and came down to ‘Trantor’ – first among the worlds. He came with a mathematical theory of predicting future by the mathematics of human psyche. This was known as ‘psychohistory’. His theory got him in association with Emperor Cleon and First Minister Eto Demezerel. He worked with their help. There was his friend Eto - the robot, his wife Don Venabilis - the robot and Yugo – the human.He was obscure, mysterious and interesting. Only because of psychohistory. He had friends and so the enemies. He got rid of his enemies one by one and also lost his friends one by one. Enemies Jorunam – a charismatic opportunist, a librarian. Friend Eto – resigned, Don – died, Yugo – died, Raych – killed. He lost himself. When he came to Trantor he was 32 – and was unknown. When he died he was still on Trantor and 81 but well known- but differently by different people. Intelligentsia knew his intelligence. Scoundrels knew his story of survival and were jealous of it. Masses knew him for his predictions and called him ‘Raven Seldon’ – for the bird of ill omen. Very few knew him as his actual self of a mathematician- the psycho historian.But he was Hari Seldon and he knew everybody and everyone not one by one but jointly as a collection of 25 million worlds – as billions, trillions of population – as citizens of troubled times- as victims of a falling empire. He also knew that he is and only he is the one who can compress this bad time of 30,000 years to 1,000 years for he was the father of psychohistory. For this he founded the two foundations. The First one that was based on physical powers and was inclined to form nucleus of future good times i.e. the empire. The second one of mentalists who were the guardians of his new empire. They were hidden, they were strong. They were unknown. For they were mentalists they needn’t require to surface to guard because they could read minds and manipulate. And they manipulated the future. The future of galaxy. And this is how he founded the foundations from bad times to good times.

Foundation Series

‘Foundation’ and ‘Foundation and Empire’

By Isaac Asimov

There is no need to tell why I read them. These belong to the famous trilogy of ‘Foundation’ series by the maestro. I earlier read the other two ‘Second Foundation’ and ‘Forward the Foundation’ and was enchanted by them. I kept on saying ‘Second Foundation’ is the best. But after reading these two I am forced to say ‘Foundation’ is the best.Reading them has made me or rather forced me to ponder that was Asimov a PhD. in biochemistry or was he a historian. The way he has presented the concepts of transformation of culture and thinking left everybody awestruck. His narration of use of religion, then trade, etc. has changed my basic pattern of thinking and I am a bit skeptic about the religion we are practicing today. And now a day the Gulf War II makes me think it was bound to happen. And writing all this I again feel that I was bound to write this or definitely there was some other who was ought to write this( everything is bound to happen. Association of any particular individual to this happening may be a chance). Reading all his series I really feel like writing something which is the extension of this series. But I know everybody can’t be a master. All I can do is try.The story is:-That according to psychohistory whole galaxy will undergo painful 30,000 years of turmoil, civil war and other vicissitudes of life. Hari Seldon tried to cut short this time by 29,000 years. And he achieves this by making two foundations. First one is of scientists who will make the hardware ready for the new empire. Second one is of mentalists who will make the software i.e. the First one will form the basis of new empire with technology, planets, people, etc. while second will control them by their superpowers or I should rather say mental powers. To achieve this he left First Foundation on each and every critical turn with only one option.They initially implanted religion in other planets, then trade and they grew against all odds. Because it was planned like this. But in the planning only people as a general were considered. So the whole plan was upset by the entry of ‘mutant’. This mutant forces second foundation to come to the rescue and show their pre time existence.This is the best series that I have ever read till date.