Saturday, June 4, 2016


A library gives me goosebumps. I dont know why that is so, but every time I visit a library, I am transfixed at the possibilities.

One of my earliest photos has me with a book on my lap (and I distinctly remember the smell of the book). I cannot recall when I first visited a library - but I was hooked. It was a ramshackle set of shelves and some books falling off, but that was enough. The shelf in my native village that had old books with their pages falling off was enough. The municipal library that was hardy a library was good enough.

And then as I went to college - those libraries were just so amazing. One of them was housed in an art deco old building and had archaic rules to issue books, but that made it all the more fun. The next was in a new building but had a good collection of books. One of the companies where I worked for a project had a voluminous library where I spent most of my Saturdays. One of the companies where I worked had spent a lot of money to make a huge library and I for sure made good use of it. Indeed a few weeks ago, I visited the NID library in Ahmedabad and it was a heart stopping moment for me.

Now that I think of it, actually I have made good use of libraries everywhere where there was one.

Cut to the present. I enrolled myself as a member into a large library and it was like a walk down memory lane. Which memory lane I do not know. But the walk through tree lined roads, cobble stoned paths and finally into a cavernous library is just so magical. It is deja vu, it is magic, it is promise, it is is everything...

The effort of searching books. The magic of finding it on a shelf. The fun of leafing through pages. The discovery of a sentence that is magical...

Yes, I love libraries...

Degrees of Creativity and Innovation

We were discussing the other day - what makes some people go after a moonshot? Why is it that while many people have ideas, far fewer have great game changing ideas, and even fewer step out to venture on that path and still fewer make it a success.

We spoke about maybe it is depth as opposed to breadth - but then when fairly young people are going after problems that much greyer people have not envisioned - that does not quite hold water.

Is it because what we are wired to see or what we have taught ourselves to wire and see? Is it because we are afraid of failing? Is it because we are all comfortable in our safe cocoons and we are leaping from the bed inside it instead of trying a greater leap outside?

There must be something in it. Is it the perspective they bring to the table because of having seen some other industry. Is it peer group? It is risk taking ability? Is it a fearlessness of failure? Is it the willingness to put effort? Is it persistence? Is it an ability to never give up?

How is it that some people are able to envision while some cant? Why is that some of us are content going after small ideas while others cannot rest until they have cracked the big one? Why is it that some are content going after small problems, while others go after the big ones? And what makes some people able to go after unstated problems - and that is usually where the magic lies.

And this is not about technology at all. There are so many places where things have been re-imagined in very very impactful and meaningful ways.

What flips that switch? How to flip that switch?

Questions, questions... 

Uberization of work continued

So, what does uberization of work mean?

As a person if you cannot afford a car (or do not want to take your car out mostly) you hire a car for that drive. Well, it is not radically different from hiring a taxi or an auto, but in the connected world, Uberization is the buzzword. It is like timesharing. With an app and algorithms running in the background.

Now translate that to a work scenario. If you are a small company and yet want the scale and experience of an experienced person, you go for hiring a consultant for a specific time frame. Nothing new there, companies have been doing it for years. Using consultants as Force multipliers is fairly common.

What is different is that many smaller companies are willing to experiment these days and as are large companies who want to do things with the nimbleness of start ups. On the other hand, start ups who do not have scale will be happy to get a consultant with specific expertise. Companies who want advisors or practitioners without having to hire them are happy to do so.

There are large companies which internalise all their functions - and it is a great idea to do so - it is like using Uber as much as you would user your car. Well, your car is way cheaper if your usage is high.

If you are a large company, there is merit in internalising functions - and I am a great believer of that (as my earlier blog posts affirm).  So,  if you are a large company, and you are just hiring employees who will program manage consultants then you might want to think about the cost benefit analysis.

But if you are a small/medium company using consultants to leverage your scale is a great idea. If you want to experiment on something without necessarily adding to headcount, it is a great idea. If you want to try out a skunk works project with someone who is not bound by the rules/culture of your firm, go for it.

Just a word of caution - go for practitioners - as George Lazlo cautions in his book Work Rules - not academicians. Go for consultants who have been there done that and who can truly help you scale...