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Goodbye through the frosty glass

Image© 2010 Schumacher Photography

“No, Jojo may not be back for the Christmas cake, but he is surely going to be with his other friends, soaring up in the sky and enjoying the sunny sky their own way. Maybe he comes back again and surprises you with gifts from Santa”. My 3 year old daughter, Mansi – lays back again; resting her back on the sofa. She covered her toes and pulled the blanket up till her shoulders, but still keeping her eyes open just to stare the empty portico and of course, to shoot me with another set of questionnaire on her friendship with the baby pigeon Jojo. Yes, he was also given a name after quite a discussion – last night only.

Our house was closed for a couple of days, while we were away visiting her grandparents. When we came back, we happened to see pigeons had built a small corner in our portico. They used the old wrapped up cable wire as a strengthened wall for their nest and had already been blessed with two young hens. That day, the bed time story for her went about – a pigeon and a princess.

Since mid November, Mansi used to get up in the morning, come out of the bedroom and stand still next to the safety door, watching the old hens (parent pigeons) bringing food for their young ones. The babies were too young to yet fly on their own but we could always hear their aspirations.

While she used to stand next to the safety door, she could only hear the sound of baby wings, but, could never see them. After a while she used to come back to the dining table for a glass of milk and tell us all about what kind of sound she hears and mimics them back. She also had starting knitting her own stories around baby pigeon. No matter she could not see them directly, but she knew the biscuit thrown out in the terrace would surely reach the babies somehow.

Then one fine day, she saw a small pigeon standing on the portico fence, looking right at her. “Papa, see the baby pigeon came down” – A million stars glittering in her eyes, seeing her friend in front of her. She told him all the stuff she used to throw out for him and sound she used to hear when he was a small.

Last night, we discussed a lot about the baby pigeon over various flavors of chocolates and finally settled for the name “Jojo”. It was the name she had given way back to her toy, when her monthly birthdays were celebrated.

This morning, it was a bit cold and a little frosty too. Even the sliding doors to the portico had collected frost. Mansi did stand for a few minutes watching the portico but somehow came back to the dining quickly. “What happened, buddy?” – I asked her. With sadness in her eyes, she said, “Jojo is not there!” I came out with her, to see if the nest was still there. It was – but surprisingly there was no one around. May be they have left; May be they found it cold to stay in this “yet to chill” winters. May be they are all out in search of food. And all my answers were starting with “May be…”

It was still cold and so, I brought a blanket to the living room. Mansi and I both slipped inside the blanket and she started with her “where’s, why’s and what’s” – all bombing on me like never before. And like always, I was trying my very best to score on all, while she was looking out of the window to trace him somewhere, … anywhere.

I could sense the remains of an everlasting friendship, which probably had come to an end. I don’t know how much I could manage but after listening to all my verdicts on why Jojo might have flown away, she looked at me again, came out of the blanket, and walked all across the living room to the window, carelessly stepping over her other scattered soft toys.

She stood in front of the frosted glass pane holding the curtain from becoming an obstacle and whispered – “Goodbye Jojo, see you soon!”.

A Quick Sand

Quicksand_22It looks good from a distance, it provides you a feeling of comfort, it keeps you relaxed for a duration. It tickles you, giggles you and then swallows you completely. Its Quick Sand – Lets understand it, get over it  and always be prepared.

How long its been for you to cherish your work while you try to get yourself into the bed at night? At least I have spent many sleepless nights and a fearful days whenever I think of what I lost today – not working on something exciting or something that added another gem to my profile.

Playing safe and taking no challenges may soon drag your feet into a quicksand of rotten skills and professional emotions towards day to day job. And, that is what keeps me on my toe, do something new, experience something new, as exciting as your first job. And feel good about it.

Its not something new, in fact, this is the story of every second person in a multinational organization primarily the so called “L5 companies” – Start ups do well on this front.

We tend to become so lazy and counter agile that we forget who we are. We forget, what did we thought of while joining the org? We forget, what is there that’s keeping you glued to the profession? And of course, we forget our own words, which we used to answer the HR – “So, why do you want to join the company?”

What do you think can we do to save ourselves from this quicksand of 9-6pm time window? I call it the human maintenance window. Because, this is the time window in which you need to fix your self not only as an individual but also as a professional.

But how do I patch myself with the latest? I think, the answers are within our own self. But before that, we got to ask ourselves a few more questions – Take a pause and think about the question before you head to the next one.

Does the new Job has something exciting for me? If your answer is no, then how can I react to it, so that I may infuse an innovativeness which can boost up my interest. If yes, then am I really working on it?

If the technologies are old but the domain is interesting, can I still spend time on technology by maintaining the balance between the techs and specs of the domain? Trust me, very few are doing this and climbing up the ladders really fast.

Are you too bothered about your manager than your peers? You need to brighten up your soul buddy! Its always good to have nice peers than a great manager. Remember there is a difference between a Mentor and a Manager. Hardly people find Mentors in Managers or vice-versa. If you have one – you are the lucky dog!

What does growth means to you? Money Or Position. I may not be able to talk too much on this one, as its too debatable and no one is wrong on his part. However, I just know one thing – there is always “a limit to everything!”, beyond which, what may keep you happy is the work you do and your passion to love what you do.

If you’ve answered these questions open heartedly, then you are good to get out of the sinking state. But if, you have just read through and not read between the lines, then may be you need more sticks and support from outside. So don’t let it loose – you can still follow your heart and wait for someone to pull you out of the sinking sand pit.

A very old saying “Opportunity strikes when you are least prepared”, is the one damn haunting line for me and so I am always trying to fight it.

The bigger question for you is – Am I?

Innovation starts at the top

In my opinion, the secret recipe for innovation is not the team sitting inside the R and D cabins and cubes, but the leaders. Innovative people think different and act upon it in a different manner to generate creative ideas for new product lines, various services, creative processes and of course the businesses. The behavior of leaders matters – tremendously.

But surprisingly, these model leaders are very few. If you ever get a chance to talk to dozens of senior executives of large organizations, you’ve find that in most cases, they did not feel personally responsible for coming up with innovations. They only felt responsible to “facilitate the innovation process” and make sure someone in the company was doing it. I think, the stock market that pays the premium for the innovative thinking and creative ideas has the senior leaders as the face of the organization. So if they at all think, act and behave innovatively; the company is sure to grow.

So does that means, we as an individual contributors do not have anything to do with innovation? We definitely have. We are those power energy that the company is relying on, to implement the big visions and dreams and we still have to do our bit of contribution in the innovation race – more of “The Rat Race” these days.
Remember, there is an innovative thinking about innovation – Don’t be a someone who is constantly modifying the existing innovations by someone else and just shouting – we would make these work better for the user. Rather, think out of the box and create things which do not exists. Create the need, by introducing it!
Microsoft-Surface-Tablet-vs.-Apple-iPad-4
Companies surely need to unleash the creative capacity of its employees through innovation processes, practices and more importantly behavior. Innovation is not a “Maggi which can be forced upon to be developed in 2 minutes”. It’s a culture that needs to be built from top to down.
That’s why I feel – Innovation is something that needs to be embarked upon by the behavior of senior leaders who would become the role model and at the same time lay the foundation of a creative culture within the organization.

Over Engineering, and “Engineering is Over…”

I was already dealing with the Monday blues, to top it was going through a complex piece of code which I originally thought was one of the greatest scripts one has written. However, half an hour passed I realized it was doing way more than what was required and was the cause for a functionality failure at many places for the product. In the next 20 minutes, I was already feeling the need to have someone get me out of that seat and punch me in the face for originally liking that junkie!

I leaned back on my chair, hands behind my head and closed my eyes for a minute …

10 years back when I used to think of software, for me it was like something so cryptic and complex written that no one else could understand, other than me. In fact, sometime it was worse. Anyway, when I later started writing commercial code and fixing thing in others code, I realized code readability is so much important. My next myth busted when one of the customer said, “The functionality you have provided in the website is great add-on, but actually I wanted something else which woes my customers – definitely the stuff you have provided is great for the geeks, but actually my site is going to be viewed and used by no-brainers”. End of the story – my complete effort of 2 night outs have gone in vain, I will have to throw the code into “Recycle Bin” and my friends are going to “kick my”, for skipping the booze party.

I think this oxymoron of a concept has stemmed from various myths about how software needs to be authored.  I am no scientist to write a specification on that… but surely I feel User Experience is the ultimate thing. This UX and Usability are tied together, no matter how stable and sturdy your kernel (software that runs your laptop and computers) is, if you can’t reach to the consumer, you have just wasted enormous amount of time and efforts, which could have been used to add a usable functionality and have expanded your customer list.

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Most of the programmers write code without knowing about what is the actual business need. For them it’s more of completing an agile task in hand for the day and that’s it! This accumulates over time and the final product is completed with “hacks and wrecks”. When product is consumed by the customer, he knows his business better than anyone out there and then he starts finding flaws resulting in higher number of issue reporting and lower customer satisfaction.

So finally, what I have realized over the years is,

Business drives technology and it’s never upstream.  So understand the business.

Use technology like a hammer – it is not meant for learning and dumping a big fat code which would finally land in trash, you should just know how and where to use it effectively to nail customer needs.

Keep a holistic approach – Don’t write a single piece of code until you understand the business need. If possible start with business test cases.

DO NOT over engineer, it kills big time! Always code for User Experience, Performance and Scalability, and meet the need of the hour, max tomorrow, and not day after and henceforth!

 Okay enough of lecturing to my senses, time for a coffee break, after all  I still come back and need to cope up with the trauma of fiddling with that rocket science that has been put into, just to search a node in a directed graph. Damn it! I opened my eyes, leaned forward, picked up my dear mug and headed to the coffee corner.

coffeemachinemobile

By the way, I hate that coffee machine as well in office, though it does make all sorts of classy coffee but still can’t figure out which button to press to just get some milk, somebody just over engineered and forgot the UX! I overheard someone talking about plans to get a simple coffee machine installed :)

Do let me know what do you think of complex code and also share your similar experience.

PS: The comic images do not belong to me and may be copyrighted, in case they are, please feel free to drop me an email. 

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