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Clay Christensen: How Will You Measure Your Life?

A tribute to Clayton Christensen, the Harvard professor who  introduced "disruption" in his 1997 book  The Innovator's Dilemma , which, in turn, led  The Economist  to term him "the most influential management thinker of his time."  Even more influential  for some would be his 2012 co-authored book How Will You Measure Your Life? . [try here ]. Christensen  passed away in Boston on Jan 23, 2020.

Book: "Inside Steve's [Jobs] Brain"

WHILE READING "Inside Steve’s Brain"  (sic) by  Leander Kahney  I got reminded of the following anecdote: This diplomat from the East was deputed to their embassy in Washington DC, in the United States. Having come to live in a Western country for the first time, the little man decided to pick up the holy book and began studying it in hopes of getting acquainted to the new culture more thoroughly. After a while when he met with a professor of religious studies at one of the colleges in New York, the humble man pronounced his predicament that after reading through the book almost three times over, he couldn’t figure out any religion in it. Nothing could be more illuminating in terms of human mindsets. For example, to an Eastern mindset that is used to live a life with abstractions and of elemental powers, such as the dance of the Shinto priests who proudly claim to have no theology; or with millennia old traditions of having religion a part of the daily routine as naturally a

"What would Peter do?" – A Tribute at Drucker Century

PETER F. DRUCKER WAS BORN IN AUSTRIA IN 1910, and would have completed a century this past Nov '09. It was celebrated all over by "Duckerites", among which one IIM professor said - if you have some time that you want to spend in a gainly manner then simply flip open any of Peter Drucker’s books and start reading. “ Classic Drucker ” was at an arm's length at that time and was worth giving a try. Apparently, the prof was right. What follows now is a brief intro before the main business. Originally, an investment banker from London, Drucker was first published in German in 1930. He then went on to write 39 books on management and wrote editorial for WSJ for 20 years. At the height of the financial chaos , one WSJ issue carried his picture on the front page titled "What would Peter do?" – as if the question was being put to, if you may, a body of knowledge collectively known as Peter F. Drucker . Drucker was also titled "the father of modern manageme

Mushroom Theory Leadership

Mushroom Management Theory: Keep employees in the dark and fearful, feed them manure and dung, watch them grow and when they grow enough, get them canned. (try here for more at urban dictionary) IN QUITE A CONTRAST TO THE PREVIOUS post on model leadership , this is not only a different type of leadership, it is found being practices widely as well. Referencing their publication for this month (June 2009), John Landry of Harvard Business Review writes that Lehman would not have happened if they would have allowed a freer flow of information, or made it easier for employees to raise their concerns. Industry observers have drawn parallels of Lehman explosion with implosions of Enron and WorldCom citing the same "keeping in dark" issues where information is not shared. But before that, a brief 'story':

Books: Beautiful Data and The Passionate Programmer

Beautiful Data: The Stories Behind Elegant Data Solutions by Toby Segaran and Jeff Hammerbacher (try here ) Looking forward to his book which is due in July 2009. The 39 contributors of the book explain how they developed simple and elegant solutions on projects ranging from the Mars lander to a Radiohead video. Some of the topics include: opportunities and challenges of datasets on the Web visualize trends in urban crime using maps and data mashups challenges of data processing system of space travel crowdsourcing and transparency helps drug research automatic alerts when new data overlaps pre-existing data massive investment to create, capture, and process DNA data The Passionate Programmer: Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Development by Chad Fowler (try here ) Chad Fowler argues here that your career in Software has to be a personal enterprise. And this publication from Pragmatic Bookshelf is one of my picks for the new engineers joining the Software indust

Some from the Bookshelf

UMERTO ECO'S LIBRARY is supposed to be about books on the pending list waiting to be read - a rather twisted argument by Taleb at knowledge assimilation when he philosophises that the unknown is more important than acquired knowledge itself. Perhaps makes sense, if you are a nihilist as well. Frank Zappa almost gave it up saying, "Too many books, too little time". And this post claims to be no improvisation either. In fact, following are a few from the pending list from my night-stand that give a rather sarcastic stare almost every time. Reviews and comments welcomed. The Future of Technology (Economist) by Tom Standage (try here The Future of Technology (Economist) ) This book gathers together some of the best writings that has recently appeared in The Economist on the way technology and its use is developing, and is likely to develop and change in the future. Taking a look at the index was a compulsion of sorts to pick this engaging read. And the opening para a

The Dunbar Number and Limits of Our Social Networks

THE SOCIAL MEDIA AND WEB 2.0 (though both are considered synonymous by some) provided the netizens with amazing new possibilities, like a new universe opening up with everyone mingling with everyone else. While the web (no pun intended) of these collaboration network, social in nature, kept increasing in complexity and continued expanding, there was no measure for if it were to follow the same yo-yo model of the actual Universe (try here ) . In other words, it was very difficult to ascertain if the motion was inward or outward, for there were no clear boundaries defined or known. The size of the neocortex of the brain allows humans to have stable networks of about 150. This is known as "the Dunbar number". With the help of Dr. Robin Dunbar’s research, perhaps we now have the first indications toward the limitations of Web 2.0 vis-a-vis human psychology and behaviour. Dr. Dunbar is an anthropologist currently with the Oxford University and has studied primates and humans and t

Atlas' Second Coming, and the Shrugs

THE FINANCIAL MELTDOWN MIGHT HAVE MADE THE ATLAS TICKLE, or so it may have seemed if one takes the metaphor literally. But Atlas, in spite of shrugs, is going strong on its part. Interestingly, Audacity of Hope by President Obama was overtaken by Atlas Shrugged on the sales charts for a while just before the presidency change. This is the second coming of Ayn Rand that started in 2007. Honestly though, I never got this book right. There was always something ultra-right about the acceptance and success of her (cold-war incubated) concepts of having a platonic state of a democracy (where one would be expected to demonstrate as much dexterity with the left hand as the right. Over the past ten years or so I must have gifted her books, selectively and carefully, to at least three people of my immediate reckoning -all of whom fell out of touch. Not so carefully, after all!). Ayn Rand's rendition of the perfect world —much more vividly worded in her previous notoriety, The Fountainh

Taleb and (guru) Mandelbrot together on Credit Crunch

THIS ACTUALLY TOOK PLACE AT PBS STUDIOS some five months ago when the $700bn bail-out package aka Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was announced at the U.S. Senate. Nassim Taleb features here with his Guru Benoit Mandelbrot in this joint interview by Paul Solomon titled 'Experts Examine Future of Credit Crunch'. For anyone new to Mandelbrot and Taleb or the subjects of Chaos theory and randomness that they deal with, this shall provide a good introduction (and a starting point to what could become a very interesting journey. I have been meaning to post these for a few months now. Finally, the cat is out of the draft.). Below are two excerpts from the talk, followed by the direct PBS podcast: The increased concentration among banks seems to have the effect of making financial crises less likely. But when they happen, they are more global in scale and hit us very hard. True, we now have fewer failures, but, when they occur, I shiver at the thought. -- Nassim Taleb in his

The Fastest Men at the Olympics

IT TAKES YEARS TO SHED SECONDS OFF RECORD TIMINGS, and that has been the order of all major sports event, especially the Olympics Games. "Faster, Higher, Stronger" (Latin: Citius, Altius, Fortius ) is the motto of the Olympics events, and whilst it absolutely lives up to that expectations, the bar thus raised however poses faster, higher and stronger challenges to the human capacities; every single time. (Mr. Ketan J. Patel, founder and head of the Strategic Group at Goldman Sachs, in this very interesting book "The Master Strategist" published earlier this year provides a very interesting analysis and analogy on the topic of such a human endeavour where Patel observes that we indeed live in the age of extremes.) Usain "Lightening" Bolt of Jamaica is clearly my hero of the 2008 Summer Olympics games at Beijing, as with many others. Here is an athlete in what is called a championship form - with spirit exuberant that "no one can beat me today"

HBR: "The Right Way To Be Fired"

NO EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT HAS A PERMANENCY CLAUSE. The category "permanent employee" is only to differentiate one from temps - both remain time-bound nonetheless. There may be a clause in the employment contract talking about retirement age of an employee, and rather misleadingly, that might go on to give an impression to the newly joined that her job is secure and permanent until the age of say 60 years. However, in reality that section of the employment terms is just another clause suggesting when would you be required to leave your present job. As the "globalization" story propagates to more and more regions and industries, it is getting increasingly important, especially to the optimistic lot like myself too young for that retirement age yet, that the realities of the impermanent nature of jobs and employment be realised, the sooner the better, such that one can make a more informed and rewarding career planning. They also call it acting "professional".

"mind × the + gap" overhauled (July '08)

AFTER SPENDING NEARLY 6 MONTHS under the old 'skin', I thought it was almost time to give " Mind the Gap " an overhaul in look-and-feel. And trust me, it turned out to be a worthwhile and satisfying weekend indeed: Loading up Photoshop for 'grafix' on one hand and coding/debugging xHTML, css, js, and the whole of tech jargon on the other. Almost reliving the time ten years ago, the dot-com boom, and designing, developing and coding of websites with a passion of a rather naive young rookie, just "out-of-the-box" programmer! It was annoying to some degree that Google has most of its products and services under Beta - and they never seem to move out of wrappers. You hardly see any changes or progress. In specifics, I was not happy at all with the tiny collection of templates that are available by default with the Blogger system (have you ever visited any of those beautiful WordPress or LiveJournal pages of your friends (or competition) that left you

A "Revo-lulu-tion" in Print Publishing

ANYONE WITH A SOMEWHAT SERIOUS SLANT towards one's blogging lines would want to publish something in a physical paper format (read: book ) at some point in time. At least that is what my general observation has been. On one hand, while the technology of bringing words online in the forms of Blogger, LiveJournal, MySpace and alike have made content creation a one-click job and in doing so might have taken the 'authors' away from the traditional book-publishing process, on the other hand it is really interesting to see how the same technology loops back and makes publishing a book in paper format an equally user-friendly and accessible experience. Add to that the ability to enable Creative Commons options, variable pricing options, and manufacturing (physical printing on paper and binding) and shipping on-demand, provides the new dimension of flexibility in the hands on authors. This is the modern technology looping back to aid the traditional medium of publication rather tha