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Fitts’s Law and Usability of Gmail

Fitt’s law (Simplified): " Put commonly accessed UI elements on the edges of the screen. Because the cursor automatically stops at the edges, they will be easier to click on. [And then] Make clickable areas as large as you can. Larger targets are easier to click on. " The law is rather simple (or, one might argue, too simple to follow all the time). This is basic common sense. Human Interfaces of computer system typically are a subject matter of Fitts’s law . A FEW YEARS AGO I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY to attend a workshop with Mr. Aaron Marcus . The veteran man is an industry expert on usability and the designer of the original Nokia cell phone’s user navigation system. Cell phones were a niche product in early 2000's and not much data was available to ascertain how users would react to such an operating system of such a hand-held device. Mr. Marcus had a variety of ideas and principles to talk about at the workshop on the subject of Software systems and their usability a

"The Right Thing To Do" - Harvard Lectures on Moral Philosophy

PROF. MICHAEL SANDEL OPENED HIS FAMOUS CLASS ON "JUSTICE" and Moral and Political Philosophy at Harvard University, USA, with the following (cautionary) address: If you look at the syllabus, you would notice that we read a number of great and famous books. Books by Aristotle, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and others. [...] We will read these books, and we will debate these [philosophical] issues, and we will see how each informs and illuminates the other [school of thought]. This may sound appealing and interesting enough, but here I have to issue a warning: To read these books, in this way, as an exercise in self-knowledge, carries certain risks. Risks that are both personal and political. Risks that every student of Political Philosophy has known. These risks spring from the fact that philosophy teaches us, and unsettles us, by confronting us with what we already know . There is an irony: the difficulty of this course consists in the fact that it teaches

The Purpose of Business

"EVERYONE LIVES BY SELLING SOMETHING." Robert Louis Stevenson, the Scottish traveller and writer, once concluded. In the knowledge industry of the modern era, the selling could be of — an idea, a change, an example (PoC), an influence, a model. The logical outcome of which is value creation. Which further translates into profit or benefits of various kinds at different levels of its hierarchy. Peter Drucker had a different view. Creating profit didn't seem to him to be the main goal of an enterprise. While advocating for Not-for-profit organizations, Drucker observed that there are obvious limitations to making continuous profit-making business models. According to him, to be responsible and relevant in the society, a business model could make profit that is equal to its cost of capital. However, if the goal of the business model is to create a customer , that could possibly provide a sustainable model for existence of a business. Taking this argument a notch furthe

Sach Is Life!

SACHIN RAMESH TENDULKAR of India scores the first ever double-ton in an One-Day International Cricket match against South Africa on Feb 24, 2010. He remained unbeaten. "Sach Is Life" Here are the statistics of the legendary 20 year career of the Master Blaster ; here is a short biography; rest of it is Supremacy.

"Jugaad" - More Than A Fad?

BusinessWeek RAN A STORY LAST MONTH that focused on "Jugadh" and termed it as the new mantra for innovation. Colleagues and clients not too familiar with the Indian culture tried seeking second opinions on the word. Observers commented on the topic from the world over. Some compared the term with Quality techniques such as Lean and Keizen - doing more, with less . Others saw it as the new Agile. Jugadh or Jugaad was considered by the Economist as the latest cost-cutting technique in Asia. WSJ wrote that Jughad is the primary reason why Indian economy remained insulated in the recent Global economic down-turn. Someone else commented that ISB at Hyderabad conducts special workshops to tool executives with Jugadh, also citing the inclusion of the term in the management consulting arsenal . The original title of the article looked at "Jugadh" as the next big export from India. After due considerations and with due respect to all the views, "Jugadh" is a f

HBR: Managing Oneself - by Peter Drucker

HISTORY'S GREAT ACHIEVERS - A NAPOLEON, A DA VINCI, A MOZART - have always managed themselves. That, in large measures, is what makes them great achievers. Addressing the knowledge workers in the new economy, Peter Drucker goes on to emphasize the needs for personal development, stating that they must, effectively, be their own chief executive officers in taking the responsibilities of developing their own careers; beginning by saying: We live in an age of unprecedented opportunity: If you've got ambition and smarts, you can rise to the top of your chosen profession, regardless of where you start. As the first of the series , the presentation that follows - within a max of 10 slides - captures the essence of Peter Drucker's legendary paper "Managing Oneself", which he published while stepping into the new century at the turn of the millennium. Peter F Drucker - Managing Oneself See also: Go here for the full article at HBR website, and go here to try it

Welcome 2k10

Happy New Year! And Welcome 2k10 PS: And, by the way, 2010 = 1+2-(3-4-5)*6*7*8-9 Now that the hype is done and soberness returns, here is an interesting one on new year resolutions at The Economist. Here are some of the most anticipated Hollywood films in 2010. Here is a nice graphic at NYT capturing the past decade, and here is a text version of 200X’s at Foreign Policy blog (apparently, both with a pinch of 'merican vanity). Among technology predictions for 2010, here is one on "wisdom of crowd" at CTO blog. For mindgap.in - There was this plan to do a three-part series on best of Peter Ducker over the holidays. While the first part was almost done around X'mas, turns out there were no holidays after all, and the plans were to be deferred. (Also, see point 2 above)

"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

Best Performing CEO's and Why MBA's Are Paid Higher

A HARVARD TEAM OF ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT consultants did a sampling of nearly 14 years covering 2000 Chief Executives of global companies listed by S&P. The sampling and tests were fairly exhaustive and unique , and presented a vivid picture of the Executive boardrooms that saw many major global economic events including the Y2K IT burst, Oil-price surge and dive, and 2007 economic down-turn, among others. Though the headline making "attribute" of the published list came out highlighting that the first three of top 5 best performing executives in the world do not have a formal degree in management. Three of the top five are connected to IT industry, and the other two are from petroleum and energy sector. Broadly, four out of 10 successful leaders in IT and six out 10 in energy sector do not possess such formal b-school education. Overall, there are less than 30% of the top 50 listed chief executives having any formal management degree. The top 5 have total industry

Leadership Speech of 'Guru' Greg Chappell

Greg Chappell at Mysore, Nov'09 [Source: self] BRIEF, ARTICULATE, NO-NONSENSE, ALL-BUSINESS 'Guru' Greg Chappell has a pleasantly lighter side to his otherwise tough-guy personality and the young Indian crowd of Software professionals at ILI, Mysore got the rare pleasure of interacting up close and personal with the Australian cricket legend during his leadership speech last week. Greg Chappell is a master tactician from southern Australia – apart from being the captain of Australia Test squad like his grandfather and elder brother, his illustrious career also includes joining breakaway leagues, fighting off nude opponents on the pitch, and the historically forgettable  under-arm delivery that Greg as the then captain of Australia instructed his younger brother Trevor Chappell to deliver as the final ball in '81 against NZ at MCG.

Indian Nodding and TED India

THE FIRST EVER TECHNOLOGY, ENTERTAINMENT, DESIGN (TED) EVENT IN INDIA drew to a close this afternoon at the lavish and state-of-the-art technology campus of Infosys at the Indian city of Mysore - about 120km south of Bangalore. It was an adrenalin pumping experience, and it left so many feeling spent at the end of four days. Absorbing a torrent of ideas condensed in a time-capsule is a demanding event for the creativity centre - glucose consuming frontal cortex of the human brain. After all, TED may be the new religion. For generation Y + X.

Consulting and Creative (un)commons

Santa and Banta submitted the tender for digging the second underwater Euro Channel Tunnel connecting England with France and continental Europe. This was perhaps the first time that a bid for such an extreme engineering project was coming from India, and apparently so it raised a few eyebrows and steered interest. An outsourcing relationship with India was not a new thing, but bidding for second Euro tunnel - that had got to be special... Mr. Santa and Mr. Banta, the proprietors of Santa Banta & Co., were also among the main invitees to present their ideas describing their technology, tools, budget and time-lines to the consortium presiding over the project. As it turned out S B & Co had the lowest quotation, the shortest time-line for the project, the simplest possible plan and most straightforward execution using the most standard of tools: Santa would take one team (of a few hundred thousand labourers) digging from England towards France, and Banta would do the same from

Change, Catch Words of Consulting II

Continuing from the previous post , following are a few more Catch Words of Consulting: Q x A = E : Q uality of Solution x A cceptance = E ffectiveness of Change. Q is good most of the time. The Key differentiator is Acceptance and Adaptability for a successful Change management. Passive Resistance: is nodding the head, but not actually going to participate in change; civil disobedience of a personal kind; dragging the feet with a smile. Planning vs Plans: D. Eisenhower once said, "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." Planing is so important that PMBOK devotes the largest of its five process groups entirely on planning. See also: Related post: Change, and Catch Words of Consulting I

Shubh Deepavali

Shubh Deepavali A warm wishes to you and your family for A Happy and Prosperous Diwali The Festival of Lights of India - illuminations, oil lamps, firecrackers, colourful lanterns, rangoli mandalas, bright clothing, sweets, feasts, and festivities with families and friends.

Change, and Catch Words of Consulting I

"CHANGE IS THAT BIG FAT PINK ELEPHANT that drunkenly roams around this large organization, stamping on people, without anyone having any idea what to do about it." This is how the elderly consultant illustrated in his concluding report to the senior management of [an organization] that was undergoing post-Outsourcing blues. (Do notice elephant as a hidden reference to India as the low-cost location.) It indeed was a significant experience to participate in a professional forum in Australia with such Consulting veterans and alumni of the global consulting 'Big 5' sharing their vivid experiences.

Malthusian Matters(?)

GOLDMAN SACHS PROJECTS THAT India’s middle class will outstrip China’s by 2045. This is some 15 years after half of China’s population becomes either too old or too young to be part of the workforce. Perhaps instant-ness of contemporary life induces a certain myopia. Social media - twitter , FB, and other "self trumpets" - may make one feel that 2045 is too far away to be bothered about. And perhaps that's true for some as well, those who would want to die out soon, but 35 years is a fairly short turn around time by economic standards. Malthusian Matters (pun intended), and stands nonetheless to see another day, another argument. See also: Go here for more on Malthusian catastrophe . Go here for more on this interesting article at Reuters.

Mind the Gap and Business Technology

"MIND THE GAP AND THE ACCIDENTAL TECHNOLOGISTS" is the topic on which Andy Mulholland wrote an interesting note recently, and I so wish if this were a guest post on this blog, if only for the namesake. Highlighting 'the gap', as he puts it, Andy describes the misalignment of Technology focus with Business needs. The problem is rather recent, cropping up only from 90's, because before that, nobody actually bothered. The flexibility of IT introduced by leaps and bounce of advances of the recent decades is the reason for this widening gap because previously the rigidity of how computer systems worked almost ensured that business accepted what (MIS) system owners dictated.

HBR: Short Overseas Assignments

HOW SHOULD ONE REPLY TO THAT seemingly casual email detailing titillating offer of servicing the client from onsite or onshore location for a few weeks or months to take the project to the next big level? The short answer is, reply by sleeping over it a couple of days, especially while one is been-there-done-that category. The recent HBR research article however goes on to urge you to deny it flatly. It is apparently less costly for the company to push for short-termed, employee-only transfer compared to a two-year global assignment having a settled designation for the similar tasks. The research running for a couple of years shows that these propositions are riddled with marriage troubles, depression, child behaviour issues, and other difficulties.

Peter Principle and Promotions

Peter Principle: "Every new member in a hierarchical organization climbs the hierarchy until he/she reaches his/her level of maximum incompetence." [try here for more] IT IS PARADOXICAL, SOUNDS UNREASONABLE, AND DEFIES COMMON-SENSE. But that is how it works, realistically and evidently, for any hierarchical organization where the way of promotion rewards the best members and where the competence at their new level in the hierarchical structure does not depend on the competence they had at the previous level, usually because the tasks of the levels are very different between each other. Since about 50 years ago when a Canadian psychologist named Laurence J. Peter published his studies to this effect in 1969, there has been many changes in the way organizations and it workforce operate in relation with each other. There has been multiple experimental models across various industries, including Role-based organization, Competency-based designations, (A fusion of sorts of the

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':