Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Design thinking at work (Book summary)

Key things to keep in mind

  • The essence of design thinking, in many ways, involves identifying problems by seeing things that other people miss.
  • Design thinking requires executive support for slow, reflective experimentation and systems thinking, not only for creativity.
  • Spend time framing and reframing a problem or opportunity.
  • Allow an indefinite period for experimentation, prototyping, discussion and reflection.
  • Give design teams separate creative space while keeping them connected with your firm.
  • Balance the team’s focus on incremental improvements of existing products with their search for breakthrough innovations.
  • Help the team balance internal and external stakeholder demands.
  • Build credibility and support for your team by focusing first on “quick wins.”
  • Develop a design mind-set throughout your firm. Bake creativity into your culture.
  • Emphasize the multiple perspectives of internal and external stakeholders, including the systems that new innovations must work within.

Best Practice
Adopt the following best practices to improve your odds of successful design thinking:

  1. Separate but connected – At least at first, create a safe, close but separate space conducive to your team’s creativity in layout, furnishings, and the like. Even if you prefer to spread designers out in various divisions around your organization, maintain a separate space where they can come together to exchange ideas and learn from each other. Foster communities of practice for designers to gather, share and discuss ideas – internally and externally.
  2. Inform and educate – Designers need leadership’s strong support and appreciation. Educate top executives and the rest of your firm in design thinking and the benefits of a creative culture. Keep the organization informed of what your design team is doing, its processes and its progress.
  3. Source multiple perspectives – Look for a variety of perspectives on design from inside and outside your firm. Think about designing platforms for wide application, as opposed to one-off solutions. Help stakeholders understand how they can apply your innovations. Bring people inside your circle to share feedback and ideas through workshops and focus groups. Ask prospective users to test your prototypes, watch them use your tools, then discuss their impressions and ideas for improvement.
  4. Adopt a systems approach to design – Your solutions must operate within larger systems, and consider political, emotional, societal or environmental concerns. Expand your notion of stakeholders to consult with community and interest groups.

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Monday, February 25, 2019

Mobile world congress - Key themes emerging

In the mobile devices, 3 key themes have emerged so far:
1. Foldable phone - Several companies has demonstrated foldable phones. For mainstream adoption, it is still an year or two away in terms of price and one strong usecase away.

2. 5G phones - Many companies has launched 5G phones. There is still a lack of 5G networks across the world. 2020 is the year when these phones when it will start getting primetime.

3. More cameras and megapixels - Lacking any major growth driver, device manufacturers are going back to its money making machine - cameras.

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Monday, December 24, 2018

How oil and auto industry creates FUD?

I saw an article today in Economic times[https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/auto/auto-news/view-indias-e-car-drive-has-many-dead-ends/articleshow/67221096.cms], some of the information is patently false and aimed to create fear, uncertainty and doubt(FUD) for EV and renewable energy industry. It is written by Anjana Menon, CEO of Content Pixies.

Some of the falsehoods
"In a country that is power deficit, the current EV plan is a sham, "

India is not power deficit in true sense. India has enough installed capacity but our distribution companies across states are not efficient and not able to buy the power that is generated. 

The PLF in the country (Coal & Lignite based) from 2009-10 to 2018-19 is as under:
YearPLFSector-wise PLF (%)
2015-16 62.2972.5255.4160.49

source: https://powermin.nic.in/en/content/power-sector-glance-all-india

Here coal power plant load factor has decreased from 77.5% in 2009-10 to 61.14% in 2018-19. Since our Transmission and distribution companies are in loss, they are not able to pay to Coal India and they don't supply coal to energy generation companies.

Another falsehood
"India’s EV policy aims to cut emissions, even though more than 70% of electricity is generated from dirty sources such as coal."

% of Total
Total Thermal
Hydro (Renewable)

source: https://powermin.nic.in/en/content/power-sector-glance-all-india

Hydrocarbons are source for 64% of energy generation, not over 70% and India is making rapid progress in renewable energy generation year over year.

Then later in the article, she wonders how India can electrify its fleets. With BSVI guidelines, gasoline cars (difference between cost of petrol and diesel cars will be Rs 250K.). It will phase out lower end diesel cars. With the battery improvement in couple of years, it will be economical and in the range of petrol cars to produce electric cars with equal capability.

Another fear every article propagates is lack of EV chargers. In India, we currently have ~60,000 gas stations. For EV's, we don't need that many charger stations as many companies and individuals can charge their cars in home. But to kick start the EV revolution, government can provide package for setting up electric chargers.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Saving agility from scrum: Accelerate book summary

Recently, I came across a post in our internal developer channel on shortcomings of scrum which they were facing in their project. Scrum and agile movement was started in order to empower developers to be in sync with business needs but it reduced to be a management control mechanism and got appropriated by existing project model where project manager reincarnated as scrum master, daily standups became status meeting and sprint retrospective became an one-way communication from scrum master to developers.

Then, I got recommendation to read a book on project management named “Accelerate: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations” by Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble and Gene Kim.

This book talks about empirical evidence against distorted agile practices and provides a solution.

He writes about distortions in Scrum:

Velocity is designed to be used as a capacity planning tool; for example, it can be used to extrapolate how long it will take the team to complete all the work that has been planned and estimated. However, some managers have also used it as a way to measure team productivity, or even to compare teams.”

He mentions 2 major problems with scrum.

1. “velocity is a relative and team-dependent measure, not an absolute one. Teams usually have significantly different contexts which render their velocities incommensurable. Second, when velocity is used as a productivity measure, teams inevitably work to game their velocity. They inflate their estimates and focus on completing as many stories as possible at the expense of collaboration with other teams . Not only does this destroy the utility of velocity for its intended purpose, it also inhibits collaboration between teams.”

2. “many organizations measure utilization as a proxy for productivity. The problem with this method is that high utilization is only good up to a point. Once utilization gets above a certain level, there is no spare capacity to absorb unplanned work, changes to the plan, or improvement work. This results in longer lead times to complete work. Queue theory in math tells us that as utilization approaches 100%, lead times approach infinity—in other words, once you get to very high levels of utilization, it takes teams exponentially longer to get anything done. Since lead time—a measure of how fast work can be completed—is a productivity metric that doesn’t suffer from the drawbacks of the other metrics we’ve seen, it’s essential that we manage utilization to balance it against lead time in an economically optimal way.”

Key goals of measuring software delivery performance
  1. Should focus on a global outcome to ensure teams aren’t pitted against each other. 
  2. Should focus on outcomes not output: it shouldn’t reward people for putting in large amounts of busywork that doesn’t actually help achieve organizational goals.
Measures of delivery performance that meet these criteria:

  1. Delivery lead time: Lead time is the time it takes to go from a customer making a request to the request being satisfied. It is sum of the time it takes to design and validate a product or feature, and the time to deliver the feature to customers. 
  2. Deployment frequency: It is a proxy for batch size as it is easy to measure. store. A release will typically consist of multiple version control commits, unless the organization has achieved a single-piece flow where each commit can be released to production (a practice known as continuous deployment) 
  3. Time to restore service: how long it generally takes to restore service for the primary application or service they work on when a service incident (e.g., unplanned outage, service impairment) occurs. 
  4. Change fail rate: What percentage of changes to production (including, for example, software releases and infrastructure configuration changes) fail. 

Solution Architecture

XP prescribes a number of technical practices such as test-driven development and continuous integration. Continuous Delivery also emphasizes the importance of these technical practices (combined with comprehensive configuration management) as an enabler of more frequent, higher-quality, and lower-risk software releases.

Continuous delivery capabilities
1. Use version control for all production artifacts. Version control is the use of a version control system, such as GitHub or Subversion, for all production artifacts, including application code, application configurations, system configurations, and scripts for automating build and configuration of the environment.

2. Automate your deployment process. Deployment automation is the degree to which deployments are fully automated and do not require manual intervention.

3. Implement continuous integration. Continuous integration (CI) is the first step towards continuous delivery. This is a development practice where code is regularly checked in, and each check-in triggers a set of quick tests to discover serious regressions, which developers fix immediately. The CI process creates canonical builds and packages that are ultimately deployed and released.

4. Use trunk-based development methods. Trunk-based development has been shown to be a predictor of high performance in software development and delivery. It is characterized by fewer than three active branches in a code repository; branches and forks having very short lifetimes (e.g., less than a day) before being merged into master; and application teams rarely or never having “code lock” periods when no one can check in code or do pull requests due to merging conflicts, code freezes, or stabilization phases.

5. Implement test automation. Test automation is a practice where software tests are run automatically (not manually) continuously throughout the development process. Effective test suites are reliable—that is, tests find real failures and only pass releasable code. Note that developers should be primarily responsible for creation and maintenance of automated test suites.

6. Support test data management. Test data requires careful maintenance, and test data management is becoming an increasingly important part of automated testing. Effective practices include having adequate data to run your test suite, the ability to acquire necessary data on demand, the ability to condition your test data in your pipeline, and the data not limiting the amount of tests you can run. However teams should minimize, whenever possible, the amount of test data needed to run automated tests.

7. Shift left on security. Integrating security into the design and testing phases of the software development process is key to driving IT performance. This includes conducting security reviews of applications, including the infosec team in the design and demo process for applications, using pre-approved security libraries and packages, and testing security features as a part of the automated testing suite.

8. Implement continuous delivery (CD). CD is a development practice where software is in a deployable state throughout its lifecycle, and the team prioritizes keeping the software in a deployable state over working on new features. Fast feedback on the quality and deployability of the system is available to all team members, and when they get reports that the system isn’t deployable, fixes are made quickly. Finally, the system can be deployed to production or end users at any time, on demand.

Architecture capabilities

9. Use a loosely coupled architecture. This affects the extent to which a team can test and deploy their applications on demand, without requiring orchestration with other services. Having a loosely coupled architecture allows your teams to work independently, without relying on other teams for support and services, which in turn enables them to work quickly and deliver value to the organization.

10. Architect for empowered teams. Teams that can choose which tools to use do better at continuous delivery and, in turn, drive better software development and delivery performance. No one knows better than practitioners what they need to be effective.

Product and process capabilities

11. Gather and implement customer feedback. Whether organizations actively and regularly seek customer feedback and incorporate this feedback into the design of their products is important to software delivery performance.

12. Make the flow of work visible through the value stream. Teams should have a good understanding of and visibility into the flow of work from the business all the way through to customers, including the status of products and features.

13. Work in small batches. Teams should slice work into small pieces that can be completed in a week or less. The key is to have work decomposed into small features that allow for rapid development, instead of developing complex features on branches and releasing them infrequently. This idea can be applied at the feature and the product level. Working in small batches enables short lead times and faster feedback loops.

14. Foster and enable team experimentation. Team experimentation is the ability of developers to try out new ideas and create and update specifications during the development process, without requiring approval from outside of the team, which allows them to innovate quickly and create value. This is particularly impactful when combined with working in small batches, incorporating customer feedback, and making the flow of work visible.

Lean management and monitoring capabilities

15. Have a lightweight change approval processes. A lightweight change approval process based on peer review (pair programming or intrateam code review) produces superior IT performance than using external change approval boards (CABs).

16. Monitor across application and infrastructure to inform business decisions. Use data from application and infrastructure monitoring tools to take action and make business decisions. This goes beyond paging people when things go wrong.

17. Check system health proactively. Monitor system health, using threshold and rate-of-change warnings, to enable teams to preemptively detect and mitigate problems.

18. Improve processes and manage work with work-in-process (WIP) limits. The use of work-in-process limits to manage the flow of work is well known in the Lean community. When used effectively, this drives process improvement, increases throughput, and makes constraints visible in the system.

19. Visualize work to monitor quality and communicate throughout the team. Visual displays, such as dashboards or internal websites, used to monitor quality and work in process have been shown to contribute to software delivery performance.

Cultural capabilities
20. Support a generative culture . Generative culture is predictive of IT performance, organizational performance, and decreasing burnout. Hallmarks of generative measure include good information flow, high cooperation and trust, bridging between teams, and conscious inquiry.

21. Encourage and support learning. Is learning, in your culture, considered essential for continued progress? Is learning thought of as a cost or an investment? This is a measure of an organization’s learning culture.

22. Support and facilitate collaboration among teams. This reflects how well teams, which have traditionally been siloed, interact in development, operations, and information security.

23. Provide resources and tools that make work meaningful. This particular measure of job satisfaction is about doing work that is challenging and meaningful, and being empowered to exercise your skills and judgment. It is also about being given the tools and resources needed to do your job well.

24. Support or embody transformational leadership. Transformational leadership supports and amplifies the technical and process work that is so essential in DevOps. It is comprised of five factors: vision, intellectual stimulation, inspirational communication, supportive leadership, and personal recognition.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Cleaning the mess: answering FUDs by hydrocarbon industry

Recently I got a lengthy article [entire article is pasted in last part of this post] on why electric cars are no good, in our internal company channel. I am replying on this medium (I think this topic is of wider interest).

Many of the questions raised in the article resides in category of spreading FUDs (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubts). For example

  1. How are we going to produce more clean electric energy?
We are making rapid progress on renewable solar energy on both parameters - price and scale. So much that in recent months in India, solar energy has become cheaper than coal powered energy and states still refuse to buy solar energy due to intertwined relationship with coal lobby. This story is similar in Australia. Due to backlash from Coal lobby and automobile manufacturers,  US pulled back from Paris climate accord. For clean solar energy, problem now is not technology and cost but vested interests of hydrocarbon lobby.

     2. Who deals with the issue of clean mobility as a whole?
Why we need one? Who deals with current mobility as a whole?

     3. Use of rare earth metals and raw material to make cells and chemicals of batteries
In current battery technology, this is certainly the case. With every passing year, battery chemistry is improving to use less of rare earth elements and also energy density is increasing ~5% per annum. With more focus on improving battery chemistry and density, it should work.
4. Carbon footprint of a battery and battery recycling

Battery technology currently in infancy stage and till recently it didn’t have serious budget dollars. Even at the current stage, it is no worse than hydrocarbon transportation footprint. Once we see more green transportation, it will improve dramatically.

Stephane man assertion that “the life cycle of an electric vehicle makes it as polluting as a thermal vehicle.” is quite old and lame. The obvious and malicious fallacy in the argument is it adds the pollution of non-green grid on account of manufacturing and operations in the total carbon footprint of EV to inflate its numbers. EV alone can't fix the entire problem. it is a part of a solution to a multifaceted problem.

Daniel Roland comment on EV is to the point of being ridiculous. Just sample this

The electric car emits less particles than the thermal car, since it does not have an exhaust, but it has brakes, tires, and rolls on tar!
In the end, the electric car is no more ecological than the thermal car.

He does not even take into account the fuel and complex ICE engine into account before coming to conclusion. He also wants government to look at somewhere else - marine transport for problem as a diversion technique.

In conclusion, When we are evaluating renewable energy and EV industry, we need to consider following points:

  1. Hydrocarbon lobby is so vested and strong: Through media propaganda and public policy intervention, they keep spreading FUDs and keep diverting the discussion. In India, entire coal industry is state-controlled. In Australia and Germany, coal industry creates lot of jobs in the country. In OPEC nations, entire country economy is fueled by hydrocarbons and just 20 years back fortune and Forbes top 100 list was ruled by petroleum companies and they were treated as no less than head of state.
  2. EV and renewable industry is in infancy stage - currently EV and renewable industry gets a fraction of research dollars than hydrocarbon industry.still it is able to make a difference. 
  3. EV and clean grid is a part of solution of large multifaceted problem. It is not complete solution. Apart from these two, air transport, marine transport, goods transport industry needs to be cleaned but we need to start somewhere and in the right direction

The complete message is copied here for reference:

Hello all, I would like to share this piece of writing which may be or may not a Fable. Please read them - create interesting questions..
Carlos Tavares (PSA BOSS)
" the world is crazy. The fact that the authorities are ordering us to go in a technological direction, that of the electric vehicle, is a big turning
I would not want in 30 years to discover something that is not as beautiful as it looks, on the recycling of batteries, the use of rare materials on the planet, on the electromagnetic emissions of the battery in Recharge situation?
How are we going to produce more clean electric energy?
How to make the carbon footprint of a battery of the electric vehicle not an ecological disaster?
How can we ensure that recycling of a battery is not an ecological disaster?
How do I find enough raw material to make cells and chemicals of batteries over time?
Who deals with the issue of clean mobility as a whole?
Who today is asking the question sufficiently widely from a societal point of view to take account of all these parameters?
I'm worried as a citizen, because as a car manufacturer, I'm not audible.
All this agitation, all this chaos, will turn against us because we have made bad decisions in emotional contexts."
Stéphane man
(Director of the nuclear observatory)
- the life cycle of an electric vehicle makes it as polluting as a thermal vehicle.
Subsidizing it does not make sense, explains the director of the nuclear observatory, stéphane man.
The manufacture of batteries is so issuing that it is necessary to have travelled from 50 000 to 100 000 km in electric car.... to start being less producer of co² than a thermal car. 15 to 30 miles a day, 365 days a year, for 10 years!
AFP / Daniel Roland
However, contrary to what most people believe, subject to continuous propaganda of policies and industrialists, the electric car is no more virtuous than the thermal car, petrol or diesel.
These are the conclusions of an already old study of the environment and energy control agency (Ademe), deliberately ignored by the government (development according to the principles of the acv of energy balance sheets, gas emissions to Greenhouse effect and other environmental impacts induced by all electric vehicles and thermal vehicles by 2012 and 2020 (November 2013)
Since these cars are mainly used for short journeys, it is likely that the mileage needed to estimate "virtuous" will never be achieved.
In addition, all the co² emitted by an electric car is sent into the atmosphere even before it is travelled every kilometre.
While it is everywhere claimed that the electric car does not emit fine particles, as reported by the science and life magazine (January 2015), " tyres, brakes and road wear emit almost as many particles as the diesel ".
The electric car emits less particles than the thermal car, since it does not have an exhaust, but it has brakes, tires, and rolls on tar!
In the end, the electric car is no more ecological than the thermal car.
The public money devoted to its development is therefore totally unjustified.
These are astronomical sums:
- the government has launched an installation plan of 7 million reloading terminals at approximately EUR 10 000, a cost of around EUR 70 billion.
It is also poignant to see the elected representatives of small municipalities, believing to make a gesture for the environment, break the municipal bank to offer a kiosk;
- the "ecological" bonus for the purchase of an electric car exceeds € 10 per vehicle, often supplemented by a regional premium.
Almost all buyers are wealthy households, because these vehicles are very expensive: once again, the money of all is offered to the most privileged.
In fact, in the country of the atom, all means are good to "Boost" electricity consumption, which has been declining for years.
Because the electric car in France can be regarded as a " nuclear car almost all of the installed reloading terminals are connected to the ordinary electricity network at 80 % nuclear.
The certificates put forward by Mr. Bolloré and its autolib (Paris), Bluecub (Bordeaux) and bluely (Lyon), ensuring that they are recharged to renewable energies: these are only writing games; the electricity used is the same as elsewhere.
We are not here to promote the thermal car, itself an environmental calamity.
But, precisely, no one would have the idea to offer 10 euros to purchase a diesel car, to book him parking spaces and fill his tank at a broken price...
This is a very good analysis showing that our policies (and the greens) show us the show:
Diesel's paranoia only concerns motorists!!!
Heavy Goods, coaches, ships, are excluded!
Just to pinpoint the degree of paranoia of the most virulent critics of the diesel vehicle, it is necessary to reveal the data of the 'maritime industry' which has shown that considering the size of the engines and the quality of the fuel used, the - Freighters of the world pollute as much as all 760 million cars on the planet.
You know, these container containers that feed us into products that we manufactured in our offshore factories, today they burn each 10.000 tons of fuel for a return and return between Asia and Europe.
These unfortunate 40 ships are part of a 3.500 Flotilla, which must be added to the 17.500 tankers that make up all 100.000 ships that roam the seas.
In order not to leave the maritime domain, let us recall that the French recreational fleet is about 500.000 units, including 5.000 yachts over 60 metres, and the most average of them burn about 900 Litres of fuel in just one hour, while the 24 % of French households that heat up fuel are having trouble filling their tank for winter.
To continue on the path of paranoid schizophrenia, let us take into account the entire fishing fleet and the 4,7 million heavy lorries in transit across France and the thousands of aircraft that roam the sky.
To complete this small fable, let us not forget the indispensable agricultural area where average energy consumption is 101 litres of fuel per hectare.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How to install PHP7.x, MySQL5.7 on Ubuntu 16.x

Open the terminal
>sudo apt-get update
>sudo apt-get install php-mbstring php7.0-mbstring php-gettext apache2 mysql-server-5.7 mysql-client php7.0-mysql php7.0-curl php7.0-json php7.0-cgi php7.0 libapache2-mod-php7.0
This will download all the required dependencies and will ask you to
  • Key in password for root for mysql
  • decide which webserver (select apache2)
  • Setup phpmyadmin with db-config – This time say ‘Yes’ and then enter the phpmyadmin db password you want to keep
Once this done
  • sudo mysql_secure_installation (answer the questions appropriately)
  • sudo phpenmod mycrypt
  • sudo phpenmod mbstring
  • sudo systemctl restart mysql
  • sudo systemctl restart apache2
  • sudo a2enmod rewrite
  • sudo systemctl restart apache2
Enable rewrite module
>sudo vim /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default.conf
Inside that file, you will find the block on line 1. Inside of that block, add the following block:

< Directory /var/www/html >
               Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
               AllowOverride All
               Order allow,deny
               allow from all
< / Directory >
>sudo service apache2 restart

You are done. Open up a browser and access – http:// < server ip address >

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Taylor swift and art of buzz-building

Later this month on 27th, Taylor Swift will launch her fifth album and first "official documented pop" album - 1989. She is one of the artists who is able to sell record number of albums. She, in previous avatar, was one of the top  country singer. 
Country music is quite popular in Nashville area. Country music fans are though smaller in number but they are fiercely loyal. Taylor swift brought a lot new new fans to this music community. Her appeal to newer fan base of teenage girls made her music superstar and a force to reckon with.

Now with her first pop album, Taylor has real chance of hurting her loyal base of country fans. She has been innovative in selling her music albums as well as her music shows. She is one of the most accessible celebrities. In her shows, she invites fans for tea parties, comments on fan's instagram messages, posts her cats and family videos. 
With this album, she has added another way to connect to her fans - 1989 secret sessions. She looks for dedicated fans on instagram, twitter, tumblr and she invites them over to her various houses for private listening session for her new album. In the age of secrecy of celebs' private lives and her work - any one of fans can release the music titles online  - it is remarkable and fresh but risk-prone new approach.
When I connect this approach to Malcolm Gladwell book - The tipping point- How connectors, marketers and maven are required to make a product tip?. She is looking to tap the marketers on the social media who has been in past a vocal fan of her and can act as her brand ambassador for her upcoming album.  Whether it works or not remains yet to be seen.

Post script: Yesterday, she launched her new song "Out of the woods" on iTunes. It went to number one within minutes. It is after 1989 lead single "Shake it off" went on top of iTunes charts within minutes.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Samsung Galaxy - is it end of the road?

Later this month, Samsung will post its result which as per analysts, profits will be 60% lower than their peak profits. Galaxy range of smartphones which made them top mobile device manufacturer in the world, now facing its slow demise.

War of ecosystems
In the android world, there is Google which controls operating system and its apps while device manufacturers own the devices. Google will benefit when there is a great degree of adoption as well as fragmentation among the device makers while device makers would want to have a say in software and its future. But truth be told, it has never been a war between Apple and Samsung (Despite of Samsung "Genius" ads). It has always been between Apple and Google. 

Compare it to PC industry where in similar space, Apple is pitted against Microsoft. In this industry, Apple has 7% of market share but it reaps profit more than the PC industry. It's an old data of Q4 2012 but nevertheless illustrative. 

So if we take parallels, Mobile space will be tomorrow with 2 key players where Apple will make money while Google (it will make money also) with Android ecosystem will get the market share while device makers on the Android platform will be transitory in nature. Yesterday it was Samsung, today it is Xiaomi, Lenovo, Micromax, Xolo etc, tomorrow, it will be some one else but in this space, it will always be a race to the bottom[Android one is the example].

Where innovation is not an innovation
In Android space, device makers innovate on user interface but wait... is it innovation?
I bought Sony Xperia U which got obsolete soon after I bought it :(. Sony won't give any upgrade paths even if phone's hardware allows it. If I would have bought Nexus with stock Android experience, I would have been better off. Even Android one has better software upgrades (18 months) while average Android devices have 12-18 months. 
So with topped-up user experience layer, are customers better off? Not really. It cages customers as it blocks future software upgrades and is a drain on device's resources.
In the android world, device makers are unable to do any differentiation other than UI layer (Even this is going to change with Android L and material design). 

Between a rock and a hard place
Samsung has reined the market with some innovative bets - larger screen size, better display, stylus, more powerful devices. 
All these innovations are no longer sustainable as no device maker can now increase screen size. Regarding device's computing power, with Android KitKat, Google took a different route to increase device penetration by slimming down its memory and processing footprint and any hardware related improvement will get copied by low cost manufacturers in the next iteration and any software level improvement can't be done by Samsung Galaxy and any solution which is a collaboration between hardware and software can't be proprietary to the Samsung.

 So it looks like Microsoft with its Nokia device with its Windows mobile as an ecosystem (profitability is the point of consideration) has far more success chance( how ridiculous it sounds at present ;)) than Samsung as a device maker on Android platform. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Recruitment conundrum - Lesson for start ups

One of the biggest problems Start ups face - hiring a right person. This is a bigger problem for start ups than large corporations as time of the higher management (aka founders) is a scarce commodity and great candidates  don't come by easily.

Many corporations have developed a strong and robust(?) process for hiring which takes a lot of precious time of senior managers. Kuncel, Klieger and Ones studied and found out that in hiring, algorithms beat instinct.

They point out algorithms work better than human judgment every time - either in supervisor's ratings or number of promotions or ability to learn from training.
They say "If you simply crunch the applicants' data and apply the resulting analysis to the job criteria, you'll probably end with a better hire".

So what is the problem with human judgment? They point out "people are easily distracted by things that are marginally relevant and they use information inconsistently".

But there is a strong resistance to this idea as managers are not able to figure out how their 25 years of experience are not good enough for hiring and to top it all, how algorithms can do it better?
and they recommend a middle path given the cynicism - "use a purely algorithmic system, based on large number of data points, to narrow the fields before calling on human judgment to pick from just a few finalists. or several managers independently weigh in their on the final decision, and average their judgment".

Cross-posted on my LinkedIn profile

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Entrepreneurship lessons from Evernote success

Evernote started out as note taking app which envisions itself to be second brain. It helps its users to be more productive by helping jotting down thoughts on every device. It has 100+ million users and growing. It is an impressive growth story. what led to its success?

  • Follow the users on any possible device: Since Evernote aspired to be second brain so from beginning it followed the strategy that it will support any device even if less popular. so when iPhone opened its app store, it was one of first business apps available on iPhone. This provided them a head start   
  • Logo, brand is important: Evenote has a distinctive colored logo and was made to stand out on digital screens. In the beginning of app store, when apps were just 500 and evernote was one of them, it provided them visibility.
  • Focus on users: Most of the startups focus on either a vertical or subset of features to get a start in the market due to financial and managerial bandwidth. Evernote focused on its product and users and  didn't tailor its product to specific set of vertical or users. so users found their own use cases. Their initial users were news reporters who used to jot their ideas and story n all its forms - verbal, voice, images etc. to prepare a report and clergy who needs to jot its ideas for sunday mass sermons. Luckily these are one of the best brand ambassadors ( Remember Connectors from book The tipping point by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Power of WoM: it didn't spend any advertising dollars. It relied on word of mouth and focused on product. Later it went for partnerships.
  • Competition helped evernote: When Google launched its note taking app, Google Keep, it was a basic product compared to Evernote so when users got aware of note taking app due to Google keep, they compared it with other available apps. Evernote easily won due to its vast set of features.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

How to find a play school for your child - LazyAndSmart Way

Guest post by Madhav Bhartia. He is the founder of www.GoGuruCool.com.

As your child grows up, its important to plan for child’s preschool. Once your child is ready for play school, it’s time you to start your search for a good play school program. It’s always better to start your hunt for school early rather than wait. Many parents apply for good play school as soon as their child is born.
Once you’ve identified a few good play schools, apply to all of them in order. Most of the franchise based play schools in India take admission throughout the year. To find the best program for your child, you can follow the below steps.

Identify the parameters based on priority

First, decide what you want.
Convenience : Are you looking for a play school near your workplace, or would one closer to your home be more convenient?
Curriculum : Are you looking for a specific approach to learning? There are many of them like Montessori,Reggio Amelia, etc
Faculty / Support Staff : If you have any preference for faculty / staff of school?
Infrastructure: Is the school well-built? Are there enough space and not congested? etc
Write down the parameters in the order of your own priority, so that you have a list to refer to as you evaluate different programs.

Do your own research for  better understanding.

Search for different play schools at www.GoGuruCool.com sitting at your home or work location. Get the contact information and reviews for different schools from GoGuruCool.com .
You can ask a few basic questions over the phone w.r.t. fees or admissions, but you won’t get a good idea of what a preschool is really like until you go there. Visit the school in person and with your child, to meet the staff. It will also give you a good idea w.r.t. your convenience and locality of school.

Visit to the play school

When you visit the classrooms, check the teacher-child ratios and note how many children are in a classroom. Typical, recommendation for 2 to 3-year-old kids is in groups of no more than 18, with at least two teachers. For 3 to 4-year-old kids, we recommend groups of 20 or fewer, again with at least two teachers. As many as 20,  5-year-olds can be in a class with two or more teachers. It’s much easier to give a proper care and one-on-one attention along with having a better responsiveness when there are fewer kids in a class room.
Ask the director about everything from hours, fees, and vacation schedules to philosophies.Trust your gut feeling about the place and notice how the director handles your questions.
Observe how the teachers interact with the kids: Make sure they’re friendly, caring, and encouraging. You’ll also want a challenging curriculum, experienced teachers (who are paid well and satisfied with their job), and an environment that’s warm, clean, and safe.
Ask about staff turnover (This is very important). If the teachers change every six months, move on. Children need consistency and the opportunity to form strong relationships with their caregivers, so you don’t want a preschool where teachers come and go.
Ultimately, choosing a preschool is a personal decision. If, after visiting a preschool, you love the idea of your child going there, it’s probably the right place for you.

Check references

Positive word of mouth is a powerful endorsement. If a preschool has a certain buzz, ask parents what they like about it. You may even consider asking few schools, which you’re considering for a list of few parents whose children have attended the school. Call them and ask specific questions. Don’t just ask whether they like the preschool: Ask exactly what they like about it and what they don’t. If their child no longer goes to the school, ask why.

Let Kid also feel it

That way you can see how he and the teachers interact and whether he seems comfortable in the preschool environment. Do the teachers seem interested in getting to know your child? Does he enjoy the activities?


If the preschool of your choice has no openings, don’t feel bad. Put yourself on the waiting list, and while you’re at it, write a letter explaining why you like the school so much. It won’t guarantee you a place, but it can’t hurt to let the school know how enthusiastic you are about the program.
In the meantime, if you’ve applied to more than one school, it’s likely you’ll have other options to consider.

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