Cisco’s curious week

HBR has a great article (I love HBR articles that get delivered to my email … small and crisp and full of information) on CISCO’s curious week – and how the giant has been playing around with Disruptive Innovation for quite some time. In a recent workshop I attended, I learnt that this is also called Paradigm Shift and it is well known that, paradigm shifts lead to leaders.

Cisco is not new to paradigm shifts. It originally started with usage of the Internet Protocol (IP). The giant has been making some pretty changes inside. Some of them as outlined in the article are:

Its purchase of linksys – an entry into the home router market. I think the Linksys routers are the best. I have one at home, and they are incredibly easy to configure.

Its purchase of WebEx seemed pretty logical to me. Networking giant + good conferencing company = Revenue.

It has also recently bought Pure Digital – which makes a popular line of flip handheld video cameras. (I have never heard of this one though!). But it is interesting to see the networking giant move into this market.

And ofcourse the biggest news of last week is CISCO trying to buy SUN, and enter the server market – directly getting face-to-face with IBM and HP and the likes.

But at a very high level, all this kinda makes sense to me.

(big router business) + (home routers) + (good video cameras for conferencing) + (good conferencing software) + (stable servers to handle the software) = Awesome $$.

The stable servers is probably a weak link in the above equation. But it is defenitely a good entry into a large revenue stream business. Here’s to CISCO, and lets hope they come out of this recession fine and dandy.

Note: I was in Silicon valley on a business visit in 2003, and going through some of the CISCO buildings near McCarthy Blvd/Tasman/Cisco way, and it was very disheartening to see some of the empty buildings (what was left of the DotComBust). But still CISCO lasted. And is surviving.

Did MBAs cause all the mess-up ?

The HBR editor’s blog has a small, crisp, and interesting write-up on the subject of the financial crisis, and who caused it? 

The one paragraph that impressed me:

But whether that’s true or not, they’ve certainly figured out that the MBA offers an attractive return on investment. That payback can happen in different ways. The low-risk option is to enroll in a relatively inexpensive program on a part-time basis (especially when tuition reimbursement is available from one’s employer). A higher risk, higher return option is to enroll in a top-ranked school, quit your job, move your family and pay maximum tuition for a chance to earn an elite degree. 

You see where I’m headed. The type of person who has the appetite for this second kind of risk-reward equation–plus the brains to excel in a rigorous academic setting–is the same type that Wall Street firms have been so eager to hire. 

And yes, sure enough, payback happened. Greed overflowed. And in the famous american lingo, sh** hit the fan!

Read the full article here.

Proximity Management

I just read an excellent article on “The real secret of thouroughly terrific companies”, by Peter Bregman. Bregman recounts and explains his terrific experiences in staying at the Four Seasons Hotel Chain. He sees what he calls “Proximity Management” being practiced. The managers know about their employees. There is a lot of trust within the different properties. There is open communication. There are monthly meetings, without any agenda, and the GM (Michael Newcombe) just engages in conversation. There are such meetings with all employee groups. 

Here is one anecdote, of how open communication solved a huge problem:

During his meeting with the front desk staff, he learned they were slower than usual in checking in guests because rooms weren’t available. Then, in his meeting with housekeeping staff, someone asked if the hotel was running low on king size sheets. Most CEOs wouldn’t be interested in that question, but Michael asked why. Well, the maid answered, it’s taking us longer to turn over rooms because we have to wait for the sheets. So he kept asking questions to different employee groups until he discovered that one of the dryers was broken and waiting for a custom part. That reduced the number of available sheets. Which slowed down housekeeping. Which reduced room availability. Which delayed guests from checking in.

Read the full article at The Harvard Business Blog here.

Holi on Big Picture !

I have blogged about several sets from the bigpicture blog (affiliated to the BostonGlobe). I was very surprised (pleasantly ofcourse) to see Holi – the Indian festival of color featured today. Brilliant set of pictures. A lot of them carry the euphoric feeling well. 


Picture full credit :
Picture full credit :



Click here for the full set of pictures.

Temple town – Srirangapatna

Temple town Srirangapatna in pictures.

The main gopuram

Front view - just before entering the temple
Front view - just before entering the temple
Side praaharam (side of temple) - note the hieght of the temple walls
Side praaharam (side of temple) - note the hieght of the temple walls
Temple ther (car/chariot/whatever you call it). - Huge!
Temple ther (car/chariot/whatever you call it). - Huge!
One of the many arches through the outer castle walls - which leads you to the temple area.
One of the many arches through the outer castle walls - which leads you to the temple area.
Outer wall of Srirangapatna
Outer wall of Srirangapatna
The roads in and out of the temple area of Srirangapatna go through these tunnels - through the outer periphery wall. Shows the security of the fort in olden times.
The roads in and out of the temple area of Srirangapatna go through these tunnels - through the outer periphery wall. Shows the security of the fort in olden times.

Tiffin carriers make it to America

More specifically, make it to – [link here]. Wow indeed. We Indians, have been taking tiffin carriers for ages. Apparently American steel workers used to take such carriers but of steel. But now, lifehacker says the below:

If you’re not content with smooshing all your food into a mini-cooler or a brown bag, behold the stackable, food-separating, shiny awesomeness of a tiffin carrier lunchbox.

Tiffins—derived from the Indian word for snack—are the Indian equivalent of the iconic steel lunch boxes that mid-century working men in United States carried. Essentially a tiffin is a series of stacking containers and lids secured by a tension clip on the side.

And they have linked to a website called happytiffins.



But the dang-mother-of-all-gods-what-the-h*** moment is, when you read the below:

Prices range from $12-$25, depending on the number of tiers and size you select. The Tiffins are made from food-grade stainless steel, so they’ll last you for a lifetime and provide endless easy conversation-starters at lunch tables.

$25 for a tiffin box !!! Hmm, let me see, 25×50 (approx) = Rs. 1250.  You can get 5 tiffin boxes in India for that ! ROFL.