Saturday, October 5, 2019

What RamP's Reading: Oct'19

Holiday Season and travel is giving me an opportunity to catch up with some books I always wanted 
to read.  As I gear up to lead large scale agile transformation initiative, it is only natural that such books are dominating.


On Writing Well: Re-read. So many authors that I regularly read (continue to) recommend this book, as one of the best in non-fiction writing. It teaches brevity, simplicity and core essentials of writing well - an email, an article, a blog post or even a book.

Clean Architecture: Martin’s (Uncle Bob) Clean Architecture doesn’t merely present options. Drawing on over a half-century of experience in software environments of every imaginable type, Martin tells you what choices to make and why they are critical to your success. This book talks about:
  • Learn what software architects need to achieve–and core disciplines and practices for achieving it
  • Master essential software design principles for addressing function, component separation, and data management
  • See how programming paradigms impose discipline by restricting what developers can do
  • Understand what’s critically important and what’s merely a “detail”
  • Implement optimal, high-level structures for web, database, thick-client, console, and embedded applications
  • Define appropriate boundaries and layers, and organize components and services
  • See why designs and architectures go wrong, and how to prevent (or fix) these failures
Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results: 
Toyota Kata gets to the essence of how Toyota manages continuous improvement and human ingenuity, through its improvement kata and coaching kata. Mike Rother explains why typical companies fail to understand the core of lean and make limited progress―and what it takes to make it a real part of your culture.

Lean Enterprise: How High Performance Organizations Innovate at ScaleHow well does your organization respond to changing market conditions, customer needsand emerging technologies when building software-based products? This practical guide presents Lean and Agile principles and patterns to help you move fast at scale—and demonstrates why and how to apply these methodologies throughout your organization, rather than with just one department or team.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Naval Ravikanth on Work Hacks he has devised

Found these thoughts by Naval Ravikanth (@naval) very interesting.

  • No meetings before 11am. 
  • No meetings when emails or calls will do. 
  • Don’t schedule calls, text coordinate them on the fly when possible. 
  • Cram all meetings into two days a week. 
  • 1-on-1s are usually 30-minute walking meetings. (Meetings are the death of productivity)
  • Delete emails w/o responding or flinching. 
  • Don’t set up voicemail. 
  • Don’t travel purely for business. 
  • Don’t go to conferences unless speaking. 
  • Eat dinner with friends or family. 
  • Use blocks of open time to create, make good decisions, & focus on important over urgent.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Naval Ravikanth's Work and Life Lessons (quotes)

Lately, I'm following Naval Ravikanth (@naval), founder of AngelList -that helps startups, angel investors, and job-seekers looking to work at startups. His podcasts have achieved a great fan following. His messages are simple, yet profound. I'm presenting a few that resonated me very much (mostly from his tweets):

  • The 5 most important skills are reading, writing, arithmetic, persuasion (talking) & computer programming. If you are good with computers, basic mathematics, writing, speaking and you like reading you are set for life
  • A rational person can find peace by cultivating indifference to things outside of their control.
  • The problem happens when we have multiple desires. When we have fuzzy desires. When we want to do ten different things and we’re not clear about which is the one we care about.
  • All the benefits in life come from compound interest — money, relationships, habits — anything of importance
  • A personal metric: how much of the day is spent doing things out of obligation rather than out of interest?
  • Don’t do things that you know are morally wrong. Not because someone is watching, but because you are. Self-esteem is just the reputation that you have with yourself
  • This is such a short and precious life that it’s really important that you don’t spend it being unhappy.”
  • You make your own luck if you stay at it long enough.
  • The power to make and break habits and learning how to do that is really important.
  • Happiness is a choice and a skill and you can dedicate yourself to learning that skill and making that choice.
  • The people who succeed are irrationally passionate about something
  • If it entertains you now but will bore you someday, it’s a distraction. Keep looking
  • Clear thinkers appeal to their own authority
  • You can change it, you can accept it, or you can leave it. What is not a good option is to sit around wishing you would change it but not changing it, wishing you would leave it but not leaving it, and not accepting it. It’s that struggle, that aversion, that is responsible for most of our misery. The phrase that I use the most to myself in my head is one word: accept.”
  • I don’t have time is just saying it’s not a priority.
  • Technology is applied science. Science is the study of nature. Mathematics is the language of nature. Philosophy is the root of mathematics. All tightly interrelated
  • The first rule of handling conflict is don’t hang around people who are constantly engaging in conflict.
  • People who try to look smart by pointing out obvious exceptions actually signal the opposite.
  • You’re never going to get rich renting out your time.
  • People spend too much time doing and not enough time thinking about what they should be doing.
  • Doctors won’t make you healthy. Nutritionists won’t make you slim. Teachers won’t make you smart. Gurus won’t make you calm. Mentors won’t make you rich. Trainers won’t make you fit. Ultimately, you have to take responsibility. Save yourself
  • A fit body, a calm mind, a house full of love. These things cannot be bought — they must be earned
  • The secret to public speaking is to speak as if you were alone
  • Work becomes flow at the limits of ability. The flavor of life is on the edge
  • The fundamental delusion — there is something out there that will make me happy and fulfilled forever.
  • Success is the enemy of learning. It can deprive you of the time and the incentive to start over. Beginner’s mind also needs beginner’s time

Saturday, September 14, 2019

On Giving and Receiving Feedback

I'm preparing to give a brown bag talk on "Receiving Feedback: How to resist the urge to tell "I'm Right; You're Wrong". As a part of preparation I did literature survey on HBR articles, courses available etc on the subject. Just thought of making it all available in one place. I've also added a few books that has helped me act on the feedback I received.

HBR Articles:


Books (not directly on Feedback, but the ones that has helped me to apply the feedback):

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Converting Potential to Success: Actionable Tools

I ran into this very interesting HBR article titled "Turning High-Potentials into Success: The missing link in leadership development". 

The article talks of a process the authors have successfully deployed. Two things captured my attention and that can be used immediately to develop ourselves and also our team:
  • They have identified 4 traits that are hallmarks of potential according to another research and these are 1. Curiosity (a penchant for seeking out new experiences, knowledge, and candid feedback and an openness to learning and change), 2. Insight (the ability to gather and make sense of information that suggests new possibilities), 3. Engagement (a knack for using emotion and logic to communicate a persuasive vision and connect with people) and 4. Determination (the wherewithal to fight for difficult goals despite challenges and to bounce back from adversity)
  • They also have identified eight competencies that we believe are crucial for: results orientation, strategic orientation, collaboration and influence, team leadership, developing organizational capabilities, change leadership, market understanding and inclusiveness.
The best part though is that they have talked about seven levels for each of the competencies and tell which of the four traits are required to excel in a given competency. Check the table below:

This is a very useful table in many ways:
1. We can use it to assess where we are seek help to get to next level
2. Use the same to have engagement conversation with team members in a more structured way
3. Possibly set levels for each competency for each title and help people progress.

Do let me know if you use it or have any insights on how else this could be used. 

Friday, September 6, 2019

Food for thought for the Weekend (7-Sep-19)

Food for thought for the Weekend: My series where I present assorted collection of interesting blog posts, TED talks, podcast and articles I read/listened this week, some quotes that resonated with me, excerpts from my own reading.


6 Ways to Take Control of Your Career Development
This is a nice HBR article that argues on the need for DIY method for career development, irrespective of how much the organisation might be trying to help. Here are those 6 ways:

  • Understand what you’re evaluated on
  • Solve for your own blind spots
  • Codify your learnings
  • Increase your visibility with the C-suite
  • Become an expert in an area of increasing importance to your company
  • Seek good counsel and mentoring

Leading with an "Infinite Mindset"
Well known author Simon Sinek talks about the finite and infinite mindset. "Finite games are defined as known players, fixed rules, and an agreed-upon objective. An infinite game is defined as known and unknown players, the rules are changeable, and the objective is not to win—the objective is to keep playing, keep perpetuating the game.

When you pit a finite player against a finite player, the system is stable. When you pit an infinite player versus an infinite player, the system is also stable. Problems arise when you pit a finite player against an infinite player. The finite player is playing to win, and an infinite player is playing to keep playing. As a result, they will make very different strategic choices

He goes on to explain how this concept can be used in the business. Its a great tool to use for personal development too.

Thoughts on Flash - Steve Jobs
This is one article that I've read multiple times. This was written in April 2010 explaining the rationale for not allowing Flash on iPhone, iPads and iPods. To be this is business writing 101. Note how he sets the context, respectfully disagrees with Adobe while still acknowledging the relationship, the technical short comings of Flash and how they affect user experience and why it is such a big deal for Apple. Classic Steve.

Here is a full list of cognitive biases - read one per day and within three months you'd have gained a good understanding on the topic.

Quote to ponder:
"If you want something you've never had
You must be willing to do something you've never done" - Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, September 1, 2019

What RamP's Reading: Sep'19


Clean Code: As a programmer at heart, I'd love to read books that talk about coding and commitment to coding as a craft. 'Uncle Bob' as he is widely known amongst programmers brings in a book that tries to instils the values of a software craftsman and challenge you to reassess one's professional values. 

The Courage to be Disliked: This book is recommended by Derek Sivers, who says "Wow!, A profound little philosophy book from Japan, communicating the psychology of Alfred Adler - a rival of Freud. Told as a conversation between an angry student and a patient teacher."

Re-imagine!: Re-read. I'm unabashedly a big fan of Tom Peters, having read all his books and a regular reader of his blogs and all the goodies he gives away. Tom Peters shares his knowledge and experience and most importantly he wakes you up to think for yourself. This is a book I revisit regularly, especially when I'm in the middle of some big change.