Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Television is holding the décor hostage

Thanks to Jammy’s post where he mentioned how one day he discovered that most of his furniture was curiously facing the Television, I got thinking. How as the décor in home before Television made its entry? Well, it was all but aligned in the same direction.
Most of the homes in the world have a décor layout that is made to comply with the positioning of the Television in the room. In other words all critical décor elements need to look towards the Television.
One would assume it is but logical that all the people sitting in a room should look at the TV to see what is on it.
Logical and simple isn’t it? Exactly, that’s my point.
‘Why do we need to look at the Television, why on earth can’t the Television look at us instead?’ That is exactly how it should be.
No matter which way a person is looking in a room or even outside it, he should be able to look at the television effortlessly. In other words a TV ideally should be wearable not just beautiful, slim, flat, black, hanging on the wall or sitting in a cabinet or any such thing.
Television designs are all based on a mindset that it will be placed somewhere in the room, whereas ideally we should be able to tune in and tune off the Television without having to sit or look in a particular direction.
Real technology ironically is invisible and that is how it frees us. This is simplicity at its best.

Home décor should be an example of form and function in perfect harmony and Television must abide by the decor not the other way round.

Television and should not makes us sit in a chair like the barber makes us sit in the saloon chair during the haircut and decides which way we are to turn our head no matter how much we want to look in the other direction. Ouch my neck!


A filmmaker can be a great planner;
A real planner can be a great filmmaker;
If a planner can think films (commercial feature films please) then he can think people even better!

Pardon my limited knowledge of the art of film making but whatever limited I know makes me believe that if a planner can think like a filmmaker, or if not that much then at least he can get in the mind of a filmmaker upon watching his creation, he can really do some great people oriented work for brands and marketers.
The act of getting into the mind of a filmmaker helps in understanding ‘the creation of meaning’. How we create happy environment, how we create sensitive moments, how we make romantic intimacies happen etc.
The symbols of intimacy, joy, revelry etc say a lot about the culture and the way meaning is created in that culture. Filmmakers do it all the time and good filmmakers do it really well.
Any planner who can understand (and perhaps even recreate) the ‘creation of meaning’ in a way people relate to it happily is poised to be a people person.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cameraman, now reporting!

Deutche Telekom has unveiled the ultimate web reporter in the recently held CeBT Tech Fair in Germany. Web Reporter Lisa Molitor had a camera mounted on the left of her headset and there is a screen that covers her right eye. The screen displays that which the camera is capturing in real time. Lisa can also transfer the images and video she is capturing immediately using the wireless LAN to the company’s website.

Cut to field news reporters of today. The sign offs are usually “this is XYZ with Cameraman PQR at 123 for MNO news”. This is because news reporting (journalism) is a skill stream seen separate from camera work. But with innovations like the one Lisa Molitor was displaying, all this is bound to change.
The future camera person and the news reporter/correspondent are going to be one. News reporting would not be complete without equal dexterity in handling wearable or embedded technology like the one we just saw. It is about time reporters went tech and camera person became more content savvy.

In many way skills without scalability for technology augmentation would be incomplete skills. Technology would be enhancing every skills & trait. Individuals who acknowledge this impact of technology’s delivery enhancing potential would gain the most.
Some other skills that are most likely to be influenced by the advent of embedded and wearable technology would be Teaching/Training (virtual and real time), Medicine (virtual consulting, E-medication) and many more if not all the other occupations/professions.

Coming back to the example we started with, it is interesting to visualize the impact of these developments on the criteria of selecting future news journalists.
Would it be better looks or speed with better understanding and application of technologies?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Indian kaarigars - Western baazigars

Remember what did you do when your ‘out of warranty’ expensive car or motorbike or even a broken chapppal malfunctioned?
Chances are that your neighbour or a very good friend would have suggested you this ‘great mechanic/cobbler’ in the neighbourhood or somewhere in the old city.

Getting there would have been a problem because there would not be any telephone number to call him at (or even if there is no one would actually know) or road signs to guide you. To top it all when you reach there, you start doubting the depth of your neighbour’s knowledge because what is being called a garage is barely that and looks more like a UN army camp in Afganistan ‘leveled’ by Taliban Militia. When you talk to aslam bhai you realize that he is barely literate but he knows car components better than any service advisor in many of the big brand service dealerships.

It is a ramshackled place with half dented and poorly painted prehistoric fourwheelers, grease all over the place, hungry street dogs looking for the next bit of bread in the garbage bin close by & of course the small tin-shed housing the great mechanic – ‘Aslam bhai’.
For the cobbler it gets even worst. He is hardly having any space to work, few in the neighbourhood know him (he is Munna mochee) (cobbler) who comes to his place on the pavement, that he calls his ‘shop’, every morning around 10 and does his thing of repairing everything from Fashion Street/Janpath merchandise to Nike & Adidas cross trainers.. he insists that he can make good shoes but no one asks him to do that for them. Every morning starts the repairing of countless sandals and refurbishing of many gentlemanly leather shoes and all this continues till the suns begins to fade away into another day. No one notices when munna packs his black torn bag and leaves for somewhere he calls home.

But this post is not about Aslam bhai or Munna mochee. This post is more about many of us Indians. It is about our self-belittling trait of missing the bigger picture, worrying more about today and yesterday and not bothering to think ahead into the future.
·It is about our coping & copying mindset that is far away from a desire to create.
·It is about us wanting to discuss, debate and then discard almost everything that comes to us instead of dwelling on it and designing the new.
·It is about critiquing things rather than creating the new.
·It is about not being collaborative & being hyper-selfish despite being a collective society
·It is about not attempting to take the lead and being content being a follower.
·It is about remaining the unheard of kaarigars (artisan) never even realizing the potential of the baazigar (wizard) within.

We can’t blame ourselves for all of this, at least not all of us. People like Aslam bhai and Munna had survival challenges to ward-off before they could even think of selling their auto techniques to qualified engineers in big automotive corporates or even market their footwear designs and skills to the best in accessory design.
But all of us are not as unfortunate or pressed as both of them. We still are much more fortunate to be having the luxury of dwelling on our growth and not lamenting the penury of survival.
Things are beginning to change, thanks mainly to a western pedagogy and booming economy that is bringing the best from the west and the rest of the world to our shores. We are interfacing with many more and very different sets of people and cultures. As we interface with them we learn the best that they have to offer and use these learnings as the Lego blocks to shape our new world.
Finally we are beginning to think outwards - Exploring, Experiencing, Exchanging and Expanding. We are beginning to think how good we have always been but never realized it for we never bothered to peep outside our pond or perhaps could never afford to think about the world outside the pond.

While the world comes visiting we have never had a better opportunity to go places!

Business vision @ website and the reception wall?

A few days back I was interacting with a group of management students. I was trying to provoke them by asking why is that the very concept of vision, mission, business philosophy etc. is articulated only after the business reaches a certain size?

What made the discussion interesting was the fact that most of the great businesses of today (Indian or MNC) started either as great innovations or was simply great execution/implementation of a solid business idea.
Also, most successful businesses are started by super-ambitious individuals, who are not just passionate creators but have an unorthodox personal goal and desire in life which when blended with keen business sense and conviction makes their success look like an entire industrial revolution. These individuals went about realizing their dreams, desires and ambitions, riding on their strengths & skills in business. But as a business grows, it ceases to be individual ambition in action. It grows beyond the individual and begins to look more like a network; a network of people, places, processes, principles, goals, dreams, desires and a lot more. With so many nodes and interconnections in this network, the business is now no more than individual ambition in motion.
Thus there is needed a charter; a war cry; a goal that each and every person who is a part of this network can look at and instantly know ‘Where our network wants to be?’ ‘What is that we are trying to do?’ ‘And why are we doing it?
Interestingly employees who have personal goals, dreams and ambitions beyond or different from the states organization goals, vision etc go independent many a times starting their own dream ventures!

The company Vision, mission, charter etc. helps because even if each member of the node cannot reach out to the founder leader as often, the carter can help him stay aligned and inspired.

Something similar to the war cry that a military general used to give to make his troops go after. Even if every soldier could not meet the General personally, the war cry was infectious enough to set his pulse racing.

Vision and Mission statements are the modern day counterparts of those war cries.
Business vision, philosophy, charter, mission etc are like the velvet glove for the iron fist of profit orientation. While it seems that the glove is a good talking point in forums, sales meets, and for some business journalists who might not be as much interested in the figure against depreciation in a company’s balance sheet, it none the less helps in making more handshakes happen and keep the network alive and aligned.

The challenge is to keep the vision fired up not just stuck as an icon on the home page of the company website or a nicely framed artifact at the reception desk!