The Culture Map: A Short Book Review

My job to the outside world is a little like Chandler’s job from the TV show Friends; I’m a data transponster. I often struggle to explain what I do to people who do not belong to this industry, and hence I leave it at business development. With time, Ruki has learned what I do and is now able to explain to anyone who asks what RFPs and RFIs are… Her world is fundamentally different from mine, and it was difficult to explain work calls late into the night or early in the morning. Having worked for close to eight years in a role that requires me to coordinate and collaborate with stakeholders from different nationalities and cultures, I can relate to almost every aspect that Erin Meyer covers in her book, The Culture Map. Continue reading

No Rules for the Indian Process Industry

I finished reading ‘No Rules Rules!’ a book by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyers on the culture at Netflix a couple of weeks ago. It analyzes in detail a lot of things that Netflix does – or doesn’t do – which are counterintuitive. For example, they have unlimited vacation days, no T&E policy, and employees are expected to assume end-to-end ownership including being financial signatories to their own projects. Hastings and Meyers talk about the evolution of this culture and what makes it possible and in doing so, offer a roadmap to companies looking to be more agile. One would assume that employees would end up misusing privileges such as unlimited vacation days but that’s where Hastings proves everyone wrong; according to him, when you staff your teams with high performers, pay them top-of-the-market salaries, empower them and trust them to do their jobs, you don’t need formal policies. One could argue that such utopian – even cult-like – cultures are possible within the context of the world that Netflix operates in, but the book did provide a lot of food for thought for the world where I reside – the Indian process outsourcing industry. And out of the many things that I thought I’d jot down, there are two that I particularly want to cover.

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Capstone Project for Data Visualization Nanodegree

Context: I’m putting up a blog post that I wrote as a part of the capstone project for my Data Visualization nanodegree at Udacity.

Hans Rosling – the Swedish doctor and self-taught data visualization expert – better known for his TED talks – calls out an interesting example of what he calls the size instinct in his book Factfullness. The size instinct, in his own words, is, “to look at a lonely number and misjudge its importance.” And to that effect he gives an example of an environment minister from a European country who stood up at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2017 and stated that China and India were accelerating the pace of climate change with their emissions.

“The forecasts show that it is China, India and other emerging economies that are increasing their carbon monoxide emissions at a speed that will cause dangerous climate change. In fact, China already emits more CO2 than the USA, and India already emits more than Germany.” The developed world and high-income countries often put the onus of combating climate change on developing countries using this argument. The visualization presented below tell a different story, one that is based on per capita emissions and not on emissions at an aggregate level – a fact that is often lost in the us-versus-them rhetoric.

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The Amazons of Retail

One of the dominant trends that we’ve been talking about and seeing for a while in the retail domain is the end of pure-play single-channel retail. Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods is a giant step in that direction and a validation of the fact that omni-channel retail is the future. While many industry watchers were caught unaware, Amazon has been toying with the idea of brick-and-mortar retail for a while now. Its efforts in this space can be traced back to the launch of its Amazon Books stores and more recently, its futuristic checkout-counter free concept called Go. Continue reading