Faith? At a time like this…

It is paradoxical and extremely unfortunate that there are elements among humanity who seek to take advantage of the heightened faith that we humans tend to have at times like this, when we don’t really know the cause of our suffering, or its remedy… the ‘fake news’ pandemic is what we see growing all around us, and we are likely victims of it with every other message we receive…

It is a very opportune time I feel, for each one of us to recall that the only Truth is what we believe in.  Truth is what we give credibility to.  Even the dictionary defines Truth as a Definite set of beliefs.  So what is the truth?  Lets talk a little more about what it is not.

Taking advantage of the faith and belief that we, the people repose in them, scamsters like Baba Ram Rahim (an example from some months ago), and thousands before and after him, grow in their influence and prosperity.  Our faith also needs to evolve to keep pace with their increasingly ridiculous statements, until we can safely label our faith as ‘blind’, after which there seems no remedy to our future.  I can recall many living ‘legends’ who may qualify in the category who we repose faith in as ‘lay’ people.. Heads of state the world over are joining this club.. Or have we been pushing them towards it ourselves?

So called ‘God-men’, and they abound in every part of the world where they have people to believe in them, were the founder-members of this club.  In fact even in play, we realize that GOD actually stands for ‘Greater On Demand’… the one we demand to be greater becomes God!  We just need to realize the ways we are demanding them to be greater, and we will get all the answers to the questions popping up in our heads. We, the herd, have been pushing forward the sheep who don the lion’s skin at the front, and make sure the herd always believes in their own ignorance (sheep-like). This ignorance of ours is what gives them their power over us.

Many years ago I had thought FAITH was the Feeling of Adoration Inspired by Trust and Hope.  I do not discount for a minute, the possibility of hope arising out of helplessness, ignorant faith being confused for trust, and sycophancy being mistaken for adoration.  Let’s us be mindful of the monsters we create ourselves.

So what is the Truth?  What can we have Faith in? What must our behavior be like?

The answers lie within us, within every one of us.  Discerning, meditative inquiry, and mindful behavior lead us to the manifestation of our Truths, while at the same time protecting us from what is not the truth.

  • Discerning, meditative Inquiry
  • Mindful Behavior

Stay mindful, stay safe, stay enlightened… the ultimate responsibility is our own!


We will be stronger

The effects of this global episode are going to be deep and far reaching in so many different areas of our lives. We are however, beginning to see the sunbeams shining through the clouds!

As with every shake-up, I see the biggest opportunities for the best ‘new’ to emerge, for most of all it is a time when change is accepted and even expected by most.. and the natural tendency of mindful people is to change for the better!!

Stay safe, stay mindful!


Understanding & Developing Project Requirements

Requirements –> Strategy –> Plan –> Execute –> Evaluate

These are the five keys for successful project execution. Understanding requirements is probably the most important key because if requirements are not understood correctly right from the beginning, the entire project can lead to a solution way off target. Apart from wasted time, resource, and money, this leads to a dissatisfied and frustrated customer.

The most common trap in understanding requirements is to stay with what we already know, what we have experienced in the past, and look for the most easily apparent solution, rather than the problem which the customer is experiencing. In this case it seems we would be looking for a lock when we already have a key, or simply putting the cart before the horse.

Understanding requirements from the customer’s point of view requires empathizing with the customer, their situation, their needs and wants, their challenges and their aspirations for success. Reading and re-reading their problem statement is something we need to do often, even after we have started developing the solution strategy. Staying with the problem and thinking about it long enough is key.

As we begin developing the requirements, the simplest proof of whether we have understood the problem correctly is to paraphrase it and see if the customer still resonates with our description of it. We progressively detail the problem articulation and successively involve the customer in responding to potential solution strategies with their pros and cons. If the resonance sustains through the design stage, we have the problem(s) identified and isolated.

Re-statement of the problem and getting concurrence from the customer on what it is, as well as what it is not, gives us the clear starting point from where we can start strategizing on the possible solution sets, and paths to them.

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Meeting requirements does not grow an organization, meeting discerning demands does.  As customers, we must have discerning demands.  This is what causes our supplier organizations to grow.  So many of us will be able to relate with the growth that our own organizations had, because we had some discerning, demanding customers.  These are Premium customers to have, and every supplier is blessed when they have one.

“It’s not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It’s the customer who pays the wages.” – Henry Ford

Customers who have discerning standards, and demand their standards be met are the reason for learning and growth for their suppliers who (go through the ‘good’) struggle if they are committed to deliver quality.  Unless there is something more and better being delivered, it isn’t growth for anyone – neither the individual, nor the supplier, nor the customer.  As long as there is something good and better, the ‘more’ makes sense.  If the quality isn’t what it could have been, more just means more of the same.  This isn’t growth.  So what is Quality then?

We’ve heard promotional claims from sales pitches about the quality of products and services that will be offered by a particular supplier – “the world’s best”, “most economical”, “in the shortest possible time”, “easy to work with”, “better than the competition”, “most comfortable”, etc.  Of course there’s an asterisk(*) in every case, pointing to the fine print of the T&C (terms & conditions) that apply.  In most cases however, we, the consumers (or the customers) convince ourselves to decide to buy those products and services despite some loopholes or risks we may observe in the promises.  We take a chance.  The suppliers depend on our gullibility to swallow that impossible promise along with the compromises and discounts we may make with our own values or standards.  In a sellers’ market, goods are scarce and sellers can keep prices high.  And there are enough of us customers in this world.

“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” – Ayn Rand

What do we do as consumers when we go through and experience the purchase?  We cloak our disappointments in the rationalization we do to let the supplier go scot free, without even them knowing that they fell short.  Suppliers couldn’t be happier.  We’re lapping up whatever is meted out, maybe happy in the retail therapy it provides us.  We compromise our demands for quality.

“I don’t pay good wages because I have a lot of money; I have a lot of money because I pay good wages.” – Robert Bosch

There’s always the balance between quality and price to think about.  What people may be able to afford, may not be good enough in their opinion.  In a buyers’ market, goods are plentiful and buyers can keep prices down.  Both, the suppliers or the customers could make compromises in quality, and in their demands.  Their wisdom and discernment defines the quality of their compromise at any given point in time.

“Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shuts down for ten years.” – Warren Buffett

This compromise is the beginning of the end, as far as economic growth goes, if it isn’t made with discernment.  Quality Professionals will jump up to say, “But Quality is meeting the Customers’ Requirements!”.  They will not take responsibility for the requirements being laissez-faire or their implied promise not being kept (they are covered by the T&C, you see, even if they started with the best intentions).

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

So we seem to be faced with the question – Does the replication and scaling up of laissez-faire goods in larger volumes have a positive impact on the economic growth?  Or does the discerning refinement of product features and value propositions, and then each scaling up (albeit to a lower scale) have a bigger positive impact on economic growth.

“If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.” – Henry Ford

My own take is that as we go up the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, our discernment must increase, we must demand of ourselves to be more discerning, whether we are the customer or the supplier.  The higher up we are in Maslow’s Hierarchy, the more discerning we must be.  We must develop our own discernment to match the responsibility that we take at our position in life.

A mentor once told me that our wealth is defined not by how much money we have, but by how we spend it!!

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What’s In a Name?

Why is a Name important… and why is it’s spelling equally so!

Because you need to find it again…

…And you will later look for (or refer to) it by the name you remember.  You will find the item only if it is tagged and stored in the system with the same name, spelt exactly the way you remember. The ‘system’ will not be able to help you find what you are looking for, if even one character is different.  The system could be another person or a computer file storage system.  And remember, even a blank space is a character for a computer system.

Unclear or uncertain names are the single most common cause for miscommunication between people – resulting in waste of time, conflicts, costly mistakes, and loss of brand value.

Which aspects of a Name make its use elegant and effective?

Brevity Not a mouthful, easy to pinpoint in a jiffy
Ease in spell Phonetic, commonly known spelling, distinct and easy even to tell someone else on the phone
Relevance Relevance to entity and its contents, indicative of meaning, associative, intuitive to search, easy to recall
Uniqueness Makes it possible to identify accurately and precisely, usually forced if used on a computer system
Sort-ability Gives the natural sequence in a list we might hold conceptually, easier to find and analyze
Structure Indicates ontology, hierarchy (and therefore context), sets and subsets

Which name-aspects can be most significant for various kinds of ‘things’?

  • For an email id – Brevity, Ease in spelling, Relevance
  • For a person’s name – Ease in spelling, Uniqueness
  • For a Brand – Relevance,  Uniqueness
  • For a computer file/folder name – Brevity, Relevance, Uniqueness, Sortability, Structure
  • For a Concept – Relevance, Uniqueness
  • … and the list could go on.


Names have a purpose.  Use them effectively as you engineer knowledge.

Happy Naming! 🙂

Abstraction is the Core Skill for Learning

Intelligent, knowledgeable, wise!!  Don’t we all like being known for such attributes?  We spend our lives learning, passing exams, gathering degrees and certificates, and awards and recognition, little realizing that the only real attributes we get to be known for, depend on how we respond to people, and how we solve ‘problems’ in daily life.

Knowledge, for example, not only depends on what we know, but is evident from whether we are able to recall the knowledge and articulate it in a concise way that is coherent for people.  Intelligence is a ‘system’ we build within our minds to manage our knowledge, and wisdom reflects in how insightful, relevant and useful our responses are.  We can learn about anything and everything, but to learn what is useful is the most valuable.  Skills and Competencies are other dimensions of knowledge which are more application oriented and may even be more physical or kinesthetic.  We have talked about skills and competencies in another paper many years ago, which you could check out here if you like.


I understand the purpose of learning to be to assimilate, understand, comprehend, distill the essence, to integrate new information into knowledge, into what we already (believe we) know.  We could say that learning begins with identifying a ‘problem question’ in our mind, inquiring about and understanding concepts, and then being able to assimilate, apply, and leverage them with our constantly changing knowledge-base or matrix and experience to answer the problem question satisfactorily.  It is not only the ‘essence’ that we have to distill, the most relevant essence must also rise to the top of the heap as more importantly relevant compared with the other candidates of essence in consideration.

Observing around us, I found that a lot was being said, being shared, being articulated and communicated, but more often than not there seemed lack of alignment between speaker and listener, or writer and reader.  This essentially led to a waste of communication time, effort, everything, for both the giver as well as the receiver.  The listener(s) often went on to wonder… ‘what was the point?’  Instead of having a lot to say, share, etc., what if we focused on the essence and just made sure it was received and digested?  That’s where I started looking for the Abstract!  Shared below is the definition(s) of Abstract from   I have italicized the meanings and senses that are most relevant to our discussion in this paper:



  • a summary of a text, scientific article, document, speech, etc.; epitome.
  • something that concentrates in itself the essential qualities of anything more extensive or more general, or of several things; essence.
  • an idea or term considered apart from some material basis or object.
  • an abstract work of art.

Verb (used with object)

  • to draw or take away; remove.
  • to divert or draw away the attention of.
  • to steal.
  • to consider as a general quality or characteristic apart from specific objects or instances: to abstract the notions of time, space, and matter.
  • to make an abstract of; summarize.


As I thought about Abstraction, and maybe abstracted some more 😊 I realized that Abstraction is actually not only the key skill for learning, it is also the ability that actually helps us accommodate more in our mind as we learn more, without having to necessarily increase the number of grey cells 😉.


This entire process of Abstraction actually increases our knowledge, as we are able to condense knowledge into its abstract and then add more knowledge into our mind, to be abstracted further, to provide more space to add more knowledge, and so on.

Assimilating and presenting requires prioritizing and emphasizing some aspects over others.  A lot may be written on a slide, and if you read out the words to the audience you are likely to face a sleeping audience pretty soon.  What people are interested in listening to is what YOU think is important., and how do YOU understand it, for that is where the clue to understanding lies for them.  If you could understand it, they are also likely to.

An analogy

The formation of learning in our minds is like the making of a ‘phulka’, or ‘roti’, the fine Indian bread, beginning with the grinding of flour, adding water, kneading, abstracting, compacting, rolling, and baking, finally leading to the separation or distinction of the two layers as it fills up with hot, wholesome air.

Thinking of existing knowledge as the grain to begin with, the grinding of flour is the breaking down and analysis of what we know, which is then made fluid and malleable with the addition of water (a Guru, or Teachings), going on to being kneaded allow connections being made from heretofore unknown knowledge, abstracting and compacting (identifying general principles and isolating the key learnings), rolling (forming a plan to implement), and baking (when the rubber meets the road), the distinct layers being the discrimination and discretion that wisdom brings.

What brings wisdom

With time, we build the belief that we already know what there is to know.  We close the doors for new learning gradually, as we think we grow wiser… But time has little to do with wisdom; it is our sensitivity to what knowledge is valuable in which situation, and how to increase the value of knowledge that is ultimately our wisdom!  It is our knowledge of knowledge that becomes our wisdom.

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The Law of Sailing… and of Life!

There’s a law of sailing in the high seas.

“When the paths of a big ship and a small ship cross at sea, it is always the smaller, more maneuverable ship that gives way.”

And the same is true of Life!

I read this many years ago.  And as I read it and thought about it, I realized it applied to our relationships, our professions, most everything over time.  But I also realized that giving in doesn’t always mean giving up or losing. It just means that you have to find a different route to where you wanted to reach, maybe at a different time which is more opportune.

It led me to a corollary of the law…

“Also, it is the smaller, more powerful, more aware pilot ship that tugs the big one safely into harbor.”

Sail happy, sail free!

Learn Faster, Bigger, Better

We see so many people around us waiting to be told what they have to do, to be trained, to be educated, to be taught,… to be spoon-fed what they need to know.  “If you tell me, I will know,” they say.  Even for what they want to know they are waiting, expecting someone to feed them.  But if everyone is waiting to be spoon-fed, who is going to feed them?  There will have to be some people who learn by themselves!!

It is Trainers who learn by themselves, more, faster, and better than anyone else.  By doing so, and only by doing so, they become trainers valued by learners.

Want to Grow? Change the words you use…

Take more responsibility, be more responsible, how to use language which helps you take responsibility, even makes you take responsibility rather than give it away at every turn?

Hindi is my mother tongue, but there was something my Father used to say which struck me in a flash of insight years later!  Our language itself points us to give away responsibility and to not take it.  If what we say is also what we hear, every time we use such phrases or statements, we are telling ourselves that we weren’t responsible.

For example, take what happens when we misplace something.  In Hindi we say “cheez kho gayi, mil nahi rahi hai”.  Now note very carefully what we have done by framing our words like this.  The fact that the thing (‘cheez’) has been misplaced is expressed as if the fault was its own that it is not being found (‘mil nahi rahi hai’).

This needs more thought from us to figure out why we as a people of one language, or some other people, of another language, speak and behave differently.  One more responsible than another.  And I go back to one of my earliest writings Career Self-Reliance, where I had realized that growth happens when we take more responsibility, not when more responsibility is given to us.

From The Texts to Texting

We accomplish what we pay attention to.  I think it is common knowledge by now that the attention spans of humans have reduced dramatically, and are reducing every year, as we adapt ourselves to newer and ‘cooler’ ways of thinking and interacting.

I wonder many a time about how our habits in communication have changed over the years in terms of how much (or how little) we want to read and write.


Scriptures – The Vedas, The Bible, The Koran, The Book of Mormons, et al

Books (Classics, Biographies, Epics, Novels, Short Stories)


Documents, memos, etc




We seem to be giving ourselves less and lesser time to reflect on the information we exchange… It hardly has the time to become knowledge or wisdom… It’s when the light of understanding and insights reflects upon information that information grows into knowledge and then into wisdom…

In fact, there are two forms of learning – one is called learning (from external inputs), and the other is realization (from inside our own selves).  We seem to be depending more and more on learning from external sources, and depending less and lesser on the organization of knowledge inside ourselves.


Google has fragmented wisdom and knowledge into information, our methods of communication viz. WhatsApp, Text Chat, Messenger, etc. have left us with little more attention span than a fly.  I’ve had friends ask me for steps to accomplish something on different occasions, and to my surprise when I sent them the entire procedure in a neat document over email, they promptly requested the steps over WhatsApp!!  What does this mean?  Are we losing the big picture?  Or am I losing the new Big Picture?  Frankly, I have also considered the latter.  Is it something that I may be stuck upon, instead of moving along with the ‘times’ to be as ‘cool’ as everyone else?

Maybe its just different ways we deal with the span of attention and focus that we have and need to distribute across the multitude of stimuli that bombard us every hour.  The only thought that worries me is that value needs to be created, and long term value comes from pointing at the long term, beyond all the immediate short term objects, which seems to be a rare event these days, rarer than it used to be.


From Cement to Concrete, what is the difference?

A significant aspect to consider in the fragmentation of knowledge, is the probability (or lack of it) of retention of the whole with the fragments. How are Cement and Concrete defined?


  1. any of various calcined mixtures of clay and limestone, usually mixed with water and sand, gravel, etc., to form concrete, that are used as a building material.

From <>


  1. formed by coalescence of separate particles into a mass; united in a coagulated, condensed, or solid mass or state.

From <>


Cement becomes Concrete only when it cures, when it matures over time, remaining set in the same state of being (meaning).  Fragments become that much more difficult to retain, as well as to retain in the configuration in which they made any sense.  In fact, the ability to create and grasp long sentences is an interesting indicator of this skill.

Considering other forms of fragmentation too, e.g. of work, of time, of attention, of money (investment/payments) – the trends are consistently indicative.  Work management for example, has emerged as an Agile approach, or worse, just giving up on the integrity of work with outcome.  In its fragmented form, work is simply kept consistent with an activity list and schedule.  Project management has also become fragmented.

In its fragmentation, we must ensure work (or anything that might be fragmented) does not lose its flow, which sometimes is the very core of the value of work.

Does this mean long term value is giving way to immediate gratification, a rhythm that’s faster, and a rhythm that’s a combination of so many rhythms that the core rhythm can’t even be perceived amidst the noise and chatter?  I would love to believe that the capacity of the mind is infinite and modern minds can actually create long term value even from the fragments of life they deal with every day.

The point is not in extremes, but in the maturity to realize that every situation may require its own way of being dealt with.  Some situations will demand the speed and responsiveness that can be met only with fragments.  And then there will be situations that holistically lend themselves to creating new meaning, new insights, and new purpose by curing and maturing into lasting value.

Lets make more sense!! 🙂

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