Skip to main content


Visual Learning

Being a management consultant necessitates one to listen to all sorts of cock-and-bull stories - almost on the verge of it being a professional hazard. Yet, of all the crap things that I have heard in the last one and a half decade, none is so consistently painful and for so long as the theory of adult learning styles - you know, the 'visual', the 'auditory' and the 'kinesthetic' learning styles.

Part of my job is to facilitate learning for these 'adults' in various parts of the world, and mostly in a corporate environment, and mostly to the peril of these adults. Apart from that, I also provide vocational learning sessions for young students in business schools, as well as high school children in secondary grades. So you can see that my audience comprises of  a spectrum of age groups, and having done this for a reasonable time now, I can assure you that you have never heard of anything as lame as the theory of adult learning.

Agreed, maybe when the th…
Recent posts

Hiring Six Sigma Professionals

While I was going through my archives, I stumbled upon this correspondence I had with a very good friend and colleague Deb a few years ago in 2008. While the communication is a bit dated, I believe the subject is still topical, and I thought it might be a good idea to show this exchange the light of the day.

The first part is the question Deb asked me, although paraphrased, and the second is my (rather cynical) response to it. I hope you would like to read it for what it's worth.

- Shreekant


Hiring Six Sigma professionals

Deb: ".... [Shree], I am having a problem with Six Sigma. [...] Maybe sometime we can chat about black belts?  .... I have become very biased in my thinking of the certification and I would love to hear from someone I trust to help me understand how a black belt thinks about project planning and execution.

I am at the point now that if I see Six…

What Should I Read?

Like one of Douglas Adam's characters in the Dirk Gently series, I truly believe that the time spent in commuting is better spent in doing something worthwhile, so you can multitask. And just like the fellow in the story used to record his thoughts on a tape recorder and then have his steno type them out for him later - here is an attempt to write a post through a dicta-phone while driving from Delhi to Gurgaon and then converting it to text.

Many times my students and other people ask - what should I read. What should one read? .. A lot of times I give some perfunctory answer and let that question pass. Or sometimes I give a very generic response to this question. But mostly I am not very comfortable when confronted with this kind of a question. And although I have always had this sense of discomfort, I was not sure why it was so.

Recently, again, one of the students asked this question, and I decided to think a little bit more about it. Now when I started thinking about it, I …

China's Talent War? Hardly!

The TIME magazine is an interesting establishment. You write to - hoping that you will have your letter published in the subsequent issue, but that does not happen. Forget about that. You don't even get an acknowledgement or rejection - even after you ask them multiple times.

Anyway, this post is about my reaction to an article in TIME, not the magazine.

I was on my way back from one of the customary trips to China, when I came across this article about the employee retention challenges in China ['China's Talent War', May 28, TIME]. It was a deja-vu moment. Replace 'China' with 'India' and turn the clock back 5 to 10 years (or even keep the same timeframe), and you will find an almost exact article in some of the archives. It is rare to find an article in TIME magazine with such palpable lack of real research - apart from what can only be considered as coffee-table conversations - or of reference to any published material on t…

Doing what you like and Getting paid for it

It is one thing for people to say 'do what you like and get paid for it, so that every day at office will feel like a vacation'. It is quite another to actually find a profession that you are passionate about. Most of us spend our lives in writing software, or sending invoices - or most likely - writing software for sending invoices. In effect, we usually spend days in writing emails, making phone calls, and attending meetings. There are reasons for this.

Firstly, most people do not know what they are passionate about most of the time. Ask any person, especially the one who is preparing for a job interview or for an MBA entrance exam, and pat comes the grammatically incorrect reply: "listening music". Whoever invented this phrase deserves to be in the list of Nobel laurets. This is the most you can get without giving any real information or even any real thought to the question - what do you like to do? I mean, what kind of music? -- Any kind! -- Any specific genre …

Re-discovering Lin Yutang

It was a perfectly useless afternoon – like the one that Lin Yutang urges you to spend in a ‘perfectly useless’ manner. The chilly winter breeze of Northern India and its accomplice the dense soupy fog had made commutation redundant and I was confined to stay at home.

It was then that I turned to my old bookshelf, rummaged some of the lesser accessed shelves and blew away dust from atop some of the volumes and made a nice pile on the center table. I had read some of these works partly earlier a long time ago, and the others I had kept for leisure reading. It was like meeting a handful of school friends once again after years – not at the planned alumni meeting, but while you are out shopping your week’s supplies – by sheer chance.

I pulled out a mid-sized volume with a yellow cover that shows a man playing flute by the river and a few others listening to him, leisurely resting on the nearby rocks and trees. It was ‘The Importance of Living’ by Lin Yutang – a work I had discovered in …

05 Book Review: J Mingers Self-Producing Systems

John Mingers. Self-Producing Systems: Implications and Applications of Autopoiesis. New York: Plenum Press, 1995. xvii + 246 pp.
I. Introduction

A. Topic of the book

This is an introductory yet comprehensive text about a process called Autopoiesis – which means ‘a process whereby an organization produces itself’ . The book is meant to be an introduction to the large body of work in this field, usually referred to collectively as the ‘autopoietic theory’. This theory was developed by two Chilean biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco J. Varela, since the early 1960’s as a result of their work on visual perception and the organization of the living (Maturana and Varela, 1980).

Autopoiesis means ‘Self creation’ – a circular process in which components of a unity participate in processes of production, which in turn produce the components (pp.12). Maturana and Varela contend that all living systems are autopoietic – i.e. they have a circular, self-referencing and self-creating organizat…