Friday, September 10, 2004


‘Why: for what cause, reason, or purpose’.

The dictionary definition of ‘Why?’ seems pretty simple but give it a little thought and you’ll soon realize how powerful that one word is.

What prompted me to write this posting was watching a three-year old learn about the world around him? Every sentence that this kid spoke started with a ‘Why’. Why are we doing this? Why does my toy do this? Why are you being nice (or not) to me? And when you give him an answer, it comes right back at you with a ‘Why’ attached to it. In the process, he has sought the root cause of anything that interests him.

Now, take a look at an adult. How many do you know, who are driven by this curiosity? Look at yourself. How many times have you found yourself seeking the root causes by asking ‘Why’?
Why is someone successful?
Why is someone sad?
Why is a company making money?
Why is a company going bankrupt?
Why are some countries better off than others?
And the list goes on and on.

I believe that when you find an answer to any of these ‘Why’ questions, it makes you more aware of things. What you’ll find is, that with every additional ‘Why’ you are moving down a spiral path, at the bottom of which is your final answer. When you get there, you’ll realize how so many things that we do are related to one cause. Realizing this one cause lets you justify everything else. This kind of exercise would make an individual more knowledgeable and responsible.

Businesses can perform ‘Why’ tests on every process that takes place within the organization and see if the answers lead to their core values or objectives? If yes, they are on the path to success. If not, then that process needs to be redefined.

It’s amazing how much you can learn just by asking ‘Why’. Maybe we should start our days with one question.

Why am I what I am today?

Friday, September 03, 2004

True Globalization

Globalization has changed the global economy by breaking geographic barriers and allowing businesses to reach out to customers and supplier around the world. Lower operational costs and higher revenues have benefited the global organization. With the advent of newer communication technologies and less restrictive trade policies different world economies are better able to integrate and utilize their resources.

Here’s the flipside. All this liberalization has benefited another group of people. The one we would least consider while building such policies. They are the criminals, whose sole objective is to inflict harm and terror on society, both, for profit and pleasure. Surprising, isn’t it? With increasing globalization, governments are finding it all the more difficult to combat such criminals. The same policies and innovations that opened up new markets for businesses have also created new opportunities for criminals.

What kind of criminal activities have most benefited from globalization? Here are the top-five.

Arms Trafficking
Intellectual Property
Alien Smuggling
Money Laundering

(Read Five Wars of Globalization By Moisés Naím for additional information).

Governments are spending billions of dollars battling these activities and are still unsuccessful in controlling them. One primary reason is the lack of information sharing and coordination between the governments of the various countries. Why would countries that are quick in developing trade policies refuse to collaborate to control criminal activities? The biggest obstacle is a lack of trust amongst nations.

But, why doesn’t this lack of trust restrict trade? Because trading partners realize the benefits of working together. The benefits are far greater than any mistrust that might exist. Can nations realize similar benefits in controlling illegal activities? Yes, they can! And when they do that and join hands together, not just for business, but also for a better world, that’s when we have achieved true globalization.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Wiki World

Ever wondered what the result of a combination of open-source, collaboration and lots of information would be? If you still haven’t guessed it, it’s the WIKI world. A wiki is an open-source web site that allows any user to add or edit content. That leads us to the WikiWikiWeb which is an ocean of such sites with wiki technology and wiki jargon like WikiGnome, WikiFairy and WikiGremlin. By the way, wiki means ‘quick’ or ‘super-fast’ in Hawaiian.

Curious about what all this means. Check out Published in many languages, it is a free, open-source encyclopedia. The website claims that the English version alone consists of more than 92.8 million words. There are over 745,000 articles in 83 languages. The search feature helps you locate articles of interest.

It is amazing how so much information, which can be edited by anybody, is streamlined, verified and presented in a proper manner. Want to know how? Go to There is detailed information about how all the information is managed.

Wikipedia is a wonderful lesson in collaboration. It is very difficult to see this level of collaboration is social and business environments. If only such a medium exists to allow people to collaborate - members of a community, employees of a company, suppliers, customers and more. Wouldn’t the world be a wiki-er (faster, smoother, better) place to live in?

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Global Warming

Recent reports present a very bleak future for the environment. Global warming has once again taken the front seat in the media. A fresh series of storms and disappearing life forms have all been attributed to global warming. It is predicted that global warming will redefine the face of the Earth and also the lives of its inhabitants.

Apart from climatic changes, global warming has a tremendous impact on the economy. The monetary losses sustained due the impact of global warming are enormous. Considering the damages done by storms, this is absolutely true. And the indirect costs, like insurance, would also sky rocket. Insurers believe that the annual cost of global warming will hit $150bn a year - that's five times the annual earnings of the entire population of Nigeria.

Maybe it is already too late to reverse the damage that is already done. But, it is never too late to change our way of life and protect the Earth from future damage. Experts recommend using alternate fuel sources and energy-efficient appliances. For more information on such recommendations and also on government policies to control global warming check out the Greenpeace website.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Emotions Matter

Life is a roller coaster of emotions. Emotions define every moment of our lives. The decisions we make, the things we say and every thing else depends on our emotions.

Did you ever realize that there are thousands of words in the English language just to define different feelings? Check out this link for a sample of ‘Feeling Words’. These words are just a sampling of the variety of feelings that a person can experience during a lifetime. And to understand the fact that each of them actually affects your life is amazing.

Every since Daniel Goleman’s book on Emotional Intelligence was published in 1995, there have been tremendous strides towards understanding the effects of emotions on a person’s behavior. Research has confirmed that IQ by itself does not define a person’s standard of living. A person with a high IQ but with no control on emotions can almost never be a successful person. It has been proven that people with moderate IQ but with a good understanding of their emotions have been successful.

The concept of EI has spread to various areas of society. It has helped people be better parents, better spouses and better friends. Companies have adopted EI as one factor that affects employee performance and customer satisfaction. Employees are being trained to recognize and control their emotions. This helps improve the work environment and increase job satisfaction. You can find information on various EI research projects here.

Now consider a society where everyone can harness their emotions and act emotionally intelligent - a society where every person understands the value of happiness, grief, anger and all the other emotions that a person can experience. That would be the perfect world – free from all the social evils we face today.

Now this is real life. It is almost impossible for all people to control their emotions. But, each of us can at least try to harness our own emotions. If we can’t make the whole world a better place, we can definitely make our lives and the lives of the people around us so much better. That in turn will pave the way for a better world.

So, how are you feeling today?

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Patented Lives

Take a look at the world around you - your clothes, shoes, furniture, TV, radio, food, toys and everything else that you see, touch or use. Have you ever realized that every one of these has been patented, copyrighted or trademarked by some person or company? All their designs, manufacturing processes and the machines that make them are someone else’s property. You can use them because you’ve paid for them. In effect the world around you has been patented and does not belong to you.

Patenting and other similar laws were primarily created to safeguard the interests of the inventors, artists or innovators, who conceptualize these products. While creating a means to reward these people through royalties, such laws are also thought to encourage new innovations.

But for the common person who is really not innovating all the time, he or she is literally paying someone to do just about anything in life. Shouldn’t we all break out of this shell? Come to think of it, you realize that there’s really no way out. You just cannot get by without using at least one patented item.

But, there’s one thing we all can do. We, as individuals, still control our minds and emotions. Maybe we should put these to better use and try to be more creative, more innovative and nicer people. These are priceless qualities that can never be controlled by any law. And at the end, everyone will profit!

Need to know more about patents, copyrights and other similar topics? Check out the World Intellectual Property Organization website.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Textiles - Made in China

With the removal of trade quotas for the textile industry at the end of this year, China is poised to become the largest supplier of textiles to the world. There are numerous discussions about the impact this would have on the industry. Firstly, countries whose major source of income is textile exports will be hardest hit, as business will move to China. These are mostly poorer countries and this will be a severe blow to the people dependent on this industry for survival. Developed countries too will lose their export income to China.

Secondly, countries to which China is already a major supplier of other goods will become all the more dependent on China. For example, the US textile industry will completely be dependent on China within the next couple of years. So, variations if the Chinese economy will directly affect the US economy. And there will be little to fall back on, as the local industry would have already disappeared when the imports have grown significantly.

How does China achieve this market position? This again is a subject of discussion in many forums. Obvious reasons for China’s dominance include

Currency manipulation by the government
Highly subsidized industry
Low wages

All of these reasons are illegal as per the WTO or IMF regulations. But few countries have raised their voice against this. Are most countries already dependent on China that they are afraid of any change in Chinese policies? Does the business world just care for low prices regardless of how the prices came to be that low?

China and the textile industry are just one example. There are other countries too that use their dominance in a particular area to gain unfair advantage over other countries. And these situations will always exist as long as there is no authority to strictly govern all international trade.

Here’s one suggestion. How about a manufacturer’s label, similar to nutritional information on food products? So if a label states:

This product is cheap because of:

Illegal currency manipulation,
Unpaid Labor and
Unethical industry practices

Would a consumer then buy the product?

(Here’s a link to some interesting discussions on the textile industry).

Friday, June 25, 2004

A New Era in Marketing

Rapid evolution in communication technologies seems to be re-defining marketing strategies. With convergence being the objective of technology companies, new products are designed to serve multiple purposes like computing, television, telephony and more. An example would be the cell phone. From being a simple communication device, today’s cell phones provide a whole suite of services. This phenomenon is spreading to other consumer products as well - refrigerators with Internet capability, intelligent ovens, cars with built-in computers and more. Newer homes are being built to accommodate these new technologies.

From the marketers’ perspective, all this has opened a new path to the consumers’ minds. A whole new approach to direct marketing is now in the making. With consumers relying more than ever on a few devices to perform day-to-day activities, these devices are becoming targets of companies. Whether to sell products or services, such devices offer an excellent means of delivering customized or personalized messages to the consumer. So, don’t be surprised to see a day when your cell phone consistently displays ads or your car’s dashboard becomes an advertising medium. Advances are already being made in cell phone marketing.

With that said, there will be a new breed of spammers. Spam will no longer be unwanted email. Spam will be unwanted everything! Every electronic device used for advertising purposes will be the new target of spammers. And then what? Other devices to fight spam will be born. In this cycle of marketing/technological evolution there is a huge potential for a number of people:

Marketers – Easy direct marketing tool.
Consumers – Personalized advertisements tailored to their likes and dislikes.
Spammers – A huge market to target.
Spam-fighters – New ways to fight spam.

So, lets welcome the new marketing era!

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Opportunity for Greatness

How do you differentiate true leaders from ordinary people? Put them in a high-stress environment and you’ll see the leaders standup and tackle the situation while the others succumb to the stress. The difficult times that we in currently, in terms of the economy, war and terrorism, create an environment ideal for leaders to flourish. “Challenge creates an opportunity for greatness”. That’s what the authors of this article, published by the Leader to Leader Institute, have to say.

All historical leaders have risen to power by their determination to succeed during difficult times. Contrary to the belief that high-stress causes illness, the authors suggest that ordinary people ‘think’ their way to illness when subject to stress. This difference in the thought process is what differentiates leaders from others. The authors go on to provide useful suggestions for handling stress and bringing out the leader in you.

So, while there is chaos all around, look out for new leaders to emerge and take control. Are you one of them?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Open-Source Medicine

The open-source model gained popularity with the wide acceptance of the Linux operating system. The model is based on a free-for-all framework allowing anybody to contribute to the end product. The huge success of this model has prompted others to apply similar models in other industries.

The Economist carries an article (An open-source shot in the arm?) that foresees an open-source model for medical research. This model would allow researchers to collaborate and share their findings with their peers. The benefits would be enormous if such a system could be created. Presently, a company developing a new medicine is expected to spend a lot of money and resources in research. The company is only rewarded when the research is proven successful and a patent is obtained for the product. But, once the product is patented there is no monetary benefit for other companies in further developing or enhancing the product. So there are probably other valuable medicines that are not being developed for this reason.

By allowing multiple companies to participate in a research project, the open-source model would cut down the cost of research. This would encourage more companies to actively pursue common goals and interests. The end product would obviously be cheaper than traditionally developed products. The savings flow all the way to consumer. The bottom-line, a society with much lower health-care costs.

There is also downside to the model. Unlike open-source software development, the resources required for even the simplest medical research are very high. Even to participate in such a model companies need to invest to sizable amount of money. And with no regulatory authority to monitor and consolidate research information, companies would hesitate to jump in. What we need is an organization that would build an open-source framework to support medical research. Such a framework would allow researchers to post and share their findings and effectively produce useful products. Moreover this body should ensure that such open-source products be properly tested and marketed so that every participant benefits from them.

With costs soaring in every industry there is definitely a need for more open-source models. If successfully applied in other areas, the open-source model will soon become a management concept that could provide a tremendous boost to the economy. So, how about an open-source car?

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Think like a Genius

Ever wondered what goes through the minds of geniuses? How they model their thought process? Here’s an interesting article (Thinking Like a Genius: Eight strategies used by the super creative, from Aristotle and Leonardo to Einstein and Edison, by Michael Michalko, THE FUTURIST, May 1998) that shows you how to bring out the genius in you.

One point that really got me interested was productive vs. reproductive thinking. The concept of reproductive thinking, where new thoughts and ideas are derived from past experiences, is so widely prevalent. That is what most parents teach their children and almost all teachers teach their students. Study past incidents and experiences and make future decisions based on them. The author claims that this does not generate new ideas but only repetitions of the past.

To be truly innovative one needs to adapt to productive thinking where every thought process is an attempt to create a new perspective of the situation. No more analysis and relations to past experiences. Does this work? History has proven more than once that only productive thinking leads to inventions and discoveries. No wonder true geniuses are hard to find – no one is taught to think like a genius anymore.

Other strategies recommended by the article are:

Geniuses look at problems in many different ways.
Geniuses make their thought visible.
Geniuses produce.
Geniuses make novel combinations.
Geniuses force relationships.
Geniuses think in opposites.
Geniuses think metaphorically.
Geniuses prepare themselves for chance.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Profitability in Poverty

Did you realize that there are over 4 billion poor people in the world with a consolidated market of close to $2 trillion. What do we do with them? Sell products, provide services and reap profits.

An article by Allen Hammond and C.K.Prahalad, titled Selling to the Poor (summary), talks about the hidden potential in this 'poor' market. This opens up a huge market for companies along with a need for innovation and new marketing techniques. The article also gives examples of successful business models designed for the poor.

Interested? Check out Digital Dividend, an organization dedicated to identifying opportunities and seeking innovations to provide new services and products to the poor.

Here's the other side of the coin. This opportunity for profits actually helps improve the lives of the poor people. These new products and services which were earlier restricted to the middle and upper classes are now affordable to the lower classes. And with companies vying for their attention to market products, these people do end up with a better lifestyle. Isn't that a win-win situation?

This is one 'poor' coin with two 'rich' sides!

Hybrid Energy

Ford has launched the first hybrid SUV powered by a gasoline-electric engine. Its estimated mileage is 35 to 40 miles per gallon. That is great in the SUV world. More manufacturers are expected to follow with their own models.

With the record prices of crude oil, it is important that we seek alternate sources of energy. Oil prices can create havoc in any economy. These prices don't just affect specific industries, but the world in whole. The cost of oil trickles down to every product or service that we use. Oil drives manufacturing, transportation, heating and everything else.

The scary part is that a major portion of the world's oil resources is concentrated in a few countries. So, other countries, with little or no resources, are at the mercy of these few oil-rich nations. And there will be a time when the Earth's resources start to dwindle. What will happen then?

Shouldn't there be a sense of urgency in seeking alternate resources of energy? Once in a while we hear about innovations in wind harvesting, solar enery and others. But nothing definite has happened.

The technology introduced by car manufacturers should become law. Universities and governments should promote research in such areas. Imagine if every car consumes less fuel, every house requires very little energy and every product is designed for efficient energy consumption. Imagine a world where energy resources are abundant and oil prices do not make or break economies.

Until such technologies become available, let us all strive to create an awareness within ourselves and others around us - Save energy!!

Friday, June 04, 2004

Knowlegde Everywhere

Everyday, there are a number of events happening around us. We are connected to these events by different means – by being part of the event, through the news media or through friends and family. Each event is a source of knowledge and wisdom. A sort of equation, that defines a relation between a series of actions, which converge at a particular moment in time, and the outcome of such actions. The outcome may be good or bad. Whatever might be the case, these events define the course of our future. The decisions we make, the life we lead, and our successes and failures are all molded by past and current events.

The mind, when exposed to such events, trains itself on how to react to similar situations. An uninformed mind, can potentially assume the wrong course of action. And we see this happen every day. Lost fortunes, broken marriages and every other misfortune is a result of an uneducated mind making the wrong turn.

When our future is dependent on happenings around us, it is our responsibility to extract knowledge from them. The knowledge and wisdom will give us the power to influence and change the outcome of future events and give us control of our own destinies.

‘Blogs of Wisdom’ is an attempt to accumulate and disseminate this wisdom that is ever present around us. Readers are free to support or contradict any opinions posted here. All in an effort to correct, tune and sharpen the hidden wisdom.

May this blog open the window of opportunity and success to many!