Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Leading Geeks

July 26, 2009

Paul Glen, C2 Consulting has written an insightful book on “Leading Geeks”. He covers three areas: 

  • Geeks themselves, their motivation etc. 
  • Geek Work ie., the nature of their work 
  • Leaders, how do leaders manage them.

 A fast read and great book.Geeks

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Managing the Professional Services Firm by David Maister

July 26, 2009

Maister says, “Principles (or values) are the most effective management tools” for PS firms. He calls on the PS firms to align their actions based on their espoused values.

He advocates…
– Close, trusting relationships with clients
– negotiating clear goals
– having good client communications
– managing the project team effectively…

Gerald Weinberg, says the consultant should be prepared to return his fees if the client did not get value from the advice!

Top IT Books

July 26, 2009

December 1, 2008: Bruce Webster lists 5 books to the IT department – The 5 books Every IT Manager Should Read right now” in Baseline mag. Phenomenal books for all managers in the IT industry.

  1. The Mythical Man Month by Fredrick Brooks, 1975
  2. Death March by Ed Yourdon
  3. Waltzing with Bears: Managing Risk on SW Projects by Tom DeMarco & Timothy Lister
  4. Facts and Fallacies of SW Engg by Rober Glass
  5. Perfect SW and other Illusions about Testing by Gerald Weinberg

Books recommended by Steve McConnel in he original “Code Complete”

  1. “Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professionalism”, ACM/IEEE-CS
  2. Software Project Survival Guide, Steve McConnell
  3. Mastering the Requirements Process, Robertson and Robertson
  4. Mythical Man-Month, Fred Brooks
  5. Peopleware, DeMarco and Lister
  6. Rapid Development, Steve McConnell
  7. 201 Principles of Software Development, Alan Davis
  8. Manager’s Handbook for Software Development, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  9. Project Engineering Body of Knowledge, PMI
  10. Measures for Excellence, Lawrence H. Putnam and Ware Myers
  11. Principles of Software Engineering Management, Tom Gilb
  12. Software Runaways, Robert Glass
  13. Practical Software Metrics for Project Management, Grady Booch
  14. The Deadline, Tom DeMarco
  15. Software’s Chronic Crisis, Wayt Gibbs

“We are Like that Only” by Rama Bijapurkar

July 26, 2009

December 06, 2008
Anyone willing to do retail / consumer related business in India, should go through Rama Bijapurkar’s “We are like that only”. A well known consultant, she breaks down the NCAER data to segregate the market. By now, a number of authors have said, Don’t treat China as one country of 1.3B people, Rama Bijapukar argues the same for India. Rama argues that Indian market is rebellious!
– Honda (wins) Vs Mercedes (struggles)
– Nokia (wins) and Cola majors (struggle)
– Levis lags; Nike limp and star TV rethink?
– Why did Toyota’s Innova work?
– how did LG and Samsung buy market shares; GE appliances doesn’t
– what did Nokia or MTV do to get it right? ; Kelloggs still struggles; Heinz did not catch on

Corporates have to develop a mental model of “my target India” and translate it to a well defined construct of consumer India.. The Winners are who are able to make a “Made for India” product…. She classifies India into a diversified country – 62 socio-cultural regions; 23 languages; 29 states; diverse food habits; climatic conditions and cultural orientations… and

  • Multiple demand segments….
  • agricultural and non-agricultural
  • Government employees and self employed etc.
  • five economies (agriculture, manufacturing, government, services, IT).
  • NCAER’s five consumer categories – the rich, the consuming class, the climbers, the aspirants and the destitute (destitue – live a hand-to-mouth existence and are insignificant as consumers; aspirants- acquire the most basic consumer durables – bicycles, fans and radios – and learn to aspire for more; climbers – is hooked, but find that their desires far outrun their income, so they buy the cheapest goods; consuming class – is of inveterate buyers, they weigh the price against what they get for it; rich- they buy the best without looking at the price)

Taking 250M Indian middleclass as one entity is recipe for disaster. 60 million people have high purchasing power. 100 million who are well on the road to consumption and below that, another layer of 100 to 150 million consumers who have just begun their consumption journey.

250 Million are at the very botton of the pyramid, it will be difficult to intgrate them into the main stream. On per capita, she says China 2005 = India 2015!

In early 2000, Hindustan Lever (now Hindustan Unilever) realised that consumer spends were going up, but it possibly did not bargain for the fact that people would not spend on soaps and shampoos, but would direct their earnings towards mobiles, home loans and automobiles. Bijapurkar points out that US-style malls located far away in the suburbs don’t work in India and that Subhiksha-style 1,000 square feet chains are more successful. Wal-Mart may have succeeded in the US, but it has been a failure in similarly developed markets like Germany and Japan. CK Prahalad, who she says is her teacher always in the forward mentions GDP per capita is not always a good measure of the capacity to consume!

The reason Rama says she wrote the book was while many consultants used the supply chain data and what has happened in other countires; she feels P&L is about consumer choices and not supply-side economics… she also disagrees with the magic number of per capita income after which the market will take off!

  1. The nature of emerging market economies are different.. Made for India rather than Global standards! In the context of India, what do we mean by Global standards? Where is the Centre of Gravity!
  2. Emerging markets need not be virgin markets… e.g. Fashion Street in Mumbai sellss export surplus socks; or they have exact replicas of jans in Bangkok… she says consumer India is like a lateral hire into an org; Consumer China is like a fresher!
  3. Today’s emerging markets are not like what the deelopmed markets were in their infancy… Indians have not take to Cola as others, because in India Water is loaded with cultural meanings; giving water to someone in Summer or brewing tea / cofee at home etc…

India is a market that has more cell phones than bank accounts! More TVs than toilets!! Like one consumer said, though the buying power has increased – it is going to fridges and cars which are status symbols as well than increasing the pie for shampoo… similarly, consumers were using better paints for the walls and distempuer for the ceiling which no one would see or cheaper paint for the bedroom!!

Rama says of China – where the long term stability and continuity of policies of a non-democratic regims are in doubt but the short term economic growth is steady and encouragin… But in India, an executive said “while long term will be fine, I will have to first survive in the short run!”

Software Pioneers

July 26, 2009

Manfred Broy and Ernst Denert have discussed the following pioneers in their book titled “Software Pioneers – Contributions to SW Engg”. I haven’t read the book yet, in my book list…

  1. Friedrich L Bauer – From the stack principle to ALGOL
  2. Ole Johan Dahl – Roots of Object Orientation: The simula langauge
  3. Niklaus Wirth – Pascal
  4. Fredrick Brooks – IBM OS/360
  5. Alan Kay – GUI
  6. Rudolf Bayer – B-Trees and Database
  7. Peter Chen – ER Modeling
  8. Edsger W Dijkstra – Structured Programming
  9. CAR Hoare – Assertions
  10. David Parnas – Information Hiding
  11. John V Guttag – Abstract Data types
  12. Michael Jackson – JSP
  13. Tom DeMarco – Structured Analysis
  14. Michael Fagan – SW Inspections
  15. Barry Boehm – Software Economics
  16. Erich Gamma – Design Patterns

Books Excerpts – You can Hear me Now!

July 26, 2009

Summary of the book “You can hear me Now – How microloans and Cell phones are connecting the world’s poor to the global economy” by Norman Sullivan. It captures the story of Grameen Phone in Bangladesh.

The story starts with one Iqbal Quadir, working on his laptop at Manhattan, it crashes. He feels frustrated while waiting for someone to recover – he has lost connectivity with people! “Connectivity is Productivity” according to him. His mind travels to the days in Bangladesh. One day, he travelled 10 kms to get medicine for his brother to learn the physician has gone to the neighbouring town to buy drugs!

Bangladesh has about 68,000 villages. Corruption is rampant in the country. It takes a lot of time to get things done – bribes, connections in political circles, government policies etc. 1993 – It was a time, when Grameen Bank started as a personal endevor by Mohammed Yunus in 1976 or so has grown and become well known. Yunus was the most heard Bangladeshi at that time for his Microfinancing scheme. His bank has built up a network of people, more so women in the villages who are acting as bank’s agents in disbursing and collecting loans. He even talks of credit worthiness – ability to return on what was borrowed – the return rate is very very high at the bottom of the pyramid. CK Prahlad in his book Bottom of the Pyramid talks of this – Connectivity for billions; retail selling to the bottom 2 Billion or so etc.

Quadir is a VC with a Wharton MBA, meets Yunus a couple of times in 1993 generally to see if he is interested in Telecom. These meetings are so-and-so. Around the time, Bangladesh govt. decides to approve the licenses for Telecom. Quadir gets into the act – he relocates to Bangladesh; marries a female cousin of his friend; pours his investement in a company he started with a friend.

People in Bangladesh react “what??”, “who would come and invest in the country??” to “why??”. The world has a different view of Bangaldesh – Floods, Corruption, Poverty etc. Quadir feels Nordic countries may be interested. They have been at the forefront of cellular communications; Norwegians generally like to keep it simple – known technology, suppliers and people… Telia is interested; Telenor says they are in if Telia is in. Grameen Bank at this stage is not the race for a stake but an investment.
Telia slowly backs out because at the same time India is going big in Telecom. Telia infact took 26% of Bharti Airtel those days and sold it in 2-3 years. SingTel has an investment in Bharti now. Quadir trips between Bangladesh and Norway. Hits it off with one of the guys there. He helps identify a couple of guys in Teleplan, who are instrumental in advising companies, establishing networks, strategies etc. They meet Quadir at Heathrow airport and fly to Bangladesh. On the way they discuss about how to we make it happen… Quadir feels very happy about these guy who are competent.

There is lot of menion of Sam Pitroda in the book – similarties between Sam and Quadir. Both of whom left their countries to come back with renewed interests. Sam obtained about 10 patents while working at GTE; established his own company and sold it to Motorola. When Mrs. Gandhi established a committee on telecom, he went and presented. He was isntrumental in manufacturing ditigal switches in Inida – 128 connections; 256 connections etc. which were later installed in villages…

They submit their bid for licensing with participation of about 51% from Telenor, 4-5% from Gonophone and about 25% from Grameen; 9% from a japanese company. Telenor has 3 board seats; 2 for Grameen and 1 for the japanese company. Quadir is given one of the Telenor board seats for 2 years. They establish a non-profit company called Grameen Telecom, which will buy licenses and give it at 50% to Grameen Phone. Grameen Phone is a for profit company, this model was suggested by Yunus. Joshua Mailman of the Social venture Network, provided seed capital for the project. Presently, Grameen Bank has 38% and Telenor has 62% of Grameen Phone.

They also decide to use the railway fibre infrastructure built at about 500MN and used by about 300 stations! in the country. One of the pioneers in Bangladesh had built it a few years ago. After several years, and avoiding several bureacracies they can use it! When the govt. gave the licenses, Grameen Phone was operational in 4 months – Mar 1997, while 2 other competitors started service after 1 year.
While Yunus has himself written a book on Grameen Bank, with a chapter on Grameen Phone this one focuses on how the Grameen Phone company was formed… Quadir left Grameen Phone in 1999. Harvard has a program called Social Enterprise initiative, which is chaired by Kastri Rangan. Quadir teaches “Technology and Econmic Development” at Harvard. He says poor countires need disruptive technologies such as cellphones.

The book mentions of

  • Three forces of External combustion – Information, Comm., Technology (ICT) brought in external investors…
  • Exogenous shock – referred by economists when an unexpected and uncontrollable external shock / forces act on a close system.
  • Inclusive capitalism spreads wealth. Connectivity equals Productivity; Productivity equals growth; Growth equals Poverty reduction.
  • some of the challenges in putting Grameen Phone together…- In Norway people have good technical experience w/o degree; whereas in Bangladesh people had degress and no technical knowledge!- Foriegn investors were in for profit, while Qaudir and Yunus were in for Development.
  • Some statistics…- 1% extra growth of GDP reduces the poverty by 2-3%; at the end of 2005, with competitionfrom Eqypt’s Oraqscom Grameen Phone acquired 1M customers in 6 weeks; 10% growth in teledensity increases the GDP of a country by .6%
  • If you have the will, people will come to you – don’t give up noble thoughts / deeds…

A fast and inspiring read on what it creates a Telco; more importantly working with for profit companies with a much larger cause in mind and overcoming obstacles over an extended period (6 years or so for Quadir)…!

Book Excerpts – The new CIO Leader

July 26, 2009

“The new CIO Leader – Setting the Agenda and Delivering Results” by Marianne Broadbent and Ellen Kitzis is a book I frequent. The authors from Gartner, cover important IT leadership aspects on the Demand side and the Supply side.

Brief summary:

Gartner has published 25 IT competencies for IS organizations. They use this framework to assess the required competencies.

Gartner's 25 IS Competencies

The top 10 CIO priorties:

1. Lead, don’t just manage. Leadership and management are not the same. You need to both manage and lead. Leading is about change and influencing others to change.      
Demand Side competencies

2. Understand the fundamentals of your environment. You need to know your industry and your competitive environment and be able to engage key decision makers and stakeholders on their terms.      
3. Create a vision for how IT will build your organization’s success. You must have a vision for achieving your colleagues’ business goals using technology. 
4. Shape and inform expectations for an IT-enabled enterprise. You need to work with your colleagues to identify the key business needs, strategies and drivers, then articulate the IT guidelines necessary to address those needs.      
5. Create clear and appropriate IT governance. Effective governance enables you to weave together business and IT strategies and to consistently build credibility and trust.      
6. Weave business and IT strategy together. IT strategy means developing and actively managing your IT portfolio to deliver success as measured by your colleagues.      
Supply side competencies

7. Build a new IS organization—one that is leaner and more focused. Three primary issues here are introducing process-based working, strategic sourcing of IT services, and putting IS on a sound financial footing.      
8. Build and nurture a high-performing team in your IS organization. You need to know the competencies required for the new IS organization—one that relies much more on internal and external relationships—and to recruit and train for effectiveness.      
9. Manage the new enterprise and IT risks. Business leaders have to be aware of these risks and need help managing them across the enterprise—and you as CIO will lead this process.      
10. Communicate IS performance in business-relevant language. You must know and communicate how IT is contributing to shareholder value and the IT value indicators that are directly linked to business value measures.

Gartner's Technology Hype Cycle