Archive for 2008

Attitude is Everything!



Saturday, November 22, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Do nothing. Do the wrong thing. Do the right thing partially. What is the most harmful thing to do?

When it comes to strategic decision making based on market insights; the easy mistake to make is not usually to “do nothing” or to “do the wrong thing”, but to “do the right thing partially. What is needed therefore is a way of drawing out the full implications of an insight so that it can be acted fully, powerfully and completely.

(Adopted from the Book, Creating Market Insight: How firms create value from market understanding by Dr. Brian Smith and Dr. Paul Raspin.)

Most business executives today are smart enough to quickly spot insights from a particular market information or an environmental development, and to identify the “right thing to do” in order to grab the strategic advantage from the implications of such insights. But yet, the temptation of seeing the end results “quickly” might compel such executives to “do the right thing” just “partially”, instead of drawing out the full implications of the insight.

This is why most companies today; want to “do a little bit more, with a little bit less”. You want the desired end result to happen. But, you are not disciplined enough to execute in full, “what is needed to be done, to get that result”. You tend to “cut short” on certain aspects of the full implications of the market insight (the opportunity you’ve sensed); in a hurry to see the end result you desire. At the end of the day, when the desired end result is not achieved, the blame would be on the specific means of action; or you will conclude that you have done the wrong thing. But in reality, you will see that; you have only done the “right thing” PARTIALLY. Never expect the full expected results from a thing done “partially right”.

Read for Further Insights: Creating Market Insight: How firms create value from market understanding by Dr. Brian Smith and Dr. Paul Raspin
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Want to be Proactive?



Yes. This is just a funny camera shot taken by someone somewhere! But isn’t there a much deeper interpretation to this picture? May be this is one way of interpreting it. Let the picture do the speaking!
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Power of Last Impressions

Wouldn’t you love this idea? After all! Last impressions last longer than first impressions.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Type A Organizations and Type B Organizations

Last few days, I was busy gathering some background information for yet another term paper (on the topic “Organizational Culture and Productivity”) I have to do for my MBA during this semester. I came up with this interesting classification made by Edgar H Schein, in one of his articles to the Sloan Management Review, back in 1984.

According to him there are two types of organizations. Type A and Type B.


Organizations in Type – A assume that;

  • Ideas come ultimately from individuals.
  • People are responsible, motivated and capable of governing themselves.
  • Nevertheless, in practice, truth can only be arrived at by fighting things out in groups.
  • Such fighting is possible because members of the organization see themselves as a family who will take care of each other.


It is therefore safe to fight, and be competitive among each other.


On the other hand, organizations of Type – B assume that;

  • Truth comes ultimately from older, wider and higher status members.
  • People are capable of loyalty and discipline in carrying out directions.
  • Relationships are basically lineal and vertical.
  • Each person has a niche in the organization that cannot be invaded.
  • The organization is responsible for taking care of its members.

In organizations of type A, there are open office landscapes, few closed doors, people milling about, intense conversations and arguments and a general air of informality. On the other hand in organizations of type B, everyone is in an office with closed doors, nothing is done except by appointment and prearranged agenda. When people of different ranks are present there is real difference and obedience.

And the most important point to note from Schein’s analysis is; he says “neither is wrong – they are just different!”

After all; the world is not black and white.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Bringing Cricket to Olympics: Needs a bit of Marketing Involved


First Gilchrist wanted it to be in the Olympics. Ponting too wanted Cricket to be in the Olympics. Waugh backed the bid. Mohammad Ashraful too wants it to be there. But Ian Chappel thinks Cricket in Olympics would merely be a “pimple on the backside”!
Chappel’s main argument is, countries like USA and China won’t adapt to a game like Cricket; so it won’t create a compelling enough demand to IOC for considering the inclusion of Cricket in 2020 Olympics. Hmmmm! Now, that makes sense why IOC is so keen in keeping two gold medals (guaranteed) in Baseball and Softball in every Olympic!

Even though it is highly debatable what Chappel is saying (Do we have to get the consent of Americans, all the time for what to do and not to do in Olympics?), I liked one idea put forward by him about “marketing Cricket to China and USA”.

“Perhaps a more realistic approach would be to expand the IPL model, with franchises in places like USA, Japan, China and Europe. That way, competitive matches are guaranteed in those countries and an opportunity is created for an increased audience for cricket on television in those regions. By taking this approach it would also accelerate the development of young homegrown players from those countries, who would eventually go on to play in a competitive national team. When that time arrives, it would be appropriate to start thinking about cricket as an Olympic sport.”

Interesting, isn’t it? Looks like there’s some business opportunity to be grabbed by someone!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

A New Fuel Meter for Your Car


Very much the truth these days! I also like to have this one on my car’s dash board. I was just thinking, how this new gadget could indicate the situation where both the tank and the wallet are empty! Anyways, all car owners are thoroughly advised to shift to this new fuel gauge.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Kadupul Blossom


A rare scene, and I'm so lucky to see it at my home! I took this photo, few minutes ago. It's absolutely magical! Blossoms at night, and fade before the dawn. Will upload more photos later.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Why People Leave? What managers Believe Vs The Reality

Does this sound familliar and/or alarming to you? Then you must read this book by Leigh Branham This diagram is from the book, and I guess it does not need any further explanations.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Chapter One of Principles of Marketing (Kotler, Armstrong) - Slides

It's a new semester in the MBA, and this time I am suppose to go back to the basics of Marketing! I remember reading the 9th edition of this book during my first degree, and the things have changed a lot in the 12th edition. Really grateful to who ever uploaded this slideshow to slideshare.net. Would have been much better, if it was in downloadable format :-)



Thursday, July 10, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Contact Ami

Thursday, June 19, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Balancing Creativity and Conformance in Decision Making

Creativity and conformance can be seen as uncomfortable bedfellows, given the fact that these two concepts moves towards opposite directions all the time. Hence, it is a challenging task for some one to balance the effects of creativity and conformance, in day to day decision making activities in organizations. This is a part of an assignment I did at my MBA classes, on the topic of Balancing Creativity and Conformance in Decision Making. In this article, I attempt to identify the theoretical frameworks and the practical applicability of these two key concepts, and try to identify a method for strike a balance between creativity and conformance in effective decision making at organizations.

Please Click here to download and read the entire article in PDF format.
Reccomended Further Readings:
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

IPL signals the future of Indian Economy

When New Zealander umpire Billy Bowden called “Challoo, Challoo” (Go! Go!) at the beginning of the final game of inaugural IPL T20 tournament, it was not only a remarkable moment for the Indian cricket lovers, but also was an ironic hint about where the world economy is heading towards, in the 21st century. Billy’s call for “Challo Challo” on an Indian venue was only a monumental incident. There’s something serious buried beneath it. India is slowly gaining the driving seat of world economy in the 21st century. And they will dictate the rest of the world “Challo Challo!”

IPL is just a one facet of it. They have found the formula of making money out of almost anything! Just like the way the Americans started to do it at the turn of the 20th century.

It wasn’t a long time ago some subcontinent cricketers were penalized by the ICC, for speaking to native umpires in their local languages (Especially in the games against England). English remained to be predominantly the official language of the classic English game of cricket. And, England remained to be the richest country in the cricketing community, for last two centuries. But it wasn’t to be the case in the 21st century!

Just about a one year ago, ICC made a total financial failure out of a World Cup cricket tournament featuring 18 world nations. Today, India has shown to the ICC and the world about how to create profit out of cricket (And, only with the local version of it).

Indians have clearly found a formula of monetizing almost everything. Who would ever thought at ICC, that a local cricket tournament could outdo a World Cup, in financial terms? India is clearly on the right track. Think about the number of Indian entrepreneurs reached the top of the list of the world’s richest men, during last two decades. Think about their thriving Indian entertainment industry, which outsell even Hollywood productions, all across the Asian continent and reaching even the Middle East.

IPL will soon turn out to be the Super Bowl of India. And Lalit Modi will become a household name, at least in all cricket playing nations. For some players IPL would open the doors to the stardom in almost no time. For several other Indian entrepreneurs, IPL would turn out to be a gold mine, to dig their fortune. I was listening to Lalit Modi speaking to CNN’s Talk Asia, when he told that “an average IPL player could earn in a one season of IPL, as much as money he could earn by playing international cricket for five years”. (But the flip side is, you got to play international cricket so regularly, to build a demand for you to be in the IPL.). When money starts to move around, everything else starts to move all over. Indian economy is slowly gaining the economic leadership of the 21st century, and the Americans had been warned.

P.S.
If someone is wondering why I haven’t taken China into this equation; please note that I wanted to comment on this, mainly from the angle of a capitalistic point of view. China is thriving in the world economy too, but with completely a different model than in India (And that model seems working too). Indians seems to believe in “personal success leads the way for a nation’s success” cliché, which I believe is more capitalistic.


Recommended Reading: The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century



Monday, June 2, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century

Thomas L. Friedman, the Author of Book: "The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century" speaks to Charlie Rose.

Monday, May 26, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe
Tag :

How Paradigms are Created?

“That’s how things are done around here!” Does this sound familiar to you? But you never dared to ask “why are the things always done like that?” If so, read on. This post is for you.

In my last post I talked about the paradigm shift appearing in the horizon for traditional marketing, and how it would affect the advertising industry, and the people involved in advertising. When doing a bit of research on “Paradigms” (As a part of my MBA studies), I stumbled upon with this great story about “How Paradigms are Created?” on http://www.reach.ind.in

This is how the story goes on..

A group of scientists placed five monkeys in a cage, and in the middle of the cage a ladder with bananas on the top. Every time a monkey went up the ladder, the scientists soaked the rest of the monkeys with cold water. After a while, every time a monkey went up the ladder, the other monkeys beat up the one on the ladder. After some time, no monkey dare to go up the ladder regardless of the temptation. Scientists then decided to substitute one of the monkeys. The first thing this new monkey did was to go up the ladder, to collect the bananas. Immediately the other monkeys beat him up. After several beatings, the new member learned not to climb the ladder even though never knew why. A second monkey was substituted and the same thing occurred. Surprisingly, the first replacement monkey, participated on the beating of the second replacement monkey. A third monkey was changed, and the same thing happened! More beating, and the first and the second replacement monkeys joined the rest of the original monkeys to beat the third replacement!
The fourth monkey was replaced, and the beating ritual continued, and finally the fifth monkey was replaced. Now, what is left with is a group of five monkeys, that even though never received a cold water treatment, continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder to get the bananas. If it was possible to ask these monkeys, why they would beat up all those who attempted to go up the ladder, the answer most probably would be “I don’t know! That’s how things are done around here!”

Now, forget the monkey business and look around yourself. How many times you heard the phrase “That’s how things are done around here!” in your life? How many times you’ve told that line to somebody else?

Members of many organizations and work places are all like the monkeys in this story. They blindly carry forward totally senseless work practices and organizational structures, just for the sake of doing it or having it (Add to that, the immense amount of auto generated email alerts and routinely circulated reports, which goes directly into the trash folder of most of the receivers). If you look at some of the systems and procedures you follow in your work place, you’d realize how senseless most of them are. Every time a new member joins such an organization, they see this pathetic situation, and question the existing ways of doing things and suggest alternatives. But they earn nothing but a denial and rejection (May be followed up with a stupid explanation of “why we are doing it this way”). When they ask “why?”; the answer they usually get is “That’s how things are done around here!” And they are forced to think within the “mental frameworks” created by such senseless rituals. The new comer either adapts to that response, or he leaves the organization. If he decides to adapt to that, the next day he becomes that first or second replacement monkey, and give the same answer to another new comer who try to challenge the existing ways of doing things. (Believe, me I’ve done that so many times in my life!)
After sometime, these senseless work practices and procedures creates a rigid wall around the organization, making it impossible for the organization to quickly respond to the market needs and competitive stances (Loss of corporate agility).


We all are prisoners of such blind paradigms. And these blind paradigms hold individuals and organizations so backward, without letting them thrive towards a better status quo. All the great success stories begin with a paradigm shift. Dell Computers, Japanese approach to Total Quality Management, (Who ever thought of quality levels of “one mistake in a million occurrences”? In Sri Lanka, people still believes 1% failure is acceptable. A false quality paradigm) Ceylinco On the spot insurance, Kerry Packer’s Day & Night Cricket; everything! But Every time we are face with a paradigm shift decision, most of us opt for the easiest choice. That is to hold tight on to the paradigm we already believe in. That’s what exactly the monkeys in that story did. Are you asking me why? I don’t know! That’s how things are done around here!
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

How Can Advertisers face the new Paradigm Shift in Marketing?

I left this comment on one of my ex-work colleague’s blog this morning, and interestingly enough the topic discussed in one of my MBA sessions during the evening was on a similar theme I discussed in this comment.

No; it wasn’t about advertising, but it was a thought provoking session of class activity on “creative thinking”. And again, it was not the “artistic creativity” as discussed in my friend’s blog post, but rather about “Creative Decision Making”. The topic which hit me the most was the concept of Paradigm shift (coined by Thomas Kuhn in 1962) in decision making. So, I thought of adding something to my blog tonight, with some insight into my understanding of the whole idea of Paradigm Shift in Marketing.

A paradigm is a mental framework or a system, which draw a boundary around your patterns of thinking. It affects the decisions we make by large, and most of the time we tend to fear making decisions which contradicts with the paradigm we already believe in. Therefore, your thinking will always be just small increments to the existing status quo, and it will always be a step by step progress along a tested and relied upon method of doing things. You will never try to break the rules and explore something different.

As oppose to this concept of incremental thinking, the transformational thinking process is based on a new paradigm, or a different way of doing things. It replaces a well established framework and aims at complete renewal rather than small refinements. In the end, transformational thinking leads for what it called a “Paradigm Shift”.

To explain this in a simple example that we all could understand, think of the game of Cricket. During late 1970’s when Kerry Packer’s world series was a hot debate among cricket lovers around the world, Merve Hughes was listening to a team mates fascination about playing cricket at night. Merve responded saying “But it would be bloody dark at night! How could you see the ball?”.

In this example, Merve was a prisoner of the paradigm that “Cricket is a game played during the day”, while Packer was a Paradigm shifter, who brought a new paradigm to the game of cricket. During the early days of this paradigm shift, Kerry Packer faced a huge resistance from the paradigm prisoners who believed “Cricket is a game which should play over five days, during the day time”. But today, Kerry’s idea is strongly established as a new paradigm in cricket. Even the latest form of cricket; Twenty20 is merely an incremental change in Kerry’s paradigm, and not a new paradigm shift all together.

Coming back to my original point which I started off this post with, the same thing is happening these days in the field of Advertising. The entire concept of advertising is in the face of taking a whole new paradigm shift, where Marketers are now thinking of divorcing their long married partner “Advertising”. For decades, people treated advertising almost synonymous with marketing. Advertising firms thought, that they control the marketing budgets of their client advertisers, and expected that marketers will continue to spend millions in advertising for a foreseeable future. At the same time, they lost focus on what is they are expected to do with their clients money, and it became more of a “run for the Oscars” race for the agencies. All what mattered for them was number of awards they collected at ceremonies, and it was the only performance index they took for evaluating their success. To see what I mean, just check some of the internal and external publication made by some of the advertising firms, and read some of the interviews given to the media, by top executives at these advertising agencies. All they talk about is, the number of awards they bagged at last Chillies or SLIM awards.

But the marketers spotted the problem, and they now realize they are trapped in the paradigm of “advertising” and now they are looking at ways of getting out of the trap. Marketers, especially in the US are now realizing the traditional methods of advertising does not pay as much as they used to do during early 80’s. Now they are inventing a paradigm shift in marketing, where consumer engagement is set at the forefront of the marketing mix. At the early stage of internet, marketers went into it with the old “advertising paradigm” in mind, and treating the net as another “advertising medium” just like TV or Press, where you can place your ads next to content. But later they realized, the internet is not a selling media, but rather a buying media, where consumer dominates over the seller. They now are adjusting their rules to these new developments, and approaching the “marketing on the WWW” with completely a new paradigm in mind.

Now is the time for the advertisers to start thinking smartly. Instead of debating whether advertising is a “creative art” or an “industry”; now they have to think of how to re-enter into the pockets of the client companies, in this new changing environments.

Google said to be is having trouble in their advertising revenue growth during the first quarter of 2008, indicating clearly that companies are cutting their budget on advertising, and investing more on new methods of marketing like customer engagement, word of mouth marketing, and social media optimization. In such a situation, the old fashioned ad agency people should now think seriously about how to re-position themselves as “marketing solutions agencies” rather than being mere “advertising agencies”.

Monday, April 21, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Word of Mouth Marketing at Work for Tigo!


(Click the image to see a larger version)
I was in the middle preparing the slides for a presentation on "Power of Word of Mouth Marketing", ( which I am suppose to deliver to our marketing team next week) when I first got this "home made advertisement" for Tigo, in my inbox.

First, it brought a smile to my face. Second, I realized how relevant it is to the topic of my presentation. (So, without a hesitation, I used this in one of the slides).WOMM guru Andy Sernovitz talked about few characteristics of a good WOM in one of the MarketingProfs.com webinars. According to him, a good WOM message should be; Simple, Repeatable, and Easily understandable. It needs not to be your marketing message. It needs not to be talking about your products. But, it should associate with your brand at some point. WOM message would be the carrier of your brand.

In addition, a good WOM message should be easy for sharing. And, there's not other tool to share a message easier than the "email". It's only a matter of hitting the "forward" button on your mail client, and copy all your best friends. And they will do the same. In few hours, the message is all around Sri Lanka, without any cost for the sender!

I believe this "home made ad" is not an intentional WOMM effort by the marketing guys at Tigo. Even if that is the case, we could still cite this one as a good example for WOMM at work! (In Sri Lanka). Just imagine how many times this email would circulate across Sri Lanka, with the Tigo logo embedded into it. (Dialog might feel jealous!)

I think now it's high time for our Sri Lankan marketers, to think of these tactics as potential components of the marketing mix. Advertising clutter is becoming a huge concern even for Sri Lankan advertisers. When people actively switch off from paid advertisements, marketers could easily think about deploying this type of tactics, to spread their marketing messages.

Of course you won't be able to have the top citizen of the country to feature on your WOMM tactics all the time. But, there could be numerous other ways of exploiting the power of WOM, if you think creatively enough.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Facebook Anthem

This video is first added to Youtube on 28th February 2008, and it's a "bit old" news now. I first saw the video on a friend's Facebook profile. Personally I too feel the same way about Facebook. It's becoming extremely boring every day, and the forced requests are getting more and more annoying.

Friday, March 28, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

2007 Marketing Trends

Sunday, March 23, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Delighting the Customer is Not Just Enough


I recently watched this YouTube tube video, of a workshop session held in Singapore by Ron Kaufman. As typical for Ron Kaufman, the video is full of energy, entertainment, and action! But, beside everything else, he makes a valuable point about how to win and retain customers for life.

According to Ron Kaufman, a company’s offer to its customers has three main facets.

1) Product
2) Service & Delivery Systems
3) Mindset

All three facets are equally important for a company, to satisfy its customers. In today’s competitive business environment, without an outstanding product you can’t go to the market place. Even if you have the best product in offer, a simple failure in delivery system will result in a total loss of customer faith in company’s brand. More importantly, even if you have the best product and delivery systems in place, what happen if your workforce does not posses the right mind set to serve your customers? Mind set is all about people. It involves culture. In order to have the right mindset among your employees, you should first ensure your company is having a customer oriented culture within the company.


All three facets pass through five stages of customer experience levels. A customer’s experience with a product may be, Basic, Expected, Desired, Surprising, or Unbelievable. Same five levels of customer experience apply for the other two facets.

With a basic product, a company would not survive at least in the short run. Most average companies would at least offer their customers an “expected product” or a “desired product”. But, those outstanding companies will always offer their customers a “surprising experience” or may be sometimes an “unbelievable experience” with their product. Every time a company offers a “surprising” or “unbelievable” experience to it’s customers, with either of above three facets; the company earns a certain level of customer loyalty towards their brand.

But, with the product and delivery systems facets, a company faces the challenge of keeping up the pace with competition. A product feature deemed as “unbelievable” today, would be seen as “expected” or even “basic” in few month’s time. As a result, a company has to keep innovating their products, and delivery systems all the time, to keep up the pace with competition.

The difference with mindset is, you don’t have to deliver “surprising” or “unbelievable” experiences every day, to earn the customer loyalty. One instance of “unbelievable” experience of mindset, will earn you life long loyal customers. And, that experience can never be copied by the competition.

The entire video is uploaded as nine parts, into Youtube. Click here to watch all the videos.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

A Future without Arthur C Clarke

This morning I heard the sad story of Sir Arthur C Clarke's death. He was one of my childhood heroes. His books and articles were so inspiring, for me to learn more about modern technology. (Of course I ended up being a Marketer, but technology is my second preferred career)

Every time I watch a live cricket match on TV, I owe him a great deal for coming up with that incredible idea of modern satellite communication technology. He deserves a great lot of credit, for most of the things we enjoy today thanks to the wireless communication technology he conceptualized.

Let's pay our last tribute to the great scientist who envisioned the future, and lead us to change the way we communicate.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Sharing PowerPoint Shows on the Internet

I was just curious, why people are not paying enough attention on Microsoft PowerPoint slideshows, when it comes to Social Media Marketing tactics. Many believe, social media marketing is only possible with blog posts, forum threads, RSS feeds, photos and videos. But, did you imagine how powerful a simple PowerPoint show could be when it comes to ignite a massive marketing exposure to your brand, idea?

Just imagine how many PowerPoint shows are in circulation all over the world as email attachments. What if one of those PowerPoint shows, associated with your brand, and/or a non-profit idea that you wanted to share with the entire world?

First thing is, you need to create a powerful PowerPoint show, which attract people’s attention. Once you done that, next step is to get it across to an initial audience. If, your initial audience is happy about your show, they will volunteer to do the marketing for you. (Typical Social Media Marketing).

Now, how do you get your PowerPoint show, across to your initial audience? Well, you may heard, read, shared a million of articles on “power of youtube” for Video sharing and “flickr” for photo sharing, but many has under estimated the power of similar services for sharing PowerPoint shows, on the internet.

Here are some of the popular and upcoming services on the internet, for sharing PowerPoint shows.

SlideShare.net


SlideShare.net is arguably the best of the kind, so far, and they have been in the seen for quite a some time now. Its interface is very much similar to Youtube, and the slide responds extremely fast compared to some other services listed below.

If you are smart enough, you can attract thousands of viewers to your PowerPoint show. Tagging and effective titles are the key to grab attention on viewers. When you submit a PowerPoint to Slideshare.net, always make sure you tag it properly. Use as much as relevant tags. If your PowerPoint show is catchy enough, people may tend to download it and share it among friends as email attachments. The potential for viral marketing is unlimited thereafter!

Author Stream


AuthorStream.com is still in beta
, but another good site to share your PowerPoint shows with others. Two major draw backs noted with this service are;

1) They don't allow hyper linking inside slides.

2) There is no “download as PPT/PPS” option.

Allowing people to download as PPT is a great advantage you get with Slideshare.net. That will boost the viral effect you could get by uploading your PowerPoint show to the internet.

SlideLive.com



SlideLive.com is another beta testing site, but it's bit different from the above two. SlideLive try to compare themselves more with Web based meeting services like Go to Meeting and WebEx. They give you the flexibility of selecting from 3 methods of uploading your PowerPoint shows; private, public and invited. In the invited mode, you can enter a password to view and download the show, and only those who invited by you, would be able to view and download the show.

And they are a Beta test, by the definition of word! You get error messages saying "our servers are experiencing some problems, and please try in few minutes" a lot of the time.

MyPlick

MyPlick.com is on of the new finds for me. It's pretty much similar to SlideShare and AuthorStream, but slightly better than AuthorStream.


Tech Smith's ScreenCast

ScreenCast not only allows you to share PowerPoint show, but any thing from a Video to flash file you can share on Screen cast. But, unlike other services they charge a fee, to use their service. So, if you are looking for a free tool to upload and share your PowerPoint shows, this won't be an option.


Saturday, March 8, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Pegasus Reef Hotel Wattala

Just returned home this evening, after attending a residential workshop conducted by PIM over the weekend, at Pegasus Reef Hotel Wattala. It was altogether a great learning experience, and had lot to take out of all the sessions we were exposed to.

Here are some pictures I took at the Pegasus Reef Wattala.

Double Room (Room #109)


Sunset in the evening

Swimming Pool - Pegasus Reef Wattala

And if you are driving from Colombo, it's only about half an hours drive, unless you caught up in a traffic jam or a road closure (Which are very common incidents in Negambo road). This is a screen shot from Google Earth's view of the area.


I'm sure, the location map for Pegasus Reef Hotel on their official website is not clear enough. (Infact, it shows that the hotel is located somewhere in Gampaha District Sri Lanka!!). So, here is a proper location map of Pegasus Reef Hotel Wattala, if you are driving from Colombo.

Sunday, March 2, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Map Your Mind with Mind Mapping Software

Mind mapping is a cool technique to use in generating creative ideas for problem solving, and sometimes even in studying. I first, learned about the technique in a book titled “Business Creativity” (Kogan Page Better Management Skills series), and used it for generating creative ideas for work related activities. Apart from that, I have never thought about other usage of this technique, until I recently studied it in detail, as part of one of my MBA subjects. When studying further on mind-mapping technique, I came to know that there are specialty software developed for this purpose. If you Google for “Mind Mapping Software” you will find thousands of links to websites offering hundreds of mind mapping tools.

I downloaded one such tool named “Visual Mind” and I was amazed about how helpful it could be in our day-to-day life. They offer a 30 days free trial for their Visual Mind software, and after that, you have to register your trial version.

I installed Visual Mind, on my laptop, and played around with it for a while, during the weekend. I’m really impressed!

Visual mind allows you to create mind maps from scratch, or you can select from a list of templates.

It offers simply an amazing, user-friendly interface, where you can easily add/remove child branches to your mind map, and add notes to it. The best part is, you can export the entire mind map into a word document, with automatic numbering included for all topics.

If you are studying about a subject (say, Search Engine Marketing), you can first create your mind map using Visual Mind, and add as many as branches you wish. Then you can add notes to each of the branch title if you wish. After finishing your mind map, you can easily export it into a MS Word document. That’s your study note on Search Engine Marketing!

You can create a business plan or a project plan your wedding, in the same manner.

I thought it’s going to help me a lot, in my MBA studies, as I can use it to generate study notes when I surf the internet while studying. However, when I check the price of the software, I realized it was little too much for me! The full version with export to MS Word feature, cost about 290 USD (SLR 29,000/-).

So, naturally I was compelled to Google the keyword “free mind mapping software” and came up with this one on sourceforge.net. I downloaded it, but have not had a time to install it and test. Most definitely, I will give it a try during next week, and see if that serves the same purpose as Visual Mind.

Then I found Mindomo, a web based mind mapping tool. They too have a free version and a paid version for 6 USD per month, but I don’t think it’s advanced as much as the Visual Mind tool. Free Mind Map is another free tool available for downloading.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Task Oriented Managers and Social Oriented Managers

These two styles of management can be seen as directly derived from the concept of “masculinity & femininity in management”, even though all the time it cannot be used synonymously. Masculinity and femininity aspects cover a wider range of managerial traits of individuals, whereas task orientation and social orientation can be seen as only a one facet of it.

Masculinity and Femininity in National Cultures


Masculinity Vs Femininity orientation in national cultures, is one of the five cultural dimensions coined by Geert Hofstede in a research study done using matched samples of business employees across more than 50 countries.

Masculinity or femininity orientation in national cultures plays a major role in defining the organizational cultures in respective countries, and the style of management adopted by managers in these two types of cultures.

A national culture, with far more masculine orientation, will produce organizations with more “masculine managers” whereas a national culture, with more feminine orientation will produce more “feminine managers”. In business world, these two types of organizations will behave in completely different manners, and will take different approaches in solving management problems, and especially when managing people.

Hofstede define masculinity and femininity in national cultures as “Masculinity stands for a society in which social gender roles are clearly distinct: Men are supposed to be assertive, tough, and focused on material success; women are supposed to be more modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life….. Femininity stands for a society in which social gender roles overlap: Both men and women are supposed to be modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life.”( Hofstede (2001), Culture’s Consequences, 2nd ed)

Remember, that masculinity and femininity has very little direct correlation with the genders represented by these two words. When we say “masculine managers” it’s not “male managers” but “manlike managers” whereas when we say “feminine managers” it’s not about “female managers” but “womanlike managers”. According to Hofstede, both men and women wish to be more “masculine” than what they really are.

Task Orientation and Social Orientation in Management

We can use Hofstede’s idea of Masculinity and Femininity in managers to describe the task orientation and the social orientation of managers.

Based on the view that men are more assertive and result oriented, we can think of masculine managers in Hofstede’s definition as more “task oriented”. On the other hand we can think about feminine managers as more “social oriented” because women are more relationship oriented, nurturing and caring!

To apply these principles in an organizational environment, think of a “task oriented manager” as someone who is highly assertive and result oriented, and very persistent on other people to “get the things done” somehow. In contrast, “socially oriented managers” will always focus more on maintaining good relationships with their subordinates and colleagues. They will rarely point a negative comment about a work done by a subordinate or a colleague, directly to the face of that person.

Further elaborating the two approaches to management, we can see a task oriented manager as some one who is more objective in what he’s doing, and a socially oriented manager as someone more bounded by subjectivity (Relationships involve subjectivity). A task oriented manager sees a difference between the “actual work” and the “worker” (Objectivity), and he/she more interested in get the “wok” done somehow. Whereas, a socially oriented manager will see “work” as an integral part of the “worker” (Subjectivity), so he/she is worried about, if pushed for the work to get done quicker, it will hurt the social relationship he/she is having with the worker.


Recommended Reading:
Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind

Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations

Where in the World Do I Belong?? Which country's culture fits your Myers Briggs personality type?
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Top 10 Creativity Killers

Brainstorming is one of those English words, which is excessively being misused by most of us. Many of us think brainstorming is synonymous with “discussing” or “meeting”.
In most cases, when some one says, “let’s have a brainstorm session on this”, 90% of the time, what he/she really means is, “let’s meet and discuss about this”.

A discussion is a two way process, where we evaluate both arguments and counter arguments on the discussion topic. But, brainstorming is necessarily one way! When brainstorming, you have to switch off all the counter arguments. You see only one way out. That’s forward. No reverse gears!

Here is my list of top 10 creativity killer counter arguments you can expect, in these so-called brainstorming sessions. These are not in a particular order, and they are not specific for any industry.

1) It is not our policy to do it like that.

2) We have already invested a lot in some other projects. Any new idea should comply with them.

3) We tried it several times, but it didn’t work.

4) It’s not practical!

5) It will take a long time for us to implement that.

6) It’s too complicated. Customers won’t understand it.

7) It’s too simple. Can’t you think of something else?

8) We’ve been doing it this way for a long time, and we haven’t had a problem so far.

9) That requires major changes in our systems & procedures!

10) Ok. That’s a good idea. But, can’t we think of something better?

Have I missed anything? Do you have anything to add to this?

Saturday, February 2, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

When Was the Last Time you Googled Yourself?


Or haven’t you done it at least once during last 2 years? If not do it now. Type your first name and surname, (or the most common combination of names you are using) into Google’s search box and hit “search”. You might well be surprised, how easy for some one to trace all your online behavior, and track all the content you have added to the internet using your real name. If you are using a pseudonym, try it as well. Things you’ve said and done, on numerous websites is freely available to anyone who wish to obtain them.

What does this mean? The Internet is not a safe and secure place, as many people assume. Anything you (or anyone else) posts about yourself, is liable to be crawled by and appear in search engines. Little by little, this behavioral information about you, on the World Wide Web, will accumulate to compile a comprehensive profile of yourself, readily available for anyone who’s interested in you. That “anyone” could be your high school crush, your girl friend or boy friend, your spouse, your boss (Hi boss! are you reading this now? ), your potential employer, a business contact, a customer, or even a detective from your local police, FBI or even CIA! According to a recent research "about 53 per cent of adult internet users admit to looking up information about someone else, celebrities excluded."

This is why it is very important, for you to maintain a good “Online Persona”, on every online community that you are a part of. Everything that you say, comment, or upload will leave a trace about you on the World Wide Web.

Think about an occasion when you posted some offensive comment on some one else’s blog, or a forum post. Would you do that in your real life, to one of your work colleague? Most probably you will not. Why? Because, you have a reputation among your work colleagues, and making such offensive comments will negatively affect on that reputation. Then think about the similar situation, on the internet. The comments you’ve made on that forum, or the blog, will add up to the massive amount of behavioral information about, you that are gathering on the World Wide Web and, will be crawled by the Search Engines. And those comments will shape up your online persona. What if, most of the comments you make online are rude and offensive? That is going to be the trade mark of your online persona. Every time, some one Google for your name, they’ll presume you as some one “very caustic”. And, that “some one” may possibly would be a potential employer, who’s willing to pay you 3 times the salary that you are earning at present.

Some one might say “I haven’t posted anything on the internet, by my name so I don’t have to worry about this”. But, even if you haven’t posted anything about you, some one else might have! What about your annual company party last year? A colleague may have posted some pictures, featuring you and few others, and made a comment about you. If you are a popular character in a particular industry, or a discipline (sports, or music etc), some one else could have posted an article on something you’ve said or done. And you are totally unaware of this, unless you are not regularly “maintaining” your online persona.


This is something that you cannot resist, underestimate, or completely ignore, unless if you plan to live the rest of your life in a small island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, and being totally disconnected from the civilized world. Search Engines has established in our world so strongly, and most people think Google is the best thing happened to them, since the invention of light bulb. And we can’t expect the usage of Search Engines to go down in the future, for “spying on” or search for individual names. In fact, it will start to grow in popularity, in time to come.

If you are not convinced about the severity of what I’m trying to say, go and search for your name on Spock.com
Spock is a new generation people search engine, which mainly use the feeds from Linked In, to generate dynamic profiles for individual people, and it gather information from MySpace, My Yahoo!, Wikipedia, company websites and personal blogs too. I searched for my name on Spock, and the first two results were my Linked In profile, and the eCommerce website of the company I work for. Mind you, my company website does mention my name in any of it’s content. But, Spock managed to draw the relationship.
Further into the side of the search results, Spock.com show related tags to me. The tags included, the university I graduated fro, my previous place of work, and my areas of specialization and interests etc. Most of these information were fed through my Linked In profile. Now what is the contract I have with Linked In? When you submit your personal information to Linked In, there’s no guarantee that the information will only be published on Linked In domain. And, Spock draw connections between your Linked In profile and your MySpace profile. What if you wanted to maintain a clear cut line, between your professional life (Linked In) and your personal life (My Space)? For such people, Spock would definitely be a nightmare. And how unfortunate you would be if you share your name with some one else, and the other guy is completely the opposite of your personality? Here’s what I get on Spock, when I searched for my first name and middle name. So what would be the situation for a very common name like “John Smith” or “Asif Mohammad”?

ZoomInfo.com is another similar people search engine, but it’s not generating comprehensive individual profiles like Spock does.

What can we do about this? Most definitely, we won’t be able to fight against this. So, prevention is better than cure. If we look at the optimistic side of these developments, this is a great motivator for people to give up the anonymity on internet, and contribute only the “commendable content” to the World Wide Web.

Why give up anonymity? Because, in the pace these people search engines are developing it’s not far away from the day that they can draw connections between your anonymous Stumbleupon profile, and your genuine Linked In profile.

Why compel to add only good content? Because, when you contribute to the internet, with your real identity, you can’t add socially unacceptable content (pornography) or offensive comments to other people. It’s like that; when you are speaking in a board meeting! You can’t take your clothes off, in a board meeting and, you can’t tell your boss “Look Mr.Boss, you are talking f***** bullshit!” while in aboard meeting.

So what can we really do? The best thing that we could do about this is to take control of our own online persona, without letting Spock.com or Linked In to do that for us. Start by setting up your own personal space on the World Wide Web. Let that personal web space, be the “Curricula Vitae” for yourself. Is there any better website for you to know about Nokia mobile phones, that the Nokia official site? So, why don’t you apply the same for yourself? Every individual is a brand, and every brand should have an official homepage in this internet era.

For the time being, my Linked In profile pops up on top, for a Google search for my name. So far I was ok with that. But, my discovery about the relationship Linked In is having with Spock, compelled me to think twice about this. May be in the future, I might decide to restrict the privacy settings of my Linked In profile, so that other search engines cannot pull information about me, through Linked In . And my ultimate goal is to make this blog as the “central place of operation” for me, on the World Wide Web. (So far I haven’t used my full name on this blog. And I’ve done it purposely. I wanted this site to build up with some read worthy content, before it get optimized in Search Engines, for my full Name as a keyword)

Recommended Reading

New Breed of People Search Engine Launches
Facebook Opening Profiles to Search Engine Indexing
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

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