Friday, December 9, 2011

Assignment 2012-1

Read the passage carefully and answer the questions.

Last year, I was fortunate to moderate a fascinating panel discussion with Harvard's Center for Public Leadership on the topic of "Next Generation Leadership." One of the panelists, Rosalinde Torres, encouraged us to ask the following question: "What has made you successful in the past that you need to change to move forward as a leader?"

As we go through different phases in our personal and professional lives, we're called upon to adapt, to marshal skills different than those we've used in the past. And in the modern world — where the pace of technological and social change is as fast as at any time in human history, those demands on our adaptability are greater. An exceptional grocery store cashier, for example, will need a different set of skills to be a store manager as her career evolves. And those in computer repair have had to learn and unlearn a myriad skills over the past 30 years to keep pace with the changes happening around them.

So what skills do you need to modify or leave behind to grow? For me, a few suggestions come to mind.

Stop seeking answers; start asking questions. In our 20+ years of education, we have been trained to get ahead by having the right answers — to tests, to class questions, to business problems. But the most difficult challenges require leaders who can identify and ask the right questions.

The world needs great problem-solvers, but it also needs people who can make sure their organizations focus on the right problems and miss nothing in the process. One of the more intellectually impressive senior executives I've worked with asked questions twice as often as he offered answers. As a result, the people who worked for him always took full responsibility for their work — because they knew they'd have to answer a stream of deep and thoughtful questions as soon as they entered the boardroom. This leader's questions not only showed his thoughtfulness and helped drive deeper solutions, but they created ownership among the people who worked for him.

Focus on people, not problems. Junior businesspeople often work on heavily analytic, stand-alone problems. They're asked to build models and plans — to find the "right" solution. But the most difficult problems can't be solved and implemented by individuals alone. Good leaders can't just get the right answer. They have to involve people — those who will ultimately implement their programs and those teammates who can help them solve the problem faster and better than they could on their own.

When an individual becomes too rigid about his or her "own" solution at the expense of working collaboratively with others, that individual often loses the momentum to generate change and misses the valuable insights of his or her peers in the process. A famous example of collaboration in the face of a difficult problem — no matter your thoughts on the project itself — is the Manhattan Project. The project, which ultimately led to the construction of the first atomic bomb, was led by General Leslie Groves. Knowing he couldn't handle the project by himself (and neither could anyone else), he called upon as many great minds and competing perspectives as possible to come to the right solutions collaboratively and created an environment in which they could implement against that plan.

Stop working as a generalist. Many of us have lived life so far as generalists — "Jacks of all trades," so to speak — focused broadly on a variety of skills, functions, or industries. Sure, we may have picked some topics on which to become knowledgeable, we've chosen professions, and we've completed "majors" or built specific skills. But by-and-large, we've cast our nets wide, learning broadly to gain context about the world around us. At some point, however, most of us will need to generate proficiency in a very specific topic, both because it makes us valuable sources of expert knowledge and teaches us the habits of mind to generate deep insight.

Take, for example, Steve Jobs's early obsession with calligraphy. After dropping out of Reed College in 1972, Steve spent months immersed in calligraphy, which, at Reed, was an incredibly strong program. In his words, "I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture." That experience not only helped Steve build the practical toolkit to create beautiful text and designs, but also improved and sharpened his mind, attention to detail, and his fascination with design.

You may be at a different stage in life — a great "people" manager who needs to work on her problem-solving or a specialist who needs to broaden his experience — but I've found that as my professional career evolves to include more collaboration, management, and implementation, the skills I've depended on, while helpful in their time, need to evolve for successful growth. These adjustments provide new areas of focus that may be common to a number of young leaders who are making the transition from individual contributor to manager as they advance in their careers.

What do you think? In your own work life, what are the traits that have made you successful in the past that you'll need to leave behind to be successful in the future?


1. Suggest a suitable title for the passage

2. State whether the following statements are true or false.

a. The world needs only problem solvers.

b. A leader’s questions can create a sense of ownership among the subordinates.

c. Manhattan Project was a bridge construction project.

d. Steve Jobs is an example of a generalist.

3. Write a 50 words summary of the passage.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Knowing Jan LokPal

What is Jan Lokpal: It’s an independent body that would investigate corruption cases, complete the investigation within a year and envisages trial in the case getting over in the next one year.

A look at the salient features of Jan Lokpal Bill:

1. An institution called LOKPAL at the centre and LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up

2. Like Supreme Court and Election Commission, they will be completely independent of the governments. No minister or bureaucrat will be able to influence their investigations.

3. Cases against corrupt people will not linger on for years anymore: Investigations in any case will have to be completed in one year. Trial should be completed in next one year so that the corrupt politician, officer or judge is sent to jail within two years.

4. The loss that a corrupt person caused to the government will be recovered at the time of conviction.

5. How will it help a common citizen: If any work of any citizen is not done in prescribed time in any government office, Lokpal will impose financial penalty on guilty officers, which will be given as compensation to the complainant.

6. So, you could approach Lokpal if your ration card or passport or voter card is not being made or if police is not registering your case or any other work is not being done in prescribed time. Lokpal will have to get it done in a month's time. You could also report any case of corruption to Lokpal like ration being siphoned off, poor quality roads been constructed or panchayat funds being siphoned off. Lokpal will have to complete its investigations in a year, trial will be over in next one year and the guilty will go to jail within two years.

7. But won't the government appoint corrupt and weak people as Lokpal members? That won't be possible because its members will be selected by judges, citizens and constitutional authorities and not by politicians, through a completely transparent and participatory process.

8. What if some officer in Lokpal becomes corrupt? The entire functioning of Lokpal/ Lokayukta will be completely transparent. Any complaint against any officer of Lokpal shall be investigated and the officer dismissed within two months.

9. What will happen to existing anti-corruption agencies? CVC, departmental vigilance and anti-corruption branch of CBI will be merged into Lokpal. Lokpal will have complete powers and machinery to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician.

10. It will be the duty of the Lokpal to provide protection to those who are being victimized for raising their voice against corruption.

Difference between Government and activist drafts


Difference between Draft Lokpal Bill 2010 and Jan Lokpal Bill[13]

Draft Lokpal Bill (2010)

Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen's Ombudsman Bill)

Lokpal will have no power to initiate suo motu action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public. It can only probe complaints forwarded by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha or the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Lokpal will have powers to initiate suo moto action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public.

Lokpal will only be an Advisory Body with a role limited to forwarding reports to a "Competent Authority".

Lokpal will have the power to initiate prosecution of anyone found guilty.

Lokpal will have no police powers and no ability to register an FIR or proceed with criminal investigations.

Lokpal will have police powers as well as the ability to register FIRs.

The CBI and Lokpal will be unconnected.

Lokpal and the anti corruption wing of the CBI will be one independent body.

Punishment for corruption will be a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of up to 7 years.

Punishments will be a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of up to life imprisonment.


The following table details differences between the Jan Lokpal Bill being offered by the Government and the one offered by Anna Hazare's team, as described in The Hindu[14] and Times of India[15].


The Jan Lokpal Bill [3]

Government's Lokpal Bill [1]

Prime Minister

Can be investigated with permission of seven member Lokpal bench.[14]

PM cannot be investigate by Lokpal.[16]


Can be investigated, though high level members may be investigated only with permission of a seven member Lokpal bench.[14]

Judiciary is exempt and will be covered by a separate "judicial accountability bill".[15]


Can be investigated with permission of seven member Lokpal bench.[14]

Can be investigated, but their conduct within Parliament, such as voting, cannot be investigated.[15]

Lower bureaucracy

All public servants would be included.[15]

Only Group A officers will be covered.[15]

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

The CBI will be merged into the Lokpal.[15]

The CBI will remain a separate agency.[14]

Removal of Lokpal members and Chair

Any person can bring a complaint to the Supreme Court, who can then recommend removal of any member to the President.[14]

Any "aggrieved party" can raise a complaint to the President, who will refer the matter to the CJI.[14]

Removal of Lokpal staff and officers

Complaints against Lokpal staff will be handled by independent boards set-up in each state, composed of retired bureaucrats, judges, and civil society members.[14]

Lokpal will conduct inquiries into its own behavior.[14]


Lokakyukta and other local/state anti-corruption agency would remain in place.[15]

All state anti-corruption agencies would be closed and responsibilities taken over by centralized Lokpal.[15]

Whistleblower protection

Whistleblowers are protected law.[14]

No protection granted to whistleblowers.[14]

Punishment for corruption

Lokpal can either directly impose penalties, or refer the matter to the courts. Penalties can include removal from office, imprisonment, and recovery of assets from those who benefited from the corruption.[14]

Lokpal can only refer matters to the courts, not take any direct punitive actions. Penalties remain equivalent to those in current law.[14]

Investigatory powers

Lokpal can obtain wiretaps, issue rogatory letters, and recruit investigating officers. Cannot issue contempt orders.[14]

Lokpal can issue contempt orders, and has the ability to punish those in contempt. No authority to obtain wiretaps, issue rogatory letters, or recruit investigating officers.[14]

False, frivolous and vexatious complaints

Lokpal can issue fines for frivolous complaints (including frivolous complaints against Lokpal itself), with a maximum penalty of 1 lakh.[14].

Court system will handle matters of frivolous complaints. Courts can issue fines of Rs25,000 to 2 lakh.[14]


All corruption can be investigated.[15]

Only high-level corruption can be investigated.[15]

Thursday, August 4, 2011

India's Software Companies Need a New Model

Assignment 11

Over the last few years, software as a service has disrupted the traditional enterprise software industry for most business applications, including accounting, collaboration, customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, invoicing, human resource management, content management and service desk management.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, software as a service is a delivery model in which software is provided as a service to users without requiring them to install or maintain it. The software and its associated data are centrally hosted (usually in the cloud) and users typically access the application via a standard web browser.

Even if you're unfamiliar with this model, you'll be interested in the revenues. According to a Gartner Group estimate, global sales in 2010 reached $9 Billion (up 15.7% from 2009), and are projected to increase to $10.7 billion in 2011. Gartner also estimates that these software applications, which accounted for a little more than 10% of the total enterprise software market last year, will represent at least 16% of worldwide software sales by 2014.

There are many successful examples of large companies that provide this service – Salesforce, Google (Google Apps) and Savvis. There is only one large Indian company on this list: Zoho, which offers a suite of business, productivity and collaboration applications.

Zoho is a great example of a software as a service company that was bootstrapped in India and now competes in a global market with corporations like Google and Microsoft. So, can investors and venture capitalists expect more companies like Zoho to emerge in India?

The biggest endeavor so far appears to be Tata Consultancy System's hybrid offering for India's small and medium enterprise market. There are also a number of smaller companies that are developing such products for various vertical markets such as collaboration and accounting. Most of these companies are targeting India's enterprise market as it is easier for them to acquire local customers than to spend significant amounts on online marketing to attract global customers. That said, there are some key challenges that these providers face:

•Ubiquitous broadband connectivity is still a long way away in India.

•The lack of knowledge and questions about security and ownership of data need to be addressed.

•The lack of appropriate, trusted billing and payment methods.

In a global context, there are some additional hurdles for an Indian company to compete globally, and Zoho's success may prove to be an exception, rather than the rule.

Software as a service providers fundamentally are a software product company – only the delivery model differs. For the moment at least, the Indian IT industry is just not competitive in the software products space, although this is gradually changing. U.S. companies already use Indian outsourcing companies to build their product and most of the small- to mid-sized software service providers turn to online marketing for customer acquisition, which means the cost remains the same whether the company is based in India or the U.S.

Despite this, I do see tremendous opportunities for Indian IT companies to compete in the global market by building on their inherent strength – services.

In the current scenario, it would be interesting for venture capitalists to see how entrepreneurs package and provide the software as a service model in business process outsourcing and outsourced services such as software quality assurance and testing or data migration.

This would be a relatively easy transition for Indian IT companies, enabling them to offer unique and niche services which – at least initially – would not face competition from U.S. rivals since many of these companies already outsource those tasks to India.

Instead of differentiating by employing 'manpower', Indian service providers could automate BPO and other services and provide them as cloud-based services. This may still require some consulting support, but would result in higher overall margins, reduced customer acquisition costs, and increased customer retention.

By developing differentiated niche services, Indian companies can begin to climb the value-chain of the software as a service eco-system, creating a new wave of opportunities for both venture capitalists and other investors.

Q. What is the style of the passage and the tone of the author?