Human Behaviour

The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, Delayed Gratification and more

Image: The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from the Ghostbusters movie, 1984 The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, Delayed Gratification and more In June this year, Jessica Calarco wrote a very interesting article around the famous Stanford marshmallow experiment from the 1960s, which were a number of studies conducted by psychologist Walter Mischel. Mischel was studying correlation between children who displayed delayed gratification and how […]

Lose Your Illusion

Lose Your Illusion Sometime last year, I had an interesting conversation with a friend’s girlfriend who is a psychologist. Between drawing inferences from my handwriting to discussing human behaviour in general. She also mentioned the acute dearth of mental health personnel in the country (India) at the moment. I did some reading around that. The most recent global statistic on […]

The pros and “Cons” of Storytelling

The pros and “Cons” of Storytelling! Storytelling. Steve Jobs wasn’t the first to talk about, or practice it. Nor was he the first one to focus on the customer and build differentiation. Function and form. And he wasn’t the first to capture customer personalities, traits and passions in their marketing and communication, instead of just reading a dull list of […]

Don’t be Kupamanduka

Don’t be Kupamanduka When someone just joins your organisation, get their first impression of their experience within a few days of joining. Then, after you run them through the standard tour and the paces, and get another view within a month or two. See if there is a significant drop in the ‘illusion’. And if so, why. Learn the difference […]

Are You Certain? Or do You Think?

Are you certain? Or do you think? We live in times that are almost entirely about confidence. The underlying stuff is often of little importance. A bold claim has great impact. The ability to pause to consider two equally strong but opposing possibilities, not as much. Maybe that is also why many of our management schools are ok with accepting […]

Airline Seats and Behaviour

Airline Seats and Behaviour Do you think those extremely uncomfortable airline seats have anything to do with our behaviour when we are flying? Remember the last flight you took. Unless you were traveling business or first class, you can’t forget the tiny seats. And the armrests, that always seem to have gotten closer from the last time you flew. To […]

Need Ideas? Dress Down

Need Ideas? Dress Down Despite the Mumbai heat, I don’t miss an opportunity to wear a suit. Especially to a first-time work meeting with people. However, things are different if the agenda of a meeting is problem solving or ideating. Then, I not just prefer, but also strongly recommend a casual dress code. Why? Think about the times you get […]

Why Design Thinking is Here to Stay

Why Design Thinking is Here to Stay A close friend recently shared this article titled ‘Why Design Thinking will fail’, written in 2013 by Jeffrey Tjendra. Jeffrey is a designer entrepreneur and strategist. Among some of us friends, there was were points of disagreement on the article. Jeffrey does seem to have a good understanding of design thinking. This post, […]

Venture Capital Elevator Pitches

Venture Capital Elevator Pitches I left my job at a venture capital (VC) firm in 2010. After freelancing for a bit I then worked with a high-technology company in the robotics space. I then started my own strategy consulting practice, which over the years has matured into an interesting blend of design thinking, management strategy and human behaviour. Three fields […]

The Entrepreneur in a Venture Capital World

  The Entrepreneur in a Venture Capital World Imagine a food connoisseur has a vision of opening a restaurant. Selling a carefully crafted list of delicacies, whose preparation has taken years to refine. This aficionado has thought of everything. The cutlery that would highlight the preparations, what the entrance to the restaurant would be like, the kind of chefs he or […]

What’s Your Profession? Did You Bring More Soldiers?

What’s Your Profession? Did You Bring More Soldiers? In 1970s, according to the TV series Mindhunter at least, the FBI was filled with accountants & lawyers instead of more relevant experts in areas that mattered. That is, in place of behavioral analysts. That seems to have been the case with the Indian Venture Capital industry too for some time now. […]

Rate Wisely

Rate Wisely Imagine the simple process of rating a book you’ve just read. Let’s say it is a non-fiction. Perhaps a business or even a self-help kind of book. The normal tendency would be that if it has even an average amount of useful stuff, you’d give it a good rating. Especially if it contained one or more things you […]

The Illusion of Ratings and Feedback

The Illusion of Ratings and Feedback Life in present times has become an increasingly rapid process of experiences and feedback. Businesses are always asking us to rate the services or experiences they offer. And often, they feel inclined to “reward” us for it. While no one’s complaining about the free stuff or great discounts, are we losing perspective of what’s […]

Pigs Rule

Pigs Rule I recently found myself around a humorous discussion around politics at a relatives’ home.A grand aunt asked another relative if they planned on getting into politics. The relative laughingly retorted that for one to be in politics, they must be prepared to hit and to be hit. As an example, he cited a recent incident involving some politician. […]

A Pad Idea!

A Pad Idea! Once upon a time, there was is a man named Arunachalam Muruganantham from Coimbatore in India, who could not bear to see the discomfort and embarrassment that his wife had to go through, just to buy/ wear a sanitary pad / napkin. Risking even his very marriage, Arunachalam’s empathy and resolve lead him to research everything from material […]

Actions With and Without a Face

Actions With and Without a Face Even today, you can see people of some races cringe or gasp at the sight of the swastika, the symbol of Hitler’s party. Even though the swastika has much older roots. And Hitler himself, continues to be collectively and strongly hated today, over 72 years after his death. And rightly so. He and his people […]

Design Thinking – Shelters for the Homeless

Design Thinking – Shelters for the Homeless [3.5 minute read] Here’s the next post, towards sharing stories and incidents around design thinking in daily lives, towards a better collective understanding. My earlier post was about taps at home, and why house helps might be wasting water. If you missed that, here’s the link. Now, in developing India, as the nouveau riche […]

Design Thinking – Water Taps at Home

Design Thinking – Water Taps at Home [7 minute read] I’ve had the habit of applying aspects of Design Thinking to my work and personal life for some time now. In fact, off late it is literally a ‘permanently on’ app running in my head. I use it to review products or services, or to wonder why some startup is […]

Does Your Fire Escape Plan Work?

Does Your Fire Escape Plan Work? Early hours of 29th December saw a horrific fire at a rooftop restaurant in Mumbai. I could hear a continuous stream of distant sirens just before going to sleep. I couldn’t have imagined the extent of death and destruction. The restaurant is a breezy rooftop one, with plenty of bamboo and plastic on the […]

Do Some of the Pillars of Democracy need a Shake-Up?

Democracy has rested on four pillars. The legislature, executive, the judiciary, and arguably the most important, the press. All the pillars need improvement, some far more than others. The world press, for instance, has really become dirty. When in reality, it should be a transparent communication channel between the citizen, the country, and the world. In an increasingly connected globe, […]

Vulnerability of Tech Processes and Human Decisions

Vulnerability of Tech Processes and Human Decisions Here are two interesting incidents I came across online in the last week. One, about a seemingly harmless vulnerability in an online service’s process. The other, a possible vulnerability in human decisions in a human-dependent, traditional business. First of, a French literary buff, conducted an interesting experiment. It was to check his hypothesis, […]

Can We Easily Spot Left-Brain and Right-Brain Thinkers?

Can We Easily Spot Left-Brain and Right-Brain Thinkers? Just a thought. And I could be wrong. How can we easily spot a strong left-brain, or a right-brain thinker? In an argument/ discussion between two people with strong, opposing views – is it possible that those who tend to reply almost instantly each time, especially early on, without sufficient information, are […]

Ryan International school – Are CCTVs the Best Solution?

Ryan International school – Are CCTVs the Best Solution? 5 min. read. When faced with a problem, ideally, we should get to the source of the problem first. Only then can we attempt to solve it. But of course, we all know that! And yet, almost always, we will first react to a problem by attempting to solve it with […]

Design Thinking: What a Patient Wants

Design Thinking: What a Patient Wants Design Thinking is a relatively new concept in many countries including India. It is, however, already some decades old now. And having been practicing it for a few years now, I often get asked what it is about. And for examples of its applications. For starters, design thinking is a mindset. One that uses […]

The Earning of Trust

The Earning of Trust. I recently subscribed to NewsLaundry. It is a very young but self-proclaimed “media critique, news and current affairs portal”. It claims to operate on the obvious but often forgotten premise that news should be for the masses. And not for advertisers, or to distort reality for the masses. Current times are seeing increasingly low times for the […]

Choose Your Mistakes

Choose your mistakes. Life has made a lot of things extremely easy to start. Even the seemingly most impossible of tasks. The knowledge and resources available to us increase our confidence multi-fold, and daunting initiatives don’t look so big anymore. So yes, starting anything is damn easy. What’s the tough part? The toughest bit of it all, is to continue. But sure you already […]

Form or Function?

Form or Function? How about Form and Function? The eternal fight between form and function. Between show and effectiveness. Between being followed by a herd with questionable loyalty, and walking with a small group with unwavering conviction in your vision. Here’s a fancy looking video by HBX, Harvard‘s online programs platform. Professor Christensen undoubtedly sounds like someone I wouldn’t miss an […]

Amazon Go, This is How You Could Go

Earlier this year, Amazon announced its Amazon Go concept. The cashier-free, and hopefully hassle-free grocery store. The news did seem to receive a disproportionate amount of public interest.    Sources: 1 – link, 2 – link Of course we’ve all had our share of standing in queues. Queues where cashiers billed and packed at a pace, a sight that looked […]

India’s Roads and Bottlenecks

India’s Roads and Bottlenecks Bottlenecks and traffic jams on the streets. Are they an unavoidable phenomenon, or something we caused or created? Same with the lack of lane discipline in Indian drivers. Are drivers always to blame? Or could it be, that some part of the problem is because of how our roads are designed? Living in Bombay, I notice […]

Phone of Reference

Phone of Reference Last year, Mumbai’s traffic police enforced a ban on cellphone use while driving. It was backed by a fairly high fine. They even went a step further and banned the use of hands-free devices while driving too. The extent of enforcing however, remains limited. The main reason for this is overworked traffic cops. And the fact that […]

Recruiting in The Future

Image: source Recruiting in The Future For the longest time, there were distinct industries, and reasonably well defined job roles. And of course, an education system that did a brilliant batch-processing job of creating products people, that fit those roles. However, as people grew smarter, some of them worked hard to revamp the education system. They have been making it more flexible to […]

Now You Fool Me

Now You Fool Me “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Whoever said that, must’ve really known conmen. Political parties disagree with the opposition, and vice versa. They even react to current events, whether domestic or foreign. But ever […]

Sewage Popsicles

Sewage Popsicles Some Taiwanese art students recently created ice popsicles made purely out of sewage water. And the 100 varieties they showcased, reflects exactly how clean we’ve made our water bodies. With all due credit for their noble effort to send a strong message across, globally, here’s what I don’t understand. While humans stay dangerously stupid when it comes to […]

B-schools, MBA grads & Their Priorities

Many b-schools in India are tilting less toward business, management, and ethics; more toward finishing skills. With a strong (and often desperate) focus on placements, they go an extra mile to add superficiality to students. From a scary importance on cracking interviews, having a cocky attitude, and the ability to fib-on-the-fly. Unknowingly, they’re doing the students a great disservice. Students who enroll with […]

Stop Glorifying terror

The world governments need to stop glorifying terror outfits. For starters, irrespective of what those terror groups might call themselves, what if victim countries gave them shameful and cowardly names. That way, the citizens wouldn’t fear them the way they currently do. Wayward or lost youngsters would probably be averse to joining such groups if their names were funny or […]

Did You Fire the Boss?

Did You Fire the Boss? Image: source Boss stormed to my desk, shouting, “it’s the fifth time you’re late to work this week. What’s the meaning of this?” I, obviously surprised and confused, replied, “that… it’s finally Friday?!” Early in my corporate career, whenever I was to interview for a job, there was one piece of advice I was sure to get. It […]

B2B and B2C Customers

Image: source B2B and B2C Customers For the longest time, Retail, or Business-to-Consumer (B2C) ‘customers’ have been accustomed to, and driven by, fads, hype, distorted facts and price wars, to influence their buying choices. Busines-to-Business (B2B) customers on the other hand, used to (and hopefully still do) represent the more rational side of decision-making. They use, what Nobel prize-winning Israeli-American psychologist, […]

Tata Sky

Image: source This is a heads-up for Tata Sky satellite television provider customers. Here’s something Tata Sky has been doing as standard procedure, that I find questionable. If you’re subscribed to an annual plan, and say  you cross your billing deadline by even a day, they automatically switch you to either a 6-month billing cycle, or worse, a monthly one. Like all […]

Is A Bot After Your Job?

Image: Robin Williams in the Bicentennial Man Yuval Noah Harari paints an interesting and arguably grim picture of the future, in his book Homo Deus. He runs through possible ways in which the world and we humans might evolve. To give you a glimpse, think of computer programs evolving at the blistering pace they are. From predicting our needs to seamlessly trying […]

Points of View – Life, Work and Religion

Benjamin Franklin | Image: source How open or rigid, would you say your views and beliefs are? Here’s an excerpt from Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, in which he mentions the following interaction with someone: I was acquainted with one of its founders, Michael Welfare, soon after it appear’d. He complain’d to me that they were grievously calumniated by the zealots of other […]

Illusions and Delusions

Imran Khan is a decent actor. Delhi Belly was probably the best of the lot he has churned out. Then there’s Babita Kumari. A Silver medalist at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Then a Bronze medalist at the 2012 World Wrestling Championships. And finally, a Gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games!! Her remarkable story, and that of her elder sister’s, were […]

Peace, War, or Chekh-mate

In his book Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari mentions Russia’s greatest short story writers Anton Chekhov having once said that a gun appearing in the first act of a play will inevitably be fired in the third. Yuval says that since 1945, humans have learned to resist the urge to use weapons of war. Hopefully meaning we have become more mature as humans. However, we […]

Work to be Hired

One of the early screening processes to make it to the defense forces, is that of physical fitness. It is one of the more fundamental requirements of the job. Of course, subsequently, those who make the cut are broken down and rebuilt to be stronger, both mentally and physically. In the corporate battlefield, potential candidates are put through interview boot camps which are […]

Do Traffic Light Colours Need a Re-look?

We are all familiar with the three colours on traffic lights. They remain a classic example of universally recognizable design. But are the colours effective and safe, or do they need a re-look? Colour blindness has been known to affect about 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women the world over. That translates to 8% of world population dealing […]

Do You Like Your News Well Done, or Rare?

Image: source A few years ago, my dad had pointed out how refreshing it was to hear All India Radio. All India Radio is India’s national, public news radio station. He said it was a welcome change to listen to just the raw news, especially after years of private news channels on TV. It made sense too. Paid media often tends […]

Why Are Americans consistently more Innovative and Entrepreneurial?

“What makes America so much more entrepreneurial and innovative than India?” That question has been in my head for many years now. Obvious recent contributions including Facebook, Tesla, and the immortal giants, Google, Amazon and Apple come first to mind. But the world we live in stands witness to enduring American inventions – the airplane, credit card, transistor, laser, the computer and internet; with hundreds of inventions […]

Let Our Work Drive Our Energy

Let Our Work Drive Our Energy There is so much we can learn from the views, experiences and beliefs of others; especially if our own values have strong roots in light of the learning of others. Our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, gave an inspiring speech at the town hall meeting at Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi. The event […]

Why Indians Need Real Idols, not pretentious ones

Why Indians Need Real Idols, not pretentious ones The pretentiousness and shallowness of many Indians can be really overwhelming. sultan may have been a great movie, but I won’t know because I won’t be watching it. Not in theatres, or on TV subsequently, for obvious reasons. It’s not the movie I’m against, but the encouragement of wrong. But should that […]

The Unconscious Equalizer

Image: source Human behavior, never ceases to confuse. Or amaze. We have had a maid coming for over two decades to do the dishes and mop the floor. And ever since I can remember, she has had the habit of leaving the water running on full flow while washing utensils. Every time a vessel was clean, she’d turn to keep […]

The Farmer Murders

The Farmer Murders A farmer committed suicide at an AAP rally, and the hypocritical Mr. ‘Aam Aadmi’ Kejriwal didn’t let that stop his rally. Policemen on scene laughed, as an AAP volunteer tried to save the farmer. In the last year, the PM has been building foreign relations like there’s no tomorrow, while thousands of farmers back home stare blankly […]

Hope you don’t have a Rolled Model?

Hope you don’t have a Rolled Model? We all have role models? Well, at least most of us do. And can we ever admire them enough? While it’s great if you have idols or role models, something I suggest to friends and acquaintances is that you should not be amazed by your role models. Instead, find out what it is about them that amazes you and earns […]

Let’s Go Back to the Future

Let’s Go Back to the Future Last night, on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi‘s birth anniversary, I came across an article titled ‘Where was Gandhiji born? Only 4 out of 10 gave the correct answer.’ [link] What was the big deal anyway? While my outlook is not even half as non-violent as the Mahatma’s,  I have utmost respect for him. But for questions like when was […]

Just Like That

Just Like That I have always disliked the idea of businesses buying, and friends forcing ‘Likes’ on Facebook. The number of likes really skews the picture. It makes it difficult to differentiate between a business that has bought 300 likes from one that has earned 200 likes with quality business and customer delight. Surely, Twitter, feedback, and public reviews help maintain some transparency in […]

Question the Question

Question the Question Here’s a thought.. And I welcome your thoughts in return.. Back when I was in the ninth standard/grade in school, while I wasn’t too bright in studies. With the exception of Math and Physics. In those two, I was competing for between the 6th and 9th position in class. They weren’t subjects I had to study or know. It just somehow came […]

Holy How?!

Holy How?! Does god exist? I personally do believe in faith, and in a higher power, but one without a name or face. Culture and upbringing however, do tend to influence that faith with names and appearances.  Unlike popular belief, India does not have 330 million gods. But of the comparatively fewer we do, festivals are celebrated in the grandest ways imaginable. The next few months marks some major […]

Attention! Is this the Police?

Attention! Is this the Police? Last evening I went to pick up some things for home from the department store. Visits to that store isn’t exactly something I look forward to. Considering the place is a little dusty, and the staff is slow and clueless. And for some inexplicable reason, they keep shifting some sections around every other time. Anyway, while parking outside, I […]

A to B to C

A to B to C This one is in connection to some earlier posts on ‘Impactful brevity’ and on effective communication (So what’s your Point?). A friend recently sent me a hilarious video on WhatsApp that somehow reminded me of an incident from high school that I was surprised I remembered. Wonder how the memory had managed to survive in the junk in my head for so long. Here’s […]

Two Sides of The Same…Country

Two Sides of The Same…Country Little over a decade ago, I had just learnt how to drive a car, and, sorry; I must learn to be specific. I had learnt to drive a car in India. Yes, here, it takes more effort, selfless commitment, definitely more skill, and sheer bravery to even just want to learn to drive a vehicle here, let alone […]

Death and The Maiden

Death and The Maiden  “Tonight’s happy song, kinda like a walk in the park ..the sun coming through the window in the morning on a beautiful day… and you have nothing better to do than commit Harakiri, so…is this? Alright. This is called..Estranged..” – Axl Rose, at a GnR Live Concert  Last morning I woke up to the news of […]

Au-shitz.!

Au-shitz.! With all the ‘do good deeds’ and ‘do unto thy neighbour…’ that has literally been beaten into our souls while we were growing up, I often wondered why some corrupt politicians and other people in power seemed to go from crime to crime without losing any sleep over it, and they just seemed to prosper at the cost of […]

We Deliver.!

We Deliver.! Several years back, I used to work in the ever so famous BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) Industry in one of India’s IT hotbeds, Bangalore. My job involved providing technical assistance to North American customers of our pretty impressive all-in-one printer range. There was a time I wondered if the monotony could leave me permanently depressed. Or worse, brain-damaged. […]

what’SAPpening?

what’SAPpening? You know the whole “effect” thing. It is all about how things are put, less about what things really are. Its more about the gift wrap than about the gift. More to do with the fanfare, and less about the intention; all about quantity, not much about quality,  and all that. For the past few months, one of my […]

An uncle and a friend

An uncle and a friend I just heard a few hours back, that one of dad’s closest friends, Eshwaran, passed away this morning. That was extremely bad news. I had probably met Eshwar uncle and his wife several times as a toddler. And then I met them nearly a decade or more later, probably when I was in the eighth or […]